Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The geniuses in charge

Lawrence Summers is Obama's Director of the National Economic Council. His last prominent full time job was President of Harvard University (from which he resigned after pronouncing that women have lesser aptitude for work in the highest levels of math and science).


Here's a quote from then-Treasury Secretary Summers celebrating financial services deregulation in 1999:

''Today Congress voted to update the rules that have governed financial services since the Great Depression and replace them with a system for the 21st century,'' Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers said. ''This historic legislation will better enable American companies to compete in the new economy.''


Why does Obama keep hiring the guys who messed things up to straighten them out?

Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan: What if?

What if Iraqis want sectarian strife and violence?


What if Iraqis simply refuse to work cooperatively with those outside their tribe, their region or their sect?


What if Afghanis reject democracy, modernity and women's rights?


What if Pakistanis in fact want a more theocratic fundamentalist state?


Is there any factual basis for the belief that a 50,000 strong residual "training" force in Iraq will convince Iraqis to accept basic elementary concepts of democratic pluralism? or that 75,000 troops in Afghanistan might convince Afghanis of the error of their ways?

Look at examples from our own Western history.

Did 50,000 foreign troops convince Charles V to grant freedom of religion to Protestants in the Netherlands? or, to respect the federal rights of the constituent units of his empire?


Did repeated threats of foreign intervention and invasion convince either Mary I of England, or Elizabeth I of England, or Mary I of Scotland, to respect the rights of other religions, states and regions?


For some reason, we continue to ignore history, and project our modern values onto more traditional societies. There were no historical or factual bases for the neo con belief that they could militarily transform Iraq and Afghanistan and Pakistan into Iowa and Nebraska and Kansas. There's still none. And, it's still a waste of lives and treasure to try to "pacify" the region.

Where is the authority for this?

Can anyone cite to any provision in the Constitution, or to any legislation, or to any decision in common law, which grants the president the authority to assert "unprecedented government control over the auto industry Monday, bluntly rejecting turnaround plans by General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC, demanding fresh concessions for long-term federal aid and raising the possibility of quick bankruptcy for either ailing auto giant."


BTW - If Fiat buys Chrysler, how does that preserve a U.S. owned auto company? Isn't that losing sight of the original goal?

Monday, March 30, 2009

No change soon on `don't ask, don't tell'

"Don't expect any change soon to the "don't ask, don't tell" policy about gays in the military.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both he and President Barack Obama have "a lot on our plates right now." As Gates puts it, "let's push that one down the road a little bit.""


So, the Obama administration (1) is opposed to gay marriage and (2) will not repeal "don't ask, don't tell".

I need someone to explain to me how Obama/Biden differed from McCain/Palin on the private sexual issues.

Obama vs. Kerry

Pres. Barack Obama, 2009:

"President Barack Obama says he won't consider speeding up the troop pullout from Iraq even though security has improved and violence has decreased.

"I think the plan that we put forward in Iraq is the right one" because it calls for "a very gradual withdrawal through the national elections in Iraq," he said in an interviewed aired Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation.""


Navy Lieutenant, now U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Senator John Kerry, 1971:

"How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

http://www.warcomeshome.org/content/sena tor-john-kerry:-how-do-you-ask-man-be-la st-man-die-vietnam

Surviving the Obama economy

Individuals are to rely on mortgage default and personal bankruptcy to escape their individual debts, while the government relies on inflation ito wipe out the national debt.


What's the point?

"President Barack Obama refused further long-term federal bailouts for General Motors and Chrysler, saying more concessions were needed from unions, creditors and others before they could be approved."


If we're not going to fully protect suppliers and workers, and there's going to be leaner, meaner, smaller surviving entities, what's the point of an auto industry bailout? That's the result you would obtain from relying on private sector forces and general bankruptcy law, without putting billions (trillions?) of taxpayer dollars at risk. Why not just say that and step away from the disaster?

And, by the way - - under which provisions of the constitution or general law does the president have the right to "force the departure of Rick Wagoner as CEO of General Motors"?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Now I get it!

According to the Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist for a Pulitzer prize winning newspaper, a citizen's group lobbying to preserve a freedom listed in the Bill of Rights (a completely and totally law abiding group, btw) is the equivalent of Mafia-style Mexican narco-terrorists and drug dealers.


Does the Miami Herald's editorial board really believe that there's no difference between the N.R.A. and Mexico's "La Familia"?

Of course, the cartoonist who put a monkey in his cartoon is the one who gets picketed.

Meanwhile, In Iraq . . .

From July 20, 2008 through today, during the "post surge" period (U.S. troop strength at 150,000), there were 135 U.S casualties and 3 U.K. casualties in Iraq, a total of 138 "coalition" deaths in a 252 day period (.55 average per day).

During the month of January, 2009, there were 16 U.S. casualties.

During the month of February, 2009, there were 17 U.S. casualties and 1 U.K. casualty.

During the month of March, 2009, there were 7 U.S. casualties (a welcome and significant decline to "only" one U.S. casualty in Iraq every 4 days).

Total coalition casualties in Iraq since March, 2003 are 4261 U.S., 179 U.K. and 139 "other", an average of over 2 per day.

Additionally, U.S. wounded exceed 110,000 (the numbers are unclear and vary greatly by source).


For some reason, this is no longer considered news- or noteworthy in America.

A residual force of 50,000 American troops will remain in Iraq for the remainder of Obama's first term of office. A significant percentage of the troop reduction from Iraq will be redeployed to Afghanistan.

In the words of Navy Lieutenant, now U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair, Senator John Kerry, testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971, "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

http://www.warcomeshome.org/content/sena tor-john-kerry:-how-do-you-ask-man-be-la st-man-die-vietnam


Friday, March 27, 2009

Afghanistan and Pakistan

"President Barack Obama said he’s boosting U.S. forces in Afghanistan and increasing aid to Pakistan to “disrupt, dismantle and defeat” al-Qaeda terrorists and other militants in both countries."


Good idea.

Unfortunately, "Pakistan's intelligence agency is helping the Taliban to pursue an insurgency in Afghanistan that has seen a 50 percent hike in attacks in some areas this year, the NATO commander here told AFP. The number of foreign fighters, including Europeans, is also increasing here while NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) still lacks the soldiers it needs, US General David D. McKiernan said in a weekend interview. "There certainly is a level of ISI complicity in the militant areas in Pakistan and organisations such as the Taliban," the four-star general said, echoing allegations by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and others."


How do we fight our enemy to protect our friend while our friend is aiding our enemy? And, if the Macedonian, Roman, Mongolian, Chinese, Russian and British empires were unable to pacify Afghanistan, why do we believe we can?

Remember North Korea?

"North Korea has mounted a rocket on a launchpad on its northeast coast, American officials said, putting Pyongyang well on track for a launch the U.S. and South Korea warned Thursday would be a major provocation with serious consequences.

Pyongyang says the rocket will carry a satellite, but regional powers suspect the North will use the launch to test the delivery technology for a long-range missile capable of striking Alaska. They have said the launch - banned by the U.N. Security Council in 2006 - would trigger sanctions."


A serious threat from North Korea is being met with an empty threat from the USA.

If we're not going to do anything of substance, empty threats only make us look weaker.

This is new

An editorial cartoon by a left of center cartoonist in a mainstream left of center newspaper which mocks the intellectual dishonesty of the Obama economic policy.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Misdirected populist rage

Now that our rulers have decided that business travel and business conventions and business meetings are evil and wasteful and must be stamped out, what's going to happen to the hundreds of thousands of minority and immigrant blue collar workers set to lose their jobs in the hotel and restaurant industries? For the most part, good steady union jobs with pensions and health insurance plans and disability benefits? You know, the jobs we're supposedly spending trillions of stimulus dollars to save and protect?

Did anyone actually look at the people in the food service and housekeeping and catering departments in Las Vegas and Miami and Los Angeles before deciding on a policy that will result in their unemployment? Who does Washington think works in the kitchens? It's not the Wall Street fat cats. They'll keep their jobs.


"Members of Congress scolded federal law enforcement officials Wednesday over why thousands of their constituents didn't get to see Barack Obama sworn in as president in January despite holding coveted tickets to the ceremony.

A classified congressional report, part of which was released this week, found that visitors overwhelmed an understaffed cadre of law enforcement officers on Inauguration Day. Crowds knocked down barriers, crowded security zones and forced many ticket-holding spectators away from their coveted viewing areas nearest the Capitol.

"These were constituents from each of our districts, who traveled often at great expense and personal sacrifice to witness this historic day," said Rep. David Price, D-N.C., who led the hearing along with Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla. . . .

Among the problems, according to Wednesday's testimony: Spectators arrived before law enforcement officers. Signage was poor, and visitors without tickets mingled among those carrying tickets, breaking down any hope of orderly queues. Security maps conflicted. . . .

"It was just horrible," said Kay Singer of Hillsborough, N.C., whose blue ticket line moved just 25 feet in three hours in subfreezing weather. As the noon swearing-in time grew nearer, she abandoned the line and went to a friend's apartment to watch on television. Next time, she said, she'll just go to the National Mall without a ticket. . . .

Thousands of people who'd traveled from across the country with tickets from their members of Congress couldn't get close enough to see the swearing-in, however.

"What was supposed to be a positive experience for my constituents turned into an embittering one," said Rep. David Obey, D-Wis., the chairman of the Appropriations Committee. . . .

Rep. Harold Rogers of Kentucky, the top Republican on the Homeland Security Subcommittee, said that most of the decisions about signs, tickets and other plans were made by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. That committee is run by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, who wasn't at the hearing."


Really? I don't recall reading or hearing one word about any unruly behavior or disorganization. Did you?

Finally, drug war truth

"The U.S. bears much of the blame for violent drug wars roiling Mexico because of its demand for drugs and its failure to stop illegal weapons from crossing the border, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said on Wednesday, accepting ''shared responsibility'' for the problem."


Now, we either have to significantly and measurably cut U.S. drug use and demand by a date certain, or consider legalisation.

If people are going to use recreational drugs, they should be buying them from Budweiser or Phillip Morris (regulated, legally imported and taxed) rather than from La Familia or any of the other drug cartels. That would end narco terrorism, narco violence and illicit narco wealth.

Economists predict the likely impact of the stimulus bill

-"Very uncertain."
-"Difficult to distinguish among alternative estimates."
-"We confess to considerable uncertainty."
-"Subject to substantial margins of error."


That's alot of uncertainty for $1 trillion.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Meet your new neighbors

"Some Chinese Muslim detainees long cleared for release from the prison camps at Guantánamo Bay could be released in the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder said Wednesday.

During an interview with reporters, Holder was asked whether members of a group of Uighurs at the U.S. military detention facility in Cuba could be released on American soil.

''I don't know. We're trying to come up with places for them,'' Holder said.

He added later: ``The possibility exists.''

The United States has cleared 17 of the Uighurs for release from Guantánamo, but insists it will not hand them over to China because the Uighurs fear they will be tortured."


How about placing all Guantanamo detainees released into the United States in group homes in the Congressional districts of those members of Congress and governors who urged the closure of Guantanamo? Maybe even right next door to their homes? Just a suggestion.

Why shouldn't they?

"Immigrant advocates are calling on Florida child welfare administrators to repudiate the actions of a private Naples foster care agency they say snatched an infant and toddler from their mother and grandparents -- and then turned the family in to immigration agents.

Advocates claim that Family Preservation, a Collier County child welfare group under contract with the Department of Children & Families, reported 19-year-old Karen Arriaga and her parents, who are undocumented Mexican migrants, to immigration agents, and then arranged for the family to be rounded up at their offices."


Why shouldn't government agencies and contractors report illegal activity to the appropriate authorities? The contractor in question could be fined, punished and face criminal sanctions for hiring the undocumented, but is supposed to provide taxpayer funded services to the undocumented without reporting them to INS? That makes no sense.

Gov. Blago, cont'd

If you watched the TV news this morning, there was coverage of deposed Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich's gig as a talk radio host.


You remember Blago. Blasted by the prosecutor at a news conference for attempting to sell Obama's senate seat. Tried and convicted in the press and by late night comedians on the basis of prosecutorial leaks and a bad 70's haircut. Impeached by the Illinois legislature on a hurry-up basis, without investigation, hearings, trial or the right to call witnesses.

Blago still hasn't been indicted.

Repeat, Blago still hasn't been charged with a crime by the prosecutor who orchestrated his downfall weeks ago.

But he's out of the way, he's been silenced, he's been discredited and none of his former associates have to worry about what he may say if and when he ever is indicted. (Pre-scandal, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel bragged on masterminding Blago's rise to the governorship.)

Many rightly question the indictment, prosecution, conviction and sentencing of former Alabama governor Don Seigelman.


But, at least Seigelman was indicted, prosecuted, convicted and sentenced before punishment. Seigelman can and is seeking recourse on appeal. Blago? Impeached but still not indicted, with no available remedy.

Civil liberties shouldn't only be for people you like, or with good haircuts.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The census as "stimulus"?

The census is hugely political.

Political power and financial receipts largely depend upon population.

That's why the in group always wants to count "their" people and not count "your" people.

That's why it's a big advantage to control the federal government whenever a census will be held.

That's why it's perfectly predictable (and acceptable) for a Democratic administration to attempt to count every resident of "mostly dense urban areas such as Los Angeles and New York at high risk of being missed due to language problems and a deepening economic crisis", as well as "immigrants, non-English speaking residents and displaced homeowners who make up roughly 14 percent of the U.S. population".

Both parties do it.

"The stakes are high since census results are used to allocate billions of dollars in government funds for schools, roads, hospitals and other vital programs. States also risk losing political clout, since the population count determines apportionment of House seats and electoral college votes."

All understood. But, why did the 2010 census receive "$1 billion in stimulus money for outreach"? How is money spent in 2010 on "outreach" to count the "high risk" for admittedly political purposes going to help fight a recession in 2009?

Every day, you find out about another unnecessary and unrelated item snuck into that stimulus bill.

For full article:

Chris Dodd is an embarrassment

Senator Chris Dodd received campaign donations (more than anyone else in Congress) and a highly favorable rate “V.I.P.” insider mortgage from Countrywide while he chaired the relevant oversight committee.

Now, we find out Dodd received over $100,000 in campaign donations from AIG, inserted the amendment permitting the AIG bonuses into the stimulus bill, and then lied about it.

Isn’t this the kind of stuff we Democrats promised to change?

Why would any creditor agree?

As the days go by, it becomes clear that the Obama "plan" to erase his projected multi trillion dollar deficits (up to half of each projected annual budget is deficit spending!) is the same as the Carter "plan" from the '70's - - inflation and bracket creep.

Printing trillions of dollars to pay the government's bills (Carter only printed billions) will devalue the dollar. Inflation will go wild. Although your purchasing power will decrease, your paper income will increase, as will your tax bracket, resulting in increased payroll tax revenues. Most importantly, the dollars with which we pay back the national debt will be worth less than the dollars we borrowed.

A good deal for the borrower. But, why would any of our creditors agree?

Answer: They won't. China will refuse to hold, lend or accept repayment in dollars.

Wait and see.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Bush wasn't Churchill, and Obama isn't Roosevelt

George W. Bush ignored contemporary technology, contemporary methods of warfare, and contemporary modes of thought.

After 9/11, Bush fell under the delusions that it was the 1940’s, that we were fighting World War II, and that he was Churchill.

And, using the media, the Bush administration spread that delusion through broader society.

Mohsin Hamid, in his novel The Reluctant Fundamentalist (about a Pakistani Muslim Ivy graduate working in finance in New York post 9/11), described the phenomenon clearly: “America, too, was increasingly giving itself over to a dangerous nostalgia at that time. There was something undeniably retro about the flags and uniforms, about generals addressing cameras in war rooms and newspaper headlines featuring such words as duty and honor. I had always thought of America as a nation that looked forward; for the first time I was struck by its determination to look back. Living in New York was suddenly like living in a film about the Second World War; I, a foreigner, found myself staring out at a set that ought to be viewed not in Technicolor but in a grainy black and white. What your fellow countrymen longed for was unclear to me - - a time of unquestioned dominance? of safety? of moral certainty? I did not know - - but that they were scrambling to don the costumes of another era was apparent.”

Now, it seems as if the media men surrounding Obama have decided to use the meme that it’s the 1930’s again, that we are fighting the Depression, and that Obama is Roosevelt. Michele’s even going to replant Eleanor’s victory garden.

Looking backward never works. Emulating the past never works. Those are gimmicks, not strategies. We don’t need another New Deal, designed for a disappeared industrial society. We need tactics and strategies and solutions for a post industrial society.

Anti-drug effort at Mexican border?

"President Obama is finalizing plans to move federal agents, equipment and other resources to the border with Mexico to support Mexican President Felipe Calderón's campaign against violent drug cartels, according to U.S. security officials."


No one's paying attention, but we're starting another war, this time in northern Mexico, in support of the war on drugs. Ultimately, we will be invading / intruding into the Mexican states on their side of the border.

Of course, the war on drugs is a war America can and will win only if and when Americans stop buying recreational drugs. Without American demand for illegal drugs on our side of the border, there are no drug cartels on their side of the border. We don't need to invade Mexico. We need to either legalize or stop using.

In retrospect, maybe giving front row seats at the inauguration to drug dealers and gang bangers turned rap moguls wasn't such a good idea.

"Obama's budget could double deficit in 10 years"

"The Congressional Budget Office said that the president's budget plan would add $1 trillion to the country's debt every year for the next decade."


Down the road, this debt must be paid - - with tax increases, with spending cuts or by relying on inflation to shrink the real dollar value of the government's debt.

Obama's core constituents have neither personal savings nor the savings ethic. Further, his core supporters include in large measure civil servants with government pensions. Expect Obama to rely on inflation.

Capitalised profit and socialised risk

"The Treasury Department will unveil the next step in its financial rescue efforts Monday, announcing that it intends to create a government body, called the Public Investment Corp., to finance the purchase of as much as $1 trillion in soured loans and toxic assets from ailing banks, according to sources."


In other words, the winners keep their bonuses, and we bail out the losers.

I want a job in one of those industries. At my job, we live (and go down) with our mistakes. The government doesn't come in and make it better for me.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Unintended consequences . . .

Will lift operators and food service employees at Stowe ski resort (a subsidiary of AIG) have to pay the 90% penalty tax on their Christmas bonuses? Not every employee of AIG is a monster earning millions per year. Most of them are average Joes, worried about keeping their jobs. If we don't think low level employees should be penalized for their bosses' mistakes, we should remember that. Let's hope Congress doesn't punish the average workers getting two week bonuses in its haste to cover up the lack of forethought and oversight in the various bailout packages.

The "Special Olympics" comment

What an intellectual snob.

One person's recession . . .

is another person's opportunity.

Among all the self serving talk of doom and gloom and predictions of "the worst, longest, deepest recession in our history", it's easy to overlook the real opportunities for personal enrichment created by the downturn in certain sectors.

Tourism? Yes, fly-to destination resorts are hurting. But, drive-to resorts near urban areas - - ski areas such as Stowe in Vermont and Bretton Woods in New Hampshire, for example - - had record years.

Real property? First time home buyers who take advantage of federal tax credits, subsidies and mortgage programs will see big returns on their investment if they get in at the bottom of the market.

The key is to ignore those with a vested interest in talking down the economy. And, it doesn't hurt to still have faith in the private sector.

Animal rights stupidity

Andrew Sullivan: "One day in the future, generations may well look back at our treatment of farm animals and wonder just how barbaric we were."


It's more likely future generations will look back and wonder why people who professed that belief weren't vegan or vegetarian.

Of course, it's far easier to criticize "industrial-style animal operations" while enjoying a nice juicy steak (and while ignoring the contribution of "factory farming" to the reduction of widespread hunger and famine).

It reminds me of the "Palin supports wolf hunting!" hysteria during the last election, as if all attempts to control wolf populations are always bad.


During five recent days spent at Lutsen Mountains on the shore of Lake Superior in Northern Minnesota (www.lutsen.com), there were four wolf kills of deer in the area, including one during the night on a ski slope and another on a snowmobile trail.

Maybe that's why the Obama administration, faced with reality, decided to "stick with a controversial Bush administration move that took gray wolves off the endangered species list in most of the northern Rockies . . . "

Of course, people who live and recreate nowhere near wolves disagree.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Oversight and financial controls


Now the administration thinks that oversight and financial controls should be incorporated into future trillion dollar spending and bailout packages.

Of course, when the plans were being discussed, those points were dismissed as crazy talk.

Does anyone believe that the AIG bonuses story is the only snafu we'll be hearing about?


During his first year in office, the anti war president plans to reduce U.S. troop presence in Iraq by approximately 8%. By only 8%.

That's hardly what people expected when they heard the phrase "end the war".

And, in fact, more additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan than withdrawn from Iraq.

Again, that's hardly what people expected when they heard the phrase "end overseas adventurism".

The only thing more surprising than the administration's reversal of course (slowing of course?) on Iraq is the silence of the "anti war" community.

Did they ever really care about ending the war in Iraq?

Or, was it just about exploiting an effective wedge issue?

The fact is, young Americans will continue to die in Iraq. And, they will be no less dead because the administration is putatively anti war.

Iraqi box scores

Pelosi / Reid take over Congress, promising to end war, and don't.

Obama gets elected, promising to end war, and won't.

Suddenly, no more daily box scores of U.S. troops, wounded and dead in Iraq, on T.V. or in the newspapers.

What a coincidence.

Monday, March 16, 2009

"America's recession "probably" will end this year"

. . . says Federal Reserve Chair Ben Bernanke.


Then why did we have to authorize trillions of dollars of social welfare spending (in future years) to get us out of recession?

"The economy is fundamentally sound"

. . . says President Obama. Remember when McCain was out of touch for saying that?

And, if the economy is fundamentally sound, why do we need all these trillion dollar spending plans?

Fiscal irresponsibility

"Government spending on most domestic programs is growing at its fastest pace in nearly 30 years . . . Obama's budget calls for $3.6 trillion spending in fiscal 2010 . . . Obama's budget projects that by 2019, debt held by the public will reach $15.3 trillion, roughly double the current level . . . Future predicted annual deficits will be even bigger than the $1.7 trillion fiscal 2009 deficit figure Obama has been using . . . The deficit is expected to reach 12.3 percent of GDP this year . . . Non-defense discretionary spending, which includes most domestic programs, is up about 16 percent from last year. Under Obama's budget, it would go up another 14 percent next year."


Does anyone not think this will cause economic and political trouble down the road?

Is the honeymoon over?

"A new poll by the independent Pew Research Center for the People & the Press has found that President Barack Obama's popular support is eroding, with his approval rating dropping below 60 percent."


Friday, March 13, 2009

The NRDC is upset

The Natural Resources Defense Council is very upset.

Remember when they criticized Sarah Palin because people hunt wolves in Alaska?

Well, guess what?

"It's the worst possible news for the wolves of the Northern Rockies: Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has given the green light to a Bush-era plan that will kick them off the Endangered Species list."

Get it? The NRDC is upset because the new Interior Secretary is going to do what they falsely accused Palin of doing - - allowing the hunting of wolves.

If only they could figure out who Salazar works for, and maybe point out that Salazar's boss is ultimately responsible. But, that might force them to critique The One . . .

Office Depot boss sees pay cut . . . to $6.3 million

This morning, I read the headline “Office Depot Boss Sees 65 Percent Pay Cut”.

I think, great, finally, an executive is taking responsibility.

I read the first paragraph, which says, “Office Depot’s chief executive received a nearly 65 percent pay cut in 2008, a year in which the struggling office supplier posted a loss of nearly $1.5 billion and said it would close 9 percent of its stores to cut costs.”

I think, okay, that sounds like shared sacrifice, top to bottom. This guy’s a corporate hero.

Then I read, “Steve Odland received $6.3 million in total compensation in the recently completed fiscal year . . . in fiscal 2007, he received compensation valued at $17.8 million . . .”

Excuse me?

The man who led his company to a $1.5 billion dollar loss received $6.3 million in compensation, and that’s a pay cut?

Capping executive salaries at companies that get bailout money is a good idea. But, the deductibility of all executive salaries must be capped by a multiple of the firm’s lowest paid employee (whether it’s 10 or 50 or 100 times the salary of the lowest paid employee).

If the directors and shareholders of a private concern want to pay someone millions of dollars per year for destroying their wealth, that’s their choice. But, we don’t have to subsidize it with tax deductions.

Opened minded liberal progressive bloggers

Check out the name of the stalker who posted the comments under the two posts below.

Stay classy, progressives!

(I'll delete them in a bit, but I wanted you to see an example of the juvenile, mildly sociopathic behavior accepted as the norm on the "progressive" sites.)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I thought the "anti war" candidates won

Didn't the "anti war" candidates win control of congress in 2006?

Didn't the "anti war" candidate win the presidency in 2008?

Then why will we still have 128,000 troops in Iraq in January 1, 2010?


If a McCain / Palin administration planned on having 128,000 troops in Iraq on 1/1/10, MoveOn and its allies would be organizing a New Year's Day anti war rally on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. (featuring every band that played at the inauguration, and the inspiring rhetoric of Sen. Obama).

"Obama undecided on where to put Guantánamo detainees"


Again, I say we relocate them to the states and districts of the governors and senators and representatives who insisted we shut Guantanamo. Preferably, in group homes right next door to the homes of those governors and senators and representatives.

Obama, Biden and earmarks

Candidate Obama criticized congressional earmarks.

President Obama believes "earmarks have given legislators the opportunity to direct federal money to worthy projects". He said that as he signed a spending bill with 9,000 earmarks, presumably because he believes all 9,000 are for "worthy projects".

Of course, the legislators he was referring to include Joe Biden. Biden, while campaigning for vice president as an opponent of earmarks, was sneaking 56 earmarks that cost a total of $52.1 million into the spending bill Obama signed.


(You got to like the headline - - "Obama decries earmarks, signs spending bill with 9,000 of them")

Did we pass the stimulus bill . . .

so that the various state legislatures could continue giving tax breaks to special interests and campaign donors?


Maybe if they didn't get stimulus money, they'd have to consider taxing Super Bowl tickets and bottled water.

Tax per mile

The new bright idea that will not die in Washington is the replacement / supplement of the gas tax with a tax per mile driven. (Ironically, some of the same people who complained of Bush administration intrusion in our private lives want the government to install a GPS in everyone's car and monitor where and when we travel).

Supposedly, this will increase tax receipts and discourage bad behavior, i.e., driving a car.

Of course, by taxing your commute, this will irrevocably destroy suburban home values. In turn, this will worsen the banking, foreclosure and property crises.

If this becomes law, it would erode wealth and further impoverish the suburban middle class.

It will be interesting to see if this becomes an issue in the California senate race.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

"We're 'terrorists to the bone' "

"Five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks mock U.S. authorities and proclaim themselves “terrorists to the bone” in a war crimes court filing released Tuesday. The five Guantanamo prisoners use the six-page document to try to justify the killing of nearly 3,000 people, portraying the attack as a response to U.S. actions in Israel, Iraq and elsewhere that is supported by their Muslim faith."


Why don't we take these people and let them out on work release in the neighborhoods of all those who think we're too mean to them? Maybe set up a group home for them on Cape Cod, next to Andrew Sullivan's place?

You think?

"Federal spending stirs second thoughts"?


Maybe it's because "only about 23 percent of the stimulus would be spent by Sept. 30", i.e., spent to actually stimulate the economy now, when we need it.


Which means we didn't need to authorize the other 77% until later, when we can better judge if, where and when it's needed.

Teachers duped

"President Barack Obama called for tying teachers' pay to student performance and expanding innovative charter schools Tuesday, embracing ideas that have provoked hostility from members of teachers unions. . . ."


Obama called for more charter schools (i.e., semi-privatizations which eliminate pensions and tenure), merit and performance based pay, and longer work days and school years.

Of course, the presidents of both the American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association applauded the plan . . . because to do otherwise would be to admit they were duped.

Obama's first signing statement

"Facing strong opposition from lawmakers with large Cuban-American constituencies, the Obama administration pledged - - in writing - - that changes to U.S.-Cuba policy tucked into the giant 2009 spending bill will have no teeth. . . . In a quest to secure two of the votes from senators who had vowed to block the entire budget bill, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner assured Democratic Sens. Bill Nelson of Florida and Bob Menendez of New Jersey that the government would interpret the new law so strictly that it will be ineffective. . . . The administration's apparent willingness to buck the intent of Congress surprised many Cuba-watchers."


When Nixon did this, it was called an impeachable offense.

When Bush did this, it was called an unconstitutional "signing statement".

When Obama does it? "Geithner's letter opened the administration up to the same criticism Obama has lobbed at Bush, who used presidential ''signing statements'' to declare that he would interpret legislative provisions his way. Asked about the practice Tuesday at the White House, spokesman Robert Gibbs said: ``It's like a presidential signing statement, except it's not the president, and it's not a signing statement.''"


I'll let you know when we hear from the constitutional scholars who were shocked and appalled by the Nixon and Bush practices. Don't hold your breath.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Federal funding for stem cell research


What's amazing is not that Obama eased restrictions on embryonic stem cell research.

What's amazing is that people still oppose embryonic stem cell research. (Not moral or personal opposition - - understandably, some people oppose it on religious grounds. But, political opposition. The American people have spoken. They support stem cell research. Our leaders need to listen.)

"Only about 3.4 percent of the total"?

This is typical.

The Miami Herald urges passage of the spending bill, notwithstanding the obvious flaws:

"We don't disagree with the critics on that point. Taxpayers for Common Sense, a watchdog group, says the bill has more than 8,500 earmarks, at a cost of $7.7 billion. Although that amounts to only about 3.4 percent of the total . . ."


"Only" 3.4 percent of the total? Isn't that a huge amount of money, when talking about billions of dollars? (trillions of dollars?)

Friday, March 6, 2009

Stocks and bonds are down by over 1/3 since Obama sworn in . . .

Remember how we had to overlook, ignore and excuse Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's history of tax scams and tax evasion, because he was the only guy qualified to fix the mess in the financial sector?

Maybe an honest, responsible, tax paying citizen would be doing a better job.

Stocks see 12-year lows

As do IRA's, 401K's and all private and individual pension plans.

It's as if the administration doesn't give a damn about private sector workers, who do without cushy government pensions, government assistance or multi million dollar book deals to fund their retirement.

"I'm not wedded to my proposals"

"President Barack Obama signaled Thursday that he's opened to compromise on overhauling the nation's healthcare system. Obama told participants at the end of a health summit that he isn't wedded to his proposals made in the campaign."
The Miami Herald, 3/6/09

Does this mean he doesn't feel bound by his campaign promises?

Does this mean he didn't believe his campaign promises when he made them?

Does this mean his healthcare promises were lies?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Help the working class

Anyone who started working within the last 20 to 25 years was given the same two pronged financial advice.

First, buy a house, get a fixed rate mortgage, and pay it off. Don't get any crazy adjustable payment or adjustable rate mortgage, and don't refinance every time your house goes up in value. Just buy it, stay there, and pay it off.

Second, put 5% of your pretax income per year in an IRA or 401K. Nothing fancy, nothing crazy, nothing excessive. If you're lucky, you got an employer match. If not, you were still putting away for your future.

It was estimated that any married couple that followed that simple, frugal, conservative economic plan, starting between the ages of 25 and 30, would have between $500,000 and $1.5 million invested in real estate, stocks and savings by the time they retired. Their retirement would be comfortable, and they would not be a burden on family or society.

Well, not so much anymore. Any appreciation in the value of your home is gone. And, your mortgage's principal balance doesn't start to decrease significantly until the last 10 years of a thirty year fixed rate mortgage. Therefore, due to Wall Street's and the banking sector's manipulation of the real estate market, the investment in your home didn't turn out as planned. Of course, the financial sector is being bailed out. Those who bought over priced homes in the past five years on a speculative basis with crazy mortgages? They're getting bailed out, too. Those who invested frugally and paid regularly? No help in sight.

As to the IRA's and 401K's? They've fallen almost 50%. If you'd keep half of your contributions in cash under your mattress, and spent the other half on beer, you'd be in the same financial shape. And the president's response?

"President Obama said Tuesday that he is not intently focused on the “day-to-day gyrations of the stock market,” comparing the downward roller-coaster on Wall Street to the fickle nature of political polls. “You know, it bobs up and down day to day,” Mr. Obama said. “And if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you’re probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong.”"


The problem is not the "day-to-day gyrations" that "bob up and down day to day". The problem is the significant straight line downward trend. Anyone who reads that quote, and then reads their quarterly statement, will not be comforted.

The "working class" are those who work. Something needs to be done for the working class (or, in President Clinton's words, those who "worked hard and played by the rules").

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Dow below 6800

I'll say it again:

I'd imagine more wealth has been lost in 401K's and Keogh's and IRA's and SEP accounts and medical savings accounts than in upside down home mortgages. There will be no economic turnaround or uptick in consumer confidence until the administration addresses this issue of lost wealth, lost savings and lost financial security. Because, at the end of every quarter, every one gets mailed a reminder from their plan administrators.

So far, nothing has been done to help out the people who played by the rules, put 5 or more percent of their income into their 4o1K's, and have lost half their retirement savings. There's another name for those people: the working class.

Who is in charge of vetting the nominees? Fire them.

"Another Obama administration nominee has tax troubles. This time, it's Ron Kirk, the president's choice to be U.S. trade representative. Kirk owes an estimated $10,000 in back taxes from earlier in the decade and has agreed to pay them, the Senate Finance Committee said Monday. The committee said the taxes arise from Kirk's handling of speaking fees he donated to a scholarship fund that he set up at his alma mater, and for his deduction of the full cost of season tickets to the Dallas Mavericks professional basketball team."


These weren't "mistakes". These were tax scams. Kirk set up a "scholarship fund" to avoid taxes on speaking fees. Kirk overstated the value of items donated to charity. Kirk failed to report "gifts" (tickets to basketball games) received when he was mayor of Dallas.

Another fine representative.


I thought we weren't doing them anymore, whatever the motive and however "good" or "needed" they might be.


Didn't all these congresspeople applaud when their candidates (both Obama and McCain) promised to eliminate earmarks?

Monday, March 2, 2009


“Afghan President Hamid Karzai stepped up a confrontation with his opposition Saturday, ordering this year's presidential election to be moved up by at least three months despite the top election official's concerns that insufficient preparation time, funds and international forces could render the results illegitimate. Karzai's decree may also intensify tensions with the United States, which backed an Independent Election Commission decision scheduling the vote for Aug. 20 so that an additional 17,000 U.S. troops could be deployed to bolster security. Some 60,000 troops from the United States and 40 other countries are currently helping Afghan security forces battle the al Qaeda-backed Taliban insurgency, and getting reinforcements in place within the next three months presents Washington and its NATO allies a huge challenge. A vote that is not seen as free and fair could deal a serious blow to the Obama administration's emerging strategy for blunting the insurgency, which relies in part upon rebuilding popular trust in the political system. ''There are concerns about the legitimacy of this vote,'' said a Western official, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.”


How many thousands more Americans will we put in harm’s way to protect a government that never was, is not and never will be (in our lifetimes) a functioning democracy? It would be wiser to simply quarantine Afghanistan.


"The top U.S. military official said Sunday that Iran has sufficient fissile material for a nuclear weapon, declaring it would be a "very, very bad outcome" should Tehran move forward with a bomb."


Do you think the fact that we're keeping at least 35,000 to 50,000 troops in Iraq for the foreseeable future, that we will be moving an additional 30,000+ troops to Afghanistan, and that we are running trillion dollar deficits may be emboldening them?

"Confusion over details could snag healthcare safety net"?

"Cassandra J. Kelsey has tried to cut back on all her expenses since losing her job in January. But suffering from degenerative arthritis, she can't do without health care. That's why the 55-year-old District of Columbia resident was excited when President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill included a provision to slash costs for laid-off workers' health insurance. And that's why she was distressed to learn that, because the Obama administration has yet to tell employers exactly how to make the benefit work, it'll be weeks or months before she can claim it. . . . A $25 billion provision in the stimulus bill aims to cut COBRA's price tag, reducing its cost by 65 percent for workers laid off as far back as Sept. 1. The bill gives eligible workers 60 days to apply. Then they get the reduced-cost premium for nine months. But it's not going to happen right away. Employers are waiting for instructions from the Labor Department and the Internal Revenue Service on how to put the program into place. Both agencies posted some information online Thursday. Until employers get the guidance they need and notify potentially eligible ex-employees, most workers will not be able to apply for the new benefit. Many probably will not know it exists."



"The Obama administration rushed to include a health-care safety net for laid-off workers in the recently signed stimulus bill but has not told employers exactly how to make it work. As a result, tens of thousands of jobless people could wait months before getting help paying for health insurance that their employers previously had covered. “Too many people are still trying to figure this out,” said Heath Weems, director of human resources policy at the National Association of Manufacturers. “There is a lot of confusion.”"


A $25 billion provision in an $800+ billion stimulus package was drafted in secret, behind closed doors, without input from the public or the bureaucracy. Then, the stimulus bill was voted on without benefit of committee hearings or public debate, with provisions inserted and deleted by hand at the last minute. Why is anyone surprised that neither the public nor the bureaucracy is ready to implement? And, isn't this what critics of the rush to pass a stimulus bill, any stimulus bill, predicted?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

What happened to the "anti war" Democrats?

There seems to be so very few left, now that Obama owns all our wars.

Fortunately, Joseph Galloway remains opposed to any waste of U.S. lives and treasure (regardless of who's doing the wasting):

"If the new American team has some new ideas about how to succeed in Afghanistan, now would be the time to lay them out. Nothing that Alexander the Great, Queen Victoria or Leonid Brezhnev tried in their attempts to subdue the quarrelsome Afghan tribes worked -- and nothing we've tried in the last eight years has, either."