Sunday, January 25, 2009

Keep Pressing 1

I ran across this article last night:

Nashville's English-only measure defeated
By Chris Echegaray • THE TENNESSEAN • January 23, 2009

Nashville listened to its leaders — the governor, the mayor, and a vast coalition of churches, businesses and universities — and defeated an English-only measure by nearly 10,000 votes in Thursday's special election.

No one predicted the massive turnout on the special election, one that inspired strong emotion from voters on either side. Ultimately, opponents said, the message that diversity is a good thing came through.

Ahh, yes. That "diversity" thing. The reason people don't bother to learn English while living in an English speaking country. The reason I couldn't communicate with half the people in the neighborhood I worked in, even though they had lived there for 20 years. They didn't need to learn English.

Baron said English-only measures are often veiled attempts against immigrants and non-English speaking groups. The argument over English-only found itself framed around Latinos and illegal immigration, but it also would have affected the thousands of refugees the federal government resettles in Nashville.

Yes, there are some idiots whose whole point is to pick on immigrants, but in my case that is not it. Come here legally, learn to talk to us,and I'll welcome you with open arms.

The problem I have is when I cannot get service or information here in Los Angeles in English.

At my old oil company I drove a small tank truck and needed a commercial drivers license. Having a clean record, I only needed to take the written test every four years, so I decided to swing by the DMV and pick up the commercial handbook and review it. They had it in Spanish and Chinese, no copies in English, so I drove to the next city...Spanish, Korean and English. I did get a copy in the next city up the road, but now my boss is calling me wondering if I just took the rest of the day off.

There is such an emphasis on bilingual employees now at gov't agencies, that while the civil servant may be able to speak English, you can't understand them and half the time I'm not so sure they really understand what I'm asking.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Just Fun Today

Work is good. I'm on graveyard shift (which I like), and I've just missed the rains that are passing through. Nothing on TV at night so lots of cruising the net and reading between rounds, which are every 20 minutes right now due to trying to sell natural gas and having to manually operate a valve to keep the pressure and flow right. No biggy, it's something to do.

A couple of thing I ran across:

Why engineers have dogs

Just a song that was hanging in my head this morning

Incubus - Love Hurts

Think I'll go buzz the ATM. I'm going to start pulling cash out to shove in an envelope for my trip to Georgia for Chris' graduation from Boot. If I don't start setting the money aside in small chunks now, I'll spend it somewhere else and come March I'll be scrambling.

Friday, January 23, 2009

White Is The New Black

Somehow, I don't think MLK had this in mind.

You don't disqualify someone because the are other than white, you now disqualify them because they are white.

Though the country is deep shit economically, all this taxpayer money being laid out doesn't...shouldn't go to the most qualified needs to be spent for "high social return".

The official Federal policy now is "It doesn't matter whether you are the most qualified, you just fill the quota of the right number of people of that ethnic slot that needs to be filled.

According to Rangel, the States that have to count on these projects are going to have to abide by the number of minorities and women hired for that project in order to get the money to do the job that needs to be done.

The Feds will have to make sure that the "formulas" are met.

Rangel also pointed out that they don't have to worry about the "Middle Class" as they will be working too hard to pay attention to this boondoggle...until they lose their job due to this reverse discrimination.

A little thing that makes me wonder: Construction worker = Union.

Why would they target one of their base?

Perhaps with the taxes Congress plans to impose, they know these existing middle class workers are going to be a wee bit upset that they are expected to pay more taxes to fund the give-a-ways?

By then, they will be the ones laid off with no job and counting on Gov't largess to get them through. The new guys will just think these taxes (45%...70%) are what we pay to live in this country. (you did know John Lennon moved to the U.S. to avoid the 70% income tax of Great Britain, while telling us what shits we were for having such a capitalistic society?)

Socialism has come to this country. What you earn is not yours. The house you bought can be taken "for the good of the community", the job you've held for the last twenty years may be in jeopardy because your company is a percentile under the minimum of minorities needed to qualify as acceptable.

Fun With Taxes

I had my Geithner moment this year.

My wife did the taxes two years ago, gave me the forms (State and Federal)to sign, and after cringing at the amount due, signed them and I thought that was over.

Last year, with my wife gone, I did the taxes. With only one income, we were getting money back (both State and Federal)for the first time since I can remember. Silly me!!!

Turns out she "neglected" to send in the checks to pay the owed taxes, so I got letters stating not only would they not rebate my overpayment, they were garnishing my wages to collect the past due amounts (plus penalties and interest).

Odd thing though, they garnished the total due (plus penalties and interest).

The State of California, finally realized what they did (overcharge me and forcibly took more money than they were "owed"), so they issued me a credit of $550 on this years taxes for their overcharge (NO interest or penalty to them).

The really fun thing about this is the State of California is broke, so being my financial situation hasn't changed, I should be getting a refund again this year, so I should get another refund of around $500, there is no money in the state treasury to pay me, so they are going to give me an IOU (no penalty or interest).

$1000 owed me by an agency, that refuses to pay me the money they owe me and there ain't squat I can do about it.

That $1000 would pay for my trip to Georgia to see my son's graduation from Boot.

The Feds have done the exact same thing. I just haven't had time to figure out how much they've screwed me for. Rough guess...about $3500.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Phone Call From Boot

He started Thursday, they were suppose to get phone privileges on Sunday, BUT, "someone stole" something so privileges where suspended. Lot's of time standing in formation, after little sleep for 4 days waiting for the thief to fess up to the crime.

Chris sensed that nothing had really happened, it was a test. It was a message that any behavior by one person deemed unacceptable to the Sgt's would be paid for by the whole platoon.

He got his phone back Monday for two hours, but when he tried to call me (4 X's), I was at work, cell phone in my locker, so he'd try my number, call someone else to try to get my work number, then try me again. (I told him to enter my work phone, but...) By the time he finally got me the DI's were yelling at them to turn in their phones.

For some reason about 2 hours later, they were reissued their phones for 2 hours and he called me again.

He's really tired (sleep deprivation), he's pissed at the gung ho assholes, and he's been issued an ancient weapon.

Sleep Deprivation: He remembers my stories from going through "Hell Week" in a Frat (ΘΔΧ), and how they used waking you up constantly with only an hours sleep, kinda screws your reasoning processes. I did it for one week, he has about 4 weeks to look forward to.

gung ho assholes: The guys who are sure the Army is what they are here for...they volunteer for Team Leader duty..."they'll be Sgt. by the end of Boot". The Team Leader's job is to make sure their detail is awake for their 1 hour duty at 0200, but they screw up and get the guys up at midnight. When everyone is up, dressed and ready to report, they realize they don't have to report for 1 1/2 hours, no time to go back to bed, so they're up. What should be a two hour duty is now 4+ hours. We agreed that either the DI will point out the error of his ways, or his "team" will let him know.

issued an ancient weapon: His rifle is old!!! He's already figured out the proper sequence of whacking it on one side during assembly, then whacking it on the other to get the bolt to work properly. He is very happy he spent time learning how to clean my guns.

There is the typical mental BS they put them through, He has to know the SecDef (The Right Honorable Robert Gates) and all the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He was scared to death that they would change today (the Inauguration of Obambi), but I assured him that with Gates still three, nothing will change for a week or two.

He graduates March 25, I'm trying to find the monies to fly out there to be there, and by G-d, I think I may pull it off. I've got 3 weeks vacation this year and I'd only have to use 3 work days. My Foreman is an Army brat and realizes this is an important day and said he'd do what he can to clear it, even though there is a ban on vacations until June. I have a five day "long change" on the end of his graduation, so as long as I'm in the South, I have a chance to visit a very close friend in Birmingham, Al.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Outside Of What Would Have Been a Good Article

Admit It: The Surge Worked
By Peter Beinart

Nobody can even write a conciliatory piece saying that some things went right without that last little dig. And this one pisses me off more than any other:

Convinced that the Reagan years had forever vindicated deregulated capitalism and unfettered American might, the Bushies blithely dismissed liberals who warned about deregulation...

For Gods sake look at the records!! Bush actually pushed for regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. It was the Dems that stopped it. If those regs had been put in place, this collapse wouldn't have happened.

The Reason For My Fear

The Only Thing We Have to Fear . . .
is Obama.
by Fred Barnes

Presidents with strong nerves are decisive. They don't balk at unpopular decisions. They are willing to make people angry. President Bush had strong nerves. President Clinton, who passed up a chance to eliminate Osama bin Laden, did not. Obama is a people pleaser, a trait not normally associated with nerves of steel.

We're Pathetic

The U.S. has become a nation of cry babies that can't deal with anything like adults.

From Mark Steyn in the OCResgister:

Our permanent state of routine emergency

In just about his last act as president, George W. Bush has declared Washington, D.C., a federal disaster area.

It's been a disaster area since it was founded, but I don't think that's what he's getting at.

No, seriously. I'm not setting up some lame-o punchline here, like we used to do a decade back in the good old Monica days: "President Clinton today declared his pants a federal disaster area," etc. What happened last week was that the Bush administration formally declared a federal emergency in the District of Columbia.

So what was it? An ice storm? A hurricane?

Do tell! What is this impending disaster?

No, it's the inauguration of his successor. The inauguration is scheduled to make landfall on Tuesday and wreak havoc all night long, as Category Five conga lines buckle highways round town, and emergency busboy crews find themselves overwhelmed as they struggle to clear drained champagne flutes. So the mayor, Adrian M. Fenty, put in a request for more federal money, and, apparently, the easiest way to sluice the cash to him no questions asked was for the president to declare a state of emergency in the District and funnel however many extra gazillions he wants through FEMA – the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

"I don't know if anybody's ever done that," said Dana Perino, the White House press secretary.

Aaahh! I get it. This sudden, unforeseeable "disaster" is about to fall on the district, and in spite of us being told that all expenses ($150 mil worth) would come from private donations, they need more and lucky us, we get to pay for it.

They don't even have the cajones to come right out and tell us we've got to pick up this slack, they do the little sidestep, and sneak it through as disaster relief.

Indeed. One reason why nobody's ever done that before is because a presidential inauguration is not (to be boringly technical about it) an "emergency." It's penciled in well in advance – in this case, so well in advance that for years Democrats have been driving around with "1-20-09" bumper stickers on the back of their Priuses. Emergency-wise, that's the equivalent of Hurricane Dan Rather wrapped around a lamppost in his sou'wester, hanging there in eager anticipation every night for half a decade. Generally speaking, changes of government are only "emergencies" in the livelier banana republics where this week's president-for-life suddenly spots the machete-wielding mob scrambling over the palace walls so nimbly he barely has time to dial the Liberian branch of FEMA and put in a request for extra Portapotties and a rope-line management team

As far as the allusion to banana republics...we'll have to wait and see how the gathered throngs react.

The proposition that a new federal administration is itself a federal emergency is almost too perfect an emblem of American government in the 21st century. FEMA was created in the 1970s initially to coordinate the emergency response to catastrophic events such as a nuclear attack. But there weren't a lot of those even in the Carter years, so, as is the way with bureaucracies, FEMA just growed like Topsy. In his first year in office, Bill Clinton declared a then-record-setting 58 federal emergencies. By the end of the Nineties, Mother Nature was finding it hard to come up with a meteorological phenomenon that didn't qualify as a federal emergency: Heavy rain in the Midwest? Call FEMA! Light snow in Vermont? FEMA! Fifty-seven under cloudy skies in California? Let those FEMA trailers roll!

Tent...camel nose...Nobody seems to learn. Once a state or federal agency is formed, all the DDT, dynamite or penicillin in the world will ever make it go away let alone stay with the constraints it started with. It'll just morph into something bigger with more areas to cover. And it won't matter that they sucked at trying to cover their original obligations...if they get bigger, and get a larger budget, they'll provide more civil servants services.

The Cato Institute's James Bovard was struck by the plight of Vernon, Conn., a town ravaged in the winter of 1995-96 by, er, slightly more snow than they'd expected. So FEMA sent them a check for $40,023. Vernon had 30,000 people, and its town snow-removal costs that winter were $258,000. "That's just $8.60 per person," Bovard pointed out, "less than a 12-year-old charges to shovel out a driveway after a good snowfall."

OMG!!! A town in Connecticut got snow (love that Global Wormering) and it was more than they anticipated? Being rational human beings one would plan for something close to the same thing next year, right?

So why did they need "federal emergency" aid? Because the town had only budgeted $104,516, and so claimed to be "overwhelmed" by the additional costs. They could have asked the good burghers of Vernon to chip in an extra five bucks apiece. But why bother when FEMA's so eager to give you a warm bath in the federal love nectar? The town government wised up pretty quickly. The next winter, they set the snow-removal budget at just $69,383.

That's the ticket, cut the snow removal budget by 33%! If it snows this year (want to take bets on if it did?), the Feds will make up any shortfall.

So a "federal emergency" is no longer a nuclear strike on Cleveland or even a Category Three hurricane, but now a snowfall in New England and an inaugural ball at the Mayflower Hotel. As Mister Incredible shrewdly observes to his kid in "The Incredibles," when everybody's special, nobody is. Likewise, when everything's an emergency, nothing is: We live in a permanent state of routine emergency.

Anything basic that we don't want to pay for now can just be ignored, don't plan for snowfall, don't plan for mudslides (Calif.), don't expect it to get effing hot in Arizona and have a shortage of electricity to run the A/C... FEMA is there and will bail us all out.

This is just another example of "spreading the wealth". I'm in California paying for snow removal in Connecticut, and Iowa is paying for my mudslides and fire prevention. That Bush declared this POS just fries my burnt!

The metastasization of FEMA teaches several lessons – the first and most obvious being that any new government program, agency or entitlement will always outgrow whatever narrow purpose it was created for. Which is why we small-government types are wary of creating any new ones in the first place. Thus, an itsy-bitsy bit of inconsequential government tinkering on the periphery of the mortgage market expanded to the point where federally mandated home loans to the uncreditworthy came close to collapsing not just the U.S. property market but the global financial system.

If you'd suggested in the Seventies a new federal agency to cope with municipal snow removal in Connecticut, you'd have been laughed out the room. But, with government, mission creep isn't a bug but the defining feature. In mid-September, the "bailout" was a once-in-a-lifetime emergency measure to save the planet. A mere four months later, it's the new baseline. If your congressman's lousy boondoggle has got six zeroes on the end, it's an earmark: Boooooooooo! If it's got 12 zeroes, it's a "stimulus": Hurrah!

Laugh it up fuzzball. FEMA is now willing to cover any inconvenience our elected officials decided not to budget for, that way they can supply free needles to addicts and university education to illegals. Oh, you get to pay for that too.

I'm not worried about "change" so much as creep. The Obama administration doesn't have to do anything terribly transformative – overnight socialization of health care, etc. In fact, it doesn't have to do anything at all. It could just sit there, and America would still drift remorselessly, incrementally left, inch by inch. Eventually, you reach a tipping point: At some point in the next four years, we will reach a situation where the majority of Americans pay no federal income tax but are able to vote themselves more goodies from those who do. The most basic of conservative principles is that if you reward bad behavior you get more of it. We now have a government offering trillion-dollar rewards for bad behavior to the financial system, to the housing market, to the auto unions and to individual voters. And the heirs to those Connecticut town meetings that Tocqueville regarded as the best form of government ever devised by man now underbudget their snow-removal costs, secure in the knowledge that the Feds will pick up the tab.

This is beyond bad behavior, this is pathetic. My income was cut in half two years ago, but I've kept my house payments current, paid insurance, even most of my bills are paid up. I cut back on expenses and prioritized what was necessary to keep up with my obligations and try to plan for future "disaster". I doubt I'm going to get a court ordered refi on my house or any forgiveness on debts. Most likely, I'm going to be taxed higher to help those SOB's that were underqualified for a loan. Sounds fair to me.

We're now told that the problem with the last New Deal is that it was too small, so Obama's new New Deal has to be even bigger. That's like telling New Orleans that the problem is they're not far enough below sea level so they need to dig deeper. If Washington is now a federal disaster area, it would be nice to think of Barney Frank and the gang waving from the roof of the Capitol until they can be evacuated somewhere safe, like one of the outlying South Sandwich Islands or Charley Rangel's vacation property in the Dominican Republic. But, alas, Washington is one of those disaster relief cases, where they get the relief, and the rest of us get the disaster. As the incoming president has said, this is the worst crisis since …oh, at least the great Vernon, Conn., snowfall of 1996. To facilitate the stimulus, I urge him to declare every American his own individual federal disaster area.

Government does not create productivity!!!

Government may create a job, but to pay for the job they must provide the funds, The funds come from the taxpayer, who must now pay more in taxes to fund the government created job, thereby, the taxpayer, having less to spend on products depresses the economy more, causing layoffs with more people looking to the government to give them something to do (or at least pick up their bills), making the few remaining taxpayers pay more....and around and around...and around.

Obama seems to be naming a lot of "czar's" in his administration. These are people who are going to make policy on all these different facets of my life. I didn't elect them and I don't what them telling me how I have to live my life. If I can afford something, I'll use it. If I can't, then I'll adjust my lifestyle (right Mr. Gore?).

I waiting for the food police to kick in, probably shortly after they get National Health Care. I've never eaten a "good" diet, I've got too many vices that I indulge in, BUT, even though I'm way under BMI and eat what I feel like, I've had 5 sick days in the last 10 years...and I don't get paid for unused sick days. (Aside: I don't take "Metal Health" sick days, I can get sick, but it's not on a Monday or Friday.)

Anyone want to go up against that? I don't need instruction on how to live, I think I do OK.

We're a nation wussies that want someone else to cover our shortcomings, but we've forgotten that the money to do that comes from us, and the more people that want to be protected from their shortsightedness, the fewer people there are to cover their mistake(s).

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I've Heard From Chris!!!

I got my first letter from my son since the Army drug him off a week ago. He wrote it by flashlight after lights out and psyching himself up for "fire patrol" from 0300 to 0400 (I'm learning this Army lingo :) ).
He was awake for over 40 hours from the time they left L.A. til he got bunked down at Ft. Benning. Due to his JROTC stint, he was made team leader and got to shepherd a group through all the indoctrination process.

He's wearing his ACU's now and is realizing he's just a cog in the military machine. He felt unique in HS in his Air Force ROTC uniform being they were 100 out of 900, now everyone wears a uniform.

I've gone from counting the days when he would leave and I'd get the house to myself, to missing him and wishing I could at least talk to him on the phone. The good news is he misses home and is looking forward to coming back, but that is still four months down the road.

Now I'm just counting the days until I see him again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Fighting With My Personal Devils

For the first time in over 30 years, I am alone.

The wife is back in Montana, and Chris left for Ft. Benning last Thursday. I haven't lived by myself since the late '70's. I had roommates, then my wife and the kid. Now it's just me, the dog, my a**hole cat and the bird. (I tried to slip the cat into my wife's suitcase when she left, but the bastard wouldn't keep quiet... note: next time drug the cat first)

My devils...

1) I am not a cook, don't like to do it and hate the aftermath (cleanup).

2) I despise housecleaning, I did the vehicles, yard and repairs around the house, unless the belt broke on the vacuum cleaner, I didn't touch it.

3) My Mom scared the hell out of me the day Chris left for boot. She called me, which she never does, she and my brother had a big fight and she wanted to come back to L.A.. She's semi-invalid and I'm gone everyday anywhere from 10 to 18 hours. I can't take care of her like my bum brother can, that meant selling her house (in this market) and finding an assisted living place close by that wouldn't wipe out her savings too quickly. I love my Mom and would do anything for her, but my wife didn't leave me in the best financial shape, so it was more crap piled on top of everything else.

I called today after researching things and...of course, they've made up...she was just mad and frustrated because my brother was feeling put upon by having to cater to her necessities, even though he's 50 years old and never held one of his few jobs for more than a year.

4) While I love "classic rock", I started to listen to the stuff my kid was listening to and I think all that teenage angst is getting to me. Two songs that come to mind...

I've Given Up: Linkin Park

I Don't Care: Apocalyptica

Actually, I'm in a really good mood. I get to have my midlife crisis foisted upon me. My whole life has changed in the last 9 months, and in some ways it is better. My fear is that while I've always talked to my dog, I'm worried that like "Terrible Troy" over at the Rott, Ralph is going to start talking back...and telling me what I should do about it.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Goodbye '08, Hello '09

Hope ya'll had a happy New Year!!

Mine sucked. I had to work last night, but that wasn't the problem. About 30 minutes after I started my shift, a tank overflowed so I got to spend the next hour and a half running around trying to divert water someplace else and clean up the mess as best I could in the dark. Just to make it the most fun, it was also cold and foggy, so foggy that I couldn't see much over 40 yards. Getting wet with stinky well water really puts you in a good mood.

I pretty much had everything under control by 11:30, so I went into the office to get warm and try to decompress a bit. At midnight, I headed for the door for rounds, and realized just as I was pushing the door open, I really didn't want to be wandering around out in the open right then. I wanted that steel roof over my head. I didn't hear any gun fire this year, but about 2 minutes after 12, there were sirens going every which way.

The rest of the night was uneventful, so maybe I can take that as a sign that this year will be better.

My wife flies in from Montana this morning. A combination of her families Christmas gathering and seeing our son before he heads off to Boot Camp on the 7th. She heads back to Polson on the 5th, "Where they don't get that much snow" (Mheh)