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Sharpen Your Axe

Time to give Obama some of Bush's medicine. Opening day countdown. Small details, big errors. Plus more.

1.15.09

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TOO MUCH FUN NOT TO
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Wouldn't It Be Rich: Should the Right Bush Obama?

I, for one, will engage in an intellectual "name calling" of the new occupant of the White House and his equally deserving better half...
-- Gene Simmons

The Democrats, the American hard left, and their enablers in the media (please forgive the redundancies) set the new standard for political civility and restraint in their treatment of George W. Bush over the last eight years. Applying their standard to the president-elect, it's not too early to declare the socialist administration of the painfully inexperienced, arrogant, condescending, jug-eared clown, Barack Obama, a failure....

As you sow so shall you reap.

At least that's what we conservatives would do if we shared the left's instincts...
-- Jerry Shenk
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Jeffrey Lord's article regarding the Bush-bashers was right on target. However, not all such scribes are from the east or left coasts. From the depths of Lake Woebegone, Garrison Keillor frequently mocks President Bush. Keillor, though, doesn't refer to him by name. His sarcastic attacks use the expression "Current Occupant" (of the White House).

In a column of January 7, 2009 that begins with an enumeration of people unable to lead normal, productive lives and ends with a discussion of public urination, he injects this barb:

"And we allow the Current Occupant to leave the Mansion d'Blanc with a big grin in a couple weeks, his self-esteem apparently fully intact, imagining that his legacy will emerge golden and shining in a hundred years after all of us are deceased. He is one of the cheerfullest idiots you ever saw, a man who could burn down his own house and be happy that the patio was still standing. Had Congress impeached him, his defense would have been that he was not capable of understanding the charges."

It would seem that President Bush will be sorely missed in Minnesota. Without him to attack, Keillor will have to begin singing the praises of Al Franken. But then, it should be recalled that the Minnesota state bird is the loon.
-- Stan Welli
Aurora, Illinois

  THE GROWNUPS REPLY
Re: Larry Thornberry's Baseball for Grownups:

Great article! This 54-yr old guy couldn't have said it better!
-- Tom Clark

Enduring the cold (and waiting for training camps to open) in Rochester, New York

It was 1958; the first year the Dodgers played in L.A. after making the move from Brooklyn. Mom and I were still living in Palm Springs. That season, my best friend's dad took us to several games in Los Angeles to see one of California's two new major league teams. (The Giants moved to San Francisco that year, too.)

The first four years the Dodgers were in southern California, they played at the Memorial Coliseum. Dennis' dad used to get us to the stadium several hours early so we could sit near the player's tunnel entrance and collect autographs. We'd also sit under a big ol' tree near an area where Dodger players could park their cars -- then make the walk to the tunnel.

One afternoon after getting a few of those '58 Dodgers to sign our 8x10 team photos, Den and I decided to take a break under that big ol' tree and wait for the St. Louis Cardinals' team bus to arrive. While sitting there, looking over our fresh collection of John Henry's... I spotted this young guy with jet black hair, wearing a white shirt and tie and carrying a tweed coat over his arm... just kind of strolling along the sidewalk and heading toward the tunnel. As was our m.o., Dennis and I would check to (1) see if the guy in question was a baseball player, then decide (2) if should we bother to get the autograph. See, back then... we really only wanted signatures of the All Stars.

As this young guy with the jet black hair walked by... Dennis and I made the decision to ask him for his autograph. We knew he was a Dodger, but wasn't one of the BIG names like Duke Snider, Don Drysdale, Johnny Podres or any of the other players we'd had sign our 8x10's that day. When we approached him, he smiled, signed our photos, then headed toward the tunnel.

While back under that tree... we catch another player walking toward the entrance. This fellow was a small(ish) black guy wearing a nice shirt and tie and one of those sporty mini-fedoras with a silk band around the outside. Again, Dennis and I both decide to go for the autograph. After he signed... D & D went back to the tree.

Back then, our battle plan for getting autographs was -- "Let's go for the BIG names first, then (if we decide it's worth the effort) we'll go for the bench players." The idea on collecting "second tier scribbles " was simple: "OK, let's get 'em. They might BE somebody , SOMEday."

Looking back, it was a wise thing to do. The pair of "tier II autographs" we collected that afternoon were from a young, unknown rookie shortstop named... Maury Wills, and a guy with jet black hair, named... Sandy Koufax. As old baseball fans know, both Mr. Wills (MVP in 1963) and Mr. Koufax (Hall of Fame) went on to "be somebody... someday."

Oh, and just so you'll know -- wherever Dennis and I went we always kept two things near to our vests: (a) our envelopes containing a current collection of black 'n white team photos (for quick access and autographing) and (b) a pocket sized thingy called a transistor radio.

If you were a 4-foot-nothing baseball fan in '58 Los Angeles -- there was an rule of thumb that needed to be adhered to: "Keep your friends close; but keep Vinny closer." OK, one of them Godfathers mighta' said it first -- but we got the message. And just so you'll know, that evening after the game, Mr. Scully took the time to stop his car while pulling out of the Coliseum driveway, roll his widow down and sign the back of our black 'n white 8x10s. Can't imagine Manny pausing to do that for less than a pair of Benjamins.
-- Dave
California

TINY, BILLION-DOLLAR ERROR
Re: RiShawn Biddle's Golden Apples:

RiShawn Biddle's "Golden Apples" is very well done and I look forward to reading more by the author on the subject. However, there is a significant error in one of the statistics that the author cited, namely the amount of the unfunded health care liability carried by the Encinitas Union School District. The problem stat is quoted below:

"An even larger bill comes in the form of unfunded costs for teacher healthcare deals. School districts -- and ultimately, taxpayers -- will pick up $16 billion in unfunded healthcare payments on behalf of retiring teachers. This includes the $10 billion in as-yet-to-be funded health insurance payments owed by the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation's second-largest (and most visibly dysfunctional) school district. The tiny Encinitas Union School District near San Diego, which educates a mere 5,600 elementary school children, has $4 billion in unfunded health care payments."

Obviously a jaw-dropping figure. But, further investigation leads me to conclude that the author overstated the liability by a factor of 1000. Please see this 2008 article from another publication, with their presentation of the Encinitas unfunded liability at that time ($4.4 million).

Encinitas has about 485 school department employees. If the $4 billion figure mentioned by the author were correct, this would translate to an unfunded liability of over $9 million per current department employee. Obviously not reasonable.

Nonetheless, the other points made by the author do illustrate the severity of the nation's looming public employee pension and healthcare cost problem.
-- Roland Perkins

STARTING WITH THEIRS

Re: Christopher Orlet's Life in the Blagosphere:

Howzabout a term limit on political parties?
-- David Govett
Davis, California

NO GUIDE NEEDED FOR THIS FAMILIAR TRAIL
Re: Joseph Lawler's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Bailout:

An enduring weakness of democracies is their lack of accountability. At its most basic level, democracy is nothing more than majority rule and 51% is the maximum percent of support one needs to maintain power. The Founders had 3500 years of failure at self-rule as a guide and chose a republican form of government with one of the most effective forms of self restraint know to man that happened to be proportionate to an individual's power at the polls. Nothing brings sober thinking faster than having to pay for what you vote for and nothing short of the original proportionate tax system does that. Even a "flat tax" system with a constant percentage will still transfer huge sums of wealth from Warren Buffet to Rodney King. The transfer of wealth is all that is needed to bring corrupt people and ultimately political parties to the feast like flies on a fresh road kill on a hot summer's day. That's all American politics is about these days, who pays and who feasts on the results.

I paid just at $20,000 in federal income and SS taxes last year, or about 29% of my gross income. Most reading this paid nothing near this or even a comparable percentage. State/local took another 10% of my gross. The horde of fed, state, local excise taxes on all my other bills probably took another 1-2 just for good measure. Some of my utility bills are more "flat rate tax" than fees for services. Add the 20 or so percent of tax hidden in all goods and services by tax paying businesses and I don't need a Heritage study to know that the bulk of my income goes to taxes. I don't need to look any further than IRS data to know that the bulk of income taxes if paid by the top 10%; well into the 90% range by the top 50% that actually pay income taxes and that tens of millions of able bodied Americans (and illegal Aliens) pay little to nothing but receive a huge subsidy from all those that do. Benjamin Franklin would be amazed at how right he was about us not being able to keep our republic and how far we've strayed off course from our founding principles.

You don't need Rand's, Adams's HHGTTG works to see where this all end up when the party is over. What follows this might be something akin to what you find in Brave New World or 1984.The most free and prosperous nation the world has ever know is going to be hobbled for generations by unimaginable debt (and unfunded mandates) because of its collective fiscal irresponsibility starting back almost 5 generations ago. All the rest and current events just piles on more of the same. The downfall of this nation will be traceable to 1913 and the 16th amendment. All a nation needs to do to fail is remove personal responsibility and accountability from their citizen's actions at the polls. There is no silver bullet given the numbers of ox living off the labor of others. There will be many oxen at the next feast.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

A REVEALING TIME
Re: Lisa Fabrizio's George W. Bush, Winner:

I'd like to thank Lisa Fabrizio for her wonderful column regarding President George W. Bush. The past 8 years have shown exactly who the "MSM", along with an awful lot of Democrats, are. It has been extremely disheartening to have the President attacked 24/7, with no stop, even though he did so many things right and kept the Country safe for all the years since 9/11. From the very first day of his election, when Gore attempted to change the vote, to the leaving of the White house by the Clintons, along with furniture belonging to the White house, this debacle has been on full display. Now, we are being given wall-to-wall love for Senator Obama, a man who was in the U.S. Senate for 143 days before he ran for president... It is simply unbelievable. Thank God, President Bush is a strong enough man to have disregarded the attacks, though I don't know how he was able to do it. We wish him God Speed and know that he will be honored when the "True" history of his Administration is written in the future.
-- Amalia Vail
Florida

CALLED OUT!
Re: Ira M. Kessel's letter (under "Self-Interested") in Reader Mail's Messianic Mistakes:

While I'm not a "libertarian" and never been a Union member, there seems to be as many different flavors of libertarian as there are individual persons claiming to be one. While that might be the nature of what Libertarians are in effect, I must take exception to what Ira Kessel recently said about "unions" in their defense.

Ira, first off, you did have a choice to not be a member of a union. The same choice all of us have. It is your choice to live and work in a non-Right to Work state and your choice to be a teacher (aka a government employee btw) and Union member. A true libertarian would find that to be the case short of the People's Democrat Republic of New York putting a gun to your head and forcing you to not only be a government teacher there but live there. All your choices.

Second, you conveniently overlook that a "union" is by nature is a collective and such collectives for good or bad are only interested in the collective good of that Union. They could care less about you as an individual or the business and its customers. They've got from you what they want. In case you haven't noticed said collectives typically do damage to both their businesses over time and their "customers" when they strike. Strikes or threats of such are in essence a WMD for any business, and if you don't grasp that go work for the UAW in Detroit and find out what that produces in the private sector.

In the public sector, going on strike is essentially holding the tax payers and government functions hostage. In my book that is called "force" and in some cases "fraud" both of which are legitimate responsibilities of government to prevent. When your government goes on strike what options do tax payers have as recourse? Typically none and we certainly don't get a tax rebate of services not rendered when Public sector Unions go on strike. Try firing all striking government teachers and then replacing them as an option in the real world. By definition government is supposed to be both necessary and not replaceable in practical terms but short of the firing of PATCO, the typical end result is those spineless government officials you talked about cave in to Union demands because they can't replace fired workers via any practical means. That is the case in non-Right to Work states and all those unwilling union dues paying members are just as much a part of the problem as those willing ones. You support the monster where it needs to be supported. Obama certainly thanks the NEA for its help this last election. Don't transfer the problem to spineless management or elected officials with the harm unions do when they go on strike (or are fired in mass). The impact of either is serious business and has long term consequences.

Management and elected officials may be spineless in some cases but on balance those that you are trying to transfer the blame to have no power to force individuals to act in their own self interest rather than the Borg collective's interest in non Right to Work States. Correct me if I'm wrong Ira, those states that aren't Right to Work states are all long time Democrat run states and the NEA is just one of many Democrat special interests collectives working on behalf of the Democrat party? In effect, you work for the Democrat Party machine of New York State by being a government teacher in that state. Try moving somewhere where you aren't part of the problem. Move into Management and try raining in the corrosive effects of the Borg rather than being part of the problem. A true Libertarian would find being a member of a collective like a Union a contradiction in terms. An opportunist seeks the protection of the herd until they can find a better herd and deal.

You made all the choices to feed the problem. You bought into the comfort and protection of the collective knowing going in you had to be a Union member to be a government teacher. The collective didn't force you to do anything at all. Calling yourself a Libertarian is like me calling myself Pro Life and working for an Abortion Clinic. Doesn't work in the real world.
-- Thom Bateman
Newport News, Virginia

WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND ME?
Re: Peter Ferrara's Obama's Race to the Past:

This article succinctly points to the difference between Democrats and conservatives. Democrats truly believe the government makes the economy run, while conservatives believe it is the wonderfully entrepreneurial mind of the people that, once unshackled provides the steam for the world's greatest, fairest, economic engine the world has ever seen.
-- Jay Molyneaux
North Carolina

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