Cynical Synapse

Sat, 25 Dec 2010

Christmas Remembrances 2010

Filed under: Civil liberties, Global War on Terror, Heroes, holidays, Military — cynicalsynapse @ 11:36 am

Merry Christmas to all and may you enjoy every blessing.

Please remember our military personnel who have and are serving in harm’s way, and their families as well. Their selfless service is why we all are free to celebrate (on not) Christmas and the holidays according to the religious traditions of our choice. These freedoms are not free so I offer a Christmas blessing for the fallen warriors.

HT: Dewey From Detroit and theblogprof.

Fri, 24 Dec 2010

Driving With Hood Up Part 2

Filed under: Behavior, Driving, Duh, Humor, Safety, Stupid car tricks — cynicalsynapse @ 8:57 am

A year and a half ago, I saw a guy driving down the freeway with his hood laying against the windshield. I wondered how that happened. Now I may have the answer. Driving with the hood up at highway speeds, it’s likely the air pressure will force the hood beyond its normal stopping point.

In a scratch-your-head moment, apparently this is more common than anyone would imagine.

Tue, 21 Dec 2010

Michigan Loses Population and Congressional Seat

Filed under: Congress, Economy, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 8:31 pm

Detroit exodus

Census data released today showed Michigan was the only state to lose population. Forty-nine states maintained or grew their population. Even worse, this decline marks Michigan’s first population decline in 100 years.

Population loss is directly attributable to local economic conditions. Whether pro Granholm or not, despite the economic cards she was dealt, it is significant this is the first population loss in a century. So, Michigan really is blown away.

Sun, 19 Dec 2010

Business as Usual—Earmarks in the Omnibus Spending Bill

Filed under: Budget, Government, Michigan, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 7:49 pm

Earmarks in the Omnibus Spending Bill

The Omnibus spending bill includes $130.6 billion in earmarks. So, what happened to Pres. Obama’s pledge to end earmarks? And what about Republicans’ vote against earmarks?

Michigan’s Congressional delegation requested $6 billion in earmarks! Who are the culprits? Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabinaw account for half, with $2.4 and $1.3 billion respectively. Both are Democrats, obviously paying no head to their President’s call for no earmarks.

Status Quo ticket

On top of that, Michigan’s Democratic Congressmen requested $2.24 billion in earmarks while Republicans requested a mere $58 million. This includes $1.4 billion requested by Bart Stupak (D-1) and Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatric (D-13) who are lame ducks, having lost their seats to others. So much for our elected representatives doing what’s right.

HT: Motor City Times

Sat, 18 Dec 2010

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell Is History

Filed under: Congress, Government, Legal, Military, Politics — cynicalsynapse @ 9:22 pm

Gays asking to serve openly

So, the Senate passed legislation to end Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell today. The House passed the measure on Wednesday and Pres. Obama promised to sign it into law next week. The measure ends a prohibition on gays serving openly in the military.

Don’t ask, don’t tell prohibited asking if a servicemember was gay while also admonishing them not to say if they were. Current regulations call for discharging gay servicemembers. The policy has been in effect in since 1993.

Adm. Mike Mullens and Defense Sec. Gates testify

While key leaders seem to favor ending don’t ask, don’t tell, I predict some challenges for unit-level leaders. As you may know, I’m a member of the National Guard with 28 years of service. In my early career, I was Infantry, which excludes females. Since about 1991, I’ve been in units with females. Don’t misunderstand—females make great Soldiers. The problem is with sexuality and mixed gender units have higher potential and incidences of sexual harassment and assault. Such cases are demoralizing and challenging enough when they involve opposite sexes.

My concern with the repeal of don’t ask, don’t tell is two-fold. First, there is potential for increased sexual harassment/sexual assault complaints. We have separate male and female barracks in the military, but that does not account for same-sex sexual considerations. Don’t misunderstand—I’m not alledging gay people will assault people en masse because of the end of don’t ask, don’t tell. What I’m saying is separate facilities by gender attempts to reduce a potential for assault. still, eliminating don’t ask don’t tell removes a sanction for assault.

military group

Given the sexual assault argument is relatively minor, my other concern is for the breakdown of military discipline. It’s common knowledge groups tend not to tolerate behavior that’s different from their norm. Only about 8% identify as gay/lesbian/transgender. How do we prevent discriminatory, or even predatory, behavior against same-sex relationships?

Fri, 17 Dec 2010

Surprise! House Passes Tax Cut Extensions

Filed under: Congress, Deceit, Economy, Government, Hypocrits, Politics, Taxes — cynicalsynapse @ 3:37 pm

opposition to tax cut extension

After much wringing of hands and showboating, the Democratic Party-controlled US House passed the tax cut deal by 277 for and 148 opposed in Roll Call 647.

Interestingly, Michigan Rep. John Conyers (D-14) voted against the bill, but the doddering old fool Conyers thinks Pres. Obama is trying to usurp Congress’ power. Also opposed were Michigan’s failed gubernatorial candidate Pete Hoekstra (R-2) and pro-Wall Street Bailout Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick (D-13). You may recall, Kilpatrick is also Detroit’s felonious former mayor Kwame’s mommy. Thad McCotter (R-11) and self-immolating Bart Stupak (D-1) rounded out the Michigan Congressional naysayers. The remaining 5 Republicans and 4 Democrats voted in favor.

Rep. Sander Levin

Sander Levin, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, summed up exactly why the Democrats’ huffing and puffing was just that. In his remarks on the House floor yesterday, Levin supported the bill because Republicans will be in charge next year.

I will accept the remainder of the bill because after the approach taken by Republicans in the House and the Senate these last weeks – obstructing and holding hostage everything until they get their way on the tax breaks for the very wealthy – I am not willing to put the fate of the middle class and the unemployed in the hands of the Republican Majority next year.

Thanks, Sander! I was going to make just that very case myself. Democrats voted in favor simply because they were afraid of what Republicans might do in the next session of Congress. There’s moral fortitude and courage for you.

Previously on Sander Levin:

Mon, 13 Dec 2010

Citizen-Soldiers: On Guard for 374 Years

Citizen-Soldiers on Guard for 374 Years

First militia muster in 1636

The United States’ oldest military, the National Guard, turns 374 today. The National Guard traces its roots to the colonial militias formed before the birth of the country. It has always been comprised of Citizen-Soldiers, from the days of the Minutemen, who come from their communities to serve their nation and fellow citizens. How can a military force be older than the country it serves? In the case of the National Guard, the Massachusetts General Court established a militia in 1636

Colonial militias became the organized militias referenced in the US Constitution’s Second Amendment. Unique among US military forces, the National Guard has both state and federal roles. In peacetime, state and territorial governors are the Commanders-in-Chief of their National Guard personnel. As reserves of the US Army and US Air Force, Guardsmen are also subject to call-up for federal service. To that end, Guardsmen and Reservists must meet active component training requirements and standards. They receive equipment and training funding from the Department of Defense (DoD).

Minuteman statue

It is presidential mobilization authority that has seen the National Guard—both Army and Air—in active defense of the country since 9/11. In fact, over 225,000 Guardsmen have been called up in support of the Global War on Terror. According to DoD statistics, in 2005 National Guardsmen and Reservists made up about half the forces in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Fulfilling their federal mission, Guardsmen from each of the 54 states and territories (District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands) have deployed overseas. Many units have deployed more than once and some Guardsmen are on or preparing for their third or fourth deployment. While consuming only 11% of the Army’s budget, Guardsmen make up almost 40% of its operational force.

National Guard 374th birthday

The National Guard, and its predecessor militias, have always been a good value for the country. Citizen-Soldiers have always answered the call. They have always fulfilled the mission with excellence and professionalism. And they have always remembered their roots in their communities.

It might sound like a bank’s motto, but the National Guard represents local values and skills with global reach. Happy 374th birthday, National Guard.

Wed, 08 Dec 2010

Engler, Part Deux! Rail Be Damned!

Filed under: Budget, Detroit, Government, Michigan, Passenger rail, Politics, Railroads, Transit, Travel — cynicalsynapse @ 10:07 pm

High speed rail

Michigan stands to lose out on $161 million in Federal high speed rail money because Michigan Senate leader Mike Bishop (R-Rochester Hills) did not allow the bill to come to a vote. Bishop’s cheap shot is almost as dispicable as former Gov. John Engler’s (R) last minute veto of regional transit for metro Detroit.

Bishop had said he’d allow the State Senate to vote on the measure already passed by the State House.

I don’t ask the state taxpayers to finance anything unless a business plan is presented that gives us some indication that it brings value.

Possible Woodward corridor transit

Apparently, anti-transit behavior is a Republican trait. Cece Grant, a native Detroiter and Michigan organizer for Transportation for America, summed it up this way.

The legislature failing to act is really putting us at a competitive disadvantage to the other states. It’s saying we’re stuck in the past.

There’s no way for your employees to get back and forth to work. We’re not a mobile society. We don’t have bustling thriving downtowns.

Amtrak train

I look at it another way. I don’t support the full body scanners or “enhanced” pat downs at airports. But at 5-1/2 to 6 hours for a train ride to Chicago, rail is not competitive. On the other hand, high speed rail, with travel times between Chicago and Detroit around 3 hours, is competitive with both air travel and driving.

Without transit, and without high speed rail, Detroit is neither attractive nor competitive. In fact, Detroit is no better off than Mogadishu.

Previously on high speed rail and transit:

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