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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

It's Really Desperation Time

I saw the news article the other day that representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) made a speech twelve years ago to an organization that had ties to white supremacists.  Scalise was running for the Louisiana state legislature at the time.  This story was then picked up by the national media which reported it as news even though it was from twelve years ago.  Last night, I turned on MSNBC three times and each time they were discussing this "big" news.

It's worth noting that Scalise did not endorse or otherwise support the group in question.  It is also important that Scalise spoke about state economic issues to the group.  In other words, Scalise did not endorse the racial positions of this group just by speaking to them.  That basic truth, however, has not stopped the mainstream media from going berserk in covering the story.

In fairness then, I want to uncover a major scandal among the Democrats in the House.  About six years ago, Nancy Pelosi, the House Democrat leader, went to Damascus to speak to Bashir al Assad, the president of Syria.  As we all know, Assad is guilty of genocide.  He used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians and killed over 2000 innocents with them.  His forces have killed over 200,000 people during the civil war.  Indeed, the civil war began because Assad sent snipers to shoot down random Syrians who were marching in peaceful protests.  Assad wants to keep the Sunnis in Syria (who number about 75% of the population) under the control of the Alawaites (who include Assad).  It is a racist policy in which a tiny religious group controls the much larger group of Sunnis.  Since Assad's actions include mass murder to carry out this policy, it is much worse than anything the tiny group that Scalise spoke to has ever done.  Pelosi's scandalous discussions with Assad should be widely disseminated in the media and she should be forced to resign as House Democrat leader.

Of course, if anyone thinks that will happen, I suggest you rethink that.  The real truth is that speaking to a person or a group is not something that is wrong.  The media (even including MSNBC) should move on.

January Is Coming -- Tax Time

This is the third in a series of posts about what the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate ought to do beginning in January of 2015.

Here's and important word:  taxes.  Of all the moves that the Republicans can make in January, changes to the tax code will be just about the most important for the economy.  The GOP should start moving on proposals to change the corporate tax system in the USA.  The current system which the Democrats just would not change is biased in favor of companies that send American jobs overseas.  It is also biased in favor of a few friends of the administration who get special breaks while others without friends in high places pay the top corporate income tax rate in the world.  Think of the difference between Obama's friends at GE who pay NO TAX on about five billion dollars in earnings and the 35% tax rate paid by small businesses across the country who do not have lobbyists in Washington.  Both the low rate for GE and the high rate for small business is unacceptable.

The GOP should propose a plan that does away with tax loopholes and special breaks.  The plan should lower the corporate tax rate to no more than 20%.  It should also end the provisions that get corporations to keep their money overseas to avoid taxes.  In face, the code needs to allow the two trillion dollars currently stuck overseas to be brought back to America without getting hit with huge taxes.  We ought to want international companies to have their headquarters here in America rather than use the tax structure to drive American companies to move overseas.

A simplified tax code without all the special rules, loopholes and breaks for the well-connected would also cut the amount spent each year on accountants and lawyers.  It is not that I don't like lawyers and accountants.  Rather, it is important that we limit the amount that gets spent on people like that who produce nothing for the country.

There are other tax plans which could be used to great advantage.  Switching to a value added tax instead of a corporate income tax would be a tremendous advantage for the American economy.  There is no way that Obama would ever agree to that change, however, so the Republicans ought to focus on modifications to the tax code for corporations that will still greatly help the economy.

Without a doubt, president Obama and the Obamacrats will portray any proposal to change the corporate tax code as a "gift" to the rich.  This time, however, the GOP should not let them get away with it.  There should be a non-stop focus on the big companies that have gotten outrageous breaks during the Obama years.  The GOP should push for fairness for all and end the benefits for the big contributors to the Democrats.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

January is Coming - 2

This is the second in a series of posts detailing a course of action for the new Republican majority in the House and the Senate.

One of the first moves by the new GOP majority ought to be to set up a group that focuses on actions that will help grow the economy.  That working group should have members from both the House and the Senate Republicans, and it ought to be mandated to come forward with proposals on a short timetable.  America's economy has been in the doldrums long enough.  During all the Obama years, the real income of the average America family has fallen.  Washington tells us that we are in recovery, but that "recovery" is certainly not felt anywhere but in the wallets of the super-rich.  The GOP focus should be on helping the middle and lower income workers.  Six year of Democrats handing out plums to their special interest friends and to Wall Street have to end.

Some moves on the economy are easy.  Congress should vote to approve the Keystone Pipeline.  Obama may veto this, but this is one veto that might get overridden.

Congress should also identify certain regulations that add costs without real benefits in the economy.  A good example of this sort of regulation is the EPA rule that basically makes construction or operation of a coal fired power plant impossible.  We still get about 40% of our electric power from coal.  If the EPA regulation is left untouched, power costs across America will necessarily soar.  Do we really want to drive the price of American manufactured goods up particularly when there is no evidence that the coal fired power plants do any harm?

Another move that Congress could make would be to change the definition of part time workers in Obamacare.  (This assumes that the repeal is vetoed or otherwise prevented.)  Millions of people have lost jobs for 40 hours a week and been forced to work less than 30 hours per week in order to avoid Obamacare coverage and costs.  In typical Democrat fashion, they passed a law that moved millions of workers from self sufficiency to a point at which they lost hours and could no longer make ends meet.  Even if Obamacare is not repealed, this body blow to the American worker has to be removed.

By the end of February, America's workers ought to understand that for the first time in a long time there is finally a group in Washington that is looking out for them.  It is not just a group like the Democrats that says it cares about the poor and the middle income (while consistently delivering blow after blow to them).  America's workers need to know that the Republican majority is actually doing something to help them.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

January is Coming

In just a few weeks, a new Congress will take the oath of office.  For the first time in 8 years, there will be a Republican majority in both houses.  Without a doubt, by February, the stories will start appearing in the mainstream media how the new GOP majorities have accomplished little in office.  We will then hear for the next two years about the failure of the GOP to "govern", and that will happen no matter what the Republicans do.

The Republican majority in Congress needs to realize right now that the mainstream media will go with this story of failure and that there is no way to stop it from happening.  That should be looked at as an opportunity, however.  The Republicans can use the opportunity to take actions that will help America and our people.  That story will get out even if the mainstream media does all it can to help the left. 

Over the next few weeks, I want to suggest a number of moves that Congress can make to benefit America.

My first suggestion is to take a series of symbolic actions right away upon taking office.  These would include taking a vote to repeal Obamacare, voting to defund all activities needed to carry out president Obama's executive directives on immigration, prohibiting the transfer of any prisoner in Guantanamo to any other country unless that country agrees in writing to hold the prisoner behind bars, and the like.  All of these moves will likely pass unless filibustered by the Democrats; then Obama will veto them.

Many will say that these symbolic moves are a waste of time, but they are not.  They are a clear statement of the position of the Congress.  The votes will make clear just where the various members stand on these key issues.  The vetoes from Obama will likewise make clear that these are items on which Obama cannot hide and candidates for president in 2016 must give a position.

No one should expect that any of these symbolic moves will lead to a change in policy.  The GOP still does not have enough votes for that.  Nevertheless, these are votes well worth taking.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Holiday Wishes

With the holidays finally here, it is time for something other than the usual work, work, work.  (Okay, I know that there are a few of you out there who are surprised to hear that I actually work.  I do.)  Over the next two weeks, my posting will be sporadic.  I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, and Happy New Year!

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Army of One

There used to be an advertising slogan used by the US Army which was "the army of one".  It never made much sense to me, because the American armed forces are one of the most cooperative ventures in the world; they foster teamwork, not individualism.  There finally is today, however, an "army of one" which is functioning quite well in the world.  The "one" this time is the kind of Saudi Arabia.  By making the decision that Saudi oil output would not be cut to prop up prices on the world oil markets, the Saudi king has done more to shift world power than a much larger army could have accomplished.  Think about it.  The Iranian mullahs are going under quickly as their oil revenues disappear.  Iran no longer has the cash needed to fund Assad in Syria, to build nuclear weapons, to rearm Hezbollah, and to do all those other things that the Saudis dislike.  Putin in Russia is also watching the economic foundation of the Russian state crumble.  Putin also is being deprived of the ability to support Assad.  The Russians are also being squeezed out of further invasions of Ukraine.  (This last result is not one that the Saudis care about, but it is still a big deal nevertheless.)  The Saudis are also reducing future competition by making oil prices less stable and investment more risky, but that is just a side benefit.  It's really not bad for the army of one.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

100 Foreigners Executed in Syria by ISIS

According to reports today, ISIS has executed 100 foreigners in Syria during the last ten days.  Those killed came from the UK, France, Belgium, Germany and elsewhere.  But there's a catch to this story.  The men who were executed were Moslems who came to Syria to fight with ISIS but who became disillusioned by the war.  Rather than let these foreign fighters leave, ISIS executed them.

It seems that the ISIS leadership believes that once someone joins their cause, the only exit is death. 


The Next Big Collapse

President Obama and his supporters just planted the seed of the next big financial collapse.  Remember the collapse of the mortgage market in 2008 and 2009?  Obama is trying to recreate that mess.

In the last week, under pressure from the top, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac approved a new type of mortgage targeted at lower income borrowers for which the required down payment will be just 3%.  If someone wants to buy a house for $200,000 he or she will need to put down only $6000.

Mortgages with very little or nothing down are the ones that led the collapse last time.  The reason why this was so is that mortgages of that type have a much higher default rate than mortgages that require the standard 20% down.  In fact, mortgages with very small down payments work only if housing prices always rise, but we all know from sad experience that house prices sometimes fall. 

When the day comes that there are mass defaults in these new and highly risky mortgages, both Fanny and Freddie will be ready once again to collapse.  The federal government will again have to spend hundreds of billions of dollars to bail these institutions out.  But it is even worse.  Once Fannie and Freddie approve the 3% down mortgages, all the other banks will be forced to follow suit.  In fact, if a large bank like Bank of America were to refuse mortgages to low income people who had only 3% to put down on the house, the bank would surely be sued for discrimination.  So all the nation's banks will be issuing these loans that are not likely to avoid default.  The bankers will surely know that these are risky loans, so they will sell them.  The mortgages will be packaged and sold to investors just like last time.  And just like last time, the mortgage backed bonds will become worthless when the defaults start rolling in.  It will be 2008 all over again.

In the last month, we all watched some of the Democrats in Washington, led by a nearly hysterical senator Warren, go berserk with outrage that the latest funding bill for the government removed certain overdone restriction on derivatives created by banks.  One can argue where the line for that sort of trading by banks must be drawn.  Nevertheless, no one could fairly argue that the issue being discussed would likely have much impact on the national economy.  Now, however, we are watching the government return to the days of demanding the issuance of very risky mortgages to borrowers who are highly likely to default.  This puts our entire economy at risk, but the silence is deafening.

It is clear that many in the government (like president Obama) have no clue how the banking system of this country works.  Indeed, if these new high risk mortgages result in a wave of defaults, we will surely hear from the fools like Obama that it was the fault of the bank for "predatory" lending.  We have already seen that happen.  We just cannot let this happen again. 


Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Real End Game of Hate

Two New York City police were stalked and shot today as they were eating lunch.  The two officers, one Hispanic and the other Asian American were killed by an African American man from Maryland who drove to New York after announcing on line that he was going to kill police.  After the policemen were shot, many people took to Twitter to express happiness at the murder.  It was revenge for what happened in Ferguson Missouri and Staten Island months ago, they told us.

Mayor diBlasio of New York went to speak at the hospital where the police were taken before being pronounced dead.  In what has to be the most amazing video imaginable, diBlasio can be seen on video walking to the front of the room to address the crowd and all the police in the room turn their backs on him.  The police made clear that they had had enough of this fool of a mayor who walks around day after day blaming the police for all sorts of improper behavior but who never condemns the race baiters who tried to make the death of Eric Garner into an incident about race. 

President Obama who was quick to talk about the grand jury decisions in Ferguson and New York had nothing to say about the police murders so far.  Obama has been too busy playing golf in Hawaii to take the time to comment.  Obama had no problem blaming police for the fears of people of color, but he just cannot bring himself to discuss a brutal attack on innocent policemen.

Al Sharpton has apparently scheduled a news conference for Sunday morning to discuss the attack.  If there is a way to make this whole situation worse, Sharpton will surely be the one to figure out how to do it.

And the media?  What about them?  We all watched endless coverage of Ferguson in which we were told over and over again a false story.  Michael Brown was shot in the back we were told.  Michael Brown had his hands up to surrender when he was gunned down, we were told.  But it wasn't true.  And once it became clear that those reports were not true, the media still did not stop.  We still heard them repeated as if they were correct.

It wasn't the haters on Twitter, the media, Sharpton, Obama or diBlasio who pulled the trigger today.  That distinction goes to a black man from Baltimore who was stupid enough to get taken in by all the hate and all the demagoguery that has spilled out about recent events.  Without a doubt, this man, Ismaaiyl Brinsley gets full blame for these murders.  The truth, however, is that all the others share that blame.  Two men who did nothing wrong are dead because they were swept up in the hatred that this group fostered.  Two men who risked their lives every day to protect the people of New York City are dead and the whole mob of fools and haters are the cause.  Two men are dead because the basic progressive ideal that one feels better if he or she makes other feel worse has been applied to life and death.  The mob of fools and haters don't try to make things better for everyone or evenfor some.  No, this group thinks that the way to happiness is to bring down those who are already happy.  That's why they foster class war.  That's why they foster racial hatred. 

As I sit here, I wonder what would Abraham Lincoln say about recent events?  What would Martin Luther King say about recent events.  Hey, what would George W. Bush or Bill Clinton or Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg say about these events.  Is there even one of these leaders who would have attacked the police in general like Obama and diBlasio or the hate group?  Is there even one of these leaders who would have kept silent (like Obama) because it would interrupt his golf game?  Is it conceivable that any of these men would have stayed in the background at this time of anguish?  NO.  But that's what we have now.  Little men with little minds a small thoughts who are concerned only with their own power. 

There is nothing we can do to bring back the two officers.  But we can pray for them and for their families and for the peace of this nation.  We can ask that the hearts of the haters be opened so that love can enter where only hatred now exists.  We can also pray for the future of America.  Let's pray that we can get back on the road to peace.  Let no one use today's murders as an excuse for more violence.  Let's answer murder with love.  Let's answer executions with joy and peace.  Let's answer all this with resolve from all people of good will to make things better for everyone, for all Americans. 


Not Again!

At his lack of news conference yesterday, president Obama told the world that SONY should have called him before it decided to submit to terror threats from North Korea and pull The Interview out of movie theaters.  Shortly after that statement, the head of SONY Pictures released a statement saying that SONY did call the White House and spoke to a senior advisor to the president.

There has not been any direct response from Obama yet.  My prediction is that Obama will soon tell us that he learned of the SONY call from news reports and that he is "mad as hell" about the situation and is going to launch an investigation to get to the bottom of what happened.