Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Good News, SC Has Money to Burn!

Actually, we don't.

But you can't tell that to State Rep. Harry Ott. Apparently, House Minority Leader Harry Ott has lost touch with reality. He's decided that it would be a good idea to use the State Reserve Fund to pay out a bonus to State workers. No...really.

House Minority Leader Harry Ott says he will try to push through a 1 percent bonus for state workers and teachers in the state budget.Ott said the money would come from the state’s reserve funds
It's amazing. It's the reserve fund. It's for the proverbial "rainy day", not for the legislature to "make it rain" Platinum Plus style, in the form of bonuses. The reserve fund is not for paying bonuses to anyone, let alone everyone. This is madness. We're in the midst of a horrible economy, and Representative Ott has decided to give every single state worker (oh and because that's not enough) and every teacher, a 1% bonus in their salary.

First, not every single state worker (and teacher) does not merit a bonus. I'm sure there a a few folks out there who deserve to be fired, some who don't deserve a bonus, and some who deserve a little more. However, just giving out a bonus without considering each person rewards poor work, discourages hard work, and is just plain wasteful.

Second, did I mention it's the reserve fund? It's to be held in reserve, not paid out to people because we want to encourage them. Even if every single state worker (and teacher) deserved a 1% bonus, you don't use the reserve fund. What you do is make a budgeting decision to not spend the normal budget on something that is an equal amount. You know, analyzing cost/benefit, making priorities, and making decisions - the things that a legislator is supposed to do.

The problem is that our current legislators don't want to tell us "no". There is always more money for everyone, and nothing needs to be cut.

All I want in a legislator is for them to act like the money they spend is their own damn money.


Which One of You Is Responsible for This?

Maybe the vehicle loaded with 200 gallons of jet fuel is a bad idea.
Hey! Maybe Obama will apologize for this burning of a sacred NASCAR track!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Do You Care About Lake Levels?

A reader (Dr. Gamecock) brings this to my attention in the form of an Op-Ed about local television. When I first read it, I laughed so hard I almost knocked over my bourbon.

I was talking to someone today about why they always have the weatherman on TV report the lake levels every day. Do we really need to know if the lake level changed by 0.1 up or down. Who cares? The only people who probably care are the ones that live on the lake, and they can just walk out in their back yard and look. Also, is this really weather? Why does the weatherman have to tell us everyday what the lake level is? It is usually about the same every day. 

It is not really news, unless it changed dramatically for some reason, and then the news would be the reason it changed, not the lake level.  With the advent of computers, it you really wanted to know the lake level, just look it up on the internet. There are lots of places to find real time information. I would rather know if there is going to be frost on my windshield in the morning. That is information I could use.  "Be sure to watch our show tomorrow, when we report the latest lake levels." 

WIS Television: Your most trusted news source for lake level reporting.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Seriously, Canada? You're Fired.

I mean, I know that y'all go a little crazy after being snowed in for a few days, but there's no excuse for this:
Police arrested a Kitchener, Ont., father outside his daughter's school because the four-year-old drew a picture of him holding a gun. 
Jessie Sansone told the Record newspaper that he was in shock when he was arrested Wednesday and taken to a police station for questioning over the drawing. He was also strip-searched. 
"This is completely insane. My daughter drew a gun on a piece of paper at school," he said.
Wait, what?  The actual police got involved because of a drawing of a gun? The teacher who called the police should be fired. Not a reprimand, not leave. Fired. The police who detained this guy should be fired. Not demoted, not placed on probation. Fired.

You're fired.

Actual Valor, Stolen Valor, and Harm

First, a great example of actual valor via Blackfive:
As an aside, whenever I see video of Reagan, I realize how small our current President is by comparison. 

In any event, this video an example of valor. It illustrates what appeasement brings, and what happens when you refuse to be an appeaser. People who don't like the military often fail to realize that the peace they enjoy is because other people are ready to do what is necessary. Too often, we fail to realize how much is being done by our military so we can sit back and complain about politics, the weather, and go about our lives. They can't have too much recognition for what they do. Which brings me to the stolen valor...

The Supreme Court just heard oral arguments in the case of US v. Alvarez, which is a challenge to a 2006 law that made it a crime to make false statements about being awarded a military honor. Alvarez had lied about receiving the Medal of Honor, and challenged the law on first amendment grounds.

As a threshold matter, regardless of whether you think the law passes constitutional muster, this guy Alvarez deserves a tarring and feathering. He's a scumbag. Someone who lies about being awarded a military honor is pretty much as low as it gets (for me).

However, it's an interesting question that he poses: "Do you have a protected first amendment right to knowingly tell a lie about yourself?" The Supreme Court seemed unpersuaded that this sort of speech had much "value". I agree with that. However, what is very hard for me to articulate (as it was for the Government) what exactly the harm is. Speech can be punished where there is a harm; perjury, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, etc.

However, the harm done by asshats lying about being awarded military honors is more diffuse. There isn't someone that you can point to and say: "That person has been harmed". The veteran who charged up Iwo Jima to be awarded his medal has not lost any of his honor. Maybe one of my intrepid readers can articulate the harm, but for me, I'm comfortable with "I know it when I see it". For me, there's absolutely no value to this speech, it isn't likely to chill any legitimate speech, and the Congress thought there was enough harm being done to pass a law (because Congress is so wise, right?).

For all you lawgeeks, you can read the transcript of the oral argument here. If nothing else, read it for the hypotheticals that the Justices throw at the lawyers. I went into this transcript very confident that this  would be a legitimate law, but now, I'm not so sure.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Seen on Twitter

Edison didn’t sell light bulbs by having Congress penalize candle makers. Behavior modification via punitive taxation fails every time. Via @shellsuber

Damn right.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

CWP Instructor Accidentally Shoots Student

A Spartanburg Police Department deputy accidentally shot a student at CWP class because someone violated both Rule #1 and Rule #2.
Smith was teaching a course at the Chesnee American Legion during the firing portion of the class. Sheriff Wright said the victim was standing next to another student who was having trouble with the grip of her .22 caliber pistol.

Sheriff Wright said the instructor was unaware the pistol was loaded and accidentally shot the victim in the arm and into her side.
Jeff Cooper's gun rules are for your safety and for that of your team. They are not flexible. You don't get a pass simply because you're experienced or an instructor. Either obey them or you are history. Is that clear?

How to Make an Old-Fashioned

[H/T Garden & Gun]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Global Warming Projections to be "Revisited"

Hey, breaking news! The guys who predicted global warming climate change got some things wrong. Apparently, the planet is a complicated thing, and it's tough to model it with your TI-82.
"Everyone seemed to think that August heat waves and drought would have major effects on grass productivity, but we couldn't find any," says Prof Joseph Craine of Kansas State uni, describing research on prairie grasslands carried out at the US National Science Foundation's Konza Prairie Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site - one of a network of US government monitoring stations used to assess climate effects.
According to new research published by Craine and his colleagues, both droughts and heat waves generally have much less effect on the mighty grasslands of America than previously thought. Heat waves in particular need to happen during a specific two-week period to have any real consequences for grass growth in a given year.
Yeah, so apparently, warmer weather doesn't just automatically kill all the grasses in Mid-West America. Why is this important to the computer models, you ask?
These results are significant as until now projections of the possible effects of predicted climate change have assumed that droughts and heat waves would always have an effect on ecosystems - and that in turn would lead on to carbon level changes leading to more temperature rises and so on. These assumptions may now have to be revisited.
Revisited, you say? You know, that's what I'm going to start saying when I get something totally wrong. "What's that? The Cubs didn't win the World Series last year as my computer model predicted? I guess I'll have to revisit some assumptions I made about Kerry Wood's arm.

Revisiting. It's the new: "Oops, we got that totally wrong."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Not All That Glitters is Gold

Yesterday, I received a tip that the South Carolina Legislature is taking a bill to committee that would make all gold and silver legal tender for all debts in South Carolina. I was totally unaware that such a bill existed.

After doing a bit of digging, I found the most recent version of the bill.

The crux of the bill is that "Any person may employ gold or silver coin, or both, as legal tender in this State under its laws for payment of any debt to which that person is a party."

I get that people are worried about the prospect of inflation. I get it. But, is this a realistic solution? It seems like this is going to create more problems than it solves. My reading of subsection (E) is that you don't have to accept gold or silver if you don't want to. So what is the point of this bill? It seems like you can basically have a debtor and creditor agree that the medium of exchange will be gold or silver. Ok, so who benefits from this?

I can see why a creditor, who really believes the value of paper money will fall would agree to be paid only in gold or silver. If the value of the dollar plummets, it helps out debtors, right? Let's say you make a Promissory Note today for $100,000, to be repaid over a period of 30 years. If the value of the dollar drops by 50%, then you can essentially repay the loan for half of it's actual value. That's a windfall for the debtor, and the creditor has to eat the loss.

So who's driving this legislation? I can't imagine it's the banking lobby. It just doesn't make sense to me in any logical manner. If two parties wanted to contract for payment of a debt in gold or silver, (or #2 pencils for that matter) what's to stop them? Do we need a law specifically authorizing this?

Maybe someone out there can drop some knowledge on me, because I'm not seeing why this is so important. On a practical matter, I can't imagine going to a restaurant and paying for my food in gold or silver coins. I mean, the kids who work at some of these places have a hard enough time making change for my $10 bill. Now we're going to require them to start weighing, measuring, and determining the value of my proffered gold coin?

Maybe I'm just too simple to understand the logic behind this bill, but it seems like another classic case of our legislature doing something we don't really need them to do.
A photo of Bill 4128's main lobbyist

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Federal Government Would Like to Inspect Your Child's Lunch-Box

This is simply amazing. It sounds like something out of The Onion. But it's not.
RAEFORD — A preschooler at West Hoke Elementary School ate three chicken nuggets for lunch Jan. 30 because the school told her the lunch her mother packed was not nutritious. 
The girl’s turkey and cheese sandwich, banana, potato chips, and apple juice did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines, according to the interpretation of the person who was inspecting all lunch boxes in the More at Four classroom that day. 
The Division of Child Development and Early Education at the Department of Health and Human Services requires all lunches served in pre-kindergarten programs - including in-home day care centers - to meet USDA guidelines. That means lunches must consist of one serving of meat, one serving of milk, one serving of grain, and two servings of fruit or vegetables, even if the lunches are brought from home. 
Ok, so let's address a few things. First, what the hell is the Federal Government doing by inspecting children's lunch-boxes anyway? In the debate about where we can cut some of the Federal Government, these people need to be the first to be given the pink slip. The Federal Government has absolutely no business in inspecting and deciding what is and what is not an acceptable lunch that a parent packs for their child. None.

Also, did the Federal Government solve all of the more important problems, leaving the food in children's lunch-boxes as the important issue of the day?

On the substance of the issue: the Federal Government (in their infinite wisdom of what constitutes a healthy meal) gave the pre-schooler "three chicken nuggets"? On what planet are chicken nuggets a healthy alternative to anything? That's moronic. Chicken nuggets? Really? It sounds like this isn't really about nutrition.

This is getting out of hand. If I was a parent of a child in that school, I would be furious. Teach my children to read, write, and do math. Stop looking in my child's lunchbox. This sounds like something that would take place in Soviet Russia. The insidious nature of this problem is that it's so well-intentioned...but we all know there that goes.

You can have my lunch-box when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Monday, February 13, 2012

Justice Breyer Robbed!

This seems like it was kind of a close one and could have been much worse.
Police confirmed that on Thursday (Feb. 9) night sometime after 10, a masked intruder wielding a machete robbed a sitting U.S. Supreme Court Justice at his Golden Rock vacation home. 
According to information reaching this media house, the robber stole a total of about US$1200 and fled the scene without further confrontation.
The Judge, The Observer was told, is a regular vacationer to the island and was traveling with his wife and several friends on this sojourn.
Here's the local newspaper story. Wow. Can you imagine how close we were to Obama having another SCOTUS appointment and in an election year? I'll have to start following Breyer's opinions now to see if he's a little harsher on any appellants who were machete-wielding robbers. Cert denied, bro.

The Current State of Racial Politics in the USA

I voted for him because he was white. ’Cuz that’s why other folks vote for other people — because they look like them,” he recently told us. “That’s American politics, pure and simple. his message didn’t mean [bleep] to me."
My thoughts and explanation below the fold.

Some Cool Gun-Related Shirts

They're fairly simple and to the point. If you've seen my Twitter Photo, you can probably guess that my favorite one is:
 [H/T Uncle]

Friday, February 10, 2012

Friday Happy Hour

I've been in Court most all week, so the blogging has been light. Still gotta pay the bills, and the blog doesn't bring in the Benjamins. So anyway, for your Friday viewing pleasure, I present:

Pro Golfer Does the "Cabbage Patch"

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Should the US Government Have a Budget?

When asked about this issue by ABC correspondent Jake Tapper, the White House Press Secretary, said this:

TAPPER: So therefore, the Senate should pass a budget as well.
CARNEY: I don’t have a –
TAPPER: I’m asking.
CARNEY: Well, I don’t have an opinion to express on how the Senate does its business with regards to this issue. The fact is because of the negotiations over the debt ceiling that resulted in the Budget Control Act, we have an unusual situation here in that the top lines for the budget going forward have already been set and agreed to by Republicans and Democrats alike.
TAPPER: So the — I’m not actually asking your opinion, but the White House’s opinion, because it’s the White House’s –
CARNEY: Well, I mean, I don’t have a –
TAPPER: The White House has no opinion about whether or not the Senate should pass a budget? The president’s going to introduce one. The Fed chair says not having one is bad for growth. But the White House has no opinion about whether-
CARNEY: I have no opinion — the White House has no opinion on Chairman Bernanke’s assessment of how the Senate ought to do its business. What the president believes is important is that the Budget Control Act that was signed into law by him last year provides the top line spending caps for the coming budget, and he will obviously meet those in the budget proposal he puts forward. And he looks forward to the Senate acting on the policy initiatives contained within his budget that will reflect the priorities he laid out in the State of the Union and also will reflect the priorities he laid out when he put forward his deficit and debt reduction proposal back in September.

Whoa! Why is this a question that you need to "dance around"? Is it controversial to say "Yeah, Jake, the opinion of the White House is that we would like a Budget for the Federal Government". Who would have a problem with that? Isn't that what Congress does? I'm pretty sure they even have committees and stuff for the budget. They're called the "Senate Budget Committee", and they even have  a snazzy website.

I kind of have an opinion. It's....that we should have a budget. If the Senate doesn't do a budget, I have a question for all the Senators:

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Public Transportation is not a "Right"

In the ongoing saga of the CMRTA, Richland County Council agreed to toss more taxpayer money into the abyss. It's just $775,000 of your money, so no worries, right? The funny sad part is that this amount still won't cover the bus system's operating deficit for very long.

Apparently, a group of constitutional law scholars showed up to be heard at the council's meting.
A contingent of 10 passengers and advocates attended the meeting, encouraging County Council to reach an agreement with the city to cover the funding gap. They said public transportation is a basic service, like police protection, water and sewer.
“We demand our share,” rider Mamie Jackson said. “We should not have to come and beg for a basic right.
Wait, what? When did having a bus system become a "basic right"?

Ok boys and girls, just to recap: "rights" are given to you from your creator. A government neither gives rights, nor can it take them away. The government provides services, benefits, and privileges. That's it. It's really not that complicated.

Public transportation is a simple service that has costs and benefits. It costs money to operate public transportation. The problem we have is that the bus system isn't self sufficient. The money earned from those paying the bus fare isn't covering the cost of operating the system. That's the basic problem. The question that our County Council needs to answer is how much annual support does the bus system need, and is it worth it to pay that much money?

It's cost/benefit analysis.It's not a right, it's simply a service that we need to decide whether to provide or not.

It's really depressing that we have citizens who believe that public transportation is a "basic right", but that's where our culture has gone. There are simply people out there who believe that they are entitled to things like this, and to have others pay for it.

Read dmore dhere: http://www.thestate.com/2012/02/08/2144657/richland-pays-the-fare-for-bus.html#storylink=cpy

Wordless Wednesday

Presented without comment.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Tim Tebow and Tom Brady Register to Vote in Minnesota

ID? We don't need a Voter ID law. That's so stupid and racist. There's no way that voter fraud could actually exist.

Well...maybe there's a small chance it could exist. You'd have to get past all sorts of levels of scrutiny and checks. You'd have to be a diabolical mastermind...or maybe just fill out some forms.
[H/T Insty]

Lock It Up

Good advice.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Clint Eastwood Super Bowl Ad

Here's the ad:

The ad's basic message is "We're tough. Let's work together and get things done." Great. I think everyone in America is ready to get things done. The real fight is: What should we be doing?

Should we be increasing the government's role in our life, or should we be decreasing it? Should we be spending less money, or should we continue spending? These are the core fights that keep America from pulling together as a team. We haven't decided which end of the rope to pull on yet. Some days it seems like we never will.

Wild-Eyed Christian Says Jesus Inspires His Public Policy Decisions

 Apparently, Jesus is in favor of the Healthcare Reform Bill and Dodd-Frank. Who knew?
"And so when I talk about our financial institutions playing by the same rules as folks on Main Street, when I talk about making sure insurance companies aren’t discriminating against those who are already sick, or making sure that unscrupulous lenders aren’t taking advantage of the most vulnerable among us, I do so because I genuinely believe it will make the economy stronger for everybody. But I also do it because I know that far too many neighbors in our country have been hurt and treated unfairly over the last few years, and I believe in God’s command to 'love thy neighbor as thyself.'"
Here's my problem: I'm fine with people living their life according to the Bible, the Torah, the Koran, or even The Essential Calvin & Hobbes Treasury. Whatever you want to be your personal guide in life is fine with me. However, your personal belief system is pretty much irrelevant to whether you should use the coercive power of government to come down on one side or other of a public policy debate.

When I see Obama invoking Christ to support his public policy position, he sounds like the folks on the other side of the aisle who invoke Christ in support of anti-gay marriage legislation. They both sound like buffoons.

Additionally, I'm pretty sure that Christ's teachings of caring for other people was supposed to be through charity and done voluntarily. I don't recall Jesus advocating for people a requirement that the wealthy people of Bethlehem pay more money to Caesar so Rome could implement a unified healthcare system and administratively deal with the issue under a single system.

Friday, February 3, 2012

The Real Reason Glaciers are Retreating

You know all the people wringing their hands about global warming causing the glaciers to retreat? Well, it turns out there may be another explanation about why glaciers are not as big as they used to be: People are stealing the glaciers!

No, Carmen Sandiego isn't to blame, although it sounds like she would be a likely suspect. Police have someone in custody, though:
Police in Chile have arrested a man on suspicion of stealing five tons of ice from the Jorge Montt glacier in the Patagonia region to sell as designer ice cubes in bars and restaurants.
What kind of person wants "designer ice cubes" anyway? In any event, I guess this is still a "man-made" ecological disaster, but instead of people driving SUVs being the culprit, it's those dastardly ice thieves.

First they came for the glaciers, what's next?

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Susan G. Komen Fund Breaks Ties With Planned Parenthood

UPDATE: Komen Fund changes their mind, begs forgiveness, will continue to fund PP. That was fairly short-lived. I wonder if they'll refund the money to all the pro-life people who donated to Komen in the last 24 hours...

Here's the problem I have with most liberals: If you don't support their pet causes with your money, you're the enemy.
Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, has depicted Stearns’ probe as politically motivated and said she was dismayed that it had contributed to Komen’s decision to halt the grants to PPFA affiliates. 

“It’s hard to understand how an organization with whom we share a mission of saving women’s lives could have bowed to this kind of bullying,” Richards told The Associated Press. “It’s really hurtful.”
Planned Parenthood has the mission of "saving women's lives"? That's news to me. I thought abortion was kind of...the opposite of that.

National Signing Day

College Football is a year-round sport in the South. While all the Yankees up north are watching hockey, and the Mid-Westerners are watching bouncey-hoops, the SEC is recruiting all the football talent. Today is the culmination of that effort: National Signing Day. All eyes now turn the fax machine in each Athletic Department's office, where signatures of high-school players are eagerly awaited.

Life of a Gamecock has full coverage of the Gamecock Football 2012 recruiting class, and EDSBS has their typical humorous slant. Enjoy.