06.07.10

I LUVZ Victoria Secret

Posted in Montana Living, State and Federal Politics at 8:18 am by Moorcat

Of all the inane, asinine and idiotic political attacks I have seen in the five years plus that I have been following local, state and federal political blogs, I have found what has to be, hands down, the worst.

I used to read Left in the West religiously a few years back. Unfortunately, the level of thier writing and the content of thier “diaries” has sharply declined over the last couple of years. Now we find ourselves in an election year and Blammo… true idiocy rears it’s ugly head.

It seems a Blogger over there seems incensed that a Montana State Senator from Kalispell, Bruce Tutvedt, has a facebook page, and on that facebook page, he has indicated that he likes Victoria Secret. Further, it appears that Montana Cowgirl that by doing so, Mr. Tutvedt has proven that he is not “family oriented” and is “politically tone deaf” (whatever the hell that means).

Let’s try to wrap our minds around this for a minute. Mr Tutdedt has indicated that he appreciates one of the most successful women’s clothing outlets in the US. Victoria Secret is a national distributor with hundreds of retail outlets, and Millions of millions of sales per year. Thier catalog can be found in homes all over the US from almost every demographic. So by saying he “likes” Victoria Secret he is what.. a perv?

Let’s be clear here. Victoria Secret sell some of the best women’s undergarments in the US. Many well endowed women (like my wife) have real trouble finding comfortable, affordable undergarments and Victoria Secret has a proven reputation for providing that. Further, they have a full line of women’s clothing including pants, shirts, coats, dresses, shoes, boots, workout and athletic clothing and even carry cosmetics and accessories.

If you look in our home, you are sure to find at least five catalogs at any given time – The Harbour Frieght tool catalog, The Parks Seed catalog, The Brownells Gunsmithing Catalog, The Kovel knifemaking supply catalog and a Victoria Secret Catalog. My wife orders from them at least every couple of months. I guess I am a perv too since I like what she wears and I am a fan of Victoria Secret.

Montana Cowgirl needs to get a life and the credibility of Left In The West has taken a serious turn for the worse. Mr. Tutvedt gets a hat tip from me for his fine taste in women’s clothing suppliers and if he can bring that discerning taste to the Montana Senate, all the better.

Moorcat

06.02.10

Nuclear Power Debate

Posted in State and Federal Politics at 1:57 am by Moorcat

Over a Electric City Weblog, Travis put up a post about Britain raising Carbon Taxes to provide an incentive for Nuclear Power Development. This post once again spurred a bunch of comments about Nuclear Power in the US. Given my background in Nuclear Power, I thought I would present a some of my thoughts on the subject and I decided to do it here – on my own dime.

My son, who currently serves on a Naval Nuclear Submarine, was once asked to explain how a nuclear reactor works to a new shipmate and he gave probably the best low level explanation of a nuclear reactor I have ever heard …

Hot Rock make pressurized water hot. Pressurized hot water make other water steam. Steam turns turbine roundy roundy.

It really is that simple. Nuclear material is allowed to fission at a controlled rate, making pressurized water hot. This pressurized hot water is then used to make unpressurized water steam. The steam is used to turn a turbine. There is a lot of physics involved as well as a lot of other disciplines, but it really can be simplified to that simple statement.

Where it gets complicated is when money and political influence is involved. The Civilian Nuclear Industry doesn’t work – and it doesn’t work, but it is designed to make a small handful of people rich and politicians get re-elected instead of the mission which should be to provide cheap, clean power.

In 1954, the first Naval Nuclear Powered Submarine was launched and since then, the US Navy has logged over 5,400 “reactor years” of accident free operation – that is more than all the civilian reactor in the world combined. This can be solely attributed to a single individual -Admiral Hymie Rickover.

Admiral Rickover was able to establish a seperate regulatory body (Naval Reactors) seperate from the politically volatile Nuclear Regulatory Commision. By doing so, he was able to institute policies, regulations and a training program that resulted in a nuclear operation force so efficent that it has the record it has. Safety design requirements are not bypassed, training and development is always mission based and the results speak for themselves.

Unfortunately, the Civilian Nuclear industry can’t make the claims that the Naval Nuclear Industry does. They are fraught with accidents ranging from safety violations causing accidents to things as simple as operators not believing thier readings – leading to the worst nuclear accident in American Civilian Nuclear Power history. The accidents that have occurred in the civilian world simply cannot occur in the Naval Nuclear world – by design, by construction and by training.

So what can we do to make Nuclear Power Viable as an alternative to Fossil Fuels? –

The answer to that is very simple but unlikely to happen. In short, the Government has to take over the Nuclear Power Program and run it like the Navy. Remove the political and financial vagarities of the current system by operating it like the current naval program. Disband the Nuclear Regulatory Commision (or rework it) by adopting the same structure and job as Naval Reactors. You can even go so far as to make Nuclear Power Generation a branch of the Service (like the Coast Guard), providing for National Security by providing power that is “home grown” rather than bought from oil producing countries.

The reason this is unlikely to happen is that there is too much money in maintaing the status quo (reliance on Big Energy Companies) and there is too much political capital involved with Big Energy. This kind of bold, public sector move would also raise the ire of every hardcore wingnut. The screams of “Socialism” would dwarf the screams that followed the passage of the HCR bill. Further, the Environmental Wingnuts would also come out of the closet with all their tales of “China Syndrom” and “Chernobyl”.

Sadly, the means, technology and materials exist for the US to produce 90% of it’s electrical needs by means of nuclear power well into the next century. Further, it would give incentives and time for us to work on reliable, safer and cheaper forms of energy without the side effects of burning fossil fuels. If the damn environmentalists would actually learn something about nuclear power, they would see that nuclear power is thier ticket to killing the dependance on fossil fuels – but that would require them to actually stop screaming long enough to actually crack a book (or do a websearch).

What are the downsides to using Nuclear Power?

No method of energy production is perfect and nuclear power is not exception. The byproduct of fission is some rather nasty and long lived isotopes that are highly dangerous. To date, we don’t have an effective way to nuetralizing those isotopes so the only option is to store/bury them where they won’t do any harm. While some rather unique methods have been discussed on how to get rid of them, it still remains the largest downside to using nuclear power.

I will briefly touch of on TMI/Chernobyl to say that, if nuclear power generation is run on a Naval model, neither of these accident could occur. It is as simple as that. A power plant can be designed and run is such a way that a nuclear accident (especially a big one like Chernobyl or TMI) can not only be prevented, it can be an effectively designed impossibility. Without going into the details of exactly what happened at TMI (many of which are still classified), that accident simply can’t happen on a properly designed, maintained and operated reactor.

Everytime nuclear power is brought up, some wingnut brings up a scenario of a terrorist attack on a nuclear facility. My answer is simple.. Have you ever been to the Naval Nuclear Prototype site in Idaho? I have. Those guys guarding that facility are Marines and they don’t have a sense of humor when it comes to security. I would stake my bets on the Marines anyday.

Unfortunately, the largest single factor in the way of developing a workable nuclear program is the financial and political machine in place to prevent it. It would take a complete reworking of how we operate our energy production in the US and that simply isn’t going to happen. As long as profit is king and political influence can be bought, a public nuclear program simply won’t happen.

What are the upsides? –

First and foremost – jobs.. lots and lots of jobs. Besides the operators that this kind of endevour would require, you need machinists, welders, chemists, metalergists, physists, electricians, construction workers, hydrologists.. the list goes on. Further, these would all be higher paying jobs (even if they were for the government). The beauty of the system is that it would pay for itself. You sell the power, just like we are now, and the money collected pays for the construction and operation of the plants.

Second, and just as important, a release on our dependancy on foriegn (and domestic) fossil fuels. Nuclear Power Generation is cheap, effective, efficient and materials exist right here at home.

Could this work? Certainly. The Navy has proven it can work and continues to prove it everyday. The only thing stopping us from developing a program like this is the will to do so.

 Moorcat

05.06.10

New Tax laws buried in Health Care bill come to light

Posted in State and Federal Politics, Uncategorized at 2:46 pm by Moorcat

There are two basic principles that I believe alway apply to legislation coming out of Washington today. The first is the “Law of Unintended Consequences” and the second is that any legislation from Wasthington will include changes to create more government jobs and further complicate tax law.

Already, there have been a number of issues with the massive Health Care Reform bill to come to light. Another one hit CNN today – a small change to the way businesses report taxes that will create mountains of new paperwork for business.

In short, the new HCR bill requires that businesses use the 1099 form to document ANY purchase made by the company in excess of $600. Until this change, the 1099 form was used to document contract work done by individuals outside the company. Now, a company has to document purchases as well. Buy a computer from Cosco? Send them a 1099 form so you can include it in your tax paperwork. Take some business clients to lunch a couple of times, send the resteraunt a 1099 form so you can include it in your tax paperwork.

This constitutes a massive change in how the 1099 form is to be used by business. It also complicates the tax paperwork burden of small businesses that do not have large accounting departments. The Cato institute calls it a “costly, anti business nightmare”.

While the change is aimed at tightening up loopholes in tax reporting in effort to generate more revenue to pay for this massive HCR bill, the impact to businesses – both large and small – has yet to be determined. At the very least, it will require literally millions of new 1099 forms to be sent out and included business tax paperwork, further complicating the tax reporting burden of business.

This law is set to take effect in 2012 and there has already been an amendment proposed to the HCR removing this change. The IRS has yet to issue it’s regulations on this new legal requirement either so it is difficult to determine how this new requirement will be implimented.

The only concrete outcome of this new regulation is that it will require more government employees to go through this mountain of paperwork to make sure businesses are complying with whatever regulations the IRS set to meet the law. Once again, Government shows that is it a jobs program for governmental employees.

Moorcat

President calls for Congress to address Immigration Reform

Posted in State and Federal Politics at 1:07 pm by Moorcat

One of the hot topics in the wake of the passage of the Health Care Bill has been how to address illegal Immigration in the US. This topic was kind of put on the back burner for a while while Congress Critters fought over whether to address Finance Reform or some other issue, but Arizona decided to light a fire that only Congress can answer.

Arizona passed a very controversial and sweeping law to address the illegal immigration issue in thier state. As it was originally written, it required law enforcement officers to ask for documentation when there was reasonable suspicion that the person was an illegal. Since “reasonable suspicion” could mean a lot of things when talking about deciding whether a person was an illegal, it was feared by many people that this law would lead to racial profiling and be a violation of a person constitutional rights.

Arizona has since modified the law to only require a law enforcement officer to ask for documentation when the person is being questioned in relation to something else – a traffic stop, another possible violation of the law, or even a noise complaint in violation of a city or local ordinance.

Protest for this law has been wide and varied across the US. A couple of city mayors have put a “ban” on visiting Arizona for thier employees, many groups are calling for boycott of the state and even the Arizona Pro Basketball team is wearing jerseys with the team name in Spanish to show support for the state’s latino population in protest to the new law.

Those that support the new law are almost universal in thier criticism of the lack of movement on this issue at the Federal Level. Arizona has seen a lot of violence at the border in recent months and many in Arizona are angry at what they perceive to be an “epic” problem with illegals in thier state. Many have expressed a deep contempt that the current (and previous) Administration and Congresses haven’t already addressed the issue.

With midterm elections coming up this year, a number of Congress Critters have expressed a reluctance to address the issue of Illegal immigration. President Obama made the statement that he felt there wasn’t the “will” to address the issue in light of the elections and the contentions over the Health Care Bill.

At a celebration being held at the White House today, President Obama called upon Congress “to work on comprehensive immigration reform this year”. The question will be whether Congress will rise to the task.

It is no surprise that Illegal immigration and immigration reform are scary issues for Congress. The majority of American Voters see the Illegal immigration as an important issue (at least in every poll taken over the last six years) but they are divided in what they think should be done about it. Further, in the wake of the massive Health Care Reform Bill passed earlier this year, Congress has to step very lightly in passing anything that will cost the American Taxpayers any more money. If there is an issue even more universally consistant right now than the desire for immigration reform, it would be that Americans are concerned that the Federal Government is spending too much money.

Many lawmakers see immigration reform as a “no win” situation. If they work for stronger penalties for illegal caught in the country (mass deportation being the strongest), they piss off the minority communities and given that the latin vote is the single fastest growing voting block in the US, many are not willing to take that route. On the other hand, if they vote to give illegals a route to citizenship (amnesty), they end up pissing off the many conservatives that believe that all illegals should be deported.

About the only things the majority seems to agree on is that the borders into the US have to be secured before anything can be done about the illegal already in the country. Unfortunately, that will not be cheap or easy to do.

Moorcat

05.05.10

Senator Tester to give Commencement Address

Posted in State and Federal Politics at 5:52 pm by Moorcat

Montana’s Junior Senator, Jon Tester, is scheduled to appear at the University of Montana – Western in Dillon to give the Commencement address for the 209 students graduating on Saturday, May 8th. While no details of the address are available yet, I doubt Sen Tester will remain in Dillon long after the rather cold and hostile “welcome” he recieved last time he visited Dillon to discuss his proposed Forestry Plan. If plans change, and I find out about some kind of public meet and greet, I will post it here.

Moorcat

08.06.08

Why I hate election years…

Posted in State and Federal Politics at 11:37 pm by Moorcat

I don’t spend as much time now reading the blogs as I used to (and certainly not as much I probably should) but there are some blogs I read everyday. The five blogs I list in my “blogroll” are blogs I read everyday – until an election year. I hate reading the blogs in an election year. My reasons are pretty simple –

1) Blind Partisanship –

Nothing disgusts me more than the tendancy of certain people – usually rational and logical – to throw out all pretense at “informed decision making” during an election year. It seems more and more, that the letter following a candidate’s name (D or R) is more important than anything – including values, truth, or even common sense. More over, it seems that these people are so invested in their partisanship that they immediately attack ANYONE – even someone that believes in the same value system they do – if any disparaging remark is made about THEIR candidate. The amount of blind – dare I say, hatred – astounds and confuses me. Maybe I am a dinosaur, but I still believe that a candidate should stand for something more than just a stuffed suit. These people are running for a position where they will represent ME – and that is damn important. I want to see more than just that they are a member of a political party. I want to see what these people actually stand for and what they have actually done.

2) Attack and Damage Control –

It used to be you would see ads for Candidates where they discussed their accomplishments and the platforms they stood on. Now what you get are “Hit Ads”. Each side of the political spectrum engages in this behavior and it doesn’t matter which side started it or who is better at it. If both sides engage in this behavior, they are BOTH wrong. I don’t want to see what dirt you dig up on your opponent. I want to see what the candidates, themselves, stand for.

The other side of the coin is just as true anymore. Candidates spend more time doing “damage control” – explaining the dirt the other side dug up, minimizing past mistakes, outright lying about their previous stances and changing positions on the issues more often than they change their underwear – than they do taking a stand on the basic issues facing the American Public. We live in the age of “political stunts” and “bad politics” to the point where we accept and expect those behaviors. This is insanity, plain and simple. I could give you a dozen examples – from both sides of the aisle – but I don’t have to because any reasoning and semi-intelligent person is already aware of them.

The system itself is designed for failure –

For all the promises made by all these candidates, how many of the issues are actually addressed? The Republicans like to point to the Democrats currently and say “now you all control Congress.. how come nothing has changed?”. The sad fact, though, is that the Democrats DON’T control Congress. There aren’t enough Democrats to override a minority push to kill or slow an action and there certainly aren’t enough to overcome a presidential veto. If action isn’t being accomplished, it is because BOTH sides of the aisle have failed, and that is a failure for the American People, not the stuffed suits sitting in Congress. The only way things are ever going to get accomplished (right or wrong) is if either the stuffed suits learn to get along (not bloody likely…) or one side gets enough control to ACTUALLY control Congress.

My stand –

I am a conservative. I believe in smaller government, accountability for our representatives and fiscal responsibility. That used to be the mantra of the Republican Party but not so much anymore. Instead, you hear them crow about how much Pork they can bring back and how the Government can solve all the woes of the world – either through “police actions” like what is going on in Iraq or through Government handouts to the filthy rich like Exxon. Where is the fiscal conservatism of 30 years ago? Where is the action to curb government spending and growth? It has gone into the same hopper as every other value held by the Republicans I worked with in the early 80’s.

Anymore, it almost appears that the Democrats are running on a platform traditionally held by the Republicans. “I have seen the enemy, and it be us” (yes, I know that is a misquote..). How did this happen? When did this happen, and why didn’t we do anything about it? One of the statements I have seen on a couple of blogs recently that I actually agree with is that there isn’t all that much difference between the parties anymore. Neither one seems accountable to their constituancy and nothing seems to change regardless of what party is “in control”.

So the next time you want to showcase a new “hit ad” on your political website, stop for second and think about if that ad really portrays the values you hold. If you are just posting it because it comes from your party, you are part of the problem, not the solution.

Moorcat

05.19.08

Obama, Clinton or McCain

Posted in State and Federal Politics at 10:06 pm by Moorcat

I have been asked on multiple occasions, by both readers and people who are aware that I politically blog, who I am supporting in the upcoming presidential elections. This is a lame attempt to answer that question…

The short answer is that I will probably pull the lever for Obama – but it is quite possible that it won’t be in the primary next month.

You see, I have issues with all the candidates. There isn’t a single candidate running for office that really gets my motor running. That is not to say that I don’t like some of what the candidates have to say… just that no single candidate embodies even a majority of what I would like to see in a President. Let’s examine our choices –

John McCain –

This one is a definite ‘no’. There is no way I would ever back a candidate as wishy-washy as this one. Besides the fact that the man seems to have no platform he can stick to, he advocates many of the same illegal policies as the current Chump in Chief. The Republican Party once again abandoned those of us that want a return to Conservative Values by electing this moron as their primary candidate. They deserve the loss they are going to suffer in November – not only in the White House, but in Congress as well. Maybe this will be a wakeup call to them – but I doubt it. As long as idiots like Rush Limberger set the tone for Republican speech, we are going to continue to be inundated with Candidates like McCan’t.

The kicker for my active dislike for McCan’t is his idiotic support for the financial blackhole in Iraq. If it were up to him, he would continue that debacle indefinitely. Ignoring the body count (something that as a former military person I have a real hard time doing…), the financial cost to this country is being felt even now and will be felt even more as the bottom line for this war gets higher. It has already impacted education, benefits for our elderly, and even critical financial expenditures such as infrastructure, homeland defense and emergency services. While I am not a big fan of “Big Government”, there are places that government spending is essential given the size and scope of our society. Those essential needs are not being met. McCan’t won’t solve that problem – in fact, he will make it worse.

Hillary Clinton –

Of all the Candidates running, she wants this office the most. You can tell by how much she is willing to break the rules to get it. She has been called “one of the smartest people in Government” and it might actually be true, but brains without honesty, honor or morals is NOT a good combination. I was pre-disposed not to endorce her campaign due to her “Bigger Government” policies but when her campaign threw the rulebook out the window, she lost me completely. Even if she gets the nod in the primary (something I see as less and less likely every day), I would have a hard time pulling the handle for her. Given a choice between her and McCan’t, I will probably vote for Micky Mouse.

Barack Obama –

Of the three candidates running, he seems to be more in line with what I want to see in a President. As a Democrat, he often supports a “bigger government” agenda but, at least in the debates and interviews I have seen, he does so in a far more rational manner than either Clinton or McCan’t. His stance on gun control is still somewhat of a mystery (the available information is contradictory and therefore unreliable) but his stance on providing essential services domestically is what I want to see.

My concern with Obama stems from his lack of foreign policy experience and short time spent in Federal Government. He is the relative newcomer to the Political scene and that raises some legitimate questions. It also means that he is less likely to have already become an “insider” – doing business the same old (wrong) way. He seems to have the ability to think “outside the box” and, to me, that is a definite plus.

Anyone who discounts his ability to speak intelligently and movingly to crowds is an idiot. Few candidates have had his charisma or ability to energize a group since Kennedy. McCan’t has disregarded it and paid sorely for it. Clinton disregarded it and she is likely to lose the Democratic Primary because of it.

Now my support for Obama would be cemented if he chose Richardson as his running mate. Say what you want about Richardson, but I am going to quote another Blogger here – “Richardson has more Foreign Policy Experience than all the other candidates put together”. Further, Richardson is not only familiar with Western Values, he actively works to protect them.

Given a choice between Obama and McCan’t, there is no contest. For better or worse, I will vote for Obama because voting for McCan’t is simply too distasteful for me.

The Primary –

This year, I will probably vote in the Republican Primary. My reasons are simple – the races that are important here in Beaverhead County (for the primary) are between Republican Candidates. While I will post more on those primaries later, I want the ability to vote on these primary races as I feel they are important. You must remember that Beaverhead County is predominantly Republican and most of the primary contended races are Republican. This does not negate my support for certain Democratic Candidates – like Monica Lindeen – but I can only choose to vote in one primary. This time around, it will probably be the Republican Primary.

Hopefully, this answers the many questions I have received about who I “support” for the Presidential Race.

05.04.08

The Politics of Gun Control

Posted in Gun Related, State and Federal Politics at 6:22 pm by Moorcat

It is looking more and more like my previous hosting service is NOT going to give me access to remove my backup of pragmatic_revolt so I will probably end up having to rebuild it from the archived files I have on my machine. Since that will take a while, I have decided to jump right in with a few posts milling around in my brain….

Wulfgar has a great post up on his blog about the Montana Republicans using the Gun Control issue to scare voters in an attempt to garner financial and public support for thier candiates. His point is important and he makes it well.

That said, I have a small problem with posts like this – it tends to paint those of us who do care about gun issues in a specific way that frankly, isn’t very accurate. As with most things, gun control is not a “black and white” issue, and catagorizing those of us who do care about gun issues as delusional or out of touch isn’t very accurate.

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