Monday, September 30, 2013

Why I Like Mike Huckabee

When I had a chance in the spring of 2008, without a second of hesitation, I voted for Mike Huckabee and against John McCain. One of the things I liked about Mike Huckabee was that he was a realist governor, someone who day by day grappled with the political and operational reality of a state government actually responsible and accountable for delivering services to the people, balancing a budget all the while. Huckabee is a doer and an achiever in the soul of a preacher.
Governor Huckabee took his job seriously and by most accounts was very effective. On domestic issues he is a student and a learner. Huckabee understands what works and what does not. Take his post on Facebook yesterday.
Here’s just what you wanted to hear: there’s a new problem with Obamacare…When Congress passes a 2,000-page health care bill without reading it, you have to expect bad stuff to come dropping out of it like a piƱata past its sell-by date. And the latest surprise is the “family glitch.” The Kaiser Family Foundation reports that the act defines an affordable health plan as costing 9.5 percent or less of an employee’s household income. But they forgot to apply that to the whole family. What that means is that an average plan for an individual costs about $5600 a year. But for a family, it can skyrocket to $15,700. Breadwinners whose employers don’t cover that are looking at huge cost increases. Kaiser estimates that it could leave up to half a million children without coverage. Experts at Indiana University pointed the family glitch out two years ago, and were told, “No, you must be wrong.” They weren’t.
When you sum it all up, Obamacare is a budget busting, liberty and choice destroying monstrosity that is anti-employment, anti-marriage, anti-family and anti-union (ask the Teamsters), and yes, for millions, is taking away their hard earned and previously secure health care coverage. So why are Obama and his Democratic supporters for keeping it? Is it some sort of weird form of tribal allegiance? I don't get it. You tell me.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

During the Shutdown Go to Mount Vernon

First, the food for thought. George Washington would understand what's going on. His sage advice:

There is plenty more wisdom from where that came from.
“George Washington famously warned against ... 'ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear” ― George Washington
“Paper money has had the effect in your state that it will ever have, to ruin commerce, oppress the honest, and open the door to every species of fraud and injustice.” ― George Washington
“We must consult our means rather than our wishes.” ― George Washington
“If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.” ― George Washington
“However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.” ― George Washington 
“...overgrown military establishments, which, under any form of government, are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty.” ― George WashingtonGeorge Washington's Farewell Address
“A free people be armed” ― George Washington
Blake and Blythe at the Mount Vernon
Colonial Market September, 2010
When you are in Washington DC it is well worth your while to drop down into Virginia and visit George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate. When I lived in the area we visited frequently to the point of purchasing annual passes. Admission is $17.00 per adult, $8.00 per youth (6-11) and free for the young ones. You can spend a full day at George's place and have no less fun than in a day at Disney World for 5 and 10 times the price. Washington was not beyond having fun himself.

“I have a great many instructive Books,
on many subjects, as well as amusing ones.” 
– GEORGE WASHINGTON to Lawrence Lewis, August 4, 1797

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Oh, Shut It Down!

It was great for yours truly back in the 90's when the government bureaucracy shut down because the DC commute was so much easier for those of us who worked in essential jobs or were employed by agencies or worked in functions that had essential missions or paid for themselves. The world, our country, my state and my town didn't come to end, not by any means. 

But rant and rave. Rave and rant. Blame and taunt. Besmirch and belittle.  But most importantly, scare the folks. 

Obama goes into his fear mongering mode to campaign against a government shutdown (which is actually a slowdown). Appropriations run out on Tuesday October 1st, the day Obama claims "is the day that a group of far-right Republicans in Congress might choose to shut down the government and potentially damage the economy just because they don’t like this law.”  

Damage the economy?  But what happened the last time a president ran into a Congress insistent on exercising its power of the purse?

In the bad old days of locking horns the economy grew better than what we've been getting under Obamanomics. So go ahead, shut it down -- the worst that will happen is a smidgen of economic activity will be displaced a month or two. And who knows, when under the gun for a few hours, a few days or a few weeks, the President may actually be willing to accept drastically needed changes to his job killing and economy dragging policies.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Where is Al's Cat 6?

This is the hurricane season that wasn't -- a trend.
"We have moved past the 3/4 point of the Atlantic hurricane season which has been the quietest since 1994 and 5th slowest since 1950 in terms of a metric called Accumulated Cyclone Energy or ACE. Compared to historical ACE records, the 2013 Atlantic hurricane season is 71% below normal. While Hurricane Ingrid is the 8th named storm, the overall season has been characterized by short-lived and generally weak systems. The formation of Hurricane Humberto just beat the clock by a matter of hours to keep 2013 from going into the record books for the latest-forming first hurricane. Seasonal forecasts clearly overestimated the number of major hurricanes with some scientists blaming African Saharan dust layers drying out the tropical Atlantic atmosphere.
You mean variables other than carbon dioxide affect climate? Imagine that, there are actually two variable scientists. That's spelled P-R-O-G-R-E-S-S. See the graph.

Saturday Pictures

Saturday Pictures
September 28, 2013
(click to enlarge)

Early season snow in the Bridgers, plus flowers for February remembrances of things past.

Eastern ridge.

Moving up Bridger Canyon.

A Bridger peak.

Horsing around.

So I see.

A closer peek at the peak.

See snow on the boughs.

Who dat?  Say it ain't so.  It's too early to start the winter beard.


More dianthus.





Fall blooming perennial.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Obamacare Wedding Tax

Here is another look at the Obamacare wedding tax.

You can not bother getting married or one or the other can stop working. Pick your disincentive. Either way it is insanity.

Increase Postal Service Rates

The Postal Service proposes to increase rates by 7 percent to cover a meaningful portion of its mounting endemic deficits. It's a move that goes a long way towards requiring the users of the system to cover the costs of its operation (more increases will be needed if Congress continues to block Postal Service cost control initiatives). 

Who are the mailers and rate payers? Not really you. When you want to communicate with friends and relatives you almost never mail personal letters; instead, you pick up the phone or email and text your friends, or you post to Facebook. These days, if you are like most people, you no longer use the mails to pay your monthly bills. Automatic deductions are drawn against your credit card bills, cable and internet bills, and electric, gas, sewer and water. Or you go online and pay directly. You electronically file your income taxes. The net result is that typical household will pay but a few bucks more a year for increased postage.

There still are large and significant users of the mail -- businesses and predominantly big business at that. Big banks flood the mails with statements and notices, plus solicitations. Utilities send much of the same. AT&T, Verizon and Sprint use mail to bill customers who insist on paper. Harte-Hanks and Valassis are huge direct mail marketers, as are mail order firms like Lands End and LL Bean. Catalogs are still big in gardening, used by companies like Burpee, Springhill and Jackson and Perkins. Publishers like Time Inc., Conde Nast and Readers' digest collectively send billions of magazines and direct mail pieces through the Postal Service each year.

You have a choice. Mail users can pay the full cost of mail service. Or postal deficits can continue to spiral out of control, and the bill will be passed along to your children and grandchildren. Is that what you want?

As on so many issues, the only sane and balanced voice on postal is coming out of the Republican side of the House of Representatives, led by Darrell Issa (R - Calif.), Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

“The Postal Service isn’t just broke,” Issa said before lawmakers debated his bill, noting that the agency is facing insolvency. He described the mail system as an “absolute federal entity that delivers your right to communicate and be communicated with. It must be saved.”
The agency lost close to $16 billion in the last fiscal year as mail volume continued to plummet. Postal Service officials defaulted on two $5.5 billion payments to set aside health care for future retirees, another financial burden causing huge losses.
As its revenue has fallen, the agency said it is hampered by more workers and facilities than it needs. By law, it cannot raise prices faster than the rate of inflation. Legal restrictions also keep it from easily expanding into new products or services.
Congress has worked to address these obstacles for two years but has bumped up against competing demands of unions, mailers and lawmakers representing rural districts.
Issa had a long business career before being elected to Congress. We need more like him. Even the Washington Post has endorsed Issa's bill.

But the unions, the special interests and their Washington representatives (aka lobbyists) stand in the way. They are happy to stand for a status quo that is leading to almost $50 billion in accumulated losses.

The Hallmark Cards guy says increasing rates to recover costs "will exacerbate the Postal Service's current predicament."
GCA along with dozens of Washington
lobbyists stands in the way of
postal rate increases.
Please, I still send Christmas cards, but not those put out by Hallmark, which cost 5 times the price of postage. Does any thinking person actually believe that adding a few cents to the price of a missive that cost three or four bucks is going to drive away "much needed volume." C'mon, in Obama's print, borrow and spend world the price of most everything else is going up. 

 “No private company would increase prices when sales are already plummeting,” said Mary Berner, chief executive officer of the Association of Magazine Media, Of course, the magazines who make up her association have been increasing newstand and subscription prices all along as their circulation has declined and managed to survive. They didn't throw out fundamental economic principals when their business weakened and neither should the Postal Service. 

The Direct Marketing Association stands with its fellow lobbyists in opposing rate increases that would have their members actually pay compensatory, unsubsidized prices for the services they receive.

And in Montana, the yoke around our neck is the joke in the Senate who goes by the name of Jon Tester. He invokes the fictitious constitutional right to mail delivery to stand in the way of meaningful Postal Service cost reforms and compensatory rates. He actually does believe thus in protecting big business and passing postal costs along to our children and grandchildren. I didn't vote for the dude, and have nothing kind to say about those who did. Just increase rates and ignore the dork.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Boomers Reign Supreme

Baby boomers are sticking it to young adults.
U.S. officials for the first time disclosed insurance prices that will be offered through new federally run health-care exchanges starting Oct. 1, showing that young, healthy buyers likely will pay more than they do currently while older, sicker consumers should get a break.
That's not health insurance, it's theft, generational theft. Shame on everyone who is complicit in this.

It's Divorce-A-Care

For old folks numbers,

And married with children,

It is so progressive for the state to encourage divorce and discourage marriage. Good thing Obamacare is gonna get funded.

Cruz Wins Handily: Ted Cruz 21 Wendy Davis 11

Three touchdowns vs. a touchdown with a two point conversion and a field goal --  not close. It would never have occurred to me but last night I tuned into MSNBC and there sat Rachael Maddow comparing the State Senator from Texas (11 hours) with the filibustering US Senator from the Lone Star State (21 hours).  I am pleased to announce the final result. As for style points, Wendy Davis' team used mob tactics to thwart the majority, Cruz politely shut down. All things considered, it's a crushing victory.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

A Few Words From Alan Greenspan

Mr. I can go along, get along and do the bidding of whomever is in the Oval Office has no political magic, but he is a solid economist and financial analyst when he gives himself a chance. In his forthcoming book Greenspan says, 
Robert Rubin, Alan Greenspan and Larry Summers
"financial crisis lurks should we fail to resolve our deeply disruptive fiscal imbalance. And that imbalance is far greater than the official data portray [because of contingent liabilities to the U.S. government from possible rescues of large financial firms and iconic nonfinancial firms] … At risk is the status the American economy has held as the preeminent world economic power for more than a century. … … The bias toward unconstrained deficit spending is our top domestic economic problem.” 
Which in view of my agreement is why I endorse virtually all across the board or broad based spending cuts (which are mostly constraints on spending growth) and why I have supported positive economic measures (they generate tax revenue rather than consuming it) and the very few broad based tax increase measures that have been put forward. But never trust the gifts that Greenspan and his fellow travelers (pictured above with Democratic Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Larry Summers, his compatriots in wrecking the banking system) bring you in the political sphere -- never, ever.

Monday, September 23, 2013

That's Gold Streaming Along the Potomac

The latest census data has DC area residents ranked 1, 2, 3 and 4, among the richest counties in the country. My old neighbors in Arlington, whose million dollar bus stops are being financed by the federal taxpayer, are way ahead of us all.
Indeed, the metropolitan area of Washington, D.C., a city with little identifiable industrial output, dominates the Census Bureau’s newly updated list of America’s wealthiest counties. Here are some highlights from that list: 
Based on the median family income in 2012, the wealthiest county in America—by far—is Arlington Co., Va., located just across the Potomac River from D.C. In fact, Arlington’s median family income ($137,216) is more than $10,000 higher than that of any other county in the United States.

The county with the 2nd-highest median family income ($127,192) is Loudoun Co., Va., also located in the D.C. metro area (according to the White House Office of Management and Budget’s list of metropolitan areas). The 3rd-highest tally ($125,162) belongs to Howard Co., Md., which technically isn’t part of the D.C. metro area but is located between D.C. and Baltimore and is home to many people who commute to D.C. The 4th-highest tally ($124,831) belongs to Fairfax Co., Va., yet another county located in the D.C. metro area.

Arlington, VA, viewed across the Potomac River from the Lincoln Memorial 
In other words, in a nation that ranges from the Pacific to the Atlantic and boasts such grand and affluent cities as New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, San Diego, Boston, and Seattle (among others), the four wealthiest counties in the land are all within commuting distance of the capital.
Though many Howard County residents do commute to DC, it is hardly necessary because Howard County is where Fort Meade is located, home to tens of thousands of NSA employees and contractors. Not only are these people spying on you, they are getting paid incredibly well for the privilege.  I am sure my ex-neighbors join in seeking your support, as budget debates continue, to ensure the federal government works smoothly and without interruption because it is operating so efficiently and working so well.

It's Relative

Since we moved to Bozeman I've gotten to know and appreciate my brother-in-law Jack much better. He braved the Montana winter to spend a week with us around Christmas and was a gracious and generous host to our oldest two kids during their trip down to Texas early this last summer.

The purported purchaser
Sam Houston State ROTC
Jack and his sister own and operate a business -- Wagamon Printing it is called. Jack is not the shy and retiring type and he actually does buy ink by the barrel. A number of years back he got up in arms about how the landed gentry in his home town were pulling strings with the local government to receive property tax abatements and divert funding from critical infrastructure projects in residential areas to support commercial development that served insider land holdings. So Jack pulled a Ben Franklin. He geared up a printing press to publish a newsletter ("The Taxpayer") that he distributed to voters exposing questionable transactions and back room shenanigans. He then ran for and was successful in securing a seat on the city council where instead of being merely a thorn in the side, he became a thorn on the dais.

Jack lives in Huntsville, Texas, which is best known for being the home of the state penitentiary that includes the state's execution chamber. It is also the home of Sam Houston State University, with its 18,400 students in 80 undergraduate, 54 masters', and 6 doctoral degree programs. Its alumni include newscaster Dan Rather and film director and screenwriter Richard Linklater, best known for the cult movie, Dazed and Confused.  

Huntsville Item reports on the SHSU scheme.
Anyhow, it seems like Sam Houston State was flexing its muscles, and aiming to buy up some local property at a near confiscatory price using the power of eminent domain. Jack noticed. While he may not be a city councilman anymore he still has his critic's pen and he used it to communicate with the local rag.
The sole issue is that the state is attempting to steal property from a private citizen.
Rest assured I am not using the word “steal” lightly in this context. When Dana Gibson chose to lie to the attorney general in order to con the state of Texas into misusing eminent domain, THAT IS STEALING. There is no good way to say it because what she is doing is that bad. For her to say that the property is “critical” to the operation of SHSU is ridiculous on its face. While it may serve a critical function in saving her pride and Al Hooten’s credibility, I can assure you Sam Houston will continue to operate with or without the property in question.
While the battle rages on between the state and Mr. Maalouf, do not be distracted by rhetoric concerning the “proper use” of the property or the “best use” as far as the “community” is concerned. As a citizen of the United States of America, I am insulted that someone would have the nerve to write to the newspaper saying what Mr. Maalouf should or should not do with his property.
And when I say “someone,” I mean Sally Nelson, in her letter to the editor in the Sept. 11 edition of The Huntsville Item. What Mr. Maalouf or anyone else does with their property is none of their business. Ms. Nelson and Dana Gibson need to BACK OFF! If this sounds mean, it’s supposed to. It’s about time somebody got angry and came to Mr. Maalouf’s defense by calling a lie a lie and stealing what it is — STEALING!
As a property owner and taxpayer, I am angry beyond words that my hometown university is trying to steal prime, main street, retail property from a businessman whose only crime was to put in the winning bid on a piece of land.
While we’re at it, I am insulted as a veteran of the U.S. Army that Dana Gibson is trying to use the ROTC program and veterans as an excuse to try and take Mr. Maalouf’s property. This does not reflect the values or spirit of the Constitution of the great country I and every other veteran took a blood oath to protect.
In closing, I would encourage our citizens and particularly our business owners to speak out against this terrible injustice taking place in our town. It is not enough to say it behind closed doors at a time like this. If Dana Gibson gets away with this, no one’s property will be safe.
Whoa baby!  I love it!  No holds barred verbal sparring.  Calling out the smile sweetly and stab you in the back "community" lovers. Thwack!  Boffo!  Defending constitutional values!  Go for it!  

A few days later, Sam Houston State gave in.  The Huntsville Item reported,
HUNTSVILLE — Sam Houston State University will no longer pursue acquisition of the Army Reserve building property at 2257 Sam Houston Ave., SHSU President Dana Gibson announced Monday.
Gibson released a statement midday Monday that the university would find an alternative solution for its ROTC and Veterans Affairs programs.
She and other SHSU officials declined to comment on their decision after an almost three-month contest with the city of Huntsville and the buyer of the property, Tarek Maalouf.
The newspaper continued,
The public dispute at times turned contentious. Members of the Huntsville community, Voters for Lower Taxes, the Sam Houston Tea Party, and protest group Eminent Doom came together to protest not only proposed action by SHSU, but against eminent domain as a practice for acquiring land in a case like this one.
Maalouf, also owner of the Draft Bar, accused the university of retaliating against him after he put up signs around the bar and army reserve building property that read, “Don’t Take My Land.”
Maalouf and his attorney Lanny Ray complained that SHSU police issued an unusual series of tickets Aug. 28 to Draft Bar patrons, including those who parked across the street from the bar on Sam Houston Avenue after 5 p.m. in a parking lot assigned to faculty, staff across from the bar.
By the way, Jack's business also produces signs -- just saying. The police state tried its hardest, but this is a victory for the Tea Party, Jack, the sanctity of private property and good government supporters everywhere. Congratulations Jack and friends!

Don't Take My Land signs ringing the subject property.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Educate the Dream

I don’t often weigh in on the immigration debate, but I have views. One of these is young people, no matter who they are and how they got here, they need to be educated. Education is a gateway to productive participation in our society. All young men and woman who are motivated and work hard deserve educational opportunities so they can contribute and may have real hope for the future.

Back in Arlington I was proud and privileged to get involved with something called the Arlington Mill High School Continuation Program. It runs approximately 300-350 students. I would say that about 90 percent of the students are immigrants or children of immigrants. They are mostly Hispanic, ESL and HILT students, but their collective heritage spanned the globe -- Eastern Europe, Asia, Africa and Middle East are all well represented, in addition to Central and South America. The continuation program is an alternative education vehicle with night classes and day sessions, set up to flexibly allow students 16 years of age and up, almost all of whom work, to complete a high school education that otherwise would end up in the dropout statistic bin. Options include on-line courses. It's a stay in program. 

When I got involved, Arlington Mill was an orphaned program in the sense, that at critical junctures, no one outside of its administration was speaking up for the program or on behalf of its students (the traditional schools are well represented by PTA's). The students themselves had no organized voice, not even a student council, a problem that was only later rectified. The program was being pushed around and losing ground. The situation was difficult for Arlington Mill students but easy for me, because all I had to do to help, literally, was to speak up.

Shortly after I left Arlington, the promised change from program to high school was implemented. Arlington Mill High School had its first graduation ceremony last spring. Here is the graduation video.


If you have some time it is instructive and uplifting to listen to the speakers. The School Board Chair recounts the story of the young man who sold three cows to leave his native land in order to finance his journey to this country in search of his mother. A young lady speaks of the joys and challenges of the Arlington Mill experience.  A young man recounts the seven year journey it took to get to this point. My friend Barbara Thompson, Arlington Mill principal (she was called “administrator” when Arlington Mill was still a program) tells the graduating students, as I heard her say so many times, to read, read and read and never stop. You would be hard pressed anywhere to find a group of students happier and prouder of earning their high school diplomas. 

Dr. Thompson worked hard with the state to drive the adoption of an alternative accreditation program for Arlington Mill. Traditional graduation time frames do not apply.
"It may take a little longer, but they get there," Arlington Mill Principal Barbara Thompson said. "The final outcome is much more important than the snapshot in time the data provides."
Arlington business persons are coming forward to give Arlington Mill students something to shoot for.
Edson Flores Awarded Arlington Rotary Challenge Stipend 
Edson Flores, a graduate of the Arlington Mill High School, was awarded a two year stipend of $10,000 to help with his college expenses by the Arlington Rotary Education Foundation on Thursday, July 18. The Foundation is the Arlington Rotary Club’s non-profit organization for helping Arlington students.  It created the Arlington Rotary Challenge Stipend to help Arlington high school graduates who have made a dramatic turn-around in their educational pursuits and who need financial support to attend college.  An Arlington resident, Edson graduated from Arlington Mill in 2012 and is a server at Gordon Biersch Restaurant.  He will attend Northern Virginia Community College studying business.  For the past year, he has been mentoring and tutoring students in math at Arlington Mill on his days off.   
Arlington Mill High School Principal Barbara Thompson said “We are proud of Edson, a prime example of Arlington Mill students who are dedicated and committed to completing their high school diplomas. Congratulations to the Rotarians for helping him pursue his college dream.” 
Rotarian Joe Lott, Foundation President, said “Edson’s activities exemplify Rotary’s spirit of service above self.  Our club is pleased that we can help Edson achieve his academic goal.” 
About Arlington Mill High School
Arlington’s newest accredited high school has a full diploma awarding program, offering academic, career and technical courses in day and evening classes. The school will be co-located with the Arlington Career Center beginning in August 2013. Students enrolled in Arlington Mill High School receive their diploma from Arlington Mill.
Arlington Mill
joins hands
around the world.
Yes! Arlington Mill moved to the Arlington Career Center campus in my old neighborhood last month. This is a win/win for the school because now all the students will have ready access to STEM courses and vocational and technical training, as well as easy access to the school itself (the campus is located just off Columbia Pike, easily accessible by bus from the west end where most of the students live). It looks like the strategy of quietly running the night program at the Career Center problem free for several years has paid off.  In the 2006-2007 time frame, my then neighbors went ballistic about the prospect of having Arlington Mill vagrants and criminals across the parking lot from their precious children who attend the neighborhood school on the other side. It was NIMBY, NIMBY, NIMBY. Now the liberal insularity (these people voted 70 percent for Obama, they claim to be open and inclusive, they are phonies and liars to the core) is overcome. 

All the best to Arlington Mill High School and its faculty, staff and student body.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Saturday Pictures

Saturday Pictures
September 21, 2013
(click to enlarge)

Grilling mile high.  Fresh, scrumptious, mmmm, come and get it!

Chainsaw moose anyone?  The food is quite excellent as well -- The Desert Rose in "downtown" Belgrade, MT.

Storming over the Bridgers.

Early season snow cap on Mount Baldy.

The Bridger Range. Fall is here!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Rising Median Incomes

The undeniable truth is median incomes are down most everywhere you look. But in the incubus of federal government inside and surrounding the Washington DC Beltway it is distinctly different. In our review of county by county median incomes, we blogged last spring,
[n]ot so in the Washington DC area.  Huge surges in federal expenditures made the National Capitol Region recession proof and enriched hundreds of thousands of federal employees and contract personnel.   Households throughout the region, despite in many cases being deeply in debt and highly leveraged, never felt the pain.
Now this week the Wall Street Journal has come out with a report that confirms our analysis. And more accurately and comprehensive, there are millions of federal government amped beneficiaries spanning the entire DC Metro area.
American incomes have tumbled over the last decade. But for many people in Washington, D.C., it’s been something of a party.
The income of the typical D.C. household rose 23.3% between 2000 and 2012 to an inflation-adjusted $66,583, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, its most comprehensive snapshot of America’s demographic, social and economic trends. During this period, median household incomes for the nation as a whole dropped 6.6% — from $55,030 to $51,371. The state of Mississippi, which had one of the biggest declines, dropped 15% to $37,095: Nearly one in three people there have an income that is near the poverty line. 
The Washington, D.C. metro area — which includes the surrounding suburbs in Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia — has it even better, with a median household income of $88,233 that ranks highest among the U.S.’s 25 most populous metro areas. Tampa, Florida’s median income, by contrast, is under $45,000.
The lineup is changing a bit as the incumbent administration's A team moves along to make big bucks in the private sector while Obama struggles to play with his B and C teams, but the results are the same.  It pays to live where Obama spends, Jack Lew (previously Tim Geithner) borrows and Ben Bernanke (soon to be Janet Yellen) prints the money (real or inflation adjusted incomes are going down because this process devalues the dollar).  
DC Metro Area incomes surged ahead
 of the tech sector heavy Silicon Valley.

As for the rest of you who live throughout the U.S., you can forget it. Listen to and worship the leftist and big government rhetoric but live the reality. Declining incomes are a very real tax that is being paid to support massive deficit spending.  Good luck to all.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Never Ending Flows of Superstorm Sandy

The mainstream media and its government handlers have spoken. The raging inferno that consumed dozens of businesses and several city blocks in Seaside Heights, New Jersey was caused by faulty wiring -- damaged by super storm Sandy. The result of course is,
Gov. Chris Christie's administration decided the state will use Sandy-recovery money to pay for debris removal. He also pledged $15 million in Sandy money to help rebuild the burned businesses.
How convenient! Christie's fiscal bear hug with Barack is the gift that keeps on giving.

Let's look at what other maladies along the Jersey boardwalks can be linked with Sandy, providing basis, perhaps, for more equitably and completely distributing the Sandy largess up and down the Jersey shore. 

Sources say Sandy's hurricane force winds blew Philly Cheese Steaks up to New York. The government needs to stabilize food vendors lest the next storm blow their sausages back to Italy.

Sandy driven sea spray and rain blew into boardwalk arcades, seeped into and warped Skee Ball lanes. Fairness is sought. Funds are needed to get the games back on the level.

Storm rains waterlogged now limp and musty knock-down dolls. Arcades need to firm up and replenish targets on boardwalks in the Wildwoods, Sea Isle City, Ocean City, Atlantic City and points north. This is an economic development issue you know. What do the Obamanista's call it?  Forward!

Instead of earning "Choice" stuffed animals, dimes floated in targeted bottles out to sea, where they will swirl in the Gulf Stream until retrieved across the ocean by an Irish lad or lass. Meanwhile, lads and lassies need the dime toss restored to support their summer visas to work the games along the shore.  It's for the kids you know, poor immigrants each one.

The Nathan's hot dog eating contest championship belt disappeared, no doubt flotsam somewhere in the back bay marshes. Hot dog food security is threatened. The contest must live on.

Finally, Mack's Pizza in the Wildwoods was driven into bankruptcy when Sandy blew away away the $2.00 a slice sign and revealed historical non-compensatory prices lying beneath. Money just doesn't go as far these days. I wonder why?

Millionaires Rally for Barack

Barack Obama's appointees on the Federal Reserve Board exceeded the expectations of the moneyed class, voting 9 to 1 to continue printing a trillion dollars a year to boost the asset values of the rich.
Wall Street workerss keeping
 up with the Feds' flow of funds.
U.S. stocks rallied 1% across the board after the Federal Reserve announced it will not reduce its $85 billion monthly asset purchasing program. The unexpected decision propelled the Dow Jones Industrial Average (^DJI) and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) to close at fresh record highs, topping the previous records of 15,658 and 1,709, respectively; both set on August 2nd. The Nasdaq (^IXIC) rose 1% to close at a 13-year high of 3,783. And gold prices saw even greater gains than stocks rising over 4% to $1,360 an ounce in after hours trading.
The Fed's decision came as a big surprise to many on Wall Street who were expecting a $10 billion to $20 billion reduction in monthly stimulus.
In the Obama economy it takes money to make money. It seems like a record is set almost every day. In the meantime, ordinary workers and savers are earning fractional interest rates and paying banks to maintain their accounts. Way to go Barack!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Let It .....

Yes, the blue stuff is snow.


Remember, "If you like your plan you can keep your plan?"

Except that,

Walgreen Co. (WAG), the biggest U.S. drugstore chain, will move its workers into a private health insurance exchange to buy company-subsidized coverage, the latest sign of how the debate over Obamacare is accelerating a historic shift in corporate health-care coverage.
Walgreen’s decision affects about 160,000 current employees and follows similar action this year by Sears Holdings Corp. (SHLD) and Darden Restaurants Inc. (DRI) As an alternative to administering a traditional health plan, all three will send their employees to an exchange run byAon Plc. (AON) Fourteen more companies will join in 2014 when 600,000 people will participate, Aon said.
There is more,
Other large employers, including International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and Time Warner Inc. have this year moved their retirees into private exchanges from company-picked plans. Trader Joe’s Co., the closely held grocery store chain, has said it will move part-time workers at its 400 stores onto the Obamacare exchanges, and United Parcel Service Inc. decided to drop health benefits for 15,000 of its workers’ spouses who can get insurance through another company.
What Obamacare has done is give large employers an off ramp from providing healthcare for their employees and approbation and a mechanism for shifting healthcare cost increases onto their workforce.

CBS This Morning’s Jill Schlesinger calls this “a big deal,” and points out that this gets Walgreens and other corporate employers off the hook for compliance costs:

“I can’t see how this is going to be good for the employee in the future,” Schlesinger adds, given the CBO projection yesterday of health-care cost escalation over the next twenty years.
Once Obama's politically calculated delay in the implementation of the majority of the provisions of the horribly misnamed (unless you are big business) Affordable Care Act runs out after next year's mid-term elections, it will get even worse. Bloomberg news calls the current defections an "Exodus." The metaphor train will bridge to deluges and floods of corporate defectors. The big companies love Obama, they love him so much. 


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Top August Posts

September is moving and shaking on Along the Gradyent, but let's take a moment to go back to August, to look at its top ranked posts.

  1. Topping the list was a guaranteed to be popular guest post by Teresa. She delved into the prickly subject of cacti. In Mildly Painful, Painful and Very Painful -- Texas Cactus Teresa ran down the range of cactus hazards for mature adults, young children and everyone in between. The family that blogs together stays together. And while you are at it, wear shoes and watch where you sit.
  2. Talking about shaking things up, number two in page views was Earthquake! Or How Quake Lake Was Formed. We ventured on a day trip over to Virginia and Nevada Cities, and traveled down towards Yellowstone, stopping at Quake Lake. It's a geological marvel, formed on August 17, 1959 when a 7.5 earthquake cleaved the the side off a mountain, dammed Madison River Canyon and formed Earthquake Lake, 6 miles long and 190 feet deep, before creating a spillway that got the Madison River flowing once again.
  3. Barack Obama believes 40 miles of fiber optic cable paid for by his stimulus package produces hundreds of jobs, while 1,500 mile of pipeline constructed, operated and paid for by sustainable economic enterprises in the private sector creates a few dozen billets. Go figure or go read Our Job Denier in Chief and this and that and the next thing to learn about Dear President's learning opportunities on the jobs and economic activity front.
  4. In a gratifying first, a Saturday Pictures post made it to the a monthly top postings list.  We spent a weekend in Livingston where we shot some scenes and captured a childhood love affair with Wilcoxson's Ice Cream.
  5. In Sequester as in Scare-Quester -- Montana Style we wrote on how the mainstream media went hook, line and sinker for the hoax that we would be engulfed by fiery infernos due to the sequester.  This was, of course, just a few weeks previous to the Rocky Mountain front experiencing rains of "biblical" proportions, which according to Harry Reid is due to climate change that the government is powerless to control in light of the sequester's funding constraints.  How many tens of trillions of dollars do you need to pay off greedy Democratic dweebs?
Use this opportunity to take a quick look back, but most of all I encourage keeping up this month.  Summer's passing means more blogging.  Thanks to all who read and support.

Kudos to the US Park Police Helicopter Crew

If you were watching yesterday, the US Park Police helicopter was there, airlifting trapped personnel and victims to safety from the roof of the Naval Sea Systems Command building in the Navy Yard complex.

The Park Police helicopters have been wherever needed again and again, brave, persistent when required, and daring and effective.

Like in 1982, when the Park Police helicopter pulled Air Florida Flight 90 victims from the frigid waters of the Potomac following an unscheduled stop on the 14th Street Bridge.

US Park Police helicopter pulling victims from the icy Potomac River, January 13, 1982, pictured from the
express lane (Rochambeau Bridge) span of the 14th Street Bridge. The northbound span in the background,
with a portion of the guardrail sheered by the plummeting plane, was renamed for Arland D Williams Jr. who unselfishly passed the life ring hanging from the helicopter rope to a fellow passenger before submerging and perishing in the river.

For decades now, the copter has been there like for every inauguration, demonstration and major event along the National Mall, to monitor, corral lawbreakers and control the crowds as needed.

Picture of pre-inaugural Clinton-Gore event, from US Park Police helicopter, January, 1993.

It has protected the White House.

A U.S. Park Police helicopter was on scene almost instantly after the Pentagon was struck on September 11, 2001, radioing information on the extent of the damage and the progress of the fire to the Arlington County Fire Department. 

And then landing on September 11th to whisk victims away from the scene. 

Years later, the U.S. Park Police helicopter was ten miles up the Potomac to rescue stranded motorists when River Road became a river.

And it's there to speedily transport accident victims along the George Washington and Baltimore Washington Parkways.

The helicopter hovers over the Anacostia to rescue bald eagles stuck in the muck.

And I shot these photos of the Park Police helicopter up immediately in the aftermath of the August 23, 2011 DC earthquake.  

Park Police inspecting
Washington Monument.
Park Police helicopter inspecting the Smithsonian
Castle building.

The U.S. Park Police helicopter does winter duty in the sky patrolling the snowed in Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

The U.S. Park Police are up in the New York City metropolitan area too, assisting on Staten Island in the recovery from Hurricane Sandy.

And providing access to the storm swept grounds of the Statue of Liberty.

And yes, the Park Police was at the Navy Yard in Southeast DC yesterday, providing reconnaissance, pulling victims from the roof and helping trapped personnel to escape.

Park Police helicopter flying above the USS Barry, docked at Washington Navy Yard, September 17, 2013.