Monday, January 30, 2012

Snowbirds


It has been estimated that only 2% of the people in the United States (something over 6 million of you) get to be snowbirds (travel to Florida, Mexico, Hawaii, Caribbean, etc.) each winter. This suggests to me a gross inequality in our society that sorely needs to be remedied. Perhaps the Occupiers can broaden out their demonstrations to focus on this class disparity? Thusly, I urge all of you Occupy protesters (who have not already gone south for the winter) to carry pithy signs in Boston, New York, DC, Oakland, etc. next week to urge our government to enable absolutely everyone to escape the northern climes each winter.  You need to demand free passage to the lands of sun, surf, and pina coladas.

May I suggest such slogans such as "We are the 98%!" ... "60 SPF for everyone!" ... "Fly me to Cancun!" ... "We demand Rum and Coke!" ... "If Capitalism is just, it will give me tan lines!"  And, in order to get even greater notice in the national media, you might also get some comely topless lasses to join you in these protestations.

Afterthought:  The question poses itself -- How is our government going to pay for this new 98%-er entitlement?  Perhaps the 2%-ers should be assessed their prorated share of this total amount (including The Barry's Hawaii sojourns) as a surtax on their airline tickets?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Pants on Fire


In his State of the Union address last week The Barry said, "In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than 3 million jobs."  Let us now see if this is factual.  From the Bureau of Labor Statistics own A-1 seasonally adjusted tables (see: CPS Tables and click on the HTML version of the A-1 table under Monthly Household Data) there were 139.9 million people employed in the civilian labor force when Obama took office in January of 2009.  In January of 2010, this same number stood at 139.1 million (down 800 thousand).  And, at the end of December last year, there were 140.8 million employed according to the same table.  This is only an increase of 900 thousand since he took office (while the relevant working-age population grew by 4.8 million) and, up 1.7 million in the last 23 months.  This clearly is "not more than 3 million."

That is ... unless Obama is counting what U.S. companies have hired abroad (a possibility) ... or, even more disturbingly, the fact that U.S. companies may be employing slews of foreign nationals instead of U.S. citizens (see: Numbers USA).  In any case, I have already heard many Obama surrogates quoting this "fact" and I'm sure that the American public already has this hook and worm well down its gullet.

Moral of the story: "Don't mess with the bully pulpit."

Friday, January 27, 2012

Queuing Up


Here is a partial list of well-known Republicans (Rush Limbaugh would call them "Establishment Republicans") who are lining up to take their shots at Newt Gingrich:

Ann Coulter

Joe Scarborough (see: The Newt I Knew)

Eliot Abrams

Bob Tyrrell

Bob Dole

Tom DeLay

Matt Drudge

Mark Steyn

Chris Christie

Marco Rubio

Jonah Goldberg

If Gingrich loses in the Florida primary next Tuesday, it may be because of the rotten tomatoes that this group brought to the festivities.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

High Dudgeon

Low Dungeon

I had a encouraging thought I would like to share with you kind (or not-so-kind) readers.  This insight is based upon a psychological concept called "cognitive dissonance" ... in other words, that which creates an unsettling of one's psyche becomes a motivating force once things are resolved ... for good or bad.  The fact that many Republicans are now in high dudgeon about who will ... and how to beat Barack Obama suggests to me that, once a candidate is settled upon, there will be a spectacular rallying around said candidate.  This is a stirring variant of ABO, "anyone but Obama."

I surely hope so.

"His hour upon the stage


And then is heard no more. It is a tale. Told by [a politician], full of sound and fury.  Signifying nothing."  Macbeth by Shakespeare  Full Text of SOTU Speech

Also see: Krauthammer Comments

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

John Kerry

Or was it Botox gone bad?

Sheherazade


In the legend, A Thousand and One Nights, Sheherazade had to tell the Persian king, Shahryar, a compelling story every night for a thousand and one days in order not to be beheaded (see the details here).  We now have a modern-day version of this story in that Harry Reid (D) tomorrow will have kept the U.S. Senate from passing a federal budget (as required by the Constitution and follow-on laws) for a thousand and one days.  This is in order that the American public doesn't see Democrat fingerprints on our profligate government spending ... and storm the Capitol demanding the Senate's majority leader's head on a platter (see the details here).  And we have heard not a peep of protest from The Barry over this dereliction of duty.

We, in the know, have become so jaded by these nose-thumbings at the Constitution by the current Administration that we too often "go along to get along."  I don't believe we should be very proud of this complacency.  I'm not ... and that is why I have composed this blog complaint.  I wish I could do more.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Puzzled?


Newt Gingrich has claimed that he has been exonerated on all the charges relating to the 1,300 page Congressional ethics investigation document (see: Think Progress).  If this were the case, then I must ask ... why did he resign his Speakership, pay a $300,000 fine, and depart Congress?

It would seem to me that, as feisty as Newt is, he would have and should have stood his ground.  But he didn't ... and this, to me, is compelling.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Hill and Dale


Let's look beyond this far-eastern fire drill of the Republican primary ... to this fall when the election is in full swing.  Many believe that, if the GOP has gotten its act together by then, The Barry might well have to switch horses and put Hillary Clinton on his ticket as his Veep ... retiring Biden to that stud farm called the State Department.  This move would be to bolster his re-election chances with "the devil you know" popularity of Hillary ... attracting those voters who believe she was denied her crown last time around.

Now, apart from the fact that she has bluntly stated multiple times that she is done with politics, Hillary might well be tempted with such an offer ... as it could present a greased slide into the White House in 2016.  And, besides, to my continued amazement, most media pundits believe that she has done a bang-up job at Foggy Bottom.  So, I think a quick review of her record there is now in order:

- The State Department recently put the kibosh on the Keystone pipeline from Canada (see: Falling Keystone)
- We reopened our embassy in Syria last spring just in time to watch Assad slaughter his people.  We may now be embarrassed into reclosing it (see: The Cable Story)
- We totally botched the Egyptian uprisings last spring (see: The Gong Show)
- We sat on our hands when the Iranian street rose up against their oppressive regime in 2009
- Our troop pullout from Iraq has been a clumsy mess, leaving this country to slip back into secular warfare
- Our relations with Pakistan are at the breaking point
- Iran is about ready to produce its first atomic weapon and the United States has stated no coherent strategy to deal with this contingency
- In general, we appeared to be bystanders in the Arab spring
- We seem to be quite timid when dealing with China and its many military and economic threats
- The Euro-zone bogey man is afoot and the United States is hiding under the covers

Need I go on any further?  (There's lots more.)  Yes, one could say that most of these failings are Obama-inspired, but where was Hillary when these decisions were made?  Yes, she has been good at the optics ... willing to travel to these hot spots, pose for pictures, and utter some platitudes, but she has not put forward any overarching policies of her own to deal with the world's turmoil.  ("Reset" is hardly an overarching strategy ... I don't even know what it means.) To me, she appears to shrink from these challenges.  And, God forbid, Biden tries to fill her shoes.  He clearly would screw things up even more ... even if the "San Francisco Giants" win the Super Bowl.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hell Hath No Fury ...


Like a woman scorned.  Newt Gingrich's second wife, Marianne, has unloaded on Newt in an ABC interview to be aired tonight after the debates (see: Washington Post Story) and two days before the South Carolina primary.  Apparently, this scorned woman drops at least one bomb on Newt saying that he requested, after many years of their marriage, that they should have an "open relationship" (each partner would be free to have other love partners).

I don't want to beat a dead horse ... nor do I want to seem to be endorsing Newt Gingrich's candidacy, but would this be a prime-time, network "news" story if it involved either of the Clintons ... particularly prior to their running for office?  (This is obviously a rhetorical question.)

DEN left a comment that freezes things on this blog (perhaps Google is trying to tell me something).  Anyway here it is:

I think the timing of this "news" is very suspect, and also Marianne is a skank, who knew he was a cheater because she was giving him lewinskis when he was married to #1. Most Gingrich fans will ignore this info (just as I did when you railed about Clinton's dalliences.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Fewer Happy Returns


Mitt Romney was asked again in the South Carolina debate Monday night if and when he will release his income tax returns.  He indicated that, sometime in April after he has filed his 2011 taxes, he might consider such a move.  The question then presents itself -- why not also disclose his prior years?

My guess is that Mitt had been using the "carried interest" section of the tax code in years past (the same methodology that Warren Buffet uses to pay a lower tax rate ... around 15% ... than his secretary), and he plans quietly to abandon this practice in 2011.  He also hopes that showing his 2011 returns without this gimmick will satisfy for his critics.  Guess again Mitt!  If you have used this loophole in the past, it surely will come out (Obama's people do have access to your tax records) ... and probably just before the election ... as an October surprise.

So my suggestion to you Mitt is ... reveal everything now and put it behind you.  Say that, even though you (and Warren Buffet) have used this tax loophole, you now believe it to be improper and you will work for its repeal.  And, to show your sincerity, you will not use it for your 2011 tax filings, and, in the future, you plan on paying the normal statutory rate, not the carried interest rate (and maybe even urge Warren Buffet to do the same).

It might hurt your image for a while, but I don't think it will cost you the election.

Afterthought: Mitt Romney was on this AM's news saying (late last night) that his effective tax rate was close to 15% since most of his income has been from capital gains.  This suggests to me that he has indeed been using the "carried interest" methodology in his tax filings.  Now, as a result, our generally financially-illiterate media is starting the drumbeat against our lower 15% capital-gains rate.  If the fact that private equity firms and hedge funds have been, in my opinion, abusing "carried interest" to lower their taxes ... causes our equally-naive Congress to abolish a lower capital gains rate, then this would be a great tragedy.  They then would be doing what is best described as "pissing in the soup."  Please Congress, just eliminate the carried-interest tax loophole.

Ananomous posted a comment that appears to freeze things on this blog and, although I don't concur with it, I will post it here:

Nicholas Kristof writing in NYT recently: "President Obama is pushing to close this loophole. The White House estimates that this would raise $20 billion over a decade. But Congressional Republicans walked out of budget talks rather than discuss raising revenues from measures such as this one."
My comment in reply is:
Kristof worded this salvo very cleverly (I think it's called weasel worded) ... implying that the Republicans are great defenders of "measures such as this one." I strongly suspect it was mainly other things that they had objected to.  But still, I hope the Republicans do realize the political folly in defending "carried interest" tax treatments.
DEN posted the following comment (that also freezes things):
I am not against a 15% tax on investment income (i.e.,dividends). But I do object to the Fund Managers' characterization of their compensation for work as "investment" income which avoids paying the payroll taxes for SS and Medicare.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Great Idea ...


Wrong person.  The Barry, in an election-year U-turn is proposing measures that would make our federal government leaner and meaner.  See: Earthlink Article.  Three measures he has proposed are:

1) merging six major trade and commerce agencies into one and eliminating the Commerce Department, 2) tax incentives to bring jobs back to the U.S., and 3) eliminating corporate tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas (does this include G.E.?).

Now this would be a giant HOORAY if Obama's track record indicated that he was trustworthy on such matters.  Unfortunately, he pulled a trillion dollar scam on the American people with the stimulus package in 2009 that did little more than siphon federal tax dollars into public service unions and produced very few "shovel-ready jobs" as promised.  So one has to look sideways at this new proposal and expect that, if Congress were to approve it as is (note the corporate tax increases ... most every large company has foreign affiliates), Administration magicians would find some way to augment the Democrat re-election war chest with more resources.

Or, if Congress were not to endorse this pig-in-a-poke proposal, then The Barry would have one more bullet-point to decry in his re-election campaign ... which seems to be pointing toward his running against a "do-nothing" Congress.  So the U.S. legislature is boxed in and will probably have to pass such a measure.  But, the House of Representatives should take this opportunity to expand this law even further into significant government downsizing and include so many caveats that Obama can't find his way into reversing its effect.  Then, if Harry Reid does Obama's dirty work and kills this proposal in the Senate (more do-nothing evidence) ... or, if The Barry wouldn't ink such a measure, then the real purpose of this election-year grandstanding would be revealed ... which, hopefully, would then be communicated to the American public (ha ha).

Friday, January 13, 2012

Capitalism on Trial


Isn't it funny and, yes, a little frightening that Republican candidates for President like Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry can make blatant anti-capitalism statements for their own seeming political gain?  (See details at: Newt's Attack and Perry's Attack.)  Fortunately it doesn't seem to have so far worked ... but this is just the beginning of a full-frontal assault on our free-enterprise system that is bound to occur once the presumptive Republican candidate, Mitt Romney, is chosen.  He and Bain Capital, the private equity firm he once ran, will be made the poster children of this onslaught.  This belligerency is what the Occupiers represented this past summer and fall ... and the surprising sympathy that they received among many media types and left-leaning pols was a omen of what is to come in this fall's election season.

The liberals in the United States have for generations been eating away at the foundations of capitalism ... often funded from the profits gained from the very system they despise.  This is despite formidable evidence that capitalism is a wealth generating engine nonpareil and that its many alternatives are not.  Just the contrast that is evident in China where merely a soup├žon of capitalism has unleashed mighty forces that are propelling this former denier of property rights into an economic powerhouse ... should be enough to convince the Occupiers that their nihilism is futile.  But no ... the current economic stagnation in the United States, has inflamed the juices of these anarchists.  They would pull down the economic structure of this country around their heads without any thought-through idea of what to build in its stead.

Yes, capitalism does develop some warts from time to time (trusts, insider trading, creative accounting, carried interest, crony capitalism, etc.) but these have, can, or should be easily remedied.  And many politicians, unfortunately including Gingrich and Perry, but more predictably including Elizabeth Warren and Barack Obama are more than willing to capitalize on this current anti-capitalist fervor to gain or retain their place at that feeding trough called "big government."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Saturday Night Dead


Lorne Michaels's Saturday night "comedy" show (Saturday Night Live or SNL) has had quite an impact on Presidential elections.  Effectively it killed Gerald Ford's prospects in 1977 when Chevy Chase continually depected him as a clumsy, bumbling fool.  (Side note: my wife worked part-time at NBC during this period and it was generally understood that Chevy Chase was an arrogant a-hole.)  Then, in the 2008 election, Tina Fey went a long way in destroying John McCain's campaign with her depiction of Sarah Palin as a provincial boob (excuse the expression) with "I can see Russia from my front porch."  (Many voters actually believed that the Alaskan Rogue Elephant had said that ... she hadn't.)

Now, that Mitt Romney seems to have wrapped up the Republican nomination, can we now expect that lefty hatchetman, Mr. Michaels, to try once again to enter the voting booths across the country in November and pull the levers by proxy for The Barry?  The answer is, of course.  The real question is, how will he do this?  My prediction is that it will be by either pointing out Mitt's seeming stiffness, his putting his dog's crate on the roof of his car, or his "ruthlessness" as a 1%-er while running Bain capital.  Maybe ... and probably ... all three ... possibly even some others too.  Also expect the "comedy" writers on The Late Show, The Daily Show and The Colbert Report to do much of the same ... often with a sly vengence.

Wouldn't it be great if somehow Dave Letterman, Lorne Michaels, Stephen Colbert, and Jon Stewart could also be continuously and savagely rediculed on network and cable television?  Unfortunately, it will only happen in my dreams ...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Alphabet Soup


How would you like a free cellphone, no activation fee, no annual contract, and 250 free voice minutes per month?  There is yet another government program for U.S. indigent people called Assurance Wireless which is administered by Virgin Wireless (a British company.)  This program entitlement is sponsored through the Universal Service Fund (USF), yet another vote-buying perk given by our Congress to "assure" its members even greater perpetuity (see: Universal Service Fund).  If you are not indigent but merely indignant and want to learn more, please visit the Assurance Wireless Website. Here is a quote from this website regarding Massachusetts residents with an alphabet soup of qualifying programs:
You may qualify for Assurance Wireless if you participate in any of the following government programs: 1) MassHealth or Medicaid Food Stamps/SNAP; 2) Supplemental Security Income (SSI); 3) Low- Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP); 4) Emergency Aid to the Elderly, Disabled and Children (EAEDC); 5) Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC) [and for] Individuals or Families Living in Tribal Lands Only: 6) Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) General Assistance Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF); 7) Head Start Program [HSP] (under income qualifying eligibility provision only); [and finally] 8) National School Lunch Program [NSLP] (free meals program only)
It would be easy for one to pay over $35 per month ($420 per year) for such a cellphone service.  Is there no end to largess that is lavished upon those who have found their way back into our welfare system?  Apparently, Bill Clinton, his Presidential successors, and our 535 members of Congress have found even more creative ways to "fix welfare" and "not end welfare as we know it."

Masking Things


In late October, 2009 the White House held an extravagant Halloween ball which featured a Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland Tea Party ... full of famous Hollywood characters (see: New York Post Article).  This party was then purposefully masked from the American public's view.  To me, it wasn't such a big deal that the Obama's treated their girls to such a Cecil B. DeMille production.  But what was such a big deal was that the American press actively participated in the suppression of the news of this bash at the White House's request ... and it's taken this long to be revealed.

Now, I am extremely curious ... what other friendly cover-up conspiracies has our media participated in during the Obama's reign in office?

Monday, January 09, 2012

The Granite State


Arnie Arnesen, a failed political hack from the Granite State, New Hampshire, (see: Wikipedia Entry) was just on talk radio here in Boston this morning ... and she said that, if students in New Hampshire weren't on their winter break, Ron Paul would do much better in tomorrow's Republican primary.  I found this a curious statement, so I went to Google and only found Colby-Sawyer to be a New Hampshire college that might still be on winter break.  There could be a few others, but the scheduling information on many of the other New Hampshire colleges is a little sparse on the Internet.

But this brings me back to that old bone I like to chew on ... why do students, who don't really live where they go to college, get to cast their ballots there (see: Representation without Taxation)?  They don't pay taxes there ... even the colleges they attend do not pay taxes there.  (And, besides I strongly suspect that many of them also absentee-vote in their home-town elections.)  Doesn't this liberal push-through rule amount to representation without taxation?  I truly believe that it does.  If these students actually live year-round in or around their college town and pay taxes there, then I have no problem with their also voting there.  But, if not, then they should only be allowed to cast absentee ballots in their real home towns.  Or maybe we should hold national elections in mid-summer?

I realize that I am a hard-hearted martinet ... but big-D democracy does require a little big-D discipline.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

Rolls of Fat

China is now leading the world in the purchase of Rolls Royces ... surpassing the United States for the first time (see Wall Street Journal Story).  Perhaps the Occupiers should pitch their tents in Tiananmen Square since this clearly is where the 1%-ers now reside?

(Tip o' the hat to Terry.)

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Butter for Guns

For those of you who voted for Barack Obama three years ago, he promised that he would take this country in a new direction ... and he very clearly has.  Just when the Chinese are deploying missiles which can take out our aircraft carriers from 1,800 miles away (see: Washington Times Story), The Barry and his hand puppet, Leon Panetta, are cutting $500 billion out of our Defense Department budget ("guns") over the next ten years (Jimmy Carter redux).  These are not cuts from projected spending (called "baseline-budget" cuts), but these are real cuts ... that go far beyond the cutting of fat and means the atrophying of our military muscle.

Now contrast this with the fact that the Obama administration is poised to ask for another $1.2 trillion increase in the U.S. debt ceiling  (see: Wall Street Journal Story) ... only five short months after the debt ceiling was raised by $2.1 trillion this past August (see: Bloomberg Story) ... an increase that was implied to last the United States Treasury through this year's elections.  Since we are now totally out of Iraq militarily, these debt ceiling increases are clearly and mainly meant to cover the cost of Obama's vast social-program spending and government expansions (known as "butter").

My spider senses are even beginning to suggest that Obama is now trying to rush through many of his radical structural changes to our government ... in anticipation of his being booted from office this coming fall.  So, the question that now presents itself is: Over the next ten years or so, is the United States going first to expire from the hardening of its arteries from all this social-spending butter ... or be forced to kneel and lick the scaly feet of the Dragon of the East due to our lack of the necessary military might?

Eeny, Meeny, Miny ...

A commenter on my previous blog suggests that Rick Santorum might make an interesting choice for Vice President once Mitt Romney locks up the Republican nomination for President ... possibly after the New Hampshire primary next Tuesday.  I have previously suggested that Marco Rubio might be the best choice for Veep ... while others have championed Chris Christie, Governor of New Jersey.  As a consequence I think it might be worthwhile to investigate the pluses and minuses of each of these possibilities:

Rick Santorum -- Pluses: could solidify the Republican base for the ticket by attracting Evangelicals and social conservatives; appeals to Reagan Democrats with his blue-collar family background; Senate experience; might secure Pennsylvania's electoral votes.  Minuses: his stances on abortions, contraceptives, and gay marriages; no management experience; his last large election loss

Marco Rubio -- Pluses: could appeal to Hispanics due to his heritage; probably would secure Florida's electoral votes; is a tried and true conservative; Senate experience; his physical appearance.  Minuses: might not appeal to Mexican-Americans; still a bit of a political neophyte; no management experience

Chris Christie -- Pluses: knows how to reach across party lines to achieve consensus; strong management experience; avid fiscal conservative; combative style; might bring New Jersey's electoral votes into the Republican column; appeals to independents.  Minuses: his physical appearance; not a social conservative

Moe -- Plus: would be better than Biden

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Inoculation Time

The conventional wisdom (whatever that means) says that Newt Gingrich (and maybe Rick Santorum) will now be coming after Mitt Romney with both gun barrels blazing in the ensuing Presidential race.  This media narrative results from the supposed effective negative ads that Romney's Super-PACs ran against Newt in Iowa.  Such attacks are believed to have sunk Newt's caucus chances there.  And Newt is just vindictive enough to try to turn the tables on Romney and spend every dime he can raise or borrow to slime this now-seeming frontrunner.

I think Mitt Romney should welcome this Gingrich vitriol and respond quickly to each and every charge (i.e., his dog riding on the car roof, Bain Capital layoffs in the companies it took over, Romneycare, etc.)  In effect, the more that Newt, Santorum, et alia throw at Mitt, the less negative surprises that The Barry will have to spend his billion-dollar war chest on ... when (and if) Mitt is his opponent when the real race begins  in the late summer.  (This theory is based on the assumption that voters will tire of hearing the same charges over and over again.)  This political tactic is know as "inoculation" and has been used effectively, particularly by Bill Clinton, in past elections.

But the important caveat is that Romney must respond quickly to all of these brickbats with convincing ripostes.  If he lets them stand and fester, then he will indeed be in deep sneakers.

As you may have guessed, I still believe that a Predident Romney is our best chance for curing our in extremis nation.

Monday, January 02, 2012

A Nutcracker of a Different Sort


In yesterday's New York Times Magazine there was this question in "The Ethicist" column from Edith Palmer of Brooklyn (where else):
I was excited to take my granddaughter, Rachel, to see a local production of "The Nutcracker."  But this season, the production was being underwritten in large part by David Koch, a billionaire who supports numerous political causes that I think harm our nation ... I'm sure my granddaughter would liked to see the show, but rather than validate this patron's actions and beliefs, I boycotted it.  Should those who feel as I do have joined me?
Ariel Kaminer's response, in short was "[You go girl], it's not [Rachel's] fault that Tchaikovsky makes strange bedfellows."  Read the entire misguided inanity here.  This seems a perfect example of "cutting off your nose to spite your face" (a tip o' the hat to Sissy for this analogy.)

Now the Koch (pronounced "Coke") brothers are a prime target of the left for their donations to right-wing causes.  These attacks are for the most part unfounded (see: Powerline Comments and follow the links therein.)  And the NY Times has been in the forefront in many of these scurrilous attacks (probably why this silly letter made it into this even sillier column.)  Should Edith Palmer (from Brooklyn) deny her granddaughter any loving affections because of her own soft-headed political bent?  Come on  ... does anyone think that the views of any political faction (even if thought-of as loony) could creep into a ballet dedicated to childhood fantasy?  Ooops, I forgot about Michael Moore ... but then he wouldn't part with a nickel of his own millions unless it was spent on his own indulgences.