Friday, December 14, 2007

Where do you plot?

Here are my results from the World's Smallest Political Quiz. Try it out. 10 quick questions. Feel free to post your results in the comments.


Friday, November 16, 2007

How in the hell did I miss this...

Mominem pointed out that the premise of my post is wrong. He is correct and I have made corrections below in red.

Louisiana is providing free prenatal care to illegal immigrants non-citizens.

I can't believe it. This really pisses me off to no end.

As on November 1st the were 1061 non-citizen women freeloading off of the taxpayers whilst in the country illegally. The program started July 1st and cost 1 million per month for the first three months.
So,
1,000,000 dollars divided by 1061 women currently receiving services =
$942.51 per illegal non-citizen per month.

What a deal!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If you are a pregnant illegal foreigner, come to Louisiana. You can rake in $8482.56 in free medical care. What a country!

What other country would you expect to illegally enter and not only be deported but visit and be provided with free prenatal care and then when your child is born *poof* that kid is a citizen. Just us I guess.

* Since this program is not providing services to illegal aliens, I considered deleting the rest of this post. However, I still think the following is a fine solution for illegal immigration and will leave it intact. It is just not germane to this post *

There is an easy solution to this illegal immigration problem. And it doesn't involve building a wall or deporting anyone. Just fining businesses $100,000 every time they are caught with an illegal alien in their employ. Thats right, $100,000 per illegal per incident.

Watch how quickly the problem vanishes.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Informed voters?

The runoff elections are this weekend. Do you know who you will vote for? Why?

These are the questions I have been struggling with lately. As much as I try, It is hard to be informed of the candidates in local issues. I hate to lob a brick at the local media, but they just don't cover the local races in any detail. I realize they need to sell papers/attract viewers and will spend more time and resources covering the races that impact the greatest number of readers/viewers. I am very sympathetic to their quandary. If a news station (tv or radio) or newspaper doesn't make money, they will cease to exist. But they need to devote more coverage to local races. Not because I say so, but because they are the MOST important.

Imagine all the levels of government, local, state, and federal, arranged into a pyramid with federal on top. Federal should garner the least of our attention, followed by state and local. It is the politician closest to you, in my case a JP councilman, that has the greatest potential for impact on my life. The current view of the majority would turn the pyramid upside down, focusing all their attention on the layer of government with the least impact on any given individual's life. It is this focus on the federal government that has given them all their power as we have lost ours.

What if I told you that I did not think that the general public should elect Senators and instead, the state legislature should pick them. You would probably call me antidemocratic (and you would be right. Good thing we live in a REPUBLIC) or crazy. Would you call Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, et al crazy as well. Because that is the system they created. Voters did not earn the "right" to vote for US Senators until 1913. Until then, state legislatures selected the senators and represented the state legislature in congress. They represented state governments and did not vote to give powers from the state to the feds. This changed in 1913. Voters gave powers once reserved to the states and the people to the federal government. It's been downhill ever since.

Imagine all the attention garnered by the presidential candidates shifted to your local race. A pipe dream, maybe. People won't pay attention, probably. But that is how it should be. The federal government has grown into a huge overbearing ruler it was never intended to be. As of 2004 there were 4000 federal crime laws. When the constitution was written, only three: piracy, counterfeiting, and treason. Many of the laws have no legal basis in the Constitution. The blame lays squarely on the people, specifically those who voted to increase the power of the federal government and those who did not vote.

How then, do we get people to be more involved in local politics? The media can't be forced to cover it. People can't be forced to pay attention. But, if the power could bleed from Washington back to the States and the people (where it belongs) people will pay attention. Sort of a poor man's "build it and they will come". As long as people's focus remains on the White House, the power will too.

When I go into the voting booth tomorrow and press buttons beside candidates names, I'll have no clue who to select. My choice may by decided by the letter after their names. Or my choice may have neither rhyme nor reason, and that is a shame.

Don't misread me. The blame falls squarely on myself. I bear the responsibility to be informed when I step into the booth and close the curtain behind me.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

And the winner is...

Louisiana, I hope.

The general elections are over and we will have a few new faces in government... due to term limits, not discriminating voters. Without term limits, we would have seen much more of the same. I was more upbeat immediately following the elections. That is why I waited before commenting on the results. I wanted to hear other opinions and think about the results for a while.

Governor: I am genuinely excited about Rep. Jindal being Governor. But I was also excited about Former Governor Foster. He went in promising many changes, like giving voters referendums. Once he got elected, he promptly stuck it in neutral and idled for eight years. Not that he did anything bad; I think the state was in about the same shape prior to his tenure as after. Many in the legislature are very resistant to change. Maybe he gave up, maybe he never intended to do them. Only he knows.

I hope Gov. Elect Jindal will not be so easily defeated. Most of my friends and colleagues supported him. In listening to those who did not, there was a common complaint that he was too "slick" or "polished". However, these same people that think Pres. Bush is a moron because he does not speak well. I just think the guy is that smart. At the last debate, the candidates were asked who they thought was Louisiana's best Governor. Gov. Elect Jindal answered first. Without missing a beat, he answers Gov. McKeithen. PSC Campbell can't pick one and state Sen. Boasso likes everyone. The guy knows the answers, his answers. The others, like Gov. Blanco, can't pick one without a study. That is what Louisiana needs now, more that anything. Someone capable and able to make decisions in a timely fashion. Not someone who needs to see which way the wind is blowing first.

Agriculture: How big is it to finally be rid of Com. Odom. The Conservative Cajun sums it up nicely here.

Now moving on to the local races:

JP President: Never have I been more disappointed with the outcome of a race. I want to thank the West Bank for electing the Flooder. I would like to point out that I make a conscious effort to refer to all elected officials by their office title, even the ones I don't like. I have one exception, the one personally responsible for flooding my home, he who must not be named. THE FLOODER. My dislike for him does not stem solely from the flooding; I didn't vote for him the first time either.

Amazing that a no-name with no money comes within 2 percentage points of forcing a runoff. Had someone with any name recognition or money run, the flooder would be gone. Hey, John Georges, you had no shot at governor, but you could have been parish president. Four more years of the flooder. Then he should be done, I can't see him winning any other office.

My state senator was a term-limited member of the House. I didn't vote for him; he won easily. Hy house seat is in a runoff with two new faces. A little hope for improvement there.

Overall, the voters said "give us more of the same". Very disappointing. 4 out of 6 statewide offices will have the same face. Parish president and every parish council seat will remain the same. The changes in the house in senate were forced by term limits. Thank God for that. But most simply jumped from house to senate or vice versa. No great changes there. Life here must be great, we certainly seems pleased with our government.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Wealth redistribution

That seems to be Sen. Clinton's plan recently. First she wanted to give 5k to each child born. That's nice. She has already dropped that plan like a hot potato. I can't believe she even floated it out in the first place. Although I'm sure the program would have been limited to children of citizens. Right?

Now she has a plan to give everyone a 401k like plan. Again, I'm sure its just for legal citizens. The government would match up to $1000 per year with some restrictions on income, etc.

I already though we had a government retirement program, Social Security. Why do we need another? Could it be that SS doesn't work? Blasphemy!!!

Social Security is a very important safety net for our country. Let me give you two examples.

My grandfather worked till the day he died. He paid into Social Security from the beginning. After he died, he got the death benefit, a couple hundred bucks. What happened to the rest of the money he paid in? Gone. Spent to run the government. That is why we must never privatize Social Security.

My sister died recently. She was 28. Because she was single, she did not receive the death benefit. All the money she paid in is gone. I figure she paid in over $20,000 and got nothing back. How can Americans support a scheme like this? I'll never understand.

My grandfather wanted to get out of the system. I even think he wrote them a letter asking such. I found a way to get out, by working for a local government. I never thought I would be a government employee, but it is one of the reasons I took the job. All the money I have contributed is gone: I'll never see it, not a penny. All you out there in your early thirties, like me, will never see any either.

So enjoy having 15.30% (combined employee and employer share) of your paycheck confiscated. Know that you will never see a penny and even if SS is eliminated, the tax will never go away. The government needs the money to take care of you.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Hey Rep. Jindal, "SCHIP is bad!"

I am disgusted that Rep. Jindal has announced his intention to cast his vote to override Pres. Bush's veto of the enhancements to SCHIP. First, I must tell you that my two kids would probably be covered by SCHIP; I still don't want it.

The expansion of SCHIP is the next step toward socialized medicine. Those of you who want that are happy. I'm afraid. Not as much for myself as for my children. For health care in America to degenerate to the levels of health care in Canada, the UK, Cuba and other nations with socialized medicine would be a disaster. Where would foreigners go for the best medical care in the world? Where would Canadians go when they can't see a doctor or can't get treatment?

I wish Rep. Jindal would reconsider and not vote to override the veto. Not that that would prevent socialized medicine, that is inevitable. Not that is would earn him votes, although it probably would (especially with women). But that is is the right thing to do.

Unfortunately socialized medicine is coming. I might not see it, but my kids will. It will create two systems of health care in America. One that waits for government to pay for it. The other that pays for faster, better treatment out-of-pocket. Prepare to be in the latter category. The former won't be pretty. Even now, you can find doctors who only take cash. I wish I could. That would be my doctor. They are tired of dealing with the insurance paperwork. I'm not even counting the doctors who do not accept Medicare. That, along with my social security payments, might as well go into a hole in the ground. I'll never see any benefit from that money confiscated from me.

I guess I sound pretty heartless to deny government health care for kids. But at least I have James Madison on my side. How about you?

"The government of the United States is a definite government, confined to specified objects. It is not like the state governments, whose powers are more general. Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."

"I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

"With respect to the words "general welfare," I have always regarded them as qualified by the detail of powers connected with them. To take them in a literal and unlimited sense would be a metamorphosis of the Constitution into a character which there is a host of proofs was not contemplated by its creators."

Monday, October 1, 2007

All for one, and one for all

With the house voting that the NFIP offer wind coverage to flood policy holders and the Democrat Party and some RINOs advocating socialized medicine, I want to propose a super single-payer government insurance to cover everyone and everything.

There are millions of young, healthy uninsured Americans. They must be saved from deciding that it is not worth it to buy health insurance. (As an aside, I was *forced* by the Official Wife of the GermanTM to purchase health insurance. I estimate I have spent $5500 without ever seeing a doctor once.) We need all these young and healthy people to bring the group rate down for the sick ones. Not just Americans, but illegals too. Because we can't afford to be seen as mean. We must be compassionate and insure criminal aliens like they do in other countries like.....?

Why stop at health insurance? I want the government insurance to cover everything: home, fire, theft, auto, life, flood, wind, hail,... everything. Government is the solution, right?

All the arguments supporting socialized medicine can be applied to other types of insurance. It just makes good sense for the government to take care of us. We are too irresponsible to be trusted to make our own choices. We must be saved from ourselves.

This would also kill the evil insurance companies. According to my research, insurance companies are the third most hated industry in America, behind #1 "Big oil"/Halliburton and #2 Walmart. The government would be able to manipulate insurance rates to promote certain behaviors and punish others just like they do with the income tax (and the NY Times with AD rates). It would also eliminate the re-insurance market. The government will just borrow from the treasury to pay the claims. Unless they deny them... then you're screwed. Think filing a tax return is fun, wait till you make a claim.

Seriously, this plan will benefit us all. With our omnipotent, benevolent and efficient government running the program, we can't lose.

By the way, I went to the DMV on friday to renew my license; It took an hour.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Money, money, money by the pound...

The State will have a billion dollar surplus for the next fiscal year. I'm sure dollar signs are dancing before legislators heads. In their dreams they are allocating dollars to pet projects that have no legitimate reason to be funded by state taxes, like a stadium in Podunk for Boll weevil races or a Ferris wheel for a local fair. Even local sewer systems should not be funded by state taxes (like they were this year). That is a responsibility to be borne by the local tax base.

The state can, by law, only spend the surplus on one time non-reoccurring expenditures. This means we will probably see a lot of capital improvements being championed by lawmakers. This law needs to change. There should be only two options for the state to pursue in spending a surplus, refunding the overcharged taxpayers or retiring debt.

Yes, overcharged taxpayers. The state sets a budget and tax rates accordingly. The difference between the budget and the state tax revenue should be as close to zero as possible. Instead we get this. "Oops, we collected an extra billion dollars. Vote buying time!!! Yee-haw!! " intoned the legislators as one. A refund would amount to $233 per man, woman and child in Louisiana ($932 for a family of 4). A lot of people could use that. You have to ask, who could better spend that money, you or the government? If you answered the government, you need help.

Some might argue that $233 is not a lot of money and the state could use the billion on good projects. Lets put that $233 in perspective.

(The following websites were used to generate the proceeding numbers [1], [2] table A-7)

The average worker in LA paid $2,102.97 in taxes in 2006. This includes income tax per employed person, sales tax per capita, property tax per capita and corporate income tax per capita. My reasoning for the property and corporate taxes in that they are paid by individuals, not businesses. Homeowners pay property tax, renters pay the landlord's property tax as part of their rent, and customers pay business' property tax as part of the price of goods and services. Same thing goes for corporate income tax.

$233 is 11% of the taxes paid. Would you mind if a store charged you 11% extra because they had some important things to do with that money?

A family of 4 paid $5,896.60 in the same taxes in 2006. They would be refunded $932. That is 15.8% of the taxes paid. But, hey, I guess the billion is just a tip. We are so happy with the government's performance that we gave them an extra .8%.

The only other option is to retire debt. Hard to buy votes by doing that, so don't hold your breath. This is the option that I would like them to use the most. It would be beneficial in the long term to the state, but lawmakers can't see past the next election. At least put this advice to use in your personal life. If you ever receive a one time sum of money, retire debt before you spend it on something else. And for the love of God, don't use it to incur more debt. If you do, the state legislature has a few openings, you'll fit right in.

If they use the whole thing toward the Road Home program, that would be OK too. But that won't happen either. I wager a whole paycheck that 100% of the surplus does not go toward the Road Home. Any takers?

Friday, September 7, 2007

Where is the outrage?

Several days have passed since the Slidell City Court added new portraits to the wall to keep Jesus company. 15 more were added plus a copy of the US Constitution. Since the US Constitution is already valid law, we can ignore that one. But by hanging 15 other gentlemen on the wall, the Slidell City Court has just enacted 15 new laws in the City of Slidell. And not a peep from the liberals or the ACLU. I alone must take on this fight.

My first beef is with the shoddy reporting. 15 portraits were added. Scouring the local tv sites, the Times Pic, and Google, I was able to identify 9 of the 15. Look, if the Slidell City Court is passing laws, I want to know what they are. How can I do that if I don't know who is hanging on the wall? Obviously one of the six unidentified ones gave the Slidell City Court the power to enact legislation, previously a power reserved for the legislature.

The following is a list of the 9 portraits I could identify from reports here, here and here.

1. Confucius: Confucianism is not considered a religion by everyone. So he might get a pass. On the other hand, he said "An oppressive government is more feared than a tiger". Thats some nice anti-government sentiment there. Liberals won't like that since government is the real savior. He also said: "What you do not wish for yourself, do not do to others". Very close to Jesus' golden rule. I guess Confucius has to be removed.

2. Hammurabi: He is credited with the creation of the first set of written laws, Hammurabi's Code. But he alleged to be given them by god. So it seems Hammurabi too must go. Although it would be nice to see this "If the witnesses be not at hand, then shall the judge set a limit, at the expiration of six months. If his witnesses have not appeared within the six months, he is an evil-doer, and shall bear the fine of the pending case"(law #12) apply to DA Jordan.

3. Moses: Alleged to receive the 10 commandments from God. That should get him, like Hammurabi, removed. But the US Supreme Court has allowed depictions of Moses and Hammurabi to stay. Law enacted: "You shall have no gods before me". Doesn't get more blatant than that.

4. Octavian: Strange that a ruler that seized power from the Roman Senate should be celebrated. But he did solidify Rome for several centuries. But this should merit his removal from the wall: "Upon his death in 14 AD, Augustus was declared a god by the Senate, to be worshipped by the Romans." So, now Octavian and Jesus are co-gods of Slidell.

5. Louis IX: Not only was he Catholic, he is a Saint. If that's not enough, he led 2 crusades (and failed both times). He did reform the courts, removing trial by combat and trial by ordeal (fighting, walking on coals, entertaining stuff) . But if you can't have a god on the wall, then no saints either.

6. John Marshall: The 4th chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. "He repeatedly confirmed the supremacy of federal law over state law, and supported an expansive reading of the enumerated powers." So the liberals would like that. I side with Jefferson who argued that the SC under Marshall made the Constitution "a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please." So, Marshall is the first to stay.

7. Sir William Blackstone: It seems that Blackstone compiled four volumes of common law tradition in England. Plus he was anti-catholic to boot. This guy definitely stays.

8. Napoleon Bonaparte: Formed the Napoleonic code. It made the laws easy to understand and published them for all the people to see. Good stuff. He gets to stay.

9. Charlemagne: Another catholic. He made some economic and legal reforms while ruling the Holy Roman Empire. I guess he can stay.

As I completed writing this, I saw that the Federal judge ruled that the display can stay. Total BS. Jesus alone would have to go, but with some company, can stay. The ACLU was arguing that "a reasonable observer looking upon this display would understand its message to be an endorsement of the Eastern Orthodox sect of Christianity and veneration of Eastern Orthodox religious icon...". I guess putting up other pictures negated that since the judge said Jesus by himself would have to come down. Maybe the City Court of Slidell has endorsed all these figures as deities worthy of worship in Slidell. The ACLU should be enraged. They have no more important battles to fight than this. Surely this will be the most important case on the US Supreme Court docket. It will shape the future of below-par artwork in government buildings for years to come.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Less than half does not a concensus make

I have been disagreeing with proponents of anthropogenic global warming for a long time. Any research or facts I used to support my opinions met the same retort: "The consensus view is that human activity is warming the planet." Hah! I now can blow that out of the water as well. I have observed critics of global warming being attacked verbally and threatened. Here are a few examples:

Dr. Tim Ball, Chairman of the Natural Resources Stewardship Project:

"I once received a three page letter that my lawyer defined as libellous, from an academic colleague, saying I had no right to say what I was saying, especially in public lectures."[Canada Free Press]

Michael T. Eckhart, president of the environmental group the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) writing to Marlo Lewis, senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI):

“It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on."[Washington Times]

Grist Magazine’s staff writer David Roberts:

"When we've finally gotten serious about global warming, when the impacts are really hitting us and we're in a full worldwide scramble to minimize the damage, we should have war crimes trials for these bastards -- some sort of climate Nuremberg.”[Grist]

Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado's Center for Science and Technology Policy Research: (note: He is a supporter of Anthropogenic Global Warming)

“The phrase ‘climate change denier’ is meant to be evocative of the phrase ‘holocaust denier’”. U of Colorado

Earlier I promised to blow the consensus thing out of the water and it's time to deliver. From here:

"Of 528 total papers on climate change, only 38 (7%) gave an explicit endorsement of the consensus. If one considers "implicit" endorsement (accepting the consensus without explicit statement), the figure rises to 45%. However, while only 32 papers (6%) reject the consensus outright, the largest category (48%) are neutral papers, refusing to either accept or reject the hypothesis. This is no "consensus."

The figures are even more shocking when one remembers the watered-down definition of consensus here. Not only does it not require supporting that man is the "primary" cause of warming, but it doesn't require any belief or support for "catastrophic" global warming. In fact of all papers published in this period (2004 to February 2007), only a single one makes any reference to climate change leading to catastrophic results."


I feel that the tide is changing in regards to global warming. The planet may be warming, but not due to human activity. Temperature monitoring stations are not properly maintained and are not complying with NOAA's own rules, and this is just in the US. Who knows what climate monitoring stations in other countries is like. For more info on climate stations, check out SurfaceStations.org. I plan on doing surveys of the three stations in NO, if anyone out there would like to give me a hand, I would appreciate it.

Global warming supporters use computer models to predict future weather on the planet. In no way are these accurate. To forecast the weather years in advance,when a 7 day forecast is a crap shoot, is just an educated guess. Look at how much the hurricane models differ.

One last thing to end my rant. Shouldn't global warming supporters be happy to find out that they are wrong? Rejoice that human activity will not adversely affect the planet. But they don't. Time for an analogy: You see a doctor and he says: "you have cancer". You get a second opinion: "No cancer". Do you (A) Feel better that you will not die of cancer, or (B) Tell the 2nd doctor that you do have cancer and threaten to ruin his career if he persists saying otherwise.

The reason they persist is that they have other goals than just saving the planet. The environmental movement has become the new home for the anti-capitalism crowd. They see environmental regulations as a vehicle to attack "big business". So, don't buy into their propaganda. Global warming is just a passing fad. In 10 years the media will be fretting about something else... global cooling redux?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Stand in the place where you are

Gov. Blanco takes the stand today in the St. Rita's trial in St. Francisville. The prosecution has called her and you can bet they will lob some softball questions to her. But when the defense gets to cross examine her, Coach won't be there to whisper in her ear. I would bet better than even money that she cries on the stand. Too bad LA doesn't allow cameras in the court room. That would be some entertaining TV.

Monday, August 27, 2007

There's no crying in baseball...

But apparently Gov. Blanco cried when Mayor Nagin wouldn't take her phone calls after Katrina. This according to a Times-Pic article about Sally Forman's new book. The official wife of the German said "She gives women a bad name." I could not agree more. If Louisiana has ever elected anyone to the Governor's office more unable to lead and make decisions, I can't recall it. But then again, crying got her elected. I firmly believe that her crying about her son that died in an work-related accident during a debate sealed the election for her. Don't get me wrong, I believe she was speaking from the heart and not just pandering to the audience. But that response got her elected.

Her inability to make a decision is her biggest liability and after Katrina it showed. The one thing I fault her the most for was telling President Bush that she needed 24 hours to decide if she wanted to federalize the National Guard. Yes or no, that decision should have taken 24 seconds. She wasted time and that is something a leader cannot do. This was displayed in a radio debate before the election. When asked a question (can't remember what it was), listeners were treated to dead air. Well is wasn't totally quiet, shuffling papers could be heard in the background. Over 30 seconds of dead air. That should have doomed her, but the crying trumped that. Note to voters: When you vote, please make a logical decision and not an emotional one.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Help, my brain is melting

Just had to relate this actual event from this morning... BTW I do tech support.

Me: (answers phone) Hi, this is the German. (I actually used my real name)
Caller: My computer is not responding.
Me: Reboot.
Caller: Keyboard is locked, can't do ctrl-alt-del.
Me: Press power button in for 3 to 5 seconds until the screen goes blank, then ress button again to restart.
Caller: Where is the power button?
Me: On the front of the computer.
Caller: Is it by a green light.
Me: (Damn lady, I don't know what your PC looks like) Probably.
Caller: OK. ---end call---

---new call---
Me: (answers phone) Hi, this is the German.
Caller: Did I just talk to you.
Me: Yes.
Caller: I did what you said and the computer is doing the same thing.
Me: You have to press the power button on the computer and not the monitor.
Caller: You mean the button on the computer way over there.
Me: Yes.
Caller: OK. ---end call---

---new call---
Me: (answers phone) Hi, this is the German.
Caller: It didn't turn off.
Me: You have to hold the button in for 3 to 5 seconds til the screen goes blank.
Caller: OK. ---end call---

Me: Please kill me now!
IT department: Laughter...
Me: I went to school for this...?

2.00 to recycle or 2.00 not to recycle

*Updated*
It look like curbside recycling is poised to return to unincorporated JP and Jean Lafitte. I was never a big fan of it in the past. For me the biggest deterrent was that I had to separate the different types of recyclables. I know, talk about hardships, right? The result was that my bin was filled with only paper. I had to pick one because I was too lazy to separate, and paper was it.

The good news is that the committee researching this has recommended that the winning bidder bear the burden of separating the materials. Yard waste will also be collected, although how they recycle yard waste is a mystery to me. Tree branches I can see, but grass clippings?????? * Looks like they plan to compost the clippings for you. Here is a link to a pdf for the city of San Diego recycling program. They also recommend the collection of 5 types of plastics instead of the old 2. The last change is that they recommend that glass be no longer picked up. They cite high cost due to weight and the lack of demand for used glass. I guess its cheaper to just get sand than recycle glass.

It sounds like some changes for the better, if they adhere to the recommendations. Residents were paying $1.87 before the storm and that price must not change dramatically. I think having the contractor separate the waste is worth any increased cost because I think more people will use the service. But if the collection of yard waste pushes the cost upwards of $5.00, then I think that part will be ditched.

I could take this or leave it. I'm not just that worried about it. While I have fluorescent lights in my house and I compost yard waste, I do that because I am cheap. I do it to save $$ on electricity and on buying trash bags, not for the environment. I also drastically reduced my "carbon footprint" when my A/C was out for 4 days last week.

I think that environmentalists could get people to do more eco-friendly things if they touted the ones that will save money. As an example, have you seen the price of "organic" milk. I would never spend that much on a gallon of milk. People are motivated by their self interests and environmentalists must appeal to that if they want to make progress.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Selling like hotcakes

Last night there were three MURDERS IN NEW ORLEANS ™.

Be the first to sign up for the exciting, MURDERS IN NO ™ Tours. Visit all the murder scenes in "Chocolate City ®". These are just some of our offerings:

1. Walking tour of Central City. Almost two dozens sites seperated by a few blocks. Bulletproof vests available for a nominal fee.

2. Bus tours of every murder site in the city. Book soon and be among the first to visit site number 200.

3. Several theme tours are available, among them: drug murders, dead whites that generated outrage, and drug murders.

All tours include commemorative map of the city with the murder locations noted, and your choice of t-shirt: "It's all good"; "Got chocolate milk?"; or "It's the way God wants it to be".

Paid for by the Elect Ray Nagin to something campaign fund.



Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Memento Mori

When I decided to start this blog, my aim was to focus on this going on in JP first, the New Orleans area second, and anything I found interesting third. I did/do not intend that this become a vehicle for sharing my personal life. I have no desire to bore you to death and must remain anonymous for work related reasons. This is the first, probably only, post to focus on me. Here goes...

Three weeks today, I learned that my sister had died. It was unexpected. She was younger than me at only 28. Makes me think about my own mortality. I've no guarantee as to how long I get to stick around here; I will try to make the most of it.

My birthday is in September. I found a birthday card in her apartment that I presume was meant for me. Her birthday would have been in November; I already bought her present. Weird... I don't know what I will do with that present. I feel somewhat attached to it, even though she never saw it, much less had it.

I wonder if my kids will remember her; they are only 5 and 1.5 years old. I don't remember being 5. I will have to help them remember.

My thanks to all my friends that have offered their support. I also thank my wife, for her I am eternally grateful. I know my parents read this blog and I thank them for raising my sister and I. They succeeded on both accounts.

I miss my sister very much.

Monday, August 13, 2007

1,2,3,... Redlight

JP will soon be installing redlight cameras to increase revenue, er..., decrease accidents at intersections in the parish. The cameras will be installed by RedFlex Traffic Solutions at no cost to the parish. A map of the planned locations can be found here.
The ACLU tried to get on the parish agenda to speak out against the cameras, but were denied time to speak. They argue that even though the tickets issued by the cameras will be civil rather than criminal, they are still illegal. Readers take note, I am with the ACLU 100% on this. This is the type of thing they should be working on, not pretending to be amateur art critics.

The evidence that redlight cameras reduce accidents is weak. Here are the results of several studies from here. Here are a few of the studies listed:

A 2005 Virginia DOT study found:
"The cameras are correlated with an increase in total crashes of 8% to 17%."

A 2006 Winnipeg, Canada city audit found:
"The graph shows an increase of 58% in the number of traffic collisions from 2003 to 2004.... Contrary to long-term expectations, the chart shows an increase in claims at each level of damage with the largest percentage increase appearing at the highest dollar value."

A 2004 North Carolina A&T University study found:
"Our findings are more pessimistic, finding no change in angle accidents and large increases in rear-end crashes and many other types of crashes relative to other intersections."


Other than being illegal (according to the ACLU) and probably increasing the number of accidents, I have several more objections.

1. The owner of the car will be ticketed, not the driver.

2. Do you get a ticket if you move through an intersection to make room for police, fire, or ems?

3. If this is being done to improve safety, why is the data not being reported to the insurance companies?

This whole thing is just a money grab. The number of tickets written is down since the hurricane and the JP police dept. is looking for a way to increase revenue. Shame on the council for rubber stamping this crap. The inevitable lawsuits will end up costing the parish money, just like the State had to pay up for the obviously unconstitutional ban on video games.

If the parish wants to increase safety, reduce accidents, and reduce citations (all of which would reduce insurance rates), increasing the length of yellow lights is a simple and inexpensive solution.

A 2004 Texas Transportation Institute study found:
"An increase in yellow duration of 1.0 seconds is associated with a [crash frequency] of about 0.6, which corresponds to a 40 percent reduction in crashes."


There have been instance where yellow light times have been reduced to generate more tickets.
A 2001 report by the Majority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives found:
"The changes in the yellow signal timing regulations have resulted in the inadequate yellow times. And these inadequate yellow times are the likely cause of almost 80 percent of red light entries."


I plan on going to several of these intersections in the next several days and filming several light cycles at each. After the cameras are installed (supposed to be finished by early September), I will return and see how the yellow light times fared.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Second verse, same as the first

Gov. Blanco, drunk with insane VETO power, has vetoed another bill. This bill would has created a tax deduction for people who pay for private or parochial education for their dependents. Unlike the previous veto, I expected this one.

This would reduce government revenue (or increase Louisianians income) by an estimated $4.85 million in fiscal 2009. Holy cow, Batman. The state can't afford that. Assuming the state budget does not increase next year (I'll pause here till you stop laughing), then $4.85 million would reduce the budget by 0.015 %. Thats madness. Hospitals will close, children will starve, oh the humanity...

So, money is not the issue here. Gov. Blanco vetoed this bill because it is was a threat to teachers' unions. Teacher unions are the most powerful lobby in the US right now. They will fight school vouchers, school choice, teacher accountability, and anything else that might threaten to reduce teacher union membership.

Until the NEA and AFT have power taken away, public schools will remain sub-poor. Consider the louisiana average act score for 2006: 20.1 . LSU requires a 25 for admission. The highest parish was St. Tammany with 21.6, the lowest, East Carroll, with 15.3 . With the quality of schools varying, standardized tests are the only way to compare schools, and Louisiana public schools are not getting the job done.

Some would compare sending your children to public school to child abuse. If your local public school can't provide an education that will let your child enroll at LSU, they might be right.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Hey, you know that bill you passed, VETO!

Gov. Blanco vetoed the car insurance increase bill. I am actually surprised. I'm sure she went back and forth (to England) before deciding to veto it. I'm betting the clincher was that the bill bill was sponsored by a republican. But she wouldn't be that vindictive, would she? I guess sometimes our "mommas" need to punish us.

But I am being too unfair; I wanted her to veto the bill.

A lot of lawmakers are term-limited (hallelujah), so we will see some new faces running for offices. Listen and see if any of them are talking about insurance reform. I predict silence.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

All your rates are belong to us...

Gov. Blanco has until midnight to either sign or veto a law raising the minimum levels for auto insurance(she could not sign it, but who does that anymore). Surely she has been using her time to study the potential risks and benefits of the proposed law, or maybe she was on a trip to England... I'm sure it was an important tax-payer financed trip.

40% of motorists in LA have the minimum levels, and they will see rates rise as much as 30 to 50 percent. The 10% of motorists without insurance will likely rise.

Yes, the current minimums are not high enough to cover current car and medical costs. But this is not the way to go about fixing the insanely high auto insurance rates in Louisiana.

Louisiana needs to move to no-fault insurance. Your insurance would pay for your claims for any accident you are in, your fault or not. This would give people an incentive to purchase higher coverage amounts since they would be covering themselves. The cost of their automobiles are known and would take a lot of guesswork out of buying the right amount of insurance. It would also eliminate the "uninsured motorist" coverage. Since you are covering yourself, it makes no difference if the other driver has insurance or not. Look at your bill and see how much "uninsured motorist" is of the total.

Don't like no-fault. No problem. I have an even better idea. Take the laws of the state with the lowest insurance rates, replace that states name with LA, adopt them, and presto- lower rates. Sounds simple, and it is.

But there is a large force at work in Louisiana that would oppose any reform, trial lawyers. Tort reform and tax reform, two of my favorite pipe dreams.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Tis better to have stood and failed than to never be a hypocrite at all

The past several days, I have tried to listen to the attacks and defenses of Sen. Vitter. Most of the right is still supporting him. Not to surprising, he has been a good conservative senator. He has a 63% lifetime rating, which they categorize as "friendly", from Citizens Against Government Waste. (as a contrast, Sen. Landrieu has a lifetime rating of 22% ("unfriendly"))

As liberals, and some conservatives, attack Sen. Vitter, the one word I keep hearing is "hypocrite". This must be a bad thing to be, judging from the level of vitriol in the attacks I have heard.

Should we, at all costs, avoid being hypocrites? Should smokers not tell their children not to smoke? Same for drug users, alcoholics, racists... We must learn from our mistakes and teach others, so that they may not repeat ours.

For Sen. Vitter to avoid being a hypocrite, he would have had to advocate soliciting prostitutes and adultery. There are many Senators and Representatives, and NOT ONE pushes those positions. That Sen. Vitter is opposed to many liberal issues, like abortion and gay marriage, is not germane to this issue.

So spare me the cries of "hypocrite"; to find one, simply look in a mirror and you will, each and every one of us...

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Violent crime across the pond update

The Smallest Minority has an interesting post about crime the the UK.

He links to a story from Life Style Extra here.

Here are some quotes: [emphasis added]

Gun and knife killings are getting out of control as six Londoners were murdered over the past week and one child is stabbed to death each week, anti-crime campaigners warned.

How are can this happen when ALL handguns are banned in the UK?

Victims of Crime Trust director Norman Brennan said Britain was quickly gaining a reputation as being one of the most violent countries in the Western world, scarring communities and leaving millions in fear of crime.

Never head this reported before. Hmmm...

Mr Brennan said: "There are currently 270 recorded firearm related offences committed on the streets of Britain every week."

Doesn't make NO seem as bad. I guess the UK has a lead problem too...

You see, what had happened was...

Seems that Senator Vitter was visiting the Washington DC madam. Bad timing from him on this. I was of the opinion that he was going to be Giuliani's running mate (maybe I'm crazy, but just had a feeling). No candidate will win the Oval Office without carrying most of the southern states. Giuliani, being a yankee, would benefit from having a VP from the south. One who had been out in front on immigration and can use the Katrina card. Who knows, maybe he fits right in with multiple marriage Rudy.

"But its just his personal life..."

This was used to defend Former President (FP) Clinton and will probably be used to defend Senator Vitter (most likely by the same people who attacked FP Clinton). For the benefit of those who don't know me, I think prostitution, like drugs, should be legal. So, I really can't beat up Sen. Vitter too much for breaking the law. But he took an oath of office to uphold the constitution and an oath of fidelity to his wife, and broke both. That's not good. This will certainly be on my mind when he comes up for reelection in 2010, or maybe I will have forgotten. Although, I am certain that any opponents will remind me in their ads...

Short term outlook

I think Sen. Vitter was wise to apologize as soon as the list became public. Whether he is sincere or not, who knows. I hope he is.

As an aside, the Official Wife of the German is of the opinion (which I share) that visiting a hooker is not as bad as having an affair with a friend/ coworker etc. This is because there is no relationship with the hooker. She then told me "not to get any ideas". To which I responded "Don't worry, I don't have any money". She was not amused...

All Sen. Vitter can do now is to hope the media finds a bigger fish on the phone list to knock his name out of the news.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Does lead lead to crimes?

The topic of crime has been much debated in and around New Orleans, especially after Katrina. How do we stop it? How do we prevent it? Is it all because of drugs? Gangs? Eddie Jordan? Wrong, all wrong.

According to economist Rick Nevin, the problem is lead (atomic # 82). The Washington Post has a article about Nevin's research linking the crime reduction in NY City under Giuliani to reduced exposure to lead.

My first reaction to this article was, "no way". But after more thought, I think there might be more to this than meets the eye (sorry, lame transformer joke). Nevin's work has been published in peer-reviewed journals, including the journal Environmental Research. He could be on to something here.

From Gambit Weekly (6/05/2001),

"The issue is again drawing attention in the wake of a study conducted by Felicia Rabito, an epidemiologist at Tulane’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. The results of the study, released in late April, revealed that 25 percent of children tested in New Orleans public health clinics carry toxic levels of lead in their bloodstream, a rate roughly six times the national average."

Here is a map I created showing the locations of lead samples above LDEQ evaluation or management level & above EPA level of concern for residential soil. According to the EAP: "A soil lead hazard is bare soil on residential property or on the property of a child-occupied facility that contains total lead of at least 400 parts per million in a play area or at least 1,200 parts per million on bare soil in the rest of the yard." So this map shows all locations above 400ppm (or mg/Kg).




All the data used to generate this map can be found through the EPA here.

You can see that this map looks very similar to the murder map found here.

There might be something to this lead/murder link after all.Our environment definately impacts our behavior. Lead contamination can be quantified, in blood and in the environment, unlike parental quality (which is subjective). Time for NO to get out in front on this. There is no downside; at worst lead is removed from the environment and at best the murder rate drops too (well not immediately, but after 15-20 years).

Unfortunately, to expect anything resembling action from Nagin is a waste of time...



Friday, July 6, 2007

Land of the Free, Home of Forced Busing

In the light of the recent Supreme Court rulings regarding the use of race to achieve diversity, I wanted to take a look at the status of desegregation in Jefferson Parish Public Schools.

JP Public Schools are under a Federal Court order to desegregate resulting from the outcome of Dandridge v. Jefferson Parish School Board, filed in 1964. The order was enforced, following stays sought by JPSB, in 1971. That was 36 years ago!

Surely that is ample time to desegregate the public schools. Here are some numbers.

2006-2007 enrollment: 42,000 students (page 2)
Number of students bused: 1,200

So, by busing 2.9% of students, JP achieves a racial balance? How low must this get to end forced busing? 2%? 1%? The answer is "never". Too many people have too much invested in "racism" to ever move forward. They stand to lose an issue to rile up voters, a way to squelch opposing viewpoints, and an excuse for failure.

George Will had a excellent column about the SC rulings. It included this quote from the NAACP brief written by Thurgood Marshall for the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case:

"Distinctions by race are so evil, so arbitrary and invidious that a state bound to defend the equal protection of the laws must not invoke them in any public sphere".

Public schools will always be segregated, not by race but by culture.

Parents with either more money or with education as a high priority are choosing private schools and homeschooling over JP's public schools. Not to get away from minorities, but to educate their kids. JP public schools avg. ACT score is 19. A 22 is required to enroll at LSU. The two cultures separated here are one that will educate their children and another that just wants it to happen for free. They are, after all, entitled to it...

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The 4th...

...more that a holiday from work.


If you have never read the Declaration of Independence, please do so.

You owe everything to this day, and the events that followed.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

32,000,000,000.00

That, my friends, is the size of the 2008 budget for the state of Louisiana. Blanco still has the ability to veto some items, but even if she chooses to, it will not reduce the budget much. Remember, she can also veto tax cuts.

Based on the 2006 population estimate, that amounts to 7,463 for every man, woman and child in Louisiana. Here are some other figures:

2005 Median household income: $36,729

$7,463 is 20% of the median household income.

Tax breaks in the 2008 budget: $189 million

$189 million is 0.6% of $32 billion.

0.6% of $36,729 is $220. That is $18.33 a month.

How will the state function with a cut of that magnitude?

Blanco and the Democrats in the legislature fought tax cuts and they won. The state Republicans, much like their national counterparts, wilted in the end. I fear that we are on a set path, spending more and more... to what end? We have nothing to show and all our money gone, doomed to choose between those who want to increase government, and those who want to increase government more.

Monday, July 2, 2007

The Emipre Strikes Back

JP code enforcement inspectors have descended on the taco trucks. Guess the inspectors don't work weekends. In he case of the truck at Power and Vets, they have cited the owner of the lot, not the owner of the truck. Weird. According to the same article, JP has (had) fewer that 10 taco trucks currently operating. Do we need a new law to deal with less than 10 taco trucks?

"The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws."
Cornelius Tacitus - (55-117 A.D.)

On a related note, the Louisiana State Constitution, written in 1974, has 230 148 amendments (sorry, can't count).

I was not surprised to see that we are not alone in the crusade against taco trucks. I was surprised to see that many cities in California are fighting them. Here is a good blog listing other communities fighting taco trucks. I guess those communities, like JP, have no other pressing concerns.


Saturday, June 30, 2007

Taco truck update

Today for lunch, the official wife of the German bought food from the previously mentioned taco truck. The food was good, and reasonably priced. I will definitely eat there again, until Councilman Congemi exiles them to Orleans Parish. In other news, 2 restaurants and 3 fast food joints near me closed citing "low sales". Also, a survey of Jefferson Parish revealed the number 1 concern of the citicens: "Lack of hand washing". ;-)

Friday, June 29, 2007

Taqueria Trucks and the end of Western Civilization

Today is the last day for Taqueria trucks in Jefferson Parish. The Parish council has banned them. Why? Health complaints? No. Crime? No. Making streets like Veterans look bad? Too late. Customers can't wash their hands? Lame. Gotta be something...

I live very close to the Taqueria truck that provoked Councilman Congemi's quixotic campaign. I kept wondering "What is the real reason motivating Congemi?". Not the ones I mentioned earlier, nor do I think it is racism. To truly understand anything, you must follow the money. Putting on my green colored glasses, I realized that it must be restaurateurs prompting Congemi. They must perceive that the taco trucks are cutting into their business. Are they? I don't think so. Gone out to eat in JP lately? Places are pretty crowded when I do. But fears are often irrational.

The owners of the Taco truck near me (Power and Vets) vow to stay open till the parish tells them to leave. I like that. Come Saturday, might be time to try the taco truck.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Guns and crime

Interesting article on violent crime in England & Wales. Seems that violent crime there is 82% higher than previously reported. Whoops.

The UK is always touted as an example by the gun control crowd, since handgun ownership is illegal. So, I wanted to take a look at the numbers and see if there is truth there.
Britain and Wales
Population of Britain and Wales: 53,390,300 (2005)
Violent crime in Britain and Wales: 2,420,000 (section 5.3, 2005/2006)
Violent crime per 1000 people: 45.33

Violent crime (per The Independent): 4,400,000(2005/2006)
Violent crime per 1000 people: 82.41

USA
Population of USA: 288,378,137 (2005)
Violent crime in USA:5,400,790(table1, 2005)
violent crime per 1000 people: 18.73

Wow! Not what you expected? Surely this has worked somewhere? Australia? Nope. Face the facts, less guns does not equal less crime. Want to know how this works, check out More Guns, Less Crime by John Lott Jr., or just berate me for not protecting the children. Your choice...

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

A picture in a courthouse

The controversy surrounding the Jesus picture in the St. Tammany Parish courthouse has got me thinking. There are two separate questions that must be answered here. Is it legal? Is it appropriate?

First, is it legal? The 1st amendment states: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;...". Obviously, this law only applies to Congress. The courthouse in question is the Slidell City Court. Ok, that amendment clearly does not apply. Now lets look at the state constitution. Article 1, section 8 states: "No law shall be enacted respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." Surely,not even in Louisiana, putting a picture of Jesus on the wall does not enact a law. So, this has clearly not broken any state laws regarding religion. Thus, in my estimation, it is not illegal to hang a picture of Jesus in a city courthouse.

Second, is it appropriate? I would hazard to guess that Christians would not have a personal problem with the picture. What about other faiths? They might be "offended". But, Jesus was a historical figure, and if you don't believe he was god, what's the big deal?

I'm sure JP courthouses have pictures of Aaron Broussard in them. Let's say I were to start a religion worshiping Broussard, god of flooding. Would JP have to remove the pictures of Broussard? I know that is an outlandish example, but it makes my point.

So, I guess you can see where I'm going with this, I would take down the picture of Jesus in the courthouse. Yes you read that right. I don't feel that it is necessary or beneficial to have a picture of any religious figure (or Broussard) in any courthouse. Nor is it worth the fight.

I would be remiss to miss a chance to criticize the ACLU. I recognize that they are an important organization and help many people/groups with civil rights violations. But the ACLU, by publicly attacking religion in the press at every opportunity, alienates a very large section of the country. The ACLU is viewed as secularists crusading against religion. This is not good for their reputation or bottom line.