Thursday, August 30, 2007

Democrat Solution to Michigan's Economic Woes - Lets Raise the Income Tax.

Oh, that'll work.

Granholm and the Democrats are proposing that instead of the currently flat 3.9% state income tax that we currently have, a graduated tax will be put in its place.

The graduated tax will of course whack the middle class.

Nolan Finley gets it right when he writes Head off doubling of middle-class tax
Correspondence between the Granholm administration and legislative Democrats reveals at least one option raises the top rate to 9 percent, compared with the current 3.9 percent flat tax. Under one scenario, that highest bracket would kick in once household income hits $150,000.

That means a married couple, both top-scale school teachers or even Big Three auto workers working a little overtime, would be labeled "rich" by the Democrats and dinged for an extra $5,000 a year in taxes.

Certainly, $150,000 a year is a decent income. But it doesn't make a couple wealthy, particularly if they've got a big mortgage and a kid or two in college. Such families probably don't have a spare $100 a week lying around to give to the state.

These are the same families who will get hammered if the Bush tax cuts are allowed to expire. Ditto if the cap on Social Security taxes is lifted.

All told, state and federal tax hikes could add $10,000 or more to the taxes of solidly middle-class Michigan families.

The reason of course is the massive revenue take such a tax increase would provide
Changing Michigan from a flat-tax state to a graduated-income-tax state would raise nearly the additional $1.4 billion Granholm wants in new taxes.

Finley predcts the class warfare rehtoric that the Democrats will try to use to sell this massive increase -
Democrats will try to sell this to voters by convincing them it hurts the evil rich and not good, wholesome working families.
he then has a graphic accompanying the article showing it doesn't take much for you to be considered "wealthy" and get soaked by this tax increase.
Wealthy to the Democrats seems to be anyone not on Welfare or other forms of assistance.

Such a tax will have job-killing effects, dissuade the "wealthy" from considering Michigan as a place to live, increae the brain-drain of michigan graduates seeking to better themselves and keep more of what they earn, and make all of us in Michigan poorer, not richer.

Just say no to this massive tax increase.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Detroit News Columnist's Article Sidetracked By BDS

An article that starts out in a promising manner fallsas a victim to its author's suffering from Bush Derangement Syndrome (BDS is not yet listed in the DSM yet but hopefuly it will make edition V).

Froma Harrop's articleFrustrating federal ID plan invites havoc starts out promisingly, detailing delays in achiueving a ssecure form of identification, presumably for visitors to our Country. it then notes that the CIA seems risk adverse to any form of faiure which might risk their careers, and that such risk aversion is harming its efforts in the war on terror.
They feared the bad things that might have happened had they gotten tough: CIA personnel could have become prisoners of al-Qaida. Congress could have hauled them before committees for helping Northern Alliance leaders involved with the heroin trade in Afghanistan or for abusing al-Qaida prisoners.

But those are risks our protectors are supposed to take. Hurting one's career should be a small price to pay for defending national security. By holding top CIA officials accountable, we add risk to not taking risks, and that's how it should be.

So far so good. But immediately after that she heads off into Cloud Cuckoo land-
Of course, anyone who was gung-ho for destroying al-Qaida had to deal with the crushing laziness of the Bush administration in its first eight months. By the time Bush had arrived in the White House, al-Qaida had already supported the first World Trade Center bombing (1993), a plan to blow up airliners over the Pacific (1995), the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa (1998), the suicide attack on the USS Cole (2000) and the Millennium Plot to blow up the Los Angeles airport (2000). Yet during that time, the administration did next to nothing about al-Qaida.

Is Harrop blaming the Bush administration for doing nothing in the years 1993-2000- you know the years preceedingt he Bush administration taking office in January 2001?

Charitably one can argue that she means that in the 8 months once he took office but to list the terorirst attacks immediately before saying "Yet during that time" certainly paints a false picture and will have all the readers who can't remember the year Bush took office nodding sagely that he didn't try to stop any of those attacks because he was lazy.

Blaming and criticising Bush for a variety of failings since he's taken office, on many issues is fair game. To confabulate and make a false suggestion that he is responsible for events before he even took office or was crushingly lazy in the first eight months of his term is riddiculous. What exactly did harrop want him to do? Start bombing stuff, try to pass the patroit act before the attacks took place. Good luck with that -- the nation was not ready for any of those actions and you can guess the level of criticism Bush would have faced if he tried.

Yet another potentially good article derailled by the BDS train,

Sunday, August 26, 2007

At the Renaissance Fair

On Saturday, the family and my wife's friend and her kids and I piled into the van and we all went to the 2007 Michigan Renaissance Festival in Holly, Michigan.

We were there for the Scottish Fling weekend. Yes, men in kilts (They get annoyed if you call them dresses).

Indeed as part of the festivities some of the Scottsmen pickup a 120 pound telephone pole called in Scottish a caber and throw it - they do this for fun. Anyone who can carry a telephone pole and hurl it end over end should not be greeted with the words "nice dress" -- bad idea.

Doesn't it look like fun?

There are always a variety of acts including these comedic Jugglers:

And of course, full contact jousting between armored knights:

And, not to be left out, an incredible moving statue that absolutely enthralls the kids (don't tell the kids there's a person in there, it'll spoil the magic).

If you are close to Holly, Michigan or want to take a very worthwhile trip for some serious fun, the Renaissance Fair is still going for quite a few more weeks and its great fun. Tons of fun to watch both the performers and the crowd all dressed up in "period" costume and acting all medievelish.

I highly recommend that you have one of the famous roasted turkey legs and a glass of mead for a snack. Simply excellent.

Chicago Trip - Getting there's half the fun, getting back is worse

I went to Chicago on Wednesday and Thursday on business and expected to get a flight out Thursday afternoon so I took the el train from the hotel, got to the airport, threw out my shaving cream, got thorugh security and went to my gate in plenty of time to get going.

It was not to be.

The weather closed in and we were stuck with the flight canceled and a three hour line-up at United Airway's Customer service counter.

Why they didn't open up more counters or let people rebook flights at the gates is unfathomable as there were plenty of United poeple standing at idle at the now closed gates.

So after 3 hours I headed back to my hotel on Chicago's el train - the Blue line. Of course as this is an elevated train there were substantial delays due to a tree falling on the track during the storm so a 45 minute trip took over one and a half hours.

I was glad to get back to the hotel, got a room and was so wired I couldn't sleep, after a while I finally dropped off.

In the morning on Friday it was a great repeat - the el train to the airport, through security (sans shaving cream and sans a shave as I had already thrown out the little thing of shaving cream I had picked up in Chicago- damn stupid regulations).

Then with some delay we finally got off, all the while worrying about another storm coming in. The flight took 45 minutes - less than the train trip. In fact I spent more time in those three days in the airport or on the train than I did anywhere else in Chicago.

On the upside I did get to order real Chicago deep dish Pizza at the Giordano's restaurant in downtown Chicago - we're talking seriously good pizza. The Pizza, a large was too much for three people to split and it was possibly the best pizza I'd ever had, so if you end up in downtown Chicago get to Giordano's for a real treat.

So I finally get back to Detroit, get to my car and play in traffic until i get home. 30 minutes after I arrive the skies darken and the Tornado warning sirens go off and the heavens open. Yep the storm followed me home. Massive rain and wind and loss of power for a few hours ensued.

Quite weather-full few days.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Birthday Scuba Trip - back to the Wexford

For my 35th Birthday, yesterday, August 9th, my lovely, thoughtful, and wonderful wife put me on a dive boat run by Rec & Tec Dive Charters and sent me off to dive the Wexford.

The jury is still out on whether she was deciding if the life insurance payout exceeded my expected future income, but nonetheless both Lagniappe's Keeper, up here visiting from his home in Harper's Ferry and I hit the road at 6 am headed for Port Sanilac.

We traveled through scattered rain showers and arrived at 8:30 am with plenty of time to load our dive gear on the boat before it left at 9. There were only six divers on this trip, plus the good captain and crewlady / divemaster, and off we went on a three hour tour.

Luckily for us, the weather did not start getting rough and the tiny ship made its way to the dive site off of Goderich, Ontario without incident.

After the dive briefing we geared up and got ready to dive.

The weather was perfect with a calm Lake Huron with excellent visibility of about 20 feet, and off we went down the down line to the bow of the wreck. Out of the gloom, the bow of the Wexford was suddenly visible.

Impressively, the plate I described on my blog Wexford dive report back last year was still on the wreck, a tribute to the good ethical practices of those who've dived the wreck all this time.

This year I could tell my diving skills had much improved. Between taking the GUE Fundamentals class and practicing weekly at Union Lake I was in much better form this dive. I was much more able to relax and enjoy exploring the wreck and I saw much more than I had last year as I wasn't so tunnel visioned, was more comfortable in my drysuit rather than last years wetsuit and had much better buoyancy control so I could keep out of the silt to preserve the visibility.

I saw a lot more artifacts, including a meat grinder, plates and plate fragments and the huge boilers of the ship, in addition to dropping below the bow to get an idea of the scale of the ship with its anchors and hitting about 80 feet maximum depth. After about 22 minutes it was time to ascend and up we went with proper safety stops at 40 feet and 20 feet.

After a surface interval, we dove the stern and I again saw much more than before and had much better situational awareness. Lagniappe's Keeper and I explored the stern thoroughly and saw a neat side area with 4 portholes with the glass intact to look outside the ship from within, as well as some valves and other interesting parts. We briefly explored every level of the ship before ascending.

The Wexford is simply one of the nicest wrecks out there in Lake Huron and in fantastic condition. Lagniappe's Keeper, in his first week of diving after his accident did wonderfully on the Wexford after our practice runs at Portage Quarry and Spring Mill Pond -- the man has guts enough for two men and as my wife says, he's got 9 lives but he's already used up 8.

A Great and successful pair of dives, and after our return we headed home at that evening my dive club came to an excellent birthday party at my house and much fun, as well as many a Myers Rum and Coke was had.

A most wonderful and memorable way to commemorate hitting 35.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Nellie Lyon Dive Pictures

So John, after some prodding, has just sent me the pictures he took from the Nellie Lyon dive trip. The pictures were taken with a Canon A540 in a canon waterproof case.

As you can see, the viz was rough. John has the camera at most 3 feet away from the subject that he's taking the picture of at the time, so you can see how the underwater visibility was quite poor that day.

Here I am on the surface:

Jerry taking it easy on the Surface:

The anchor from the boat holding fast to the wreck:

A portion of the ship near the anchor point. The lightbeam is from my 10 watt HID Cannister light. After this dive I'm starting to lust after the 21 watt lights the more advanced divers in our group use, or even better, the Salvo 35 watt light.

Here's Jerry on the Wreck:

Here I am at about 40 feet on the wreck:

All in all it was a fun and challenging dive. Hopefully we'll get the chance to go back on a day with better visibility, a little less current and a bit better luck. Thanks to John for taking the pictures, now its time I got a waterproof case for my new Canon SD1000 Elph.

Sympathy for the Sheehan?

Apparently Rochelle Riley is, not for Casey Sheehan mind you, but for Cindy "15+ minutes of fame" Sheehan.

In Empathy for Sheehan in her quests, in the Detroit Free Press, Riley says
I can imagine what I would do if someone happened to her. I would hunt that
person down and stalk them until they were brought to justice, unless justice
got there first.

That's all Cindy Sheehan is doing. And guess what? I understand her pain and
her mission. But I'm at a loss to understand how any other parent couldn't
So who's Sheehan hunting down? The terrorists that killed her son? Nope she's lashing out at anyone insufficiently "anti-war" Bush or even now Pelosi.

Riley then says
Sheehan's son, U.S. Army Specialist Casey Austin Sheehan, signed up in August 2003 for a tour of duty in Iraq. He was 24 years old. Five days later, he was killed in Sadr City during a rescue mission for which he volunteered. He will never know the glory of being awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. I cannot imagine those medals mean much to a grieving mother.
Such medals would mean a lot to someone realizing that Casey Sheehan died not for himself or self-aggrandizement but in trying to save others, as a hero. Indeed, isn't until 6 paragraphs later that Riley notes that Casey had volunteered and signed up for a second tour in Iraq and he wasn't there involuntarily- he's the hero in this not Cindy. Rochelle doesn't bring up that Cindy had disowned her son when he joined the military.

The story mentions that Sheehan saw Bush once but doesn't seem to mention her demanding to see him yet again, but does note she called Bush a terrorist and speaks with approval about Sheehan's plans to try and impeach Bush and run against Pelosi.

Nice to see that Rochelle Riley has gone from being a Democrat talking points talking head to full on moonbat supporter. Sheehan had her more than fifteen minutes of fame - even the Democrats are done with her, and its time that Riley realized that.