Crazy Train's bridge to somewhere...
You knew it was too good to be true. Minnesota congresswoman Michelle "Crazy Train" Bachmann, who is positioning herself as a big critic of government spending to try and court the tea parties, is at the same time trying to drop a $690 million bridge on the people in her district. The four-lane bridge would connect Stillwater, a town of 20,000 with an unincorporated township just across the St. Croix River.
According to the state department of transportation, the bridge will cost $292 million, with the remainder to go towards upgrading infrastructure, scenic and recreation needs at the project site. Naturally, this would be paid for with a mix of state and federal dollars.
On CBS's Face the Nation earlier this month, Bachmann said the federal government should re-prioritize spending instead of adding to the debt load.
Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, said there are more than one thousand bridges in the state of Minnesota that need repaired. Exactly, and that's the shell game Bachmann is running on the American public: Look at what I'm trying to accomplish now, even though it's too much for not enough, and it's a full month of Sundays past when something should have been done in the first place...
I mean, honest-to-God, somebody's going to make bank if Crazy Train's fiasco goes through, but $690 million? If Bachmann wants a bridge built so bad, then she could use the I-35W bridge as an example. It collapsed because nobody in our government can get their heads from their asses long enough to address those matters, but when it came to replacing the bridge, it was a modern miracle- under budget (a mere $234 million, at that) and ahead of schedule. For a major interstate bridge, mind you, not the Podunk Expressway Bridge connecting Middle of Nowhere to Unincorporated Middle of Nowhere.
If Bachmann wants to appear even halfway pretending to be serious about her own spiel, let's see her come up with a reasonable amount to build the bridge, and use the remainder to, I don't know, maybe fix one fucking bridge in the entire state before it falls down?
Even sadder still is the notion that this legislation has a bit of Democratic support. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) has companion legislation out there, co-sponsored by Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Sen. Al Franken (D-MN). Yeah, that Al Franken. Guess all his campaign spiel is different when it's in his state, huh? Not that I'm against bi-partisanship, whatever the hell that is anymore, but isn't amazing the only time it happens is when there's a huge amount of cash getting ready to spiral down the rabbit hole?
Sen. Klobuchar says the project is in her state's best interests. Why in hell would she say anything else? $690 million's a lotta pork, especially when you can remind your constituents about it come campaign time. Sen. Franken's involvement in this is rather disappointing to me, as well. Guess all his campaign spiel was meant more for stuff outside his state. At any rate, still better than Norm Coleman...
As for Congresswoman Bachmann, it's not a matter of re-prioritizing spending so much as it is reacquainting yourself with common damn sense. And no, telling the public to tighten its belts at the same time you demand a bigger cake is not common sense, no matter how many times you tell yourself it is. The day that light bulb finally goes off in her head might be the day I (and the rest of the unimpressed) start to try to take her seriously. Not presidential serious, not ever, but any start would be promising out of her...
Damn, this Rick Perry guy can be hard to read. Hell, the book can be hard enough to pick up most days, but Perry's recent posturing with the Department of Homeland Security is just a bit baffling.
In a letter to DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano sent just before his presidential candidacy announcement, Perry is requesting almost $350 million to cover the cost of detaining illegal immigrants in Texas state and county jails.
Man, for a guy as hell bent on getting Texas out of the United States as Perry is, it sure is amazing how often he will show up with a hand out for some federal money. Not that I blame him this time...sort of.
Gov. Perry, as bad as he has been in most every other area, has been exceptionally squishy on this issue, much to the consternation of conservatives. While demanding $350 million from the Feds to cover illegal immigrant detention, Perry has had no problem supporting discounted college tuition rates for children of illegal immigrants.
So, how much money is giving illegal immigrants' children discount college going to cost the state of Texas, and by extension, the federal taxpayers? I don't have any problem with wanting the federal government to cough up some money when they leave your state on the hook for their inability or lack of desire to secure our borders, but this move smacks of trying to fill a budget gap even though Gov. Perry playing both sides of the fence.
Wait, that doesn't necessarily ring true. Gov. Perry is also against the proposed "border fence," or whatever the gap-filled, half-assed monument to government waste and ignorance should be called.
If I were in Gov. Perry's shoes, I would have added an ultimatum- either foot the bill for the consequences of ignoring border security, or I would order each and every single illegal immigrant in detention bussed right back across the border- closer to San Diego than El Paso, as California obviously doesn't care what happens to their state.
Texas would be happy, California would be happy - problem solved...at least until everyone found their way back to Texas...
Blowing a lot of smoke at Jackson Hole
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke gave a much-anticipated speech yesterday to a conference of business and industry leaders in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
That's really where the coverage of this story should end.
For all of the attention paid to this speech, in the final wind-up- Bernanke said nothing. Squat. Jack shit. Announcing no new measures to stimulate the economy, but saying the Fed has tools at its disposal, if necessary, Bernanke instead put the onus on Congress to do more to stimulate hiring and growth.
In other words, the Federal Reserve could do something, but it's perfectly willing to continue passing the buck to our do-less-than-nothing Congress, so Bernanke doesn't have to take much more heat for being a spectacular failure at his job. We all know Congress listens, right, especially since they haven't heard one thing the American public has been screaming about getting them off their collective asses to do something...anything.
For whatever reason, investors took a bright view of Bernanke's latest empty-headed yapping, and the markets finished up for the day and up for the overall week. Yeah, I don't get it either...
Then again, gas prices shot right back up on Thursday, rising gradually across the country, even as Bernanke was touting oil and other commodity prices dropping.
Yes, much ado about nothing. For all the cheap talk government-as-usual gives us, maybe we should start investing heavily in wind energy. If Congress is not going to do a damn thing for the economy, they could at least put that hot air towards lowering some energy costs. That is, unless that's another Bernanke tool he's not gonna use...
Obama throwing a blanket amnesty party?
I don't think I could even feign giving half a shit about the Obama administration's announcement it is going to review the cases of 300,000 illegal immigrants in deportation proceedings.
This review, ostensibly to weed out convicted felons and the always vague "public safety threats," would also serve to weed out so-called low-priority offenders, presumably with the endgame being to let them stay.
Exactly. Fresh off a disaster disguised as a black bus, President Obama clearly smells his own fear in the air, and the desperation is kicking in. He did it with his speech in El Paso a couple months back, and his administration is doing it again, this time trying to sell the Latino vote on this hope and change bill of goods.
I should be more amazed, I guess, at the notion there even are deportation hearings in progress. We been handed coverage of massive "success" stories like ICE in Houston, where they won't even detain illegals that have been arrested, so why should anything like this raise the hair on our arms?
While the country and mainstream media are concentrating on the economy as the likely culprit if Obama winds up being a one-termer, I wonder how many people are putting this issue in their top three. When the people asked about the economy, he tripled the deficit and made the banks rich. When people asked about high gas prices, he gave the oil companies a little kickback in the form of wholesale oil (those barrels from the strategic reserve you heard about). When the people asked for border security, he sold guns to the cartels and held a blanket amnesty party.
Ask yourself when the American people are going to wake up and quit asking this guy for anything. Not only does he not deliver results, what he does deliver is starting to stink up the joint something awful. I hope they were cracking windows during the bus tour...
originally published Aug. 14, 2011 at ElectMyAss.com
The City Council could be voting this month to fund a merged 911 communications center with Floyd County, and given the information at hand, I'm not convinced the plan as it exists is feasible, with what seems to be sketchy numbers and vague talk about other savings down the road. The city's communication union would also have to bust for the merger, but could vote to reform post-merger.
According to County Commissioner Steve Bush, there would be immediate savings of $300,000-$400,000 a year in operating expenses.
Okay, the city is looking at $736,000 for next year's 911 communications budget, if no merger occurs. This will likely wind up being over $800,000 if this year and last year are any indication. With the merger, the budget for the center would be $1.3 million, with Floyd County and New Albany splitting that budget, as well as renovation costs for the existing city 911 center.
Here's where things start getting cloudy. Floyd County said it would kick in $200,000 in additional 911 funds, which would lower the budget to $1.1 million.
So, wait a minute...is the city and county splitting the proposed $1.3 million, or the proposed $1.1 million, and just how is this split being done? I mean, if you wanna talk "split," then either way, this sounds good on paper. $650,000 or $550,000 a year is a great savings off the $800,000 grand the city's probably going to spend. So I imagine that, plus reduced payroll as employees are let go to shore up the staffing, comes to the immediate savings Commissioner Bush is talking about.
Nope. Bush also says there would be no immediate job losses, even though 25 employees would be affected by the merger, as they are 25 employees over what the merged center would need. Officials could decide to leave some positions unfilled as retirements occur in the future.
So how exactly is this supposed to work again? Floyd County is going to move their staff into our center, then split the costs somehow, even though nobody's going to lose a job that will become unnecessary as a result of the merger, but there is going to be immediate savings? How? To who?
I just can't seen how this pans out. While I can appreciate the sentiments of City Councilman Bob Caesar, who doesn't want anyone to lose their job, you can not be a proponent of a merger without having the stomach for inevitable job losses.
If the city communications union agrees to bust, put the new staff, twenty-five people lighter, into the renovated center, and if the union votes to reform, give them the same deal they had when they agreed to bust. There's your savings, immediate and certain. It may not be the most politically sound stance to take, but with the city facing a $3.9 million deficit this year, and almost certainly a deficit for next year, the talk about spending cuts has to become action.
originally published Aug. 14, 2011 at ElectMyAss.com
Okay, based on what I have gathered from the News and Tribune article, Insight Communications is requesting to renew its solicitation permit, which would allow them to resume door-to-door sales.
The city's Board of Public Works and Safety has tabled the request, as it wants further information, such as routes and number of sales reps door knocking, but Board members said the request would likely have been denied, but the company owns the cable franchise rights in the city. The Board has not approved a permit since 2009, when Insight, the only business in town to have such a permit, was approved.
So, the only company of its kind in the city needs a permit to conduct sales of a certain nature, and will probably get that permit, based on the fact it is the only company of its kind in the city?
This makes my head hurt.
Why is a company's ability to conduct sales being determined by the Board of Public Works and Safety? With all due respect to the Board, they should at most be providing input to the City Council, as the Council makes it determination on an issue like this.
Why is this permit even needed in the first place? Even though door-to-door sales have apparently not been allowed in the city since 2009, that has not stopped two guys selling steaks, half a metric flock of religious representatives, and oh yeah...three Insight sales representatives from knocking on my door in the four years I have lived in my apartment.
Better yet, I think I might just explore applying for a solicitation permit myself, so I can engage in door-to-door campaigning. I'm sure it's probably exempt, but now I'm curious about the process...
If ever there was an example of overreaching government, this would be it. Diamond Foods has had to battle away with the Food and Drug Administration over a recent FDA decision that says since Diamond Foods' health claims on a product were not given FDA approval, the products are to be considered drugs, and as such may not be marketed without approval of a new drug application by the FDA.
The product? Walnuts. Yep. Fucking walnuts. Never mind every other 3am commercial touting the latest acai berry diet cure or silly ass pill, none of whom's statements "have been verified by the Food and Drug Administration," but the FDA is going to play Eliot Ness with walnuts. That sound you hear is Upton Sinclair facepalming from the grave...
For the record, there are thirty-five peer-reviewed papers published in the United States National Library of Medicine database touting the health benefits of walnuts. Don't ask about how many peer-reviewed papers have been published on heart-healthy potato chips. I'm not sure I want to know.
Is it any wonder we are the fattest country on Earth? Ain't no money in people being skinny and healthy. Lower insurance premiums, no body paying gym memberships or having to but two seats on a flight...how much more can our economy take? Take the other day, when I saw an ad in the Courier-Journal for a cholesterol drug trial. It was calling for people between the ages of 18 and 75. My first thought was that if someone is 18 and already on cholesterol medication, perhaps they could just push their tubby ass away from the table. Who knows, maybe just one shove a day could burn enough calories to help them lose a half-pound a month.
I'd tell them to start eating more nuts, and not the kind commonly found with a banana sundae wrapped around it, but the last thing I need is the FDA coming after my nuts over a blog post.
In Eugene Robinson's Sunday column, he calls the focus on debt reduction "a laudable goal... being pursued in the wrong way at the wrong moment."
I have to disagree. It is exactly the right time to focus on debt reduction- real debt reduction and not the tired, play money, ten years down the road hot mess of numbers we keep getting fed. What is at the wrong time is the "summer break" of our do-nothing Congress just embarked on, leaving the FAA and tens of thousands of workers to twist in the wind in yet another embarrassing example of government-as-usual.
I'm all for allowing our legislators to go spend some time in their home districts, but what is the six week hiatus going to accomplish? A whole mess of fundraisers, photo ops, carefully orchestrated town halls, and setting rosters for fantasy football season? Yep, exactly. Not one single useful damn thing.
I mean, there is the Ames straw poll in Iowa coming up on August 13. It'll be fun, sort of, to watch the one hundred twenty-seven Republican candidates and the mainstream media cackle and debate over what the numbers mean, what their significance is, even though we are talking the political version of preseason football.
And you know the subject when everyone manages to make their way back to Washington- the super committee, as underwhelming a use of the word super if ever I saw. We'll no doubt be treated to a few days of what passes for high drama until both sides announce their lineups, and then the real bitch begins, all the way to a dramatic, last-second deal to keep the automatic cuts from going against party line grains. You know, what they will call the right way to approach an issue at the right time.
Who Tea'd in their punchbowl?
I like how Democrats have suddenly pulled ninety degrees and started taking shots at the tea party. First, you had Sen. John Kerry saying the mainstream media has a responsibility not to cover the tea parties, which was more than a little disappointing to me. I mean, regardless of whether or not the guy is a douchebag, I defended him when the Catholic church tried to hijack votes for him in 2004.
I'm still waiting for Sen. Kerry to resume his responsibility in the representation of this country, and not trying to jam a new set of talking points and one-liners into his yeshole...
Now, you have former DNC Chair Howard Dean making cracks that the tea party has been "smoking some of the tea, not just drinking it." Keep in mind, he also thinks the recent and historic downgrade of the nation's credit rating by Standard and Poor's is "a good thing," and he's worried about who's smokin' what?
And whatever they may (or may not) be smoking, at least it has one thing in their favor, it doesn't make them scream like a ballpark tasing victim...
Winner, The Blogitzer
(Best Overall Writing), 2011 Blogger's Choice Awards