Posted by: Dave Wilson | January 23, 2009

Obama Bails Out Abortion

It didn’t take long. Day 3 of the Obama Administration, and the US Government is once again funding international groups that promote or perform abortions.

Despite vocal support for the unborn, just one day after the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a single executive order overturning The Mexico City policy opened the flood gates for hundreds of millions of tax dollars to flow to groups like Planned Parenthood across the globe.

Mind you…while the economic foundations of this country are crumbling, banks are losing value right and left, and government bailouts flow out of DC by the trillions… what’s a few hundred million?

It’s everything.

It’s life.

Take a look at this video… and tell us what you think about the life of one child.

Meanwhile, in SC, there is an opportunity for us to stand up for life. Palmetto Family Council is gathering signatures on this online petition to strengthen abortion laws in SC, increasing our state’s waiting period from one hour to 24 hours.

Contact information for the President is…

President Obama
White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave
Washington, DC  20500
Phone: 202-456-1414 or 202-456-1111
Fax: 202-456-2461
E-Mail: comments@whitehouse.gov

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Posted by: Dave Wilson | January 22, 2009

Jamie Foxx Encourages Abstinence

Every now and then the some-what rare plug for conservative values flies out from pop culture.

This time it’s from Eric Marlon Bishop… better known as Jamie Foxx.

As a father of a fourteen year-old daughter, the actor/singer/comedian spoke openly to girls about the fact that they can make the choice not to have sex outside of marriage.

Take a look for yourself.

Posted by: Joshua Gross | January 20, 2009

Government employment surpasses manufacturing?

graph courtesy Contrary Investor, HT: Jawa Report
 
 The Jawas are pointing out that government employment has now surpassed manufacturing and construction sectors.
 
As they also point out:
 

What is the government’s product? How well is it selling? What tax revenue does government generate (not collect)? What is the profit margin for government, and when will it begin paying for itself? What tangible good or service is the rapidly-growing government producing? Why is there a recession if government is the answer? If government is trying to compete with manufacturing as a big-time employer, then why doesn’t it start generating its own income rather than taking it from productive people?

Reagan was right – the tendency for government is to grow into the closest thing to
eternal life that we’ll ever know on this planet. Are we better off for it? The only time government payrolls noticably decreased for any real length of time was under the Reagan Administration (blips under the others), so this is a systemic problem that crosses party lines (the two lines crossed during Bush’s term, highlighting the ‘success’ of “compassionate conservatism”).

Posted by: Joshua Gross | January 19, 2009

Better late than never: Ramos and Compean commuted

Word is breaking this afternoon that President Bush has commuted the sentences of Border Patrol Agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who had become a cause celebre for those of us in the “border hawk” camp.  Inexplicably, Fox News is reporting that the sentences are commuted not to time served, apparently, but to March 20, so they still have two months to serve.  Still, commuting these sentences (if not an outright pardon) was the right thing to do, and politically all the easier with the bipartisan support these two law enforcement officers have received from across the country, especially from the entirety of the Texas House contingent. 
 
While I don’t understand the two month delay, I’m grateful that these two will get out sooner rather than later.  They faced 10 year sentences if the President hadn’t acted.
Posted by: Joshua Gross | January 15, 2009

Random Thoughts on the State of the State

Had a fun evening last night. The Lexington Young Republicans (of which I am Treasurer) hosted a party last night in honor of the State of the State – it was a pre- and post- party, though most of the folks came to the pre. Now, Will likes to refer to the YRs as the “land of 1000 virgins.” I hate to break it to him, but a fairly large number of the YRs in Lexington and Richland (and around the state for that matter) are married couples and young professionals. So, you can pop that perception.

We had about 45 people come through last night, including a handful of legislators (the entire Lexington House delegation plus a few others) and our esteemed Attorney General and his lovely wife. It was also great to see County Councilman John Carrigg there with his wife Beth.

We went over for the speech around 6:30. I was somewhat surprised at the number of empty seats and the ease of getting one. By the time the speech started, there were still around 50 empty seats out of the roughly 200 in the House gallery. I suppose there is less interest in a Governor’s 7th State of the State, but I was still surprised.

I thought Governor Sanford did better this time around. Most of the stumbles were gone, Thomas Friedman was nowhere to be found, and he laid out a simple 5-point plan for where he wanted the state to go this year. He invoked the Obama factor with references to “Yes, we can” without naming the new presidency, which was interesting. He thanked my Representative Nikki Haley and Nathan Ballentine for their terrific work (against tremendous opposition) on getting roll call voting through the House (which passed 115-0 yesterday; still wonder who those 9 holdouts were…). As a result, he got more applause this year (well, that and there were two rows of YRs in the stands… heh.)

I did find it a bit different that Governor Sanford recognized his Cabinet, but not the Constitutional officers in the stands. Sitting on the front row (two rows in front of me) were Attorney General McMaster, Comptroller General Eckstrom, Treasurer Chellis, Secretary of State Hammond, and Agriculture Commissioner Weathers. I didn’t see Adjutant General Spears, and I didn’t see Education Super Rex, though he was clearly there for the cameras afterwards. Of course, Lt. Governor Bauer was in front, gavelling the chamber to order in the purple robes of the evening. (Bauer and Speaker Harrell really did look like two guys from the Heavens Gate cult in those robes. Very scary. Now that indigo is the state color, perhaps it’s time to change the robes from purple to blue… But, I digress.)

The post-party was very interesting. The usual crowd of the restaurant/bar we were at had filtered in, mostly USC students, from the look of it. I had the pleasure of meeting Mattheus Mei of Leonardo’s Notebook, and we talked Evangelical/Catholic theology for the better part of an hour. (Matt – it was a pleasure meeting you.) I also had the chance to chat with Wes Wolfe, the one-time freelance writer for the Columbia City Paper and two-time “anonymous blogger” who managed to get his identity outed both times. (In the process, I hopefully have disabused him of some of his more conspiratorial notions involving me.) Wes – it was a pleasure.

Moving forward, it will be interesting to see how the legislature reacts to the overall tone of the speech itself. The applause line of the night may have been “let bygones be bygones.” Hopefully, in an economic crisis like the one we’re facing now, the Governor and Legislature will be able to put their heads together to figure out how the state can best move forward with the least negativbe impact to the citizenry.

Oh – and thanks to Cam and Jay-dub for noticing that I was shown on TV from the gallery last night. Hopefully I looked attentive…

Posted by: Dave Wilson | January 12, 2009

“Stop the Insanity”

The former chairman of the S.C. Board of Economic Advisors, Dr. Harry Miley, has added his two cents on the tax discuss and debate.

“What do we need to do? We need to do what everyone has been saying we need to do for the last several decades — undertake a thorough evaluation of our current system and redesign it from top to bottom. The recent proposals for the corporate and personal tax rates may be what are needed, but they need to be considered in the context of a comprehensive evaluation of the entire system. Whether it’s done by the Palmetto Institute, a special legislative committee, a business coalition or a mix of all the above, that is what we need to do.

“When we do it we need to be careful to distinguish discussions about how much government spends from discussions about how government raises the revenue to pay for the services. But we must stop doing it piecemeal in a vacuum. Please ….”

Take a moment to read all he has to say.

Posted by: Dave Wilson | January 11, 2009

When There’s No More Fat to Cut

Just last week brought the announcement of a fourth round of budget cuts for the state, bringing the grand total to $1.2 billion. And this year’s economic forecast doesn’t look any better.

Listen to folks within state government and you’ll hear talk of program cuts, furloughs, and job losses. It almost makes you wonder how in the world lawmakers could cut more from state budgets. But they have to.

Reality is the 170 men and women we’ve elected to serve under the copper dome in Columbia are now facing the consequences of their less-than-economically-conservative decisions of the last 4 or 5 years. 

They’ve taken surpluses and spent them, instead of saving up for the inevitable rainy day.

They’ve expanded grants and programs to “bring home the bacon”, instead of moderating growth.

And they’ve made the state’s revenue stream dependent upon the most fluctuating income source… the sales tax, instead of taking on the hard task of real tax reform.

The passage of Act 388 did as much to exacerbate our state’s current financial condition as did this economic recession we’re in. By trying to bring “tax relief” to homeowners (i.e. voters), lawmakers did the old switch-a-roo… reducing property tax for a one cent increase in the state sales tax. But they failed to realize what that would do to revenue during economic anorexia.

Historically, South Carolina is slower at economic recovery than other states. Our economy is not as diverse, nor is our tax system as equitably distributed as it should be. It’s going to be tough times for state agencies for the next few years, but if lawmakers don’t make real tax reform a priority on Tuesday morning when they head back to work, it’s going to be even tougher for the state to recover from our economic woes.

As The State‘s editorial said today

“There is no question that tackling this monstrosity will be difficult — more this year than in a normal year. That’s why a growing chorus of business and civic leaders is calling for the creation of an independent panel, whose recommendations lawmakers would have to accept or reject as a package.”

Hopefully, lawmakers will realize they can’t piecemeal our tax system together in a vacuum. They must rely on outside expertise to come up with comprehensive, long-term solutions. If they don’t, this state will continue to hobble along, struggling to compete in a 21st century economy.

Posted by: Joshua Gross | January 7, 2009

EPA proposes federal livestock tax?

News this week that the Environmental Protection Agency, in its usual tizzy over thoroughly discredited global warming hysteria, has proposed a revolutionary new tool in the fight against a problem that doesn’t exist.
 
 
Because, y’know, it’s not like we’re in a recession or anything.
 
Nothing like taxing the food off of the table of the poor to make the economy go hummmmm.
 
In its worse-than-usual brilliance, the EPA is suggesting a $175 tax on cows, an $87.50 tax on bulls, and a $20 tax on hogs.  (Say, is it sexist to tax female bovines at twice the price?  I’d call them sexist pigs, but the pigs got taxed, too. But I digress…)
 
If that’s not enough, the EPA wants to force Title V (Clean Air Act) licensing on any farm with more than, say, 25 dairy cows, 50 beef cattle, or 200 hogs.  If this goes through, say goodbye to the family farm.  We’ll all be buying our beef from Brazil and Argentina.  You think hormonal milk is bad now – how do you propose to control that if we’re importing it all?
 
The good news is that the government is hardly unified on this point.  The Department of Agriculture warned the EPA about the licensing provisions and the costs involved to consumers and farmers, and the Farm Bureaus seem to be awakened to the danger.
 
Still, the idiot bureaucrats responsible for this one need to be fired, and within the next ten days or so, before the next batch of global warming hysterists take charge of the agency. (For those of you who still believe the Bush Administration was “right-wing”, this should pretty well prove otherwise.  Again.)
 
For those of you who ask “what do you have against conservation” (a non-sequitur, by the way) in response to my dissection of the global warming agenda, a quick response.  I have nothing against conservation.  I believe personal responsibility extends to our usage of resources – and I try to live like it.  But, conservation has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the hoax that is global warming.  If you want to sell me on clean air or clean water or the beauty of Yosemite, do those things for their own sake, as I’ve argued previously.  When you link your cause to something that is so clearly and dramatically a fraud, you do yourself a disservice.
Posted by: Joshua Gross | January 5, 2009

BCS? Time for a REAL Championship

OK, so let’s go non-political for a minute (well, maybe not entirely non-political, since I agree with the President-Elect on this one.)

It’s time for a real national championship in college football.

We can still market it as a “Bowl Championship Series” if we want to – but it has to be a real championship, not just one game masquerading as a championship like we have now.

The bowl system we have now is failing. Just look at all of the empty seats at games in the last month – they were hard to miss in any of the wide-shots or blimp views. With the exceptions of the big major bowls, sellouts were few and far between.

Part of this is the death of the tradition of the bowls themselves. The Cotton Bowl played it’s last game in the Cotton Bowl this year; they move to the new Cowboys stadium next year. The Orange and Sugar Bowls haven’t been played in stadiums with those names in years. This will leave only the Rose Bowl as being played in the stadium of the same name.

Instead we’re treated to a cornucopia of television induced corporate names – the papajohns.com bowl, the insight.com bowl, the Eagle Bank Bowl. Look I like Papa John’s as much as anyone (had their pizza this weekend while I watched games), but that’s not why I watch football.

The “traditional” New Years bowl games are now spread across a full week to maximize television viewership and eliminate competition between networks. Today is January 5 – the Fiesta Bowl is tonight. It features a Texas team that beat the Oklahoma team in the BCS Bowl against an Ohio State team that lost to both Rose Bowl participants. Yippie.

Did you know that Division I-A football is the only NCAA sport (at any division level) without a championship tournament? Any other sport, played by either gender, at any other level, and they decide the thing on the field. Just not Division I-A (now called the “FBS” – no kidding), which gets voted on by reporters. Of the 119 FBS schools, 68 got into the record 34 bowls this year. That’s not a “commitment to excellence”, it’s a commitment to mediocrity.

If you watched the Sugar or Rose Bowls this year, you watched two teams with legitimate claims to the mythical “national championship” – the USC Trojans and the Utah Utes. Personally, though I am a Trojan fan, I think Utah has the stronger case, having beaten 6 bowl teams en route to an unbeaten season as Sugar Bowl champs. SEC fans – how many times have you lamented (rightly!) that your conference champion who went on to win the Sugar Bowl was jobbed out of a shot at the title? Utah is in exactly that position this year – unbeaten, with a stifling defense and a superlative offense, knocking off TCU, BYU, Oregon State (who beat USC), Air Force, Colorado State, and finally Alabama in that Sugar Bowl. Oh, and in case you think they were scheduling weaklings, they started the season by beating Michigan – in Ann Arbor. (granted, a bad year for Michigan, but Utah couldn’t have known that when they scheduled them.)

I’m not saying we eliminate the bowls – those cities have been hosting games for the better part of a century in some cases. Rather, I’m saying use fifteen of them as the sites for a 16-team national championship tournament.

Now, when choosing sites, you have to go with the most bang for your buck. 5 Bowl sites have chosen “national champions” in the past – the Rose, Sugar, Orange, Cotton, and Fiesta. I would propose rotating the national championship final between those five sites, as is mostly done now, but as the end of the real tournament, much like the Final Four sites in basketball. The other four bowls would still host games every year – two of them would host semi-finals, and two quarter-finals.

That leaves ten more sites to choose, who would each host one quarterfinal every 5 years, and first round games in the other four years. How do we choose 10 sites from the remaining 29 bowls? Well, it’s not that hard, once you think about it. Some of these sites host 2 games on one fiels a week apart – that knocks us down to about twenty sites. Then take out the obviously bad choices – the atrocity of a blue field in Boise, the possibility of a game in Toronto, and the awful seams in the field of the Alamo Dome, for example. With a small nod to the history of some of these games, as well as the warm weather factor (for fans and local tourism, this just makes more sense to draw people in) it’s then easy to pick ten:

Atlanta (Peach)
Charlotte (Meineke)
El Paso, TX (Sun)
Houston, TX (Texas)
Jacksonville (Gator)
Memphis (Liberty)
Nashville (Music City)
Orlando (Capital One)
San Diego (Holiday Bowl)
Tampa (Outback)

Honorable mention: Shreveport, LA, home of the Independence Bowl

Personally, I schedule it out basing the four quarterfinal games on New Years Day. move ten to fourteen days back for the first round games (giving a Christmas break), then one week to ten days later for the semifinals (avoiding the NFL playoffs), and another week after that for the championship final. It adds only one week to the full schedule. I would also take out one regular season non-conference game to make up for it.

As for the rest of the bowls – still have your games. Still have the Poulan Weedeater Bowl, the insight.com bowl, or the GMAC bowl, featuring the usual two mediocre teams that usually wouldn’t play in a bowl game (except for this year’s Credit Union Poinsettia thriller between Boise State and TCU). We’ll just treat them like College Football’s version of the NIT – consolation prizes for the teams that just weren’t good enough to make the Big Dance.

**

So who would make up the sixteen teams to play for the title? Any decision making organism would need to take into account a few things – the human polls and the computer rankings (as the BCS does now), the conference championships (with special deference to the conferences that have championship games), as well as the win-loss records, and possibly a “strength of schedule” component.

I would propose that each of the eleven conference champions would get in. This year that would mean:

Virginia Tech (ACC)
Oklahoma (Big 12)
Cincinnati (Big East)
Penn State (Big 10)
East Carolina (Conference USA)
Buffalo (MAC)
Utah (Mountain West)
USC (Pac-10)
Florida (SEC)
Troy (Sun Belt)
Boise State (WAC)

That would leave five teams for the BCS formula to determine – not to arbitrarily pick a champion, but to pick the next best 5 teams to get wild card slots.

Using the something like the current formula – percentage of the human polls plus the percentage of the computer rankings plus win-loss percentage, I pick five wildcards: Texas, Alabama, Texas Tech, Ohio State, and TCU.

Then you rank the sixteen teams, using the same formula to determine seeding… and Voila! you have a bracket.

2008 BCS brackets

So… Which would you rather see – that tournament or South Florida vs. Memphis in the Magicjack bowl in a half-empty dome?

Yeah, me too.

**

There is, of course, another option – adding a “conference champion” component to the system – 1.0 points for any winner of a conference championship game, 0.5 points for any other conference champ. Then rank the teams, and pick the top 16, regardless of who won their conference. That would encourage more conference championship games the first week of December – and more “play-in” games. It would also eliminate the most questionable of the conference champs while leaving the possibility that smaller conference champs could still get a shot.

This year, that would replace East Carolina, Buffalo, and Troy with Oklahoma State, Georgia Tech, and BYU. Just for fun, that bracket looks like this:

Alternative bracket

Your thoughts?

Posted by: Joshua Gross | December 30, 2008

New Year Caption Contest

Clueless protester in NYCCAPTION CONTEST…

Sign seen at anti-Israeli protest in Manhattan yesterday. (or, perhaps, against the prune industry? who knows…)
(H/T: LGF, who accurately pins it as “numb-skulled hatred”)

Possibly related: Mark Steyn reports in National Review that 75% of Pakistani Muslims in Britain are married to their own first cousins

Happy New Year, everybody.

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