Thursday, November 30, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies and campaign promises

It was a solemn pledge, repeated by Democratic leaders and candidates over and over: If elected to the majority in Congress, Democrats would implement all of the recommendations of the bipartisan commission that examined the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

But with control of Congress now secured, Democratic leaders have decided for now against implementing the one measure that would affect them most directly: a wholesale reorganization of Congress to improve oversight and funding of the nation's intelligence agencies. Instead, Democratic leaders may create a panel to look at the issue and produce recommendations, according to congressional aides and lawmakers.

In other words, we said whatever we thought would get us elected, and now we're going to begin backpedaling as quickly as possible. Of course, if you expected different from politicians (and I'll beat both sides with this particular stick), then you really have been living under a rock your entire life.

It's like the old joke:

Q: How do you tell a politician is lying?
A: Watch his mouth. If it moves, he's lying.

Of course, by going with a commission, they hope to avoid any major reforms that would effect Congress while at the same time passing the buck for their inaction to what is sure to be a "blue ribbon panel" of unelected so-and-sos. This means the so-and-sos can't be held accountable, and no matter what the recommend, Congress can plead that "they're were just following the recommendations of the panel.

It's a lovely racket, and one that Democrats seem to specialize in.

Are all you people who "sent a message" happy yet?

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Fighting the flu

Joining numerous other levels of government, my home state of North Carolina is waving its arms about over the inevitable flu pandemic. (Mistake #1--assuming it will be an influenza pandemic. There are other diseases.)

During such a biological disaster, the state would shut down any gathering where the virus could be easily spread. Schools, churches, shopping malls and theaters would be closed. Concerts and sporting events would be canceled.

Well, it's a start, anyway. But what about grocery stores, drug stores, Wal-mart and so on? People gather there out of necessity--they need to buy the goods required by daily living. During a pandemic, they're still going to need food, and things like pain relivers, tissues, vaporizers and so on will be flying off the shelves. Or will they simply have to resign themselves to being sick and hungry at home? (Somehow, I don't think that will happen gracefully.)

Perhaps the National Guard will be delivering these things door-to-door. Oops! They're mostly in Iraq. OK, scratch that idea.

Health care workers are concerned that there will be shortages of supplies, hospital beds and that "Up to 40 percent of the doctors and nurses in the state's hospital system sick with flu, treating a loved one at home or too scared to come to work." I would wager that 40% is a conservative estimate. The Freeholder knows a couple of folks in that realm, and one has already made it clear that they will not be reporting to work in this sort of situation. The other is laying in additional supplies of food and so on. (Mistake #2--underestimating the seriousness of your situation.)

At least some of those planning have their head screwed on correctly, however. Brian Letourneau, public health director for Durham County, says "We're building our response under the assumption that we're on our own." Smart fellow--he won't be disappointed when FEMA is a no-show at the dance.

The Freeholder suggests that you re-examine your disaster preparations. (Something you should do from time to time anyway.) We'll all heard the old "3 days of food and water business", and if you're reading this, you probably realize that that's crap. You should always have a minimum of 30 days food, a week's water and a way to purify more. In the case of a pandemic, a 6 months supply of food isn't unrealistic--a year would be prudent, in my view. Remember, this won't be like a normal flu season--this will come in multiple waves over a period of 2-3 years. You may need to take refuge in your home not once, but several times.

It would be smart to plan for other goods, such as medical supplies, batteries, ways to keep warm and so on for a similar period. Consider how you will handle the needs of everyday life if certain services, such as trash pickup, aren't available because all the truck drivers are out sick. What could you do (or what would you be willing to do) to help your neighbors?

Plan and prepare now, while you have time to think things through and the goods are available for you to stock up. Waiting for the pandemic to arrives may well mean that you and yours become statistics.

Plan on helping yourself. As Mr. Letourneau noted, we're probably going to be on our own. Government will not be able to help everyone--they may not be able to help anyone. You, your family and your neighbors may all have to do something unusual in this day and time--rely on only what you have to see you through. And you may find yourself left to your own devices for quite some time.

Our civilization, despite appearances, is a fragile construction. As Americans, we've seen what a relatively small event, 9/11, did to our economy, our peace of mind and our society. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader--how bad would a world-wide pandemic hit us?

Express your gratitude

Let's Say Thanks

I have.

I get the feeling...

(Via Drudge)

That today is going to be a day for, well, let's call it flakiness.

Judge Orders Treasury Department to Make Paper Money Recognizable to Blind People

Now at the risk of appearing insensitive (What!! Me insensitive? I'm hurt.), Judge Genius here seems to have taken leave of her common sense. I can understand how dealing with paper currency is hard on the blind or visually handicapped, but to attempt to require the US Treasury to "make it all better" through some ill-advised scheme to make currency different sizes is going to cause a lot of trouble.

Let's look at this for just a second. In order for this to work, you would have to make the size differences large enough that, well, a blind man could see it. Given that there are bills in $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 denominations, that means there will have to be a considerable size difference between the largest and the smallest, assuming we keep the traditional rectangular shape of most paper currency. (God help us if we start trying different shapes.)

So, men, how will your wallet deal with this, especially if the largest size is much bigger than the current bills? Looking at my wallet, the answer is going to be "Not too good".

How about vending machines? I wonder what it will cost to design, manufacture and install these into all the vending machines that currently take bills? (Hm-m-m, that is a point against the proposed new dollar coin as well.)

Tills in cash registers? Bank teller drawers? Money counting machines? The list is long, varied and expensive when you start considering it. All this for the benefit of a relative few. Heck, it would be cheaper to design a hand-held device that would scan a bill and would verbally tell them what it was, then distribute them free, than to go through all this.

Smart. Real smart. Let's hope someone above the district court level stops this before it gets out of hand.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Now here's something to consider

(Via Chaos Manor)

They Didn't Attack Switzerland is a "sort of" two part article, and both "parts" are worth reading. In the first part the author, Bill Walker, examines why no one attacks Switzerland. He makes some George Washington-esque points about the Swiss habit of avoiding foreign entanglements (and minding their own business), and how this plus a strong civil defense system has lead to many years of peace and prosperity for the Swiss people. (He also makes a pith point that "US policy is the evil-parallel-universe inverse of the Swiss." I hate to say it, but there if you grant him his basic premise on why Switzerland stays out of trouble, it's more than a little accurate.

In the second part, he makes some valid points on the US' lack of a civil defense infrastructure and how, for far less than we're spending on our current security theater, we could have a real civil defense and protection from the nightmare terrorist scenarios. He also gives advice on what us "Joe Averages" can do for ourselves, since our Federal Government seems to be ignoring the task.

I think it's worth your time to read and consider.


(Via Drudge)

There is absolutely no way I'm going to comment on this story. I may have been born at night, but it wasn't last night--and Mrs. Freeholder does visit this place on occasion.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

And now for the payback

(Via Drudge)

You just knew the Democrats wouldn't be able to contain themselves for long, right?

The incoming chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is promising an array of oversight investigations...

While I'm sure there are a number of interesting things the current administration has done that need to be exposed, I don't believe for a New York Minute that any of these investigations has anything to do with that. The next two years are looking longer and longer, and the best we may be able to hope for is gridlock.