Proposed 28th Amendment

By way of Glenn Reynolds comes a proposed Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. Frankly, I like the idea, particularly the part limiting the length and timing of Congressional sessions. While the original proposal came to Rich Vail via a reader's e-mail, he added a few touches of his own that I think would greatly increase our ability to rein in an irresponsible (and unresponsive) Congress.

I hereby propose the following as the 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

1. -No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the House of Representatives to more than four (4) consecutive, two (2) year terms to office.
2. -No citizen of the United States shall be elected to the United States Senate for more than two (2) consecutive, six (6) year terms of office.
3. -No citizen of the United States shall receive any retirement benefits from serving in either the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate.
4. -Congress shall not exempt itself from any laws of the United States of America, in whole or in part, nor shall any government agency, board, panel or appointed or elected group or person may exempt Congress, individually or collectively, from any law, regulation, policy or action which is applied to the citizens of the United States.
5. -Congress shall be in session for a period of not less than 60 consecutive days in the Spring, and 60 consecutive days in the Fall of each year. Each sitting of Congress may be extended by the President for a period not to exceed 15 days. The Spring session shall start on the first Monday of March. The Fall session shall begin on the first Monday in August. An additional 15 day session to begin on the 2nd Monday of November may be called by the President if so deemed necessary by declaration of a national emergency and voted so by a 2/3rds majority of the sitting Congress and may not be extended. {This section I think is necessary to basically force Congress to actually work...in the past decade they generally only spend 2 1/2 days per week actually working in Washington, DC. Most often only from Tues afternoon to Thurs afternoon!}

(I've changed the formatting slightly and deleted some sections that were struck out in Rich's original post, but those edits haven't changed his final version – dce)

As he notes in one of his updates, Rich thought the additional 15-day November session would limit the damage a lame duck Congress could do.

I do have a couple of questions, the first being whether by “days” he means calendar days or business days? I'd like to think he means calendar days as it would limit each session to 2 months (plus an additional two weeks if the President deems it necessary). If it's business days, then each session would be 3 months long with the possibility of an additional 3 weeks. That's too much time for Congress to get into mischief.

Second, might it not be easier to outlaw the use of heating and air conditioning in the Capitol Building and Congressional offices? No one is going to hang around Washington if they're freezing or roasting. (Okay, that might be taking it a little too far. But Washington was located where it is to encourage just such behavior by our Congresscritters.)

Another of Rich's readers suggested other Amendments, including limiting eminent domain such that the travesty of Kelo vs New London never happens again; limits on recess appointments and filibustering of nominees; actually reading the bills being voted upon; limiting the courts from meddling in foreign and military affairs, using foreign precedents, opinions, or laws in decision making on cases before them, and limiting the use of the 14th Amendment to provide benefits or other amenities to illegal aliens; and one of my favorites: banning Congress from ordering states to spend money raised by taxes within the states or to raise or enact taxes.

While each of these amendments would work towards throttling congressional or judicial overreach, the actual chances of any of them passing any time soon is slim despite the push by the American people to get government off their backs. But wouldn't it be nice?


Your Tax Dollars At Work - NYC Style

Here's a perfect example of your tax dollars at work as we watch some NYC employees heavily damage a parked Ford Explorer during their attempts to tow a front end loader stuck on a snow-choked street.

Warning: Considering this takes place in New York City there is some foul language in the narrative.

I'm no expert when it comes to heavy equipment, but even I could see well in advance that the plan by the loader driver and the tow-truck operator hadn't been well thought out. They would have been better off if the loader driver or tow-truck operator had “chained up”, meaning installing tire chains on the loader's wheels. For that fact, the tow-truck could have used some, too.


Education Borrowing Fueling Education Bubble

You know the higher education bubble is getting worse when the federal government makes it easier to borrow the money needed to pay for tuition, books, etc while at the same time driving up the costs of education at a rate well above the rate of inflation. It also leads to far too many college graduates finding themselves deep in debt with a degree that doesn't get them a job in their field of study. And far too often they find themselves in a a job that may not pay well enough to make it possible for them to pay off their loans in a reasonable amount of time.

With seas of federal cash available to pay for college educations, colleges and universities have jacked up their prices to reflect the inflationary nature of all of that education money out there just ripe for the taking. That's why many institutions of higher learning offer courses of study that have very little to do with preparing our youth for life in the real world. A prime example are all those courses or majors that end in the word “Studies”, such as “Women's Studies”, “African American Studies”, “Gay Native American Studies”, and so on. All such courses do is prepare such students how to teach those courses, and that's about it. (A friend of my son studied philosophy at Trinity College with no thought about what he'd do after he graduated. I made the comment that finding a job based solely on that degree would be tough as all of the philosophy companies had a hiring freeze due to the poor economy. He didn't get it.)

The idea that one has to have a college degree to get ahead and be successful has been so oversold over the last few decades that too many people are putting themselves into a deep financial hole with little prospect of climbing out of it during their lifetime or gaining the education they thought they were paying for.


It's All The Chinese Fault!

Oh this is rich:

Our now unemployed former Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter doesn't believe the voters in her Congressional district (NH-1) really wanted her out. Instead she blames the Chinese for her defeat.

Gee, it couldn't be because she treated her constituents with disdain and contempt (at least those of them that were registered Democrats), totally ignored those constituents who were registered Republicans, denigrated the Blue Star/Gold Star Mothers of New Hampshire, and in her arrogance believed the rules were only meant for “the little people” and not for the progressive wing of the Democrat Party?

Carol, you got fired because you weren't representing the interests of the people in your district and instead representing the interests of Nancy Pelosi and the other Marxists in Congress. The people knew that and figured they'd had enough of your smug condescension and decided to replace you with someone who would actually represent them.

The Blizzard

We managed to escape the worst of the so-called “Blizzard of 2010”, receiving less than 8” (20cm) of snow here at The Manse. Nearby Laconia received over 12”, but I think the disparity can be attributed to the fact that The Manse is located on the western side of a hill which shielded us from the direct onslaught of the storm and reducing our snowfall total somewhat.

Not that the 8” of snow didn't require removal. That meant firing up the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower and tackling the job of cleaning up the driveway. The high and gusting winds didn't help things much, making it difficult at times to see what I was doing. After 75 minutes the job was done and Deb would be able to make it out to get to work. (I did insist she take the trusty F150 4x4 if for no other reason I could be reasonably sure she'd be able to make it up the driveway and out to the state road.)

I know I'll have to go out again either sometime tonight (before Deb is due home) or first thing tomorrow morning to clear the snow the winds have drifted back onto the driveway.

And so ends the first 'real' snowstorm of the Winter of 2010-2011.


Thoughts On A Sunday

Well, we've survived another one. Christmas, that is.

I have to say this was probably one of the more subdued Christmases we've had in a while. Not that there's anything wrong with that. In fact it was quite pleasant. Other than a few traffic related issues on the way down to the WP In-Laws, it was a rather pleasant day.

We left The Manse at 9AM and made it to the In-Laws about 90 minutes later. Presents were opened and an early dinner was served. Deb and I left the In-Laws a little past 4PM and were back home in time to feed the feline residents at The Manse at their usual time. BeezleBub stayed behind and will be spending the next few days with his grandparents, something he hasn't done for some time.


It appears RedState.com hasn't done its homework in regards to New Hampshire, implying it's been turned into a blue state due to the in-migration of liberal Massachusetts voters over the past 20 years or so. I guess they never bothered to check the results from the mid-term elections last month, where Republicans took 74% of the New Hampshire House, 79% of the state Senate, 100% of the Executive Council, both Congressional House seats and retained the US Senate seat that was up for grabs.

That doesn't make New Hampshire a blue state by any means.


The media up here in New England has been making a lot of fuss about our first substantial snowfall predicted to fall starting sometime later today. The area where The Manse is located is under a blizzard watch winter storm warning blizzard warning, with about 12 inches of snow expected before the storm departs sometime Monday.

Listening to the TV news you'd think nothing like this has ever happened around here before. These folks have got to get a grip!

I got the Official Weekend Pundit gas grill under cover, the storm glass in on the front screen door, pulled down a snow shovel and push plow from the loft in the garage, and checked the oil and filled the gas tank of the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower in anticipation of the coming snowfall. The woodbox next to the Official Weekend Pundit Woodstove has also been filled (and will be topped off through the early evening hours) just in case.

I know I'll have my work cut out for me as Deb will have to be able to get to work tomorrow, meaning I'll be out more than once to clear the snow from The Manse's driveway. I have no doubt it will also require a liberal application of sand to ensure traction for the trusty Intrepid.

At least I'm off work tomorrow, meaning I won't have to get up an hour before dawn to clear the driveway.


The debate about the use of ethanol in gasoline and the EPA's mandate to increase the present 10% blend to 15% rages on.

As I mention in my comment to the linked post, ethanol is supposed to reduce air emissions on non-fuel injected engines (meaning those using carburetors). It doesn't do a darned thing for fuel-injected engines except reduce the fuel economy. One has to ask just how many cars and truck out there do not have fuel-injected engines? I'll bet the percentage these days is quite small. So why are we wasting tax dollars and consumer's money on this foolishness?

The answer is simple: Control.


Increased funding for education does not automatically equate to better education.

Gee, who'da thunk it?

That's something we've proven again and again here in New Hampshire. Some school systems with the highest per pupil expenditures have consistently tested below those with far more modest spending. It all comes down to this: It doesn't matter how much you spend, it's how you spend what you have.


On more than one occasion I have opined on these pages that self-esteem – particularly of the artificially promoted variety – is vastly overrated. Now it appears the 25-year long movement to boost children's self-esteem has backfired.

This belief -- that increasing self-esteem among the members of society will increase goodness in society -- spread through the rest of America like proverbial wildfire.

It turns out, however, that the premise was entirely misguided. There is no correlation between goodness and high self-esteem. But there is a correlation between criminality and high self-esteem.

Florida State University Professor Roy Baumeister (Ph.D. psychology, Princeton University) has revealed that in a lifetime of study of violent criminals, the one characteristic nearly all these criminals share is high self-esteem.

Yes, people with high self-esteem are the ones most prone to violence.

I'll bet they didn't see that one coming.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Cap'n Teach has some thoughts about Global Warming amidst the heavy snowfall he's experienced at home.

He also provides some comments on the AGW debate and how, to all intents and purposes, it's over...except for the warmists who are still trying their darnedest to claim global warming actually leads to colder temperatures.



It seems a number of federal agencies have decided they aren't required to abide by the law. Tow of the most egregious: the EPA and the FCC.

It appears the attitude of these two agencies comes down to “We don't have to listen to the courts!” and “Congress? What the hell do they know?! We'll do what we want no matter what!!!”

It's that kind of attitude that may see both agencies reined in or, worse for them, abolished.


The states need to increase their taxes, or so says the New York Times.

As usual, the Times has it exactly backwards. A number of the states they mention in their editorial are not suffering from a revenue problem, but from an expenditure problem. Raising taxes in states already under the burden of high state taxes won't fill the gap (just look at California if you need any proof of that), but will exacerbate the problem, creating even bigger shortfalls.


The New England Patriots played the Buffalo Bills in Buffalo today. This was their second meeting of the regular season. The Patriots beat Buffalo during their first match up at the beginning of the season. They did it this time, too, 34-3. That's 15 games in a row New England has beat Buffalo.

With this win, the Patriots clinched the division title, won a first week playoff bye, and have home field advantage for all other playoff games this season.

The last game of the season is against Miami at Foxboro. Not a bad way to close out the regular season.


Gee, first conservationists and environmentalists tout the benefits of alternative energy, then file lawsuits to prevent them from being used.

I wish these morons would make up their minds.

It seems far too many of them thing things like wind and solar would solve all our problems, then the move to block the development of them or, if that doesn't work, suing to prevent the construction of the power lines needed to transmit that 'green' power to the places where it's needed.

All any of this proves to me is that the more vocal and litigious 'environmentalists' and 'conservationists' are nothing more than watermelons – green on the outside but red (socialists) on the inside. They talk the talk but are incapable of walking the walk.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the snow is coming in measurable amounts, the snow removal gear is ready, and where I'm going to spend most of the time watching the snow fall...before I have to go out and move it.


Random Thoughts On Christmas Eve

BeezleBub and I were out Christmas shopping yesterday, heading out around 3:30 in the afternoon. (Yes, I took half a vacation day to duck out of work early. So sue me.) I knew that we would probably miss the evening shopping crowd as we would be hitting the local outlet center just as most folks were heading home for dinner. It turns out we timed it just right.

I though we'd have to park out in the boonies at the outlets, but that wasn't the case. While there were plenty of cars in the lot, there weren't that many. We managed to park all of two rows back from the central section, meaning we didn't have to walk far at all. BeezleBub picked up most of what he needed within 30 minutes and we were on our way to the next stop – WalMart. Another 20 minutes there and we were done.

After a brief dinner stop at Wendy's we were on our way home, and just in time. The moderately heavy traffic we'd seen while heading to the outlets had turned into very slow moving bumper-to-bumper traffic heading towards outlets and other shopping centers.

= = = = = = = = = =

One of the most difficult things to find while shopping? Shirt and sweater boxes. Deb needed them so she could wrap some of the clothing she'd bought as gifts. Do you think I could find them anywhere? Nope.

That's one downside to shopping online. When you buy something like that at a store they'll provide boxes to make it easier to wrap them. (Yes, I know some stores will charge for them, but many don't.)

= = = = = = = = = =

Something I saw that got me smiling on my way home from last minute Christmas shopping this morning:

Out in front of Funspot, a local year-round amusement center, their electronic sign was flashing it's not unexpected season's greetings messages. Sandwiched among them: “Who is John Galt?

I wonder how many people driving by there understood the question or its context?

= = = = = = = = = =

Driving around various parts of the southern shore of Lake Winnipesaukee this morning I was able to see how much of the lake has frozen over.

Paugus Bay was frozen from its southern-most part to just past Christmas Island. Above that it was all open water. Weirs Beach and Meredith Bay didn't show a bit of ice anywhere. By contrast, all of Alton Bay is frozen over. It could be the wind is stirring up the water enough to keep wide areas of the lake from freezing over.

Considering the annual Meredith Rotary Ice Fishing Derby is a little over a month away, the lake had better hurry up and freeze over.

= = = = = = = = = =

Another thing I've noticed while shopping during the past couple of weeks: most folks are either paying cash or using debit cards for their Christmas purchases. Very few are using their credit cards. I did ask a few retailers over the past week or so and they confirmed my observations.

I don't know if this is because of the higher interest rates being charged by card issuers or because card holders nearing their credit limits. Or it could be that people just don't want to see those bills hitting their mailboxes next month. Regardless of the reason, people are using cash and debit far more than they have in quite some time.

Deb has done likewise, forgoing the credit card as much as possible even though she did almost all her shopping online. Not that we didn't use ours, but we kept our use of it to an absolute minimum.

= = = = = = = = = =

The Manse is not adorned with its usual level of Christmas lights. Instead we opted for something simpler and more traditional: small white 'candle' lights in each window. The only other adornment is our Christmas tree inside which can be seen through our front windows from the road.

Not that we've ever gone over the top in regards to outdoor Christmas decorations. But we didn't put up the usual outdoor lights outlining The Manse. It wasn't a conscious on our part. Rather our respective work/school schedules left us little time to put them up this year.

= = = = = = = = = =

We are heading over the river and through the woods to the In-Laws first thing tomorrow morning.

BeezleBub had hoped to go down there today, but we disabused him of that notion, reminding him we'd have to use two vehicles (Deb is working tonight) and that the sleeping accommodations would be less than optimal. In the end he figured we were right and that going down first thing Christmas morning would be just fine. (Of course his idea of 'first thing in the morning' is 7AM. We'll see.)


Global Warming - Australian Style

If we need even more evidence of Global Warming all we have to do is look to Australia. Remember, it's now summer Down Under - it's that pesky Southern Hemisphere thing – and southeastern Australia (New South Wales and Victoria) has been suffering unseasonably cold temperatures. Some areas have received over 8 inches of snow.

Snow. In summer. (Well, actually it was late spring, but still....)

That's like San Diego getting hammered with a snowstorm in late June.

So, do you want to tell me about Glo-bull Warmening again?

Demand For Gasoline Dropping In The US

An Associated Press article in yesterday's newspapers made the announcement that demand for gasoline in the US is declining and will continue to do so. Some of the decline is easy to account for, seeing that the economy is still sluggish and demand is off because of it. Rising oil prices also has something to do with it as well. But some of the other reasons for the decline, past and future, sound more like propaganda rather than being based on facts. Let's take a look at a few.

By 2022, the country's fuel mix must include 36 billion gallons of ethanol and other biofuels, up from 14 billion gallons in 2011. Put another way, biofuels will account for roughly one of every four gallons sold at the pump.

Today 'biofuels' means ethanol as it is the most prevalent one out there now. And while many have touted it as a means of reducing our dependence on foreign sources of oil, the truth is that it does no such thing. Corn-based ethanol is a loser, literally. It takes more than a gallon of fossil fuel to produce the ethanol equivalent of a gallon of gasoline. That's a net loss right off the top. Ethanol has half the energy of an equivalent volume of gasoline, meaning a gallon of gas with a 10% ethanol content will give only 95% of the fuel economy of 100% gasoline. With a call by the EPA to increase the the ethanol content to 15%, fuel economy will suffer even more and the motoring public will pay more for less, both directly and by tax subsidies, always a losing proposition.

Other biofuels are still waiting in the wings but aren't viable yet, whether it's cellulose-based ethanol, algae-based diesel/gasoline, or some other fuel. None of these technologies are at the point where they can produce enough fuel economically and in large enough quantities to satisfy demand.

Starting with the 2012 model year, cars will have to hit a higher fuel economy target for the first time since 1990. Each carmaker's fleet must average 30.1 mpg, up from 27.5. By the 2016 model year, that number must rise to 35.5 mpg. And, starting next year, SUVs and minivans, once classified as trucks, will count toward passenger vehicle targets.

This might work, but only if people aren't forced into micro-sized vehicles that won't haul a family of four plus all their luggage while at the same time maintaining the safety levels of present day vehicles. It's been tried before and it didn't work. People still prefer larger vehicles. And for those of us in colder climes that measure annual snowfall in feet, AWD or 4WD rules. I don't know of any vehicles that will attain the kind of fuel economy being mandated that also have either AWD or 4WD. And while I have been able to do fair to middling with a front wheel drive car in the past, there have been numerous occasions when I really needed 4WD to get where I really needed to go.

The auto industry is introducing cars that run partially or entirely on electricity, and the federal government is providing billions of dollars in subsidies to increase production and spur sales.

I'm not sure where to start with this one.

One of the first things I think about is the total true cost of hybrid or fully electric vehicles in regards to their full life cycle. When one looks at the total energy costs of present day hybrid electric vehicles from beginning to end (manufacturing to disposal and everything in between), they cost far more than the 'monster' SUVs, even taking into account fuel costs.

Batteries are damn expensive and need will need to be replaced at least once during the lifetime of such vehicles. It's rare anyone needs to replace the fuel tank or engine in an internal combustion engine (ICE) powered vehicle. The support infrastructure doesn't exist to any great extent, particularly in regards to fully electric vehicles or plug-in hybrids. Government subsidies to buy or build these vehicles don't matter worth a darn if the infrastructure isn't there to support them.

In some states there isn't enough generating capacity to power all these new vehicles and there isn't likely to be any more coming online any time soon. Between the EPA, various state regulations and laws, and every watermelon environmentalist group out there, building new capacity – even renewable energy-based sources - is going to be difficult, if not impossible. So where is all this electricity going to come from? Nobody seems to know, and that's a question that must be answered in order to make these vehicles more attractive to motorists.

There are more questionable assumptions made in the AP article that I should address, but won't. However I will leave you with these two thoughts.

Will gasoline consumption in the US continue to decline? Or will it ramp back if/when the economy turns around?

Only time will tell.


Thoughts On A Sunday

BeezleBub and I made short work of the last of the fire wood stacked outside The Manse, moving it inside the garage to replace some of the wood we used during a few of the less-than-nice weather evenings. A small amount of fire wood remains outside under cover because it's not ready to burn yet (it's still green).

We also managed to get the Official Weekend Pundit Lawnmower and Lawn Tractor moved into the basement and the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower reassembled and moved into the garage. Goodness knows we're going to need it sooner or later.


It looks like the romance between the UK and Barack Obama is over, seeing as the Obama's did not receive in invitation to Prince William's and Kate Middleton's nuptials.

I wonder if Todd and Sarah Palin have received an invite?

(H/T Instapundit)


This is kind of neat: URI engineer says emergency information could be transmitted via GPS.

Depending how it's set up, targeted emergency info could be sent only to those in the area affected. It's better than a broadcast because only those needing the information would receive it. It would be a one-way comm system and would be text based due to the low transmission data rate.


It's was a late game between the New England Patriots and the Green Bay Packers today, starting sometime around 8:20PM EST. The Packers will be down their starting quarterback, but that doesn't mean anything. We have to remember that Tom Brady was the second string quarterback when Drew Bledsoe was the starter and he led them to their first Superbowl victory after Bledsoe was out for the season after his injury.

It was a close game, but I have to question some of the calls made by some of the refs, and one in particular.

During the 4th quarter Tully Banta-Cain was called on an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Never mind the Packer he was up against had his fingers through Banta-Cain's face mask and Banta-Cain was trying to make him let go. The refs blew that call.

But in the end it didn't matter as the Patriots pulled off a win, 31-27.


From the modern day American dictionary: Liberal – a Latin word for “lousy at math.”


Professor Jacobsen makes some interesting observations about California's fiscal crisis and how it parallels what he saw in the Soviet Union during its last decade of existence. Professor Bainbridge also wonders what would happen should California go bankrupt.

Neither is a pretty picture.


Eric the Viking comments about what he saw at his local shopping mall this past Friday, saying it was seemingly empty compared to what he expected. I've noticed that too, but it could be because for more people have been taking advantage of free shipping offered by online retailers.

I know Deb has done nearly all her Christmas shopping online this year, avoiding the madness at the local shopping centers here in the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. Most of my acquaintances have done likewise. Only those looking for specialty items not available via the 'Net have been spending time at the various shops around here.


Bogie writes about the adjustments she's making at her new place of employment. The environment is different from her last place of employment, so it's not surprising it's taken time for her to adjust.

I know when I started at the company where I am now I was amazed at the difference as compared to working for a multi-billion dollar defense company. It took me more than a year to get out of the “Mother may I?” frame of mind so prevalent at my previous place of employment.


Bogie also comments on the remake of True Grit. As she says, “Chalk that up as another movie that won't make a dime off of me!”

Frankly, there are some movies that just shouldn't be remade as they are classical icons. Somehow I can't picture anyone but John Wayne playing Rooster Cogburn. Nobody can outdo the Duke.


Gregory Sullivan goes to town against the top 10 steaming heaps of eco-friendly/frugal living horse dung.

Well, it's winter again. The economy is about as lively as an Amish rap group, we were promised Globalistical Warmening but all we got was frozen orange juice on the branches instead of in the freezer case. Our banks and credit card companies are treating us like a baby treats a diaper, and the government has mistaken us for galley slaves. If you're in the media business, that can mean only one thing: Frugal living stories!

One thing I've learned over the past few years is that a lot of claims made for all kinds of energy saving technologies or materials must be taken with rather large grains of salt, even those subsidized with tax credits. As Gregory stated, in many cases the payback period for incorporating some of these technologies/materials is decades, meaning they really aren't worth the money we'll spend on them.


The UK Met Office has made it official: This December is the coldest in Great Britain since they started keeping records.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where Christmas is just around the corner, the pressure to finish holiday shopping is growing, and where we have all but a few pieces of firewood safely stacked in the garage.


Loud TV Commercials Are Going Away

The days of loud TV commercials are numbered. As I wrote about the subject more than once, it's annoying and at times a real pain in the butt. But we won't have to worry about it any longer.

On Wednesday President Obama signed one of the most important pieces of legislation he'll ever sign. It outlaws the practice of jacking up the volume during commercials.

The law signed by Obama on Wednesday requires the Federal Communications Commission to adopt industry standards coordinating ad decibel levels to those of the regular program within one year.

The new regulations go into effect a year after that . They apply to all broadcast providers, including cable and satellite.

The days of constantly having to adjust or mute the volume during commercials will soon come to a long overdue end.


Will C.A.R.B. Finally Kill California's Economy?

As if California isn't already suffering from an insurmountable budget deficit, confiscatory taxes, public employee union greed, a spendthrift legislature, business hostile regulations, and a 12.2%+ unemployment rate, the California Air Resources Board is about to drive the final nail in the coffin of the state's economy with their version of cap-and-trade.

That's all California needs is yet another series of money draining 'rules' that will do little other than place an even higher burden on businesses already struggling to survive. Higher energy prices certainly aren't going to help them stay in business.

California air quality regulators are poised to adopt the nation's most sweeping regulations to give power plants, refineries and other major polluters a financial incentive to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions.

California's cap-and-trade rules would set up the largest U.S. carbon trading market as the way to enforce the state's gradually tightening cap on emissions.

The amount of allowed emissions would be reduced over time, and the regulations would expand in 2015 to include refineries and fuel distributors like oil companies. The cap would reach its lowest level in 2020, when California wants its greenhouse gas emissions reduced to 1990 levels.

If they handle this as well as the state previously handled electrical utility regulation – including the effective banning of new electrical generating capacity using traditional technology like nuclear – then California is doomed.

I wonder how long it will be before the old saw about the last person leaving the state shutting off the lights will become the truth?


Colder Winter Than Predicted?

It's not just the UK freezing this month. Large portions of the US, including a number of states in the South, have been experiencing well below normal temperatures. There have been times over the past few days when it's been colder in Florida than here in northern New England. That does not bode well for the coming winter.

Predictions by NOAA stated that much of the nation would experience a normal or warmer than normal winter. But it appears atmospheric dynamics didn't bother listening to the Weather GuysTM, at least when it comes to Eastern US, giving us some bitterly cold temps. Florida has suffered freezing temps, threatening crops. Fountains in Atlanta froze solid. And here in norther New England we've been experiencing some below normal temps. (It was 9ºF here at The Manse at 6PM today.) Some of the bays and coves around Lake Winnipesaukee are already frozen over and some have been ice covered for a couple of weeks, well ahead of the usual time.

I'm wondering (yet again) whether we will see sub-zero temperatures on Christmas Day, something that is known to happen around here from time to time.


Tax Wars

The debate rages on about the extension of the Bush tax cuts, with many on the Left decrying the move to give “the rich” a tax cut because they feel they're not paying their fair share. (Their definition of fair share always seems to be “more than they're paying now,” regardless of how much they're already paying.) Of course it's not really a tax cut because the tax rate isn't being reduced, but maintained at the same level they've been for over 7 years. Then again, whenever taxes on the rich aren't increased they're always seen by the Left as a “cut”. So much for logic.

With all the hullabaloo about the two year extension of the Bush tax rates, it seems the Left is proving itself once again out of touch with a majority of the American people. They also don't differentiate between the working rich, meaning those that have worked hard and continue to do so, earning every penny they make, and those living off of trust funds or investments made long ago. Never mind the working rich likely started with nothing (about 96% of the wealthy in the US fall into this category) and employ hundreds, if not thousands of people.

One of the best commentaries I've read about this issue came from Jared Potter about the WSJ piece linked above:

It's an easy argument to make for Republicans and resonates with most people's ideas of fairness:

If you earned it, it's yours to do with as you please.

If you earned it, paid your taxes on it, and gave it away to someone, it's theirs to do with as they please, because you earned it.

If you didn't earn it, it's none of your business what happens to it.

If you take it away from someone, it's not yours.

If you want it, earn it (or pull a Kerry and marry someone who married someone who did).

I'd say that pretty well sums it up.

Another commenter quoted this from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. I believe this is part of Fernando's speech about money, wealth, and those who earned it...and those who didn't. It fits in perfectly with the narrative and shows the Left for what they are – envious looters – and how many of them still believe wealth is a zero-sum game.

"But you say that money is made by the strong at the expense of the weak? What strength do you mean? It is not the strength of guns or muscles. Wealth is the product of man's capacity to think. Then is money made by the man who invents a motor at the expense of those who did not invent it? Is money made by the intelligent at the expense of the fools? By the able at the expense of the incompetent? By the ambitious at the expense of the lazy? Money is made--before it can be looted or mooched--made by the effort of every honest man, each to the extent of his ability. An honest man is one who knows that he can't consume more than he has produced."

And that is the crux of the matter. The Left seems to believe that very thing, though they'll couch that belief in all kinds of deceptive rhetoric, making it appear they don't. But in the end, they believe they know how to spend money made by someone else better than the person who actually earned it. It is pure conceit on their part.


Thoughts On A Sunday

The storm that hammered the mid-West has made inroads here into New England, though it's been made itself known in the way of some light snow and freezing rain this morning that changed over to heavy rain and wind in the afternoon.

Deb was caught in the early stages, getting stuck behind an accident-induced traffic jam on her way back from the New Hampshire seacoast. What would normally have been a 1-hour plus drive turned into a four hour trip home.


Speaking of the storm hitting the mid-West hard, the game scheduled between the New York Giants and the Minnesota Vikings had to be delayed from today to tomorrow because the charter jet taking the Giants to Minneapolis had to be diverted to Kansas City airport. The one in the Twin Cities was closed due to the weather.

UPDATE: The game is now in question as the winds and the weight of the snow on the roof of the Metrodome has caused sections of it to deflate and collapse.

Want to tell us about global warming again?

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


The various pundits, both Lame Stream Media and blogging types, have been wondering whether Barack Obama has, in effect, handed the reins over to Bill Clinton and Joe Biden. Considering how the last Presidential press conference was handed off to Bill, one has consider whether Obama has decided holding the office of President of the United States sounds better than the reality of it, meaning that he's getting tired of actually having to perform the duties of the office. Maybe he thought it would be a cake walk and that through sheer force of will and personality he'd be able to skate through without actually having to do anything.

To quote one of my favorite philosophers, “Wanting is not the same as having.”

Welcome to the real world, Mr. President.


And speaking of Clinton, we have to look back to the presidential campaigns of 2008 when Hillary stated that Barack Obama wasn't up to the job. It turns out she was right.

As Glenn Reynolds had written at one time, he saw Hillary could be “the most uncompromising war-time president in US history.”


Will the EU bow to pressure from the emotional know-nothings to halt the use of genetically modified crops?

Such 'campaigns' have worked before, which is why the means to reduce or even eliminate starvation in African countries has been banned.

“You want to eat those Franken-food crops? Don't you know they're bad for you? You're better off dying of famine! Trust us, we know what's best for you...”

Such compassion.


The New England Patriots played the Chicago Bears in Chicago this afternoon. To say the weather conditions were less than optimal would be an understatement, with snow, high winds, and a wind chill in the single digits. In other words, perfect weather for the Patriots.

Not that the Bears aren't used to cold weather, but the Patriots seem to do better against opponents in winter conditions as they did this time, beating the Bears 36-7.


One question ObamaCare advocates forgot to ask: Will doctors limit the number of 'government' patients they'll see?

The answer is “Yes!”

I'll bet they didn't see that coming.


Lord Monckton's message to the attendees of the Cancun Climate Conference: Do your math. Your numbers don't add up.

To think that totally unimportant decisions about carbon emissions were made based upon faulty and outright false numbers.


We've always been told words have consequences. Now it appears the class warfare rhetoric of the Left has led to destructive action by arsonists in Cape Cod.

Considering much of the Left are also rich, this could come back to bite them in the ass big time.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the weather has been schizophrenic, Christmas is fast approaching, and where we've been able to dial back the woodstove to 'low'.


Businesses Hoarding Cash - Is It Any Wonder Why?

As the Obama economy keeps stumbling about like a drunken bar fly, businesses are holding on to increasing amounts of cash in the anticipation of worse things to come. It's not just large businesses doing so, but businesses across the board. As the WSJ piece linked above states, they have good reasons to do so.

The cash buildup [~$1.9 trillion] shows the deep caution many companies feel about investing in expansion while the economic recovery remains painfully slow and high unemployment and battered household finances continue to limit consumers' ability to spend.

The buildup has a big downside for companies, which get little return on their money because interest rates are low, but it reflects the relatively few opportunities they see to deploy their cash more creatively.

Why should any business use their cash reserves when the economic climate is so uncertain? Ironically, it is Obama's economic policies creating so much of the uncertainty, with looming tax changes, new nearly undecipherable regulations, and hostile anti-business rhetoric spewing forth from both the White House and a redistributionist Congress. When the risks far outweigh any possible rewards for using their cash, they'll hold on to it rather than spend it.

After the dot-bomb debacle in 2000, many companies became more financially conservative, putting aside more cash and depending less on equity debt, meaning loans. (Ford Motors is one of the biggest examples of this movement as it greatly reduced its debt, cut operating costs, and put aside large amounts of cash. It's the reason why it didn't suffer the fate of GM and Chrysler, both of which found themselves insolvent when their debt far outweighed their ability to pay it off.)

Businesses that have so far survived the Great Recession haven't been spending to expand or hire, instead making use of what they already have to meet any increases in demand. It's safer for them to pay their existing employees overtime than to hire new ones. If the economy takes a turn for the worse they won't have to lay off their new employees. Instead they'll do away with the overtime. It's cheaper.

While there have been some calls by economic ignoramuses for government intervention to force the cash fat businesses to start spending their money, such a move could backfire and deepen the recession as those businesses would find other ways to keep hold of their cash, even if it means moving it elsewhere.

Every time the government intervenes in the economy, short-circuiting market forces, the economy suffers for it. As I have mentioned to more than a few of my progressive acquaintances, the government is neither smart enough or wise enough to control the economy in any way without damaging it in the process. It's a lesson that must be learned again and again.


Another Blow Against Ethanol

Al Gore thinks ethanol is a bad idea. Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle want to kill the taxpayer funded subsidies for ethanol and remove the tariffs from foreign ethanol. But you really know ethanol subsidies are in deep doo-doo when even the Washington Post believes tax dollars are being wasted on something that should be able to survive on its own.

For decades, the idea behind corn ethanol has been that fuel derived from the crop could diminish America's dependence on distasteful foreign regimes for fuel - it's done some of this - and cut carbon emissions - it's done little of this. Congress established an overlapping and expensive system of subsidies, requiring that billions of gallons of ethanol be blended into the nation's gasoline, slapping tariffs on foreign ethanol and handing those who blend the fuel into gasoline a tax credit of 45 cents a gallon.

In other words, the government pays the industry for the privilege of selling to a captive market, spending $6 billion in 2009 on the tax credits alone. Without the tax credits, the amount of corn ethanol produced would still increase over the next 10 years, the Agricultural Policy Research Institute at the University of Missouri calculates.

While subsidies may have been used to start the corn ethanol industry, the reason for them to continue no longer exists. If the ethanol industry cannot stand on its own by now then it should be allowed to fail. It isn't up to the taxpayers to keep funding it. Either it will survive or it won't.

And to this point no one has convinced me it's even a 'necessary' industry as I find the argument put forward about the need to include ethanol in gasoline to be weak. In some cases it's caused problems far beyond any perceived benefits and at a cost to consumers in the way of more frequent repairs to some fuel systems that don't tolerate ethanol very well.

UK Still Freezing

The UK is still digging out from the snowfall in Scotland and East Anglia as temperatures stay well below freezing throughout the UK. To this point it's been the coldest December in 100 years and Great Britain is suffering from cold temps it is poorly equipped to handle.

Not that it's been all that warm here in New England either, but at least we're used to such weather. The cold temps arrived earlier than expected, with a number of towns in northern New Hampshire reporting overnight lows well below zero (Fahrenheit). It reached about 5ºF here at The Manse early this morning, meaning it was a bit chilly heading out to work. (I seem to recall we've seen more than one Christmas morning over the past 30 years where the day time temps never rose above zero. It wouldn't surprise me if it were to happen this year.)

So does anyone want to tell me about Global Warming again?


UK Freezes As AGW Folks Fiddle

Anyone still trying to sell Anthropogenic Global Warming might want to avoid the UK. Considering the Brits have been experiencing below normal temperatures for the second winter in a row and considerable snowfall this year, it would be a tough sell. Authorities figure close to 28,000 Brits died over a period of four months due to the extremely cold weather last winter and they fear the death toll will be higher this winter.

Where's global warming when you really need it?

McVictim Syndrome

First it was McMansions. Now it's McVictims.

This crap is getting old. Call these folks what they are: self-indulgent fatties not willing to admit the reason they're fat is because they eat too damn much, eat the wrong things, and don't exercise. It's easier to blame someone/something else rather than take responsibility for their own actions.

But then that's been the way over the past 40 years or so – it's always somebody else's fault.


Chris Christie And Plain Spoken Truth

The more I read and hear about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie the more I like the guy.

Why do I like him? It's simple, really. He speaks his mind. He says what he means and means what he says. In other words, he's blunt. He doesn't use euphemisms to skirt around issues or situations others might fear to address. If only there were more like him in government.

We've seen the videos of him addressing teachers, state employees, journalists, and just plain folks and telling them things they may not want to hear but need to hear. We've read about many of these same encounters. And each time he comes out ahead of his detractors and gains support from the “just plain folks.”

With that in mind we should take a look at what the Philadelphia Daily News has dubbed “The Sayings of Chris Christie.” A few examples:

"Let me help you pack."

That's what N.J. Gov. Chris Christie said to an overpaid school superintendent who tried to front-load his contract so he wouldn't be subject to Christie's proposed salary cap. When Christie tagged the superintendent the "poster boy of greed and arrogance," the school chief noted that he didn't have to work in Jersey - he could go elsewhere.


"Why would I want a less powerful job than the one I have now?"

Christie's tongue-in-cheek take on the notion that he might run for president. In fact, New Jersey's constitution grants the governor far more power than the governors of most other states. As for a presidential bid in 2012, Christie still says, "No way."


"I didn't want to be governor to be something. I wanted to be governor to do something." Christie's self-proclaimed raison d'être. This goes with a story about how he doesn't care if he's re-elected, he simply wants to get things done.

You gotta love a guy like that. As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing. Pay close attention to the comments as I think you'll find more than a few people not liking the idea that their governor is willing to let New Jersey taxpayers keep more of their money.

Opting Out Of California

It's one thing to hear about the exodus from California, with more people (and businesses) leaving the Golden State than arriving. It's just a statistic. But when one of those people, and specifically a businessman, decides to opt out and pull up stakes, it becomes more personal and a little bit less of a statistic.

I am one of those evil “high-earners” in California with income over $200,000 per year. It is unimportant to state legislators that we high-earners pay most of California’s taxes. According to the Franchise Tax Board, in 2007 more than 87 percent of California capital gains taxes came from taxpayers with adjusted incomes of more than $200,000. Residents with incomes over $200,000 pay 66 percent of its income taxes even though [they] earn just 39 percent of the state's income. More important to California’s future, most of us are small businesses, which account for 65 percent of new job growth in the state.

Taxing the folks earning the most to the point where they decide it's better for them to leave rather than be treated as nothing more than the state government's ATM is not the way for California to balance its budget. Nor is it a move towards fiscal sanity. It's just a more modern version of killing the goose that lays the golden egg. Apparently the folks in Sacramento and the people that put them there haven't figured out that if you punish people for being successful they will either work less hard and be less successful or they will pack up and leave for greener pastures. The net outmigration points to the latter. An already dire financial situation will become worse as the sources of revenue for the state depart.

Socialist California will fall prey to Thatcher's Dictum: “The trouble with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.” That's evident since the people with the money are voting with their feet and taking their money with them, opting out of the California dream turned nightmare.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It was a weirdly busy day for yours truly yesterday, taking care of a number of tasks but not really getting all that much done. It wasn't that I was lazy (though I am at times), it was just that these tasks took a lot of time but there wasn't much to show after all that effort.

I guess it just happens that way now and then.


Who knew Winston Churchill was a visionary along the lines of Nostradamus? He certainly predicted previously free nations becoming more socialist little by little and becoming less free and weaker economically.

He warned us about the trend and what its outcome would likely be...and he was right.

(H/T Instapundit)


No matter how hard the tax-and-spenders try to spin it, there's no way they can raise taxes above 19% of the Gross Domestic Product for any length of time. Goodness knows they've tried it again and again, but economic reality slaps them in the face when the economy (and therefore revenues) adjusts to the new taxes and the total collected remains 19% of GDP. Of course if they raise taxes high enough the economy contracts and revenues fall off, but don't try to confuse them with the facts...or history.


Is this the first sign the machines are starting to push back?

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

(H/T Vermont Tiger)


Gregory Sullivan gives us a brief primer on Maine politics and his thoughts on last month's election results.


Fellow Granite State blogger Dan Pierce will be filling in for talk-show host Bradley Jay tonight between 10PM and midnight EST on WBZ-AM (1030 on your AM dial). Since WBZ-AM is a 50,000 watt clear channel station you should be able to hear the show from just about anywhere in North America.


Moonbattery points us to this fine video comparing Republican women to Democrat women.

“Fine” versus “Fugly” indeed.


Cap'n Teach gives us a lesson about how Obamanomics works at the state level. Hint: It doesn't.


It's one thing to try and put some restraints on food being sold in schools. But once you start messing with bake sales it means war!

Surely, President Obama has more important things to do than to micromanage school bake sales. Afghanistan is having issues, the economy is tanking, and the unemployment rate went up to 9.8 percent. Everyone can see that these problems are all much more significant to the nation at large than school kids indulging in cookies and brownies from school bake sales, right?

Apparently not everyone. A child nutrition bill that is on its way to President Obama's desk for signing would put the federal government in charge of bake sales.


The Jawa Report makes some interesting comparisons I think you'll enjoy. (No, I'm not going to spoil it for you.)


And last, but not least, there's this from Glenn Reynolds Sunday column in the Washington Examiner where he compares the Obama presidency to Nigel Tufnel.

The more I watch this administration at work, the more I think we're seeing the first Nigel Tufnel presidency.

Nigel Tufnel, many will remember, was the fictitious heavy metal guitarist in the fictional "rockumentary" "This Is Spinal Tap." In a classic scene, he displays his guitar collection and his special amplifier that -- unlike all other amplifiers in existence -- has knobs that go all the way up to 11, instead of just 10.

And that's what Obama has done: In his first two years as president, he's taken us to 11 in so many ways.

As the saying goes, Read The Whole Thing.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter has still made only a momentary appearance, the snowblowers are being pulled out of storage and tuned up, and where the cord wood stacks have started to shrink.


The National Maximum Speed Limit And the Long Term Aftereffects

I will be one of the first people to admit that I rarely do the speed limit on limited access highways like the Interstates. I know I'm not the only one otherwise I wouldn't be getting passed all the time when I'm on them. (I won't do over 65 in the trusty F150 because at the moment it needs a front end alignment and at that speed it shimmies a bit.)

The speed limits on most of the Interstates is still too low. Here in New Hampshire the speed limit was 70 MPH until the National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) was imposed upon the motoring public back in 1974. The speed limit is presently 65 and it's too low. I know of few motorists that travel that speed on I-89, I-93, or I-95. Most are doing 70 or even 75. That tells me the speed limit is too slow,. Apparently. The NMSL became one of the most ignored laws on the books since Prohibition because it artificially lowered the speed limits on highways designed for much higher speeds. It was changed in 1985 to allow speeds of 65 MPH and repealed in 1995. Yet the speeds are still too low on some highways. To illustrate this, here's a little video showing exactly that, by way of Say Uncle:


Unemployment Rate Is Up Again

The unemployment numbers are out for November and, not surprisingly, they aren't good. While the previous few months the unemployment rate held steady around 9.5-9.6%, last month it rose to 9.8%. You wouldn't know the unemployment numbers are up considering the Dow closed up 19.68 today. Is this a disconnect or what?

Regardless of how Wall Street responded, the response of Congress makes me wince, it being something along the lines of “Unemployment nears 10%. Hey, let's raise taxes!” Yeah, that will work.

On Capitol Hill the House, controlled by Democrats for one more month, took swift action to make the economy worse. By a vote of 234-188 yesterday, the lame lawmakers approved a "Motion to Concur in the Senate Amendment with an Amendment" to the Airport and Airway Extension Act of 2010, Part III. Believe it or not, that's Beltwayese for "tax increase."

Is it any wonder the economy isn't recovering? Businesses are holding on to their cash and not hiring because they have no idea what to expect from the government (and particularly Congress) over the next few months. With that kind of uncertainty is it any wonder businesses are not expanding and not eating up their cash reserves in case things get worse?

As if the unemployment news bad enough, we must remember that there are a number of unemployed who have dropped off the roles because they've given up looking for work or have exhausted their unemployment benefits. If we include them in the unemployment numbers the actual unemployment rate is closer to 18%.

There's a side effect of all of this economic turmoil many are be ignoring: Some people are offered jobs but they can't take them. Here's why:

A local employer has been having problems finding the personnel needed in order to expand. A number of well qualified people have applied, been interviewed, and offered positions. But they've turned them down because it wasn't going to be possible for them to relocate because it was likely they wouldn't be able to sell their homes. Also the distance their commute would be far too long. Who wants to spend 4 hours a day on the road commuting to and from a job if it's more than likely they'll find a job much closer to where they presently live?

How do I know this? Because the local employer is the company I work for. And if my company moved closer to where some of these applicants lived? Then the present employees would have exactly the same problem. It's a no win situation until the economy and by extension, the housing market improves. Until then we're dead in the water.


Goodbye, Sweden. We Hardly Know You Anymore

The always eloquent Pat Condell bids farewell to Sweden, which he says will likely become the first European Islamic State because somehow the Swedish government has somehow convinced itself that being anything other than a Muslim immigrant is somehow being un-Swedish. Never mind that a country that rarely experienced violent sexual crimes is now a free fire zone for immigrant rapists.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)

Death Knell For Ethanol?

First it's Al Gore turning his back on ethanol and the government subsidies supporting it. Now it's a bipartisan group of Senators looking to kill ethanol subsidies and the prohibitive tariffs keeping foreign ethanol and feedstocks out.

It has become increasingly apparent ethanol, or at least corn-derived ethanol, is not the answer to our energy problems or the efforts to reduce our carbon footprint. Ethanol as it is presently produced here in the US is anything but carbon neutral and creates a net energy loss, meaning it uses more energy to produce it than it returns. As any economist can tell you, negative returns is one of the quickest ways to go bust and ethanol is nothing but negative returns.

If the ethanol industry can't stand on its own then it's time to stop wasting taxpayer dollars trying to prop it up, EPA mandates not withstanding.