Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Latest video from the NRSC. "On the first day of Christmas,the liberals gave to me......" Check out the lungs on the girl singing, " Hillary's Woodstock Museum. H'tip to MM. Expect light blogging during the Holidays and to all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

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Condoleezza Rice and Senator Richard Lugar (IN) propose a civilian corp to help the military with post-war stabilization and reconstruction. In their own words, the Civilian Reserve Corps are "essential for our national security, and the Senate should authorize the creation of the corps. Over the past decade and a half, the United States has learned that some of the greatest threats to our national security emerge not only from the armies and arsenals of hostile nations but also from the brittle institutions and failing economies of weak and poorly governed states."

Credit belongs to Thomas PM Barnett for keeping the idea of a Civilian Reserve Corp (or SysAdmin in his vernacular) in the public dialogue but the idea has been mentioned in the Summary of National Security Strategy 2002 and again by President Bush in the 2007 SOTU. Wikipedia credits former Supreme Allied Commander and 2004 Presidential candidate, Wesley Clark with a similar proposal during the 04' campaign. I find Clark's plan to be heavy on the domestic front (how do repealing the tax cuts fit into the plan?) I recommend Dr. Barnett's System Administrators (SysAdmin) for the direction the Civilian Reserve Corp should take.

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JibJab's review of 2007. You can also go to their website and put your face in sendable Holiday cards and videos.

A JibJab Year in Review
A JibJab Year in Review


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

"Bush Surging, not fading, as tenure's end nears", a column in by former Cheney deputy assistant and former special assistant to President Bush, Ron Christie. Mr. Christie lays out the case that President Bush's policies have reached fruition in the past few days. Here are some examples:
  1. Economic Growth
  • New data released last week showed that America added 94,000 jobs in November 2007 — capping a remarkable 51 straight months in which jobs have been created in our economy. Despite partisan claims that the economy is soft, more than 8.3 million jobs have been created since August 2003 and unemployment remains low (4.7 percent). America remains open for business.

Stem cells

  • the president’s resolve and strength to draw a moral boundary line to protect innocent unborn life has been vindicated. scientists announced last week they could produce an embryo-free way to produce genetically matched stem cells. OR
  • the president’s decision to draw a bright moral line against destroying human life while providing federal dollars for the first time to stimulate stem cell research has proven successful. The silence in the media about this remarkable development has been deafening.


  • the central government of Iraq has reached its 2007 budget revenue target of $30.2 billion,derived mostly from oil revenues.
  • Lt. General Ray Odierno has reported that the has been a 23-week decline — nearly six months — in insurgent deaths and attacks upon Iraqi civilians.
  • In Mosul, the airport opened for the first time in 14 years for commercial aviation flights. In a region of the country long associated with violence, Iraqi Airlines is now open for business
"Political stability long thought to be an elusive dream is becoming a daily reality across Iraq.From the surge in Iraq, vindication with his stem cell position and strong economic development on the home front, President George W. Bush has hit his stride and is surging rather than limping into his last year in office. For those who have counted him out, the president remains resolute, perhaps comfortable in the knowledge that history, rather than bitter partisans in Washington, will favorably reflect on his two terms in office for waging an effective war against terrorism while demonstrating capable stewardship and remarkable domestic accomplishments during a time of war."
I would add that President Bush's newly found veto pen has given the Republican party an opportunity to become the budget hawks they used to be. He has only used it 7 times in as many years. Today, he vetoed the latest S-CHIP bill for the following reasons:
"This bill does not put poor children first, and it moves our country's health care system in the wrong direction," Bush's statement said. "Ultimately, our nation's goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage."

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Mitt Romney picks up a needed endorsement from National Review. With Huckabee nipping at his heels and threatening to derail his early primary strategy, this endorsement carries a lot of weight with those in the conservative movement. Hint: George W. Bush is not a conservative. The crux of National Review's argument can be founded in the following passage;
"Uniting the conservative coalition is not enough to win a presidential election, but it is a prerequisite for building on that coalition. Rudolph Giuliani did extraordinary work as mayor of New York and was inspirational on 9/11. But he and Mike Huckabee would pull apart the coalition from opposite ends: Giuliani alienating the social conservatives, and Huckabee the economic (and foreign-policy) conservatives. A Republican party that abandoned either limited government or moral standards would be much diminished in the service it could give the country."

NR thinks that Fred and McCain are solid conservatives but that Romney's executive skill exudes,"competence", which is much needed following the debacles that were Katrina, Harriet Meyers, and the Department of Justice during the Bush Administration. I agree with Lee at A Bama Blog on the reason Fred failed to earn National Review's endorsement despite being the most "consistent conservative." I think Fred or McCain have both made their case for V.P. I think a Southerner with foreign policy experience on the ticket would help a Northeastern governor in the general election.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Support the Troops during the holidays. FreedomsWatch has a list of over a dozen non-profits who will be sending packages to the troops this holiday season. The American Red Cross will take Christmas cards, phone cards, CDs & DVDs and individual packets of candy, gum, etc to our wounded soldiers at Walter Reed, use the following address; American Red Cross,Walter Reed Medical Center, 6900 Georgia Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20307-5000.

In order to send a digital holiday card to the troops, you may visit CNN's Web site to create your personalized message. CNN will air selected cards on Headline News, please click here for more details.
You may also send holiday cards to the troops at various military hospitals by sending your greetings to E.D. Hill's Operation Holiday Thanks:
Operation Holiday Thanks

c/o E.D. Hill
Fox News Channel
1211 Sixth Avenue
17th Floor New York, NY 10036

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Ag Commissioner Ron Sparks signs his Alabama political death warrant. Sparks has joined the Hillary Clinton as Co-Chair of Rural Americans for Hillary. Rumors flew last year about a possible Sparks run against Jeff Sessions for Senate in 2008. A lot of people have been headed to HRC's camp lately (The Alabama Democratic Conference, the black wing of the state Democratic Party, endorsed New York Sen. Hillary Clinton in October), but how popular is she in Alabama?

  • Pollster has her losing to 4 of the top 5 Republicans in the general election.
  • Rasmussen & Fox Television Stations Inc have her being defeated by McCain, Rudy, and Fred. She ties with Romney. Coincidentally, two-term Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama, would handily defeat Democratic candidate Vivian Sessions 62 to 30 percent, the report said. Sessions would receive 90 percent of the Republican vote and more than a fifth of Democratic voters.
  • Clinton has a very favorable rating of 27%, somewhat favorable 18%, somewhat unfavorable 11%, very unfavorable 41% and 3% are undecided in Alabama.

Notice the difference in the very favorable and very unfavorable ratings. I read once where James Carville would not work for a candidate if there was more than a 15 pt spread between the two. HRC is right at 14% in Alabama. These were the newest polls I could find. Survey USA reflects the same results as the above polls.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

PAYGO goes away?

An article in yesterday's WSJ proclaims the end of the line for the Democratic attempt to implement PAYGO regulations. In theory, Pay As You Go is a great way to control spending. In budgeting, the term PAYGO refers to the requirement that newly proposed expenditures (spending) or tax cuts must be accompanied by commensurate increases in revenue(taxes) or a reduction elsewhere in the budget.

The system was reestablished as a budget rule on January 4th 2007 by the 110th Congress. Remember this: "Democrats are committed to ending years of irresponsible budget policies that have produced historic deficits. Instead of compiling trillions of dollars of debt onto our children and grandchildren, we will restore pay-as-you-go budget discipline."--Speaker Nancy Pelosi, December 12, 2006.

Fast forward to last Thursday night (88-5).WSJ: "Senate Democrats gave up on "paygo," as it's called, when they realized they lacked the votes to offset the $50.6 billion cost of protecting more than 20 million middle-class taxpayers from getting whacked by the Alternative Minimum Tax this year. They've spent the year floating all kinds of tax increases to make up the difference. But in the end they passed an AMT relief bill without a penny to pay for it. Paygo is now pay gone."

According to The Heritage Foundation, .." entitlement pro­grams that are scheduled to increase by 42 percent (after inflation) over the next decade, Congress has passed legislation adding an addi­tional $179 billion. (See Table 1.) These bills would expand govern­ment, weaken the private sector, and raise the cost of government to the taxpayers. Each embodies bad policy even without any budget gimmicks. The main legislative vehicles are the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), college student financial aid, terrorism risk insur­ance, and farm subsidies."

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I recently found a cool Internet publication called the Patriot Post. I signed up to receive their thrice-weekly emails and have used several portions of them on my blog. Sign up, you won't be disappointed.
"The Conservative Journal of Record," can be summed up briefly in the belief that individual liberty, the restoration of constitutional limits on government and the judiciary, and the promotion of free enterprise, national defense and traditional American values can only be secured through the exercise of individual rights and responsibilities as ordained by God and established by our nation's Founders in our Declaration of Independence and its subordinate guidance, our Republic's Constitution.

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The hypocrisy of the Democrats on Iraq put in historical perspective. This is a prime example of most politicians in general. So eager to seek favor with the public, they will jump on any popular idea that comes along. There is more at RedState. The video that was here has been taken down but can be found in the comment section of the RedState link or in the GOP multimedia center.

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Friday, December 7, 2007

Sen. Richard Shelby receives acclaim from DC Cabbie

H'tip to Mary Orndorff.
The "Mad Cabbie" from our nations capitol had some good things to say about our state's senior Senator. On his blog, Diary of a Mad DC Cabbie, he wrote this:
But I can tell you who the most polite law maker I had in my cab, drum roll please: That would be the gentleman from the great state of Alabama Richard Shelby! Yes this dude was always nice to me and next time he'sup for re-election I think I am moving to Alabama just to vote for him. I used to pick him up in Georgetown and drive him to the Russell Senate Building and we carried on with great political conversation, even though I don't like his republican party I still enjoyed the 15 minutes ride and on top of that he over tipped the sh** out of me.


Friday Thoughts
John Stuart Mill wrote,
“[W]ar... is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse.”

Mill added, A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

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Thursday, December 6, 2007

New blogs covering Birmingham

I recently discovered two blogs covering the Birmingham area. The Terminal- Birmingham is a clearing house for local news, events, and the opinions of Andre` Natta. I particularly like the Real-Time traffic monitor on the home page. The major news pieces are links to but the best part is the intimate knowledge (and pictures) of events and locales in town. The worst part is the unabashed support of Larry Langford's policies. is a blog in support of bringing a dome stadium to the Magic City. I question the timing and appearance as this blog seems to have been started on December 1, 2007. I believe the two are operated by the same person. According to this blog, a dome stadium will cure all that ails the city of Birmingham. If Birmingham builds a dome stadium then magically the schools will be better, crime and blight will disappear, and businesses will flourish again. I expect BirminghamDome to offer some neutral alternatives or specific policies about the Dome rather than the generalities in which this proposal was sold to the public.

I am also pleased to read a post on Mayor Langford by Punditry by the Pint. For a while I thought I was the only dissenting voice to the Dome proposal. I felt like Will Ferrell's character(Mugatu) in Zoolander when he said [about Zoolander's look], "Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

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Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Birmingham's new Dome or Doom? Part II.
continued from an earlier post. Don't assume that the following thoughts are all my own. My thoughts were formed from an article from Policy Studies Review,Spring 1998 by Andrew Zimbalist. Click here to see a Google Search of the Zimbalist article. I am not through reading all of them but I hope to go through all the articles which cite this one in order to broaden my views on the economic impact of stadiums and domes on a city.
"Dozens of studies have been performed by consulting firms under contract with the affected city or team. Predictably, most of these studies have concluded that there would be a substantial, positive impact from adding a sports team. There are several methodological difficulties with these studies."(Zimbalist) Here are some of them.
  1. They [the studies] do not sufficiently account for the difference between new and diverted (or gross and net) spending. In other words, the studies aren't conscious of the fact that people have a finite amount of their income to spend on entertainment.If they spend $100 to attend a sporting event, that means they will have $100 less to spend on movies, shopping, and restaurants. "The dollar spent at sports events usually replaces the dollar spend elsewhere in the local economy. The spending impact is practically nil."
  2. The main source of net spending is out-of-town visitors to a ballgame.This number is practically small for professional sports teams. It consists of the visiting teams and out-of-town media. Most of this will be offset by road trips by the local team and media. I would like to add that the employees attracted to new jobs at a dome stadium will be seasonal and part-time at best.
  3. The economic impact is often exaggerated by assuming that an unrealistically large share of executive and player salaries remains in the local economy. The more a team's owner and its players live and spend their income in the host city,the larger the economic impact. Last I checked, minor league teams didn't pay much more than the local Post Office and I have never seen a study on the economic impact of postal employees.

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New WebVideo from Rep. Eric Cantor's Blog.

One year ago, when they took control of Congress, House Democrats made many promises. Most of all, Democrats promised you that they were ready to govern – over the past year it has become all too clear that they have let you down.
Take a moment to watch our latest web video, which highlights the performance of House Democrats over the past year. With an 11 percent approval rating, the lowest in recorded history, it’s no wonder that Speaker Pelosi recently remarked, "I know that Congress has low approval ratings, I don’t approve of Congress, because we haven’t done anything."


Birmingham's new Dome or Doom?

While doing some thinking about the Magic City's newest grand idea of doubling business license fees and increasing taxes to build a dome, I recalled a policy paper I read in graduate school concerning the economic impact of domes and professional sports teams. The paper I am relying on is, "The Economics of Stadiums, Teams, and Cities" by Andrew Zimbalist. It isn't the exact same situation as Birmingham but some of the findings can be transferred. The journal can be downloaded here and a summary can be read here. The words of the author:

"It is a common perception that sports teams have an economic impact on a city that is tantamount to their cultural impact. This is wrong. In most circumstances, sports teams have a small positive economic effect, similar perhaps to the influence of a new department store."

  1. Individual sports teams are not big business. The average NFL team in 1994 grossed $65 million. Compared to the 1993 Effective Buying Income of $21.1 billion for metropolitan St.Louis. The gross of an NFL team would just account for 0.3% of St. Louis's EBI, 0.6% of Jacksonville, Florida, and 0.05 of the EBI of New York City.
  2. Studies have shown that most public stadiums do not cover their own fixed and operating costs. Quirk & Fort estimated an average public stadium subsidy (net fiscal cost) of $6.8 million and conservatively projected in excess of $500 million in government subsidies to all professional sports teams in the same year. Operating and debt service deficits mean that city or state governments will have to levy additional taxes. Higher taxes in turn, discourage business in the area and reduce customer expenditures, setting off a negative multiplier effect.
  3. Virtually all independent economic research has confirmed a diminutive or negligible economic effect from the relocation of a sports team in a city. For instance, Baade and Dye looked at nine cities over the period 1965-83 and found that no significant relationship between adding a sports team or a new stadium and the city's economic growth. In fact, they found that in 7 out of the 9 cities, the city's share of regional income declined after the addition of a new sports team or the construction of a new stadium. Baade recently updated this study to include 36 areas over a 30 year period and found that in no cases did a new stadium have a statistically significant, positive economic impact on the city's growth and in 3 cases it had a negative impact. Arthur Johnson studies 15 cities that host minor league baseball teams and concluded that:"The economic impact of a minor league baseball team is not sufficient to justify the relatively large public expenditure necessary for a minor league baseball team."


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More chinks in current S-CHIP bill or H.R. 3963.

A new study by the Heritage Foundation's Robert Rector demonstrates how the new S-CHIP bill increases illegal immigrants access to Medicaid and undermines the Welfare Reform Act. Michelle Malkin takes the finding a step further,and I agree, that even though the bill contains a category (Title VI Section 605) entitled, " No Federal Funding for Illegal Aliens," there's no provision written into the bill to check the citizenship status of applicants for the S-CHIP program. Essentially, Section 605 is a red herring the Democrats can point to and say the bill doesn't give benefits to illegal aliens. Nevermind that the rest of the bill relaxes identification procedures for S-CHIP Rector's analysis points out that HR 3963:
  1. weakens the evidentiary and document standards governing entry into the Medicaid program, thereby making it easier for illegal immigrants to fraudulently obtain benefits; and
  2. overturns the limitations on immigrant use of Medicaid enacted in the 1996 welfare reform law by gutting the administrative procedures used to determine immigrant eligibility, thereby readily permitting immigrants to receive benefits for which they remain legally ineligible.

Remember that under current law, illegal immigrants are eligible for:

  • emergency medical services funded through the Medicaid program but are not eligible for normal benefits through Medicaid or the State Children's Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP).
  • In addition, according to the provisions of the 1996 welfare reform law, legal immigrants are not eligible for normal Medicaid and S-CHIP benefits for the first five years they reside in the United States.

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Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Senate staffer caught in attempted tryst with 13 year old and this time it is not a Republican.
According to Erick at RedState:
"How many networks will bring you this news. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) has/d a would be child molester on her payroll.
The fed's are accusing Maria Cantwell's scheduler, 28 year-old Mike McHaney, of arranging a three way with a 13 year-old boy. Luckily the third party in the three way got the police involved.
Were Mike McHaney a staffer for any one of the Republican Senators, the left and the media would be having a field day. But I won't hold my breath for that with this. Double standards and all that."

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Mona Charen's Smack-Down of "Heroic Conservatism"
If you thought Bill Clinton rewrote history, wait until you read Michael Gerson's book which is neither "heroic" nor "conservatism".

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Huckabee's Willie Horton

I have been waiting for this shoe to drop on Mike Huckabee. I should have know the MSM would wait until Huck stepped into the spotlight as he has in Iowa.
ACT 1:While awaiting trial for raping a 17 year old girl, masked men broke into Wayne DuMond's house and allegedly castrated him. Convicted in 1985, he was sentenced to life +20 years. When Clinton ran in 1992, the case drew a lot of attention due to the relation between the victim and then-Governor Bill Clinton A lot of people felt sympathy towards DuMond and felt he got a raw deal from the criminal justice system.

ACT 2: The girl is a distant cousin of Bill Clinton.DuMond's sentence had been set at life in prison, plus 20 years. In 1992, Clinton's successor in the Arkansas governor's mansion, Jim Guy Tucker, reduced that sentence to 39 years, making DuMond eligible for parole. When Huckabee became governor in 1996, he expressed doubts about DuMond's guilt and said he was considering commuting his sentence to time served. After the victim and her supporters protested, Huckabee decided against commutation. But in 1997, according to the Kansas City Star, Huckabee wrote a letter to DuMond saying "my desire is that you be released from prison." Less than a year later, DuMond was granted parole. Huckabee's office denied that the governor played a role in the parole board's decision, but there was evidence (exhaustively detailed here) to contradict that claim.
ACT 3:DuMond's release was delayed because a number of states did not want to take him in, but he left prison in 1999 and ended up in Missouri. Not long after he arrived, he was arrested again - this time for sexually assaulting and murdering a woman named Carol Sue Shields. DuMond was also the leading suspect in the rape and murder of another woman. He was convicted of murdering Shields and died in prison in 2005.

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Birmingham: A case study in poor leadership.

BACKGROUND: The sales tax increase, to last six years, is part of new Birmingham mayor Larry Langford's plan to generate $72 million annually to support initiatives including a domed stadium, mass transit improvements and an enhanced police department. The mayor proposes increasing the sales tax by one cent on the dollar and doubling business license fees to pay for his projects. Langford and the City Council met for more than two hours, mostly listening to owners of auto dealerships who said raising the sales tax by one cent on the dollar would make it harder for them to compete with dealers in surrounding cities and would put some out of business. An increase in taxes and business fees can make or break a car dealership especially in a region such as Birmingham. Why pay the extra money to the city when you can move just a few miles, pay less taxes, worry less about crime, and be in a modern, cleaner environment. As you can read below the mayor doesn't mind chastising the businesses he wants to fund his new Visionland. More on VisionLand.

MAYOR: to a legitimate concern of the city's car dealers: "It's not going to last forever. Suck it up with us just one time."
Councilwoman Valerie Abbott argued for the dealerships. Abbott said the smaller increase (.33% instead of 1%)would maintain the dealerships' competitiveness.
MAYOR: "That makes absolutely no sense at all,"

Ray Ingram, owner of East Lake Auto Sales, said he feared doubling his business license fee would be enough to put him out of business. Ingram said the license increase hurts small businesses like his the most. He said he pays about $10,000 a year for a business license and would pay $20,000 under the mayor's plan.
MAYOR RESPONSE: {he once sold cars} and knows that dealers make "a lot more money selling used cars than you do new cars."

Langford earlier had called for creating a Birmingham Rail and Transit Authority to handle the new transit money ($17 million), rather than turning it over to the BJCTA. But he said Monday that such details can be addressed later.
MAYOR: "At this point I don't know," he said after the meeting. "At this point I don't care."
The most important thing is for the council to approve the plan and handle the technicalities later
Langford said.

The mayor ran on a platform of "Change." These changes included a domed stadium. Why and for whom, nobody knows. The mayor just thinks we need it "to move forward." As head of the County Commission, Langford developed a reputation for having things his and only his way. The lack of want of details for the transit authority is a bad sign. The better scenario is to handle the details first and then proceed according to plan. Ask Hillary Clinton what happens when you set out to institute a plan and then plan the details in secret later.
He has been called bull-headed and to that I would add, callous. The above exchange highlights how not to respond to concerns from the people he was elected to represent. One should not respond with personal insults or immediate dismissals of ideas from others as done here. There is not one hint of compassion or empathy coming from the mayor to the car dealers who are actually doing Birmingham a favor by staying within the city limits. The attraction to move into neighboring areas is immense. I am afraid that additional taxes and fees will be "the straw that broke the camel's back." If this happens there will only be one man to blame.

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