Thursday, February 28, 2013

Juxtaposition XL


Verdict on the sequestration: The sky was formally falling.  And the facade is cracking

Carried Interest

I, along with (seemingly) President Obama, have long been an opponent of the “carried interest” tax treatment on the earnings of hedge-fund managers (for my detailed argument, see: Fewer Happy Returns).  In fact, I believe that this has been one of the driving forces behind our President’s “fairness” obsession to raise taxes.  (Or maybe he is just using it as a convenient excuse?)  This January he already has gotten the capital gains rate increased from 15% to 20% … I suspect, among other things, in order to increase the taxes on carried interest … i.e., tuck it to hedge fund managers.  But, in the process, he is also screwing ordinary middle-class investors.

However, of late I have been curious about how this favorable tax treatment came into being.  I first went to Wikipedia (see: Wikipedia Entry ) where I did not find its genesis … but it does say that it has been an issue since the mid-2000s.  My suspicion is that this tax treatment was initiated within the IRS itself.  As per the Wikipedia entry, there apparently were some unsuccessful attempts by the Democrats to erase this rule in the 2008 to 2012 time frame.  Moreover, there was actually such a law passed in the Democrat-led House of Representatives in 2010 … see: Gibson Dunn Comments.  Curiously, it apparently died (as most things did) in the Harry Reid (D, Nevada) controlled (with an iron hand) Senate.  So, like many controversial issues, the Democrats have been able to have their cake and eat it too.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The American Association of Retired People (AARP) is running ads on local Boston radio trying to scare retired seniors (its bread and butter) about upcoming “cuts” to Social Security benefits.  The gist of these ads is that Congress is looking into what AARP calls “'change CPI,’ another fancy Washington term” which is obviously the way that the Social Security Cost Of Living Adjustment (COLA) is calculated … which then determines how much retirees benefits increase each year.  AARP is urging seniors to call their Congress persons and tell them to not change this calculation … “which will slash Social Security benefits by $112 billion in the next ten years.” See: AARP Document.  In other words, please keep applying the possibly too large COLAs.  Only Democrats can claim that a reduction in the rate of increase as a “cut” … and only AARP can advocate that we seniors (my family is on Social Security) should keep robbing from our children and grandchildren.

There is something rotten in the state of AARP.

Screw Job #2

To repeat yesterday's theme, I have predicted that the Obama Administration was going to screw the American people in order to trash the Republican party by proxy for Friday's government spending sequestration  (see: Screwing the Public).  I have vowed to document each of these ginned-up cuts ... the second one being President Obama's decision not to deploy an aircraft carrier group to the Persian Gulf ... see Bob Woodward's harsh critique of our President for this potentially damaging decision here: Business Insider Story.  If Bob Woodward has his hackles up, is it possible that Our Dear Leader has overplayed his hand?

Watch for still more of this hype ... let's see how much more diabolic and demagogic this Administration can get in constructing these sham cuts.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Screw Job #1

I recently prophesied that our current Administration was going to tuck it to the American people in order to punish the Republican party through them for the government spending sequestration due to kick in this Friday (see: Screwing the Public).  I will now document each of these devious and phony cuts that are expected to be imposed on us ... the first being the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants ... see: Washington Times Story.

Watch for many more ... let's see how diabolic and demagogic this Administration can get in constructing these sham cuts.

Afterward: It's not hundreds, it's thousands ... see: Miami Herald Story.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Screwing the Public

The federal government's spending sequestration is scheduled to take effect this coming Friday, March 1st.  This sequestration is nothing more than a decrease in the growth of government spending that Obama first backed … and then fled from … and is now desperately trying to pin on the Republicans.  These spending growth reductions total $43 billion (not the $85 billion as advertised) for fiscal 2013 (ends Sept. 30th) out of a total federal budget of $3.8 trillion.  This is barely more than a 1% haircut on the baseline government spending that was already scheduled to increase by 0.2% (see: U.S. Federal Budget Detail ) … or as many pundits like to say, "it’s a rounding error."  But they are not even “cuts” … for federal government spending would still increase by 0.7%  even with this sequestration (after adding back the recent emergency appropriation of $64 billion for the victims of hurricane Sandy).  But, given the hair-on-fire rhetoric of the Obama administration … and the complicity of the main-stream media outlets in the United States, the American public generally hasn’t a clue to these meaningful facts.

So, the Obamanistas are out to make this sequestration look exactly like the government shutdown in 1995 when Bill Clinton humiliated Newt Gingrich into submission. It is nothing even closely resembling that.  The Obama administration is likely to go public with “furloughs” for as many government workers as they can in visible sectors of the U.S. economy -- air-traffic controllers, National Park rangers, TSA screeners, meat inspectors, etc. to try to inflict as much pain as possible on the American public (ergo, screw them) in order to pressure the Republicans into relenting on sequestration.  What is even more hypocritical is that these “furloughed” workers will then be paid any back wages due them once this sequestration is resolved.

This administration, using its hand-puppet, Jay Carney, is even saying that teachers, police and firemen will be laid off … employees that are not even paid for out of our Federal coffers.  Dear readers, if you ever want to know exactly what the word “demagoguery” means; this would be a perfect example … screw the naive American public and try to blame it on the other party.  I would love to see this type of despicable political misdirection be labeled the eighth deadly sin ... and come back to haunt Obama and his minions in Congress.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

People Props

Increasingly Presidential photo-ops and press briefings have a posse of people props (firefighters, doctors, children, factory workers, etc.) used as a backdrop to the message that the President is delivering.  I know that, if I were one of these mannequins ... often assembled at great cost and inconvenience ... I would not be happy,  a little like the firefighters appearing in the above optic.  This practice is not exclusive to Obama alone.  President G.W. Bush did it too (remember his unfortunate aircraft carrier “Mission Accomplished” announcement.)  And often, these people props are organized by unions.  Management then may react with displeasure … like what happened to those shown above (who were used as a stunt to emphasize Obama’s recent displeasure over the upcoming federal spending sequestration … see: NBC News Story).

Two reasons that I would be unhappy to be put in such an awkward position are; 1) it is demeaning and 2) it implies that I support what the President is saying or doing … and I may not.  Since many of these public relations events are in real time, I would love to see some dramatic miscues occur … such as someone getting sick or passing out or picking their nose, etc.  If I were one of these people props, I think I would be tempted to just walk off the stage.  Yes, this might be a career-ending protestation … but then, it might be worth it.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Very Gray Lady

The New York Times is again trying to sell the Boston Globe newspaper after disposing of many of its other communications properties.  This is a sign of the dowager phase of what was once a great paper.  Now it has sunk to being mostly a stenographer for the Democrat party.  A perfectly repugnant example of same is its Republican slam-piece in last Sunday’s magazine section, see: Can the Republicans be Saved from Obsolescence  A liberal friend (like many of them these days) sent me the following editorial from the New York Times which typifies this paper’s declining standards (see: Why Taxes Have to Go Up) ... in order to set me straight.  Surprise, surprise … it once again proselytizes for higher taxes on the wealthy … I suspect to help dig Obama out of the predicament he has gotten himself into by having previously signed the government spending sequestration bill due to kick in on March 1st.. This (not-too-well-written) editorial’s  tag line is:
Raising taxes at the top is neither punitive nor gratuitous. It is a needed step, both to achieve near-term budget goals and to lay the foundation for a healthy budget in the future. As the economy strengthens and the population ages, more taxes will be needed from further down the income scale, both to meet foreseeable commitments, especially health care, as well as unforeseeable developments, from wars to technological challenges. But there will never be a consensus for more taxes from the middle class without imposing higher taxes on wealthy Americans, who have enjoyed low taxes for a long time.
Now the fiscal cliff deal which was just passed in January and signed into law by Obama, raises the tax rate on “millionaires and billionaires” (those single earners making over $400K per year) to almost 40%.  Tasting blood, Our Dear Leader wants to extract another hundredweight of flesh from these same taxpayers … and then (read the editorial again more carefully) move the taxing scythe into the middle class … all without cutting discretionary or entitlement spending.  According to Obama and the Times, all we have is a taxing problem, not a spending problem.  This is ideological Alzheimer's disease.

The rest of this editorial is mostly half-truths or outright mendacity … e.g.s, “On the spending side, Republicans are resisting cuts to defense.” (Are not the Republicans willing to permit the looming budget sequestration which includes draconian defense spending cuts … on top of the already-existing D.O.D. one-half a trillion dollar cuts over the next decade … see: Huffington Post Story?) And another, “[Republican spending reductions] implies brutalizing cuts in nondefense discretionary areas, like education and environment, which are already set to fall to their lowest level as a share of the economy since the 1950s.”  As anyone with a frontal lobe can see, this is pure fiction.  The environment and education were hardly on the federal government’s radar screen in the 1950s.  And you can find other truth bendings in this editorial without any eyestrain if you care to look.

So, what was once the news standard of this nation’s intellectual elitists is now a crone feeding sardines to all the neighborhood cats  and serving tea and scones to anyone who’ll grace her door and listen to her relate her past glories.

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Want to have a real nightmare?  Then view the video at the bottom of the following article describing trends in drone, mini-drone and micro-drone development by the U.S. Air-Force … and then try to sleep restfully tonight,  See: Daily Mail Article. Whether this animated scenario is five years off or twenty-five years off is not clear even from the National Geographic article (see: National Geographic Story) … but I’m certain that it will happen … given the pace of miniaturization of communication equipment, computers, video cameras and GPS systems … along with learning-curve extensions of our current drone robotics and battery technology.

I suppose that, when there are swarms of bumble-bee or cockroach-sized drones performing all kind of public and private mischief, there might well be counter measures … but I’m pretty certain it will not be Raid.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Language Police

Andy Warhol’s famous “everyone gets 15 minutes of fame” observation apparently was quite prophetic.  Current examples of those seeking such transient notoriety are sexting, goofy YouTube videos, Facebook, reddit posts, or even those ego maniacs who feel that their blog postings are golden prose.  But there is another type of grandstander who seeks headlines by bowdlerizing our everyday communications … the language police if you will.  The latest Warhol-type is a woman in Cranston, RI who has a child suffering from dwarfism.  She went berserk when she saw the word “midget” on a pickle jar and coerced the pickle company into changing their labeling … see: CBS News Story.

There are many other examples of such linguist political correctness -- Native American, visually impaired, African American, Happy Holiday, firefighter, vertically challenged, freedom fries, etc. … see: Political Correctness and, for a more extensive treatment, see: Language Police

Perhaps the Cains pickle company might have changed their pickle-jar packaging to read “Kosher Dill Little People”?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Getting Penned In

President Obama has swung from the golf course into full campaign mode by trying to offload blame for the coming sequestration scheduled to occur on March 1st (a week from Friday ... when the increase in government spending this year would be cut by $85 billion ... 1/2 of which would happen in the Defense Dept ... about a 2% haircut).  See: Washington Post Blog

I have commented in the past that I thought that sequestration was probably the only way that Republicans could get any spending cuts out of this administration ... see: The Debt Ceiling.  As Republicans have already folded on tax increases for the rich, it now looks like they have gotten just a little clever and are, in fact, going to let sequestration happen.

And, as this deadline looms, Obama seems to be getting more and more agitated.  Also, independent of whose idea this sequestration was (it was our Dear Leader's), there is one act and fact that Obama cannot deny ... he did take up his pen and sign the sequestration bill into law.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Better than 1000 Words

Global Warming Protesters


How many remember the tune Cruisin’ by Smokey Robinson?  When I try to recall this tune, I keep bringing up Groovin' on a Sunday Afternoon by the Rascals.  Anyhow, there is a new iconoclastic pol on the Washington stage by the name of Ted Cruz, the new Senator from Texas, and he seems to have shifted immediately from neutral into high gear.  He is taking on almost all of the sacred images in Washington … and getting quite a bit of press in the process.  (See: NY Times Story and Breitbart Comments).
One case in point, Senator Cruz had the gall to ask Chuck Hagel for his financial records … suggesting that he might have benefited financially from North Korean largess … see: Breitbart Article.  This brought out the long knives in the Senate as it erupted in righteous indignation.  Even Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe went into high dudgeon over this suggestion.  Cruz responded that we won’t know if this is a fact until Hagel releases these sought-for records … which so far he has refused to do.  To me there is a parallel here to Senator Harry Reid accusing Presidential-aspirant, Mitt Romney, of not paying any taxes and requiring him to disprove this negative by releasing more than two years of his tax returns (see: Business Insider.Story).  I don’t recall Scarborough throwing a hissy fit over this much more serious slander ... in that Reid stated these charges as facts … Cruz is just postulating

But one of Ted Cruz’s better acts was his response to Obama’s State of the Union address.  He sat passively while the rest of the Senate wildly applauded the President’s fibs and pleas for bigger government.  Please click on this link to see and read his reactions to same ... Human Events Video and Story.  It is really really worth it.  Now Senator Cruz, being Hispanic, also creates considerable angst among the Democrats in that he might crack the Latino voting block in the coming years.  The difference between him and Marco Rubio is that he is clearly a street fighter … like Obama.  And although I might like to see a kerfuffle between him and (probable-candidate) Hillary Clinton in 2016, I still believe that Rubio would make a better leader. Maybe we could have a two-pronged Hispanic Republican ticket?

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Horsing Around

Burger King has egg on its face.  One of its meat suppliers in England and Ireland has been found to have included horse meat in its hamburger mix … see: USA Today Story.   I strongly suspect that this is just the tip of the iceberg lettuce in the fast food industry … with more revelations to come.  There is, after all, intense pressure to keep costs down … and what better way …?

How many readers remember that, in the 1960’s, McDonald's was accused of using kangaroo meat in its hamburgers?  I haven’t been able to validate this on Google, but it seems a very clear memory to me.  This is one of the problems with our information age ….  vast rivers of newer revelations swamp the older data to the point that it virtually disappears.  Can anyone verify this 50-year-old kangaroo-meat memory of mine?

Womb to Tomb

In his recent State of the Union message, President Obama has proposed a pedagogical initiative for preschoolers … a Super Head Start Program if you will.  (See: Breitbart Article).  This mandatory (babysitting?) program would involve the federal government matching state funds in order to send children age four and up to preschool … on the governments’ dime … and with Big Brother's oversight and controls.  Here is the meaningful quote from the above article: 
Qualifications for the funding include: teachers would have to hold college degrees in certain categories related to education, restrictions on class size, and a government-approved curriculum.
The catch-term for intrusive government used to be called “cradle to grave.”  Now, since our Solons have determined that they have a lot to say about whether a baby gets born, it really is now “womb to tomb.”  I don’t know about you but I am really beginning to think George Orwell was a major prophet when he wrote his books, Animal Farm and 1984.  I still recall, in my callow youth, a certain dismay at seeing how Russia and China were taking over the rearing of small children at the height of these countries' ideological frenzies … in order to indoctrinate them into the ways of the State.  Now its our turn.

I can’t leave this blog post without repeating one last quote from Our Dear Leader in this same speech to Congress: “Let me repeat – nothing I’m proposing tonight should increase our deficit by a single dime.”

Joesph Goebbels was right: “If you tell a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.”

Friday, February 15, 2013


This morning on Morning Joe, they played a video tape of yesterday's Senate Banking Committee hearing ... Senator Elizabeth Warren's first ... in which she "hammered" a bunch of banking regulators with the repeated question, "When was the last time you took a Wall Street bank to trial?" (as a result of the 2008/2009 financial debacle.)  These regulators were visibly embarrasses and forced to respond that no bank had been indicted and put on trial in the last four years. See: Huffington Post Story

As a result of this tough questioning, Mika Brzezinski grabbed her pompoms and was audibly cheering in the background for Senator Warren's line of questioning.  And I have to admit, despite my stated animus toward this fake Indian from Massachusetts, I was cheering too. The fact that no one on Wall Street or from the financial community in general has gone to jail over the sub-prime mortgage crisis is one of the more egregious sins of the Obama administration.  Even Jon Corzine is still walking free after his company, MF Global, lost track of 1.6 billion dollars of its customer's money.

This aggressiveness on Senator Warren's part spawned the following strange thought on my part -- what if the reason Warren wasn't considered in 2011 to head up the Consumer Protection Agency wasn't because of Republican opposition, but rather because of the Obama administration's chariness ... its fear that she might start turning over stones in Washington?  She certainly has started out by upending a huge Obama bolder.

Keep it up, Lizzy!  I may end up liking you afterall.


As you who read this blog already know, I like Marco Rubio.  I think he is a decent, intelligent, hard-working Senator from Florida.  I would have loved to have seen Mitt Romney pick him as his running mate.  But the Democrats fear this man like the Black Plague … for they believe that he (being Cuban and speaking fluent Spanish) may begin to fracture their heretofore solid Hispanic voting bloc. This would be a disaster for the Blue-Staters and they know it.  So what to do?  Answer: marshall all your syncophants in the media and pull out all stops to destroy this man.  Use every trick in the left-wing media book, flattery followed by derision, mockery, relentless erudite criticism, snide asides, pained facial expressions, semantic twistings, and sophomoric slams.  This kind of feeding frenzy reminds me of piranhas attacking an innocent animal who might wander into the Amazon river.

And God help this man if he gives these craven media bullies any opening to attack … as Senator Rubio did after the President’s recent State of the Union message … when he stopped his rebuttal remarks to take a swig of water.  This naive gesture has become Rubio’s toe-dipping into the Amazon river and the gang of pathetic media piranhas are in full attack mode.  Maureen Dowd in the New York Times spun her flesh-noshing thusly: 
The ubiquitous 41-year-old [Rubio] — who’s on the cover of Time as “The Republican Savior” — looked as if he needed some saving himself Tuesday night as he delivered the party’s response to the State of the Union address in English (and Spanish). He seemed parched, shaky and sweaty, rubbing his face and at one point lunging off-camera to grab a bottle of water.
A little snarky, no?  But then … this is Maureen Dowd’s misandric style.  Read her whole column here: NY Times Op Ed

But this was just the opening media salvo.  MSNBC and CNN have gone well over the top to ridicule Rubio … including one of a most sickening rants by Al Sharpton I think I have ever seen on a “legimitate” new broadcast.  “Reverend” Al did his best to imitate Jon Stewart’s antics from the Daily Show, but, at best, he came off as a buffoon … see: Daily Caller Posting  Why this man is allowed on national television is beyond my ability to rationalize. (If any of you have not already seen this water-sipping gesture on Rubio’s part, it is at the end of the Daily Caller link.)

Will Senator Rubio recover?  Of course ... with time, particularly if he does not play into these piscine’s fins.  He needs to rise above such bullying and maintain his dignity.  This won’t be easy given his youth and inexperience.  But he should quickly realize that many media people are out to humble and humiliate him and, therefore, treat them accordingly.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

European Heaven and Hell

I figure I have offended a goodly number of Americans with my previous blog post … suggesting that (too) many of us are susceptible to Obama’s B.S.  So, to be fair and balanced, it is now time to dis(respect) the Europeans.  This is a (hopefully) humorous story I heard well over twenty-five years ago ... so I trust it is new to many of you.  It is the European version of heaven and hell.

European Heaven
A German mechanic
An English policeman
A French chef
An Italian lover
A Swiss administrator

European Hell
A German policeman
An English chef
A French mechanic
An Italian administrator
A Swiss lover

Bada Bing …

Weasel Words

Last night, Mr. Mendacity gave his State of the Union Message. I could not bring myself to listen to his modern-day equivalent of “War is peace.  Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.” (George Orwell, 1984).  But there were listeners, some of whom found that Obama was stretching the truth well past the breaking point.  Even NPR this morning  found many of his more audacious remarks to be questionable.  To catch up on his speech, I found the following fact-check listing of many of Obama’s truth-twistings.  It is well worth a read:  Breitbart Analysis.  (Actually, even the Lily Ledbetter analysis is incomplete.  There have long been laws that guarantee equal pay (for women) for equal work.  The Lily Ledbetter law did nothing more than extend the period over which lawyers could sue employers for such misfeasance.)  After pulling out your hair over these whoppers, you might consider a stiff martini.

I have also heard that, last night Obama bragged that his administration has created six million jobs since he took office … an oft-repeated misdirection.  This may be true in the sense that six million Americans have found new jobs.  But what he doesn’t enumerate is how many Americans have lost jobs during this same period.  When His Royal Highness took office in January of 2008, there were 145.4 million workers.  Now, there are 143.3 million workers in this country … which means that there are now 2.1 million fewer workers … while at the same time our population has grown by 10.9 million (Source Bureau of Labor Statistics).  Basically, 6 million Americans may have found jobs, but 8.1 million have obviously lost jobs.  If one were measuring the height of the tide last year this way, it would be 2 miles high because one would never count for all its ebbs.

The real sad part of this narrative is that obviously maybe half of all Americans are taken in by this claptrap … the uninformed voter if you will.  Are you one of them?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shooting Fish in a Barrel

Another reader, and fellow climate-warming denier, has suggested a topic for my commentary here.  This time, berating a stunningly-stupid remark by a cable-news info-babe is like shooting fish in a barrel.  Her name is Deb Feyerick and she "reports" for CNN.  Apparently she was interviewing Bill Nye, the Science Guy, about an upcoming close fly-by of an asteroid.  Wide-eyed and breathless, this kindergarten drop-out asked Mr. Nye if this asteroid event could be due to global warming ... see: CNN Commentary.

Actually this is not as surprising as it might otherwise seem since much of the commentary surrounding global warming (or climate change if you will) is equally dense ... even much of which is spouted by "scientists."  Assuming that President Obama will play this same heart-strung violin tonight in his State of the Union Address, I would like to point out ten more ripostes regarding this pseudo-science ... see: Powerline Blog.  If you want to see all ten questions, click on the link at the beginning of the post.

One last (equally-silly) comment about climate change ... perhaps instead of global warming causing close asteroid fly-bys, why can't close asteroid fly-bys be causing global warming?  What say you, Al Gore?

Monday, February 11, 2013

Justin Time

On Saturday Night Live, Justin Bieber e-mailed a picture of his penis to Hillary Clinton ... see: Newsbusters Story.

Now, isn't that special?

Sunday, February 10, 2013


Last night on television I happened upon a PBS documentary on The American Experience which focused on the birth and growth of Silicon Valley in California.  In particular, it chronicled Bob Noyce’s co-invention of the integrated circuit and how he grew a small division of Fairchild Camera and Instrument (Fairchild Semiconductor) into a giant which then spawned dozens of other semiconductor companies throughout this region (watch it HERE ).  It was a fascinating walk-through the growth of this technology: semiconductors, integrated circuits, microprocessors, etc (most of which I was peripherally involved with) … and the players that made it happen: William Shockley, Bob Noyce, Gordon Moore, Andy Grove, etc. etc.

Bob Noyce, after seeing dozens of his co-workers found their own companies … and become uber-rich in the process, and, being unable to convince his higher-ups to do the same for his employees, took a few key players out of Fairchild Semiconductor and founded Intel Corporation.  He and thousands of other players around the Santa Clara area became insanely rich as a consequence of the dog-eat-dog competitive atmosphere that developed around this and ancillary technologies.  To me this was and is Capitalism personified … all driven by greed (economic self-interest if you will) and the need to one-up your competitor in this high-tech race … and get wealthy in the process.

This story has been repeated many times in the United States … the steel industry, the car industry, the telecommunications industry, the computer industry, etc., etc. … all driven by Capitalist greed.   Ergo, greed can be both good and bad.  Obviously stealing candy from a baby is bad … and this type is one of the seven deadly sins.  But the kind of greed as described by Adam Smith in The Wealth of Nations, where he coined the term “invisible hand,” is a good that few liberals understand.  He says:
By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry, he [the Capitalist merchant] intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand to promote an end which was no part of his intention. Nor is it always the worse for the society that it was not part of it. By pursuing his own interest he frequently promotes that of the society more effectually than when he really intends to promote it. I have never known much good done by those who affected to trade for the public good. It is an affectation, indeed, not very common among merchants, and very few words need be employed in dissuading them from it.
Adam Smith’s disdain for those “who affect to trade for the public good” is well taken and the results of such squishiness can be seen over and over and over again in the policies espoused by our current President (Solyndra, for instance).  Isn’t it funny how, generally, the people who become insanely rich in a Socialist society are generally found in the government.  Perhaps this is a corrupted variant of Adam Smith’s invisible hand.  This greed (avarice if you will) is akin to the candy-stealing kind and is what causes societies and their economies to rot and collapse.  I do believe we are currently knee-deep in same.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


Last week both Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, and the Joint Chief of Staff General, Martin Dempsey, reluctantly testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee that, once President Obama was told about the start of the attacks on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012, he said that they should "do whatever they needed to do" ... then disappeared for the rest of the night (see: Huffington Post Story ... and read down to get some of the details and, also of course, some spin).  No phone calls to check on how things were going.  No additional instructions.  No follow-up visits to the White House Situation Room.  Nothing ... for the eight hours of the attacks.  (The same lack of concern and follow-up were displayed by Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.)

Now Obama is the Commander in Chief and any military response to this situation would have required his direct approval.  But he was incognito for whatever reason(s) ... and his dereliction of duty under these dire circumstances is reprehensible ... particularly since four Americans were killed as a consequence.  Our President was, in fact, absent without leave.

Given a screw-up this monumental on Obama's and Hillary Clinton's part, it is not a surprise (to me anyway) that they then concocted the bogus story that some obscure anti-Muslim video was behind the Benghazi murders.  And they stuck by this silly story for over a week ... and are still blaming the fog of faulty intelligence for their conduct.  Wouldn't it be nice if we could also hear from the survivors of this Benghazi massacre?

"What difference does it make!?"  Quite a bit, Hillary ... quite a bit.  This story is not going to disappear.

Afterward: see: Obama Lied, Hillary Cried, People Died (borrowed) and The Diplomad's Comments

Friday, February 08, 2013

Snowbound (repeat from 2009)

"Within our beds awhile we heard
The wind that round the gables roared,
With now and then a ruder shock,
Which made our very bedsteads rock.
We heard the loosened clapboards tost,
The board-nails snapping in the frost;
And on us through the unplastered wall,
Felt the light sifted snowflakes fall.
But sleep stole on, as sleep will do
When hearts are light and life is new;
Faint and more faint the murmurs grew,
Till in the summer-land of dreams
They softened to the sound of streams,
Low stir of leaves and dip of oars,
And lapsing waves on quiet shores."

John Greenleaf Whittier

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


I’ve only studied a bit of econometrics, but I know enough of it to know that most long-term economic growth has its real basis in demographic expansion.  Yes, a country like Russia can experience a spurt of economic growth, based on new energy discoveries, while at the same time showing negative population growth.  And there are other abnormal instances of explosive population growth which does not translate into strong economic numbers … such as currently being experienced in the Gaza Strip.  (This situation seems particularly driven by an aberrant political objectives and not natural economics.) 

But for liberals to espouse zero or negative population growth strikes me as national suicide … see: Breitbart Story.  One needs only fly across the United States a view the vast tracks of nothingness to realize that, were this country to reach the population density just in the Rockies, of say Switzerland, we could support many times more people than currently.  And this would in turn drive economic expansion and dynamic/dramatic technical developments.  Let us have faith in what has previously worked.  The most important thing that our political leaders should strive for is that this expanding population stay a melting pot and not become a Cobb salad … and focus on fulfilling more important objectives than applauding Beyonce’s hip wiggling or choosing the brackets for March Madness. 

Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Irony of Ironies

Senator Robert Menendez (D, New Jersey) has been linked to sthupping three prostitutes in the Dominican Republic ... at least one of whom was underage, see The Daily Beast Story ... as well as some previous smarmy episodes. Despite the Senator's very vigorous vocal denials, the evidence is beginning to pile up ... next involving a Russian slattern ... see: Economic Policy Journal   Why you ask is this an irony of ironies?  Well, since John Kerry has just left the Senate to become Secretary of State, Senator Menendez has been named Chairman of the Senate's Committee on Foreign Relations ... bada-bing!

See also: National Journal Story

Also for another irony of ironies on this issue: Michelle Malkin Comments

Clipping Hedge Funds

I criticize President Obama quite a lot.  So when I get a chance to agree with him, I feel to be out of step with myself.  However, his calling for hedge fund managers to pay taxes on their compensation ... as though it were ordinary income ... strikes me as quite rational (see: Huffington Post Story).  The reason that these barons of Wall Street ... such as Warren Buffet ... currently get away with paying 20% (just upped from 15%) on their hedge-fund compensation (which often can runs into the tens, if not hundreds of million dollars) is that it is treated as "carried interest" ... in other words, it is viewed for tax purposes by the IRS as though it were real interest on invested capital.  It most often isn't.  The definition of "carried interest" is:

"A share of any profits that the general partners of private equity and hedge funds receive as compensation, despite not contributing any initial funds. This method of compensation seeks to motivate the general partner (fund manager) to work toward improving the fund's performance."

Rush Limbaugh has also  zeroed in on "carried interest" as possibly being a problem. This could be because the recent raising of the taxes on capital gains from 15% to 20% may have been inspired by this tax loophole  That is, the rest of the country is now paying a penalty for this one taxing inconsistency.  Rush had in the past implied that this compensation represents a fair (interest) return on what these managers initially invested.  It most often isn't.  Or, if it is, is is not allocated according to what percentage their initial investment represents relative to the total hedge fund assets.  This, to me, is wrong ... and needs to be remedied.  The closing of this tax loophole is not going to balance the federal budget (bringing in just a few extra billion dollars), but this unfairness seems to be gnawing at Obama’s (and my) psyche … and should be fixed.   Then maybe we can drop the real capital gains tax rate back to 15%?  That would be fair.

So even though Obama seems to be biting the hand (Wall Street) that has fed him royally, I will support him on this one issue.  But I won't make it a habit.

Friday, February 01, 2013

How am I doin'?

I first met Ed Koch at a sleezy second-floor hole-in-the-wall Democrat club on 14th Street at the corner of Third Avenue sometime in the late 1970's.  He was running for mayor of New York City and I was a starry-eyed liberal youth ... thinking I could have some effect on politics.  There couldn't have been more than 10 people assembled there to hear this upstart politician outline for about 2 hours his hopes for the City ... and I'm sure he must have repeated this gig every night for many months.  I don't remember his issues or his platform, but I did like what he said and how he said it. And I did vote for him and tried to convince many of my friends to do likewise.  Amazingly, he won.

Over the years since then he occasionally would be interviewed in the national media about political happenings in the city and around the country and, although our core politics diverged dramatically, I still very often agreed with his perspective.  In fact, I think he spoke at a recent Republican convention ... not so surprising.  His logic and understanding of the human condition befitted his age and experience.

Some say he was gay.  I don't give a rap.  He was a decent man who spoke his mind and played few of the political games that we see all too often today.  And he would often greet constituents with his catch phrase, "How am I doin'?  Mr. Mayor, for my money, you did OK.


Why is the Stock Market Going Up?

Dow Jones Industrial Average
The Dow Jones Industrial Average has just passed the 14,000 mark, yet the U.S. unemployment rate has just today ticked up by 1/10th of 1% and the U.S. economy (as measured by our GNP) shrunk in the fourth quarter of last year by 1/10th of 1%.  What's going on ... isn't this an economic disconnect?  No, I think that the U.S. stock market is presaging the entrance of that red-eyed monster ... increased inflation.  We all know that the Federal Reserve's actions over the last four years ... producing new money until the Mint's printing pressing are overheating (producing over $3 trillion in new money) ... has to bring back inflation.  The nervous question has been, "When?"

Well, all this money sloshing around our economy has to go somewhere.  And it is starting to find its way into hard assets ... into the formally-wretched housing mark, into commodities, and into the stock market.  And it is fleeing the fixed-income market ... corporate debt, municipal bonds, and various U.S. government obligations.  (The yield on ten-year U.S. Treasuries has, over the last few months, increased from 1.42% to now 1.90% and heading north ... reflecting the equivalent decrease in the price for these bonds).

One caveat for investors ... the stock market will go up in an inflationary environment until such time as run-away inflation starts to damage corporate profits ... or looks like it might.  My guess would be that this effect would kick in somewhere around an inflation rate of 6-8% ... so be careful.

Afterward: For some parallel thoughts on this subject see: Powerline Blog

All Hat and No Cattle

There is a Texas put-down that describes Chuck Hagel perfectly, “All hat and no cattle.”  And after his fumbling performance in front of the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday (see: Free Beacon Quotes),  I am even questioning the “hat” piece.  He was attempting to answer queries leading up to his confirmation as Obama’s new Secretary of Defense ... in which he flubbed just about every opportunity to display some intelligence and preparation.  His responses on Iran and Israel were particularly inept where he was unable to walk back his extreme positions and still maintain a shred of credibility and character … see Politico Story.

Why would such a buffoon be nominated to serve in such a critical position at such a critical time?  I think it is because his previously expressed attitudes on containing Iran (allowing it to become a nuclear power) and his animosity toward Israel, both are perfectly congruent with President Obama’s.  (And also were in agreement with Hillary Clinton’s attitudes on these two issues ... but, even with her leaving, John Kerry is so pliant, that I’m sure he will easily morph into her ideology.)  Chuck Hagel is an extreme expression of the Peter Principle ... rising to his level of his incompetence. He can’t manage his way out of a paper bag.   If confirmed, he will be [mis]leading our defense establishment during a period of drastic retrenchment and metaphysical challenges.  This would be the equivalent of making Gomer Pyle the head of the WW-2 D-Day  invasion.

I thought that, with Obama’s re-election, this country might be in for a difficult four years.  But now with his picks for Secretary of State, Defense Secretary, and Treasury Secretary (Jack Lew), I am sure of it.