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Illinois Toll charges to almost double. Good thing the economy is doing so well.

August 26, 2011 2 comments

Hooray! More roads no one can afford to drive on!

I have found, during my relatively young life, that some people are less gifted in terms of common sense than others.  I’ve known people that are really “smart,” but couldn’t find their way out of a paper bag, if you know what I mean.  These sorts of people have taken over almost every level of government in my home state of Illinois.  I moved here from another blackhole of government suck: California.  And I moved there from the greatest state in the union: Michigan, as it was being destroyed by its government.  Hey, maybe I’m the problem.

Lots of people are leaving Illinois.  Don’t believe me?  Try Googling “population leaving Illinois.”   Like many states, Illinois has a budget problem.  Unlike many states, however, our democrat governor and democrat-controlled legislature chose to double state income tax and increase the corporate tax rate by 45%.  The (totally expected) result: more people and companies are leaving, and taking their tax revenue with them. Oh, and let’s not forget about the property taxes that make me wonder if my neighbor’s house is obscuring my ocean-front view.

And now what?  Well here in Illinois, in addition to taxes, we have these things called “tollways.”  They’re basically highways that require you to pay to use them.  Great idea right?  Only if you’re into sending your money to a government slush fund to be used for buying votes (Blago wasn’t an exception; he was the rule).  The original toll system was designed to pay for the creation of the tollways.  Which were largely completed in the 1980’s.  In other words, the tolls have been paid for.  But we’re still paying.  Like a bunch of idiots.

Recently, the god-like Tollway Authority Board of Directors, which consists of the governor and others appointed by the governor, decided we needed more tollways.  So it decided, all by itself, to initiate a $12 billion, 15-year capitol program, to build more tollways.  To pay for it, we citizens of northeast Illinois get our tolls almost doubled.

Let me be clear: THIS IS CRAP!  The entire basis for this boondoggle is “it’ll create jobs.”  Pants. on. Fire.  What it will actually do is take my money and use it to line the pockets of political insiders and the union bosses that’ll build the damn roads.

A sampling of the lunacy that’s out there:

‘We are confident that the vast majority of customers and communities we serve stand behind us in support of this 15-year investment in the Illinois Tollway’s future,’ said Kristi Lafleur, executive director of the Illinois Tollway, in a news release. ‘Now is the time to move forward with these critical infrastructure improvements to provide congestion relief on the tollway and coordination with the other transportation and transit agencies to do something new and innovative with an eye to the region’s future transportation needs.’

Moron.  Ms. Lefleur’s last name should have been your first indication that she’s completely untrustworthy and has bad teeth.  “Vast majority of customers?”  Really?  The only way the “vast majority” is standing behind you is to get into their cars before running you over.  Common sense people.  Is now really the best time to increase the cost of doing business?  Congestion?  I’ll buy into your congestion theory right after the Illinois Dept. of Transportation stops taking up entire lanes of traffic for months with construction barrels, WHILE THERE’S NO CONSTRUCTION ACTUALLY TAKING PLACE.

‘My heart goes out to those going through tough times and that have lost jobs. One side effect of this is that it will enhance the economy in northern Illinois over 15 years,’ said Naperville Mayor and tollway Director George Pradel, who voted for the toll increase.

Moron.  Do you really think charging someone MORE to drive to work is going to improve their life?  Seriously?  How exactly will this enhance the economy in northern Illinois?  By forcing people to pay more to go out to dinner?  I think I’ll stay in, thanks.  And where are they going to build the damn tollways anyway?  Every available piece of land is a friggin’ nature preserve or dog park.  I’ll guarantee you that Mayor Pradel will be getting a nice little envelope for his re-election campaign from one of his construction pals.

The plan had critics, but it also had supporters beyond the construction companies that were touting the 120,000 jobs that the Illinois Tollway estimated will be created by the program…On the Illinois Tollway’s website, the list of the capital plan’s supporters runs deep. Among them were the Kane/Kendall Council of Mayors, AAA Chicago, the Illinois Chamber of Commerce and many labor unions.

Hmmm…who do I see on that list?   A whole bunch of groups that will benefit financially from the program, without experiencing any of the pain.

‘There will be some people unhappy with it,’ Aurora Mayor and tollway Director Tom Weisner said. He added, ‘this country’s been a world leader because of the interstate system built 50 years ago. If you don’t make infrastructure investments, you will be sorry.’

Moron.  No, there’ll be lots of people that are unhappy with it.  Oh, and this country hasn’t been a world leader because of its interstate system.  And hearing you make the assertion causes my eyes to bleed.  Also, I’m tired of hearing democrats refer to the grand wonders of investing in infrastructure.  It’s nothing more than corporate welfare, i.e., taking money from me and giving it to your most generous construction company, which you claim to hate.
Bottom line: This is stupid.  And corrupt.  There’s simply no other way to say it.  The people of this state that are still here are already strapped for cash.  Many of those that still have jobs don’t have any choice but to use the tollways.  Make no mistake.  The building of these tollways isn’t about improving the economy, or decreasing congestion.  It’s about backroom deals originating from the governor’s office as a way to fulfill campaign promises made to certain groups and individuals.  It’s as simple as that.

The Tea Party Should Take the Boehner Deal (it won’t matter anyway).

July 29, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m a Tea-Partier.  I’ve been to a couple of meetings, and I agree with just about everything they stand for.  But the hold-outs in the House need to suck it up and vote ‘yes’ on the Boehner debt-ceiling plan.  Because it’s a good plan?  No, not really.  It is, however, the only plan in existence, and it’s likely to stay that way.  Plus, the Prez already said he’d veto it, and Harry Reid won’t even let the Senate vote on it.  So the Boehner plan is really only theoretical.

Look, chances are, our credit rating is going to drop.  That’s what this entire debate is actually about.  We won’t actually default on any of our debts; we have plenty of money to pay them.  But Moody’s and S & P, yes the groups that totally screwed the pooch during the housing bubble, will downgrade our credit rating without the debt ceiling being raised.  Of course, they’ve also said they will downgrade our rating even if we raise the ceiling, but don’t get our debt/deficits under control (something the left has no interest in doing).  And Barry taking the “Constitutional way out” by invoking the 14th Amendment and raising it himself?  Probably unconstitutional, and it will be mired in litigation for the next year, which will only cause Moody’s and S & P to downgrade us anyway.

So, where does that leave us?  Well, our rating is likely to go down regardless of what happens.  The Senate has already tabled Cut, Cap, and Balance, and Reid has stated he won’t allow the current Boehner bill to come to a vote.  So the House may as well just pass the damn thing and let the Senate kill it.  The Repubs can then at least go the American people and say “we’re the only party to actually have a written proposal; in fact, we had two.  Both of them were shot down by the Dems in the Senate.  So if you want to blame a party for our current predicament, you should look to your left.”

And as this is going on, our president will continue to change his position, depending upon who he last spoke to.

Trust me. It’s better you don’t know.

May 4, 2011 2 comments

Nothing to see here.

My favorite movie is, without question, ‘JFK.’  You know, the one that does such a good job of convincing you that JFK was killed by more than just Lee Harvey?  During the movie, Kevin Costner’s character asks the media, “Is a government worth preserving when it lies to the people?”    Now, I’m not a conspiracy nut.  I’m not a Truther, a Birther, or one of those guys who thinks the moon landing happened in a Hollywood backlot.  You can count me as one of those guys who doesn’t think Oswald acted alone, however.  Why?  Because our government lies to us by omission all the time.  In other words, it has all kinds of information about Ruby, Oswald, and everyone else, that it has yet to release.  Why hide it?

This dovetails into a comment made by one of my many many readers the other day (did I mention there are lots of readers?).  She asked me, and I’m paraphrasing, why I spend so much time complaining and not enough time trying to find out who’s actually in charge (and thus, to blame).  Well, I complain because that’s just what I do.  And it’s my blog.  Figuring out who’s in charge?  Good question. 

You may ask how these two topics are related?  Costner’s best movie this side of Bull Durham and a reader’s question about power?  The answer to the question is found in the movie.  Those with the real power are all of the unelected government employees who decide what information should be given to the public.  Administrations may come and go, but the employees of the CIA, FBI, DOD, FDA, TGIF, etc. remain, and we can’t even vote them out of office.  Yet they possess signficant information that is kept from the American public. Why was former FBI head J. Edgar Hoover so powerful?  Because he had files on everyone.  Knowledge is power, and we’re regularly kept in the dark.

This, of course, leads me to breaking news.  Our Prez just decided that none of us regular folks get to see the photo of OBL at room temperature.  It’s probably now classified.  Like hundreds of thousands of other documents.  We’ve become children who aren’t able to handle these sorts of things.  How about those computers allegedly taken from Binny’s compound?  Is there anything on them?  Could be.  But all we’ll get is a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  Bin Laden’s photos of impressively hairy naked women are not doubt vital to national security.

I see what you did there.

Many ask why no one trusts the government anymore.  The answer is simple: the government is hiding all kinds of crap from us under the guise of national security.  And we do little about it.  Wikileaks dumps thousands of classified documents onto the internet, and most of it proves to be completely irrelevant nonsense about Hillary Clinton thinking someone else is crazy.  National security or just Hillary being a chick (ZING)?  Why do we need to wait for some Swedish guy to steal stuff that already belongs to us, just to show it to us?  Don’t our tax dollars pay for it?  Think about it.  We bought the helicopter that carried the SEALS, whose salaries we pay, to shoot OBL with guns and bullets that we purchased.  And the camera that took the picture of the dead terrorist?  We paid for that too.  But we can’t see the picture?

So, what have you learned?  Well nothing really.  None of the foregoing was probably a mystery to any of you…especially you over there, in the tin hat.  What have I learned?  That, until I hear differently, the government killed Kennedy, a UFO crashed in the New Mexico desert, Barry was born in Kenya, and OBL is currently drinking a mojito in Cuba.

 

Why are we in Libya? A look into our failure to understand the Middle East.

March 28, 2011 3 comments

Yes, I'm crazy, but what's coming will be worse.

Note: this post is kinda long…so if you just want the Cliff Notes, read the last paragraph.

This is the question that is on everyone’s mind, and rumor has it that our president will actually address the issue tonight.  Of course, we started shooting missiles at Libya last week, but what’s a few days?  Someone recently asserted that Obama is showing leadership in dealing with Libya.  Is he?  From my perspective, it certainly appears that we have been pulled into a conflict by the rest of the world — France and England primarily — even though we have absolutely no national interest in being there.  Not only are we spending money we don’t have on a country that provides us nothing of value, we’re now fighting on the same side as our enemy…and no one seems to care. 

Let’s review.

The people of Libya, in a “spontaneous uprising” for “democracy,” move against their wacky dictator Q (I’m not going to try and spell his last name…since it has, at least, three different spellings).  I think we can all agree that dictators are bad, at least theoretically.  Interestingly, the regular people of Libya rather quickly got their hands on some pretty significant fire power.  Thus, the Libyan revolution is not exactly Tiananmen Square.  So, what do you get when you have two different intra-state factions taking up arms against each other?  That’s right: a civil war. 

Q, still wanting to remain in power, used the weapons at his disposal to put down the revolt.  Unfortunately for the rebels, and civilians as well, Q has planes with missiles.  So, Q starts killing his people; both rebels with guns and unarmed civilians.  While the world watches in horror, our leader is filling out his NCAA brackets…both men’s and women’s?! (no, I don’t think he can multi-task).

Eventually, the rebels start to lose, and then France, and then England, call for United Nations intervention.  Why do France and England care?  It’s most likely because they, and the rest of Western Europe, get a lot of oil from Libya.  Thus, they have a national interest in Libya. 

We, however, don’t.  America gets virtually no oil from Libya.  As such, Barry can’t argue that we’re fighting Q for the oil (not that he ever would…oil is evil).  Eventually, it becomes clear that the U.N. is going to do something after France and England demand action.  So, after the U.N. security council votes to allow military action to be taken against Q, Barry jumps on board too.  Of course, he does it without consulting Congress, which makes our military action in Libya significantly different than Bush’s military action in Iraq (where a majority of Congress voted in favor of such military action).  I would argue that Barry’s actions appear to be more appropriately placed within the “follower” column, rather than “leader.”

What do I expect our president to say tonight?  I’m guessing he’ll talk about a large coalition of countries agreeing to stop the atrocities taking place in Libya.  Of course, the “large coalition” consists of about eight countries, none of whom want to take charge of the operation, thereby requiring NATO to take over…which is curious, being that the Libyan rebels we’re defending are no where near the North Atlantic.  But I digress…Barry’s point about ending the atrocities will also be a bit vexing, since other countries, like Bahrain and Syria, have civilians being killed by their governments too.

Now don’t get me wrong…there are lots of Republicans who support what we’re doing in Libya too.  Why?  Because everyone has the same knee-jerk reaction to people crying out for democracy.  Hence the reason why the western world has chosen to support the rebels in this civil war.  Here’s the problem though: there’s a reason why no one in the Middle East/Northern Africa region, save Israel, has ever had a functioning democracy…it’s hard to do.  A country needs several things to be a democracy, not the least of which is the implicit understanding that those in power will cede that power voluntarily through free elections.  In other words, it’s not an accident that the Arab states are almost exclusively ruled by monarchs, theocrats, and petty dictators who don’t like giving up their power.

We're what's coming.

So what’s my point, you ask?  Well, look at Egypt.  Egypt just had a mass uprising of people seeking more freedom.  Of course, like a wind-up toy, every Tom, Dick and Harry in our government supported the uprising.  Democracy totally rules!  A few people, including me, argued that supporting the people of Egypt over a moderate, and stable, dictator was a bad idea.  We argued that the ultimate beneficiary of overthrowing the government was going to be a group like the Muslim Brotherhood, a small, but organized, radical Muslim group whose sole goal is the destruction of Israel and America.  I was told by those on the right and left that I was wrong; Egypt constituted a secular uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood was too small of a group to have a significant impact on the new government.  Well looky-here: I was right; and a long-time middle eastern ally is quickly becoming the exact opposite.

So, did we learn a lesson in Egypt?  Obviously not.  We’re now bombing Q’s forces.  And who is fighting along side of us?  None other than Al Qaeda! Simply put, our country is being run by a bunch of idiots.  And when it comes to bringing democracy to countries that have no hope of remaining functioning democracies, it ain’t just the democrats.  We’re still dealing with the government Bush set up in Iraq, and I’ll guarantee that once we pull out all of our troops, some radical group will take over there too.  And what’s more frightening is that our government (or France or England’s), even after 9/11 and a myriad of other terrorist attacks, still doesn’t understand who our enemy is.  It’s not the wacky dictator in Libya, it’s the group trying to throw him out. 

So, let’s review: we support the overthrow of the Egyptian dictator, only to have the new government consist of, at the very least, a signficant anti-America, radical muslim group.  Now, we follow France and England into Libya to help Al Qaeda, and other like-minded individuals, seize power.  Oh, and we’re borrowing the money from China to do it!  We’ve officially gone down the rabbit hole Alice, and there’s lots of options to play the Mad Hatter.

 

Government to ban religion in effort to stop obesity

March 25, 2011 5 comments

In case you didn't already know, this is not healthy.

Two recent articles have popped up in the news these past couple of days about fat people and the government’s continuing effort to try and educate them on the reasons they’re fat.  The articles also reveal the government’s continued effort to both waste my money and annoy me at the same time.  The most alarming part of the articles, however, is the obvious implication for religious folks. 

Yesterday, the LA Times provided everyone with yet another example of the FDA having way too much time on its hands. 

The nation’s cinema operators are fuming about proposed federal rules that could require them to disclose the calories in their concession food — including popcorn, a highly profitable item for theater chains.

Uh oh, now everyone is going to find out that their giant popcorn covered with salt and that liquid butter stuff is unhealthy.  Honestly, does anyone think popcorn isn’t bad for your health?  Anyone?  Hello?

‘If a movie theater is going to be serving people with 1,000-calorie tubs of popcorn, the least they could do is tell people about it,’ said Margo Wootan, director of nutrition policy at the Center [for Science in the Public Interest]. ‘Just because you happen to be doing something else while you’re eating doesn’t mean that those 1,000 calories won’t stop going to your waistline.’

No.  The only reason you would need to tell someone that they’re eating 1,000 calories is if there’s also a sign that says, “of course it’s low in calories.  it’s made from corn.”  And then it would be better to simply remove the sign. 

Oh, and what does “Happen to be doing something else” mean?  Unless we’re talking about one of those theaters in the not-so-nice part of town, I’m pretty sure that the “something else” is limited to using your other hand to raise the Icee to your mouth, and then put it down again; and no one thinks that activity is going to keep those 1,000 calories from going to their waist.  Right?  Is this country really full of that many stupid people?  (Obviously a rhetorical question.  Afterall, some guy did actually convince a jury of his peers that he was completely unaware that inhaling smoke into his lungs for decades, while coughing, was a bad idea).

By the way, did you catch the insane profits movie theaters make on their popcorn?   

‘We sell a bucket of popcorn for about $6. Our cost in that $6 bucket of popcorn is about 15 cents or 20 cents. So if that cost doubles, it doesn’t really hurt me that much.’

Holy crap!  Liberals should stop whining about monopolies in the oil industry, and start whining about monopolies in the movie theater popcorn industry. 

Even more disturbing than the stupid calorie disclosure, however, is the government’s new-found obsession with fat people, and the effect it just might have on the religious folks out there.

[A]n unusual new study has found that people who regularly attend religious activities are 50 percent more likely to battle obesity by middle age.

Don’t panic (yet).  Scientists don’t know why religious people are more likely to add a spare tire (or two).  But they have their suspicions:

‘We don’t know why frequent religious participation is associated with development of obesity,’ said Matthew Feinstein, the study’s lead investigator and a fourth-year student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. ‘It’s possible that getting together once a week and associating good works and happiness with eating unhealthy foods could lead to the development of habits that are associated with greater body weight and obesity.’

Stinkin’ happiness.  It looks like those cookies during fellowship are training our minds to associate happiness with eating high calorie treats.  Jeez, I wonder how much government funding that study received?  In any event, the reasoning seems a little less than air-tight.  However, I do have a message to all of my brothers and sisters: watch out, because the government is coming for your ham buns.

This is Your Democratic Party

March 8, 2011 1 comment

I bring people together. Haters.

The federal government posted its largest monthly deficit in history in February ($223 billion).  Libya’s crazy leader is ordering his military to kill civilians.  Gas prices are closing in on $4.00/gallon.  These are all important issues, no doubt.  But what are some Democrats in the House most concerned about?  That’s right: the dangers of styrofoam cups.

In a letter to Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) and other Republican leaders, the nine Democrats say the Styrofoam cups and other dining materials could hold chemical components that could cause cancer. The Democrats are upset with the switch to Styrofoam from recyclable materials put into place when Democrats ran the House. 

This is doing the people’s business?  Those quitters in the Wisconsin Senate are doing more to earn their tax dollars than are those House Democrats worrying about the cups they’re drinking from.

‘Eliminating polystyrene-related health impacts will result in fewer lost work days and lower heath insurance costs for the House and its staff,’ the lawmakers write. ‘This benefit alone should outweigh any cost savings from using polystyrene containers.’

I wonder if my church knows of the dangers inherent in styrofoam cups?  What’s next?  Raising concerns over the cholesterol content of ham buns? 

Yes.  I know it’s only nine members of the House.  Yes.  I know I’m painting the entire Democratic party with a broad brush.  But these nine members are bringing home six figure salaries that are paid for with our taxes.  Someone had to take the time to write this letter, right?  Also, if you read the linked article, you’ll notice the letter has footnotes.  So, not only did someone write a six paragraph-long letter about cups, someone researched it as well.  For crying out loud, that’s like someone paying me to write this post.  Ah, now you’re truly grasping the absurdity of this.

And no, I don’t think these nine representatives can multi-task.  I don’t think they can consider solving our debt crisis while simultaneously living with the anxiety of drinking Hawaiian Punch out of cancer-causing styrofoam.  As such, those representatives have two choices: either bring in their own cups or leave the House of Representatives.  Either way, they owe us the money they were paid to complain about such ridiculous nonsense.

Delaware’s Supreme Court offers some sanity

February 23, 2011 1 comment

You want an example of people who would get stepped on by elephants if Darwin truly ruled the world?  Well here you go.  On October 12, 2007, before a showing of Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married?”, David Stewart, Manager of a Dover, Delaware move theater, stood up in front of a sold-out crowd and asked them to remain quiet during the movie and to make sure their cell phones were silenced.  Sounds reasonable, right?  I know I’ve personally experienced a movie theater manager ask a sold-out crowd to please be quiet.  In fact, I welcome someone else telling the guy behind me to shut up.

Well, because we live in a country where having psychological problems is viewed as a positive, someone was so offended by Mr. Stewart’s request, that she stood up, advised the manager that she was offended, and proceeded to take the names and phone numbers of other people in the crowd who were offended.  See, the crowd was almost entirely black, and the movie was “minority-themed,” and therefore, Mr. Stewart’s request must have been racially-motivated.

Yes, this really happened.  In the crowd at the time of the request was none other than Juana Fuentes-Bowles, the Director of the state’s Human Relations Division.  Her feelings were hurt.  Apparently some others in the crowd felt like Mr. Stewart was condescending, and talking to them like children.  Of course, lost in all of this hullabaloo is the fact that large numbers of people of all races are stupid act like children, especially when they forget to shut off their cell phones during a movie that I paid almost $10 to watch.  This is why I no longer go to movies.

So, what happened to the Dover theater, you ask? 

In 2008, a three-member panel of the [Human Relations] commission ruled that the announcement violated Delaware’s equal access law — though everyone in the theater was still able to see the film — because the circumstances were hostile and one that any reasonable person would find objectionable.

The commission then awarded each of the people who complained $1,500 in damages, fined the cinema $5,000 and ordered it to pay more than $20,000 in the plaintiffs’ attorneys’ fees and costs.

In all, the theater was ordered to pay nearly $80,000.00 as a result of asking movie-goers who happened to be black, to please be quiet.  I’m not embarrassed to say that people like Ms. Fuentes-Bowles make this country a crappier place to live.  I detest her, as well as the entire Human Relations Commission.  I don’t even know what the Commission does, but this case has already proved that whatever purpose it may serve, it’s the equivalent of me ripping my right arm off and beating myself with it.

Fortunately, the Delaware Supreme Court hasn’t completely lost its mind, and it reversed the Commission’s ruling.  The court found no evidence of racism.  Of course, it only took almost four freakin’ years to reverse the stupidity of…that’s right…the government.

If I were a Delaware tax-payer, I would be livid.   Ms. Fuentes-Bowles, and her stupid Division, and the stupid representatives that created the stupid Division, and every single person who believes the foregoing list of peoples aren’t stupid, should all be shot into space on a Soviet-era rocket.  Why?  Well for one thing, they’re competing with me for oxygen. 

These are the people that populate the bloated bureaucracy that infects all levels of government.  These are people that are paid with citizen tax dollars.  And what purpose do they serve?  They’re community agitators.  That’s all.  The entire system should be disbanded and they should all be forced to get real jobs.  There.  I said it.

And the grand finale?

Christopher R. Portante, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of State, which oversees Human Relations, said the department ‘stands behind’ the commission’s decision.

Of course it does.  It’s full of complete lunatics just like the hyphenator.  Hey, I wonder if Wisconsin has a Human Relations Commission?

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