Monday, May 31, 2010

Review: Rush Limbaugh - An Army of One

I just finished reading the new bio of Rush Limbaugh, by Zev Chafets. The inner sleeve mentions the author's first exposure to Rush's radio show and how it made an impact on him. That reminded me of MY first exposure to Rush.

I was living in Indianapolis at the time. I remember driving down I465 and seeing a billboard with the exclamation: Talent on Loan from God. I had heard about Rush, but those initial impressions were negative, courtesy of the mainstream media. I tuned in nonetheless. I believe the year was 1988.

It took me a few weeks of listening to finally "get" where Rush was coming from. I remember hearing some of his parodies and feeling a bit outraged. He seemed really over the top back then. I seem to remember that Rush exhorted his listeners to give him three weeks to understand where he was coming from. I gave him the time and have been an avid listener ever since. I've been a subscriber to Rush 24/7 since he first initiated it on his website and I look forward to the "Limbaugh Letter" every month. Such are my credentials.

For those long-time listeners of Rush, Zef Chafets brings back a lot of memories. He chronicles Rush's history, which most long-time listeners will remember, but does it with a more detailed picture. He has done a very good job of filling in the blanks that Rush's listeners may have had after listening to him over the years. I've always thought I had the full picture, but Zef Chafets has expanded it.

As fans of Rush, we all know his beginnings in Cape Girardeau, his stint in Pittsburgh and his tenure with the Kansas City Royals before finally landing in Sacramento, CA. We remember his time in NY and his move to the "Southern Command" in Florida. What we don't know are some of the details in between and Zef Chafets does a great job of filling in the gaps to make Rush's journey much more personal.

There are few revelations in the book, but lots of details to give all long-time "ditto heads" (yes, I consider myself one) plenty to enjoy. If you're a recent fan of Rush, you owe it to yourself to read this book. I can't think of a better way to understand this man's journey and the impact he's had on today's political landscape.

For Rush Limbaugh fans, I give this book a hearty approval. You'll be inspired to go back and re-read "The Way Things Ought to Be".

Friday, May 28, 2010

YouCut: Nibbling at the Edges

I was just reading about YouCut, an initiative sponsored by Rep. Eric Cantor to garner support for spending cut proposals. The idea is this: the mind-trust of the House GOP Leadership proposes spending cuts and asks for the public to vote on them. Whichever proposal garners the most votes is put forward in the U.S. House of Representative. Sounds pretty cool, right?

Here's a list of the Top 5:

1. Refocus National Archives Activities On Preserving Federal Records
$10 million in Savings in the First Year ($100 Million Over Ten Years)
2. Reform Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
$30 billion savings (Assume $3 billion in first year)
3. Terminate Broadcasting Facility Grant Programs that Have Completed their Mission
$25 million in Savings in the First Year ($250 million Over Ten Years)
4. Reduce Spending on Non-Essential and Questionable Research
$3.8 million in Savings in the First Year
5. Consolidate and Reduce Funding for Federal Advisory Committees
$34 million in Savings in the First Year ($170 Million Over Five Years)

Now for the cumulative result: $3.1 billion the first year. Forget about the out-lying years, there's too much speculation for an honest answer. But think about it, in just the first year we're talking $3.1 billion! Wow!

How does that $3.1 billion measure up to the deficit? I checked the U.S. National Debt Clock and it totaled $13 trillion in debt. That seems like a lot, but how does that compare to YouCut's proposals?

For giggles, let's lop off a few zeros. Let's ratchet down the national debt by a factor of 1 million. $13 trillion becomes $13 million. Easy enough, right? Okay, consider this: $3.1 billion becomes $3,100.

Yeah, you read it right, $3,100.00. Pocket change for Washington insiders, unless you consider that it's coming out of YOUR pocket. That's a decent down-payment on a car for most people, but not something that you'd consider paying down on your mortgage. Wouldn't make a dent, right?

The proposals on YouCut won't make a dent in our national debt. They wouldn't even qualify as a joke in the Democratic Caucus room. They're nothing!

Here is what we need to focus on:

1. Medicaid/Medicare benefits
$105 billion
2. Social Security
$686 billion
3. Federal Pensions
$192 billion
4. Interest on Debt
$195 billion
5. Earmarks
$18 billion

I offer a simple solution: mandate a cut to the above expenditures by 50%. Figure out how to apportion the remainder. To hell with the consequences, we're broke no matter what.

Just a suggestion for YouCut.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

From the Palin Compound......

News just in from the Palin "compound" on Lucile Lake: a new fence has been constructed.

Earth-shattering news indeed, but I want to focus on something else.

I provided a link above relating to the use of the term "compound" as it relates to Sarah and Todd Palin's property on Lucile Lake. Please take notice of who is using the term "compound" and think about what you envision when you hear that word.

When I think of the term "compound", I think of a gated property that encircles a mansion within its midst. I think of guard dogs and security personnel armed with weapons. I think of money and power.

I think of many things, but I don't envision a piece of property where a fence bisects a distance of 20 feet between you and your neighbor. I don't think of a piece of land that may total a few acres, as is evidenced by this aerial view of the Palin "compound":

I've had friends that had lake property this size. It usually entailed the ownership of two lots of lakefront. We didn't refer to it as a compound, we referred to it as a lake cottage, although the Palins have obviously built their home on such a lot.

The LSM wants you to believe that the Palins are living in a "compound", a world of privilege and wealth. I don't see that.

What I see is a modest home on a beautiful lakefront property. If the new house going up next to the Palin's house belongs to them, so be it. They have the money to expand. Isn't that what we all hope for?

Here is a picture of my "compound":
Damn! The "compound" crew didn't cover the grill last night after I finished cooking pork chops. Heads are going to roll!

Cross-posted on The Rogues' Roost

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Annual Party

Summer traditions are things that are inbred in all Americans. It is part of being human. We participate in summer traditions over our youth and they become part of who we are. The memories are vivid and we try to extend those traditions to our children, so that they might experience the same, warm memories. I can give you examples of the summer traditions I remember from childhood (in sequential order):
Memorial Day - The pool must be clean and ready (We were fortunate to have one)

The 4th of July - Festooning your bike in red, white and blue for the parade

Fireworks - Thank God the parents were in charge

Weekends in the pool - Bathing suits were normal attire for the whole day

Backyard barbecues - Again, thank God the parents were in charge

Flies - Sorry, but they always seem to go along with barbecues (and potato salad)

Hot Summer nights - Cicadas are everywhere - Find their shells to wear on your shirt

Lightning Bugs - How many can be captured and why is the jar empty in the morning?

Sweet Corn - Going to the Farmer's Market to get the best

Labor Day Weekend - The last big holiday before school (though not anymore)

I'm sure that you could add many other events to my list. It's just what I remember off the top of my head.

There is one other thing, however, that will always be a part of me: The Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend.

I can't remember a year when all the neighbors didn't come over to our back-yard to listen to the race. We all bought drivers for $1 apiece. The race was charted (by Dort Zeiler, an avid fan and neighbor) and lap money was rewarded to those leading at 10-lap intervals. The booby prize went to the first driver out. You got your $1 back. The big prize was in winning the race. You'd be able to walk away with much more than your $1 investment and bragging rights for the whole summer. All in attendance played, both young and old. It is one of my fondest memories and one that I brought with me when I moved to Texas.

Such is my dilemma.

I brought the Indy Party tradition to Texas. It was the best way I knew to immerse my friends into the thrill of listening to the race. I had a party and re-created the "chart" that I remembered from my youth. That was back in 2000 (I still have the chart). Kids and adults were aplenty and everyone participated in the race. After all, it was a tradition.

I upgraded the "chart" to an Excel spreadsheet. It helped with the effort of tracking the race leaders and allowed my guests to see how their "driver" investment was faring. I had to update the cost of drivers after the first party. A $1 dollar investment does not a big payout make. Last year's price was $10 a driver.

I've done this every year since 2000, but now I've tired of the effort. My kids are now teenagers and would rather hang with their friends. My house (and pool) are aging, so the clean-up and preparation in advance of the party is daunting. Last year was the first time I experienced "dread" on the day of the party. I couldn't attend to all that needed to be done to my satisfaction. It was no longer fun.

I've decided not to have my annual Indy 500 party this year. Perhaps I'll relent in the future, but this year it seemed to present a hollow goal. My memories are from youth and my kids have now grown older. They don't have the same interest in the race as they've had in the past. It's now just me and my friends, which just hasn't motivated me. After all, I can have a party any day. But an Indy 500 party? That was for my kids...and for me, in memory of my youth.

Mayor Daley Steps in it!

Okay, so is he for gun-control or against it?

What a buffoon!

I love Chicago and have traveled there often. That city deserves much more than it's getting from the present Mayor.


Saturday, May 15, 2010

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Word About RIFs

In case you don't know what I'm talking about, RIF means Reduction In Force, aka layoffs. I've had to tell people that they were getting RIFfed. I've been on the surviving end of RIFs. They are anathema to the white-collar workforce, but they are commonplace within large companies.

I am currently working as a consultant for a large company. Since I've been there, the company has gone through 3 RIFs. We're talking about one year. There are countless reasons for RIFs: economic downturns, re-structuring, or merger. All of these events compel executive management to reduce expenses by the quickest way they can: headcount reduction.

A company's payroll is its biggest expense. When the economic climate changes for a company, through merger, business downturn or poor management, the worker-bees are the first to go. An entire company can be let go before the CEO is cut loose by the Board of Directors. It's the way things work.

What usually happens after a RIF is that fewer people do the work that more people did in the past. This leads to working more hours to get the job done. In the case of most white-collar workers, this means doing more work for your existing salary. Overtime hours are not compensated and therein lies the rub.

When you demand that your employees work more hours without additional pay, you're creating an environment of stress. Stressed-out employees look for ways to reduce their stress and, typically, search for new jobs. A happy employee does not look for a new job. An unhappy employee does look for a new job and, in most cases, finds one.

Executive management has a very thin line to walk. You can reduce your workforce, but you stand to lose your remaining employees to a better, less stressful environment. Many a merger has gone awry when the talent within the acquired seeks a better course.

Government employment has never had to deal with any of this. A government job is security, in labor and in retirement. But retirement benefits alone have brought state and local governments to their knees. How do you pay for a program that was never conceived to exist in an environment of less?

Follow the path of the free-market. You have to make tough decisions, but your ultimate goal is to make due with what you have, which is to say, our tax dollars. If you don't have what you need to "fund" these programs, they need to go.

Why should government employees expect anything more than what they would be given in the free-market? Is there anyone out there to give me a reason?

The Saturation of Sarah

I've been thinking about this for the last couple of weeks, but have only now come to realize what has really been bothering me. My concerns peaked with the latest PPP poll, which showed Sarah trailing Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and Newt Gingrich in the 2012 Republican Presidential nomination race. Why is Sarah trailing, abeit by small margins?

To answer that, consider first that the poll also shows Sarah with a 69% favorable rating amongst Republicans, a solid advantage over the aforementioned three. So what is it that concerns me as well as other Republican voters? That's a good question which I'll attempt to answer from my perspective.

We have five and a half months before the 2010 elections, a lifetime in politics for a Presidential election, but this isn't a Presidential election year. This is a mid-term election for Congressional and Senate seats. The focus should be on those key Congressional and Senate elections. So why does Sarah continue to gain so much exposure? My abbreviated answer is alternative media.

Those of us who rely on the alternative media are constantly being inundated with all things Sarah. We are constantly being advised of her latest speech, her latest schedule and her latest book release. That's okay and I must admit, I pre-ordered her latest book on Amazon yesterday. But what about 2010? Sarah isn't running for anything. Why should I concern myself with the 2012 election when there is so much to be accomplished in 2010? My answer is that I shouldn't be and I no longer am.

I don't give a rip about polls that show Sarah trailing. I only care about this year's elections. Forget about all the spin that you hear about Sarah's Presidential ambitions. It doesn't matter right now. What matters is this year, this election.

I applaud Sarah for speaking on behalf of conservatives and endorsing candidates. That is what leaders do. They help us separate the good from the bad, depending on their perspectives. I can handle that.

Don't fall prey to the constant barrage of information about Sarah. Right now, she is doing what she must...speaking out against the Obama administration and supporting like-minded conservatives. Once the 2010 elections are over, we can turn our attention to the 2012 race, but not a minute before.

By the way, do you see the other three in the media at all?

NJ Governor Shoots Straight

This video is a prime example of how conservatives should approach the business of reducing the size of government. First and foremost, it takes conviction and honesty, not political posturing and meaningless rhetoric.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Petition Drive to Help Sarah

Sarah's Web Brigade, of which I am a contributor, has set up a petition drive to counteract the Left's attempts to derail her upcoming Alaska series on The Discovery Channel. Although the Left is very organized in these types of efforts, we thought it worthy to demonstrate the fact that there are many others who look forward to the watching the series. We can all learn a lot by the example of all Alaskans in the way they live their lives amongst some of the most beautiful terrain in the world.

I encourage you to support Sarah in this effort!