Monday, June 30, 2014

ObamaCare's Dwindling Success

In April, the President took a victory lap declaring that ObamaCare did better than expected by enrolling 8 million people; arguing that their original goal was 7 million.  Not a lot was known about those 8 million at the time.  Who was being insured?  Did they previously have insurance? How many paid their premiums?  How many were getting subsidies?  What was the average cost?  And, to this day, Obama's Health and Human Services Dept. hasn't answered any of those questions; leading many to believe that 8 million might not be a solid number.

Since then, independents, such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield, the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), have been working overtime to answer those very important questions.  Now, collectively, the following has been revealed:
  1. Approximately 80 to 85 percent have paid for their insurance.  This means that conservatively, only about 6.8 million -- not 8 million -- really are insured under ObamaCare.
  2. 57% formerly had no insurance.  So, only 3.9 million of the 38 million, who were uninsured, signed up for ObamaCare; meaning that 34 million would rather pay the penalty.
  3. The 43% that previously had insurance, and signed up for ObamaCare, did so because they were primarily able to get free or nearly free federally subsidized policies.
  4. GAO just reported that ObamaCare will add $6.2 Trillion to the long-term deficit over the next 10 years.  This, when the President assured the country that his signature healthcare program would not add one dime to the deficit.
  5. Some good news (??).  2015 insurance premiums will only go up by 8%.  That's 4 times the estimated inflation rate and about 8 times the rate that incomes are expected to increase.  The good news is that, previously, double digit increases had been predicted. 
The bottom line in all this is that the 8 million is a bogus number.  Too few of the uninsured are being covered; which, by the way, was one of the primary reasons for implementing ObamaCare. It is a lot more expensive than we were told it would be.  And, no where to be seen, is the promised $2500 savings in healthcare insurance premiums.

Now, how's that for success!


Obama hails 8 million enrollees for insurance under federal health-care law:

Obamacare Exchanges Are ‘Disappointing’ With Fewer Than 4 Million Newly Insured. The Government Hoped for 26 Million:

GAO Report: Obamacare Adds $6.2 Trillion to Long-Term Deficit:

Obamacare premiums rising in 2015, but not at 'death spiral' pace (+video):

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Obama Is Losing In The Courts Like Never Before

Normally, the lawyers for the Executive Branch have done pretty well when the actions of the Presidents, cabinets and, agencies are challenged in the courts and, ultimately, in the Supreme Court; winning 70% of their challenges.

But, as reported last year, Obama's not-so-tour-de-force team of lawyers has lost two-thirds of their high court challenges.  In fact, the latest loss --  Obama's deemed-unconstitutional recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board -- was the 12th such loss in just 2-1/2 years where there was a unanimous decision against him.  Even two members of the high court who were appointed by the President -- Sonya Sotomeyer and Elena Kagan -- have voted against him in those unanimous losses because there was obvious Administration overreach.

I think, to many, this shows that Obama is running the government in an imperial fashion and without regard to the Constitution of the United States; a document that he, under oath, pledged to uphold.  Sadly, not every executive order from this President will be challenged but, many should be.

Once again, the sheer number of court challenges and subsequent losses speaks volumes to the lawlessness of his go-it-alone use of executive orders.  If the Congress -- on both sides of the aisles -- aren't willing to stop him then, the power of government will, forevermore, be shifted to the President and away from Congress.  While the Democrats might approve of the Obama's actions today, there will come a time when there is a sitting GOP president who, based on precedent, could do the same thing; and, this is a very dangerous path to be on.  Even the noted liberal law professor, Jonathan Turley, has expressed his concerns over Obama's overreach of power.

While some might balk at Speaker of the House John Boenher's lawsuit being filed against Obama's use of executive actions, it is the first real action being taken to reel-in this overreach of power for those executive actions that haven't yet made it to the courts or that never will.  Also, the very announcement of the lawsuit gives many Americans a heads-up on what is going on in the White House.  To me, this is a better alternative than bringing politically-damaging impeachment proceedings against the President,  even though, some of what he's done is truly impeachable.  Given Obama's track record in the courts, Boehner's lawsuit has a good probability of winning.


Obama administration has lost two-thirds of Supreme Court cases:

Obama Suffers 12th Unanimous Defeat at Supreme Court:

George F. Will: Stopping a lawless president:

Cutting Through The Fog:  Why Obama's Executive Orders Are Lawless:

Turley: Obama's "Become The Very Danger The Constitution Was Designed To Avoid":

Boehner plans to file suit against Obama over alleged abuse of executive power:

Boehner to Seek Bill to Sue Obama Over Executive Actions:

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Despite Huge Drop in GDP, Economists Still See Better Days. Really?

When it was reported that the economy shrank nearly 3% in the first quarter, most economists -- the same ones who were completely caught off guard by the downward revised 3% number -- seem
 to think its still on track to be positive; claiming that the first quarter was a one-off anomaly due to weather, lower healthcare spending, and a decline in exports. 

The problem with this thinking is that, just one day after the dismal first quarter GDP was announced, another disappointing number, consumer spending, signaled even more trouble in the 2nd quarter.  In May, the second month of the 2nd quarter, consumer spending came in at half of what those same economists were predicting, at an abysmal 0.2% percent growth.  This after, April had literally shown no growth.  Since consumer spending makes up 70% of the calculated GDP number, its hard to believe that the 2nd quarter GDP will be anything but lackluster or, worst case, another negative number; thus, signalling a recession.  If that happens, the weather can't be blamed for the lack of consumers being holed-up in their homes, not buying products or seeing their doctors.

Unless spending comes in like gang busters in June, this economy is showing the clear signs that the consumer has reached a tipping point and incomes have not kept up with inflation.  As a result, people may be putting off buying big ticket items, spending less on leisure, entertainment, other discretionary items, or even seeing their doctors less regularly because they are simply so cash-strapped that they can't afford to pay the deductibles.  As history has proven time and time again, the lack of consumer spending is a primary reasons for recession.

Therefore, should anyone believe all those "happy times" economists who now seem to think that the first quarter was just a fluke?


Economists brush off dire GDP: ‘This is a blip’:

Consumer Spending in May Was Disappointingly Weak:

What is Economic Recession? - Definition, Causes & Effects:

Cutting Through The Fog: The Economy Shrinks By 2.9%: Recession Is Now A Statistical Possibility:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Senator Schumer's Misplaced World Cup Health Fears

Recently, Senator Schumer a Democrat from New York, held a press conference during which he asked  the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to alert health professionals around the country to be on the lookout for the chikungunya, or “chik-v,” virus.  The basis for his concern were the returning fans from the World Cup.   The stupidity of that conference is that, every day, with or without the World Cup, thousands of Brazilians and many more thousands of people fly into the United States from areas infested with the very mosquitoes who are likely to carry the chik-v virus. 

A quick check on showed that, every day, 52 flights originate in Rio De Janeiro that are destined for New York City.  Los Angeles has 48; and, Atlanta 44.

If, in fact Schumer is worried about a health risk, it should not be related to the World Cup and the chik-v.  He should be more concerned about what is currently happening on our southern border with tens of thousands of unaccompanied children and some adults seeking asylum in the U.S. These people, often not vaccinated, pose a bigger health risk to this country than a few fans flying back to the U.S. on tickets that cost them, at the very least, $2000, and who probably occupied some very nice hotel rooms during their stay.  These immigrant children and their sometime escorts are already known to have head lice, scabies, MRSA, drug-resistant TB, swine flu, and a whole host of other diseases they acquired as they trekked across countries, on foot, from Central and South America to arrive here in the United States.

Upon arrival, they aren't necessarily isolated in quarantine. Instead, they are herded into mass gathering places; only to sleep on the floor and, more importantly, infect others in those close quarters with whatever disease they might have.  Finally, they are being bussed to destinations all over the country so they can carry whatever contagions they have with them.

But, Schumer, being the good soldier that he is, wouldn't want to highlight the current immigrant problem.  It might spoil Obama and the Democrats grand plan for immigration reform.  At the very least, highlighting the health issues on our southern border might also make people aware of how feckless the President has been in controlling the influx.

Lastly, where is the Surgeon General on all these health issues.  Its his job to keep Americans advised; not some Senator from New York.  Again, we apparently have another incompetent in one of Obama's appointed positions.

Update:  Mexico detect first case of chik-v virus:


Schumer Concerned World Cup Fans Returning To U.S. Might Bring Back Mosquito-Borne Virus:

Doctors Warn of Looming Health Crisis Due to Flood of Young Illegal Immigrants:

Swine Flu Confirmed at Shelter for Unaccompanied Minors:

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Economy Shrinks By 2.9%: Recession Is Now A Statistical Possibility

Yesterday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis announced a shocking contraction of the economy -- as measured by Gross Domestic Product (GDP).  In this latest revision, the economy "shrank" at an annualized rate of 2.9%.  This was the third revision of the first quarter economic activity that was originally predicted to "grow" by 2.5%.

Never in the history of the U.S. has a contraction this large been outside the realm of a full-blown economic recession.  So, it is hard to believe that the second quarter of this year will snap back enough -- growing by at least 3% -- to avoid putting us into the technical definition of recession: Two consecutive quarters of economic contraction.

In this blog, I have predicted that ObamaCare would push us into recession in 2014.  I have also noted that retailers are signalling economic woes for 2014.  And, now, we have some additional evidence that the consumer might have to further pull back on any discretionary spending that would otherwise drive the economy.  In May, consumer prices grew at the highest rate in 15 months at 0.4%.  This despite the fact that wages are stagnant.  More importantly, essential consumables were up even higher.  Electricity rates were up 2.3% in May. Food was up 1/2 of a percent.  And, if the drought continues in the Southwest, food prices will continue to soar.  Further, Obama's crackdown on coal will force electricity providers to further raise rates in order to be compliant with his latest EPA mandates.

The bottom line is that Obama's constant meddling in the economy is now rearing its ugly head in what could be a potential recession.  Things like forcing employers to pay overtime for salaried workers only results in higher costs to consumers and, consequently, consumer's wallets shrink and they can't spend as much on the discretionary items that would otherwise drive our economy.  When someone has to pay more for something they need to live such as electricity, other optional things, like dining out, are cut and the economy starts to contract.

Right now, I just can't see the country avoiding another recession.


U.S. Economy Shrinks by Most in Five Years: Final Revision for 1st-Quarter GDP Shows 2.9% Contraction:

GDP Disaster: Final Q1 GDP Crashes To -2.9%, Lowest Since 2009, Far Below The Worst Expectations:

Cutting Through The Fog:  Will ObamaCare Push Us Into Another Recession In 2014?:

Cutting Through The Fog: Retailers Are Signalling Economic Woes For 2014:

Consumer prices rise sharply in May:

Weak Wages Pose Threat to Liftoff for Economy:

Obama to order businesses to hike overtime pay for salary workers:


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Sorry Mr. President, It's Too Late For A Political Solution In Iraq

When our military left Iraq in 2011, we destined that country to division by leaving Nouri al-Maliki in charge.  In the succeeding months, al-Maliki -- a Shiite -- did everything possible to exclude the Sunni and Kurdish populations from the business and affairs of state.  So, when the Islamic State of Syria and Iraq (ISIS), a Sunni terrorist group, began pounding on Iraq's door, the Sunni population accepted them because they understood that their interests were better served by a Sunni terrorist group than the Shiite-centered government in Baghdad.  That's why ISIS was so quickly able to take over the Sunni cities in the north, like Mosul and Tikrit, with little or no resistance.

The chance for a political solution in Iraq is a ship that sailed in 2010 when al-Maliki was reelected and in 2011 when we left the country alone to politically mishandle what was given by our overthrow of Saddam Hussein.  What President Obama doesn't seem to understand is that ISIS is not interested in a political solution.  Their's is a single-minded goal to establish a Caliphate, or State of Islam, which would be run by a Caliph -- the holiest of Imams and a believed-to-be successor to the prophet Muhammad -- and which would mandate strict adherence to Sharia law and all people (Sunni, Shiites, Kurds, Jews, and Christians) within the Caliphate would be subject to Muhammad's 620 A.D. Constitution of Medina. For ISIS, there is no room for some Shiite-dominant Parliamentary style of government that is currently the rule in Iraq.  There is no room for any political solution.

So, unless ISIS can be driven out of the country, Iraq is doomed to being divided with the long-hoped-for Sunni Caliphate being established.  And, if that Caliphate is established, the U.S. will regret the day it happens.  ISIS is a committed enemy of America and Israel. Even more radically dedicated to our downfall than Al Qaeda.  Instead of having to worry about some pre-9/11 group of training camps in Afghanistan, we will then have to worry about a entire Islamic State, run by ISIS, and dedicated to the terrorism of this country.  A state that would have access to oil revenues and, subsequently, able to fund all kinds of terrorist acts against adversaries like the U.S.


Obama to send military advisors to Iraq but seeks political solution:


Constitution of Medina:


Iraq militants 'turning back clock' in captured Mosul:;_ylt=AwrBJR9J.qZTUTgAqznQtDMD

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another Hillary Joke: She and Bill Pay Ordinary Income Taxes

In another one of her "book-tour" interviews, Hillary Clinton tried to diminish her wealth by saying she and Bill pay "ordinary" income taxes, unlike most millionaires who take advantage of the tax code to underpay their obligations.

Well, in 2008, when Hillary was running for the Democratic nomination for the Presidency,  Bill Clinton released several years of tax returns.  In the latest-available 2007 return, the Clinton's earned, after adjustments, $20.4 million and only paid $5.1 in taxes.  Thus their effective tax rate was 25%.  That is 10 percentage points below the "ordinary" rate of 35% for someone making as much as they did.  An income level, by the way, that puts them squarely in the same infamous, anti-Democratic, disgusting income-inequality level of the top 1%.

Once again, Hillary Clinton is either delusional or just plain stupid. But more than likely, she just thinks she can lie and no one will check the facts.  She is a 1-percent-er who wants us all to believe that she is somehow, just like the rest of us in that big 99% tent that the anti-wealth "Occupy" movement was all about.


Hillary Clinton: ‘We pay ordinary income tax’:

Clinton Releases Tax Returns:

Federal Tax Brackets: Selectable by Year:

We are the 99%:

Everyone talks about the 1% -- but who are they exactly? --

Monday, June 23, 2014

Hillary Clinton's Tall Tales, Fish Stories, and Outright Lies

In a 1996 opinion piece entitled 'Essay;Blizzard of Lies', the late-William Safire -- noted New York Times Columnist and frequent guest on NBC's Meet the Press -- set off a political firestorm by calling the then-First Lady, Hillary Clinton, a "congenital liar".   Safire -- being a surefooted journalist -- did not make that charge unsubstantiated.  Instead he looked back at the whole host of scandals that Hillary was implicated in -- Whitewater, Cattlegate, Filegate, Travelgate, the Vince Foster Death investigation, and the Madison Savings and Loan scandal --  and found that she was never charged with a single wrong-doing because, as Safire asserted, she lied.

And, his assertion, was and continues to be, well founded.

For example, in the Travelgate scandal -- the Whitehouse Travel Office was completely replaced with Hillary's crony Arkansas travel agents in a questionable claim that the current staff was corrupt -- the investigating counsel found that she lied but, as Wikipedia reports, they had "...insufficient evidence her statements were either knowingly false or that she understood that her statements led to the firings."

Then, in the case of Cattlegate,  where, after dabbling in both sugar and cattle futures for just over a year, she parlayed a mere $1000 investment into nearly $100,000.  In explaining her success, she first claimed to have "educated herself" and "watched the market closely." As any cattle futures trader knows, it would take years to understand cattle farming and how and when cattle are brought to market in order to be that successful.  This is why, under media pressure, Hillary gave a highly unusual and live news conference where she admitted that the $1000-to-$100,000 success was a result of her being counseled by Tyson Foods contract-lawyer and friend, James Blair, who simply made the trades in his own accounts on her behalf.  Further, even though her trades themselves were highly suspect and possibly illegal, the statute of limitations kept her from being prosecuted for anything.

Since, Safire's original contention, there has been some additional proof of Hillary's proclivity for lying.  Take this famous video where Hillary recounted landing in Bosnia and claimed to be "under fire" and how CBS clearly exposed this very "Tall Tale":

Then, of course, there's the big Benghazi lie where she still claims that the assault on our mission was due to an anti-Muslim video.  This despite dozens of testimonies by national security leadership personnel that completely discredit her position. 

So, it should be no surprise that, in a recent interview with Dianne Sawyer, Hillary lied about being totally "broke" when leaving the White House.  Nor should it be a surprise that she claimed to have had a short recovery time after a bad fall when in fact, her husband, Bill Clinton, said it took a difficult 6 months.

With that, I ask a simple question: Is this the type of person we want in the White House once the current occupier and liar leaves office?


Bill Safire: Blizzard of Lies:

Whitewater Controversy/Scandal:




Madison Savings and Loan:

Vince Foster Death Coverup:

 Hillary Clinton Took 6 Months to ‘Get Over’ Concussion, Bill Says of Timeline:

Hillary's Claim Of Being Broke When Leaving the White House:

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Ridiculous Climate Change Claims

Ever since the earth was formed, its climate has been constantly changing.  Over time, there have been floods and droughts; and, both warmer and cooler temperatures than now.  So when the global warming alarmists decided to refocus the world's attention on the more broader topic of climate change, it was, to some extent, political genius.  This way, literally, and without foundation, even the coldest winter or any climate anomaly, or any social or natural problem, could be blamed on global warming. And, blame they did.

So, here is a list of some (not nearly all) of the more absurd claims related to climate change and global warming:
Just how many ridiculous claims need to be made before believability is seriously weakened?

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Another Abuse of Power In Cancelling Redskins Trademarks

Recently, in a 2-1 decision, the Office of Patents and Trademarks cancelled six of the Washington Redskin trademarks on the basis that they were disparaging to Native Americans, leaving the team to meander through the Federal court system to restore their control of these valuable assets.  And, valuable they are.  Without trademark protection, anyone can produce a product or provide a service using the Redskin's classic "Indian-head" logo or the name Redskin in association with it.  

The problem with this ruling is that it goes well beyond the Office of Patents and Trademarks' authority.  First of all, the cancellation of a trademark can only occur for the following reasons:
"The United States Patent and Trademark Office, on its own or by request, may initiate proceedings to cancel trademarks that are improperly obtained. Trademark rights can be cancelled due to abandonment, improper licensing or assignment, improper use, or if they are too generic."
Now, some might argue "improper use" as the rationale for the cancellation but, what that actually refers to are things like using a trademark as an adjective and not a noun or in the plural. Nowhere is there the legal right to cancel a trademark on the basis of it being "disparaging," demeaning or racist.  If that were true, Aunt Jemima, Uncle Ben, Juan Valdez, Eskimo Pie or even Chiquita Bananas should have been disallowed long ago.

The other problem that this ruling has is that it appears that only 30% of  Native Americans find the Redskins offensive.  So, conversely, 70% -- a clear majority -- have no problem with the name. So, in the minds of Trademarks office, minority rules.

The biggest problem with the decision is that the Office of Patents and Trademarks seems to think they have the authority under 15 U.S. Code § 1052  of the U.S. code covering trademarks.  However, that section of the law only applies to the "application" for a trademark and not to the revocation of it. As we all know, the Redskins filed their application decades ago and to revoke it is just ridiculous.

So, once again, we have an Administration abusing its power to block or allow what they don't like or want in our society.  Just as when the IRS blocked the formation of tax exempt Tea Party organizations by excessively delaying approval of the tax-free status until after the 2012 elections.


US Patent Office Rules Redskins Name Is Offensive, Cancels Trademarks:

U.S. patent office cancels Redskins trademark registration, says name is disparaging:

15 U.S. Code § 1052:

Can trademarks be cancelled?:

Use It Right or Lose It -- Proper Trademark Usage Is Important to Every Business:

Friday, June 20, 2014

Medicaid: Increasingly, Healthcare In Name Only

Most Democrats consider Medicaid one of the major triumphs of progressive politics in the last 50 years.  So much so, that as part of ObamaCare, the Medicaid roles would be expanded to include those who's incomes are up to 38% above the federal poverty level.  Paul Krugman, the economist of all things liberal, once wrote in 2013: "I Have Seen The Future, And It Is Medicaid."  Now, it is being reported that several Democrats are going to make it a point to run on the expansion of Medicaid as part of their election/reelection efforts in the fall.

But, Medicaid has a big problem: Access to healthcare. 

Because Medicaid is the second highest state expense, just behind education, and because the states are responsible for determining the reimbursement rates for services provided by healthcare providers, state legislatures, for years, have been hacking away at those rates in their constant efforts to control costs and balance budgets.  As a result, you have this 2008 map which shows a state like California only reimbursing at a rate of 38 cents on every dollar that private insurers must pay for the same services rendered by primary care physicians:

Click on Image to Zoom
In essence, the underpayment by Medicaid is like squeezing a balloon.  When Medicaid squeezes down on one end, it must expand elsewhere to compensate. So, as a result, anyone with private insurance winds up paying for the costs that Medicaid doesn't cover.  However, if the insurers balk and won't pick up the additional costs then, the healthcare provider has no other option but to refuse to take on any new Medicaid patients.  And, that is increasingly the case today, despite the Democrat's grand plan to expand Medicaid.

In a recent study by a healthcare advisory group, Merritt Hawkins, in a random polling of doctors in 15 major cities who were practicing the 5 most common specialties (cardiology, dermatology, obstetrics-gynecology, orthopedic surgery and family practice), the study found that only 45.7% of those doctors would accept new Medicaid patients.  This was down from 55.4% in 2009.  But, more importantly, the polling for this study took place before the ObamaCare Medicaid expansion of January 2014.

Understand, that 45.7% is an average.  When you dig down into the survey results, you find out that Medicaid patients needing specialized treatment are basically left out in the cold. For example, only 63 cardiologists of the 262 contacted accepted new Medicaid patients.  That's only 24% or about 1-in-4.  Only 15% percent of orthopedic surgeons and only 17% of ObGyn's were willing to take on any new Medicaid patients.

Don't expect the situation to get any better. Last year, 8 states passed legislation that would further cut reimbursement rates as of January 1 of this year.  California passed a 10% cut into law.  Before that, in 2012, thirteen states cut their rates and, there is no reason to believe that the "cutting" won't just go on into the future.

So, the Democrats can praise Medicaid all day long, but it is another failed social program that is broken and not repairable; except at a great cost by forcing states to pay full-fare for services rendered. 


Medicaid Expansion:

Democrats to amp up calls for Medicaid expansion in campaigns:

I Have Seen The Future, And It Is Medicaid - Paul Krugman:

Physician Appointment Wait Times and Medicaid and Medicare Acceptance Rates:

Democrats Tout Medicaid Expansion In Campaigns:

2012: States Cutting Medicaid:

Medicaid surge triggers cost concerns for states:

California Cuts Medicaid Payments Amid Wave of New Users:

New Study: Expanding Medicaid Reduces Access to Health Care:

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Iraq No More

Iraq is a country that should never have been.  It was never formed from any typical commonalities such as language, culture, religion, and/or political beliefs.  Nor, was it formed by any alliance for trade or security purposes.

Instead, is was created by a mandate of the League of Nations in 1920 which gave Britain control of that area in what was to be called the State of Iraq and what we know today as, simply, Iraq.  Completely ignored in that process was  how secular the country was with two primary factions of Islam at odds with each other: the Shiites and the Sunnis.  At the same time, that "League" mandate completely ignored the fact that the Kurds of northern Iraq -- although Sunnis by religion -- had no language or culture that was even close to being in common with the rest of the country.

So, in essence, Iraq was, at the very least, three countries in one; only held together all these years by a variety of ruling entities and never by any self rule.

Yet, the U.S. government -- after invading Iraq and toppling Saddam Hussein -- foolishly thought it could turn this country into a self-ruled and cohesive state that could be governed fairly by a parliamentary style of government.  But, the weakness of any parliamentary government is that, when there is an extremely dominant "ruling party" in charge, the minority party has little or no voice.  So is the case in Iraq.  What should have been done was to form had a power sharing triumvirate with the Shiites, Kurds, and Sunnis all having an equal say in control.  But, that's hindsight. 

The Shiites -- which make up 65% of the country -- have pretty much taken over through the elections of major chunks of the Parliament and by the election of "their" President, Nouri al-Maliki.  Maliki, has, in turn, and where ever possible, replaced Sunnis with Shiites in government positions and in leadership roles within the military and police force.  Thus you have a formula for revolt and/or all-out civil war.

What we are seeing right now with the incessant march of radical Sunnis -- known as ISIS or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria --- down through the Sunni-controlled northern center of the country and on their way to Baghdad was inevitable.  Already, the northeastern Kurdish territory has been cutoff from Baghdad and ISIS has established control in almost all of the Sunni cities in northern Iraq.  Whether ISIS can overrun and overtake Baghdad in the same way that cities were taken in the north is anyone's guess.  But, make no mistake about it, new boundaries are being drawn and those boundaries will almost inevitably become borders of new countries and no one can stop it from happening.

Obama won't stop it because he won't allow any U.S. boots on the ground.  Whether he authorizes airstrikes and whether or not those strikes can be effective remains to be seen and, the Iraqi army is too incompetent and has little heart to stop it either.  So, in the end, Iraq will probably become the three countries it was always meant to be, and Iraq, in less than 100 years since 1920, will be no more.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The IRS: The Very Embodiment of Record Keeping, Loses Lois Lerner's Emails?

For two years now, the IRS has stonewalled Congress in providing access to any records and communications related to the scandal over that agency's blocking of conservative groups from gaining 501(c) tax-free status.  Lois Lerner, a D.C.-based IRS employee, appears to be at the heart of it, and may in fact, have ties to the White House.  However, she has clammed up; refusing to answer any of Congress' questions by citing her 5th Amendment right not to incriminate herself.

Now, conveniently, the IRS -- the Agency that maintains so many detailed records on almost every American -- has managed to lose any and all emails either to and from Lois Lerner because her hard drive crashed.  Well, what about backup files?  Or, too, what about everyone who sent or received a Lerner email? They should also have a copy of those files on their hard drives.   Does anyone really find this "hard drive crash excuse" to be believable?  If anything, it just shows that those emails must contain damaging information and that they needed to be purged.  Obviously, there is an effort, here, to protect some high ranking people at either the IRS or the White House.  Does anyone smell a rat like the 18-1/2 minute gap in those famous Nixon Watergate tapes?  It's not looking too good for Obama's claim that the IRS scandal is a phony one.

Oh, by the way. The next time you get audited, try telling the IRS that you "lost" the supporting documentation for your deductions.  My guess is that you'll pay through the nose for that comment.


IRS lost Lois Lerner's emails in tea party probe:

Did The IRS Really Lose Lois Lerner's Emails? Let a Special Prosecutor Find Them Obama needs to address this 'phony scandal' and the public trust with real transparency:

Monday, June 16, 2014

French Toast: Hollande's Piketty-Like Tax-The-Rich-Scheme Fails Miserably.

Two years ago, France's socialist President Francois Hollande increased his country's Value Added Tax (VAT) on consumer purchases; upped the corporate tax rate; and, imposed a 75% income tax on euro-millionaires.  All of this was supposed to increase revenues by 30 billion euros per year.

However, the score card is in and roughly half of that 30 billion was actually achieved.

This was all too predictable and is a perfect example of why the "tax-the-rich" French economist, Thomas Piketty, is wrong.

The French consumer, faced with higher VAT taxes, simply cannot afford to buy as many new things as they otherwise would, and, as a result, business profits fell and so did tax revenues.  That's just human nature and, something that socialists (or Democrats in our country) never seem to add into the equation when planning to raise taxes. Nor do they understand that, corporations, faced with increased taxes on themselves, are more inclined to raise prices which, in turn, further lowers consumer activity and again results in lowered taxable business incomes. Lastly, that 75% tax on the rich only caused some of them to leave France; thus, again reducing tax revenues.

The simple fact is that Hollande's tax strategy is hurting France.  Unemployment recently hit a record high of 11%; although its coming down now.  We, in the U.S., didn't even see that level of unemployment when we were at the height of our Great Recession. Their economy is stagnant, with the last 2 quarters either being at barely measurable or at dead zero.  And, the rich, who pay a hefty amount in taxes, are continuing to leave along with their valuable talent and their equally valuable taxable income.


Thomas Piketty: Capital in the Twenty-First Century:

France in 14bn-euro tax black hole:

French unemployment at record high:

 France GDP Growth Rate:

France's Reckoning: Rich, Young Flee Welfare State:

Friday, June 13, 2014

Is Gitmo Really a Recruiting Tool for Terrorists?

With the highly suspect swap of five high-ranking Taliban leaders in exchange for one deserting U.S. sergeant, many are now speculating that this "Let's Make A Deal" tactic is the pathway that President Obama will take to fulfill his 2009 State of the Union commitment to close Guantanamo Bay (aka Gitmo).  With him, as usual, arguing that Gitmo is the main tool for recruiting terrorists.

But, to my knowledge, no one has ever challenged the President's "main tool" argument.  Basically, it was another Obama statement that seems to have no bearing in fact.  As far as I can tell, Obama's stance on Gitmo comes from a 2008 paper released by a Washington-based think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).  Their conclusion was that Gitmo should be closed because of human rights violations; not necessarily because its seen as a recruiting tool.  However, in arguing its closing  they also said this in their report:
Symbols of alienation such as Guantanamo have served as a recruitment tool for individuals and groups who seek to harm the United States, increasing -- not decreasing danger. Researchers at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center found scores of references by top Al Qaeda leaders referencing Guantanamo (some in the same breath that they mention Chechnya) going back to 2002 and as recently as January 2008.
But, when you go to the referenced West Point research paper, there are no "statistics" being presented that would justify the word "scores" being used in the CSIS report. There is only an opinion by the author, Sherifa Zuhur, that Gitmo contributes to recruiting because it is contrary to our rules of law and imprisonment as noted by this quote from that very opinion piece:
"...the United States has projected a strong message to the world about living under a “rule of law,” where the principle of being innocent until proven guilty and the human rights afforded by the Western systems of democracy should be defended. Some damage to American claims of justice and rule of law is irreparable, even if Guantanamo is closed, which would be desirable."
Again, the closure is desirable from a human rights perspective and not because it is a recruiting tool

What hurts Mr. Obama's claim and the above mentioned opinion piece is the fact that, in two separate studies, which looked at published Al Qaeda propaganda communiques, Guantanamo Bay is seldom referred to when compared to other words of recruitment like "Israel."  Thus, clearly indicating that Gitmo is not a primary focus.

What the President doesn't seem to understand is that his use of drones in the last five years is probably more of a recruiting tool than Gitmo.  All to often, in attempting to kill one or "just of few" terrorists, there are many innocent civilians lost by collateral damage.  It is also viewed as cowardly because there is no way for Al Qaeda or the Taliban to fight back against an unmanned drone.    And, our use of drones doesn't just anger the terrorists but, it also angers the rest of the world as shown by this recent global Pew poll:

Obama's claims of terrorist recruiting are simply fallacious; and are only being used because he thinks that is what Americans want to hear as the primary reason for closing the prison.  His real intention is to once again satisfy his left-wing base who sees Gitmo as another one of Bush's "doings" and a violation of human rights.  I would contend that killing terrorists from afar, with unmanned drones, without combat, and any potential trial is a bigger human rights issue; especially when you look at the results of that Pew poll.


Closing Guantanamo: From Bumper Sticker to Blueprint: A report of the CSIS Human Rights and Security Initiative and the Working Group on Guantanamo and Detention Policy:


Gitmo Is Not a Recruiting Tool for Terrorists:
Note: The link above is being presented as a Google search because direct access to this article will be denied unless you already have a Wall Street Journal subscription.

How Drones Create More Terrorists: Militants take advantage of fearful communities to draw new recruits:

Obama’s Use of Drones Gives Al Qaeda the Edge in Iraq: More broadly, though, the growth of al-Qaeda is due to the Obama administration’s single-minded focus on drone warfare and counterterrorism:
More broadly, though, the growth of al-Qaeda is due to the Obama administration’s single-minded focus on drone warfare and counterterrorism. - See more at:
More broadly, though, the growth of al-Qaeda is due to the Obama administration’s single-minded focus on drone warfare and counterterrorism. - See more at:

PewResearch: Global Opinion of Obama Slips, International Policies Faulted: Drone Strikes Widely Opposed:

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Obama's College Loan Relief Exposes His Own Mishandling of the Economy

Recently, using his pen and again ignoring Congress, the President signed an executive order that would cap outstanding federally-backed college loans at 10% of income.  While that sounds great for graduates and not so good for the taxpayer, there's a bigger problem. Graduating college students can't find work.  So, Mr. President, what's 10% of nothing?

According to a recent study, only about 17% of the 2014 graduating class actually have jobs lined up; down from 20 percent in 2013.  Of those who do find work, 44% will wind up in jobs not requiring a college degree.  Still, all too many will find themselves jobless and living with mom and dad.

In essence, there is a massive student loan bubble growing -- currently $1.2 trillion in existing outstanding loans -- with the potential for mass defaults seriously looming.  For the President to further slow loan repayments, only exacerbates the potential of massive defaults when the bubble bursts.

The simple fact is that under Obama's iron hand of increased regulation and the implementation of ObamaCare,  businesses are unable to expand and create the kind of jobs that, in the past, would have required a college degree, and, as reported by the Huffington Post about a year ago, half the jobs created in the last 3 years were low paying.

The President seems to think his constraints on loans will help garner student votes in the Fall elections.  However, if I am in college, I would be more concerned about having a good paying job that would allow me to pay off my loan in a much shorter time.  Simply, capping repayment at 10% is an indirect admission that college grads are being underemployed and, consequently, underpaid.


Obama extends caps on student-loan payments to 5 million people:

Obama: Regulator Without Peer - WSJ:

44% of Young College Grads Are Underemployed (and That's Good News):

Fewer college grads will have jobs lined up this year:

Job outlook for 2014 college grads puzzling:

Half Of All Jobs Created In The Past 3 Years Were Low-Paying: Study:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Hillary's Claim Of Being Broke When Leaving the White House

In an interview with Dianne Sawyer about her book "Hard Choices," Hilary Clinton claims that when she and Bill left the White House, they were in so much debt that they had to 'Keep Working Really Hard' to keep their heads above water.  Simply, she told Sawyer: "We had no money when we got there, and we struggled to, you know, piece together the resources for mortgages, for houses, for Chelsea's education. You know, it was not easy."

Here's the how ridiculous that statement is.  In September of 1999, just a year and 3 months prior to leaving the White House, the Clintons bought a $1.7 million home in Chappaqua.  Then, just a month prior to exiting the Presidency, in December 2000, the Clintons purchased a $2.85 million home in Washington, D.C.  Now, if they were in such financial straits, why not live in that, relatively speaking, "little" Chappaqua house until they could get back on their feet?

And, poor little Chelsea had to literally struggle to get educated because her parents were so deep in debt.  I suppose that's why, they could only afford to send her to Stanford for her undergraduate degree and Oxford and Columbia for her master's.  None of these schools are cheap. Stanford estimates the annual cost of education at their university to be in excess of $60,000.  The average American family doesn't make $60,000 in a year.

This woman is a complete B.S.'er.  That's why no one should trust her Benghazi narrative either!  I don't know who's the bigger liar: her, her husband, or Obama.


Hillary Clinton On Post-White House Debt: We Had To 'Keep Working Really Hard':

The Clintons say they left the White House in debt. Wait, what?:

Chelsea Clinton:

The Student Budget:

The Clintons Are Coming and Chappaqua Braces:

Clintons Buy $2.85 Million Washington Home:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

California Chrome's Owner Has Problems With The History Of The Triple Crown

According to one of California Chrome's owners, Steve Coburn, you are a coward if you only entered your horse in the Belmont Stakes without having previously run in both the Preakness and the Kentucky Derby.  That argument falls flat when you look at the history of the "Stakes."

Horse racing is a business.  Horses are entered into high stakes races to win a lot of money.    The Belmont stakes attracts horses because the purse is so big.  Tonalist -- this year's winner -- galloped his way to a cool $800,000.  Even coming in last nets you $30,000 for your effort. Not all horses enter the Belmont because the race is so long.  That's what makes it the final litmus test for winning the Triple Crown.

In the last 95 years, the Triple Crown, has only seen 11 winners.  More than twice that number, 24, have, like California Chrome, won the Derby and the Preakness, only to come up short in the Belmont.  In each case the Crown winner, has always had to face fresh entries that passed on the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness; or, both.  For example, when Seattle Slew won in 1977, only three horses in the eight horse field had ran in the first two races and when Secretariat won in 1973, only two horses had joined him in all three races.

The winners of the Triple Crown possess stamina, speed, extraordinary talent, and not a small amount of good luck. They must be victorious in 3 major races of varying lengths in just five weeks.  And, that is against all comers; including those who are fresh and well-rested and who did not participate in the previous two jewels in the crown.  Overcoming all those difficult variables are what makes winning the Triple crown so extraordinary.  Horses lose races for many reasons; sloppy tracks, injuries, a bump, a trip, jockey error. The list is endless   That's why betting on a horse is called gambling. That's what makes any race a true horse race!

Steve Coburn needs to grow up and understand this.  He's acting like someone who thinks he was owed the win and was cheated out of it. History shows that many presumed winners of the Triple Chrome, failed when it came to winning the "Stakes."  That's the history of the Belmont and the Triple Crown and something that Coburn seems not to understand.


2014 Belmont Stakes: Video Replay, Purse Earnings, California Chrome Placement:

Triple Crown of Thoroughbred Racing (United States):

Monday, June 9, 2014

Good News: Weekly Job Losses Are at Pre-Recession Levels. But...

Last Thursday, weekly jobless insurance claims came in at 312,000.  That coupled with previously reported claims has pretty much solidified the fact that we are now at pre-recession levels for first-time workers collecting unemployment insurance; as noted by this chart from the folks at
Click on image to zoom
Unfortunately, this trend may be short lived.

This month it was reported that the economy failed to grow in the first quarter; actually shrinking by one percent.  Should this be repeated in the second quarter, it could officially signal another recession.  But, as most economists will tell you, unemployment is usually a lagging indicator; meaning that, if we do slide into another recession, it will take management another 6 months or so to lay enough people off for the weekly claims number to be negatively impacted.

Now, there is a monthly report that could give us  insight into future job losses.  That report is the  Job-loss notification as prepared by the firm of Challenger, Gray, and Christmas.  In short, the Challenger Report takes advantage of a Federal law -- the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act or simply the WARN Act -- which mandates that any company, with 100 employees or more, must publicly report,  at least 60 days in advance, any possible cuts or layoffs.  This month, Challenger's ongoing report looked liked this:

Click to zoom
As you can clearly see, except for February, March and August of 2013, the reported job cut announcements stayed comfortably below 46,000; and, even hitting nice lows in December 2013 and March 2014.  If you could visually trend that data, you can see that there is actually a nice downward slope but, in May there was a spike that was almost as severe as the one in February of 2013.  And, to me, this upward spike is consistent with the fact that corporations saw a $213 billion loss of profits in the first quarter of this year and were now, in May, adjusting down their labor forces so as regain or protect any further loss. 

Challenger, itself, disclaims the fact that job reduction announcements don't necessarily result in immediate cuts.  After all, their data represents a 60-day notification that may take months to fully implement.  For that reason, many economists don't have too much confidence in the report.  However, if you look at the following, Challenger does do a pretty good job in giving some advance notice:

Click on image to zoom
Of particular note on this chart, the Challenger data showed a rise of recession-era job cut notifications a full 3 months prior to the actual peaking in claims. While the charting is not as tight as it was in the months prior to the "peak," the trend is obviously still there. 

All I'm saying is that particular attention should be paid to the June Challenger report.  It could very well tell us if the leveling-off in jobless claims will continue or, if instead, we are at the verge of another recession.


Warn Act:

May US Challenger layoffs 52,961 vs 40,298 prior:

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Only a Third of Americans Work Full Time

In the latest employment report, it was stated that only 119 million people are working full time.  That is only about one third of the nearly 320 million people making up the country's population.

While this is up from a low of 116 million in January, it is still a very sad statement on the jobs situation.  It means that too few of our people are paying all the taxes necessary to support the multitude of government programs such as Medicare and Social Security, which depend on income taxes collected from those full-time workers.  This is why these two programs are destined to run out of money faster than previously thought.


The Good And The Not- So-Good News About US Jobs In One Chart:

May Employment (Situation) Report:

Monthly number of full-time employees in the United States from May 2013 to May 2014 (in millions, unadjusted):

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Obama's Somewhat Misguided Focus On Football Head Injuries

Last week, President Obama held a so-called summit to address serious sports related injuries but, clearly, the primary focus was on professional football.  In fact, in January, he said that, if he had a son, "I wouldn't let him play pro-football."

What the President should have said is that he wouldn't let his son, or daughters, ride a bike.  There are approximately 500,000 E.R. visits per year for bicycle related injures.  Of those visits, 85,000+ are serious head injuries and roughly 600 result in death.  Far greater than the near 47,000 head injuries related to football each year.  Also, cycling injuries are more than double that for baseball and softball (38,000+) and the President's favorite, basketball (34,000+).

At the same time, he would have had to ground his own daughters had they been so inclined as to participate in cheerleading.  That activity is responsible for nearly half of all female catastrophic accidents: head injuries and fractures causing paralysis, and even death.

Then, too, amateur and professional boxing is a sport that has been known for decades to contribute to long-term brain damage.

While we should applaud the President for the "summit" being held, it should have been more broadly focused to also include some of the less popular sports -- both amateur and professional -- that can produce even more concussions than football.  As usual, however, Obama wants to ride on the back of any current hot-button issue in the national headlines, and essentially ignoring the real responsibilities of his job. Considering all the challenges facing the U.S. and the rest of the world, this summit should have been conducted by his Surgeon General.  Of course, he once again thought he could score some political points by personally showing he cares; even though that caring probably won't result in any significant improvement in this nation's overall head injury stats.  And, as far as pro-football is concerned, I can see the player's lawsuits resulting in a greater impact on how the game is played than the latest presidential photo-op.


Obama to host a White House summit on growing concerns over sports head injuries:

President Obama: I wouldn't let my son play pro football:

American Association of Neurological Surgeons: Sports-Related Head Injury Statistics:

Cheerleading accounts for more than half of ‘catastrophic’ injuries to female athletes:

Santa Claus, The Tooth Fairy, and the Gitmo5 Aren't a Danger to Americans

While in Europe, and in response to concerns that the release of 5 Taliban leaders might put Americans at risk, Obama said this:
'I wouldn't be doing it if I thought that it was contrary to American national security.'
Well, that statement would have been believable if there hadn't been the Benghazi attack on the U.S. mission in 2012; resulting in a dead Ambassador and 3 other dead Americans.

Prior to that attack there were all kinds of warning signs that said we shouldn't have even been in Benghazi.  The Red Cross, sensing an increasingly dangerous situation, pulled their people out. Following an RPG attack on their Ambassador, the Brits shuttered their doors and left.  Our mission in Benghazi had already seen two attacks prior to 9/11, and, Ambassador Stephens was so concerned about the situation there that he expressed it in various communiques back to the State Department.  Yet, we stayed, with only a dozen out-sourced security personnel; of which, only half were armed.

Now, fast forward to today and the Taliban prisoner swap for deserter Bowe Bergdahl.  Any sane person -- I guess except for Barack Obama -- understands that the release of these people is "absolutely" putting Americans at risk.   These aren't some grunt Taliban followers who fought against us in the Afghan war.  These are all smart people. These are Mullah Omar's top lieutenants who helped him take over Afghanistan; impose and execute the most extreme punishments of Sharia Law; and, who invited in and protected Bin Laden and the rest Al Qaeda to set up their training camps.  In essence, the Taliban is simpatico to the goals of Al Qaeda.

All of these people have spent more than a decade imprisoned by the United States.  They have had years to harden themselves against this country and its policies.  And, because they are the most dangerous of the Taliban, you can be assured that they spent every waking hour plotting against America and praying to Allah for help and guidance.  Just because they are going to spend a year under Qatari monitoring and surveillance doesn't mean that they can't conduct operations against the Afghanistan government; or, more importantly, against the U.S. and it's citizens.  For decades, in this country, mob bosses were able to run their operations from behind bars with less communication capability than these 5 Taliban leaders will have access to.

What Obama has done is show the entire world that we, as country, can be had.  That we are willing to negotiate with terrorists in order to get Americans back.  And, those Americans need not be military. Because of that, almost ever American overseas, is now at risk.  Some predict that the taking of American citizens will only escalate as a result of Obama's actions; with no amount of U.S. security available to protect most of them.

Lastly, the President said that "prisoner swapping" is the normal course of winding down wars.  Yes, but this country has never swapped such high level and dangerous personnel. Need I remind the President of the Nuremberg trials!  In fact, two of these released prisoners are wanted by the U.N. for war crimes.


Obama defends trading five Taliban leaders:

Libya: Red Cross pulls out of Benghazi fearing attack:

Benghazi timeline: How the attack unfolded:

US consulate attack in Libya: the warning signs were there in Benghazi:

 Who Are The 5 Guantanamo Detainees In Prisoner Swap?:

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

On Climate Change, Obama Shifts Tactics To Saving Our Children

Obama knows that there are two major criticisms of his proposed smack down of the coal industry in his latest go-it-alone roll out of EPA regulations.

First, it will effectively put 1.6 million relatively high paying jobs at risk that are directly involved in coal mining in 26 states.  Many of these workers live in towns where these are the only jobs available. Then, too, how many other jobs will be lost, not directly involved in the mining process is anyone's guess. Secondly, the economy will lose billions trying to comply with these regulations. Ultimately, every American will be paying higher prices for electricity and higher costs for almost everything that is dependent on electricity for its production.

Further, foreign made products, which won't have to contend with harsh regulations, will only become more competitive.  Thus, if American manufactures are to compete in their own country, they'll have no other choice but to move their manufacturing out of the U.S.  And, in doing so, create even more atmospheric CO2 than would have been created if production remained in the U.S.

So, in order to thwart any criticism of his planned EPA crackdown on coal and other energy sources, the President has now decided to put his critics in an indefensible position by using America's children as props, or more accurately, as human shields.

On Saturday, May 31st, he gave his weekly address from the very hospital where he had just visited children with asthma.  He said this:
"In America, we don’t have to choose between the health of our economy and the health of our children."
So, there we have it. If you oppose his new regulations, you are a heartless person who is putting the almighty dollar above the plight of the nation's children. End of story.

Additionally, in order to emphasize how beneficial and health-wise, his plan would be, he made these predictions.
"In just the first year that these standards go into effect, up to 100,000 asthma attacks and 2,100 heart attacks will be avoided – and those numbers will go up from there."
These types of projections are bogus.

First of all, I would ask him to show us the actual research behind those numbers.

Secondly, heart attacks are not normally environmentally triggered. In adults, lifestyle issues -- such as smoking, alcohol consumption, high cholesterol, and obesity -- are the most important contributing factors. For children, heart attacks are rare; and, if they do occur, they are almost always genetic in origin.  But, more importantly, preventing 2100 heart attacks against the 700,000+ that occur per year is nothing in comparison with the reduction that could be achieved with lifestyle changes.

Thirdly, there are 25 million asthmatics in this country; each of whom have at least one attack per year.  That's well in excess of 25 million attacks per year. When weighed against a prevention of 100,000  per year, we are talking about a very insignificant number.  Probably far less than one-half of one percent. The primary purpose of the President's EPA regulations is to reduce CO2 emissions; an odorless gas that each of us breathes in and out every 2 to 3 seconds.  No asthmatic or heart attack in the world would ever have been caused by an increase in CO2; even though there are some silly arguments out there that it may be causing an increase in pollen.

If Obama is worried about our kids, he should stop doing the kind of things that leave them with jobless parents or parents who keep seeing their incomes fall and their purchasing power decline as a result of price inflation for food, clothing, healthcare, and, especially, energy .  Jobless families and those with losses of income are existing in a very stressful environment; often resulting in anger, domestic violence, depression, or, even divorce.

If the President would spend more time saving families by getting them jobs and slowing inflation, he would help a lot more children than his heavy-handed EPA regulations will.


After visiting kids with asthma, President Obama emphasizes need to cut carbon pollution:

2009: Obama Promises Skyrocketing Energy Costs:

Coal and jobs in the United States:

Annual Coal Mining Wages vs. All Industries, 2012:

Asthma Statistics:

Heart Disease Facts:

Consumers Under Attack from Stagnant Wages and Inflation:

Reality of stagnant wages, rising costs stifles middle-class dreams: