4.25.2006

Writer’s Block

I've been feeling frustrated and discouraged. So many ideas are wandering my brain, but nothing is able to make it coherently to paper.

I think the malaise may be due to my allergies acting up, or the spring flu bug chasing me around. Or maybe because of work stresses, or a lack of organization for my projects. I step back, recreate my writing space in the garage, get more rest, refuel body and soul…only to have my eye spaz out worse than ever, with the bouncing blotch and headache draining me of energy.
Still, I struggle to move the paragraphs from my mind to the page, attempting to capture them before they morph again. Though I succeed in snagging bits and pieces, maybe even a keen phrase or two, the thoughts scatter almost as fast as they come. As I butt my head against the writer’s block, I wonder if the flow will ever return, if I’ll be able to write anything beyond a rant again.

But it's dawned on me that this angst and anger are symptoms of battle fatigue--the bone-weariness of a soldier on the beach at Normandy...well, maybe not that intense, but close. The battle for the soul of this country—for truth—is more evident each day, as the very civil civil war in this country is exposed, the casualties mount, and there's no end in sight.
"You see me now, a veteran
of a thousand psychic wars..."
From local to national issues, bald-faced propaganda campaigns have replaced reasoned argument. Gossip and vilification are staples of the evening news. Self-anointed experts jockey for the cameras, hollering about global warming, gas price-gouging, Wal-Mart, and Abramoff. Militant rent-a-mobs throw tantrums in the streets. One might think that American civilization teeters "on the edge, where winds of limbo roar."

Words seem anemic as our culture and security are undermined by treasonous elitists, yet they’re the only weapon I have. I’m only too aware that my small voice is overwhelmed by the dysfunctional blighters who filter our news and information.

Egad. In my personal life, I've never put up with neurotic drama queens for more than…um, well… four years--even when I was the guilty one. Yet, on the national stage, we've passed five years of unrelenting crises du jour, with another election looming. The media, activists, and certain politicians inflict their codependent melodramas on us at fever pitch, with total abandonment of rationality. (Did you hear that killer bees are swarming in south Florida? It's Bush's fault.)

It wears on me. It really does. Some days, just researching and understanding the issues gives me hope. But other days, the sense of doom creeps up and bites me.

For instance, today I'm tooling along, just about convinced that sane people really are in charge, when I encounter a big lie--the 'wage gap' crusade--treated with reverence and proclamations, for crying out loud, from city, county and state politicians. Good grief. I thought that canard had been put to bed years ago, but apparently, like Earth Day, it’s another leftist delusion impervious to the truth.

So I fire up the laptop, unsling the wireless mouse, and plunge again into battle on the blogs. I laugh at the enemies of common sense and argue with idealogues in need of psychotherapy—or at least a good spanking. I hunt the headlines, careening through cyberspace with a mission: to find the rest of the story, put it out there, and hope another warrior will be inspired to take up arms and pass it on.

The winds of limbo may roar, but clear voices rise above the din. Yes, a battle may be lost, but the war will be won.

4.19.2006

Why unions slide into irrelevance...

So today's Trib publishes an op-ed piece by one Robyn Blumner, of the St Petersburg Times *, entitled As long as we're discussing good ideas... (or, as originally published, Some simple ways to build a better country) lauding the Service Employees International Union's "Since Sliced Bread" contest.

Blumner's column was LOL, especially when she went off into her utopian fantasies...ah, if only she was in charge! But her 'solutions' for education (mo' money!), healthcare (nationalize!), transportation (take the bus!), and social security (make the rich pay more!) all bore two common themes: 1) make it everyone else's problem & 2) require them to pay for it.

Never mind the facts, or realities of human behavior. Never mind that most of her agenda has been thrust upon us incrementally over the last three decades, yet all of these issues continue to worsen. Never mind that this is energy-sucking, pure & simple.

What confounds me is that folks like Blumner see crises everywhere and consider all natural resources finite, yet devoutly believe all you need to fix these problems is money. And the government is the infinite source of all money. Righty-O.

But the best part, the reason I state that the unions are sliding into irrelevance, is this "Since Sliced Bread" contest. If you want a guffaw, just check out the finalists in this competition, which the SEIU billed as "A call for ideas that will strengthen our economy and improve the day-to-day lives of working men and women and their families." More like a search for rehashed leftist notions with a refreshing spin for the new millennium.
The SEIU lists the goals of the competition as:
* Grow the economy
* Create good-paying jobs that allow people to raise a family, afford health insurance, pay for their children’s college education, get additional training and save for retirement
* Encourage existing companies to expand and entrepreneurs to start new ones.

Almost every one of these ideas requires someone else (eg. the taxpayer) to foot the bill. The second-round finalists included Universal Health Care, a "Civil Works Corps," and a special sales tax to fund national healthcare insurance. Oh, and they encourage the brainless everywhere to lobby their congressional delegations to translate these bright ideas into legislation. Now there's a surprise.

It says a lot that the Grand Prize Winning idea (with prize of $100K, no less), the brainstorm of one Peter Skidmore of Seattle, WA, is...a tax! A new & improved tax, mind you, but still confiscation of others' money to fund Pete's pet projects, "sustainable localized energy industries (solar, wind, hydro, tidal, biofuels)."

specifically, Pete's solution is to:
Impose a “resource tax” on pollution, development, and fossil fuel to pay for development of renewable energy and environmental restoration.
So how will this tax (defying the most basic of economic principles) manage to 'grow' the economy, create jobs, or encourage business expansion & entrepreneurial activity? Why, because Pete says so! And some of the best & brightest agree, so it is so.

Despite the obvious absurdity (how the heck would one tax pollution?), the money-sucking involved would burden working people the most, result in higher costs of just about all goods & services, and certainly stunt biz expansion or entrepreneurial activity...except, of course, in the 'renewable energy & environmental restoration' sectors. And, maybe, that's the whole point. Guess we could call it the "Environmentalist Protection Act."

Oh, and the runners-up (a fat $50K per) were:
Public Education Reform (including revolutionary concepts such as restructuring public funding of schools, controlling tuition, and increasing teacher salaries)
Tie minimum wage to cost of living (because it's only fair)

Yup, the top three are just lame regurgitations of discredited leftist solutions for the wrong problems. But don't tell them that. They've got money to burn!

*why is it the Trib can never find op-eds from publications at least within the Northwest region?

4.04.2006

Mighty Max to save the Da-a-a-ay!!!!!

Speaking of lousy reporting...
This article, Baucus says forest sell-off not needed for rural program, reads like a press-release penned by Mighty Max hisself. Especially since Max Baucus's grand plan isn't revealed until halfway through the article (or, in the Trib rendition, the last line).
"The Democratic plan would withhold 3 percent upfront of federal payments for goods and services delivered by private contractors."
What the....??

Something doesn't seem right here. In essence, Max & Oregon Senator Wyden are rewriting government contracts to fund rural schools. Private contractors contract with the government to provide goods and services--you, know, one of those legal & binding things, brokered by important bureaucrats.


The brilliant senators are 'solving' the rural school funding problem by simply redefining a legal contract so they can skim cash off the top for another use. Isn't this is a violation of law? Or are contracts meaningless anymore?

Hey, maybe you could tell your bank you've decided to take 3% of your mortgage payment and send it to the rural schools. You might even discount your electric bill by 3% and send the cash to the rural schools. But I bet you wouldn't be so keen on your employer withholding an additional 3% from your paycheck to fund the rural schools.

Maybe I missed something, but since when are any contractors required to pay withholding taxes on income? Quarterly payments, maybe, but 3% withholding?

This grand plan seems to me to be a federally-decreed discount for services. Mighty Max decided hewith apologies to Mighty Mouse could legislate a discount for the government's accounts payable, thereby 'saving' 3% of your tax money, then diverting that 3% to the rural schools. Mighty Max to save the da-a-a-ay!

Kinda like a corporate accountant skimming money from the top of one budget to pad another budget, Max & cohort Wyden propose skimming 3% of the federal payments due private contractors and sending it to rural schools.

But that got me thinking...while we're decreeing discounts, why doesn't Max demonstrate bold leadership and declare all federal employees (including himself) private contractors of goods & services? Then he could discount their pay 3% across the board, "closing a tax loophole [he] said allows some government contractors to avoid tax obligations."

Heck, once all federal employees are discounted 3%, the 'income' would likely be double--or triple--the 'income' withheld from payments to the true private contractors. Now that's a plan! Mighty Max to save the da-a-a-y!

4.03.2006

A bit of Trib- bashing

As newspapers go, I'd say the Great Falls Tribune is swiftly becoming a laughingstock. My biggest irritation with the paper (as with most of the antique media) is the selective reporting. The Trib long ago passed the point where garbled or non-existent reports could be written off as merely incompetent journalism.

Case in point: Electric City Power
This is the utility set up by the City, ostensibly to provide electricity to city shops and the schools--a small-scale version of the MPPI plan. What do Tribune readers know about this utility? Not a heckuvalot. Here's what I've noted:

1) In the last year, the Trib slipped mentions (without elaboration) of two rate increases into the bi-weekly Commission Meeting reports. Funny how two rate increases in less than a year didn't strike anyone at the Trib as particularly newsworthy. So how, exactly, is Electric City Power saving the city (ie. the taxpayers) any money?

2) The Board of Directors was listed at the end of the Commission report on Jan.6.06:

"Appointed five people to the city's new five-member Electric City Power Inc. board of directors, including former Mayor Randy Gray and state Rep. George Golie. Gray and Golie received four-year terms; Dawn Willey, facilities manager for Benefis Healthcare, gained a six-year term along with former legislator Bill Ryan, who has more than 30 years in the power business. Retired banker Robert Pancich received a two-year term. The board will advise the city on its electricity efforts, including providing 15 megawatts of power to a number of power customers in the city. Lawton said having the board in place will make it easier to float bonds to help build a new coal-fired power plant east of Great Falls. The City Commission retains ultimate authority over power rates and other key decisions."

I'm wondering how these folks are qualified to direct a public utility. I still await the in-depth research and report.

3) In "Local agencies expect to pay more for gas," ( Mar.22.06, p1M) the Trib reported the City (would this be Electric City Power?) plans to stockpile gas, because of fears of rising costs. As usual, the impact on the taxpayer is merely an afterthought:

"Such increases could translate into cuts in local services or property tax increases."
One line. The thought of cuts in services or hikes in taxes didn't arouse reporter Ecke's curiosity even a tiny bit.

Of course, these are all Ecke examples, but he's actually quite representative of the low standards at the Trib. With just a few exceptions, Tribune journalists seem more dedicated to telling us what our opinions should be than to researching, verifying, and reporting facts.

A final thought...have you noticed that Tribune articles bylined 'Tribune Staff' or datelined WASHINGTON bear eerie resemblances to press releases, edited to fit? Something to remember as you read the "Pulitzer Prize-Winning Newspaper."



Just the Facts, Ma'am

Ok. Grand blog-experiment. I'd like to make this a 'thread' for comments about the Great Falls Tribune and a place to share knowledge of 'the rest of the story,' or even announce news that went unreported.

I know, I know, the newsier blogs do this already and much better, but I just wanted an open thread for local news, rumors, and press releases. Great Falls bloggers are cordially invited to offer their perceptions, research and expertise in this byte of bulletin board.

This is a place where anyone can post event info, review local entertainment or dining, organize a mob of angry taxpayers, bash the Trib (you know you want to), or pass on news that rabble-rousers can use.

Just a couple of rules:
Please, avoid profanity in your posts. This is a bulletin board, a breakroom. Let's be family-friendly!
Please, no outlandish conspiracies or lies you tell yourself.


Just click 'comments' at the bottom of this here page & let us know what's up in Great Falls!
Thank you kindly for your attention.

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