March 03, 2011

Quick Takes, March 03, 2011

ITEM: The long-argued USAF tanker contract has finally been awarded to Boeing rather than the European EADS. Expected to comprise 179 aircraft, the contract will be worth more than $30 billion. According to Boeing, the contract will provide more than 20, 000 continuing jobs in the Seattle area. Good news--of a sort. Remember that the contract is not producing wealth as it is being paid with taxpayer funds. And while these jobs are better than jobs in a governmental bureaucracy, they still don’t create wealth, thus, they’re not truly helpful in healing the economy. But yes, US companies building aircraft for our Air Force is also a good thing.

ITEM: If anyone wanted to know pretty much anything about your past, could they find that information? Could they get your college grades? Your birth certificate? Would college teachers and classmates be willing to speak with you? With a little work, could anyone discover your entire work history, virtually to the day? Of course. Yet the past of our President is virtually a black hole; no meaningful, accurate information can escape. For a glimpse into Mr. Obama’s college past, visit this article by John Drew (here) who knew Mr. Obama back in his youth when life was free, gay, pre-revolutionary and decidedly Marxist. I know: You’re shocked, shocked!

ITEM: Culture Corner: Consider, if you will, the strange--yet all-too-familiar case of Charlie Sheen. A man of some talent and charisma, making $1.8 million per episode of the top TV comedy (that’s $43.2 million per 24-episode season), and he throws it all away with unhinged, drug-addled rants at his employers and the world in general. Daily, it seems, he continues to pour additional gasoline on his already blazing head. Question: Putting aside the nature and virtue of the free market, do we pay entertainers and sports figures too much? In essence, I’m asking whether we esteem them far too highly, for it is that high esteem that allows them to reap stratospheric salaries, and to fall from dizzying heights. Discuss.

ITEM: So there was a “Day of Rage” in the Arab/Muslim world last week? People killed, beaten, the usual? Wait a minute... Isn’t pretty much every day a day of rage in that part of the world? Discuss.

ITEM: So, you thought Teddy Kennedy was a pretty bad actor? You were wrong. He was worse, much, much worse than you could have possibly imagined. According to FBI files obtained by Judicial Watch through a FOIA lawsuit (here), the “Liberal Lion of the Senate,” was among the most reprehensible of men. While on a 1961 tour of Latin American countries, Kennedy conferred with virtually every prominent communist in sight, including a known Russian spy. He wanted to use the Mexican Embassy for his meetings, but the Ambassador refused. Kennedy also reserved an entire brothel for the night in Santiago, Chile. At the time, he was a local assistant district attorney, which raises the interesting question of why a local assistant DA would want to confer with prominent communists and known Russian spies--and why they’d want to confer with him. He entered the US Senate a year after his excellent Latin American Adventure.

For Kennedy, this was only prelude. In 1983, Kennedy sent California State Senator John Tunney to Moscow to speak with the KGB Chief ( He offered to help the Soviets work against Reagan if they would help the Democrats fight Reagan in the 1984 presidential election. Remember that he was a sitting US Senator at the time. There is no hard evidence that Andropov took him up on the offer, but the overture is recorded in secret Soviet archives opened in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet empire.

ITEM: Sarah Palin Was Right About This Too: According to The Telegraph (here), after a government promise to end the scandal of covert blacklists which restricted treatments to save money, the British National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE--talk about irony...), denied more than 80 desperately sick and dying cancer patients the drugs their doctors prescribed because they cost too much. This, dear reader, is the model that Dr. Donald Berwick (here), recess appointed by Barack Obama to head the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, so admires and wants to emulate. Pray that Obamacare is struck down and/or repealed. Barring that, pray that you remain completely healthy for the rest of your life. If not, it’s going to be a short, painfully bumpy ride.

ITEM: As more and more governors turn down Federal high-speed rail money, George Will reminds us why they’re right and Progressives are, as usual, lunatics (here). I don't understand what the big deal is. After all, no one really wants it, it wouldn't be even remotely self-sustaining, would be a drain on state and federal budgets forever, wouldn't reduce pollution or highway congestion and would cost hundreds of billions we don't have. How could anyone be against something like that?

ITEM: Is That Cool Or What? Department: Archaeologists (here) have found what they believe to be cannons from the Satisfaction, the ship of Privateer Captain Henry Morgan, off a Panama reef. Is the real thing better than Disney? Discuss.

ITEM: Louis Renault Award of the Week: The Government Accountability Office’s report (here) on duplicative annual federal spending was out March 1. I was shocked, shocked! to learn, for example, that 82 federal programs have a hand in improving teacher quality, 56 help people to understand finances (apparently none help Mr. Obama with that...) and it goes on and on to the tune of $100-200 billon per year. What frightens me most is that in the brave new world of Obama’s trillions, $100 billion no longer seems like much money.

ITEM: And On The Floor of The Wisconsin Legislature...See for yourself...

ITEM: Let Them Eat Cake! Department: Comes now the news that Cornell McClellan, Mr. Obma’s personal trainer from Chicago flies to DC from 2-4 times per week to train Mr. and Mrs. Obama. Let me see if I have this straight: It’s a recession; America is broke; gasoline prices are rising; the president is every greenie’s environmental-hectoring dream; Mr. Obama is constantly harassing people about the environment, and he flies in his personal trainer 2-4 times per week?! But of course! That Obama, he’s just like us; he feels our pain. I mean, who doesn’t have their personal trainer fly in 2-4 times a week from Chicago? Golf, anyone?

ITEM: Mr. Obama’s Epistle To the Governors: At a meeting of the National Governor’s Association on February 28, Mr. Obama again came down on the side of his union masters (here): “But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon.” Oh dear. I knew Mr. Obama was famous for mendacity, but let’s fact check this single sentence. Fact: Governor Walker of Wisconsin has been very careful to continually express his respect for those Wisconsin Union employees who have lived up to their responsibilities and come to work, and his comments about those who have not have been confined to encouraging them to live up to their responsibilities. No doubt, someone, somewhere might have a discouraging word to say about public employees, but other than that... Fact: There is no such thing as a right to form a union or to collectively bargain. These are privileges granted, and rescinded, at will by the citizens of every state through their elected representatives. In Wisconsin and elsewhere, no “rights” are involved.

ITEM: APOCALYPTIC TRAGEDY STRIKES! WOMEN, MINORITIES , ANYONE BREATHING HARDEST HIT: The Congress has agreed on a two week temporary extension of the budget. The Federal Government will continue to function for two more weeks. AAAHHHH!

ITEM: Coming To A Gas Station Near You!: In the People’s Taxation Republic of Massachusetts, the Boston Herald (here) reports that gas is likely to reach $5.00 per gallon within a few weeks. Let’s see: For a 20 gallon gas tank, that’s $100 per visit to the pumps. Consider that this is the case without the Middle East falling even more completely apart while Mr. Obama wants energy prices to “necessarily skyrocket, and will be certain to “bear witness” to any resulting carnage. You might be tempted to think that electric cars like the Chevy Volt are looking better and better, but...

ITEM: I’ve written several articles on the Chevy Volt (here and here), and it now appears that Consumer Reports shares my views (here). To wit: “When you are looking at purely dollars and cents, it [the Volt] doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The Volt isn’t particularly efficient as an electric vehicle and it’s not particularly good as a gas vehicle either in terms of fuel economy.” The article also notes one of the most predictable, but under-reported EV failings: Dramatically decreased battery power and range in the cold. But wait; there’s more! Popular Science (here) reports one of the more gnarly unintended consequences of the Chevy Volt: Its battery pack produces heat when charging, which attracts rats, which chew wiring, which costs at least $600.00, which, as an act of God (Rats?) is not covered under warranty. Micky Mouse was not available for comment. And finally, from autobloggreen (here), comes the news that Chevy sold only 281 Volts in January, and the Nissan Leaf, only 67. If the Volt retains that brisk sales pace, it’s on track to sell 3372 vehicle in a year. For a vehicle that, even with a $41,000 MSRP, is likely losing significant money for Chevy, this is nothing less than a disaster. Of course, the question is how any company can afford to manufacture a product that not only loses money-and likely lots of it--before it rolls off the factory floor, but also has abysmal sales volume. The answer is that no sane company can possibly afford such foolishness, not, that is, unless it can expect government bailouts or is being directed by the whims of greenie zealots rather than responsible businessmen. Onward socialist workers! Onward to winning the brave, all-electric future!

ITEM: Feel Good QT of The Week: I can’t end this week’s Quick Takes any better than referring you to a video (here) of 84 year old WWII sniper Ted Gundy who shoots a 5” group at 1000 yards. Be prepared to have your heart swell with patriotic pride, and to cry like a baby at the humility and decency of the man. Maybe they really were the greatest generation. I guess I’m getting to be an old softy after all...

And on that nostalgic note, thanks for stopping by, and I’ll see you next Thursday!

Posted by MikeM at March 3, 2011 01:15 AM