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Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Fed up with the Feds

image from

image from

“Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they’re having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what’s needed.” — Daniel Schrag, White House Climate Adviser

(In case you’re unfamiliar with Daniel Schrag, he is Sturgis Hooper Professor of Geology, Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering, Director of the University Center for the Environment, and Director of the Laboratory for Geochemical Oceanography at Harvard University. Educated at UC Berkeley and Yale.)

No sir, you Ivy League Educated Utopian Egghead, what’s needed is for you to appreciate that there are hard working Americans whose entire lives and communities are dependent upon the coal industry.

What you need to understand is that while the federal government seeks to crush energy production methods you deem unclean with unattainable environmental standards no other country in the world even comes close to, what you’re really doing is declaring a war on jobs.

Coal mine in China (from

Coal mine in China (from

You’re declaring war on the ability for hard working men to provide for their families the only way they know how; the way their daddies and their granddaddies did. And while you may disdain their lack of education or that they would actually choose to work in a coal mine rather than sit in an office all day, who the hell are you to decide how another human being chooses to live their life?

“There are a lot of generations that live in these communities, where your mom and your dad live here, your grandparents live here, your aunts and uncles, and all of them may be in a different form of the coal mining business, but when it goes, the community is gone, because people are going to have to leave to find work.

We’re begging for the right to work. That’s all we’re asking for. We’re not asking for any favors, we’re not asking for any handouts, we’re not asking for any concessions. All we’re asking for is the opportunity to work, pay taxes, provide electricity and provide for our families.” –Rocky Hackworth, Tyler Morgan Mine General Manager

It’s been several years since I’ve worked in the energy industry, but in the decade and change I worked for both major and independent oil and gas producers, never once did any VP, manager, engineer, geologist, foreman or field hand ever suggest that corners be cut when it came to environmental compliance and safety. I’m not saying it never happens, but it was my experience that every person I worked with complied with and oftentimes exceeded all state and federal laws and regulations and made damn sure everyone working there followed suit.

But that was a different time.

That was a time when the regulators were sometimes unreasonable (like the time the woman from Fisheries and Wildlife took a picture immediately following the detonation of explosives set to blast the legs off an offshore platform then instructed my boss to count the number of redfish said explosion killed–literally thousands of fish), but mostly they worked with the industry. Their job was to make sure we were exploring for, drilling and producing oil and gas in a manner responsible and respectful to the environment and property owners.

Not like today, where it seems the job of Federal regulators is to destroy the reputations and profits of the evil oil, gas and coal executives.

And if hundreds of thousands of men and women lose their jobs and their abilities to provide for their families, too bad for them.

They should have gone to work for a green energy company.

Or better yet, get a job with the federal government.

While you may think it noble to move towards your Utopian paradise, you may want to wait until you discover a green energy that’s actually viable, because wind and solar aren’t even close, no matter how many taxpayer subsidized billions you pour into them.

In the meantime, you might want to get a job outside the fantasy worlds of Washington and academia and see what the real world is all about.

United in Outrage

From left to right: IRS IG Russell George, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations

From left to right: IRS IG Russell George, former IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, and Lois Lerner, Director of Exempt Organizations

Tragedies often unite us. Our hearts break for the people of Oklahoma, and many of us have already donated to charities such as The Red Cross or The Salvation Army in an attempt to help those who are suffering. Compassion for others and unity in suffering are part of why I still believe America is a great country. The greatest country.

Contrast this unity to the political divide that has become a seemingly unbridgeable chasm over the past several years. Pundits both left and right use every possible news story to bash their opponents and support their own agenda. Outrage has divided us, but could outrage unite us? It seems that may be the case.

On Monday, May 23, 2013 Lois Lerner appeared before a House Oversight Committee investigating the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative political groups and made the following statement before invoking her Fifth Amendment rights:

“I have not done anything wrong. I have not broken any laws. I have not violated any IRS rules or regulations. And I have not provided false information to this or any other congressional committee.”

I have watched these hearings in disgust. Not only because IRS officials Steven Miller and Douglas Shulman seem to have fallen victims to a sudden case of selective amnesia, but because of their unbridled arrogance and disrespect as they appeared before congress. These people who have the power to ruin your life if they so choose have to audacity to believe they are above the law. Untouchable.  And while it seems the IRS exclusively targeted people with conservative views, outrage comes from both sides of the aisle. Liberals and conservatives can finally unite against a common enemy: the Internal Revenue Service.

Jon Stewart is hardly known for his conservative leaning political views, but I thought he sums up our collective outrage very well here:


Politics, religion and laundry


“Do you think welfare is a Christian concept?”

This question comes from my 15-year old son, who often continues conversations with others that begin in his head, an idiosyncrasy he comes by honest. I do it all the time, just ask my husband, whose most common response to my insightful observational commentary is, “What are you talking about?, or more commonly, a look of total confusion. Oh wait, you can’t. He’s not on the interwebs.

But I digress…

Me: Welfare as in government subsidies to help the poor or as in general well being?

Son: Government welfare. I mean, as Christians, we’re supposed to give to the poor, right?

Me: Well, yes. The bible says we are to take care of widows and orphans; to help those in need. But that’s not the same thing. We should choose to do these things of our own free will. We’re not giving to the poor when we pay taxes. We’re giving to the government. We have no say in how much is then given to the poor. That’s the function of bureaucrats–to decide how our money is to be allocated. So I suppose the answer to your question is no. Welfare is not a Christian concept, but charity is.

Son: Do you believe in welfare?

Me: Yes. I believe there are people who are truly in need, but I also believe that giving people money often incentivizes them not to try and earn it for themselves or worse, creates a mindset that they are entitled it. For most, I think it should be a temporary remedy. Oftentimes it becomes a cycle of dependence.

Son: You mean like for lazy people?

Me: Lazy people, people who seek to beat the system. But honestly? I think there are just a whole lot of people who have given up hope of ever making it out of poverty. It’s easier just to allow someone else to take care of them. Which is sad because it robs them of their own power and limits their personal freedom.

Son: Huh?

Me: Do you remember last week when I did all of your laundry?

Son: Yeah. Thanks. That was great.

Me: What would have happened if I hadn’t done that? What would happen if I never did your laundry?

Son: I’d probably still have a big pile of dirty clothes. Well, no. That’s not true. I would have done my own laundry like I usually do.

Me: And is that such a bad thing?

Son: I’d prefer you do my laundry, but I can do it myself. Besides, when you do it, you wash my stuff with everyone else’s. Sometimes my favorite jeans don’t get washed because you don’t have a full load, and my Nike Combat workout stuff is the same way. You only wash my workout stuff when there’s a full load, so I end up wearing workout stuff I don’t really like because my Nike stuff is dirty.

Me: How is that any different than when you do it yourself?

Son: When I do my own laundry, I wash the stuff I want to wear first. That way, if I don’t finish it all, at least I have the stuff I need.

Me: But you’re supposed to wash jeans separately from your workout stuff, and the whites need to be bleached, so you can’t just throw those in with your other stuff.

Son: Mom, those are your rules, not mine. I’m a guy. I don’t really care if my socks are bleached or not. As long as I get the stink out, that’s clean enough for me.

Me: So, if you do your own laundry, you decide how and when to wash it, right? Your clothes are not subject to your mom’s laundry rules–rules that you care nothing about. Right?

Son: Yes. Besides, I don’t need you to do my laundry. I can do it myself. But I appreciate you doing it that last time. I had a whole lot of dirty clothes piled up after a week in Orlando, plus I had make-up work to do from school. I was pretty overwhelmed.

Me: You’re old enough to do most things for yourself and that’s a good thing. With responsibility comes freedom and vice versa. But sometimes life presents us with circumstances which prevent us from doing for ourselves. That’s why I did your laundry last week. I was your safety net when you needed some extra help. But don’t expect me to do your laundry all the time.

Son: Of course not!

Me: So, I’ll ask you the same question you asked me: Do you believe in welfare?

Son: Yes. But only if you truly need it. It should be the last resort, not the first.

Me: Well, there you go.



Dried up paint and the GSA

My son does not have hobbies. When something sparks his interest, it becomes an all-consuming passion. For proof of this, you need only look in our attic: Several Rubbermaid containers housing Thomas the Train Engine and all his friends along with bridges, wooden train track and other accessories.

Then there was his Yu-Gi-Oh phase. At first simply collecting cards and watching horribly predictable anime on TV was enough, but soon he was spending his Saturdays at Yu-Gi-Oh tournaments.

Then came Warhammer: a tabletop wargame where two or more players compete against each other with “armies” of 25 mm – 250 mm tall heroic miniatures. The remnants of this last hobby have yet to make it to the attic. They’re in that in-between place also known as the closet.

His propensity towards enthusiastic immersion in interests isn’t necessarily a bad thing. His drive to be the best he can be at whatever interests him has helped him become good at both football and French horn.

But with football season over and the school year winding down, my son has found a new passion: Paintball.

If you or someone you know has ever played paintball, you know that it is not a cheap hobby. It’s expensive enough if all you ever do is play with the rental equipment provided by the paintball place, and it only took a month of Saturdays for my son to come to two realizations: 1) He wanted to become a professional paintball player, and 2) He would never achieve this goal using rented equipment.

His allowance covers the cost of his weekend paintball games, but soon he began asking for extra chores around the house to earn money for paint pellets, a mask, protective jersey and pants. Oh, and a gun. But that’s a whole other story…

The first chore I relinquished to him was a no brainer. With the exception of two 9 month periods over the past 15 years, the job of changing out the cat litter box has been exclusively mine, and frankly, I don’t know why I didn’t give him this job sooner. But as disgusting as it is, it wasn’t going to earn him the kind of disposable income he was seeking. He needed a big job, and after thinking it over for a couple of days (which may or may not have included his constant nagging), I finally came up with one.

Some of you may know that in my non-virtual life I’m sometimes a painter–walls, canvases, etc. If paint will stick to it, chances are I’ve painted it. Over the years, I’ve managed to amass quite a collection of acrylic paint–you know the kind–the little 2 to 4 ounce bottles they sell in the craft store? Yeah, well I have about 500 to 600 of those, many of them either nearly empty or dried out. And since I’ll soon be painting a couple of murals, I’ve needed to assess what I have, and who better to go through 500 to 600 bottles of paint than my darling son? Better him than me, huh?

He was eager to get started and even more eager to get it over with and get his $20. My instructions were clear. He was to check each bottle, first by shaking it. If he couldn’t hear and feel paint sloshing around inside, he was to open the bottle and check to see if the paint was dried out. Good paint was to be returned to the color coded 2 gallon ziplock baggie from whence they came. The duds went into a large garbage sack.

This system worked fine for the first 50 or 60 bottles of paint. But then he decided that if he didn’t hear the paint sloshing around, he wouldn’t bother checking to see if there was paint inside. He simply assumed the paint was dried out. This resulted in a whole lot of full bottles of paint which had never been used being tossed in the garbage. It also resulted in him having to start over again and some mild grumbling. The job was eventually completed, but this time under my watchful eye.

I hope that this was one of those teachable moments for my son. I know it was one for me. Because you see, even though my son cares for me, he cares absolutely nothing about painting. To him, those bottles of paint were just things to be sorted or discarded. He couldn’t understand, as my daughter would, being a fledgling artist herself, that those bottles of color represented the elements of a sunset or an ocean teaming with life, a poppy flower or a puppy dog. How could he know that? And why should he care? Painting is my passion, not his.

There’s no attachment to something you take no ownership in.

Which is why I’m not particularly surprised to hear of the recent scandals surrounding the General Services Administration or GSA. To be honest, I’ve never paid much attention to who they are or what they do, or rather what they’re supposed to do. According to Wikipedia:

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government, established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. The GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies, and other management tasks.

It’s bad enough that an agency created in-part to develop cost minimizing policies for the government is so brazenly wasting taxpayer money, but to mock us all in the process? It makes my blood boil.

But why should they care? It’s not their money, right? They didn’t earn it. They’re not personally invested in its management. They were simply put in charge of spending it.

What could possibly go wrong with that scenario?

In defense of a fellow Texan

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This is not a political blog nor will it ever become one. Politics make me stabby. Nor will I publicly endorse a candidate for president. Actually, I’m still undecided at the moment.

Rick Perry has been the governor of Texas for the past 10 years. He’s made some mistakes, but I think overall he’s been good for the Lone Star state. This doesn’t necessarily merit my endorsement for president, but I do think the rush to demonize him for calling Social Security a Ponzi Scheme is a bit unfair.

The Social Security Act was drafted during Roosevelt’s first term by the President’s Committee on Economic Security, under Frances Perkins, and passed by Congress as part of the New Deal. The act was an attempt to limit what were seen as dangers in the modern American life, including old age, poverty, unemployment, and the burdens of widows and fatherless children. By signing this act on August 14, 1935, President Roosevelt became the first president to advocate federal assistance for the elderly.

The Act is formally cited as the Social Security Act, ch. 531, 49 Stat. 620, now codified as 42 U.S.C. ch.7. The Act provided benefits to retirees and the unemployed, and a lump-sum benefit at death. Payments to current retirees are financed by a payroll tax on current workers’ wages, half directly as a payroll tax and half paid by the employer. The act also gave money to states to provide assistance to aged individuals (Title I), for unemployment insurance (Title III), Aid to Families with Dependent Children (Title IV), Maternal and Child Welfare (Title V), public health services (Title VI), and the blind (Title X).[12] (Source: Wikipedia).

When the act was first adopted in 1935, the ratio of workers to retirees was 40 to 1. Currently that ratio os 3 to 1 and is predicted to soon diminish to 2 to 1. I know millions of Americans depend on Social Security and to threaten to do away with it seems equivalent to taking away their ability to support themselves. However, we need to acknowledge that the system is broken and unsustainable. But is it a Ponzi scheme?

According to the U. S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the definition of a Ponzi scheme is as follows:

“A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk.”

I ask you, dear reader, which part of the Social Security system IS NOT a Ponzi scheme? Except maybe the fact that most people don’t have a choice to opt out of it to begin with? I don’t dispute that the Social Security Act of 1935 was created with good intentions, but we all know what the Road to Hell is paved with, don’t we?

In defense of a fellow Texas, we Texans sometimes have an annoying habit of saying what we think without much sugar-coating. Rick Perry might not be right about everything, but in my opinion he’s right about calling Social Security a Ponzi scheme. Because in its current state, that’s exactly what it is.

This post was inspired by a news story featuring comedian Steven Crowder, who actually called the SEC to report his Social Security deductions as a Ponzi scheme.

You can find the entire video here.

Pardon me while I rant incessantly: Chris Matthews

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Did you see this?

Let’s put aside for a moment that MSNBC dares to call itself a news station when they chose five liberals to cover a historic national election. Nevermind that they acted like a group of giggly school children instead of a seasoned, respected group of unbiased folks who are supposed to report the news. One could make the argument that Fox News Channel is dominated by conservative views and CNN is dominated by their liberal counterparts. But in defense of both networks, they had representatives from both the democratic and republican points of view. They differentiated between opinion and fact. Which is exactly what they should do.

I suppose NBC decided they had nothing to lose, since Comcast has bought the network and is fixing to clean house, but as annoying as all of this is to me, what really bothers me is the blatent disrespect Matthews has for anyone who doesn’t share his political views.

Regardless of his personal feelings for Congresswoman Bachmann, she is a seated member of the Congress of the United States of America. Furthermore, she is a human being. Whatever happened to good manners? Respect for the office? I don’t always agree with the decisions or even the rhetoric of elected officials on either side of the aisle, but that doesn’t give me permission to attempt to publicly humiliate those I don’t agree with. You can’t knowingly set out to steal someone else’s dignity without losing some of your own.

As to his denial of the “tingly leg” comment — He never said that, huh?

Okay, thrill…not tingle. I stand corrected. Yes, Mr. Matthews. You are completely objective.

I long for the days when rude behavior was frowned upon rather than celebrated…

“I hate rude behavior in a man. I won’t tolerate it.”
~ Gus McCrae, Lonesome Dove

A Civics Lesson

I’m sure many of you must wonder, “How did katdish get so darned smart?” Okay, so maybe not, but cut me some slack, I’m trying to introduce a blog post, here. I don’t know what kind of learner I am, but I know that if you put something in the form of a catchy song, I’m very likely to remember it. I owe much to Schoolhouse Rock, including acing my 12th grade government exam where we had to write out the preamble to the Constitution. Does anyone remember that one? Very catchy indeed.

So anyway, I make a concerted effort not to discuss politics on this blog. I have already broken one of two of the rules about never discussing religion and politics. But this stimulus package is really astounding me. How can you spend your way out of debt? Why do I have to be fiscally responsible, but Washington wants to act like Amelda Marcos on a shoe shopping spree? Here’s my basic understanding of how a bill becomes a law:

Well, comparatively speaking, judging by the size of that little bill sitting on the steps on the capitol building, I imagine the president’s stimulus bill would equate to something like this:

Or maybe that’s just representative of the collective egos of our elected officials. (Sorry about the s-bomb in there, btw.)