If I Can So Can You

While Obama uses the specter of sequestration to herald the end of the world, others are skeptical of the doom and gloom prognostications if for no other reason that they've seen it before and it did no damage...at least to those of us not dependent on cushy government jobs.

Even average Americans understand this is yet another means Obama will use to get what he wants even if it further damages the economy. If average Americans can cut their budgets, so can the bloated federal government, just like middle class mom Kira Davis has had to do.

'Nuff said.


The Last Days Of Detroit?

If we need yet another in an endless list of examples of the downside of Democrat rule, we look again to the city of Detroit, a shining example of decades of dystopian blue-rule. Now considered the most miserable city in the US, it is also suffering from another blue-rule malady, property tax delinquency.

Nearly half of the owners of Detroit's 305,000 properties failed to pay their tax bills last year, exacerbating a punishing cycle of declining revenues and diminished services for a city in a financial crisis, according to a Detroit News analysis of government records.

Delinquency is so pervasive that 77 blocks had only one owner who paid taxes last year, The News found.

I'm not really surprised, knowing that a once vital city is a shadow of its former self, with block after block of abandoned homes and businesses. But I expect the Detroit Democrat Machine will point to Detroit's problems as somehow being the fault of the very people they're squeezing dry.

It’s easy to imagine progressives seizing on this information as some sort of proof that Detroit’s disastrous financial problem is due to those selfish property owners not paying their due to keep the city running. But really it appears to be a self-perpetuating cycle of dissatisfaction with the services – or rather the lack of services – property owners are getting from the city...

I know I would be loath to pay an always increasing tax bill while getting an ever decreasing amount of services from the city. Street lights are shut off and police no longer patrol or respond to crime reports in some neighborhoods. How would this entice me to pay even more of my remaining money when I know I'll get less in return? It's like something right out of Atlas Shrugged.

The state government has declared that Detroit is in a financial emergency, verging on bankruptcy. And should it go under, an emergency manager will be appointed by the state to clean up the mess, something the ever blue Democrats are scared will undo decades of blue-model governing that helped turn Detroit into a progressive utopian cesspool.

It couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks.

But we must not forget that Detroit stands as an object lesson, showing us what will happen if we follow the blue model. While Greece, Spain, Portugal, and some of the other EU nations verging on financial collapse are also object lessons, they are too far away and too 'foreign'. Detroit is in our back yard, as are some of the other failing blue-model cities. They stand as examples of what the progressives have in store for us.

Atlas Shrugged, indeed.


Thoughts On A Sunday - Storm Delayed Monday Edition

Note: This post is a day overdue. I had it finished, but Murphy had different ideas. Even though our power here at The Manse was out for less than an hour, our Internet connection wasn't restored until sometime late this morning. And while I did have 'net access from work, I do not have access to this site. (They're real funny about certain blogs...mainly mine.)

So without further ado, I present this, the Monday Storm Delayed Edition of Thoughts On A Sunday


Winter weather has visited us yet again, dumping about 4 inches of heavy snow so far, with a couple of more expected before everything winds down some time tonight. Unlike the last storm that left 22 inches in its wake, this one has been slow moving and the rate of snowfall has been slow as well.

The media didn't do its usual “We're all gonna DIE, so stay tuned!” shtick, which was a relief. There was no ominous 'severe weather' music leading into the “Storm Center”weather reports. There was only one report I saw with some TV reporter who drew the short straw standing out in the snow to show us that yes, indeed, it was snowing.

Frankly, I'd be happy if the TV media would keep the drama to a minimum, report snow totals, road conditions, and a brief synopsis of what has happened, what will happen in regards to when the storm will move along, and leave it at that. Trying to artificially crank up the anxiety level about something that happens every winter gets old very quickly. (It takes me all of 5 minutes to become bored with it, if that long.) But if this were happening in July, that would be newsworthy!

UPDATE: I had to go out to clean the snow off the satellite dish because it killed the signal. As I shoveled my way to where the dish was mounted to the side of The Manse, I realized the snow was almost knee deep and it's supposed to snow until some time around midnight.


A friend sent me a link to this piece of journalistic tripe, a hit piece blaming the sequester and budget problems on the GOP. Considering the Senate, a Democrat-majority chamber, hasn't passed a budget for over 4 years, I think they're pointing their fingers at the wrong party.

They lay the problem with the sequester solely at the feet of John Boehner, conveniently forgetting it was the President who put forth that solution after the GOP balked at Obama's demands for a last minute $400 billion hike in income taxes after a deal had already been struck between Obama and Boehner to head off a default.

This linked piece also lists all of the 'problems' the sequester will cause for the American public, again forgetting that the sequester was, in effect, a way of punishing the American people for having the audacity to question The One's intelligence and foresight. Such cuts are always aimed at the services and programs that will cause as much pain as possible while ignoring the pork, the do-nothing appropriations, the little known and little used agencies and programs that nobody would miss. They're acting like an $85 billion cut will cripple the entire government. That's funny considering that government expenditures total almost $4 trillion. It's a drop in the bucket.


At one point even NPR got into the blame game in regards to laying the sequester at the feet of the GOP. But pressure from those on Twitter forced NPR to correct their claim and put the responsibility where it belongs – the President.


Granite Grok has a series of posts covering the New Hampshire .223 Day of Resistance Rally on the State House steps. The rally showed our continuing support for the Second Amendment and our resistance to those who would strip us of the right to keep and bear arms. As Skip noted in one of his posts, “Many had rifles, the majority being the “make Progressive soil themselves” semi-automatic AR-15 style modern sporting rifles – most of the rest had pistols strapped to their hips or thighs (semiautomatics – you know, that 100 year old technology?).”

I had hoped to attend, but life's responsibilities got in the way. Chores I would normally do on Sunday had to be taken care of on Saturday because the impending snowstorm would have made them very difficult, if not impossible. (Believe it or not, one of my biggest 'difficulties' yesterday was finding a simple 1/4” shear pin for the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower. There were none to be had anywhere. I guess everyone bought up what there was of them after the last storm. Is 1/4” the most common size of pin used on these things?)

Yeah, I know. Excuses, excuses. But there are times I just can't get to the events I'd like to attend because I have to do things like support my family. (Both my wife and son are in college now, meaning I have to pick up the slack. That doesn't leave me nearly as much time to do the other important things.)


Like Glenn Reynolds has been saying for some time, it's time to end the Hollywood tax breaks!


The People's Cube celebrates 100 years of Progressive Redistribution of Wealth in the US.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


Partway through writing this, the power at The Manse went out. That was about 7PM. The power was back on 40 minutes later. After shutting down the computers (they all have UPS units), I pulled out one of our laptops, fired it up, and watched a DVD from the extensive Weekend Pundit Video Library. Once the power was restored I fired up the Weekend Pundit Main Computer and continued working on this post. However, I couldn't post anything because my Internet connection has not yet been restored (as of 11:22PM).


And that's the abbreviated (and storm delayed) news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the Weather Guys blew the forecast snow totals, the snowblowers had to do double duty, and where we're still not shoveled out.


Taxes Go Up, Consumer Spending Goes Down

Gee, color me surprised....NOT.

How anyone can deny that taxes have an effect on the economy need only take a look at what happened when payroll taxes went up 2 percentage points on January 1st – consumer spending fell.

As the article linked explained, the tax increase will “ding a household with $65,000 in annual income $1,300 this year.”

According to the Wall Street Journal, companies like WalMart, Burger King, Kraft Foods, and Tyson Foods have said they are lowering earnings forecasts and "adjusting sales and marketing strategies, expecting consumers with smaller paychecks to dine out less and trade down to less expensive purchases."

I don't know about you, but $1,300 is a big chunk of change in this household. For us that means we won't be replacing our never-really-worked-all-that-great and ailing clothes drier or making some needed repairs to the exterior of The Manse any time soon.

While in the past we have dined out a couple of times a month, that has fallen off to almost nothing. I haven't stopped off at the local diner for breakfast since the week of Christmas and we rarely order out for Chinese food or pizza anymore. Some of this can be attributed to rises in fuel prices – we have to spend the money we would have used for some of these activities to fill the gas tanks in our vehicles and the propane tank at The Manse. (Yes, we heat with wood, for the most part. But our water heater runs from propane and we don't have nearly as much firewood as we usually would as we didn't buy as much as we have in the past.) Some can be attributed to the rise in prices of other goods or services without a concomitant raise in wages.

With the demand by the President to raise taxes even more, how can there not be the side effect of even less consumer spending? Pulling hundreds of billions of dollars out of the economy to feed the always voracious federal government will make the problem worse. While the argument will be made by the left that all of that money will spent which still helps the economy, it isn't being spent in the right places and, of course, the government will take its cut. That means that for every dollar the government takes in, less than a dollar's worth will be spent on things that will 'stimulate' the economy. This is not how one expands economic activity. But to listen to the President and his leftist cronies, that's all that's needed to help the economy recover.

Some of these folks need to take a macroeconomics course and get a clue. That, and they should look up 'Laffer Curve'. But we know they won't because, after all, they know better than the rest of us.

Yeah. Right.


Rural America Told To 'Suck It'

It is no surprise to anyone not living in an urban area that there is a disconnect between those of us living in rural areas and those living in “the big city.”

This disconnect is causing increasing friction between cityfolk and those of us in flyover country. The needs of the urban areas are becoming paramount while the rest of us have to 'suck-it-up' and be ignored by the urbanites.

Much of this disconnect can be seen in the electoral map of the last presidential election. The granularity of each map changes the perception of who voted for Obama and who voted for Romney. At a state level, it looks like the states for Obama and Romney were split roughly even. But at a county level the map displays a sea of red with some urban islands of blue. So in effect those blue islands affect the rest if the red areas. The voices of those in the red areas are drowned out by those living in the urban blue areas. In effect, we countryfolk are being ignored and the wants and needs of the cityfolk are the only ones being addressed...at least until problems in the rural areas start affecting the urban areas. Then and only then does attention turn towards us until the crisis passes and we disappear from the perceptions of cityfolk. This continuing split isn't healthy for the country and in the end will cause problems for everyone.

With each passing election, rural and small town Americans have ever less influence on their state and national governments and ever declining control over the governance of their own communities. Their lives are increasingly controlled from distant state capitals and from the even more distant Washington, D.C., by politicians with little incentive to pay attention to their country cousins. To some extent, their disenfranchisement is the inevitable result of a century of urbanization and economic centralization. But the erosion of self-governance in rural America is also the result of a generally well intentioned but simplistic understanding of democracy and the associated elimination of institutional protections of local democratic governance.

Two ideas have been central to this effective disenfranchisement of rural America. First, that one person/one vote is an inviolable principle of democratic government under the United States Constitution. Second, that the winners of elections owe allegiance only to those who voted for them, no matter how close the margin of victory.

One of the biggest problems with this disconnect is that problems in the rural areas are addressed as if they are urban problems and urban solutions are applied. But something that works fine in the city won't necessarily work in the country. And what's worse, is even if the proper solution is applied, what works in one part of the country won't necessarily work in another part. But the big city folk don't seem to be able to comprehend this truth. On top of that this disconnect is even worse within the Beltway, with the politicians and bureaucrats believing that the metro Washington DC area is no different than the rest of the country. If only that were true (and only if Washington were more like the rest of the nation rather than the other way around).

Can this schism be healed? I don't know, but if it isn't bigger problems will arrive, dividing the country even more than it is.


Raising The Minimum Wage Hurts Those It's Supposed To Help

On more than one occasion I have voiced my objections to raising the minimum wage. I was against it in 2007, 2008, and 2009, as I am against the idea of raising it yet again. Just about every time the minimum wage has gone up, unemployment has gone up. Many of those on the left plead the case that no one can support a family of four on minimum wage, but since when has the minimum wage been about supporting such a family? Never. Primarily it has covered entry level jobs, particularly unskilled jobs. And who takes most of those entry level, unskilled labor jobs? Teens. And who gets hit the most when the minimum is raised? Teens.

So while the left tries to claim empathy with those trying to support their families on minimum wage, the truth is very few are doing that, and those that are rarely remain at minimum wage if they're doing a good job. So what's it all really about?

Trying to look good for the low information voters. And that's all this is for – appearance. However the reality of it all means that should the minimum wage be raised again it will help few but hurt many.


Thoughts On A Sunday

A little bit of winter weather has returned to New Hampshire, with a light snow falling this morning.

The Weather GuysTM are saying we won't get very much here in the Lakes Region, likely less than an inch, but it does mean we'll have to do some cleaning up.


Farmer Andy has hired a new hand to help out at the farm now that BeezleBub has to devote more time with his school work. (He started his classes last month at the local college and will be taking classes during the winter term over the next 4 years.)

For lack of a better name, I'm bestowing her with the moniker 'Dixie' if for no other reason she appears to be a female version of BeezleBub, only a lot prettier. They share the same taste in music, attire (John Deere shirts, hats, etc.), and she has a pickup of her own.


The debate about raising the minimum wage continues, with the economically clueless claiming it will raise more people out of poverty while ignoring the fact that it will in fact create more unemployment.

During some previous rises in the minimum wage it had little effect because the economy was good and many business were offering above minimum wage to get the employees they needed. But that isn't the case today and raising the minimum wage will hurt the very people it's supposed to help.

I have no doubt this debate will continue unabated. I also believe there's no way the effort to raise the minimum wage will make it through Congress.


Harvard economist Greg Mankiw asks the important question about the president's proposed hike of the minimum wage: Why $9? “Why not $10 or $12 or $15 or $20?”

He seems to think they may have just pulled that number out of mid-air as they have offered no justification for that number.


If we need yet another example of the endless evidence that the MSM is firmly in the pocket of the Democrats, Glenn Reynolds has an apt illustration showing just how bad and blatant the media has become in giving deference to a Democrat lawmaker and his sexual 'peccadillo' versus a Republican lawmaker's need to drink some water.

They aren't even bothering to give lip service to the idea of fair and balanced reporting anymore.


As if the use of 10% ethanol in gasoline isn't bad enough, now the do-nothing important EPA wants to raise the percentage to 15%, something this is sure to wreak havoc on cars, trucks, boats, and small engines.

E10 gasoline has caused more than enough problems, some of which I have documented here more than once. And now these 'Do-not-confuse-us-with-the-facts' bureaucrats are aiming to make things worse while telling us it's for our own good. Since when do these ideologically brain dead tin pot dictators know what's good for us? Their record over the past 10 years has been less than stellar.


As the day has passed, the snow I mentioned earlier has stopped, dropping less than an inch, but the winds have picked up and the temperature has fallen. There are lots of small snowdrifts across the roads and the gusts of wind have made it interesting driving down any open stretches of road.


You know the enviroweenies are losing it when they claim one of their favorite alternative energy sources, solar, is bad for the environment.

There is no winning with these idiots. Then again, they want all of us - except them – to go back to subsistence farming and to shorten our lifespans by 60 years or so. Maybe it's time for us to force them to put up or shut up. If they aren't willing to make the necessary sacrifices and live the way they want the rest of us to live, then we should ignore them because they aren't serious.


The gun-grabbers in Chicago need to get a grip on reality.

When they lock up a law-abiding citizen for ensuring her legally purchased and owned firearm is removed from her home during renovations but can't seem to stop the murders that take place on average once every 3.6 hours, they have their priorities screwed up.

But then Chicago has long been the bastion of wrong-headedness since the days of Al Capone.


You know ObamaCare's in trouble when a lefty website concedes that the GOP was right about its major deficiencies and overreaching regulations and costs.

As more is revealed about its major flaws, it can be seen that the Law of Unintended Consequences is making its influence felt to a greater degree with every passing moment.

It's time for Congress to kill this piece-of-crap legislation and go back to the drawing board.


I have to admit I hadn't thought about this all that much, but after the meteor strike in Chelyabinsk I did wonder why so many Russian cars seem to have dash cams. We certainly see enough Russian dash cam footage on TV shows like World's Dumbest on a regular basis. About the only dash cam footage we see in the US is primarily from police dash cams. But in Russia they're ubiquitous.

The reason?

The sheer size of the country, combined with lax — and often corrupt — law enforcement, and a legal system that rarely favors first-hand accounts of traffic collisions has made dash cams all but a requirement for motorists.

That certainly makes sense.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where winter has returned, the woodpile is shrinking fast, and where thoughts of sugaring (making maple syrup) have been intruding.


Oil Change Mania

While picking up trusty F150 after having it serviced during its annual safety/emissions inspection, the service manager at my mechanic's made mention that I don't put lot of miles on the truck, seeing that since the previous inspection the odometer showed less than 9,000 miles. He also brought up the subject of oil changes, mentioning that the oil in the F150 was due to be changed in 1500 miles.

This remark got us talking about oil changes in general and how too many people are having the oil in their cars and trucks changed too frequently. The oil in the F150 gets changed every 7500 miles, just like it says in the owner's manual. That oil change frequency is based upon using standard 5W30 grade motor oil. I use a synthetic, meaning if I desired I could probably go to every 10,000 miles or so between oil changes.

So why do people have the oil in their vehicles changed every 3,000 miles? Quite simply, marketing hype.

Oil chemistry and engine technology have evolved tremendously in recent years, but you'd never know it from the quick-change behavior of American car owners. Driven by an outdated 3,000-mile oil change commandment, they are unnecessarily spending millions of dollars and spilling an ocean of contaminated waste oil.

Although the average car's oil change interval is around 7,800 miles — and as high as 20,000 miles in some cars — this wasteful cycle continues largely because the automotive service industry, while fully aware of the technological advances, continues to preach the 3,000-mile gospel as a way to keep the service bays busy. As a result, even the most cautious owners are dumping their engine oil twice as often as their service manuals recommend.

After interviews with oil experts, mechanics and automakers, one thing is clear: The 3,000-mile oil change is a myth that should be laid to rest. Failing to heed the service interval in your owner's manual wastes oil and money....

Back in the bad old days of leaded gasoline, ignition points, and carburetors, motor oils weren't as good as they are today. Add to that the fact that engines are also far better than they were back then. So motor oil needed to be changed every couple of thousand miles to remove many of the combustion byproduct contaminants, dirt, and debris accumulating in the oil.

Cars and trucks also needed regular tune-ups every few thousand miles to compensate for wear and tear on ignition system components (coils, condensers, points, plugs, wires, rotors, and caps). Today's ignition systems have done away with most of those components and few have any moving parts. As a result engines run more efficiently and do not require the maintenance engines needed in the past, meaning less work for the service shops. So with vehicles not requiring nearly as many trips to the shop for regular maintenance over their lifetime, what are service shops to do?

Sell oil changes.

People were already programmed to have regular oil changes and by selling the idea that they would extend the life of their car's engines, it was an easy money maker. Since car owners rarely peruse the owner's manual they probably don't know what the recommended oil change interval is for their vehicle, so they leave it to the shop to determine that. Hence the window stickers showing the next recommended oil change...every 3,000 miles. That's a lot of oil being changed for no reason other than the guys at the shop making more money from those oil changes.

So do yourself a favor and check the owner's manual to find out how often you really need to have the oil changed...and don't buy into the “but your car/truck/SUV needs it changed more often because your driving comes under 'severe service', requiring more frequent oil changes” scam. Unless you're driving a taxi cab, police cruiser, fire truck, ambulance, or delivery truck, the chances are you're style of driving is not severe service. So stop wasting time and money and read your owner's manual.


Incandescent Light Bulbs R.I.P.

When they came for the 100-watt incandescent light bulbs, I remained silent because I didn't use them. Then they came for the 75-watt bulbs, and again I remained silent because I didn't use them. But next year, they'll come for the 60 and 40-watt bulbs and I won't be able to use them any more.

If nothing else the federal government's banning of incandescent light bulbs is yet another case of Big Brother making decisions best left to consumers. The enviroweenie do-gooders figure we aren't smart enough to make these decisions for ourselves, so they have to make them for us. Unfortunately they have fallen prey to the ever unforgiving Law of Unintended Consequences.

In their drive to make us start using more energy efficient lighting, they have instead created all kinds of nightmares, including environmental issues (mercury in CFLs which create major disposal and cleanup problems), inaccurate life-time estimates (some CFLs don't last any longer than incandescent lamps), quality problems, high costs, and a poor return on investment (the amount you save in lowered energy usage doesn’t pay off for years, if at all).

As Senator Rand Paul has mentioned, the government is making us pay for things we don't want, that don't work nearly as well as the older technology, don't last nearly as long, and cost more. Why would anyone do that voluntarily? No one would, which is why the government has been forcing us to do so under the guise of saving energy/water/Gaia when in fact doing so will do no such thing. The net energy, water, and materials used over a 20 year period may be well above that used by the 'less' efficient but more robust older technology.


Will Cash-Only Medical Practices Become The Norm?

Another unintended consequence of ObamaCare is making itself known as more doctors are bailing out of traditional medical practices and moving to concierge medicine. (This isn't unexpected to me as I've been hearing about physicians making the decision to refuse all medical insurance and taking cash only.)

There are so many advantages for doctors to switch to cash only practices and few disadvantages. Two of the biggest advantages? Lower cost health care because it costs less to provide. The usual overhead associated with the regular medical practices doesn't exist in cash-only practices. Hence, it costs less to provide the same, if not better care.

Under direct primary care, doctors contract directly with patients to provide all of their primary care needs free of insurance interference at a price generally between $50 and $60 a month per patient.

“It’s not just for the rich and famous anymore,” Merritt Hawkins’ Smith said of concierge medicine and direct primary care practices. “If you can afford a gym membership, you can afford this kind of care.”

The direct primary care approach provides unlimited visits to a physician’s office plus 24-hour access to doctors through e-mail consultations. The primary care model has drawn insurance industry opposition in part because the health insurer middleman is cut out of the equation as doctors are no longer paid by the likes of Aetna, Humana or a United Health Group.

Looking at the numbers, I would prefer to pay a concierge practice for my health care and keep insurance for catastrophic care. The fact that the insurance industry is opposed to such a system makes it clear to me that they don't want the competition, making concierge service that much more attractive. After all, the insurers won't get their 'cut' of the money we pay for health care, something to which it appears they feel entitled.

If nothing else the economics of cash-only medical practices prove that one of the major driving forces causing health care costs to skyrocket has been health insurance, something I've been saying for years.


More On The SOTU

I've read the transcript of the SOTU address and my suspicions were confirmed: there was nothing new there. It was a rehash of his previous SOTU addresses with a few new bits and pieces thrown in. (I found that reading the address was far less annoying than listening to it. The President's cadence is off-putting and I didn't have to listen to the applause whenever he put forth yet another leftist promise right out of the Marxist Handbook.)

One thing I expected and did see was Obama's threat that if Congress didn't give him what he demanded he'd go around them. So I suppose we can expect yet another series of executive orders that thwart the will of the people because only Obama sees the light.

One thing I didn't expect was his pledge to raise the minimum wage...again. He seems to think that all he needs to do is raise the cost of entry level labor and everyone will be lifted out of poverty. Too bad he slept through his college economics course because if he'd paid attention he would realize that all raising the minimum wage will do is increase unemployment, and particularly teenage unemployment (which stands at 24% at the moment) as they will have been priced out of the market. Obama has also proven that he's no student of history, or at least economic history, because the last three times the minimum wage was increased unemployment went up. No one wants to hire an inexperienced kid to do a menial job that pays that much!

Should they raise minimum wage, what does Obama think will happen to small businesses and the prices of all kinds of goods and services? Does he really think businesses will just automatically absorb those costs? Obviously he does. Is he in for one hell of a rude awakening.


State Of The Union - Deja Vu All Over Again

Did I listen to the State of the Union address?

Nope. No way. I had better things to do than to listen to stale platitudes and rehashed ideas from the past that didn't work then and won't work now.

Funny that the President only now is 'focusing' on jobs. He wasted four years trying build his legacy with that piece of crap called ObamaCare instead of doing what it is he promised to do – get the economy moving again.

His speech made sweeping statements about what needs to be done, but didn't give a single hint about how to actually do that other than the same old fixes – raise taxes and cut spending. But just like in the past, the only thing that he will work for is the first while ignoring the second.

If I didn't listen to the speech then how do I know what he said?

Because he recycles the same old tired phrases and 'solutions' from his previous SOTU speeches.

There's nothing new to see here folks. Move along.....


Thoughts On A Sunday

A good portion of the day yesterday was devoted to digging out after the blizzard. While I had guesstimated we'd gotten 18 inches of snow, an actual measurement after I'd removed some snow BeezleBub had moved earlier showed we got 22.5”. (I measured in three different places and I took the average.)

Some of the drifts were taller than the bite of the snowblower so it took a bit of work to get those cleared, but after two-and-a-half hours we had everything in the front cleaned up and had made a small dent out back. (I still have to shovel off the decks, something I'll take care of sometime later today.)

As storms go, this wasn't anything special. We've gotten as much snow during other storms. We've had a series of storms that dumped snow that totaled in feet. We've had storms with very high winds. We've had storms that coated everything is inches of ice and knocked out power across most of the state for days. In other words, it wasn't the “storm of the century” by any means, the news media notwithstanding. It was winter.

If all of this happened in July, the media would have something worthwhile to hype.


Speaking of snowblowing, I have to comment about the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower.* This being the first real winter we've had to put it through its paces, I have to say I'm impressed. It uses about half the fuel of the original Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower while clearing the same amount of snow in half the time. It also throws it a lot farther than the old one, making it easier to ensure there will be room to put more snow should we have more storms (an almost certainty).

*This is not a plug for the manufacturer, merely a commentary.


At least with this storm very few people in New Hampshire lost power. Some of that has to be attributed to the snow itself, being rather dry, light, and 'fluffy'. Not much accumulated on the trees and that which did was scoured off by the winds. Past storms with heavier, wetter snow almost always brought down tree limbs which in turn knocked out power lines.

Apparently our neighbors to the south didn't fare quite so well, with widespread power outages. But then they had much higher winds (they actually got the 'blizzard' part of the storm - high winds, zero visibility, heavy snowfall - while we got just the snow).


Bogie reports she received over 30 inches of snow in her part of New Hampshire and has the pictures to prove it.


Eric the Viking points us to this jab at the US Postal Service by FedEx:

“When it needs to get there Saturday, turn to FedEx.”

You'd have thought that after all this time the USPS would have gotten their house in order. But a couple of decades later outfits like FedEx and UPS are eating their lunch and stealing their dessert, too. This shows the difference between how private enterprise and government operations differ when performing the same service. Is it any wonder the USPS is circling the drain?


I think Dr. Benjamin Carson has a much better solution to health care than the train wreck also known as ObamaCare. It makes perfect sense, does away with heavy-handed health bureaucracies (and the bureaucrats that go with them), and most importantly, it will work. That's why it will never happen.

(H/T Maggie's Farm)


Rand Paul has an excellent rant about too much government control over what consumers can and cannot buy, listing the things that we can no longer buy without being fined by the government. Included are such items as toilets, appliances, light bulbs, and a whole host of other things that may be 'energy efficient' but don't work very well and, in the end, really aren't all that efficient.


As if we need any more examples of how ObamaCare is going to hurt far more people than it's going to help, there are these two stories from across the pond that show the UK version isn't just hurting and neglecting patients, it's killing them on a scale that would get just about any other industry in major legal trouble and people would be going to prison. It doesn't help that the BBC is trying to paint the NHS as a great success and failing miserably.

This is what we can look forward to as the destructive tentacles of ObamaCare start dismantling one of the best health care systems in the world all in the name of 'fairness'.


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where the next little weather system arrives on Monday, we're still cleaning up from the blizzard on Saturday, and where the ice fishing waits for no one.


Evidence They Really Don't Understand What's Important

It is becoming ever more evident there is a big disconnect between government and the people. We see it at the federal, state, and local level, with the worst disconnect at the federal level.

The people are focused on jobs and Washington is focused on everything but jobs, their press releases and sympathetic noises to the contrary. (As the saying goes, Ye shall know them by their deeds.)

In some of the big cities – LA and New York come to mind – they're more focused on what we eat or drink or the types of supermarket bags or food containers we use rather than fighting crime or maintaining sidewalks, roads, and other critical infrastructure. It isn't up to city government to tell us we can't drink Big Gulps or chow down an a saturated fat-laden double cheeseburger with all the trimmings that was originally contained in a styrofoam box carried in a recyclable plastic bag. They have more important things to take care of rather than busting our chops about the perfectly legal decisions we make about our lives.

Blizzard Aftermath Report

The snow is still falling here at The Manse as of 8AM. I can safely guesstimate that we've received 18 inches of snow, though I would say other areas in town got more. (The Manse is located on the west side of a hill so we're shielded from the winds during a Nor'easter, meaning we tend to get less snow than other parts of town during a Nor'easter.)

BeezleBub cleared the driveway last night around 11:30PM to allow Deb to get down the driveway and into the garage. 8 hours later it looks like he never touched it.

The snow is supposed to be ending around noon and then the cleanup will commence.


Storm Of The Century? Not Really.

For a couple of days now the media has been drooling over the prospect of another winter storm. Since yesterday I've been hearing the ominous “This storm is gonna KILL US ALL!” music leading into the various 'Storm Center' television reports.

More than a few have claimed it's the biggest storm in 100 years, but I recall the megastorm that was the Blizzard of 1993 that dropped snow from Texas to Maine. Here in New Hampshire I recall seeing over 2 feet of snow from that storm. Somehow I doubt this storm will be in that league thought it is expected to drop anywhere from 1 to 3 feet of snow here. (The Blizzard of 1978 was even worse. I recall that one all too well as I was living south of Boston at the time, the area hardest hit by that storm. We had 55 inches of snow and drifts that covered the sides of two and three story homes up to the peak of their roofs. Route 128, the circumferential highway that encircles Boston, was closed for almost a week because vehicles were buried under feet of snow.)

As per usual, the fear mongering has prodded large numbers of folks to head for the supermarkets to stock up on essentials like bread and milk (huh?) and the even more important junk food – pretzels, chips, beer, and so on. (At least those folks have got their priorities straight!)

About the only concessions I made in regards to storm preparations has been to top off the gas tank of the Official Weekend Pundit Snowblower, go over to the town DPW to refill some buckets with sand (needed to get Deb out of the driveway if it's slick), and to make sure the cell phones and laptop batteries are fully charged. While Deb hasn't gone out to 'refill the larder' (and I doubt she'll get the chance before the storm hits), we have plenty of vittles in the pantry and more than enough propane for the Official Weekend Pundit Grill. I also filled the gas tank of the trusty F150, but not because of the storm as payday Thursdays are the day I make my bi-weekly trip to BJ's to pick up supplies and fill the gas tank on the truck.

I have no doubt I'll be required to use the snowblower at least three times during the storm: at 11PM Friday night to make sure Deb will be able to get down the driveway and into the garage after work; at 6:30AM on Saturday to make sure I can get out and get the trusty F150 to the mechanic's for its annual inspection (I've been assured by the owner that they will be open Saturday morning); and finally some time Saturday afternoon/early evening to clean out the last of the snowfall after the storm has wound down.

In other words, this is going to be one of those more powerful Nor'easters. Not that I'm downplaying the hazard such a storm presents. After all, Nor'easters can kill and they have killed more than a few folks who didn't take the warnings seriously and weren't prepared to deal with them.


Town Meeting 2013 - Part 2

Last night's school district meeting went off without a hitch, lasting all of 23 minutes gavel to gavel.

Tonight's town meeting lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes, with almost an hour spent on one warrant article that in the end we hope will go down to defeat.

Our selectmen wanted to change an combined office, that of Town Clerk/Tax Collector, into two separate positions, with the tax collector becoming an appointed position. Unfortunately they didn't check the state statutes before they crafted the warrant article and found out during town meeting that if the positions were separated that the Tax Collector would also have to be elected. Oops.

Best comment about this particular warrant article: “If it ain't broke, don't fix it!”


Town Meeting 2013

It’s that time of year when towns in New Hampshire start assembling the warrant articles for their town and school district meetings.

My little town has a school district deliberative meeting tonight and the town deliberative meeting tomorrow night. In both of these meetings the registered voters and other interested parties will review and, if necessary, amend the various warrant articles that will appear on the town ballot next month.

Our town does things a little differently than some of the others, where our school district and town meetings are split up into two different sessions – the deliberative and the voting. Other towns still hold traditional school and town meetings where the deliberation, amendments, and voting are each performed at in a single session. Each form of meeting has its advantages and disadvantages. Each town decides how they want to conduct their respective meetings.

It is at these two meetings where the taxpayers in our town will decide where their tax dollars are spent over the upcoming fiscal year. It is here where we can see exactly how spending will affect our property taxes. It is here where we can debate face to face the merits of some expenditures, question the need for other kinds of spending, as well as decide what ordinances will be in effect that direct everything from how the town will bid out contracts to property line setbacks to the types of businesses we will allow and where they can be located. (We really don’t want a strip club next to the schools, do we?)

In the end it is those of us who want a say in how our town and schools are run and funded that “git ‘er done”. It also gives those of us who take the time to do so that can tell the others who can’t be bothered to vote on these issues to pound sand if they don’t like how something was done. As the saying goes, “If you didn’t go to town meeting and vote, you have no right to complain.”

While we don’t get a huge number of people showing up at the school district and town deliberative sessions (usually somewhere between 200 and 400 people), voter turnout for the town elections the following month can total many times that number, meaning a goodly portion of the registered voters in town actually showed up at the polls. Keeping that in mind, they usually get it right…but not always. Then again no one ever said democracy was easy or without error.


Thoughts On A Sunday

It's SuperBowl Sunday and it's quiet around here...at least until the game starts.

While my home team, the New England Patriots, aren't playing, I will be watching, rooting for the 49ers.

I took care of most of the necessary work around The Manse on Saturday to ensure I wouldn't have to take care of some of my regular chores today, possibly interrupting my enjoyment of the game.


Both Deb and BeezleBub are now well into their school/work schedule, with BeezleBub taking morning classes at the local college and doing homework or working at the farm in the afternoon. Deb also has morning/early afternoon classes three days a week, leaving for work from school. That makes for some long days for her.


One factor constantly overlooked when it comes to the solvency of such programs as Social Security and Medicare is that both were based upon the assumption that the American population would continue to grow at the rate seen during the Baby Boom. Unfortunately that assumption was wrong, in turn causing problems with both of those programs. Each of them assumed there would be 6 people to pay into SS and Medicare for every one person receiving benefits. But the harsh reality is that that number has dropped to under 3 for every one collecting benefits, a rate that is unsustainable.

One of two things will have to give. Either benefits will have to be scaled back or taxes that presently pay for those benefits will have to be boosted to confiscatory levels. Neither idea is attractive, and of the two, the latter is far more destructive to America. But something will have to be done. As Glenn Reynolds constantly reminds us, that which can't continue forever, won't.


The gun control debate has spun out of control, with emotions and DSS (Do Something Syndrome) on one side trying to drown out any possibility of a ration discussion with the other side.

There's the Minnesota legislature trying to enact state laws that will severely restrict the types of guns and magazines their citizens can own, something that is likely unconstitutional (as well as unworkable), to the misleading straw man arguments being made by gun control advocates that add nothing but emotion to the debate.

One of the biggest claims made for trying to infringe upon the Second Amendment rights of law abiding citizens is the “if it only saves one life” argument. But none of those folks using that as a reason are willing to explain that while such actions might save one life in one place, they will cause many other lives to be lost. What's an acceptable ratio for these folks? 1 to 2? 1 to 4? 1 to 8? How many now defenseless people will have to die in order to make those suffering from DSS feel better?

If they were truly concerned about those lives, they wouldn't be pushing for stripping law-abiding citizens of their right to defend themselves. Instead, they'd be pushing for more effective policing (the 'broken windows' strategy) and a roll back on the restrictive laws that make it darn near impossible to take the dangerous mentally ill off the streets. Both of those would be far more effective than restrictive and ineffective gun control laws.


By way of Glenn Reynolds comes this piece in the Washington Post about how Congress is not like the rest of us in America.

That might explain why Congress is also so out of touch with what's really important to the rest of us.


Matt Ridley makes the argument that applying the precautionary principle to the still unproven 'theory' of CAGW makes no sense and is far more destructive than any effects of global warming.

Then again, the unwavering warmists see this as a feature and not a bug because it will give them control over every aspect of our lives, something they see as a means to 'heal' Gaia and keep the evil humans in check.


Assistant Village Idiot makes the observation that those most in favor of multiculturalism in theory seem to like it least in practice. I find they also tend to be far less tolerant of ideas that disagree with their own, particularly if that disagreement comes from what AVI calls Red-White people. They also tend to be more racist than Red-White people, something I've mentioned before. It isn't blatant, but rather it's insinuated and couched in off-hand language and euphemisms.


I have been checking out The People's Cube for some time now and I have to admit it's one of the better blogs I've seen in regards to the socialist agenda. Much hilarity ensues!

Check it out now, Comrades!


According to Eric the Viking, the media is claiming the continuing jobless job recovery is not Obama's fault.

So the economy created 157,000 new payroll jobs in January. Wow. At this rate, we might actually get back down to Bush-era unemployment rates sometime, oh, within the next 100 years.

Exactly...and it will still be all George W. Bush's fault.


How to deprogram a liberal.

'Nuff said.



Here's yet another example of how ObamaCare is killing off more jobs.


Touching once more upon the gun control debate, Blogmocracy tells us more than 256 sheriffs and 6 state sheriffs associations want no part of Obama gun control measures.

A number of states have also stated they will not adhere to any useless or extreme gun control measures coming out of Congress or executive orders from the President. I dare say many of them would go to SCOTUS to reinforce their stands on the Second Amendment.

(H/T Pirate's Cove)


And that's the news from Lake Winnipesaukee, where pond hockey is being played, ice fishing has been picking up, and where our woodpiles are shrinking.


Questions Not Asked About ObamaCare

As the effects of Obamacare on businesses and the economy become more evident, one has to ask what the hell Pelosi, Reid, and the rest of the lockstep Democrats in Congress were thinking when they 'passed' the steaming pile of manure that was the Affordable Care Act? (Of course the question answers itself – they weren't thinking at all.)

If anyone ever needs a shining example of the Law of Unintended Consequences, then the ACA – aka ObamaCare – fits the requirement. And as those unintended consequences add up, we will find our economy weaker and 'affordable' care becoming less affordable and less available. (That's already happening as health insurance premiums are skyrocketing.)

Regardless of the actual motivation behind ObamaCare, there are far too many downsides to it that Congressional Democrats ignored. Even if the reason behind ObamaCare is to force health care into a single payer system, it won't matter if the health care system has been destroyed and the non-health care effects on the economy drive us deeper into a recession. It would be a Pyrrhic victory.

At least someone out there understands where the Democrats made the mistake, ignoring history and choosing to overlook the actual effects of the ACA.

Why not say anything about the actual increases in employee cost per hour and how it is driving the employment market? This is the problem with the arguments against Obamacare. Everything is done in terms of grand scale and not in terms of human scale. Why not do a study of companies with 100 or less employees showing how Obamacare costs are equal to adding 8 employees to the payrolls to companies that laid off 30 people to survive? That is the argument Reagan made. He always tried to talk about the cost of government in terms of the average person's daily life. Everyone in government is so used to play money terms and spends $ billions with no connection to Joe and Jane six pack.

But then the Democrats aren't interested in “the cost of government in terms of the average person's daily life.” Oh, they'll make the appropriate noises about supporting the working families in their respective districts and states, and then work hard to make their lives more difficult and suck even more money out of everyone's pockets, leaving nothing to show for it other than a bloated inertia-laden government incapable of doing anything efficiently and an economic wasteland where once a thriving economy existed.

Of course I expect the Democrats (and Obama) to lay the blame on George W. Bush even though he's been out of office for over 4 years. It seems they are incapable of taking the blame for anything they've done wrong, unwilling to say “Hey, we screwed up!” And with those blinders on, they aren't able to see what the real problems are and what's actually needed to fix them.

And so it goes with the effects of the ACA.


Gas Prices?

I had to run an errand to Deb's place of employment, she having forgotten something she needed. On my way there I noticed that gas prices had changed.

I had filled up the trust F150 a week ago at the local BJ's, shelling out $3.329 per gallon. As I passed by there on my way home after dropping off Deb's stuff, I saw that gas was now at $3.519. That's a 19¢ increase in one week.

Did I miss anything of great import that would have caused gas prices to go up by that much in a week?