Posted on: April 23, 2009 8:25 am
Edited on: April 23, 2009 8:27 am

The flight to nowhere...

And spending spree continues:

President Obama announced that after doling out more taxpayer dollars than every previous President combined, he's giving his Cabinet secretaries 90 days to trim $100 million from their budgets. 


That's less than .000025 percent of the $4 TRILLION Washington is expected to spend this year - or about 13 minutes worth of spending.  By way of comparison:

Washington will spend $1 trillion in the time it takes the Administration to "trim" $100 million.

Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) - the "King of Pork" - will spend more than $150 million on pet projects.

Speaking of Murtha.  Do you folks realize he has his own airport? The John Murtha Airport in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.  It is a wonderful airport 2 hours east of Pittsburgh sitting on 650 acres.  It has a brand new terminal, hangers, helipad, new runways and averages a handful of travelers a day. Most often the boys from the security team outnumber the passengers departing from this monument to wasteful spending.  This is the same guy that threw our troops under the bus in Iraq stating they were raping women and children and doing dastardly things.  He also said the war was lost.  Alaska has its bridge to nowhere and Murtha has his airport in nowhere.

From the Washington Post I submit:

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- The  John Murtha airport sits on a windy mountain two hours east of Pittsburgh, a 650-acre expanse of smooth tarmac, spacious buildings, a helicopter hangar and a National Guard training center. Inside the terminal on a recent weekday, four passengers lined up to board a flight, outnumbered by seven security staff members and supervisors, all suited up in gloves and uniforms to screen six pieces of luggage.

For three hours that day, no commercial or private planes took off or landed. Three commercial flights leave the airport on weekdays, all bound for Dulles International Airport.

The key to the airport's gleaming facilities -- and, indeed, its continued existence -- is $200 million in federal funds in the past decade and the powerful patron who steered most of that money here. Rep. John P. Murtha (D-Pa.) is credited with securing at least $150 million for the airport. It was among the first in the country to win funding from this year's stimulus package: $800,000 to repave a backup runway.

The facility, newly renamed the John Murtha Johnstown-Cambria County Airport, is a testament to Murtha's ability to tap streams of federal money for pricey, state-of-the-art projects that are rare among regional airports of comparable size.

Murtha, dubbed the King of Pork by critics, consistently directs more federal money to his district than any other congressman -- $192 million in the 2008 budget. His pattern of steering millions in earmarks to defense contractors who give to his campaign and hire his allies as lobbyists is being scrutinized by the FBI as part of an investigation of a lobbying firm led by one of Murtha's closest friends.

The lawmaker, who uses the airport frequently during his campaigns, has steadily steered millions of taxpayer dollars to it to build a new terminal with a restaurant; a long, concrete runway sturdy enough to handle large jets; and a high-tech radar system usually reserved for international airports.

The airport's passenger count has fallen by more than half in the past 10 years. When Johnstown native Bill Previte arrived on a recent morning, he lamented that his plane was half-empty and that the terminal was deserted.

"Doesn't it seem kind of ridiculous to have a motorized carousel for the baggage claim when 15 people get off the airplane?" he said. "It's obvious: There's not enough population to justify this place."

Murtha, who heads the House Appropriations defense subcommittee, has fought for airport funding as a way to bring jobs to his congressional district, devastated by losses in the steel and coal industries.

Murtha spokesman Matt Mazonkey defended the public spending and said it is unfair to weigh the airport's low volume of passengers against the federal dollars invested in the facility. He noted that several regional airports are confronting the same problem.

"Would we like to have additional commercial flights and business? Absolutely. But you don't attract additional business without having the infrastructure in place to do so," Mazonkey said.

Just doing my civic duty.  Make love not sex!






Category: MLB
Tags: Phillies, Pirates
Posted on: April 21, 2009 2:08 pm

A modern day parable...

Amanda was a tall beautiful woman. She was young, athletic, terribly funny, charismatic and never wanting for friends. "Strangers were just friends she had not yet met," she liked to say. She could always see the best in people and gave everyone the benefit of the doubt when they were mean and nasty. "Perhaps they are just having a bad day," she would say. She always saw the silver lining and projected that to everyone around her. Of course her detractors thought she was inexperienced and naive. These had earned their pessimism no doubt the old fashioned way, taking it on the chin everyday in the real world. They admired Amanda and wished her well as she battled the negative in the daily world on eperson at a time.

Amanda met a new girl at work named Irina. She too was young, athletic, and beautiful. She was charistmatic to her small group of friends but she did not like Amanda at all. They simply had differing viewpoints on everything and Irina was heard to use words like "hate" and "get rid of" in her verbal attacks on Amanda. These attacks were right to her face or whenever she had an audience. Amanda's friends were in shock and tried to come to Amanda's defense but Irina focused her attacks only on Amanda.

Amanda had taken some courses in conflict managment so she thought she would use the techniques to find common ground with Irina and hopefully become friends with her or at the very least, to stop the terrible attacks. Her friends cautioned Amanda against this course, reminding her of Irina's visceral hatred toward her. They were concerned about how the attempt could turn confrontational. Amanda ignored them and pointed to the silver lining of solving the problem and becoming friends.

At the local watering hole after work, Amanda approached Irina and extended a hand in friendship. Irina did not take it. Amanda asked Irina what it was that made her dislike Amanda so much. Irina spat back, "Because of who your friends are and how you support them hurts me and my friends!" Amanda did not back away. She lowered her voice and asked for more specifics. Irina took to name calling and threatening Amanda with violence. Amanda extended her hand again only to be slapped in the process and further insulted. Amanda was shocked and finally moved away.

On the way back to her friends she was stopped by the barkeep, an old fella from Texas named George, who had heard the exchange with Irina. He laughed and said, "Watch that one Amanda, she is an evil witch.

"No, I refuse to believe that," she said. "There is good in everyone."

Her friend Izzy, joined Amanda at the bar and overheard the conversation with George. Izzy said, "Damn you sure are naive Amanda. You just can't reason with Irina. Look, I know how to deal with evil like her. We just have to go over there and kick her butt right there in front of her friends. And if you don't I will. It is the only way to get through to her."

Amanda just sat there sulking feeling like a fool for having been so naive to think she could make friends with a bitter illogical enemy.

Putting her rose colored glasses back on she thought maybe she could make friends with her other bitter rival Kora.

Again Izzy chimed in, "Amanda, do you realize how big a fool you are? And how weak Irina and Kora think you are? You need to take off those rose colored glasses and live in the real world where not everyone is nice and happy to be your friend."

Amanda said, "Maybe if I just go apologize one more time for whatever I did wrong."

Izzy cut her off, "I 'm going to go kick both of their backsides and then you can apologize for me, how's that?"





Category: MLB
Posted on: April 20, 2009 8:11 am

Things that should bother us but don't....

Things that should bother us but don't....

Obama's National Security Advisor declares an end to terrorist threats the America.

What was more interesting was the accompanying statement by the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, trying to justify Obama’s decision–or at least put it "into perspective." The perspective, the context, is that in the months after 9/11, "we did not have a clear understanding of the enemy we were dealing with, and our every effort was focused on preventing further attacks that would kill more Americans. It was during these months that the CIA was struggling to obtain critical information from captured al Qaida leaders, and requested permission to use harsher interrogation methods. The OLC memos make clear that senior legal officials judged the harsher methods to be legal."

Blair continues: "Those methods, read on a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009, appear graphic and disturbing. As the President has made clear, and as both CIA Director Panetta and I have stated, we will not use those techniques in the future. But we will absolutely defend those who relied on these memos and those guidelines."

So: We were once in danger. Now we live in "a bright, sunny, safe day in April 2009." Now, in April 2009, Obama’s Director of National Intelligence seems to be saying, we’re safe.

Yes, September 11 was a bright, sunny day too - and too many of us thought we were safe then as well.

Now, it’s true that in the rapid, multifaceted mobilization against terrorism that took place in late 2001 and early 2002, there were a vast number of decisions made quickly on the basis of incomplete information; it’s only natural that as the anti-terror effort has become part of the permanent institutions of government, there would be some rethinking of which of those emergency measures to make permanent and which to put back on the shelf.  I

t’s far more frightening to me to hear the DNI telling us that we’re too safe these days to worry anymore about the need to get intelligence quickly out of captured terrorists.

Chris Dodd raised $1 million bucks for his re-election bid - outside his home state

Campaign fundraising numbers for the first quarter of 2009 were release a few days ago, and Chris Dodd came in with a $1.05 million haul, well ahead of his challengers (Caligiuri at about $45k and Simmons not reporting any significant fundraising). Generally when a three decade incumbent out-raises his potential challengers by a million dollars in a quarter, even if his challengers got in the race late in the reporting period, it is considered positive news and a good sign.

Not so for Chris Dodd. Even after reading this account in the Connecticut Post and follow-up from other news outlets, I though it must be a typo or some sort of misunderstanding, but I was wrong. Of his million dollars raised from nearly 400 donors, a mere $4,250 from only 5 individual donors came from Connecticut voters. That is right…only 0.4% of Dodd’s cash raised came from the individuals he represents.

Rob Simmons took immediate advantage, sending out this letter to supporters and reportedly getting more in-state individual donation within minutes that Dodd managed to drum up in the first quarter.

So if it didn’t come form the people Dodd represents, where did the other 99.6% of his money come from? Let’s see.

$610,000 was from individuals, $440,000 from PACs.

Eighteen states and the District of Columbia yielded more cash for Dodd than his home state, including approximately $90k from individuals in Massachusetts (maybe Barney Frank is expecting reciprocation from Connecticut donors!).

$299,000 came from executives and PACs representing banks, financial services companies and real estate brokerages, $48,000 from insurers and the heath care industry, and $62,800 from lobbyists (H/T Mother Jones).

$44,000 came from pawnshops and other companies that make high-interest loans to those with poor credit (H/T Hartford Courant).

Why is it that only out-of-staters and financial types, yet none of his constituents, want to see Chris Dodd re-elected in Connecticut? Probably because they want something from him and won’t have to live in his state themselves. As you can see, huge chunks of money came from those Dodd is supposed to be regulating rather than those he is representing. And why not? It worked for the folks in the mortgage industry for years, and it worked for the AIG executives. They all got what they wanted after making sizeable donations to previous Dodd campaigns. Just a cost of doing business in the banking industry.

Connecticut has been hijacked by special interests folks. How does it feel to be truly disenfranchised?

Category: Mixed Martial Arts
Tags: Tap out
Posted on: April 16, 2009 8:41 am

TEA Party (BYOB)

Oregon has flipped out. Already renowned for its liberal excesses, its politicians did the unthinkable. The most stupid act of taxation ever. Or at least this year. Oregon's brilliant political folks decided they should pass a tax on beer to help with their budgetary shortfalls. Now you see Oregonians have had the lowest beer tax in the nation. The result of such a bastion of tax relief and capitalism friendly support has been the locating of some 93 micro breweries in the state. These microbrews generate over $2 billion to the GDP of Oregon. The tax imposed by the Democrat strong will increase the tax from about a buck a barrel to over $50 a barrel. Seems reasonable, right? So what does that mean to the average pint of beer in Oregon? About a $1.25 per pint increase!! A night out will cost you big time in Oregon's pubs and bars. Now Oregon has the highest tax on beer in the nation.

So what you say. If you don't live in or near Oregon, this probably doesn't mean much. But just you wait as other states jump on board the new sin tax of beer. Politicians will attempt to vilify beer and beer drinking as unhealthy and the cause of so many problems in their states from health care to litter to the obvious non-green flatulence for which beer drinking is notorious. Before you know it we will be back at prohibition and the beer and gin mills will be off the books, free again from taxation.

The Democrats of Oregon have grown strong with their social programs and pandering to the poor workers held down by big corporations. But don't they realize the impact of the beer sin tax will fall squarely on their constituency? Those making $40,000 a year who like to drink a beer. Dare I say "Joe Sixpack?"

I wonder how much money it would cost to move a micro brewery to Michigan or Ohio, land of poverty and no jobs?

Dear Democrats,

Please take an economics course - macro would be best. This tax is a wealth destroying tax as all of them are. It does nothing to encourage commerce and will have a very negative impact on the economy of Oregon. Goes for every state and the federal level, too. While your at it, eliminate all subsidies as they too are wealth destroying activities that restrict commerce. Or you can keep taxing the beer and the piss out of us and guarantee we become a socialist country.

I could be wrong - a wait, ah, no, ... I'm not.

I had fun at my local TEA party (Taxed Enough Already) yesterday. I hope you all attended whether you are a Demo or Repub.





Posted on: April 7, 2009 12:16 pm

Professionals - goods or services


I am curious how many men have transacted the goods and services of a professional. What were the reasons? Basic need met without the entanglement of relationship building or copious drinks into the late hours at the bar. Perhaps there was a thrill seeking energy rush of doing something both illegal and socially taboo. Maybe it was a dare from a peer or even the ritual deflowering of the male into stallionhood.

No prude am I gents. I am not judging, just curious. I have never needed to transact pleasure in the simplest terms of cash for act.

So you may be wondering why I care about the goods and services of a professional. Seems an odd question. The answer is I want to understand the many avenues of the goods and service industries. To be clear there are goods producing industries and there are service providing industries. The goods on a professional are limited to what she is born with or can have surgically enhanced. She cannot produce more goods than herself so this is not a growth industry in that sense. As a service provider she is only limited by time how much growth she can provide to the industry - pun intended. So which industry is more important - the goods or the service? One could argue both are important. Without the goods the service is rather empty. Without the desire to perform the service, the goods are not worth as much. So what is the correct ratio of goods to service?

If we have 100% goods and 0% service we have a beauty pagent but little else. If you have 0% goods and 100% services you have something closer to virtual sex or imaginary like the proverbial damp dream. I imagine you should have roughly 40% goods and 60% services in an economy. Seems like a good mix. Pretty package with reasonable appointments and larger willingness to transact.

In 1945 the United States economy was 42% goods producers and 58% service industry. In 2007 the economy was comprised of 15% goods producers and 85% service providers. Steadily we continue to move our manufacturing offshore and replace those jobs with service jobs that pay less. How much longer do we drive in this direction until we become a virtual economy, a wet dream where nothing is produced of any value?  Maybe the Obamanator will consider this fact as he continues down the path of killing off the manufacturing sector with Cap and Trade and other draconian measures designed to make the US a Utopia where you don't have to work, don't have to pay your bills, everything is shiny and clean and everything is provided for you.....sorry, I got a little witchy there at the end.

Just a question.

Happy Tuesday.  Man I dislike the Tarheels, but congrats anyway.

Mistress Smorgie

Category: MLB
Tags: Red sox sux
Posted on: April 2, 2009 3:55 pm

A prescription for condoms?! What size?

Our federalies want us all to have good quality, readily available healthcare. Who doesn't? Healthcare costs are ridiculously high and we must find a way to reduce the cost. Naturally government thinks they can turn the efficiency knob such that we all get the needed coverage at a lower cost. This is where people tend to start getting off the band wagon citing previous attempts like social security, medicare and medicaid that have failed to deliver the panacea of social promise. Everyone on board so far?

So the idea of national healthcare has been advanced and a plan is in place to drive us irrevocable in that direction. We have protagonists citing successes in France, Great Britain, and Canada. We have antagonists citing failures in France, Great Britain and Canada. What to do? Who to believe?

Mistress Smorgie is not afraid to advance a notion, nay a plan, to greatly reduce medical costs. And get this, it is simple! And I can guarantee success! I know, I know. Our well earned pessimism prevents us from getting on board. But I will give it a try anyway and I will base it on a bit of data to make you all feel better.

Everyday in every doctor's office around the country there are tens if not hundreds of patients plunking down money to see their doctors in the so called office visit. Let's assume it is no more than 10 patients an hour per doctor in the facility - so 80 patients per day. Let's assume the doctor charges $100 a visit (might be high but it makes the math easy). If you have insurance you may have to pay something like $25 or $30 bucks out of your pocket and your HMO or other insurance picks up something less than the balance. So for every doctor in the building it is conceivable to raise $8000 a day. If the facility has 5 doctors and they achieve 100% utilization they can generate $40,000 a day in billable sales. That is a whole bunch of money in a year and totals something over $10 million before taxes, wages, overhead, etc.

But for what? Let's assume we have a general practitioner office with 5 doctors and no shortage of patients ringing our phones. What percentage of those folks are showing up because they are sick? Let's say 50% are showing up because they have something wrong. What percentage of these folks know what is wrong with them? To be simple, how many know they have a fever and a cold? Or a very sore throaght? Or poison ivy? Or a bladder infection? Or an ear ache? You get the point. We know what is wrong with us usually. And we know what the treatment will be. Ear ache or strep - amoxicillan. Bladder infection more antibiotics, poison ivy - methylprednisone, pretty simple so far. Why not make these medications semi-over the counter? Meaning why not let the pharmacist dole out these types of medications as they see fit, skipping the doctor's office visit. When they come up on something that is above their call they can refuse to dispense the meds and advise you to see a doctor.

Want a great example? The yeast infection (sorry guys). We women know we have one immediately. No doubt. Not too long ago we had to go to the doctor everytime to get a prescription for a medication we know we need. Fortunately the powers that be (feds) made these medications over the counter so we could stay out of the doctor's office. Have you heard of anyone becoming addicted to Monostat 7 in the last decade? We women are not abusing the system.

In some European countries you do not need a prescription for eye glasses or contacts. You just pick up the corresponding set right off the shelf. And why not? Is there any benefit in wearing the wrong kind of glasses? Who wants to do that? I like mine blurry so I think I will get these. That is garbage. You still have to go to the optometrist to make sure you are healthy and to find out what your eye condition is. But beyond that, you should be responsible enough to pick them out. Think of it like this. To buy new wiper blades for your car you have to go to a mechanic to tell you what size you need and then you go the autoparts store and present your prescription for wiper blades. Not the same? Wiper blades help you with your vision don't they. OK maybe it is a stretch. Imagine if condoms were by prescription and some of you boys had to get measured - extra small for this one, ouch!!

The point is people should be able to be responsible for picking and choosing medications they need in the more mundane cases. Not the fancy life threatening variety to be sure.

But why do you need to pay $100 to have the doc take one look at you and scribble something out on a pad of paper when you already know what you need.

OK - you don't feel comfortable self medicating (I doubt that - think aspirin and a lethal dose). Remember, the pharmacist is more than capable of deciding who should and should not have amoxycillin or prednisone, et al. These are the facts.

So a simple way to cut costs is to make more medicines available over the counter or at least semi-OTC where the apotheke or pharmacist doles it out.





Posted on: March 21, 2009 10:34 pm

Dear America - save your BS, you'll need it

 Today I purchased fertilizer for my yard at Walmart.  A bag of Scotts crabgrass killer was bargain priced at $56 and change for 15,000 square feet.  I remember paying about $35 give or take last year.  Wow! a mere 60% increase over 2008.  The fellow at Walmart asked if he could help me as I stared in disbelief at the price.  I said I would like to know what happened to the price of fertilizer.  "Well honey (he actually called me honey) fertilizer prices are up across the board."  Why?  "Well you see the price of oil has had an impact."  Huh?  Price of oil is down since last spring.

Another gent wearing Walmart blue approached and told me his father is a farmer and he too is in shock by the price of fertilizer for the farm.

Did I miss any stories about a fertilizer plant blowing up anywhere in the US?  The components of fertilzer are commodities so why the jump in price?  A little reseach links the rise to the cost of natural gas, a key component in the manufacture of nitrogen (in the form of anhydrous ammonia)  but wait just a darned minute.  Natural gas prices have fallen by almost half.  What gives?  A further look says we are running short of phosphates and potash. Are the environmentalists at work here - limiting the profligation of these chemicals? 

But world wide demand for fertilizer has fallen as the world markets have softened.  Should result in a price break.  Hmm.   Something stinks here around the fertilizer pile.

So folks, a warning to your pocket books.  Food prices are about to sky rocket.  Hyperinflation anyone?  And the weeds will be applenty as many folks make the decision to forgo fertilizing their yards this year.

PS.  My Mountaineers let me down big time.  Sadness in Cyndi's heart.

Posted on: March 19, 2009 10:50 am

A bonus track on the CD of life


AIG's executives really blew this one, paying out excessive bonuses to the executives who largely are to blame for the management practices that led to the downfall of the insurance giant. Insert your public outrage here. I am hearing folks demanding action as populism calls its politicians to task, finally I might add. But before you call your politician and demand they do something to get the money back or to stop such payouts in the future you have to understand there are contracts involved. Right, wrong or indifferent there are legally binding contracts that stipulate the size of a bonus based upon deliverables within a company's framework.

But the outrage is there. Populism is demanding an end to this "unfair" practice. Bonuses are being villified as unfair. But let's change the word. Instead of calling it a bonus, let's call it what it is - an incentive.

In the sports world we all understand athletes have contracts that are often laiden with incentives. Do this by this much and we pay you this much. Athletes have guaranteed money plus incentives. They get the guaranteed cash even if they get hurt and the incentives if they perform. Sometimes these contracts are written such that it is so easy to reach the incentives, like play 10 games in an NFL season. Stay relatively healthy and you get that incentive. Pretty simple. In baseball, get 400 at bats and there you are. You get the idea. Do you have a problem with these contracts? Because there may be no emphasis on individual performance or team winning.

In the real world there are all kinds of incentive contracts that are in effect. Commission sales is the most obvious. But so is waiting tables for tips. If service is good a nice incentive is earned. The customer is not obligated to tip mind you. The waitress is obligated to give exceptional service to earn her incentive. In the case of a commission salesperson, the guaranteed money is barely enough to live on. The commission is critical to the survival of the saleswoman. Incentives are there to drive the right behavior - maximize sales, improve customer service, improve efficiency, etc. As customers or stockholders we all like incentive contracts because it drives behaviors in the right direction.

I must confess. I am an executive at my company and I have an incentive contract. I get paid a guaranteed amount of money, my base, and I get an incentive bonus that can be lucrative (not by major league standards). In 2008, our first three quarters were strong and profits were outstanding. Our fourth quarter tanked like everyone else. Overall, we had a good year. But as the economy continues to drag on we have made personnel cuts. We are sharply cutting spending. We are doing everything in our power to weather the storm. But - we paid our executive bonuses. They were the smallest they have been in years, but we paid them. We discussed whether we should pay them. Some folks wanted their money. They felt they had earned it and by all rights, they had. Others felt is was bad form to pay the bonuses in light of layoffs. I tended toward the latter group but I will tell you I cashed the check they sent me. The discussion was ended when we were reminded that we were under contract to pay the bonuses. The company would not violate it's end of the bargain. The bonuses were earned based on the governing inputs (profit, market share, customer satisfaction, etc.) and we would get paid the money. We were also reminded that some people would make a court case out of it if they were not paid what they had earned. A true statement. Regardless, the company had met its objectives.

So, what do we do? Do we allow our politicians and bleeding hearts make it passe to accept a bonus? I remind you incentives are earned not accepted. Before you answer, I worked approximately 3000 hours last year and traveled 114 days out of the year. I worked while on vacation. I worked while I watched sporting events on TV. I worked in the airport, on the plane, in the hotel, at the pool - you name it and my Blackberry or laptop was on line and I was available. Sure I traveled to Europe but not with loved ones and they were not vacations. Twelve to fourteen hour days are average. The glamorous life it is not.

And my last point. The federal and state governments took a combined 41% of it. To use however they see fit. Paying for stuff I don't want. I earned it and they took it.

Incentives are good, right?

Category: NCAAB
Tags: Incentives
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or