The niece and I were watching TV, and we saw two commercials with a Christmas theme. The first was Macy’s with a generic holiday ad that was obviously a Christmas commercial that was too embarrassed to actually say “Christmas.” The second was an IHOP commercial with two nutcrackers asking each other what they were going to wear for Halloween. Later I saw another IHOP commercial with nutcrackers saying how embarrassing and wrong it is to have Christmas commercials before Thanksgiving. So how much more embarrassing is it to do Christmas before November?

So I’m going to write these two companies and express that I will not spend any money in either establishment before Jan. 1st, 2010, and they are both going onto my Holiday List Of Shame:

Holiday List Of Shame
IHOP
Macy’s

Paul Mirengoff over at Power Line blog encapsulated the nature of government efficiency in two paragraphs:

The government has failed dramatically in its effort to make the swine flu vaccine widely available. We’re quickly approaching the time by which this was supposed to have been accomplished, but the government is nowhere close to having accomplished it. In July the Obama administration said that 80 to 120 million doses could be ready by mid-October. But now, in late October, only about 16.5 millions doses have become available.

When a similar faiure occurred in 2004, the Democrats blamed President Bush. But I don’t blame President Obama. I blame the fact that the federal government isn’t very good at delivering most services in a timely manner. The stated reasons vary from case to case, but the result is generally the same.

And this is the same far-reaching, power-grabbing government that believes it will properly manage the car industry, financial organizations, and health care in a manner better than the private sector can? It never has before, so why do liberals think that government will do a better job this time?

October 24th is the International Day of Climate Action. You may hear people in the news, the ‘Net or around you talking about how we need to drop from our current CO2 level of about 390 parts per million down to 350 ppm, their magic number for a happy-happy earth. But it seems I have heard that number somewhere before. Anyway, 350.org is the site driving this orgy of activism, and the website has some information about their purpose:

What does the number 350 mean?
350 is the most important number in the world–it’s what scientists say is the safe upper limit for carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Two years ago, after leading climatologists observed rapid ice melt in the Arctic and other frightening signs of climate change, they issued a series of studies showing that the planet faced both human and natural disaster if atmospheric concentrations of CO2 remained above 350 parts per million.

Everyone from Al Gore to the U.N.’s top climate scientist has now embraced this goal as necessary for stabilizing the planet and preventing complete disaster. Now the trick is getting our leaders to pay attention and craft policies that will put the world on track to get to 350.

Is 350 scientifically possible?
Right now, mostly because we’ve burned so much fossil fuel, the atmospheric concentration of co2 is 390 ppm—that’s way too high, and it’s why ice is melting, drought is spreading, forests are dying. To bring that number down, the first task is to stop putting more carbon into the atmosphere. That means a very fast transition to sun and wind and other renewable forms of power. If we can stop pouring more carbon into the atmosphere, then forests and oceans will slowly suck some of it out of the air and return us to safe levels.

Is 350 politically possible?
It’s very hard. It means switching off fossil fuel much more quickly than governments and corporations have been planning. Our best chance to speed up that process will come in December in Copenhagen, when the world’s nations meet to agree on a new climate treaty. Right now, theyOctober 23, 2009re not planning to do enough. But we can change that–if we mobilize the world to swift and bold climate action, which is what we’re planning to do on October 24th.

Evil CO2 will melt the ice at the poles, spread drought, kill forests, drown polar bears, flood the coasts, and shave your head while you sleep. But the inconvenient truth is that there have been times when the CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere have been significantly higher than today. For example, during the Jurassic period CO2 levels were 3.5 to 5 times higher than now. If only Al Gore had presented his PowerPoint slides to the T Rex, they might be still be alive and staring in Jurassic Park IV: The Quest for Global Climate Change Control.

I can’t get all worked up about global warming climate change like the Chicken Littles of 350.org. Earth is doomed, Doomed, DOOMED! they say, unless Al Gore stops flying around the world like a hummingbird on crack. Hah, just kidding. Al Gore can blow out tons of CO2 gallivanting around the globe for he is the Oscar One. The rest of us have to cut back, as explained in one comment on Etsy:

Small changes in your daily domestic routine can have a huge impact, i.e. lower thermostat temp, turning out lights when leaving a room, hanging laundry to dry, hand washing dishes, and not using a microwave. Simple conservation yields a noticeable difference in the electric & heating bills, too!

While it is true that small changes may have an impact on our own bills, it will have a negligible impact on the CO2 of the world. To have a major impact on CO2, the whole world needs to undergo massive changes. 350.org explains their mission: “the solutions to climate change must be equitable, they must be grounded in science, and they must meet the scale of the crisis.”

I can guarantee that the mission statement will fail in all three parts. Any solutions proposed by governments in Copenhagen this year will not be equitable, but will be heavily weighted on the U.S. and Europe. There is science showing that the earth has been cooling, not heating, in the last decade, and the actions proposed will be far more disastrous than allowing global warming climate change to proceed unchecked.

If reducing the CO2 in the atmosphere were truly critical, it could be easily solved with three steps: electricity is turned off, fossil fuels are unused, and everyone lives like the Amish. You better not be living in a large city, because the lack of electricity and fossil fuels will make transporting food from farms much slower than it is now. If the whole earth turned to an Amish lifestyle, we would have a massive die-off. But that’s OK, since a massive reduction in humanity would mean less CO2 being produced.

And that’s the goal for climate change fanatics, right?

Great news! Contrary to what us nay-sayers were warning, preliminary data is out about the success of the $787 billion stimulus plan.

The first direct stimulus reports showed that stimulus contracts saved or created just 30,083 jobs, prompting more Republican criticism of the $787 billion package.

The data posted Thursday was the result of the government’s initial attempt at counting actual stimulus jobs. Obama administration officials stressed that data was partial — it represented just $16 billion out of the $339 billion awarded — but they said it exceeded their projections.

So having spent $16 billion, the government has saved or created 30,083 jobs! Success!

Uh, wait.

Let’s see, if I divide the money spent by the jobs created, it turns out that the government spent slightly over $531,000 for each job. Success, right? Well, success only as can be defined by the government.

It’s easy for a family or a company to waste money, but to waste money on a truly epic scale, it takes a government. So here’s a picture I put together to express my feelings on the stimulus.

Wastefulness

Oh, the horror, the HORROR! The minimum wage is dropping in Colorado!!!

Colorado will become the first state to reduce its minimum wage because of a falling cost of living.

The state Department of Labor and Employment ordered the wage down to $7.24 from $7.28. That’s lower than the federal minimum wage of $7.25, so most minimum wage workers would lose only 3 cents an hour.

Colorado is one of 10 states where the minimum wage is tied to inflation. The indexing is thought to protect low-wage workers from having flat wages as the cost of living goes up.

But because Colorado’s provision allows wage declines, the minimum wage will drop because of a falling consumer price index. It will be the first decrease in any state since the federal minimum wage law was passed in 1938.

And now for a parting thought from the bastions of decency, ACORN:

Ben Hanna, Colorado organizer for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, said the difference is small but significant for poor workers.

Small but significant? *snort* Let’s crunch the numbers here. Assuming Joe Minimum works 40 hours each week for four hours, he will make $1164.80 under the old wage, but *gasp* only $1158.40 under the new $7.24 wage. That’s a whole $6.40!!! Oh, the humanity! What will Joe do, now that he is making only 99.45% of what he was making before?

Is 32 cents a day really a significant amount for an adult? I don’t think so. But that doesn’t stop poverty pimps like ACORN organizers from declaring it so.

Did you hear the surprising news? Oh, but you will. You will hear the lapdog media repeat this news over and over and gush about how great this news is.

President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for “his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples,” the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama’s name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.

Too early? Ya think? Talk about the audacity of hope, he was nominated after having been President for less than two weeks. So what was he nominated for? To give you an idea of the monumental work Obama accomplished to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize, here is a list of his actions as President as listed by Wikipedia:

  • January 20 – Minutes after the administration of the Oath of Office, Obama’s Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel, issues an order suspending last-minute federal regulations pushed through by outgoing President George W. Bush, planning to review everything still pending. In one of his first official acts, President Obama issues a proclamation declaring January 20, 2009 a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation. Obama enacts a pay freeze for Senior White House Staff making more than $100,000 per year, as well as announces stricter guidelines regarding lobbyists in an effort to raise the ethical standards of the White House.
  • January 21 – Obama revokes Executive Order 13233, which had been initiated by the Bush administration to limit access to the records of former presidents. At 7:35 EST on January 21, Obama retakes the Presidential Oath of Office, again administered by Chief Justice John G. Roberts, before four print journalists. Obama issues instructions to all agencies and departments in his administration to “adopt a presumption in favor” of Freedom of Information Act requests, reversing earlier policy set by former Attorney General John Ashcroft.
  • January 22 – President Obama signs an executive order announcing the closure of the Guantanamo Bay detention camp within a year, and signs a prohibition on using torture and other illegal coercive techniques, such as waterboarding, during interrogations and detentions, requiring the Army field manual to be used as a guide. He issues an executive order entitled “Ethics Commitments by Executive Branch Personnel”, governing the limitations on hiring of employees by the executive branch to qualified individuals only, and placing very tight restrictions on lobbying in the White House.
  • January 23 – Obama ends the funding ban for groups that provide abortion services or counseling abroad, also known as the “gag rule” or the Mexico City Policy. He orders the first two Predator airstrikes of his presidency.
  • January 24 – Obama produces his first weekly Saturday morning video address available on whitehouse.gov and YouTube, a policy compared to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fireside chats.
  • January 26 – Obama signs his first two Presidential Memoranda concerning energy independence, directing the Department of Transportation to establish higher fuel efficiency standards before 2011 models are released and the allowing states to raise their emissions standards above the national standard. That night he gives his first formal interview as president to Al Arabiya.
  • January 28 – Obama makes his first visit to The Pentagon as President, meeting with Defense Secretary Robert Gates and the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
  • January 29 – Obama signs his first bill, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which promotes fair pay regardless of sex, race, or age. Lilly Ledbetter, the plaintiff in the employment discrimination case Ledbetter v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. joined Barack and Michelle Obama at the signing ceremony.
  • January 30 – Obama signs a presidential memorandum launching the Middle Class Working Families Task Force to be led by Vice President Joe Biden.
  • January 31 – Obama speaks at the Alfalfa Club annual banquet.

So, did you spot the monumental accomplishments that earned him the Nobel Peace Prize? No, neither did I. This prize isn’t about actually having done something, it’s the hope that he will do something worthy of the prize.

“Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” Thorbjoern Jagland, chairman of the Nobel Committee said. “In the past year Obama has been a key person for important initiatives in the U.N. for nuclear disarmament and to set a completely new agenda for the Muslim world and East-West relations.”

I must admit that Obama is able to give a good speech when the teleprompter is present, and yet talking is not the same as doing. Looking at the two other sitting U.S. Presidents to get the same prize, I don’t see much of a comparison. President Theodore Roosevelt got the prize for mediating the peace between Russa and Japan after their war in 1904-1905. And President Woodrow Wilson got his in 1919 for creating the League of Nations, the forerunner of the United Nations. And now in 2009, President Obama gets his for talking.

Somehow it doesn’t quite seem to measure up.

UPDATE (10/9/2009 10:01:20 AM): I have thought about it some more, and I believe this prize should be awarded not just to President Obama, but to both who have made it possible. The prize should be awarded to both Obama and his teleprompter.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics,” is a phrase often attributed to either Mark Twain or Benjamin Disraeli, and it is often misquoted like I have done today. It is the third kind of lie, that of government budget estimates that I want to address today. Here’s the news that greeted me this morning.

Health care legislation drafted by a key Senate committee would expand coverage to 94 percent of all eligible Americans at a 10-year cost of $829 billion, congressional budget experts said Wednesday, a preliminary estimate likely to power the measure past a major hurdle within days.

The Congressional Budget Office added that the measure would reduce federal deficits by $81 billion over a decade and probably lead to “continued reductions in federal budget deficits” in the years beyond.

The report paves the way for the Senate Finance Committee to vote as early as Friday on the legislation, which is largely in line with President Barack Obama’s call for the most sweeping overhaul of the nation’s health care system in a half-century.

I find it interesting that the last paragraph talks about this bill as the “most sweeping overhaul” in a “half-century.” That last overhaul was Medicare, and as Jeff Emanuel points out, it’s not a good example of wise government spending.

At its inception in 1966, Medicare carried an annual price tag of $3 billion. Its Congressional founders predicted that cost would rise to $12 billion a year by 1990 — a figure that accounted for inflation.

The true cost of Medicare is stunning. In 1990, rather than costing American taxpayers $12 billion, Medicare cost $107 billion — an increase of 800% over the government’s best guess at the program’s cost 23 years before. That cost has increased exponentially as the years have passed since 1990. This year, $484 billion will be spent on mandatory Medicare outlays; by 2018, that number will be $885.1 billion, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. The total amount owed Medicare beneficiaries (American workers who are at least 22 years old and who have paid into the system, meaning they are due Medicare coverage upon retirement) is a staggering $32.3 trillion — an amount over twice America’s GDP, and nearly five times the publicized national debt.

The fact that the federal government has allowed a key health coverage program with which it has been entrusted to fall over thirty trillion dollars in debt should send a powerful message about Washington’s ability (or, more correctly, inability) to be a good steward of Americans’ health care dollars and coverage.

I’m not impressed over the CBO’s numbers because I recognized them for the guess that they are, and I don’t see them as a green light for passing the unfinished health care overhaul. I’m all too aware that the government estimates of one year are the horrible over spending of years later. Since the government can’t properly handle Medicare in a manner fiscally responsible, I have no desire to give them access to a large chunk of America’s economy to muck up.

You’ll hear the CBO estimate many times in the next few days and weeks. If anyone tries to use them as a reason for passing President Obama’s dream of health care reform, simply ask them to name a government program that has ever come in on budget. Past government performance proves that there are lies, damn lies, and government budget estimates.

Former Honduran President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales has been in and out of the news for months now, so I figured I had better write about him and the problems in Honduras. Most of the time when I mention Zelaya and his removal from power as president of Honduras, I get a response of “Who?” Since this is going to be fairly technical, here’s the Cliff Notes for people with a short attention span: Zelaya was legally removed from power because he violated the Constitution of Honduras.

In 1982, the Constitution of Honduras was approved by the people of that nation. Like the Constitution of the United States, it may be and has been amended many times. Article V of the American Constitution outlines how the amendment process is to be accomplished, and Articles 373 and 374 do the same for the Constitution of Honduras. Article 373 states that the Constitution may only be amended by a two-thirds vote of all the members of the Honduran Congress, and only if the next session of Congress likewise musters up a two-thirds vote. That is the only method allowed to change the Constitution of Honduras. Article 374 further states that there are eight articles that may never be changed, and those include Articles 373 and 374, as well as Article 239, describing the term of the office of President. Article 239 states that once someone has been President of Honduras, he may never again run as either President or Vice-President. It also states that anyone who breaks this law, or even proposes its reform, will immediately lose his position in government and is banned from any Honduran public office for the space of ten years.

Enter President Zelaya. Did he actually call for the Constitution of Honduras to be changed to allow him to stay in office, as President Hugo Chávez successfully did in Venezuela? Not specifically, but he did call for a poll of the people to determine if they wanted to convene an assembly to write a new constitution. The problem is that a constitutional convention is not allowed by Article 274, as it would change the constitution. In calling for the convention, Zelaya was working toward abolition of the current Honduran constitution, and that included Article 239. *zap!* Zelaya just touched the third rail of Honduran politics. And as soon as he touched it, he ceased to be President of Honduras.

The Honduran Supreme Court ruled that the referendum Zelaya called for was unlawful, but Zelaya chose to go ahead with his plans anyway. He ordered the military to pass out the ballots for the poll, but General Vásquez refused to comply with the order, citing Article 323 which prohibits the military from complying with an illegal order. Finally, the military, acting under the orders of the Supreme Court of Honduras, arrested Zelaya on June 28, 2009, and he was removed from office and sent out of the country.

“It was a military coup that tossed him out!” No, it wasn’t a military coup in the classic sense, because it did not leave the military in charge of the country. On the contrary, the Honduran military was exercising its responsibility as outlined in Article 272 to enforce constitutional law when needed. Nor was it a coup in the sense that a small group overthrew the government. This was the action of a united Supreme Court, Congress, and a plurality of the people of Honduras. So with the removal of Zelaya and no Vice President to take his place, the Honduran Congress selected its president, Roberto Micheletti, to be the next temporary President of Honduras. This act was similar to the line of succession in the United States, where the Speaker of the House is next in line after the President and Vice President.

“Well, Zelaya should have been impeached legally rather than forcibly deposed!” Our Constitution outlines the process for impeachment and conviction of a President, but the Honduran Constitution no longer has a provision for impeachment since Article 205 was amended in 2003. Article 313 gives the Supreme Court the authority to hear cases against the office of the President, and on June 26, 2009, the Supreme Court of Honduras accepted the case filed by the Chief Prosecutor against Zelaya. Because of the case filed against Zelaya, an arrest warrant was issued and carried out by the military.

Now it gets a bit sticky. The military had the authority to arrest Zelaya, but it did not have the authority to evict him from the country. Indeed, the Honduran Constitution states in Article 102 that no Honduran may be expatriated or extradited. By sending Zelaya to Costa Rica, the military did overstep their authority. This is the legal opinion of the Law Library of Congress’s Directorate of Legal Research:

V. Was the removal of Honduran President Zelaya legal, in accordance with Honduran constitutional and statutory law?

Available sources indicate that the judicial and legislative branches applied constitutional and statutory law in the case against President Zelaya in a manner that was judged by the Honduran authorities from both branches of the government to be in accordance with the Honduran legal system.

However, removal of President Zelaya from the country by the military is in direct violation of the Article 102 of the Constitution, and apparently this action is currently under investigation by the Honduran authorities.

So what has been President Obama’s response to the removal of Zelaya? As a former Constitutional law professor, Obama should have the ability to understand the Constitution of Honduras. Heck, I’m no Constitutional law professor, and yet the Constitution of Honduras is pretty clear to me, but it helps that I can read it in Spanish. Rather than recognizing that Zelaya’s actions were illegal and his removal in compliance with the Constitution of Honduras, Obama and the State Department are siding with Zelaya, putting pressure on the current, and very legal, government of Honduras. The State Department has the following comment about Honduras:

A coup d’état against the elected government took place on June 28, 2009 when the democratically elected leader ,President Zelaya was ousted and exiled to Costa Rica . Neither the United States, the Organization of American States, the United Nations nor any other country has accepted the de facto authorities in Honduras as the legitimate government of that country.

That tells me that the United States, the Organization of American States, the United Nations and any other country that fails to recognize President Micheletti as the legitimate leader of Honduras are simply wrong. Either they are hugely ignorant about the Constitution of Honduras, or they are letting politics sway their decision-making. Quite possibly both. And while it’s possible for a stopped clock can be right twice a day (or once if it is digital), I find it increasingly creepy to see our administration siding with the Presidentes permanentes of Cuba and Venezuela in condemning the removal of Zelaya.

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich explains simply and clearly why the administration is backing Zelaya:

Because the sympathy for the left in this administration is unending.

At this writing, Zelaya is hiding out in the Brazilian embassy in Tegulcigalpa, capital of Honduras. And his comments show he is a nutjob:

It’s been 89 days since Manuel Zelaya was booted from power. He’s sleeping on chairs, and he claims his throat is sore from toxic gases and “Israeli mercenaries” are torturing him with high-frequency radiation.

“We are being threatened with death,” he said in an interview with The Miami Herald, adding that mercenaries were likely to storm the embassy where he has been holed up since Monday and assassinate him.

This news article was posted September 24, 2009. Weeks later, Zelaya is still alive. Either the “Israeli mercenaries” are running late, or Zelaya is a paranoid, anti-Semitic fruit-loop, and the people of Honduras are well shut of him.