Posts for January, 2011
Eu-phor'-ia: a feeling of well-being or elation.
Much has been written and spoken about the results of the last election and why it happened. Certainly it was one of the most unusual in modern history considering the extremity of the nationwide political realignment at multiple levels of government. Something drastic must have happened to cause this upheaval. Well, of course there is the Recession. The economy is always a major political driving influence. Yet, there have been recessions in the past, many of which had political repercussions, but not like this one.
What was different this time was the unipolarity of government in place at the time. Yes, it all started under Bush, but there was a Democratic Congress at the time, hence the argument that it's all Bush's fault lacks credibility. Since 2008, government was solidly in the hands of one party, executive and legislative. You can argue all you want that without trillion-dollar stimuli, it would have been worse, but it's so bad that that's hard to imagine and harder to sell. It is what it is, a mess, and the Democratic government's policies did not fix it.
What we did get from the Dems is a bunch of massive social legislation to fix things that, while not perfect, were not crying for reconstruction. However, that's what we got while unemployment soared and stuck. What also rankled was the way it was done, largely behind closed doors and under the table. The arrogance of thinking that they could fix everything--or most everything--in a few years led to their downfall. The frog jumped.
Lord Acton observed eons ago that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." I would substitute "arrogant" for "corrupt", the latter being probably a bit strong. I think lots of folks, lots and lots, suddenly looked up and said, "Whoa! What's happening here? Everything is changing so fast and it scares me." The result was a sort of popular revolt, typified by the fatally disregarded and reviled Tea Party movement, which was to most folks obviously not a bunch of lily-white red-neck racists. The underestimating was truly bi-partisan, to the dismay of more than one career Republican. You can disdain Sarah Palin all you want, but she is an influence and much of the proletariat likes her. Arrogance, again.
So, the sleeping lion woke up and roared, and career politicians fell like the blackbirds from the sky. Both parties should beware because, like it or not, Sarah and the Tea folks are not going away for quite awhile. The economy is changing permanently and so is the political landscape. Those disenfranchised pols waiting for the dust to settle to come back to the trough better be prepared for a very long wait. Whether this is all good is arguable, but in my humble opinion and from long experience government-watching, I think it was necessary. The arrogance of our "public servants," an oxymoron if there ever was one, had gotten out of control and had to be reined in for the good of the Republic. Lord Acton would be pleased.
The road ahead is not as smooth as the Republicans in their new-euphoric confidence think it will be. The party is heavily split between Tea-Party idealistic conservatives and the entrenched, more pragmatic old guard, and there is still a left-wing president firmly entrenched for most of two more years. I think William Shakespeare's, "... a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" may apply for quite awhile. Eventually, however, it may all shake out and at least a bit of humility permeate the alabaster halls of government. It may actually in a small way begin to resemble Honest Abe's government of, by and for the people. Wouldn't that be nice; haven't seen that for awhile.
But beware, the lion is still awake.
There have been a number of issues, other than politics, that I wanted to comment on but do not justify a solitary post. Therefore, I am publishing four of my priceless opinions in a single post. (Sorry about the long delay since the last posting. Things have been a bit hectic.)
1. Green Goddess. Well, it's now been two years of our esteemed president's effort to create so-called green jobs. Approximately $90 billion in economic stimulus funds have been expended into clean-energy technologies, including weatherization, wind, solar power, advanced automotive battery technology and others. President Obama pledged to create 5 million "green collar" jobs during the election campaign. ( I know, another campaign promise!)
To date, the White House admits that only 225,000 jobs have been created and that's by their numbers. That figures out to $400,000 per job, not much of a return on investment. The problem is as I have stated in previous blogs. In comparison to fossil fuels, solar, wind and biomass are woefully inefficient and costly. The reason is deceptively simple. Energy creation requires heat, and the best way to create heat is to burn something containing lots of carbon, like coal.
Solar power relies on silicon solar cells in various configurations. Their efficiency is generally low--less than 25%--even the new thin-film silicon cells. The solar cell relies on the photoelectric effect, where photons of light knock electrons loose in a silicon semiconductor. Most of the photons miss and the electrons struggle to pass out of the silicon chip into an external circuit. This is a messy business electronically, with lots of energy wasted. Wind is unreliable except on the top of Mount McKinley and biomass is a poor source of combustable carbon. (Yes, it creates its own dreaded carbon footprint.)
If your goal is to create jobs, there are much more productive ways to do that. If your goal is to throw away borrowed taxpayer-obligated money, then it's a pretty efficient process.
2. Raptor. I noted in a prior blog that the Obama administration had canceled the F-22 Raptor, the best multi-role fully-stealthy fighter in the world, at 186 aircraft, less than half the projected USAF needs. Because of the unique nature of this marvelous aircraft (It incorporates specialized antennas imbedded in the wings to intercept radar waves and redirect them harmlessly into space), resumption of production would not be feasible.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley has recently announced that the F-22 tooling would be purchased from Lockheed-Martin at an unspecified cost. However, lest anyone be misled, this will not allow resumption of production. There are specialized production techniques and skills that are/will be gone. This tooling purchase will allow only limited production of replacement parts--not all, like those wings--to sustain the fleet past the 2020's. The Rand Corporation has estimated production restart costs at $17 billion to $18 billion, clearly prohibitive.
Both China and Russia are frantically developing their own stealthy fighter aircraft. I am not aware of any production limitations in their programs.
3. Scan Me, Harry! I have previously commented on the problems associated with the full-body scanners being expeditiously installed under TSA mandate in airports throughout the country. There have been medical commentaries warning that the backscatter X-Ray radiation employed is not as harmless as the TSA says. It is ionizing radiation and can damage cell DNA in and under the skin, increasing the risk of melanoma.
No foreign nation is instituting the kind of program we are. Italy, for example, has decided to drop their scanner use in its airports. Israel is laughing at us. But now, there is another fly in the soup. It turns out that Michael Chertoff, former Homeland Security (HSA) Secretary, who strongly promoted the purchase and installation of these scanners, may have had a little conflict of interest. What our crack investigative media failed to point out was that Mr. Chertoff has a security consulting firm, the Chertoff Group, that worked closely with RapiScan, one of the only two manufacturers of these scanners.
In addition, L3 Communications, the other manufacturer, employs Linda Daschle, the wife of former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, as a lobbyist. Also, eight members of Congress own stock in L-3. The largest Congressional stockholder is John Kerry, who owns somewhere between $500,000 and $1 million of the stuff. All have denied any undue influence.
Public service has its rewards.
4. Irony. Finally, somewhat unnoticed was the fact that this last weekend, specifically January 22, was the 40th anniversary of the issuance of the Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion on demand. Since that time many millions of babies have been aborted. In 2005, according to the CDC, 800,000 legal abortions were performed, most by Planned Parenthood at $400 a pop.
It absolutely amazes and confounds me that a pregnant woman can walk around proudly wearing a T-shirt with a big arrow pointing down at her belly, with the caption, BABY IN HERE! Yet, if the baby is not wanted, it is a non-entity that can be killed and discarded. I have referred to this as magical thinking, and that it certainly is. (I am not going to comment on the "Philadelphia Horror." I don't have the words to decribe this abomination. Google it if you want to read the story.)
But to the irony. Our esteemed daily newspaper on Sunday, January 23rd, one day after the Roe v. Wade anniversary, initiated a new feature series on infant mortality in the inner city, entitled "Empty Cradles." In the extensive coverage the writers bemoaned the fact that 501 babies died in Wisconsin in 2009. This is sad and certainly justifies attention. The newspaper is to be commended for its concern. But, I'm sorry, beginning this series--"Empty Cradles"-- within one day of the Roe v. Wade anniversary strikes me as huge and tragic irony.
- GarberPark 3rd Topic - Holy Mackeral (59)
- Cook's Corner Gotta love the Crock Pot: Mississippi Roast
- The Engineering Perspective Moses' Song (45)
- It's Hemmer Time 1984 (30)
- Alien Relay 2.0 Lake Country A Frac-Sand Utopia (71)
- A Day in Ion Square Fear, Loss of a Hometown, and Disillusionment (23)
- Community Splashes Great Event out at Quality Inn Brookfield Sunday June 2nd (1)
- Eagle's Eye Unsung: The Hell Ships of WW II (49)
- "Hear's" to Life! Outnumbered in the Elder Care Journey (2)
- Lake Country Rotary Happenings Splash Pad Ground Breaking Has Happened!