Rockin' the Bakkan: Jobs in Williston, ND

Williston, ND, population 13,000, is located atop the Bakkan Shale hydrocarbon deposits that have made southeastern Montana and western North Dakota the fastest growing oil patch in the world with new production records set and new wells spudded every month.  With such economic activity comes jobs . . .  high paying oil jobs.
The current oil boom has catapulted Williston to the top in average wages paid in North Dakota, above Fargo-West Fargo, Bismarck and Wahpeton.

Workers make $49,500 on average here, to Fargo’s $38,000. In oil, the fastest-growing employment sector, wages average more than $80,000 a year.

Job Service reported in July [2010] that 6,620 people from other states found jobs in North Dakota in 2009, more than 80 percent more than the 3,631 out-of-staters who found work here in 2008.  In June, North Dakota’s unemployment rate of 3.3 percent was lowest in the nation.

In May, the last month for which Job Service has compiled numbers, there were 1,100 job openings in Williston, 655 of them in the oil industry.
A word of caution to the unemployed who are about to pack and set out on a journey to the Promised Land . . . when you get to western North Dakota, you might not find a place to live, because housing and infrastructure are struggling to keep pace with the economy.  By the way, the weather forecast for tomorrow shows a high of -4 and a low of -15, an 80% chance of snow, winds at 10-15 mph which puts the wind chill factor at -35. With those conditions, and in a state whose state tree is the telephone pole, some people forget how lucky they are.

Suicide By Bear . . . Bad Plan Brings Bad Jokes

Last August, after escaping from an Arizona prison with two other inmates, convicted killer Tracy Province was re-captured about sixty miles from Yellowstone Park after the escapees had earlier killed an Oklahoma couple in New Mexico.  Now the bizarre story of Province has been told to the press by Mohave County, AZ sheriff's Detective Larry Matthews:

"He had planned to go up in the mountains and shoot a gram of heroin and be bear food. He wanted to overdose and let the bears eat him."

"He didn't know why anyone would want to escape because all you do is look over your shoulder the entire time,"
The only substance to the story by the Las Vegas Review-Journal  was Province's guilty plea on the escape charge, but even weird stories about that which never happened make people like me write about them. Then there is always the public official who will help perpetuate the tale:
Al Nash, a spokesman at Yellowstone National Park, said it's certainly possible that Province's plan would have worked, but it struck him as improbable.

"We have a fair number of bears in the ecosystem," Nash said. "They eat about anything. A bear would rather get an easy meal than a difficult meal, but human bear encounters are very infrequent."
Top-of-the-food-chain predictors roam Yellowstone Park ... grizzlies, black bear, cougars and the ugliest of all, packs of gray wolves. As frightening as that might appear, it is accepted that "all predators kill and eat the foods that they know, that they are familiar with, that they have had success hunting in the past, that they have tasted before. The mere presence of a human does not mean that a bear will decide to eat humans."

So now we must go back to our brilliant criminal who devises this Rube Goldberg plan to kill himself because he is worrying himself to death and has lost 30 pounds since escaping. Now he simply cannot just do a killer overdose of heroin, nor can he jump over a cliff, or lay down in front a a moving train or even slit his wrists.  The only way in God's universe is to knock himself silly with heroin and leave himself vulnerable to hungry bears in Yellowstone.  What a plan!  But wait, doesn't it gets cold at night here in Yellowstone and Province really needs to talk to his Hoosier relatives and God just is not taking his plan seriously.

Leave it to the Aussies to worry about the bear who ate the guy who took the heroin. Humor is where you find it at a Yahoo forum site:
"Now, THAT's planning. I wonder if the bears would go wild and start nicking people's dvd players in order to fuel their new fugitive/smack habit?"

"so he planned to die...but backed out cos it was too cold"

"he should have taken up Yogi instead."

"Nothing more dangerous than a 200 pound bear stoned out of his mind"
Especially once they get the munchies. "Helloooo, pic-i-nic basket!"

Well bad bear jokes is what you get for reading this piece, but you are left to read the worst bear joke that I could find on the friggin' internet:
A Russian scientist and a Czechoslovakian scientist had spent their lives studying the grizzly bear. Each year they petitioned their respective governments to allow them to go to Yellowstone National Park to study the bears. Finally, their requests were granted, and they immediately flew to Yellowstone. They reported to the ranger station and were told that it was the grizzly mating season and it was too dangerous to go out and study the animals. They pleaded that this was their only chance, and finally the ranger relented. The Russian and the Czech were given portable phones and told to report in every day. For several days they called in, and then nothing was heard from the two scientists. The rangers mounted a search party and found the camp completely ravaged, with no sign of the missing men. Following the trails of a male and a female bear, they finally caught up with the female. Fearing an international incident, they decided they must kill the animal to find out if she had eaten the scientist. They killed the female bear and opened its stomach to find the remains of the Russian scientist. One ranger turned to the other and said, "You know what this means, don't you?" The other ranger nodded and responded, "I guess it means the Czech is in the male."

Soros' Minions Attack Justices Thomas And Scalia

It all started one year ago, when the Supreme Count struck down major provisions of the McCain-Feingold Act in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. As reported in the Washington Post, the ruling of the court:
. . . upheld the First Amendment rights of individuals acting through corporations and labor unions to participate in our political process, and it struck down an oppressive thicket of statutes restricting - and even criminalizing - their political speech. [. . . ]

To the court's majority, it was "stranger than fiction for our Government to make . . . political speech a crime."
Predictably, from the murky depths of the left's clandestine funding organizations formed and supported by George Soros has come an all out attack against conservative judges on the Supreme Court.  Leading the attack on Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia is Common Cause, a registered lobbying group which had significant influence in the passing of McCain-Feingold.  It is significant to understand that this organization has given itself over to the left, for a price.
In recent years, CC has received large amounts of funding from George Soros's Open Society Institute, the Tides Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, the Arca Foundation, . . . the Joyce Foundation, the Century Foundation, and the Compton Foundation.
Democracy Now! . . . one of the many Soros-funded media outlets, reports on the actions of another Soros family member:
On Thursday, the watchdog group Common Cause filed a petition with the Justice Department urging it to investigate whether Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas should have recused themselves from the [Citizen's United] case last year because of a conflict of interest. Common Cause alleges that both justices were paid guests at exclusive gatherings organized by Koch Industries, where conservative business leaders and elected officials secretly strategized around elections. The justices were among those who provided the critical votes in the 5-4 ruling, a ruling that has prompted an unprecedented flood of corporate expenditures on electoral campaigns over the last year.
The "evidence" against the justices is a brochure issued by Koch Industries encouraging attendance at a future meeting of potential campaign financiers which said:
To encourage new participants, Mr. Koch offers to waive the $1,500 registration fee. And he notes that previous guests have included Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas of the Supreme Court, Gov. Haley Barbour and Gov. Bobby Jindal, Senators Jim DeMint and Tom Coburn, and Representatives Mike Pence, Tom Price and Paul D. Ryan.
The LA Times offers this additional detail:
Supreme Court spokesperson Kathy Arberg said that Justices Thomas and Scalia had traveled to Indian Wells, California to address a Federalist Society dinner sponsored by Charles and Elizabeth Koch but did not actively participate in the separate Koch strategy and policy meetings. Justice Scalia spoke about international law at the January 2007 meeting of the quasi-academic Federalist Society and did not attend the separate political and strategy meeting hosted by the Kochs, she said. Justice Thomas spoke to the Federalists at the same location in January 2008 about his recently published book. Thomas then dropped by one of the separate Koch meeting sessions. "It was a brief drop by," Arberg said. "He was not a participant."
As liberal writer Sam Stein, reporting in, of all places, the Huffington Post adds:
"There is nothing to prevent Supreme Court justices from hanging out with people who have political philosophies," said Steven Lubet, a professor of law at Northwestern University who teaches courses on Legal Ethics.  . . . Suggestions that Justices Scalia and Thomas's support of Citizens United   may have been affected by their time with Koch officials ignores the fact that nothing concrete is known about what meetings they attended and when. Even then, Lubet argues, it would be difficult to argue that there is "a troublesome nexus between the event and the decision." Scalia and Thomas have been opponents of restrictions on campaign finance likely well before they were guests at a Koch Industry seminar.
Now in the wake of the "conflict of interest" allegation, Common Cause has added an "ethics violation" charge against Justice Thomas possibly because "he has been the lone justice to argue that the laws requiring public disclosure of large political contributions are unconstitutional."
WASHINGTON…Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed over the course of at least five years to report his wife's income from a conservative think-tank on his financial disclosures, according to the watchdog group Common Cause.

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, was paid $686,589 by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, according to a Common Cause review of IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his financial disclosure forms for those years, choosing instead to check a box titled "none" where "spousal non-investment income" would normally be disclosed.

Federal judges are bound by law to disclose the source of spousal income, according to Stephen Gillers, a law professor at NYU Law School. Thomas's omission -- which could be interpreted as a violation of that law -- could lead to some form of penalty, Gillers said.

"It wasn't a miscalculation, he simply omitted his wife's source of income for six years, which is a rather dramatic omission," said Gillers "It could not have been an oversight."

But Steven Lubet, an expert on judicial ethics at Northwestern University School of Law, said that such an infraction was unlikely to result in a penalty. While unfamiliar with the Thomas complaint, he said that failure to disclose spousal income "is not a crime of any sort, but there is a potential civil penalty" for failing to follow the rules. He added: "I am not aware of a single case of a judge being penalized simply for this."

The Supreme Court is, "the only judicial body in the country that is not governed by a set of judicial ethical rules," Gillers said.

A spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts, which oversees the financial disclosures, could not be reached for comment last night on what actions could be taken. In most cases, judges simply amend their forms when an error is discovered.

"The [US Supreme Court] Justices are not bound by the Code of Conduct [for United States Judges], but they look to it for guidance." ~Spokesperson for the US Supreme Court Public Information Office in an email to, June 15, 2008
The Ethics In Government Act was passed in 1978 in response to Watergate and it has reporting requirements (which include reporting spousal income) for financial disclosures and restrictions on lobbying activities by former government employees.  Penalties for failure to file the disclosure can result in a court hearing and civil fines not to exceed $10,000.  Apparently there are no restriction on the type of employment that a spouse has, i.e.  former senator Tom Daschle's wife has always been a lobbyist.

No one knows why Clarence Thomas did not report his wife's income, but the financial disclosure law is little more than a nuisance with no enforceable purpose.  The offense is trivial and obviously far less serious than Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner's cheating on his income taxes.   It is time for George Soros and his minions to get a life since we at least know where Clarence Thomas was born.

UAW Will Drive Automakers From U.S.

Detroit News -- Washington — United Auto Workers President Bob King told members tonight the union's very survival is at stake in its efforts to organize foreign workers — and said it has limited options in contract talks with Detroit's Big Three.

"If we don't organize these transnationals, I don't think there's a long term future for the UAW — I really don't," King told more than 1,000 members and retirees at the opening of a four-day political action conference in Washington.

The Detroit union has asked foreign automakers to agree to a set of principles to allow for what it calls "fair bargaining" and King says the union plans to pick a first target within 90 days. He said the foreign automakers are out to "destroy the union."
The United Auto Workers are essentially tied to the Detroit Three automakers, formerly known as the Big Three until the UAW sucked them dry and left GM and Chrysler to be bailed out by the taxpayers. UAW members now number under 400,000 workers with some  600,000 retirees. In the glory days of 1979, active membership numbered 1.53 million.

Except for public service unions protected from the economy, unions have been in full retreat over the past half century.  Our fully-unionized American auto industry lost out to foreign competitors who brought their non-union plants to the United States.  Writing in Slate Magazine, Mickey Kaus identifies the Achilles Heel buried deep within the "very structure of Wagner Act Unionism":
The problem isn't so much wages as work rules--internal strictures that make it hard for unionized competitors to constantly adapt and change production processes the way the Japanese do.
Since the First Law of Printers Ink is,"A picture is worth a thousand words",  I include the photo above of Ford's 2007 master contract with the UAW, which contains 2215 pages and weighs 22 pounds and "says little about efficiency and competitiveness."

It is obvious that the unions wanted more membership dues when they attempted to organize the transnational plants, but all efforts failed.  Now with no hope of getting wage bumps for their current membership until 2115 because of the bailouts, there is nowhere else to find victims for their rent-seeking except the foreign carmakers. Kaus explains why American unionism cannot be accepted by the likes of Toyota, Nissan, and Hyundai.
Under the Wagner Act, management manages. What the union does is complain, and negotiate for a rule limiting management's right to do what the union doesn't like. A worker protests that his job should be classified as "drilling special and heavy" instead of "drilling general." The parties butt heads, a decision is reached, and a new rule is deposited like another layer of sediment. At some GM plants, distinct job categories evolved for each spot on the assembly line (e.g., "headlining installer"). In Japanese auto plants, where they spend their time building cars instead of creating job categories, there is only one nonsupervisory job classification: "production."
More to the point, all automaking may soon exit the United States unless the UAW agrees to the elimination of almost all work rules. The newest design in auto manufacturing is Ford's Camacari, Brazil plant which was built with the latest robotic technology and an unheard of concept of allowing the workforces of the component suppliers to work side by side with Ford assembly workers.
As in the United States, assembly workers make more than those employed by suppliers, and the union is eager to ensure that work reserved for the higher paid Ford employees is not being done by lower wage supplier staff.

Labor expert Harley Shaiken of the University of California, Berkeley, said similar concerns are one reason why the Cama├žari model is unlikely to be duplicated in the United States. He said the UAW has relaxed work rules at many Ford factories to allow workers to do more than one job, and has even allowed experiments with limited supplier integration.

But he said the UAW is concerned that giving too much on these fronts will just allow the companies to speed up production and transfer more and more work to lower-paid supplier employees.

Praise for Indiana Public Employees' Health Savings Plan

The Mackinac Center for Public Policy, a Michigan think tank, is praising Indiana and Governor Mitch Daniels for the HSA plan adopted for state employees in 2005.

One of the business-like practices Indiana has adopted is placing government employees in consumer-driven health plans (CDHPs).

The most common CDHP, a health savings account, pairs a high-deductible insurance policy with a tax-advantaged savings account. HSAs are increasingly common in private-sector workplaces. [. . . ]

In 2005, Gov. Daniels offered HSAs to state employees as one option among competing health care plans. Choosing an HSA was voluntary and popular. In 2010, 70 percent of the state’s entire workforce of 30,000 had made this selection; when the 2009 final numbers are completed, the program is projected to have saved taxpayers $20 million. The benefits don’t end there, however.

The state of Indiana pays 100 percent of the premiums for the [high-deductible] health insurance portion of the plan, and also deposits an amount equal to 55 percent of the employees’ annual deductibles into each employee’s tax-free savings account. Employees can make additional tax-free deposits, and withdrawals are not taxed provided they are spent on health-related purchases. Any interest on assets held in the accounts is tax free too, so they are thrice-blessed.

The Mercer Group, a management consulting company, reports that through September 2009, Indiana state employees had accumulated positive HSA account balances of $28.1 million.
HSAs result in lower health care costs (thus lower insurance premiums) because employees have a stake in keeping these expenditures in line, as shown in this Mercer Group chart.

Now if (and only if) we can get Obamacare shut down, the Health Savings Plan idea, which was invented in Indiana by Golden Rule Insurance, will begin to put financial considerations back into doctor-patient relationships . . . as it was before LBJ's Great Society fiasco, which began way back in the 1960s.

Pity Party in Atlanta

. . . and to make matters worse, the Falcons were ground up, tossed around, chewed on and spit-out by the Packers in the NFL playoffs.

H/T: RattlerGator

"Gabby Opened Her Eyes" - Perhaps We Should Open Ours

"A few minutes after we left her room and some of her colleagues from Congress were there, Gabby opened her eyes for the first time," said Mr. Obama.

The amazing coincidence of it all! Immediately following Barry's visit to Gabrielle Giffords' bedside in advance of his "inspiring" speech to the nation, the Congresswoman opened her eyes. The Hill  reports:
Three colleagues and close friends of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) were in the congresswoman's hospital room Wednesday for the moment she opened her eyes for the first time since being shot.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) were there when Giffords opened her eyes, raised her arm and gave a thumbs-up — four days after being shot in the head Saturday. [ . . . ]

Pelosi said Wednesday night, describing the moment. "And then she opened her eyes, and her husband — she looked at her husband and responded to comments that he made. And it was like a miracle. Really. It was something so spectacular."
Debbie Wasserman Shultz had this to say:
"We were taking turns holding her hand. And I said to her, 'Gabby, you've got to get up and get better so we can go back to New Hampshire this summer. We're fully expecting you to be there.'

"Right when I said that, she started to open her eyes. Just slits at first. Then they closed again.
Finally, in the words of Kirsten Gillibrand:
"She started to open her eyes. And when her husband saw her making this effort, he urged her, said, 'Gabby, open your eyes, open your eyes.' And sure enough, she did."
I need to point out a few inconsistencies which leads me to be suspicious of the magnificent coincidence here.
  • First of all The Hill  reports three Democrat ladies and Giffords' husband in the room while CBS  did not acknowledge that Pelosi was there.
  • Secondly, Dr Peter Rhee had reported on Monday that she could open her eyes and respond to simple commands on Sunday.
  • Finally (and almost as amazing as what will become known as the "Obama Miracle") not a single eyewitness to Gabrielle's "eye-opening" experience nor the president mentioned that she could not have been perceived as opening her eyes, because one eye is completely bandaged over.

It is no secret that the Democratic trio of Pelosi, Wasserman Shultz and Gillibrand are known liars . . . and it is doubtful that Prez Zero could speak truth about anything.

This comment pretty much condemns Obama's "for me" showmanship:
"Eye opening is a great sign, but it's to be expected in anyone who's already been shown to follow commands," said Dr. Joshua Bederson, Professor and Chair of Neurosurgery at Mount Sinai School of Medicine. "In that regard it’s not ‘a miracle,’ but the fact that she is doing so well after a point blank gun shot wound to the head is in fact a miracle."
A scalawag who shall forever be known as "Former Speaker Nancy" responds satirically to The Hill's article:
After the Messiah Obama came to Tucson yesterday, me and my colleagues witnessed a miracle as Gabby opened her eyes. Obama is truly amazing and has incredible power. He rivals Jesus himself for performing miracles. It's too bad the American people and the economy have not witnessed his incredible work. After Obama made Gabby open her eyes, he walked on water in the hospital fountain. It's true because MSDNC and the other networks are reporting it this morning. We couldn't let this tragedy go to waste when it was the perfect opportunity to kick-off His Holiness Obama's 2012 re-election campaign. The most awful things was that I had to fly commercial to Tucson. Damn I miss that private plane paid for by the taxpayers. Now if we can just begin to restrict speech so Dems can't be criticized and take away guns from everyone so people can't protect themselves, well the country will be ready to put me back as Speaker again. Thank you America for swallowing it hook, line and sinker. I snicker at how gullible you are.

Taxpayers Lose To Cozy Military-Industrial Complex

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.

We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.
Dwight David Eisenhower, January 17, 1961
The WSJ reports today on "Pork, politics and the engine the Pentagon doesn't want."
If Congress is looking for New Year's resolutions, it could start by breaking the habit of funding programs the government doesn't want. A case in point is the attempt to throw another $450 million at the development of a second engine for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a plan that Defense Secretary Robert Gates says the military doesn't need.

In what has become an annual ritual, Congress is weighing whether one of the largest weapons programs in history should support the development of F-35 engines by both General Electric and Pratt & Whitney. In 2001, GE's engine lost in the procurement competition to the one designed by Pratt & Whitney, as F-35 developers Lockheed Martin and Boeing preferred the latter version.

To hedge its technological risk, the Pentagon nonetheless sought financing for the GE engine as a backup through 2006 in case the Pratt & Whitney version fell short. That hasn't happened, and as budgets have tightened the Pentagon has understandably decided that it needs only one engine design. As Secretary Gates put it, "Only in Washington does a proposal where everybody wins get considered a competition, where everybody is guaranteed a piece of the action at the end."
The estimated cost to develop this GE engine, which may never be used, is $2.9 billion and continued funding of the duplicate engine is absurd when the advanced F-22 fighter is just now coming off the assembly line and test flights have already begun on the Pratt & Whitney-powered F-35 fighter.

Pork projects for the benefit of government contractors evidences Corporatism . . . the so-called Military-Industrial Complex that President Eisenhower warned us about in 1961.  Our brand-new shiny TEA-Party-inspired representatives in the House will have to work extra hard to keep down "continuing resolution" funding of military projects that add nothing to our defense capabilities.

Postpone Tax Day . . . For Lack Of Interest

According to CNN Money, "50 million taxpayers must delay filing [2010] taxes."
The IRS said that it needs until mid-to-late-February to reprogram its processing systems because Congress acted so late this year cleaning up the tax code. The bill, which includes deductions for state and local sales taxes, college tuition and teacher expenses, wasn't signed into law until Dec. 17.
Somebody is lying to everybody.  The tax "code cleanup" generally affected 2011 taxes not 2010.  The deductions for state sales taxes, college tuition for students and expense deductions permitted for teachers are the same deductions permitted when 2009 taxes were paid last year.  Although the Bush tax deductions for education ended after 2009, TurboTax had not changed their software nor were they advising clients that the deduction was invalid. The fact of the matter is that the tax code from 2009 is unchanged, so nothing in the instructions need to be changed to permit the deductions.

As any anyone who has filed their income taxes using software, such as Turbo Tax, already has experienced, a few form redesigns hold up filing for a brief period in any given year, but what has changed to delay the filing of one in every three tax returns by two months?  If Money  had mentioned that the law affecting Alternate Minimum Taxes had changed, I can buy into that, since the AMT has been adjusted for inflation almost each year . . .  but nary a word about AMT.

The Wall Street Journal has the best answer . . . "Lets Postpone Tax Day."