Thursday, April 30, 2009

Arlen Specter: A Disposable Democrat?

Basically, the Republican Party in Pennsylvania is tired of Arlen Specter. All too often, he has voted with the Democrats on key issues. The last straw was the Stimulus Bill where he and two other Republicans broke ranks to vote with the Democrats. What's worse, Mr. Specter voted on that bill without knowing what was in it. Yet, he vehemently defended it. That's pretty dumb!

Arlen could see the handwriting on the wall. He knew he was "not" going to make it through the Republican primary because the Republican Party -- not him --- would cause him to lose. Apparently, Mr. Specter seems to think the Republicans should back him even though he walks like a Democrat; talks like a Democrat; and now, with the Stimulus Bill, spends like a Democrat. So, he seems to think he's home free with all of his new/old Democratic friends.

The problem with Specter's decision is that the Democrats, just like the Republicans, might not put up with his "part time" party line votes, either. Right now, the Democrats are falling all over him because he's very useful to them. He gives them a possible veto-proof majority. But, Specter has already indicated he's not voting for the Card Check system. If he doesn't, he might find himself just as out of step with the Democrats in 2010 elections as he is with the Republicans right now.

Pennsylvania is a "party pure" state when it comes to it's primaries. Only registered Democrats -- not Independents or Republicans -- will decide whether Arlen is the Democrat's candidate for Senator in 2010. So, in order to get the Democratic nomination for Senator, he's going to have to appeal to some pretty partisan Democrats in that Primary. His past voting as a Republican might well come back to haunt him. As a consequence, he might find himself losing the Democratic Party nomination in much the same way that he would have lost the Republican Party's nomination. I could be wrong, but Mr. Specter is the proverbial "fish out of water" when it comes to "any" party affiliation. That's why I think he would have been smarter running as an Independent. That's also what he really is!

Arlen has another little something to worry about. If the American public turns sour on the Democratic rule by the 2010 elections and there is a sea change of voting to put Republicans back in charge, Mr. Specter could have a very badly timed decision. The 2010 elections are at least 17 months away; yet, Specter made his decision, today, in some kind of "gotcha" and "I'll show you" type of emotional decision. Now, he is coming up with all kinds of faulty arguments as to why he did that. But, a lot can change in the months left to the 2010 elections and this is time enough to put Republicans back in a favorable light. If so and once again, Specter might find himself as the odd man out; even if he does manage the Democratic nomination.

Right now, the Democrats are treating Specter like a new puppy. He gives them the power they need to ram anything and everything through Congress. Thanks to Arlen, this country may now have a powerful single party system than can run unchecked. But, if that puppy doesn't get house trained pretty soon and he continues to soil the premises with occasional votes with the Republicans, the Dems aren't going to want to keep him; and, that may be one calculation that Mr. Specter didn't make in switching parties.

Lastly, a couple of points about how "confused" Specter is....

When Jim Jeffords, in 2001, turn-coated from the Republican Party to become an Independent and began voting and caucusing with the Democrats, it was Arlen Specter who felt that Senate rules should be amended to "prevent" that from ever happening again. At that time, he seemed to think that it wasn't right for someone to be elected by the public to represent them as a Republican (or Democrat) and, then forsake that public trust and the will of the people by switching parties. Apparently, Specter now thinks that "public trust" and the "will of the people" are immaterial.

Finally, just last week Specter said that he wouldn't switch to the Democratic Party because it would seriously hurt the balance of power in our government. Now and again, he has personally decided to go against the "will of the people" and allow one-party rule in this country. What a principled guy he is!

It's apparent that Specter's ethics are as hollow as his ideology. In his last election he was in trouble and George Bush and several other Republicans funneled both money and campaigning time to save his bacon in that election. For that, he slaps the party in the face with his vote on the Stimulus bill. Now, the Republicans want him out and he blames the Republicans because of it. I just hope this "Howard Sprague" look-a-like, act-a-like and sound-a-like from Andy of Mayberry gets the same kind of support from Barack Obama and the Democrats in 2010 that he got from Bush in 2004.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barack's 100 Days Scorecard?

Judging any President on his first 100 days in office is more about political spin than reality. That's because much of what that President does within this limited time frame won't bear any fruit or won't have any bad effects for many more months or even years to come.

If you listen to the pundits on the left, Obama is getting glowing marks on his performance. He gets everything from an A or A- rating to the completely illogical concept that he is the best President in the history of this country. I remember similar comments being said about Jimmy Carter in his first couple of months in office. However, his one-term and out, told the real story.

The people on the left -- those totally falling all over Barack --- love the fact that Obama has rescinded the "Mexico City Policy" and has been able proliferate U.S. sponsored abortion throughout the world. They like his uninhibited position on Stem Cell research. His spending and budget is all that they would want it to be; although some would actually want more government involved in our lives. The left especially likes the future punishment of Wall Street, business, and the wealthy with the higher taxes that are to come. Saving the planet? Well, Obama is their man on that front. The only sore spot with those on the true left is why we're still in Iraq and Afghanistan. Oh, let's not forget about Barack's kissing up to dictators. You gotta know that kissing dictators is all the rage in the lefty circles. Just ask Sean Penn and his friends!

But, being a good President shouldn't be based on good teleprompter speeches and the ability to play basketball and look cool; or, even, how nice his family looks. Being a good President all comes down to results; and, for Obama, all I see are the initial bricks being laid down on a road that is going in the wrong direction. That's why a lot of people on the right see him as a potentially failing President. This blog has certainly outlined many of those "bricks" that could have disastrous effects in the future.

Only time will judge Obama. I and others on the right could all be wrong about him. But, certainly, what he does will determine whether or not he will be judged as being a good, bad, or mediocre president. Certainly, one test will be if he is able to maintain his majority in Congress. However, that's still a long way off.

I think by the end of this year we will have a better understanding of how America really feels about this new Prez. Until then, he's pretty much being promoted by a media that is nearly orgasmic about this guy and pushing Americans, through all their hype, to give him a high favorable rating. But, if job losses continue to rise, and if the economy gets worse, or if we have difficulties on the international stage, believe me, the media will turn on Obama.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Revealing CIA Techniques is So Wrong.

We have a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) because we need to have our ears and eyes on the world to search out and uncover those who would do this country harm.

Forgetting about harsh interrogations for the moment, almost everything that the CIA does is illegal. They plant bugs, eavesdrop, and spy on the activities of other countries. They access and steal a country's classified documents. They have, in the past, conducted covert operations that could result in the overthrow and possible death of some of the world's nastiest leaders. And, yes, they have "taken people out" for strategic reason that would benefit this country. Because what they do is so illegal, their own lives are at constant risk.

When Francis Gary Powers was shot down over Russia, a key CIA operation of U-2 overflights was exposed. Besides taking a big P.R. hit on the world stage, the exposure of the U-2 capability completely obsoleted that spying capability. In the same way, the release of the Bush-era interrogation memos have killed the effectiveness of any interrogations in the future. Like the U-2 exposure, we have just had another hand tied behind our backs.

Furthermore, the CIA is now on notice that illegal activities won't be tolerated by Obama and the Democrats. What message does that send to an agency who almost exclusively operates outside the law. The last time I checked, I couldn't find any country in this world who has made spying on them a legal activity. In most every nation, spying is punishable by death. In this country, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed in 1953 for spying on our atomic weapons program.

Thanks to Obama and his release of those interrogation memos, we have now emasculated all of our CIA operations. Almost everyone in the CIA, or anyone even involved with the CIA, will not be willing to take any risk, even if they know that risk could produce results that would protect this country. To the nonsensical Democrats, they seem to think this will make our country stronger. But, nothing could be farther from the truth.

Furthermore, I believe those memos are probably the best Taliban and Al Qaeda recruiting tools that have ever been designed. Prior to those memos, we had a form of psychological leverage because the enemy didn't know what techniques were actually used to "crack" the likes of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Now, they know that we had doctors in attendance and that we severely limited those techniques so no physical harm took place. In their minds, now, they know they have nothing to fear if ever captured by the United States. Additionally, the purveyors of propaganda against this country will use those memos (and the photos to be released later next month) as a rallying cry against this country. Those memos and pictures will be used to show that America hates Muslims and that this is what they do to all Muslims. Just mark my words!

Lastly, I think if we are attacked again, it's Obama and the Democrats who can shoulder all the blame for it.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Should Hollywood Determine Public Policy?

As a country, we have more PhD's and Nobel laureates in almost every aspect of science than any other country in the world. Yet, when it comes to deciding public policy, who does our Congress seek for advice? Hollywood and TV stars and certain, select political personalities!

Last week, hearings on global warming were being conducted by a House subcommittee and those committee members sat quietly while the likes of Hollywood's Ashley Judd told them to enact legislation to fight Global Warming (See Full Story). Also in attendance was TV personality, Jeff Corwin who is not only a biologist but plays one on TV. And, lets not forget the guru of all global warming, Al Gore, who personally wastes more jet fuel in one week than any 100 average Americans do in ten years. Global warming is not the only reason for the parade of Hollywood types through Congress. Christopher Reeve and Michael J. Fox once gave "expert" testimony on stem cell research. It seems as if Hollywood's opinions are relished by every Democrat and on every subject from biofuels to animal attacks.

For our Congress to get its legislative advice from people who aren't even experts is almost criminal. What's next? Oprah's opinion on military spending? Jay Leno's advice on bailing out GM because he has a collection of rare cars and motorcycles? Please...!

Congress loves to use the Hollywood elite because they are good political puppets (for the Democrats) and they are easily recognizable by the American public. But, would you have some actor perform heart surgery on you because they played a cardiologist on TV, or just because they had their own triple bypass surgery? I don't think so. Then, why are we putting the destiny of this country in their hands?

In my opinion, the issue of global warming and any subsequent legislation is something that experts need to be reporting on; not "personalities". Politicos, such as Al Gore and the useful left-wing idiots in Hollywood, have no place in the discussion. Take Al for example. How can you trust someone who is a poli-sci major and, whose movie, Inconvenient Truth, has failed to give an accurate vision of the future. That movie was so much hype and not hardly any reality; especially since the earth's warming has been running flat to downward since the "Truth" was released. Where's all the "frequency and intensity" of hurricanes that Al predicted in the opening of that movie? Al won't admit it but the last few years of hurricane seasons have been getting quieter; not more intense!

If we fight global warming at the pace that Al Gore and most of the Hollywood Democrats want to fight it, some "real experts" believe it will cost every American as much as $14,000 per family. At the very least, you will see your energy bills double. So, if you are spending $600 a month for gasoline, natural gas and electricity, those costs will double and the additional annual expense to you will be something in excess of $7,000. But, those are the direct energy cost increases that you will see. The indirect costs will show up as inflation on almost every product that you use. That's because the energy cost to make those products will skyrocket and those added costs will be passed on to you and I as consumers. Additionally, our nation's businesses are going to be taxed at a higher rate so that Democrats can give energy-cost offsets to the less affluent of our society who can't afford the inflation. Especially hard hit will be the concrete, steel, and aluminum producers because they need high levels of energy to produce their final product. As a result, the prices for new homes, offices, roads, and autos will rise substantially.

So, now, our future lies in the hands of a few celebrities. How sad is that!

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Snippets Were Bad, Then. Now, They're Ok!

During the campaign, Obama complained that comments made by Reverend Wright and his wife were just "snippets" being taken out of context to hurt him.

In an interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Barack Obama said that using those "snippets" of his wife's statements were both "low class" and "detestable." (See Full Story)

This snippet defense was used so often by Barack, that Ken Eliasberg, a noted writer and lecturer, wrote an opinion piece about it in October 2008: "Snippets? Associations? Who is Barack Obama?".

Now, zoom forward to this week when Obama was willing to release an extremely select group of memos regarding the Bush Administration interrogation techniques. You might say that they, too, were the same kind of "snippets" that Barack complained of during the campaign; but, now, when Barack is the "snippetee" he seems to think that tactic is just fine. Of course, using his own words against him, it appears that he, now, is one of those who could be considered "low class" and "detestable."

When former Vice President Cheney asked that all the pertinent data/memos be released so those "snippets" could be put into full context, the Obama henchman, Eric Holder, said that the Administration wasn't going to "play hide and seek" with documents for political purpose. But, in the same breath, said he wasn't sure what documents Cheney was talking about. I think the original release of those memos were "hide and seek" for political reasons. Those memos whipped up the left so that now they have just enough information, those out-of-context "snippets," to pursue full Congressional and/or independent investigations and hearings.

The B.S. in all of this is that now, Obama, the "low class" and "detestable," has said, as of Thursday, that he doesn't support any independent panel to investigate the Bush Administration (See Full Story). But, this is just an Obama ploy. He's already seeded Congress and his base on the political left with the release of those memos. Now, by saying he doesn't support any investigations, he can just sit back and let them happen in Congress without making it seem like he was really responsible. Remember: Obama said he was against any independent investigation. He didn't say he objected to Congress conducting one.

That's so Obama...always trying to have it both ways!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Those Interrogation Memos Show Bush Cared

If the Bush Administration didn't care about the legality of those so-called harsh interrogation techniques, we wouldn't have those memos giving legal opinion about their application and limitations. Instead, the "Administration" would have just gone ahead and done the interrogations. But, the fact that memos were being floated between the CIA, the Administration, and the Justice Department shows that there was an intent to stay within the legal boundaries of what is defined or not defined as torture.

This fact seems to be lost in this whole uproar about "torture" and "harsh interrogation" techniques. The moronic press and the rabid, frothing lefties of this country seem to simply think that these memos show that Bush and his gang conducted torture. But, instead it shows careful consideration as to the legality and to what limits had to be exercised in using these techniques. This fact, alone, shows that there was no wanton or willful attempt to conduct illegal torture. That, in turn, makes this whole "prosecution" of the legal opinion a left-wing witch hunt; and an attempt to conduct a show trial that could be akin to a kangaroo court in some banana republic.

To those on the left...please grow up!

This whole thing shows that politics is being put before the safety of our nation. That, to me, is much more concerning than the minimally hurtful techniques that were used against a handful of terrorists who fully intended to kill as many Americans as possible. And, that's sad. Very sad.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Now, I'm Really Smelling a Rat!

Following the announcement of last month's unemployment rate of 8.5 percent , I questioned the accuracy of that number in my blog entry titled "Some Fuzzy Math On Unemployment". The Obama agency that released that number was the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS). The announced 8.5 percent conveniently "matched" what Obama's economic team was predicting as a high for 2009. How intuitive!

Shortly after the release of the national number, it is normal for the BLS to release the state information for the same period. This data is now available at Wikipedia (Click To See Data).

Conveniently, that report doesn't provide any foot and crossfooting computations of the state numbers that one would expect from an agency that has the word "statistics" in their name. So I did just that; and I came up with this report that includes some extended data that could either disprove or prove the accuracy of their national report (Click to View My Revised Report).

In each state's case, I plugged in the population of that state* and, then, based on the unemployment rate, I extracted the proportional number* of the unemployed for each state. Then, I footed all that data by totaling the population all the unemployed; and, then, calculated the overall rate of unemployment.

So, guess what? When I did all that, I got an unemployment rate of 8.8% which is closer to the 8.7 percent that I thought was the real rate was and a number that is three tenths of a percent higher than the 8.5 percent the BLS announced.

While I might be wrong due to some rounding errors, I don't think I can be off by more than 1/10th of a percent. I thought this was interesting.

*Note: Actual unemployment rates are calculated on the basis of "available workforce" and not pure population numbers. So, using my form of calculation, the overall unemployment number of 26 million who are out of work is too high of a number because it includes portions of the population who are not part of the workforce; such as children, retirees, handicapped, etc. Furthermore, there are individual states who have higher or lower workforces based on the amount of retirees and children in their population's mix. For sure, a retirement state like Florida has an "unemployed" number by me that is greatly overstated. Offsetting that would be a state like Michigan were retirees have a tendency to move away in their later years. However, the bottom line of 8.8 percent should be very accurate because it was extracted on a "proportional basis" and it smooths out the workforce variances by state.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Church Commission in Redux

Picture yourself as being blind and entering a strange room. Then, someone hits you on the side of your head. Suddenly, as a blind person, you've then lost both your bearings and confidence to get out of that room. You subsequently panic.

In many ways, the United States was a lot like that blind person in 2001 when the events of 9/11 hit. As a country, we were panicked by the events of that infamous day. The 9/11 Commission blamed much of what happened on an intelligence failure. The bottom line was that we really didn't have the "spying" wherewithal to see that 9/11 was coming. Consequently, we had to employ forms of harsh interrogation to overcome our "blindness" in order to keep this country safe. That's the real context in which harsh interrogations were done.

Much of that intelligence failure of 9/11 was a result of the Church Commission activities of the 1970's that forced this country to pull back from our spying throughout the world. Frank Church, a Democrat, and the Democrats of Congress who authorized his commission, followed the "peacenik" attitude of that time. They were all being driven by the hatred of anything that had to do with war and as a result of the failures of the Vietnam war. Those same attitudes continue on to this very day with the likes of Nancy Pelosi/Harry Reid/Barack Obama and most of the other anti-war Democrats that populate our Congress.

In many ways, the Church Commission was revived, yesterday, when Barack Obama said that he was "open" to prosecution of Bush Administration personnel that gave any "legal opinion" that allowed any harsh interrogation techniques (See Full Story).

If the Obama's gang of hateful lefties does go after the members of the Bush Administration, then, the effect of doing so can be as chilling to our intelligence operations, going forward, as was the effect of the Church Commission in the twenty-some years that lead up to 9/11. If former people in the Bush administration are, in some way, prosecuted, it will send a message to almost everyone in future administrations that they should hold back to avoid getting involved with any decisions that may come back to bite them in the future. At the very least, this means that "snap" decisions will not be made at times when quick decisions might be seriously needed. That could mean the difference of immediately acting on a lead (say, to catch Bin Laden) and, instead, letting it slip through our hands. At worse, it means that we may cripple our intelligence operations to the extent that we could easily suffer from the events of another 9/11-like event in the future.

This is so typical of this President and this Congress. Barack Obama talks of developing a Public/Private partnership to end this recession; but, then, turns around and constantly attacks Wall Street; forces reductions in pay and compensation; and back taxes incomes away. This just creates fear of government and hardly the partnership that is needed.

Similarly, in this situation, he talks of reaching across the aisle to unite and eliminate partisan politics. So, what does he do? He spawns a witch hunt over interrogations to cause increased division. Also, with this week's actions, he is creating an environment of "fear" that will, more than likely, cripple our intelligence operations. This despite his daily Obama-speak that says he wakes up each morning concerned about the safety of this country.

From the day he released the memo about harsh interrogation techniques, it was his intention to inflame his base on the left such as After all, he is a product of and George Soros. They are the puppet masters for this guy.

In order to satisfy the left of his base and their rabid hate of Bush and his people, Obama is now willing to put our country at risk for god-only-knows how many years to come; just like the bone-headed Frank Church and his stupid commission. If the Bush Administration's legal opinions are illegal activities and so set in concrete in this country, then, maybe, we should prosecute every single Federal Judge whose decisions and opinions were ultimately overturned by our Supreme Court. After all, in most of those cases that judge's faulty decision completely violated some one's constitutional rights. We could start prosecutions with the most overturned court system in this country: The left-wing, California-based 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Maybe, too, Obama's Attorney General, Eric Holder, should be prosecuted for his abuse of power in advising Mr. Clinton that he should give Marc Rich a full and complete pardon in what appears to be purely political payback for fund raising operations by Rich's wife. Then, too, Eric Holder should also explain his motives for also advising President Clinton to give 16 Puerto Rican nationalists --- who were all enemies of our State --- clemency. Maybe we should prosecute any Senator or Congressman who authors a bill and who gains its approval and it is passed into law; only to be overturned as being unconstitutional by our Supreme Court.

If we are going to go down this road of political retaliation every time a new Administration and dominant political party takes over, then those who are in charge, today, should be prepared for the same when they leave office. For example, if there is any waste in all this stimulus, maybe we should prosecute members of this Administration for misappropriation of funds. What this President and this left-wing Congress are doing is establishing a serious precedent for future decisions of government.

There is much that this country does that is far more torturous than waterboarding or the releasing of a caterpillar in a room with a known terrorists to extract valuable information. Think about Janet Reno, then working for Bill Clinton, and her directive to create high intensive lighting and loud music so that the Branch Davidians couldn't sleep and so they would eventually surrender. Wasn't that torture? Every day, hundreds of suspected criminals are tasered. I'm not actually sure, but tasers are probably just as extreme and injurious to a person as waterboarding or slamming someone into a padded wall. What about the psychological effects of putting prison inmates into solitary confinement. Is that not a form of torture?

As a country, and for over three years now , we have been well aware that waterboarding was being done. You can thank the New York Times for that. Yet, the people on the left are "now" acting as if this was the first time we ever heard of it. That's because this is another one of Obama's orchestrations of hate and division. It is just like the picketing of AIG homes by the SEIU labor union and by ACORN; Obama support organizations. This time, the "go-signal" was Obama's intentional release of the Bush Justice Department memos. This, then, became the appetizer for the hard left to literally go nuts. You had the far left crazies like Feinstein, Feingold, Leahy, Conyers, Soros, and mobilize (just like the ACORN and SEIU over AIG bonuses). This reminds me of the same kinds of mobilizations you would see in a "banana republic" when the in-charge dictator would get thousand of loyalists into the streets to make it look as if the whole country was in an uproar over some whipped-up issue.

Lastly, our Congress, both Democrats and Republicans, were well aware of these interrogation techniques as a result of many confidential briefings that they attended during the Bush years. This is whole thing is political maneuvering and another attempt by this President to divide this country.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Forgotten Millions

In the 2008 election, 231 million out of a population of 300 million were eligible to vote; but, only 57% or 132 million actually did. A total of 53 percent of those, who actually did vote, voted for Obama. That means that, on the basis of actual votes, only about 70 million people or 30 percent of this country's 231 million eligible voters actually put Obama into office.

For sure, Obama won the election. But, by the sheer numbers of that election, he did not win by some massive voting majority. There was no mandate in his election. A plus three percentage majority is hardly a mandate. Yet, when you listen to the members of Obama's team, like David Axelrod, the millions of Americans who disagree with Obama's policies should just shut up because they didn't win. In other words, and in the minds of the left, those who didn't vote for Obama have completely lost any and all representation in Washington, D.C. So, in essence, the losers should just accept all this spending and the new taxes this government is dishing out.

The original Tea Party, the one that was held in Boston in 1773, occurred as a result of the British imposed taxes that resulted from the Tea Act of that same year. In essence, it was a revolt against taxation without representation. Many on the left argue that those who are conducting today's Tea Parties have no understanding of history and what the original Tea Party was all about. To those who think that, I would say their sense of history is misplaced. This Obama/Reid/Pelosi government is fervently implementing taxation while totally forgetting the millions who didn't vote for them. Furthermore, they are attempting to use seldom-implemented and end-around Congressional procedures so that a two-thirds majority Senate approval, as mandated by the Constitution, isn't needed to approve all their tax and spending plans. That to me, this is nothing less than taxation without representation.

The Tea Parties are an expression of opposition as mandated by the First Amendment of our Constitution and our Freedom of Speech. They are a non-violent means of expressing an objection to all the taxes and spending that is being imposed on this country. It amazes me how reactionary the left is against these expressions of free speech. David Axelrod, himself, said that they were unhealthy (See Full Story). Yet these same people thought nothing of the abject war protests by Code Pink and at a time when we were trying to win a war in Iraq. Apparently, that wasn't unhealthily; even though those protests probably gave our enemy the impetus to press on.

Someone should tell the Democrats, especially David Axelrod, that the suppression of speech is what is really unhealthy. No political party should ever have a blank check for spending and their hands completely wrapped around our wallets. The Tea Party movement is gaining strength because Americans are concerned over the direction of our nation. The polls are reflecting that. Obama still has a personal popularity that is slightly above the mean, but when America is polled about his individual policies, the polling reflects something well south of 50%; more often than not, below 35%. This kind of disconnect is serving Obama well, right now, but it will ultimately hurt him in the future. This is what happened to Jimmy Carter while he was president; and, history should not be ignored. Just like Obama, Carter had a majority in both Houses of Congress and had an overly aggressive social agenda. That was his downfall and the reason that Reagan won and the Democratic majority in Congress receded. This stupid belief that millions of Americans should be silent for the next 4 years while Obama is President is just ridiculous.

I seem to remember that the left, feeling that Bush stole the election from Gore, was hardly silent from the day that George Bush took office.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Meaningless Savings

With a deficit that is projected to exceed $1.75 trillion in this year alone, the United States government is spending over $200 million per hour, every hour, in excess of its available funds.

Now, Obama has announced that he has challenged his "team" to scour the Federal budget and come up with a $100 million in wasteful spending (See Full Story) . He has tasked them to do so in just 90 days. That means that he and his team are committed in offsetting a whopping half hour's worth of this year's excess spending.

If he does meet that goal, he only has to make a dent in another 17,519 half hour's worth of spending to wipe out this year's entire deficit. But at a rate of $100 million in savings for every three months of work, that means Team Obama should be able to find enough wasteful spending to offset this year's deficit if they would simply press on for the next 13,140 years.

With that in mind, Mr. Obama is still confident that he will cut last year's deficit in half by 2013. Well, good luck, Mr. Obama! However, a miracle, and not just luck, appears to be in order if you really want to meet this goal.

Monday, April 20, 2009

From Bailout To Buyout

The New York Times is now reporting that the Obama Administration wants those banks who were given bailout money to convert the amount of their loans into common stock (See Full Story). If this happens, the banks become, in most cases, majority owned and controllable by our Federal government. In effect, our government has decided to become a "corporate raider" and elected to no longer be creditor as was originally intended and as authorized by Congress. Anyway you shake it, it is the nationalization of our banking system in an end-around fashion. While it might be less heavy-handed and less obvious than Chavez's "eminent domain" kind of seizure of strategic businesses in Venezuela, it is still a form of nationalization and socialization of a key industry in our country.

This is more than just the simple helping back to health of a failing industry. Instead, this is a power-play that is intended to control all businesses in America. That's because all companies and all businesses, at some point in time, need credit from our banks to conduct their business and to expand. If our government is "the bank" by virtue of its majority ownership, that bank can impose strict demands on any business wanting a loan. Those "impositions" can include restrictions on pay and executive compensation. It could mandate "green-only" business operations. Businesses could be told that they won't be given a loan unless or until they cease their overseas operations. Furthermore, just focusing on the bank itself, with the government effectively owning that bank, they can decide who runs that bank; who the board of directors are; and, what business operations that bank can or can't get into.

To me, this is a subversion of any concept of our system of capitalism and the first steps creating a French-like revolution towards a socialist society. Apparently, this has been Obama's plan from the very beginning. Anyone who can't see this is just a fool; and, apparently, there are just too many fools in this country who are willing to let him get away with it.

Racism: The Left's Argument of Last Resort

When a person on the political left digs down into their bag of arguments and the only thing they can come up with is a handful of air, then its time for them to use their tired, old, if-all-else-fails tactic of calling someone a racist or trying to portray them as either moronic or insane.

Totally confounded by the rationale being presented by those participating in the nationwide Tea Parties, one such mindless reactionary on the left, Janeane Garofalo, had no intelligent means of arguing against their concerns except to use the following two reasons.

First, without having even the slightest inclination as to why someone would actually object to unbridled government spending, taxation, and massive social programs, Ms. Garofalo's only conclusion is that the "tea baggers" are all racists (Click to See the Video). This conclusion is only natural because we have a Black President. How perfectly convenient is that! So, if you object to anything that a Black President says or does, you have to be a racist. There just can't be any other reason. Certainly not an intelligent one. Isn't that so fashionably left?

Then, if that's not enough, she goes on to a purely scientific conclusion that people on the right have a problem with their gray matter being too large for their skulls and that causes pressure on the limbic region of their brains. That, in turn, causes all kinds of aberrant thoughts. Wow! Apparently, Ms. Garofalo has now obtained a PhD in behavioral sciences. Maybe we should all call her "doctor" instead of what most of us are really thinking she should be called. Of course, if the limbic region is being so affected, the olfactory nerves would also malfunction and those on the right would probably be unable to "smell a rat" --- as in all of Obama's policies. But, I think their sniffers and their "limbics" are working just fine.

Apparently, Ms. Garofalo is unaware that the government spending of both the political right and the left was being castigated during the Tea Parties. Obama is just the last straw of many straws. Therefore, her racism argument falls flat when the purpose of those Tea Parties is looked at in its totality.

All the time that Garofalo was spewing out this nonsense, the bobble-headed Keith Olbermann could be heard agreeing. In terms of Ms. Garofalo limbic region concerns, I think that both she and Olbermann might do themselves a favor and have their own "regions" checked out. But, I would caution. Instead of finding a brain that was too large for their skulls, my guess is that researchers would find massive and complete atrophy, instead.

It is really sad that those on the left and in our media can't see the real purpose of the Tea Parties. Garofalo and Olbermann are just two examples of how clueless the automaton media is with regard to the debt that is being accumulated by our government. A debt that is so massive that we, as a country, will never be able to repay it. That's not just my opinion; it's a reality.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Too Many Inconsistencies on Abortion

In this country, if a woman is pregnant and is shot dead, the killer will, more than likely, be charged with a double homicide. Yet, any person who aborts a fetus is not a killer.

Generally speaking, the latter is not a crime because it all has to do with a "woman's right to choose".

I personally don't know where a woman's "right" to choose is actually written down. Our constitution doesn't define that right. It isn't specifically defined in the Bill of Rights. However, I do know that the phrase "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" appears in the Declaration of Independence and, to me, abortion takes those supposed inalienable rights away from an unborn person who is being aborted. If a "woman's right to choose" is a real right, and not a privilege, than it should be irrevocable. After all, it is a supposed "right." With that in mind, there should be no point in time at which a child could not be disposed of. In theory, that also means that the right exists beyond a child's birth. But, as a society, we have decided to revoke that right in the third trimester. So, therefore, one could argue that it isn't really a right.

I find it interesting that the same people who support and promote abortion are against capital punishment. In the case of the unborn being aborted, the right to life is being taken away through no fault of that fetus. In the case of a known killer, the right to his or her life is maintained because, basically, we have no right to take someone else's life. How confusing is that?

I realize that abortion is the law of this land. However, I think it contradicts the basic foundations on which this country was built. It is interesting that laws can be written to override rights that we want to afford everyone in America; whether born or unborn. Even more disconcerting is the fact that a set of humans, our Supreme Court, can so easily decide to take the lives away from the unborn. And, for sure, the unborn are at a disadvantage because they can't vote.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Our Military And Right-Wing Extremism

Earlier this week, a report was released by Obama's Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that warned police departments, throughout America, to be watchful for the rise of right-wing extremism (See Full Story). The approving authority of that report, the head of DHS, Janet Napolitano, specifically referenced returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan as being possible recruits for this kind of radicalism. In support of her shoddy theory, she referenced back to a 13-year old event involving Timothy McVeigh --- a military veteran --- and the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City. Apparently, this one event in the 233 year history of the United States is the sole rationale for her report.

Having enlisted and served from 1968 to 1974, I think I can legitimately speak to the nature of those who have served and are serving in our United States Military.

First and foremost, those who enlist in our military are patriots. They will risk losing their own lives in defending this country and its policies; both abroad and here at home. There is "no" sign hanging over the door of any military recruiting office that says: "Left-wing liberals need not apply!" In essence, the military is a microcosm of the United States with liberals, conservatives, and independents proudly serving their country. To say anything otherwise would imply that liberals don't serve in the military and are less patriotic; and, I doubt that any Democrat, especially Janet Napolitano, would ever think that to be the case. In fact, blacks, who are primarily Democrats, make up about 17 percent of the military's population. That's higher than the 13 percent of blacks in the general population. And, I hardly think that Blacks are the "sole" liberals serving in the military.

Millions upon millions of military have served this country over our history. Tens of thousands of men and women leave the military every year because they either retire or because they have decided to leave after having served only one or two enlistment periods. Roughly speaking, the current and former military make up about 10% or about 30 million of our nation's population. To use one situation, Timothy McVeigh, as rationale for a potential, internal, extremist attack is simple statistical nonsense. Ms. Napolitano has a higher risk of being personally hit by lightning than having a repeat of the Murrah Building attack.

Now, I'd like to give Ms. Napolitano something bigger to worry about...

Much of our civilian police force is made up of ex-military. Some might actually be right wingers! I don't know if she considered whether or not our police departments should be conducting internal investigations to see if any real "right-wing extremists" are "hiding" like secret cells within their ranks. What's worse, much of the our nation's commercial airline pilots are ex-Air Force and ex-Navy pilots. Shouldn't we be worried that some number of right-wing conspirators are at the controls of one of those 250 ton bombs that are flying over our heads?

In reality, the left wing has conducted more attacks on America than any so-called right-wing extremists. Mr. Obama has a close friend, William Ayers, who is a perfect example of a left-wing, anti-American extremist who attempted to destroy government buildings and who didn't hardly worry about killing Americans in the process. In fact, he has publicly stated that he has no regrets for what he did. To me, left-wing environmental groups like the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) are more of a daily threat to our lives than any skinheads living in Idaho. At least the skinheads are more easily identifiable than those nuts. Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, was a college mathematician and a professor. Using the McVeigh analogy, it might be more appropriate for our cops to be watching every PhD in America who teaches mathematics at one of our very, left-wing Universities like Berkley or Harvard; both former Kaczynski alma maters. But, the liberal Ms. Napolitano would probably think that would be silly. Right?

I just think that Obama and Napolitano are creating another bogey man for them to downplay those on the political right. This is "SOP" for any Democrat. This is their method of dividing and conquering in political terms. Let's not forget the "vast right-wing conspiracy" that Hillary Clinton referred to constantly, and personally blamed for Bill's inappropriate use of a cigar in the Oval Office. In Hillary's mind, it wasn't Bill's act, but rather, the use of it by the right-wing to take down Bill. Furthermore, it just another example of the left's hatred of our military and what that military represents. No matter how many times they go to Walter Reed Hospital or lay wreaths on a soldier's grave, they really don't, deep down inside, respect any military veterans.

I am concerned that we might be attacked again. But, I think we should be less concerned about our ex-military being responsible for any attack and more concerned about the "weak" attitude of this current, liberal government in preventing an attack. The fact that we have gone back to the days of Bill Clinton and his treatment of terrorism as a police action and not a military concern is more worrisome than anything else. After all, it was Clinton's soft-0n-terrorism attitude that lead up to 9/11. It was Bush's tough-on-terrorism attitude that kept us safe for the last 7+ years. That's a reality.... and, not some political posturing!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Commercial Real Estate: The Next Shoe

As economic activity continues to slow, the next shoe to drop may be a spate of real estate bankruptcies and foreclosures as small retailers and businesses shutdown in our malls, strip malls, store fronts, and in our industrial parks.

This week, one of the nation's largest retail space developers/managers filed for bankruptcy protection. Simply speaking, that company, General Growth Properties or GGP, saw it's revenues for store leases decline to the extent that it could no longer cover all its mortgage and debt obligations (See Full Story).

Just like the home mortgage defaults, these kind of commercial property problems will hit our banks hard because, like those risky home loans, some of these commercial properties were covered by credit default swaps. But, even worse than the housing market, there is only a limited market for empty office and retail space when an economy hits hard times. That means that these commercial spaces could sit idle for a very long time; even years. As a result, the losses of individual commercial property values could be greater than price declines that we saw in the housing market.

Image by bradleygee's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Another Apology Trip?

Today, President Obama is winging his way to meet with Mexican President, Felipe Calderon (See Full Story).

I suppose he will, like Hillary Clinton before him, apologize all over himself for our uncontrolled drug usage; our flagrant sale of guns; and, probably, for our former reluctance under the Bush Administration to not allow an unimpeded stampede of illegal Mexican immigrants into our country. After all, Obama, like most Democrats, probably thinks Mexico is just a suburb of the United States with thousands of new voters just waiting to become citizens so they can vote as Democrats in our elections.

It seems like Air Force One has become the vehicle for Obama to grovel on the world stage. Maybe, we should just rename the President's plane "Apology One" and completely drop its former moniker. I think this apologetic weakness by Obama was clearly expressed by French President Sarkozy following the G20 meeting (See Full Story).

AreThe Tea PartiesThe Beginning of a New Political Party?

While conservatives/Republicans made up the majority of those attending the nationwide Tea Parties of yesterday, there were plenty of Democrats and Libertarians that also attended. The theme wasn't necessarily against the Democrats in power; but, instead, against big spending by both Republicans under Bush, and the Democrats of today.

I think the Tea Parties represent a reaction against taxes upon taxes without any real benefits to the greater good. This just might be the small roots of what could be a new political party. It could be the "change" that Obama talked about but not the change he expected; and, Obama could have been both the catalyst and the last straw.

This new party could be a party of fiscal responsibility. A party that is tired of the same old Washington games with our politicians being bought off by both money and influence. It could be the beginnings of a return to what this country was actually founded upon. A government of the people; by the people; and for the people...with liberty and justice for all -- not just the rich, the well-connected, and all too often, the criminals, themselves.

I think that both the Republicans and the Democrats, should be worried about what happened yesterday. If this is the start of a new political party, we could see the memberships of both existing parties start to be siphoned off to the extent that neither of them would remain strong enough to compete on a national basis. For sure, the Republican party might actually cease to exist. The Democrats could be simply left with a membership that is composed of some minority societal elements.

We'll have to wait and see what happens.

Image by Susan E Adams' photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Socialism Versus Capitalism

In a recent Rasmussen Poll, only 53% of Americans being polled said they liked capitalism. Of the remaining, 20% said they would prefer socialism and 27% were apparently too dumb to know the difference between the two different kinds of societies (See Full Story).

To those who would prefer socialism, I would like to point them to France where, every night, cars are being burned in protest to a society that takes care of their every need but gives them no self-gratification in terms of employment and upward mobility (See Full Story). For the poor with any ambition, that's what socialism is all about.

Believe me, the expression, known the world over, of "Living the American Dream" didn't come to be out of any form of socialist government. The "American Dream" is why so many leave their socialist counties behind to come and stay in the warm, capitalist confines of the United States.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

My Props To Obama On Hostage/Piracy Situation

As someone who has constantly criticized Barack Obama over almost every single one of his policies, I have to say that he gets my congrats on a job well done with regard to the hostage/piracy crisis of this last week.

His use of the U.S. Navy to resolve this issue was excellent and the results bear that out. Because of that fact, we didn't have to face the death of a valiant Captain Richard Phillips of the hijacked Maersk cargo ship.

Of course, no one, not even Obama or our Navy, can take away from the heroism of Captain Phillips who exchanged his life for his ship, and the lives of his crewmembers. He is the true hero in this whole situation.

I would only hope that the world community can come together to squash what has become an increasing occurrence of piracy out of the lawless country of Somalia. All too often, these pirates are targeting mercy ships that carry food, water, and medical supplies to the war-torn and economically depressed areas of that region. Most assuredly, some people have probably died because these much-needed items didn't make it to their destination on a timely basis. So, in essence, the pirates are murderers and should be viewed as such.

I don't follow the liberal belief that providing economic aid to the area will stop the piracy. Even, if it did, it would take decades of rebuilding the Somali economy to have any real effect. We need to stop the mother ships that bring these fast-boat pirates to their targets. We need to attack their training camps which can probably be seen from military satellite imagery.

Piracy will stop when the risk of personal loss is so great that it makes no sense to even attempt another ship boarding. And, that's just my opinion.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Obama's Financial Gurus: The Gang That Can't Shoot Straight

Obama released his 2010 budget on February 26th (See Full Story). As part of that release, he said that the deficit for this year would be $1.75 trillion dollars.

At the time that the budget was released, the first five months of the 2009 budget year had already yielded a $764.5 billion dollar deficit with an average monthly deficit of about $152 billion dollars. For March, the sixth month of the current budget year, Team Obama projected a $150 billion deficit and that would be $2 billion less than the trend of the prior 5 months.

Well, guess what? They were wrong...and...wrong...big time! The numbers are now in and the deficit for March is $192.3 billion (See Full Story). For Team Obama, that's an unfavorable 28 percent miss to the upside on a projection that is barely a month old. With that in mind, how can anyone believe that his total economic plan can be the slightest bit accurate. If that March number represents a trend that continues for the balance of the budget year, budget year 2009 will end with at least a $2.1 trillion dollar deficit as compared to Obama's projection of $1.75 trillion. That would be at least a 20 percent miss for the whole year. And, given March's miss, I think that a 25% percent miss or a deficit of $2.2 trillion is highly likely.

If Obama isn't even close with an outlook that is only a month ahead of the fact, how can he believe that he will be accurate with his projections for next year; the next 4 years; and, ten years out? As I keep saying, these people are just blowing smoke with all of their rosy forecasts. Team Obama is either the "gang that couldn't shoot straight" or they are intentionally lying in order to implement a very socialistic agenda. Originally I that they were indeed lying and not incompetent. Now, I am beginning to believe that are both.

One last comment. It is interesting that Obama's Treasury Department waited until late Friday on a big, religious holiday weekend to release the data. Obviously, this was an deliberate act to sweep this under the rug. It also helped that the Somali Pirate story dominated the news. Another example of the pseudo-transparency that we've come to expect out of Team Obama.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Please enjoy the time you are able to spend with your family and friends on this day of both glory and tradition.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Obama's "Bow Wow" Puppy-Dog Moment

Up until the release of this picture, the only image of Barack Obama that we had of his now-famous "bow" to the Saudi king was a video that was somewhat obscured by that person who is standing to Obama's right (See Video). Because we couldn't see everything in that video, the White House staff was able to refute the "bow" with some other, ridiculous explanations. First, it was that Obama was taller and he had to bend down to be face-to-face with the king. Then, Press Secretary Gibbs said it wasn't a bow and that Obama was just bent over to shake the king's hand with both hands (See Video). However, this image (above) says it all; and, it clearly says that the prior White House "excuses" were plain and simple lies.

In the image above, Obama's head is clearly "down" (as in adoration) and he is not looking into the face of the king as would be normal in any kind of handshake. He is stooped over; back straight; and, he is at a level where his head is actually lower than the King's shoulders. His right leg is set backwards in a near curtsy position. This is clearly a bow and nothing but a bow; so help me, Mohammad!

Lastly, unlike the Saudi King, Obama didn't have to bow to the Queen of England because, contrary to the belief that she is only 5 foot 1 inches tall, she is actually 6'7" and played center for England's Olympic basketball team in 1948. I guess it was just the camera angles in all the recent photo shoots that made her look so short! Then, too, people do lose some height with age.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Why We Will All Be Paying For The Latest State Tax Hikes

I live in Las Vegas and we have no State income tax. Yet, when California raises it's taxes, I will probably pay for it too; someday. The same is true if New York raises its taxes. That's because, overall, the Federal tax revenues are being reduced with every increase in State income and sales taxes; and, eventually, the Federal government will have to make up for those losses by, somehow, taxing us all.

Under the current tax laws, you have a choice of taking the standard deduction against your income or, instead, itemizing your deductions. In most cases, small businesses or high salaried/income tax filers already itemize their deductions because they have an aggregate amount of income offsets that exceed the standard IRS deduction. As part of that itemized deduction process, you can either deduct your State income tax or your paid State sales taxes; but, not both.

So, if a State, like California or New York, raises their income tax rate by, say, 1 percent, the high salaried/income or small business residents of that State, who are able to itemize deductions on their Federal tax returns, will effectively reduce their Federally taxed income by 1 percent; and, as a result, the Federal taxes on that income would be totally lost. The same is true in States that have no income tax, like Nevada or Florida or Texas, but raise their sales taxes. Federal tax filers in those States who itemize will be able to reduce their taxable income by the effective increase in their State's sales tax rate.

In a country that increasingly depends on the so-called rich of our society to pay their taxes so that others won't have to, this is another tax law problem that will make it more difficult for Obama to pay for all his spending because it primarily affects the highest taxpayers of this country. This, too, is why I think the deficit will be greater than what the Obama Administration thinks; because, besides the loss of tax revenues from reduced business activity and lost jobs, they will be losing increased tax revenues as a result of the 10 or more States that are planning some massive tax hikes on sales and income taxes(See Full Story). That's not just my opinion but a fact!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Obama: Our Talk,Talk, and Keep Talking Paper Tiger

For all of Obama's boot-licking at the G20; his bowing to the Saudi King (Click To See Video); and, his laying prostrate before the world by accusing America of past arrogance and apologizing for a variety of other ills, it certainly didn't buy him anything.

The G20 didn't buy into his call for his Obama-style, stimulus-to-bankruptcy, plan that he went begging for. Instead we will probably give control of our banking system and securities markets to some yet-to-be-determined world entity. The dollar may stop being the world's reserve currency because Obama may be toying with some asinine world currency concept; a move that could result in a weakening, not strengthening, of our economy and our balance of trade.

Also lacking, as a result of Obama's apology tour, the NATO countries wouldn't cough up any more troops or support for the War in Afghanistan. When he needed support on a tough resolution against North Korea, Russia and China told our newbie Prez to, figuratively, pound sand. Furthermore, Russia hasn't moved an inch in its support of nukes for Iran; even though Obama gave in to Russia for that very reason. Therefore we won't be installing an Eastern European missile defense system. Also, Pakistan has shunned his request for joint operations on the Iraqi border (See Full Story). What a great track record!

Groveling is unbecoming of a U.S. President; but, apparently not for this amateur. I personally view Obama's trip as a weakening of America's dominant position in the world. I think our foes on the world stage only see a guy who is a always ready to "give-in" and carrying a bag full of carrots and nary a stick. This constant apologizing for America's past ills without standing up for the great things that this country has done for the world is just stupid and makes him look weak. This is the JFK scenario all over again (See my past blog entry: Are We Ready For the Mistakes Of J.F.K., Again).

During the campaign, Michelle Obama said: "For the first time in my life, I am proud to be an American." I'm just waiting for Barack Obama to, somehow... somewhere, make that same statement; hopefully, sans the unbelievable "for the first time in my life" commentary. Maybe now it is clear why he had such a close circle of blame-America friends like Reverend Wright and William Ayers (See Ayers posing while standing on our American flag). How can anyone forget Reverend Wright's "God Damn America" screed! (See this very telling video montage)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

North Korea Update

On Sunday in Prague, with guidance from President Obama, an emergency meeting of the United Nation's Security Council was called to condemn the launching of North Korea's latest long range missile. After 3 days of wrangling, it now looks like a harsh rebuke of North Korea will be issued by the United Nations. The only problem now is whether or not words lsuch as "We're not happy with what you've done" or "Please don't do it again" will be used in the opening text of the communique to North Korea. The only sticking point now is that some members, like China and Russia, are concerned that "not happy" and "Please don't" represent too severe of a reprimand.

Of course, I'm being a bit sarcastic but it highlights the fact that the United Nations is totally worthless when it comes to world security. The fact that the United Nations can't come together shows how useless Obama's huff and puff is when it comes to the U.N. getting tough with anything or anybody. Obama's charm and sucking up to world leadership isn't going to get him anywhere when you are dealing with the likes of China and Russia who both have veto power in the Security Council and a strong trading relationship with another country like North Korea.

In my opinion, the United Nations is just a black hole that takes in money -- mostly from the United States -- and produces little more than can be achieved by the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and Save the Children. Their peace keeping operations work fine as long as they don't have to actually keep the peace. At the first sign of gunfire, those blue UN helmets are flying off the heads of their wearers as those armed peace keepers throw down their guns and literally run to the safety of their own home countries. The only time anything has ever been successfully done under the U.N. banner was when the United States did it; and, mostly when the U.S. did it on their own.

Liberals should wake up to this fact!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Military Spending Madness

Albert Einstein once defined madness as doing the same thing over and over again in the anticipation of seeing a different result.

To that end, Barack Obama and this Congress are in the process of repeating the mistakes of Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton with respect to military spending.

Following the failure of the Vietnam War, Jimmy Carter and his dominant Democratic Congress decided to slash military spending. This was despite the growing threat from the Soviet Union. When Ronald Reagan came into office, he rebuilt the military and many believe that this was the single-most contributing factor to the collapse of that communist block of countries. In essence, Russia's communist/socialist society couldn't compete, economically, with our capitalist-supported growth in military strength.

Then, following the collapse of the U.S.S.R., Bill Clinton and his very supportive, Democratic congressional majority decided to, once again, slash military spending. Bill Clinton called it the "Peace Dividend" and slashed our troop strength by 30 percent or by 600,000 service members. Then, 9/11 occurred during the following Bush's presidency and we went to war in Afghanistan and, ultimately, Iraq. We know from both of these conflicts that more troops were absolutely needed to maintain the peace but we were being hobbled by the past reductions of the Clinton Administration. The "surge" proved that more was better. But success in Afghanistan suffered because there weren't enough total troops to support a surge-like effort in both countries at the same time.

Now enter Obama.

Once again there is a move to minimize our military's spending. Cuts are being planned in missile defense, F-22's, the new Marine One helicopters, and a variety of other weapons systems. Interestingly, though, it appears troop strength will be increased and this is a direct slap to the past reductions by the Clinton Administration (See Full Story).

Surely, some of these programs, especially the new Marine helicopter, are wasteful and will not necessarily make us any more secure. But, to cut out 2 billion dollars for the deployment of missile defense is just penny-wise and pound-foolish. What is even more insane is that we announced the missile defense cut at the very same time that North Korea launched another weapons-capable missile. In February, Iran was able to launch a satellite into space using their long range missile capability. How long do you think it will be before either Iran or North Korea hands that technology over to the likes of Hugo Chavez? Or, worse yet, a nuke and missile system to Al Qaeda?

It just seems we never learn from our past and we are again buying into the madness that Einstein once defined. Obama's sole focus, now, are on his social programs. But, the neighborhood we now live in is actually more dangerous than ever before. It is if we are living in a bad neighborhood, buying iPods and Big Screen TV's, while our windows are left wide open and doors unlocked.

Al Qaeda and the Taliban are not defeated. Iran and North Korea are threatening to be serious nuclear powers; while developing missile-delivery capabilities. Both Iran and North Korea are known peddlers of weapons technologies. China is spending billions to be a dominant world military power. Russia is threatening to rise once again by trying to rebuild its military. Amid all this, we are cutting back. That is truly madness!

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Rosy Rose Losing It's Petals?

When Barack Obama released his budget and deficit projections, more than just a few people thought they were absolutely too rosy (See Full Story). I wrote about this when I wrote my blog entry titled: Numbers Are What You Make Of Them.

Now, only 5 weeks after submitting that budget, one of the key statistics that Obama's economic team used to develop it and to estimate their deficit projections, the unemployment rate for 2009, has already been blown out of the water. Team Obama had said that unemployment would only reach 8.1 percent for this year and fall to 7.9 percent for next year (as noted in the above linked news article from Reuters news). Friday's jobs data came in at 8.5 percent unemployment and that is a rate that is 4-tenths of a percent higher than Obama's projected ceiling for the year. What's worse, we continue to lose jobs at a clip of 650,000+ per week with the amount of those remaining unemployed still growing. Furthermore, the overall unemployment rate had been somewhat buoyed by job additions in the government sector; but, that has come to an end with this last report showing a loss of 5,000 government jobs (See Full Story).

We already know that Obama's stimulus bill was more back-loaded than front-loaded with only 27% of the "job's creation" funding being set for this year. However, that number appeared to be rosier, too, because it now looks as if there are a number of conditions being placed on the use of the stimulus money, like Davis-Bacon work rules being applied to non-Federal projects, that will ultimately force many of the so-called shovel-ready jobs to be either dropped or to be re-bid and delayed by months. For that reason, 27% of work funding for 2009 may slip to 20%, or even much less.

Most economists are projecting an "average" unemployment rate of between 8.5% and 9.3% for 2009. Even the optimal average projection of 8.5 is substantially higher than Obama's ceiling of 8.1%. And, all those projections are in conflict with a past Obama statement that his projections are in line with most mainstream economists. I guess "mainstream" is what you define it as; sort of like a past President who said: "It depends on what the definition of is is."

We are almost a third of the way through this year and the rise in unemployment isn't abating. Many feel we will hit a level of 10 percent unemployment before leveling off. If that turns out to be the case, we will end the year at an average level of unemployment that is greatly above that very optimistic and rosy number that Obama's entire budget and deficit projections are being built upon. That, in turn, will destroy much of Obama's rosy estimates for any of those years going forward. If so, his plans for reducing the deficit by half won't even be close.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

A Society That Can't Handle Failure

In the last 3 weeks, dozens of Americans have been slain by distraught murder/suicide killers. Women have been killed. The elderly and children. Police have been gunned down.

At the heart of each one of these killings is a person who is so tormented that they have decided to strike out in anger over their own failures in life. It is not good enough for them to simply kill themselves. They must take others, usually strangers, with them to the grave.

The frequency of these horrendous crimes is increasing and I believe that today's society is at the core of this problem. We have literally created a me-too and give-me mindset in America. Success and failure are measured by what we have or possess and not necessarily by what we have accomplished. Things, like iPhones, cars, and big homes are the "bling" that says we are successful. Increasingly, we expect the government to take care of us. That's why the savings rate in this country is so low. No one, ourselves or our government, saves anything for a rainy day. We just spend. Well now, the rainy days are here.

With the economy faltering, all that bling is being taken away from those who are on the economic fringe. People are losing their jobs and those jobs which were essential to them having and maintain all those possessions.

Increasingly, people can't accept failure because our society attempts to give them things that they haven't worked for or are even entitled to. The housing collapse is a perfect example. Past government actions have intentionally allowed too many unqualified buyers to obtain homes with risky mortgages. Now these people are facing failure and, as a consequence, some might lash out at society.

In our schools, there are attempts to abandon testing or any grading system because it might make those less-capable students feel badly. Some universities have dropped SAT's as a measure of a prospective student's entry into that college. Union wage scales, too, stifle exceptional individualism in both performance and creativity. Just upping the minimum wage can be a crutch, for some, to just live the status quo and to believe that the government will always take care of them.

This country was originally built on the basis of individual drive and initiative. I see that spirit being diluted by the homogenization of our society. You can call it liberalism or you can call it socialism. But anyway you shake it, it is taking its toll on the human spirit. The increasing rates of murder/suicides are the symptom.

People learn from the many failures in life. Each failure strengthens the human spirit to be a better person. By not allowing small failures to occur in our lives, such as in school, we become unable to cope when a big failure hits us; like the loss of our job or our home. The frequency of these murder/suicides is increasing because failures are increasing. What we have seen in the last 3 weeks is probably just a start of more to come as people fail to cope with the current and massive changes in their lives. And, that's just my opinion.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

No News Isn't Good News

Apparently, a Democrat, Senator Ben Cardin, thinks that the newspaper industry of America can be saved by giving the newspaper companies a non-profit tax status (See Full Story). This just shows how out-of-touch our lawmakers are when it comes to taxes and businesses. It also exposes the fact that Democrats, too, think taxes hurt businesses. Something that a Democrat like Cardin wouldn't otherwise admit.

First, for the clueless Ben Cardin, I have a surprise: Those newspapers who are in jeopardy of going bankrupt or who have gone bankrupt are already non-profits because they aren't making any money. Because of this, they aren't paying any taxes. Paying taxes is not the problem.

Simply speaking, the problem with the newspaper industry is their business model. A model that, in essence, hasn't really been changed since the days of Ben Franklin; except for advertising.

The nation's newspapers are losing money because they are still operating with a massive printing and distribution infrastructure that can't compete with the low costs of delivering news vis a vis the Internet. Today, even though the population has grown, circulations have fallen off and have left them holding a big bag full of expensive printing presses, distribution trucks and all the supporting labor that is greater than their current levels of circulation.

First, I think they need to make a move to completely abandon paper for their news. The process of printing the news on paper is just too expensive.

Using the Internet is the first step. In the past, attempts to charge for Internet news distribution have failed. That's why I think they need a two-tiered system of distributing the news. They need to provide a free cursory news service that is expanded upon by a fee-based service. Think of the cursory service as being the sample candies being given out at a candy store to promote sales.

The in-depth, fee-based news could provide expanded news and commentary (the op-ed's), and even expanded want ads, obituaries, and expanded sale ads and coupons. The sale ads actually have a large audience. The monthly price should be reflective of the lowered operational costs. They should also give people an opportunity to read the online, fee-based news at a pay-per-view rate that is equivalent to buying a newspaper at a newsstand.

I also think that the industry can help itself by collectively developing a cheap, effective hand-held electronic reader that is akin to today's eBook devices (See Wikipedia Overview). The price target should be under $30. This is important because many people can't be tied to a PC for their news. They need the freedom to read the news on a train or on a bus or while having their breakfast coffee, or whatever.

The device should have the ability to download the complete news in just a few seconds. It should support public and private WIFI and should have a USB port to download from a PC. The power should come from a standardized and easily replaceable source like AAA batteries that are either rechargeable or replaceable.

Now, the only problem with all this technology is that the poor won't have access to the information. For this, I would suggest that the news companies provide gratis news kiosks at libraries and other public buildings.

Certainly, this plan of action won't save those companies that are currently in bankruptcy and may completely go under. However, I think something like what I have outlined above could be the savior of the industry. That's just my opinion.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Another Half Trillion $'s?

Yesterday, at the conclusion of the G20 Summit, Obama conducted a news conference and, in a speech prior to the actual Q&A, he said:
"Finally, we are protecting those who don't always have a voice at the G-20, but who have suffered greatly in this crisis. And the United States is ready to lead in this endeavor. In the coming days, I intend to work with Congress to provide $448 million in immediate assistance to vulnerable populations — from Africa to Latin America — and to double support for food safety to over $1 billion so that we are giving people the tools they need to lift themselves out of poverty. We will also support the United Nations and World Bank as they coordinate the rapid assistance necessary to prevent humanitarian catastrophe."
(Click Here to see the full text of that news conference)

Given the fact that we are already in hock for trillions of dollars in spending for Obama's stimulus plan and his budget, the first two items, the $448 million in foreign assistance and another 1/2 billion dollars for food safety, just seem like chicken feed. However, Obama's last statement about supporting "the United Nations and the World Bank" is an entirely different issue. It is interesting that he simply glossed over that comment without an exact number attached to it. That's probably because that number could be upwards of another 1/2 trillion dollars in expense for us, the U.S. taxpayers.

During the G20 meeting, the world leaders --- Barack included --- committed $1 trillion dollars to fight the economic decline (See Full Story). That's the "support" to "the United Nations and World Bank" that Barack so casually referred to in the statement above.

Just "who" do you think the major contributor of that $1 trillion in aid will be? Does anyone think that all of the G20 countries will ante up equally? Hell, no! You know damn well that Obama committed the United States to paying the lions share of that tab. We always do. At the very least, it is probably $250 billion. My guess, though, is that it will probably be closer to 1/2 trillion dollars or about half of the whole tab. Any way you shake it, this is just another multi-billion dollar spending commitment by the "One". Another commitment that is over-and-above the trillions of dollars that Barack has already asked for in his stimulus package and his extremely fat-laden 10-year budget.

This guy isn't just another tax-and-spend Democrat...he's a tax-and-bankrupt Democrat!

Some Fuzzy Math On Unemployment

This morning, the "jobs numbers" for March came in, nearly on target, with 663,000 jobs being lost (13,000 jobs higher than the consensus estimate of 650,000) and a spot-on 8.5% unemployment rate (See Full Story). Yesterday, I had wrongly predicted that number of jobs being lost would exceed 700,000 with an effective unemployment rate of 8.7%.

If all other factors remained constant, the 8.5% unemployment rate makes sense. That's because the 8.5% rate equates to about 650,000 jobs being lost per month for each month in the first quarter; January through March. However, that wasn't actually the case. In releasing this morning's numbers for March, the Bureau of Labor and Statistics went back and revised January's numbers upward. For January, the amount the jobs being lost was upped from 655,000 to a new number of 741,000. That meant that January's unemployment was understated by 86,000 jobs. February was left in tact at 651,000 jobs being lost.

Now, if you combine the higher-than-estimated number for March with the higher revised number for January, you come up with a number that is about 100,000 jobs or 5% higher than the number that would have supported an 8.5% unemployment rate. That, to me, says that the unemployment rate is being understated and it should be somewhat higher. Probably, 8.7%.

I don't know what is going on. However, the math isn't there to support an 8.5% unemployment rate. Also, it is very strange to go back and revise January without adjusting the month following it. But, instead, they left February alone. To me, this makes any of these numbers somewhat suspect.

Let's not forget that the Bureau of Labor and Statistics reports up to the President through the Commerce Department. Could there be some "fudging" going on to make February and March, the month's of Obama's Presidency, look better than January, when Bush was still in office? From a political standpoint, that makes sense because Obama is in the midst of getting his very fat budget approved through Congress. Having a higher-than-expected unemployment rate might have some adverse affects on that approval process.

Of course, that's just my opinion and I am quite sure that all those on the left would strongly object to what I was implying. However, the fact remains...the numbers don't quite add up! I guess we'll just have to wait and see if, in the next two jobs reports, February and March are revised upwards or downwards or if their revisions were actually piled up onto January's numbers. If there are no forward revisions for February and March, you can only conclude that something isn't quite right. Never in the history of jobs reporting have any numbers remained the same as when they were initially reported. That kind of accuracy just doesn't happen in"government work"; as the old saying "good enough for government work" implies.