Thursday, April 24, 2014

Mineral County Delegate, State of West Virginia Officials Go All Out to Court Pepper Sauce Plant

Despite the upcoming antagonisms of election year politics, one issue has linked West Virginia Democrats and Republicans hand in hand.

Hot pepper sauce.

Since the 1970s, Huy Fong Foods has crafted Sriracha hot pepper sauce in Irwindale, California.  David Tran, a South Vietnamese Army veteran, fled his homeland to escape Communism.  His creation has grown into a staple at many restaurants and a cult food classic.

Last year, four residents complained to the city of an odor coming from the plant.  Despite ruling the claims groundless, city council called the plant a public nuisance.

Using the same tactics that attracted some attention from firearms manufacturers looking for friendlier areas, West Virginia elected officials immediately contacted Tran.  Delegate Gary Howell (R-Mineral), State Agriculture Commissioner Walt Helmick, and the offices of both US Senators and David McKinley have joined efforts to lure Huy Fong to Mineral County.

Mineral County boasts industrial park space and abundant agricultural land.  West Virginia University extension agents can help interested farmers learn to cultivate the peppers.  The plant itself would bring over $300 million in investment and benefit not just local farmers, but also regional truckers.

A Facebook page started by local residents to support the proposal met with near universal support.  The few sour posts came from Maryland residents.  Of course Allegany County, Maryland has lost population, jobs, and business establishments over the past 12 years.  Mineral County has slowly grown in jobs and population.

Helmick and others plan to travel to California to meet Tran personally to lay out the proposal.

When leaders in different parties agree on the basics, like the need for jobs and development, there is ground to work together for the betterment of all.

Time For the RNC and Old Big Labor to Have a Sit Down

Big Labor for generations reflexively supported the Democratic Party with financial support and people power.  In the 20th Century, this symbiosis worked well.  It gave their party almost lockdown control of the House of Representatives and almost the same stranglehold on the Senate.

Democrats owned Congress for much of the time between the Great Depression and the 1990s because they supported labor.  They portrayed Big Business as opposing the interests of the working man.  Working men and their supporters lined up to vote for the commoner's party.  Republicans, they reasoned, didn't get the worker.

Workers did not leave the Democratic Party, but the Democrats at the national level left them.  Obama's allegiance to billionaire Big Green businessmen continues to stall a Keystone pipeline that will directly benefit the pipefitters' union among many others.  Before that came the war on coal.  Blue collar voters who once temporarily ditched the Democrats for Reagan, but did not change affiliation, now see the GOP as a permanent home.  Stephen Moore, economic analyst from Heritage Foundation notes that Republicans stand to gain in many currently blue or purple states just as they have in West Virginia.

Moore also says that only two groups oppose Keystone, Democrats who make over $100,000 per year and Democrats with postgraduate degrees.

Certain unions benefit from the new regime.  Service workers and auto workers have reaped huge state based rewards.  Mining and other manufacturing sectors have seen government policy try to drive them from the economic map.

It is high time that the GOP leadership and union bosses like Cecil Roberts have a quiet chat about mutual interests.  They don't have to like each other, but Obama and Green Democrats are the common foe.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

IRS Intentionally Or Unintentionally Creates Sebellius Shield

After ten years, statements made about John Kerry and Hillary Clinton have returned to haunt a conservative group.  Statements made by the Patrick Henry Center during the 2004 campaign about Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have been cited as reasons by the IRS to revoke its tax exempt status.

The Patrick Henry Center responded that critical statements made by its group could be open to interpretation, were not made in an open forum, and could not have played a role in elections in 2004 and afterward.

Although Clinton was not officially a candidate for president in 2004 or 2005, she did come under the umbrella of potential candidate.  Being proposed as a candidate, in the eyes of the IRS, makes a person a candidate.  At that point, no tax exempt foundation can engage in criticism against them.

This interpretation brings serious consequences to policy debate.  Last week, some floated Kathleen Sebelius as a possible Democratic challenger in the Kansas US Senate race.   For the past year, Sebelius served as the public face of the floundering Obamacare website.  According to the IRS, the mere fact that some want her to run for office makes criticism of the former Cabinet secretary out of bounds.

Since then, Sebelius has downplayed notions of a Senate run.  Still, the tax exempt foundations must remain careful.  Has she really rejected a run, or is she playing "reluctant tribune?" Criticize now, and if Sebelius changes her mind, you lose your tax exempt status.

This issue comes up at the same time as another organization defends its speech before the US Supreme Court.  The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life organization, has challenged an Ohio law barring "false" political speech.  Ohio's law, much like a similar federal statute revoked a long time ago, invites subjective interpretation of "truth" and "lies."

Laws intended to create boundaries for political speech and money that finances it only invite subjective and unfair interpretations.  They also impede the flow of dialogue about some of the country's most important policy and public choices.




Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sometimes Something Somehow Reminds Us of All That Is Right About America

The Ford Mustang turns 50 years old this year, marking a half century of symbolizing what is great about America.

What makes the Mustang such an important product?

Innovation

Ford Motor Company's compact Falcon had sold well in the beginning, but its no frills boxy style soon bored customers.  Instead of engineering a new car from the ground up Ford took the chassis of the Falcon, put a V 8 engine on it, and gave it a sleek convertible body.  The famous line requoted by every news outlet this week has been how they "turned a librarian into a sexpot."

Ford figured out a lesson often forgotten.  Making smaller cars fun creates excitement about the product.  Toyota has produced generations of cars that seem to mostly update the old Ford Falcon idea of a smaller four door boxy car.  Ford asked "why be stodgy?"

The company eventually did drift away from the idea that the car ought to be fun, but also practical and affordable.  Back seat space shrank and the cost went up. Pontiac's G models probably evoked the spirit of the original Mustang as well as any car in the last ten years.

Spirit

It built on a growing American desire to take their lives on the open road.  Many still took trains and buses for long distance travel in the 1960s.  Don't believe me?  Watch North By Northwest and wonder why the main character did not just escape by car into the anonymous countryside.  Although no self-respecting television show or movie then or now depicts long range driving on an interstate, the new superhighways pulled Americans onto the open road in greater numbers than ever.

Style

Simplicity marked the Mustang.  The previous decade featured tail fins, different light configurations, and any number of doo dads designed to increase a car's appeal.  Mustang designers did not invent the more simple design, but they implemented it in a classic way.  The sleek lines contrast with the previous decade's most timeless designs and stand up well to those from later decades.

Like Led Zeppelin, who started just a few years later, the original Mustang's style never has looked dated.

Marketing

Ford's unveiling of the Mustang prefaced modern roll outs of Apple products and other technology.  They crammed ads into the premium time slot on all three networks.  2,600 newspapers carried its image in their advertisements.  Both women and men could experience the rejuvenating power of the right car, according to the marketing.  Perfect timing for a generation emphasizing gender equality.

Form following function; style following substance.  The Ford Mustang was one of the great American products.  Happy 50th!