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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gone for a bit

I will be tied up over the next ten days and am unlikely to have time to add to this blog. I may be able to add a bit during that time, but I should be back writing like usual on Monday, November 7th. See you then.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Obama's Middle East Muddle

Two events of the last few days show just how muddled the Obama policies in the Middle East truly are.

The first event is the withdrawal of the US ambassador from Syria. According to the news, this withdrawal was based upon credible reports of threats to the ambassador's safety. The end result is that there is no American ambassador to Syria, nothing more and nothing less. Of course, Syria is the country whose dictator has been killing his people indiscriminately for many months in order to try to thwart the protests that have arisen against his rule. The latest news on that front is that Syrian hospitals are now torturing patients brought in with injuries related to the protests. Not only does the regime kill many and wound many more, but it now tortures those protesters who survive the attacks. In all the months that the Assad regime has been slaughtering Syrians, president Obama has done next to nothing. Obama could have withdrawn the US ambassador as a sign of displeasure with the barbaric behavior of the Syrian regime towards its own people. That would have been a move made from strength. Instead, Obama snuck the US ambassador out of the country in order to hide from a potential threat. The only statement made by that move is that the USA is weak and cannot protect its own ambassador. Meanwhile the killing and torture in Syria continues and the Obama administration does and says nothing.

Second, we have the announcement from Obama that all US troops will be out of Iraq by the end of the year. This announcement led me to question why we had gone into Iraq in the first place. We were told that we wanted to remove a terror threat, namely, Saddam Hussein, and replace that threat with a peaceful and democratic country. Then Senator Obama opposed the war vehemently. That, of course, is Obama right as an American. Nevertheless, once Obama became president he continued the Bush policies towards Iraq. Since the war in Iraq was essentially over before Obama was sworn in, it was no big deal for Obama to continue on with the Bush policies. Nevertheless, Obama recognized that there was a need for a continuing American presence in Iraq in order to guarantee the peace and to keep out Iran. One month, two months and four months ago, we were told by the Obamacrats that the plan was to keep about 15,000 troops in Iraq after the end of the year. Some pushed for even more troops to remain in Iraq, but no one in the administration said that all American troops would be gone. They recognized that the absence of US troops would create a vacuum that Iran would fill, a terrible result for the world.

Obama failed to come to any agreement with the Iraqi government about how to keep US troops in place. Now, Obama is suddenly touting his great "success" in having all US troops out of the country. So nothing changed with regard to the need for troops in Iraq. Indeed, all that happened was that Obama failed miserably in his efforts on this point, so he decided to call his failure a big "success". It is just the latest example of Obama thinking that what he says is more important than what he does.

Getting the base excited

For the last two months, president Obama has been trying to get the Democrat base excited by blasting Republicans, pushing for approval of his jobs bill and generally moving well to the left in his positions. After such a barrage, one would think that the success of Obama's efforts would show up in the polls. Today, we have a pretty good measure of the success of this shift to the left by Obama. Rasmussen Reports has been conducting a daily poll of Obama's approval ratings since the start of his term in office. Rasmussen tells us the number who strongly approve, strongly disapprove, generally approve and generally disapprove of Obama's performance in office. Strong approval is the mark of a fired up base.

Today for the first time, only 18% of those surveyed strongly approved of Obama's job performance. This is the lowest score ever received by the president on this measure. Over the course of Obama's shift to the left, the number announcing strong approval for Obama has declined significantly; the figure is down about 20%.

Maybe it is time for the Obamacrats to reconsider their latest effort to save a failed president.

Great Moments in Bureaucracy

In a move that could only come from the government, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York has come up with a plan to keep subway stations cleaner. The MTA runs the subways in New York through its subsidiary agency the NY Transit Authority. So what is the plan? Just this: the MTA is going to remove all trash cans from the subway stations. The reasoning of the MTA is that by removing the trash receptacles, people will have no place to throw their refuse and will just hold on to it until they reach a place where they can dispose of the trash.

What is next? Will the Obama folks come up with a plan to cut medical costs by closing all the hospitals? People can just treat themselves and costs will be cut. Will Mayor Bloomberg of New York decide to cut speeding on New York City streets by removing speed limits? Maybe the New York Parks Department will end damage to the trees in Central Park by cutting them all down.

You really have to wonder who was the genius who though up this idea and, even more so, who were the supervisors who endorsed it.

Racism by Denial

This morning the website Real Clear Politics had an article reprinted from the New Republic which RCP ran under the headline "Herman Cain is not a Minstrel". When I saw the headline, I was appalled. What will come next? "Rick Perry is not a member of the KKK"? Maybe "Mitt Romney is not a Poligamist"!

The article on New Republic is a pseudo-intellectual dissertation on the language and humor that Cain uses together with an explanation of why Cain is not making fun of blacks. It is the kind of pointy headed academic nonsense that passes for deep thought in liberal circles. Only among progressives could there be a need for a professor to explain that Cain is actually authentic.

We are in year three of the Obama administration. In all that time, have you ever seen an article stating that Obama is authentically black? Of course not.

Interestingly enough, Real Clear Politics quickly took down the link to the article. It seems that someone over there finally woke up and realized just how offensive it was.

Total Nonsense: Rick Perry's Optional Flat Tax

Here is a quick question: if you were someone who could take advantage of the loopholes and other quirks of the current tax code to pay very little tax, would you file under an alternate plan that set your tax rate at a flat 20%? The answer is obvious. Essentially all people will file their taxes under the plan that requires them to pay the least. This is the critical flaw in the new optional tax plan put forth by Rick Perry. Those taxpayers who are now getting favored treatment through all of the loopholes and gimmicks in the current system will not opt for the new flat tax. Why should they? Who actually wants to pay more tax? Even Warren Buffet is still fighting the IRS over a huge sum in back taxes that he says he does not owe.

Perry's plan is only the latest misstep in his otherwise dismal campaign. He ought to get out of the race. He is just wasting America's time.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Media Covering For Harry Reid

Last week, Senate Democrat leader Harry Reid said that private sector jobs were "doing just fine" but that there was a major problem with public sector employment. This crazy statement was part of a Democrat attempt to justify sending forty billion dollars to states and localities in order to support union workers. No one in his right mind would say that private sector jobs are doing fine. Indeed, since Obama became president, the USA has suffered a net loss of well more than two million private sector jobs. The media, however, is now jumping in to do its part to help Reid get his foot out of his mouth. Tonight, the AP is out with an article under the headline: "Government job losses a growing drag on recovery --
Private-sector jobs slowly returning, but being dragged down by rising government layoffs" That's right, AP is now buying into Reid's ridiculous statement.

Here is the truth. According to the AP in this very article, government at all levels has lost about 350,000 jobs since 2007. This is not a one month total, but a four year total. And here is the kicker: if none of these jobs had been lost, then the unemployment rate which is currently 9.1% would be reduced to 9.0%. Let me repeat that: if none of the public sector jobs had been lost over the last four years, the current unemployment rate would be only 0.1% lower. So the AP and Harry Reid are telling the American people that this is where the problem lies when lost public jobs have had essentially no effect on the national rate of unemployment.

I wonder if the AP reporter understands that his story is based upon a lie or if the AP reporter is too stupid to bother to check out the actual facts. Either way, the story is a disgrace. The American people should no longer accept lies from the media as a way of life.

Rick Perry Birther -2

It certainly did not take long for the Main Stream Media BS machine to shift inot high gear with the Rick perry/Birther story. It has now shown up in the LA Times. The reporter there is just repeating the story that I discussed earlier today from Yahoo News. Nothing new has been added. Nevertheless, even though Perry says he has no reason to believe that Obama was not born in the USA, the LA Times attacks him as a Birther. What a travesty.

Doesn't America Deserve Honest Leadership?

The American republic is 235 years old; doesn't it deserve honest leadership? Since September, president Obama has been campaigning across the country in many of the tossup states; at each location Obama promotes passage of his "Jobs Bill" or, after that bill failed to pass the Democrat controlled senate Obama has been promoting passage of parts of his jobs bill. The sad thing is that this conduct is neither honest nor leadership.

First of all, Obama knew from the moment he first proposed the Jobs Bill that it would not and could not pass. Nevertheless, Obama was out there chanting "pass this bill now" over and over again. Obama was trying to whip up his supporters into believing that the bill was a good faith effort to help the American economy. Obama, of course, knew that his efforts would not help the economy or the average American. No, these efforts were only intended to help the Obama re-election effort.

So here is the true question: wouldn't a real leader have met with the opposition to look for common ground? Wouldn't a real leader have tried to find some compromise with the Republicans? Wouldn't a real leader have pick out the items that both sides could support and push those? In truth, Obama made it easy for the Republicans in Congress to just say no to his jobs bill. By insisting on all or nothing, Obama achieved the inevitable result of nothing. No help for the unemployed. No reduction of the federal deficit. No increase in economic growth. No new industries established. Just plain nothing! So we got no leadership from Obama.

Nor did we get honesty. At each speech, Obama set out the choices as being between his plan and some troglodytic throwback to the 1840's that was being supposedly pushed by the GOP. Obama never fairly characterized the Republican position, not even once. Again, this made it inevitable that no common ground was found between the GOP and the Democrats. Obama guaranteed no help for the unemployed, no economic growth and nothing good at all.

With America is such an extreme crisis, we need an honest leader, not a speechifying phony who cares only for himself and his own future.

Obama has got to go!

Rick Perry, Birther?

In another triumph of BS over reality, Yahoo News is trumpeting an article with the headline "Rick Perry Flirsts with Birtherism". To say the least, any candidate who is promoting the idea that president Obama was not born in the USA even after the release of Obama's birth certificate could only be classified as a a total idiot. As a result, I read the article to see what nonsense Perry was spouting. Of course, it turns out that that the answer is that the only nonsense was coming from the reporter.

Perry was asked about whether or not Obama was born in the USA. Perry's answer was that he really did not know much about that but that the entire issue did not matter and was only a distraction. Perry also mentioned that he had met with Donald Trump. After being asked what Trump said, Perry reported that Trump is not sure if Obama's birth certificate is real. In other words, Perry does not care at all about Obama's birth certificate, but Trump spoke about it. Yahoo translates this into Perry "flirting" with birtherism; this is, of course, total BS from Yahoo News.

I have Yahoo as my home page, so I see Yahoo News headlines each time I open the internet. As a news service, Yahoo News is a lot like MSNBC, totally biased. Even so, this slam at Rick Perry was totally uncalled for. Yahoo should withdraw the story and apologize.

Obama's New Program -- The Return of the Sub Prime Mortgage

President Obama is going to announce today a modification of the current federal program to assist homeowners refinance their mortgages. The plan is expected to be this: for mortgages guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, there will no longer be appraisals of the property in order to qualify for a new mortgage. In other words, those who owe substantially more than the current value of their home can still refinance with a federal guarantee. This kind of financing used to be called a sub prime mortgage. Now it is Obama's big idea for restoring the economy from the damage done by -- that's right -- sub prime mortgages.

Am I the only one who sees the irony here?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

An Investment Plan for the Energy Future

Contrary to the ads, America does not run on Dunkin Donuts coffee; it runs on energy. Most of that energy is generated from fossil fuels, oil, natural gas or coal. Close to a quarter of our electrical power comes from nuclear plants and a small amount comes from hydroelectric generation. An almost insignificant portion of the energy on which America runs comes from solar, wind or other "green" source. In the last few years, the amount of talk about new energy sources, green energy, "drill baby drill", hydrofracking and the like has been deafening. After all of this palaver, however, there are certain truths that cannot be denied.

1) America is going to continue to need energy to function.
2) No matter how the government tries to subsidize or tax energy sources, the relative cost of the energy source will still determine usage in the long run.
3) America is sitting on a treasure trove of low cost energy which is available to satisfy the needs of the country.

Let me expand a bit on these truths. The first item is self-evident. We simply cannot replace the need for energy to run our economy. The second item should also be clear to anyone who thinks about it. If the government decides to subsidize an energy source (like the Obama efforts with solar energy), those subsidies will let the energy source be successful until such time as the subsidies end. Just look at the Solyndra debacle. Putting aside the political favoritism shown to a big campaign donor for Obama, there remains the basic question about the validity of the government subsidy. Solyndra's solar panels were simply too costly to compete with other solar panel manufacturers, and the cost of all solar energy is substantially higher than that of other energy sources. No one in a free market would invest in solar energy or, in particular, panels manufactured by Solyndra. The day the subsidies ran out is the day Solyndra failed.

The third item is a reference to the enormous reserves of natural gas and petroleum locked into shale formations across North America. With the current improved technology for extracting these fuel sources, there is enough energy under the United States to fuel all of our needs for at least the next century.

Given these basic truths, one needs to design a long term investment plan that will allow one to profit as these truths come to the fore. Right now, that plan is, in my opinion, to invest in the low cost producers of the least expensive energy source. That means making a long term investment in the low cost producers of natural gas. Three companies in this category are Range Resources (RRC), Chesapeake Energy (CHK) and Rexx Energy (REXX).

Let's start by explaining the investment rationale. Right now, natural gas is extremely inexpensive by historical standards. The ratio of the cost of energy from oil to the cost of energy from natural gas used to stay in a relatively narrow range; when these costs moved out of the range, it was time to sell one side and buy the other. In recent years, however, oil has gotten more expensive and the price of natural gas has fallen dramatically. The effect of this change has been seen most clearly in the field of electricity generation. Right now, only about 1% of all electric power in the USA comes from oil; about a quarter of the total comes from natural gas. The big utilities have moved their generating plants towards the use of natural gas since it is inherently less expensive than oil. This move is also starting to take hold in the biggest area of oil usage in the country: cars, trucks and other vehicles. Here too, it is the largest users of fuel who are leading the way. Local bus companies in many places have made the switch. Trucking companies are also moving towards natural gas vehicles. In fact, the biggest barrier to the switch to natural gas vehicles is now the lack of adequate infrastructure for filling up where needed. That infrastructure, however, is being developed by companies like Clean Energy (CLNE) which is building a network of natural gas filling stations up and down certain interstate highways and elsewhere. The most important point is that switching from oil based fuel to natural gas based fuel reduces the cost of filling up by somewhere between 60 and 80 percent. Natural gas is also much cleaner and produced domestically, but it is the cost differential that is driving the switch.

It seems extremely likely that the cost differential between oil and natural gas will remain in place in the near term. New gas fields like the Marcellus Shale have expanded the available reserves of natural gas by a huge amount. Natural gas has gone from a resource that seemed to be quickly diminishing to one that now appears to have at least a century or more of easily retrieved supply adequate for America's needs. Of course, the necessary effect of the large increase in supply has been the decline in price of natural gas. At the moment, natural gas is selling at about $3.65 which is down from about $4.40 three months ago. While the out month futures indicate that prices will rise, the likely range of prices for this fuel is in the $3.50 to $5.00 range. At such prices, the advantage in using natural gas over oil is enormous.

Of course, the low price of natural gas means that certain producers, particularly those who are pumping natural gas from older formations, are having problems making a profit on their sale of gas. Over the next few years, unless the price of natural gas rises significantly (which is not likely), this will drive the higher cost producers out of the market. The companies that will increase their market shares are the ones who can profit at the current price levels. A good example is Range Resources (RRC), a company that is focused almost completely on the Marcellus Shale formation. According to the company, its all-in finding and operating costs for the current year are $1.60 which still leaves a profit of $2.05 at the current price of natural gas of $3.65. Chesapeake (CHK) and Rexx (REXX) similarly have low production costs as well as large fields in the Marcellus, Utica and other shale formations.

This selection of stocks is based upon the reasoning that basic economics will ultimately triumph. We may see ups and downs in the next two years. The government may step in to impede the end result or (although this is unlikely with Obama) to expedite the switch to higher natural gas usage. Ultimately, however, we will arrive at the point where there is a major switch to natural gas. This will raise natural gas prices a bit and absorb the increased volumes that will be produced. These three low cost producers should be enormously profitable by that time.

So, you may be asking, what could go wrong with this hypothesis. The most likely answer here is that there could be new discoveries of oil both in the USA and around the world that are so extensive that the price of oil drops to $40 a barrel or less for a sustained period. This would take away the economic advantage that natural gas needs for the switch to that fuel to continue. I truly cannot see that happening. Remember, as China and India continue to grow, the number of cars in these countries will soar and the resulting demand for oil will also soar. That means that the amount of oil that would have to be found to cut prices dramatically is extremely large.

Natural gas remains the American fuel of the future due to its cost advantage. Buying the low cost producers is a smart long term play. By the time that full usage of natural gas kicks in, these companies should be selling at much higher prices.

DISCLOSURE: I am long RRC, REXX, CHK. I have no plans to change those positions in the next week.

Please remember that prior to buying any of the stocks mentioned in this article, you should do your own investigation to determine whether or not to trade in them.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Why are they saying no to 9-9-9

The Herman Cain proposed 9-9-9 plan is being much discussed in the GOP debates, on cable news and on the Sunday morning interview programs. In all that talk, very little is said that actually discusses the true merits or the proposal. In order to bring a bit more clarity to the debate, I want to explain two of the major benefits of Cain's plan. This is by no means an endorsement of Cain's proposal, but rather an attempt to have the discussion center on reality rather than on some of the nonsense that has been discussed so far.

First, Cain's proposal will make taxation in the USA much fairer by bringing in substantial revenue from those currently illegally evading the income tax. The latest estimates are that there is something in the area of one and one-quarter trillion dollars of income in the USA that is part of the so-called underground economy. This is the revenue of criminal enterprises, wages of people who work "off the books", income hidden from the IRS and the like. Adoption of Cain's plan should encourage some portion of this income to be declared. After all, why risk prosecution if the tax rate is only 9%. More important, however, the people who receive this income will use much of it for purchases that will be hit by the proposed 9% sales tax. If only two thirds of the income is spent on taxable transactions, that will mean that 72 billion dollars per year will be added to federal revenues from this hidden income. In the parlance of Washington, this alone will mean a reduction of three quarters of a trillion dollars in the deficit over the next ten years. To put this in perspective, this is about 20% of the amount sought to make a meaningful difference in the deficit over the next decade and it will all come from people who, until now, got away with hiding their income from the IRS.

Second, Cain's proposal will give a big shot in the arm to America's workers as they compete with foreign manufacturers. Right now, if the same item is produced both in the US and abroad, the American tax code puts a significant disadvantage on the domestic product. Fully 35% of the profit on the domestic product has to be paid in taxes, while the foreign produced product pays no American taxes. Cain's proposal cuts the 35% to 9% which will give US products a big boost. In addition, Cain's proposed 9% sales tax will be levied on both the import and the domestic product. This will raise the price for the import in a way that will force imported goods to begin to contribute to federal tax revenues. These changes will make it much more likely for jobs to stay in the USA or even to move here from abroad.

The Coming Collapse of China?

In the last few years, one of the big themes among pundits has been predicting the continuing rise of China as a world power. A close look at the current state of China indicates that there is a strong basis to predict that the opposite will occur. Here are the key facts:

1) In 1979, China implemented the notorious one child rule that prohibits Chinese families from having two or more children. While this rule has exceptions, particularly for the rural Chinese population, it has been extremely effective at reducing the fertility rate in China. Prior to the imposition of the rule, 53 percent of all births in China were children who had at least two older siblings. By 2000, according to the Chinese census, fully 68 percent of all births were of a first child, compared to 21% of all births prior to the imposition of the policy. This percentage has continued to climb in the last decade.

2) In the last two decades, medical advances have made it commonplace in China for expectant parents to learn the sex of their child early in the pregnancy. Particularly due to the one-child policy, there has been a strong move in China towards the preference of males and the abortion of female fetuses.

3) These two trends taken together have significantly reduced the growth of the Chinese population and the projection of future growth. Not only are future generations going to be smaller than the generation of their parents due to the limitation to one child, but the lack of females due to sex selection will mean that the decline in the size of future generations will accelerate even more quickly as the years go by. There will simply be fewer women to become mothers.

4) The improvement in Chinese medicine means that life expectancy in China is also making significant advances. From a country with a small elderly population, China will be transformed over the next 40 years into a country with a significant elderly population cohort.

5) The current stimulus for the rapid Chinese economic growth has been the low cost of Chinese labor. Chinese are no better educated than many other societies. China does not have particular natural resources that give it an advantage. Many companies have located their facilities in China simply to take advantage of very inexpensive labor that is available.

So what do these facts portend? Over the next fifty years, unless there is a change in policy and behavior in China, the Chinese population will stop growing and begin shrinking. The population will also rapidly age as both birth and death rates decline leaving fewer new children and more of the elderly. It will not take that long for China to develop enough of a shortage of labor that the cost of Chinese workers will rise to a level that makes other locations more profitable places to put factories. In other words, Chinese economic growth will no longer be fueled by low cost labor.

At this point, China may be able to make the transition to dealing with higher labor costs, but this will not be easy. At the same time, China will also be dealing with an excess of men. By 20 years from now, it is expected that fully 20% of younger Chinese men will not be able to find wives due to the lack of women. This will promote the rise of massive levels of prostitution and may also cause unrest within Chinese society. If the Chinese try to keep wages down to deal with their economic problems, they will face opposition from workers who have no families and identify themselves more with their work than anything else. It is an explosive combination.

By fifty years from now, there simply may not be enough young people in China to support the much enlarged elderly population with the result that there will be further social pressure that may cause uproar in Chinese society.

Will any of this really happen? We will know in fifty years. The point, however, is that there is a reasonably good possibility that this prediction is correct. Before we accept the views of the pundits who tell us that China is the coming superpower in the world, we should all realize that what they predict is from from inevitable. Fifty years from now, the Chinese may look back on 2011 as their glory days.

Gaddafi Goes -2

On Thursday, when the news of the death of Gaddifi came out, I wondered on this blog how long it would take for the president to start taking credit for this. The answer is already in. Yesterday and today, the Obama media operation has been pumping out story after story about Obama's great success in Libya. In most places they couple this with his great triumph in ending the war in Iraq. In short, it is an avalanche of BS.

First, let's look at Iraq. The War in Iraq was essentially over before Obama took office. Al Qaeda in Iraq had been crushed. The Shiite militias were totally inactive. There were sporadic terror incidents but these were few and far between. President Bush had already announced that many American troops were leaving Iraq. The reality is that Obama simply completed the American withdrawal. There is an open question as to the wisdom of that total withdrawal. The big fear is that the new Iraq will somehow ally itself with Iran, a move that will be greatly harmful to peace in the region. Nevertheless, the point here is that the kudos for the end of the war do not belong to Obama.

Second, let's look at Libya. The Washington Post, Reuters, and a host of other liberal media are touting Gaddafi's death as a vindication for Obama's lead from behind strategy. In truth, this is an abomination. Had Obama acted in the first days of the Libyan uprising when the rebels/protesters were triumphant across nearly all of Libya, a well placed push from the USA would probably have forced Gaddafi from the scene in short order. Instead, Obama dithered and took over a month to act. During that time, Gaddafi and his forces recovered from the initial shock of the uprising, reorganized and started the fight that led to many thousands of Libyan deaths. None of these hymns of Obama praise in the media ever mention all of the Libyans who Obama had die needlessly. None of these great liberal writers ever concern themselves with something as mundane as dead Arabs when they can gin up something favorable to Fearless Leader Obama. The truth, however, remains. The result in Libya is a good one insofar as it gets rid of Gaddafi, a nut job if there ever was one. The future is unclear since we still do not know who will be in control in Libya next week and next year. The cost of American policy in Libya has been substantial, paid for with the lives of Libyans. It does not sound like an American triumph to me.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Gaddafi Goes

As I write this, the news is that Gaddafi has been wounded and captured, and there are unconfirmed reports that he was killed this morning. Good! Still, the news has me wondering how long it will be before president Obama takes to the airwaves to claim that this was a personal triumph for him. Gaddafi could have been brought down with essentially no fighting had Obama acted rather than dithered when the uprising in Libya first began. Since then, tens of thousands have died to achieve the result reached today. After the fighting began, Obama provided enough help to allow the Libyan rebels to persevere without a quick victory over the Gaddafi forces even though America had it within its power to destroy the Gaddafi forces. Again, this policy resulted in thousands of casualties more than were otherwise required. But now there has been the ouster of Gaddafi, a clear victory for the civilized world. I just hope that as we listen to the inevitable claim of personal victory from Obama that we remember the thousands of unnecessary deaths for which his irresponsible and indecisive policies have caused.

Thursday and Unemployment

Since it is Thursday, the government released the figures for new unemployment claims for the week past. Once again, the number was just above 400,000 at 403,000 where it has lingered for quite some time now. This is poor; it is too high for there to be much job growth in the economy. It is sad to watch president Obama run around the country campaigning for a jobs bill that he knows cannot pass rather than actually doing something that might help create jobs. There are a whole series of things Obama could do on his own, with no need for Congressional action, which might produce over an extra million jobs in the next year. Instead, unemployment persists and America only gets slogans from Obama. We should change the slogan from "pass the bill now" to "dump this guy now!"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Truth from Harry Reid

From time to time, Harry Reid says something which unmasks his true feelings about the economy, the American people and the future direction of the country. Today was just such a day. Here are the first two paragraphs in the report in The Hill about Reid's comments:

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday indicated Congress needs to worry about government jobs more than private-sector jobs, and that this is why Senate Democrats are pushing a bill aimed at shoring up teachers and first-responders.

'It's very clear that private-sector jobs have been doing just fine; it's the public-sector jobs where we've lost huge numbers, and that's what this legislation is all about,' Reid said on the Senate floor."

So there you have it. Private sector jobs HAVE BEEN DOING JUST FINE!!!!!!! In English, this means that Reid is actually telling the millions of unemployed Americans that they can just go to hell; Reid is going to support his government workers no matter what. Over sixteen percent of the American workforce is either unemployed or has given up looking for work, but Reid thinks that the private sector has been doing just fine. There are about two million fewer private sector jobs than there were three years ago when Obama took office, but Reid thinks that the private sector has been doing just fine. During Obama's term, the unemployment rate has been consistently higher than at any time since the Depression in the 1930's, but Reid thinks that the private sector has been doing just fine.

The real truth is that Reid and the Democrats do not understand how bad things are in the private sector. Indeed, it seems that they do not even care. Unless you are part of big government, the Democrats will just let you fend for yourself.

The Tax Attorney

Michelle Bachmann never goes through a debate without telling us that she is a tax attorney (and that she raised 5 biological children and 23 foster children and, well you get the picture.) Last night was no different. The twist last night was that Bachmann told us of her background at the same time that she was discussing the issue of taxes, specifically Cain's 9-9-9 plan. Interestingly enough, Bachmann seemed to get nearly every point wrong in her discussion of Cain's plan. Do not misunderstand me, I am not endorsing Cain or his plan. I am simply pointing out that Bachmann did not seem to understand simple issues of tax law despite her oft-touted background as a "tax attorney". Here is an example: Bachmann kept saying that the Cain corporate tax was a value added tax. She explained that each company that made a component of a final product would be taxed on its profits and that made the Cain tax a "value added" tax. All that Bachmann did with this charge was to reveal that she does not understand the current tax system. Under current law, each company that makes a component of a final product is taxed on its profits. That's right, the current corporate income tax does exactly what Bachmann claimed was the reason for calling Cain's tax a value added tax.

This may not seem like much, but to me it is very telling. Bachmann was throwing around charges against the Cain plan that were, like most of the ones raised last night, misguided or incorrect. Bachmann, however, did not just misunderstand the Cain plan; she made clear that she does not understand the current corporate tax structure. If, as a tax attorney, Bachmann does not understand the basic nature of the tax code, it is hard to imaging how she could ever be competent enough to be president of the United States. We have already seen what we get with incompetent leadership. Three years of Obama has made that clear. It would be sad indeed to replace one incompetent with another one.

Hiring Illegals

I live in Fairfield County Connecticut in an area that is predominantly single family homes. Most of these homes are surrounded by a lawn or some type of garden. While some people mow their own lawn, the majority of the lawns are tended to by some sort of garden service. Over the years, I have had at least ten different companies mow my grass or do landscaping services. I would estimate that nearly half of the workers employed to do this work were Hispanic. Were they illegals? I have no idea. Indeed, there is no way that I could know this since I had no direct dealings with them. I hired their employer, not the individual workers. I could not even identify essentially all of these workers if I met them. For nearly all of them, I had no contact whatsoever with these workers. They showed up at my house for an hour at most and cut the grass outside and then left. Even if I was home at the time, which was not often the case, I usually did not even know that they were here.

My experience with these people who mowed my lawn seems much like that which Mitt Romney described in last night's debate. He did not hire illegals; he deal with a garden service that in turn hired workers who may have been illegal. Nevertheless, Rick Perry said that this act of hiring the company "disqualified" Romney from speaking about illegal immigration. Romney was a "hypocrite" on the subject in Perry's description.

As I thought about Perry's attack, I decided that this was truly a desperation move by Perry. He has been sinking in the polls and needed to do something to regain some momentum. This illegal immigration focus for his attack also helps restore some of Perry's lost luster on the subject that resulted from his position on in state tuition for illegals and his claim that those who opposed such a handout have no heart. Sadly, I think that the attack signals the beginning of the end of the Perry candidacy. Americans on the whole are neither stupid nor unfair. Most people understand how Mitt Romney could have had illegals working on his lawn on an occasion or two without ever knowing about it. Perry's attack was a low blow that assumes that his listeners are too dumb to realize the unfairness of Perry's point. The truth is that the attack said much more about problems with Rick Perry than it ever could about Romney's fitness for office.

Negotiating with Terrorists

In last night's Republican debate, there was a question about negotiating with terrorists and we heard a rather consistent mantra that the USA should never do that. The context for the discussion is the prisoner swap engineered by Israel with Hamas in which Israel got back one soldier who had been held captive for five years in exchange for release of over 1000 Palestinian prisoners, many of whom were terrorists. President Obama has also paid lip service to the idea of not negotiating with terrorists, although he certainly has no problem with negotiating with state sponsors of terrorism -- witness the fruitless attempts by the US to negotiate with the Iranians. All of this refusal to negotiate seems like so much hypocracy, however. Just think of it this way: one of the biggest terrorists in the Middle East used to be Yassir Arafat. Arafat was responsible for starting the Intifada which amounted to a sustained terror attack against Israel in which hundreds, if not thousands, were killed. Arafat and his Al Fatah movement were responsible for terror attacks either singly or in concert with other groups like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Many remember the hijacking of the cruise ship Achile Lauro during which the terrorists killed a passenger when they threw a disabled American overboard as a warning to the rest of the passengers; this was a joint operation between Arafat's group and the Popular Front. Even though Fatah has been a terror group for years, the American government has pressured Israel for a long time to negotiate with it. Obama has done this directly and I am sure that each of the candidates in the GOP debate would endorse such negotiations. In other words, these folks are demanding that Israel negotiate with terrorists.

I am sure that some of you will think that Fatah used to be a terror organization but that after the Oslo accords in 1994, Fatah renounced terror. That sounds good, but the trouble is that it is not true. The Intifada began in 2000, long after Oslo. Indeed, during 2000 the Israelis offered a settlement to Arafat at Camp David in which the Palestinian leader got something like 98% of everything he wanted. Arafat refused and launched the terror campaign instead. In other words, Israel has already seen the "results" of negotiating with terrorists. Arafat simply could not agree to any settlement without losing control of many of his supporters who have no intention of agreeing to anything with Israel.

It would be nice if American politicians were realistic in their discussion of negotiations with terrorists.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Thoughts on tonights Republican Debate

After watching the debate of the Republican presidential candidates this evening, I have come to the conclusion that the clear winners were Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich. Romney once again provided clear and thoughtful answers, did not get upset or riled by the attacks leveled against him and basically acted presidential. Gingrich showed the level of his insight in viewing and solving the problems of the country.

Herman Cain and, to a lesser extent, Rick Santorum had good performances. Cain was met by an onslaught at the start of the evening against his 9-9-9 plan. Most of the attacks demonstrated that those making the attacks (like Michelle Bachmann) did not understand Cain's plan. Cain stood his ground well, but I thought he was a bit wounded later by the question about negotiating with al Qaeda. Santorum had some excellant answers, particularly the one about judging Romney by his religion. Santorum, however, went a bit far with the petty attacks like his raising some letter that Rick Perry wrote in 2008 with regard to TARP.

It was not a good night for Rick Perry, Bachmann or Ron Paul. Perry again had a few answers where he seemed to forget in the middle of the answer the point he was making. Bachmann used her normal mantras and did not add much more. Indeed, when we got close to the end and she had failed to say that Obama would be a ONE TERM PRESIDENT, I thought she had forgotten. Of course, it was the last thing she did say. Paul was his usual incoherent self. Indeed, Paul caused the worst moment of the debate when he announced that Reagan had traded weapons to Iran in exchange for hostages. Of course, Paul was confusing the release of the American hostages held by Iran on January 20, 1981, the day Reagan took office with the Iran/contra affair which involved selling weapons to Iran in 1986, some five years later. None of the other candidates called Paul on this, however, so the false impression remains that what Paul said was correct.

The other really low point in the debate was Perry's attempt to use some old story about Romney hiring someone to mow his lawn who turned out to employ illegal aliens. It was sad to see Perry sink to this level in his attempt to salvage his clearly sinking campaign.

Throwing the law under the bus

President Obama is in the middle of his latest bus tour, this time in North Carolina and Virginia. Simply ut, the trip is in violation of the law. It is illegal to use government funds for political purposes, but that is exactly what Obama is doing. Obama is out campaigning for re-election; if you have any doubt about this, I suggest that you watch the coverage of the trip. since this is a political trip, the costs of the trip should be underwritten by the president's re-election campaign. Instead, Obama is having the taxpayers pick up the cost of his campaign trip through these two important states. It is a disgrace, and it is a move that no president in modern times has ever done. Obama, however, does not seem to care about the requirements of the law; apparently, he thinks himself above the law.

If Obama wants to campaign rather than govern, that is his right. Running away from his responsibilities as president will not be good for the country, but the people can take it into consideration when they vote on his request for a second term. Stealing money from the public to underwrite the campaign, however, is not allowable. Obama needs to pay back the treasury for all the costs of this bus tour, the Magical Misery Tour-2.

Is Friday the end?

The minister who announced that the world would end last April is back in the news with a new prediction. Now, after correcting some calculation errors, Harold Camping predicts that the end will come on Friday October 21, 2011. So we only have a few days left according to Camping. I have not seen a time set for the event. My daughter is competing in the New England regional equestrian championships that day, and she has worked hard for many years to get there. Hopefully, any end of the world will wait until after she gets the results of her competition. I would hate for her work to be for naught.

Even the Obameter is reading empty

Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post is the probably the strongest supporter of president Obama that one can find in the media; at least he is tied for first place. No matter what happens, Robinson spins it to show how Obama has done the right thing and that the Republicans are evil. But in a strange way, Robinson is a good indicator of the fortunes of Obama. I call him the "Obameter". Right now, the Obameter is reading empty.

In a new column, Robinson talks about how the Occupy Wall Street movement is a windfall for Obama. In doing so, he buys into the phony rhetoric coming from the president in which Obama claims that Republicans want to remove all regulation of Wall Street and return things to the way that they were in 2008. That claim would have some punch if it were not entirely false. The problem which Republicans address is that the Dodd Frank law which Obama used to "regulate" the securities industry actually operates to protect the big Wall Street banks from competition coming from the small and middle sized banks. In other words, what Obama has done is to reward those very same big Wall Street banks against whom OWS is protesting. At some point, the word will get out on this. Robinson himself makes clear that he understands this basic truth. He says, "the fact is that he [Obama] decided not to seek fundamental reforms." In the world of Gene Robinson, that admissions sounds like a trumpet. Obama, despite all of his rhetoric, did not even try to reform Wall Street. Clearly, this is not one of today's White House talking points, but Robinson nevertheless has to concede reality. It is a very bad sign for Obama.

Does Size Matter

After watching the news last evening, I realized a striking similarity between president Obama's campaign stop in North Carolina and the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York: they both drew very small crowds. Last week, we all saw the pictures that compared the crowds at Obama's Pittsburgh rallies in 2011 and 2008; the turnout this year looked to be about 20% of what it was three years ago. The Obama campaign immediately trotted out their advance man in Western Pennsylvania who announced sadly that he had not properly done his job to turn out a crowd and that the smaller crowd greeting Obama was all his fault. Yesterday, however, we saw the pictures of the crowd that greeted Obama on his supposedly non-political campaign appearance in North Carolina. While those present seemed enthusiastic, there was hardly anyone there. Indeed, on the news show I watched, the next story showed the crowd greeting Herman Cain at an appearance in Tennessee. Cain's crowd seemed to be about three times the size of the one for Obama. So the president of the United States arrives majestically on Air Force One and draws one-third the number of folks who come out to see Herman Cain on his book tour? The numbers at the Obama rally were so strikingly small that even the reporter mentioned it (and we all know how the TV reporters favor Obama.)

Meanwhile, in lower Manhattan we have the ongoing protests of Occupy Wall Street. Indeed, the media has told us how the movement has spread across America. Most of those "rallies" across America were attended by less than 100 people. Many had 10 or 15 people there, but the press covers them as if this is a major movement. Even at the main event near Wall Street, the numbers are small. Nevertheless, the pictures on TV always seem to be taken at an angle so as to show what seems to be a large crowd. Little is said about the fact that many of the protesters are being paid to be present. No, this is a "grass roots" movement that just happens to be financed by the usual suspects on the left. Paid demonstrators used to be called "astroturf" but now they are known as Occupy Wall Street. Saturday night, there were shots of the OWS folks "taking over" Times Square. The crowds looked massive. Strangely, not one of the reports on the demonstration that I saw bothered to mention that on an average Saturday night when the weather is good, there is always, always a massive crowd in Times Square. It is not New Year Eve size, but the sidewalks are packed as folks go to the theaters that surround the area as well as to all the other entertainment venues near Times Square. So for someone watching the coverage who was unfamiliar with New York City, it looked like a massive outpouring of protest rather than the usual few.

The truth is that no matter how many folks turn out either for Obama or OWS, the media will still cover it as if these rallies are massive. But size does matter. In this case, size indicates that middle America is not buying either schtick. No one wants to go hear Obama rant about passing his bill or passing parts of his bill; they want action and not more speeches from Washington. Most people realize that Obama is just acting; he knows now and he knew at the start that his whole jobs bill would never get passed. Obama is using this as part of a re-election drama, not an attempt to help unemployed Americans. The only job he seems to care about is his own. He has lost his audience. The same is true with OWS. No one wants to destroy the economy in the name of fairness. The goal of the average American is a good job and a decent living, not retribution against other Americans who happen to have succeeded in life. Maybe for the far left it matters that they can bring down the successful so that we can all be poor together. The small crowds show just how unpopular that goal remains with the majority.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Shoveling money to the teachers union

It would be funny if it were not so sad. Last week the Democrat controlled Senate voted down the Obama "Jobs Bill" which included a plan to send close to forty billion dollars to the states to keep teachers from being laid off. This, of course, was total nonsense. In most places, teachers have not been laid off, but rather they have been asked to pay a higher percentage of their healthcare and pension benefits. Simply put, the teachers have been asked to bring their healthcare and pension contributions closer to the much higher amounts paid by the rest of us, the overwhelming majority of folks who work in the private sector. Sure, there have been a small number of teacher layoffs, but nothing like what Obama portrayed in his support for the bill. The truth is that this provision in the bill was a payoff to the teachers' unions that supply the Democrats with their strongest union support.

Well, now that the Jobs Bill is history, Harry Reid just announced that one part of that bill will be brought back for another attempt at passage. Will it be the reduction in the payroll tax for all Americans? Will it be the construction of new infrastructure projects to put contractors back to work? Will it be the tax credit for hiring veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan who put their lives on the line for this country. Nope! Reid is bringing back the portion of the Jobs Bill that shovels money to the teachers' unions. I guess Reid's motto is "Why help the country when you can pay off your supporters?"

There are no spending cuts -- no surprise there

Investors Business Daily is out today with an analysis that show that spending by the federal government did not decline in 2011 but rather increased by 5%. Spending by state governments did not decline in 2011 but rather increased by 5.2%. IBD points out that this data contradicts the position of analysts who have blamed the current economic slow down on reduced government spending. Needless to say, IBD is correct. The real surprise is that anyone that the media calls an analyst actually thought that spending was being reduced.

Federal budgeting is done by using a baseline budget. Each year, the amount set for each program are inclreased by about 7%. Any increase of less than that amount is considered a "cut" in the language of the Washington budget folks. That's right, an increase of 6% is called a 1% cut in Washington. This system was set up by the Democrats almost 20 years ago in order to avoid having to justify "increases" in spending from year to year. As a result, spending has climbed year after year by much greater than the level of inflation, federal spending has climbed to an unsustainably high proportion of GDP, and the USA is moving towards bankruptcy.

It would not be hard for one of the Republican presidential candidates to take on this system of baseline budgeting. Imagine what would happen if each year the budget started at the level of the previous year rather than getting an automatic 7% boost. In the language of Washington, there would be an immediate 9 trillion dollar cut in the deficit for the next decade. There is no reason why Americans cannot be told the truth about the actual level of spending coming out of Washington. It is time for them all to tell the truth.

Now we know the answer

I often asked the question on this blog "How stupid does president Obama think Americans are?" Today we got the answer. Obama thinks the country is filled with illiterate idiots.

Speaking at one of his campaign stops in North Carolina, Obama made yet another push for the jobs bill that was rejected by the Senate (which, of course, is controlled by his own Democrats.) Then Obama described the Republicans' plan. The Republicans plan, Obama says, boils down to this: "Dirtier air, dirtier water, less people with health insurance."

Obama's statement is a blatant lie. I know it. Anyone who bothered to read the Republican plan would know it. Indeed, the press should be all over Obama for treating the public with such disdain and directly lying to the people. While I doubt we will see much push back, if any, from the media, the people are not stupid. Obama is just making it clear that one cannot believe anything that the man says. I do not think this will help him with his re-election.

The Attack on Cain

In one of the strangest attacks yet leveled at Herman Cain, the far left is now trying to tie him to the Koch brothers, those favorite targets of progressives. In order to understnad the craziness of this attack, a little background is in order.

1) For at least the last four years, there has been a steady stream of stories about George Soros, one of the richest men in America, and his strong support for leftist causes. Soros has funded all manner of progressive groups. Questions have been raised in various places as to Soros' actual motives (is he truly supportive of these causes or is he seeking to profit from the chaos engendered by some of them?)

2) Since the evidence was so clear, the left was unable to deny the many stories about Soros. As a result, some bloggers dreamed up the charge that conservatives had their own billionaires funding the cause. In this case, the target was the Koch brothers. Unlike with Soros, however, there is little evidence that the Koch brothers are behind many conservative organizations. The Kochs have contributed to some organizations, but no more than one would expect from a politically active family.

3) One organization to which the Koch brothers have contributed is American for Prosperity or AFP. AFP is extremely large with close to 200,000 members. While the Kochs have contributed to AFP in the past, only a tiny percentage of the funds raised by AFP come from the Kochs. The Kochs are no more in control of AFP than I am in control of the AMerican Red Cross to which I have contributed in the past.

4) Herman Cain was associated with AFP in the past. For a conservative like Cain, this is not surprising in the least.

Now we get to the latest nonsense. In the last two days, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post, ABC, CBS and many other main stream media outlets have run stories "exposing" Cain's links to AFP and the Koch brothers. There is no instance set forth in the stories that Cain has been meeting with the Kochs. There is no evidence that Cain has been communicating with the Kochs. There is no evidence that Cain has been sharing strategy with the Kochs. In short, there is no connection. but even more important is that AFP is not controlled or "bankrolled" (to use the favorite term) by the Kochs. This whole story is just a fantasy creation dreamed up by the media in order to undermine Cain.

It is truly funny to see the media react this way. In 2008, when the news broke that Obama had started his political career in the living room of terrorist Bill Ayres, the media ignored the story. When it came out that Obama's relationship with Ayres continued as the served together on the board of the Woods foundation, the media ignored the story. When the story came out that Obama's pastor, reverend Wright was preaching anti-Americanism and all manner of nastiness, the media ignored the story until video of the reverend was shown and the story sprouted wings. While the media could not ignore the Wright story, it still downplayed its importance and reported in an uncritical manner Obama's explanation that while he may have attended Wright's church for 20 years, he had not heard any of the outrageous things Wright had been saying. (At the time, this reminded me of Bill Clinton's famous statement about smoking pot: he did smoke pot, but he did not inhale.)

The funniest thing about the current attempt to tie Cain to the Koch brothers, however, is this: the media actually believes that it still has the power to determine the story that the American people hear. The truth is that there is just too extensive a network of alternative media for the fools at CBS and NBC to stay in control. These guys used to be in charge of news in America, but not anymore. Fortunately for the country, the truth now gets out, and quickly.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

An Interesting Insight -- Discrimination against the Unemployed

One of the provisions in president Obama's Jobs package was to outlaw discrimination against the unemployed. Unemployed workers who were passed over for hiring due to their unemployed status could sue for damages. Bloomberg columnist Carolyn Baum completely demolishes that provision in a piece today. Here is the salient point: "How would the crafters of the jobs bill expect a reasonable businessman to behave when confronted with the prospect of a discrimination suit for failing to hire an unemployed applicant? He wouldn’t even grant that candidate an interview, according to Kenneth Langone, the founder of Home Depot Inc."

Baum is totally correct. Why take the risk of being sued by granting the unemployed person an interview? The proposed law would make it harder for the unemployed to get a job, not easier.

Obama's Forgotten Triumphs

I was intrigued this morning to see an article on Real Clear Politics that bore the headline "Obama's Forgotten Triumphs". Since I certainly had forgotten about any triumphs achieved by Obama other than his being president when Osama bin Laden was killed, I decided to read the article and find out about my memory lapses. The article was written by Suzanne Mettler, a professor at Cornell, and it appeared on Mettler makes two basic points. First, she says that most people do not recognize the truth about what Obama has accomplished. Mettler first mentions that in the stimulus package, there were over 200 billion dollars in short term tax reductions, but when Americans were polled a year and a half later, only 12% said Obama had cut taxes overall, while 24% believed that taxes had increased under Obama. Mettler reports about those who say that taxes increased as if they were completely wrong and just misinformed. Just the opposite is true. Here is a list of just some of the tax increases passed by that point in the Obama term: the individual mandate excise tax, the employer mandate tax, the surtax on investment income, the excise tax on comprehensive health insurance plans, the Medicare payroll tax hike, the so-called medicine cabinet tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, the so-called special needs kids tax, the tax on medical device manufacturers, the tanning salon excise tax, the raise on the exemption from the medical deduction, the elimination of the deduction for employers for prescription plans that tie into medicare, the blue cross/blue shield tax, the tax on charity hospitals, the tax on health insurers, the tax on drug innovation companies, and the reporting of medical insurance paid for an individual worker on the W-2. This is just a partial list, and, of course, the last item is not really a tax. Nevertheless, when the government tells private businesses that they need to report money spent on health insurance for an employee on that employee's W-2, we all know that the next step is the imposition of tax on that amount. So the total of these tax increases that were in place as of the time of the poll that Mettler mentions is over 700 billion dollars while the tax cuts she mentions are in the range of 200 billion dollars, a net tax increase of half a trillion dollars. Yet, Mettler claims surprise that anyone could think that taxes had gone up. Indeed, those folks had to be misinformed, but it is Mettler who is misinformed.

Mettler's second triumph for Obama after the phony claim of tax reduction is that he improved the student loan process. Mettler points to no reduction in cost for the government or for those obtaining the loans. Mettler points to no greater availability for those loans. Indeed, the only change that Mettler mentions is that the government is now totally in charge of student loans rather than having private companies handle that process. Mettler never points out why this is a "triumph"; she just proclaims it one. I guess Mettler thinks that driving a private industry group out of business is a great victory. I doubt that most Americans would agree, however. So much for triumph number 2.

Mettler's third triumph is, of course, Obamacare. Here too, Mettler does not explain why this is supposedly a triumph rather than a disaster. She does not address the recent decision by Obama to abandon a big chunk of Obamacare that was to have provided long term care insurance; even Obama's Secretary of HHS could not figure out a way to make that program financially viable, so she dropped it. No, Mettler focuses instead on a theoretical reason why Obama's great triumph is not perceived that way. A true academic, Mettler spins a nice theory and when the facts do not support her, she just makes up new ones. Mettler says that Obama was taking on the structures of the submerged government, rules that promote behavior through tax preferences and other hidden promotional expenditure from Washington. In explaining history, Mettler then points out that Reagan never took on these submerged items but attacked only visible government programs. Mettler apparently does not know that it was Reagan who got passed the most comprehensive restructuring of the American tax system in many decades. The basic change achieved by Reagan was to get rid of a great many of these tax preferences and subsidies in exchange for lowering and simplifying the rate structure. In other words, Reagan did exactly what Mettler says he did not do.

The truth is that I often wonder when I read a piece like Mettler's which is both academic and dense but totally inaccurate if the author understands where he or she has gone wrong. Does Mettler actually believe what she has written? Is her scholarship so shoddy that she did not bother to do research so as to back up the assertions that she makes? I just do not know. I must say, however, that articles like this serve no good purpose in American discourse.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Did Eric Holder Commit Perjury -- 5

Attorney General Eric Holder is now officially on death watch; it is only a matter of time until he is gone. Holder as Attorney General has been an endangered species since he lied to Congress about when he first learned of Fast and Furious, the Obama program to send guns to the Mexican drug cartels supposedly in order to track them. The program, of course, was the height of stupidity, but the investigation has actually moved beyond that. That is because Holder testified to Congress that he was unaware of Fast and Furious and first learned of it just a few weeks before his testimony last May. When memoranda, letters and e-mail to Holder dated in mid 2010 surfaced, Holder claimed that he did not bother to read all of the memos, letters and e-mail that he gets. Holder's claim of non-competence, however, has now been blown to smithereens and the source of that blow is quite telling as well.

John King of CNN, a rather liberal reporter for the also ran news service, came forward with video tape from a March interview with president Obama in which Obama discusses the Fast and Furious program, says that Holder was not fully familiar with it and says that the Inspector General at the Department of Justice has been assigned to look into the matter. Obviously, if the President was aware of Fast and Furious, it is hardly believable that Holder had no knowledge of it. More important, Obama said in his interview that Holder had not been fully familiar with the program. That leaves Holder in the position of either sticking with his previous congressional testimony that he did not learn of Fast and Furious until the very end of April or early May in which case Obama was lying in March, or admitting that he really did know of the program months earlier than what he told Congress. Holder's only choice now is to resign.

Bye Bye.

National Change the Subject Day

There are a few hundred people who are protesting in the Occupy Wall Street movement in downtown New York City. There are SMALLER protests in cities and towns around the country. All together there may be between 3000 and 5000 folk who are part of this movement. Simply put, there are more people stuck in traffic at this moment than are taking part in the Occupy movement. Despite the tiny size of the protest movement, it is receiving enormous coverage from the media. In the last three days, I heard about fifteen newscasts which ranged from local news in the New York City market to national radio network news and national network television news. During that time, all but one of the newscasts began with coverage of the Occupy Wall Street movement.

The enormous coverage of this tiny movement has me wondering why the media is so enfatuated with these protests. The reason is obviously partly due to the leftist orientation of the protest movement. Many in the liberal media feel a kinship with the protester. Another reason is nostalgia by some for the protest movements of the past. These two reasons would explain an initial burst of positive coverage, but not the continuing onslaught of stories that we are seeing. It has to be something more, and I think that I realize what that reason is. This coverage is a way to change the subject. Indeed, it seems like we are discovering a new holiday: National Change the Subject Day.

Think of it this way: the economy is in terrible shape. Unemployment is not going down. Economic growth is paltry and we will be lucky to avoid another recession. One of president Obama's big initiatives to create jobs, green energy, is failing, and America is discovering that Obama used the green energy initiative to shovel billions of dollars to his supporters like those at Solyndra. The Justice Department is totally politicized and the Attorney General seems to be lying to Congress. The public is not buying into Obama's so called "jobs bill". Nor is the public accepting Obama's push to blame Republicans for the mess that Obama himself made of the economy. Obama's poll numbers are heading lower than the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Simply put, unless the attention of the public could be changed to something else, Obama's days as president were clearly numbered.

Bringing forth a protest like Occupy Wall Street was a perfect answer to Obama's problem. Here is a movement that has no announced goals. That allows people to put their own ideas in as the supposed goals to be achieved. It is a move very similar to Obama's own 2008 campaign. Obama did not set forth detailed explanations of what he proposed to do. He was just bringing hope and change. He was only spouting new age nonsense like "We are the ones we have been waiting for." That lack of detail allowed potential supporters with different aspirations to ascribe their own ideas to the Obama campaign; he was all things to all people. Now, Occupy Wall Street can be all protests to all people. So having a vague protest movement lets some folks think that something is being done about the issue they care about.

There is underemployment at a rate around 17%. So what! We do not need to focus on that. Instead, we can focus on people marching around New York beating on drums. Forget for the moment that no amount of drum beating will reduce unemployment. Forget for the moment that Obama has done nothing to reduce unemployment during his term in office. Forget for the moment that Obama's latest "jobs" plan is basically a one year tax cut paid for with a long term tax increase, in other words, the mortgaging of our children's futures for a one year fix, something like mortgaging the house in order to buy heroin.

We have spent this entire year watching Obama jump from position to position in an effort to find one that the folks will like. 2011 is only nine and a half months gone and we have already seen Obama as 1) the president who wanted to increase spending over the next 10 years while doing nothing to reduce the federal deficit (Obama's budget proposal put forward in February); 2) the president who insists that we have to cut the federal deficit by at least 4 trillion dollars (Obama's announced position right before the deal to raise the debt ceiling; 3) the president who said that raising any taxes in poor economic times was counter productive (Obama's position in January right after agreeing to extension of the Bush tax rates); 4) the president who insists that we have to raise the taxes on milliionaires and billionaires who are not paying their fair share (Obama's current position); 5) the president who insisted that his jobs bill needed an up or down vote without amendment and who said he would veto any bill that did not pass the program in its entirety (Obama's position about three weeks ago); 6) the president who says he is fine with the senate junking his entire tax increase structure in the jobs bill and replacing it with a different scheme; 7) the president who wants the House and Senate to break apart his jobs bill and consider the proposals it contains individually (the current position). There are many more examples of Obama's clear inability to govern or lead, but these shifting positions should illustrate the point well enough.

Well, now there is something to focus on other than Obama's failures. We have Occupy Wall Street and the media could not be happier. It gives them a chance to try to save Obama from himself. Strangely, the media thinks that if it does not focus on Obama's inability to govern, the people will just forget about it. I don't think so. but we will see the truth soon enough.

What is Obama's Foreign Policy?

Here is a quiz about American foreign policy under president Obama:

1) There is a foreign country with which the USA has no alliance or other treaty of friendship. Some of the people of that country rise up and protest against the ruling government in a non-violent way. The government takes action against the those in the protests that results in the killing of hundreds or thousands of them. Does America
a) Do nothing;
b) Speak out against the government action but otherwise do nothing;
c) Join with allies to impose meaningful sanctions on the government;
d) Bomb the armed forces of the government; or
e) Put American troops into the country to help in the fight.

2) There is another foreign country with which the USA has no alliance or other treaty of friendship. Some of the people of that country rise up and protest against the ruling government in a non-violent way. The government takes action against the those in the protests that results in the killing of hundreds or thousands of them. Does America
a) Do nothing;
b) Speak out against the government action but otherwise do nothing;
c) Join with allies to impose meaningful sanctions on the government;
d) Bomb the armed forces of the government; or
e) Put American troops into the country to help in the fight.

3) There is a third foreign country with which the USA has no alliance or other treaty of friendship. Some of the people of that country rise up and protest against the ruling government in a non-violent way. The government takes action against the those in the protests that results in the killing of hundreds or thousands of them. Does America
a) Do nothing;
b) Speak out against the government action but otherwise do nothing;
c) Join with allies to impose meaningful sanctions on the government;
d) Bomb the armed forces of the government; or
e) Put American troops into the country to help in the fight.

The correct answers to these questions according to president Obama are 1) a; 2)d; and 3 b. The countries involved are, of course, Iran, Libya and Syria. Now here is yet another question:

4) There is a fourth foreign country with which the USA has no alliance or other treaty of friendship. Some of the people of that country rise up and protest against the ruling government. The government takes action against the those in the protests that results in a civil war and the killing of thousands of them. Does America
a) Do nothing;
b) Speak out against the government action but otherwise do nothing;
c) Join with allies to impose meaningful sanctions on the government;
d) Bomb the armed forces of the government; or
e) Put American troops into the country to help in the fight.

We learned yesterday that Obama's answer to this question was e; US troops are now on their way to Uganda to fight as advisers in the civil war there.

I would like Obama to explain why it is that the two countries with the most strategic importance to US interests (Iran and Syria) are also the two countries where the US does nothing. Why also is it that the country with the least strategic importance is the one that gets US ground troops deployed?

Don't misunderstand me. I am not saying that I support or oppose any of these actions. I am just saying that someone with a logical mind could not hope to understand what Obama has been doing here.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Maybe it is time for MSNBC to leave the air

There are two stories today that make clear just how ridiculous and offensive MSNBC has become. The first story revolves around the call by Donny Deutsch for a "Kent State moment" for the Occupy Wall Street movement. For those of you who may not remember Kent State, it is a reference to a protest/riot at Kent State University in Ohio during the Vietnam War era at which some National Guard troops fired on student protesters and killed four. Deutsch said on MSNBC that a moment like that would crystallize the movement with a simple image.

Now let's look at what Deutsch said. He wants something like the murder of four protesters to crystallize the movement. Deutsch is not some yokel who just said the wrong thing. He had his own show for a while and is a trained TV journalist. He also used to have his own ad agency, so he knows the concept of making a splash through the use of imagery. He knew what he said and he meant what he said. And lest you think that Deutsch is just one of the angry 99% that they rant about at Occupy Wall Street, you should also know that Deutsch is worth over $300 million which he received when he sold his ad agency years ago. MSNBC should have bleeped this crap out. NO ONE should be on American televsion advocating a Kent State moment for any movement. Think of it this way: imagine what would happen if some idiot advocated a Kent State moment for the Obama campaign. Deutsch and MSNBC need to apologize and then Deutsch needs to be boycotted and kept off the air.

The second story on MSNBC is the discussion on the Ed Show that Herman Cain was taking his positions in order to appeal to white racists in the GOP. I have already written about this general theme earlier in the day. The difference on the Ed Show, however, is that MSNBC broadcast a story in which senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina was accused of racism for saying in 2009 that if the Republican could defeat Obamacare, it would be a Waterloo for Obama and the GOP would break him. According to the professor and self-proclaimed expert that Ed had on his show, "breaking" the president was a direct reference to "breaking" a slave in the antebellum South, and was, therefore, racist.

Maybe someone should explain to the professor that "breaking" someone is a common phrase in the English language. It is not racist. Indeed, I would be willing to bet that none of 1000 Americans picked at random who never heard the nonsense from the Ed Show would find the statement to be racist. No, instead we have a network like MSNBC that showcases idiots who are specialists in uncovering hidden racism that no sane person could ever find. Again, MSNBC should apologize and get fools like Schultz under control.

I do wonder how long it will be before Schultz brings on another guest to tell us about the hidden racism against native Americans in the Star Spangled Banner. After all, it does say the rockets' red glare.

Raising Cain about Race

For something like the last forty years, I have repeatedly heard about those journalists and political leaders who "speak truth to power". It always seems that this description is saved for someone leading a left wing cause, no matter how small. When the person who is speaking the truth is promoting a conservative cause against entrenched power, however, the description is remarkably less kind. A good case in point is the current reception being given to Herman Cain. In the last two weeks, Cain has accused the African American community of being brainwashed into supporting Democrats. He has said that racism in the USA no longer holds anyone back in a major way. Then he told viewers of Hannity that he "had left the plantation" of Democrat politics long ago. The response has been predictable. Some of the left have called him a racist. When the ridiculousness of that charge proved too much for even committed liberals to repeat it, they modified it. Harry Belafonte said that Cain was stupid and a bad person. Now, CNN's in house gay columnist LZ Granderson says that Cain is really trying to become famous with this stuff rather than run for president. Jesse Jackson has even been trotted out to denounce Cain for his comments.

The sad thing is that all of these folks seem to have nothing to say about Cain's topic; instead, they are just calling Cain names. After all, can anyone possibly believe that the interests of the black community are served by being so uniformly supportive of only one party? As a result, African Americans are taken for granted by the Democrats. Often their needs are ignored by Democrats; just remember when the Congressional Black Caucus said recently to president Obama that he was ignoring the needs of their community. And how bad is racism in the USA today? Here again, Cain is right. We have a black president. One of the leading contenders in the GOP is also black. Certainly there is a lower income level among African Americans in the USA than any other group, even Hispanics who have arrived here only recently. Why should dark skinned Hispanics do better than African Americans if the cause of their difficulties is racism? Maybe it would make more sense to look at the high level of homes with only one parent, the low levels of completion of high school and the higher incidence of drug use as a cause. When Cain says that anyone can make something of himself by hard work and self control, he seems to have a point.

The true reason why Cain's remarks are so repugnant to the liberal media and the usual "leaders" of the black community is in fact because they are true. Imagine what would happen if large numbers of African Americans took Cain's position to heart and began to rely on themselves rather than on the government and the community "leaders". It would not take long for there to be a clear difference in the results achieve by that group compared to the community as a whole. At that point, the real lies would be exposed for all to see. The idea that life on the government plantation helps the community. The idea that one fails not because of lack of effort but due to racism that makes failure inevitable. That would be the end of the road for the race charlatans like Al Sharpton and the others. It would also spell the end of power for the select group of Democrat politicians who keep control by pretending to "help" the balck community against the "evil" and "bigoted" GOP. No wonder the left is in such a panic about what Cain has said.