Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cold Winter Forces Soon To Be Closed Coal Fired Plants to Operate At Full Capacity

The State Journal reports that the winter cold forced many plants marked for EPA mandated closure to operate at high, sometimes full capacity.  Officials say, however, that the law remains unchanged and that they will still close as scheduled.

Melissa McHenry, speaking for American Electric Power to the State Journal noted that 89 percent of the plants scheduled for closure had to run during the cold weather.

She went on to say that AEP is making investments in generation capacity to try and make up for what will be lost.  McHenry also said that Washington regulators would need to help all power companies ensure that they could provide consistent power to customers during peak times.

After all, loss of power during very cold or very hot weather could harm their most vulnerable customers.

Added to the loss of jobs will come the higher cost of electricity.  The Washington Examiner reports that an Obama Administration official predicts an 80 percent hike in the average electric bill to pay for EPA mandates.  Although rates may eventually plateau, they are never expected to drop to current levels.

Bad news for those on fixed incomes and families already struggling in this economy.

American Electric Power plans to retire power generation plants in Mason and Kanawha County.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Smallest US Military Force Since 1939: Why This Is Scary

The Obama Administration has determined that the US military will shrink to its smallest size since 1939.

Man for man we will remain the best.  Any US soldier, Marine, sailor, airman, Coast Guard, or National Guardsman is the best trained and most professional on Earth.  A few nations are close, namely Israel, Britain, Australia, Japan, and a few others.  None are better.

Experts say that a smaller force is less expensive and preferable.  They say that the challenges we face come from international operatives, terrorists, rogue nations and statelets.  The days of Great Power warfare are gone.

Not so fast.

China has stepped up its aggressiveness, claiming territory of friends, allies, and other states.  They want their sovereign claims over open ocean recognized.  They do not yet have a fleet that can challenge us.  But their army is massive and their military branches expanding.

They seek to revise the international status quo, starting first by establishing dominance over their neighbors.

A century ago, Great Britain ruled the waves much as we do today.  Her army was small compared to others, but it was trained and geared toward handling small scale conflicts. A 100 percent professional force, its man for man effectiveness far outstripped any other nation on Earth. Britain did not foresee having to use it in a major war of attrition against a revisionist power. While other nations counted millions in their armed forces, the British relied on hundreds of thousands.

And the British paid dearly for their error, suffering more casualties per capita than any other major power in World War I.

We are blindly stuck in the present, much as Britain a century ago.  We hope for the best, but our treaty obligations, much like Britain's with Belgium, put us square in the center of a possible coming conflict.  We are stripping our armored divisions, discontinuing production of a feared tank killer aircraft, and destroying any chance of quickly reacting, or even maintaining respect in the Far East.

Our military needs to ensure that it can respond effectively to both small war scenarios and a Great Power war.  We do not need many millions of troops, but we do need equipment and formations that serve as a foundation in case we need it.  Where do we get the money?  Start by slicing away at the bloated Defense Department bureaucracy.  Stop the foolish waste of money on "green fuels." Get back to making national security the only priority of the military.

Britain lost its entire prewar army in the first year of World War I.  They were not prepared or equipped to fight a modern war against another Great Power.  Obama is putting us in the same predicament.

Monday, February 24, 2014

West Virginia: The Happiest State In the Union

Last week, the National Journal ran the latest in a series of pieces from a number of different outlets listing the Mountain State as the most depressed, least happy, generally completely bummed out state in America.

Some of this comes from the general problems West Virginia shares with many areas.  Unemployment, uncertainty about the future, a federal government contriving night and day to zap productive coal mines and farms from existence.

But others come from cultural misunderstandings.  Lifestyle choices, such as eating, drinking, and smoking, have little to do with actual happiness.  Yet physical health is factored into "happiness" analysis.  It is just as likely, if not more so, that West Virginians and others are not as hung up on obesity as those who live in the suburbs and write for National Journal.   West Virginians have a healthier and more realistic appraisal of body image and a lot of other things.

Cultural differences matter.  Appraising happiness in every state by the same criteria is a basic flaw in every such study.  Like when Vermont researchers concluded Texans are the least happy because they swear a lot in social media.  More often, the Texan is unhappy if he is not swearing.

Anyway, some reasons why West Virginia is the happiest state.

Centennial Golden Trout

The streets are not paved with gold.  You can't even dig it out of the ground.  But you can catch a real live slice of gold, or several other tasty species of fish, from most of the state's beautiful streams.

Make a Joyful Noise . . .

Almost every town of any size has a festival between March and November.  Pictured here is some joyful noise being made at the Augusta festival in Elkins.  One can also get joyful food, joyfully noisy parades, joyful boat races, joyful buckwheat cakes, and joyful crafts at one or more of these fun community get togethers.

. . . and, of course, patriotic

West Virginia has the largest small town 4th of July celebration in the world centered in Ripley.  It stands to reason that the Mountain State loves America.  It sends more men and women per capita into the U. S. armed forces than any other state.


West Virginia's near nationally low levels of property and violent crime co exist with near nationally high levels of gun ownership.  Hmmmmmm.


West Virginia usually tops out lists of least healthy eaters, most overweight people.  That is not indicative of happiness outside of narrow classes of people who fret about their weight.  No study has been done, but West Virginians have a different ideal of body image and physical attractiveness than those who make up these studies.  Mountain State women tend to prefer bigger men and men prefer curvier women.

Look at the culture.  Cultural influences of West Virginia come from the American frontier, as well as German and Italian peasants.  Without stacks of cash lying about to pay for more refined diversions, most people entertained themselves and others with food.  Frontier people, Germans, and Italians know, if nothing else, how to turn a little into a lot.  Those cultural ideals of entertainment and hospitality have come down to the 21st century.

And, finally, West Virginia makes some of the best victuals around.  Charleston and its suburbs are a breakfast mecca, sporting Tudor's and Shoney's.  Northern West Virginia and Keyser's Italian fare rivals any city in the nation for taste and beats nearly all for affordability.

This is why country people don't always eat right or look like stick figures.

The boys of fall (and winter, spring, and summer!)

Everything from pee wee football and T ball to major college football at two ends of the state.  Winning makes us happy.  Even in losses, we can be proud of their hard work and effort.

Water, water, everywhere . . .

Most people love to be on the water.  Fishing, swimming, sitting on a boat, running a jet ski way too fast.  Everyone loves something a little different about the water.  In West Virginia, unless you want salt water, you're in luck.  Rushing shallow rivers, placid lakes, rivers long and deep enough for afternoon cruises, the Mountain State can make any fresh water aficionado happy!

History class is open

No one claims to like history class, but most people love history in some way.  West Virginia has historical sites that are entertaining and informative.  Above is Harpers Ferry, set in the drop dead beautiful confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers.  Everything in town, except automobiles, electric, and the US 340 bridge, looks like it did in 1859 when John Brown launched his raid.  The state also has museums, cultural centers, replicas of forts built over 200 years ago and more.

And this

Inside and out, one of the most beautiful buildings you will ever see,  Forget the shenanigans that happen inside of it for a moment and consider just what a marvel it is.

And finally this little guy

He is wondering why anyone would think that a state that he represents would be the most bummed out.

Disagree With Democrats? Keep It to Yourself . . .Or Else

Since the election of Obama, liberals have gone after their political dissenters.  First came White House attempts, fended off by the media, to declare Fox News a non news outlet, banishing them from the press corps. Then came years of the left's near fetish level fascination with "sedition."  Tea Parties, Republicans, libertarians, nearly everyone associated with opposing this president gets tarred with the word. "Sedition" is the idea that speech that disrupts government functions should be criminal.  Twice in American history have sedition laws been passed, both during wars with Great Powers.

The scandal over improper IRS harassment of groups opposed to the current federal government will not subside, despite the administration's best efforts.

Worst of all, last fall, a Washington Times  reporter uncovering problems with the air marshal service had her research materials illegally seized by the Maryland State Police and turned over to the Department of Homeland Security.

Last week brought more stories of liberals and left wing attempts to chill speech or silence opponents.

Public outcry forced the Federal Communications Commission to back off of a plan to send monitors into broadcast and print media newsrooms to ask "invasive" questions about story selection and coverage.  The FCC is mandated to regularly submit reports about potential barriers to small operators and entrepreneurship.  Its questionnaire included many questions about journalism decisions, which could have a chilling effect on issue coverage. Many experts agree this violates the First Amendment, at least in spirit.

And finally on the state level, as West Virginia Metro News's Hoppy Kercheval puts it, some Democrats "can't stand a feisty Republican."  West Virginia's elected Republican attorney general, Patrick Morrisey, faces the possible stripping of his constitutionally mandated powers. Like others, his "crime" seems to be strenuous opposition to the efforts and plans of the Obama Administration.  Morrisey has been an outspoken opponent of infringements on the Second Amendment and EPA attacks on coal and power.

House Republicans and others noted that the state constitution and recent case law forbid the state legislature from doing precisely what House Democrats are trying.

The pattern is pretty clear.  Speak out against Obama, oppose his administration's plans, and his allies try to bring the power of government down against you, usually illegally.  Why can't America have bipartisan discussions and compromises?  Partly because of this dynamic.