Sunday, March 31, 2013

Happy Easter

May your day be full of family, friends and fond memories ... but not too much sugar for the kiddies.  As for Jesus's legacy, I think there is now a ray of hope emanating from the Vatican ...  Be of good will and offer kindness to all.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Frugal Is as Frugal Does

Michelle Obama is on another of her obsessive missions.  This time it is to save the U.S. taxpayers money.  This Spring break, instead of taking her daughters (Sasha and Malia) and an entourage of friends to Spain (or the equivalent) at a cost of (at least) a half a million dollars (like she did last August … see: Huffington Post Story) she, because she had $4,000 per night room coupons, sent her daughters to the Atlantis resort in the Bahamas (see: Breitbart Story).  Then, because these coupons were only good for four nights, she had them flown to Sun Valley, Idaho to finish out their vacation (see: Breitbart Story ... I would have referenced a main-stream media story if I could have found one) in a discounted $184,000 per week ski chalet.  And to further exhibit her frugality, she sent them both on the same Presidential jumbo jet.  (They will return to Washington next week in the same penny-pinching way.)  It is thought that she was going to accompany them, but she, because of government regulations, was forced to take a duplicate plane.

The reason that Sun Valley was chosen for this ski trip was that their previous junket to Aspen, Colorado a little over a month ago was not to their liking.  The people at Aspen were not willing to close off the Panda Pipe area for their exclusive use (see: New York Post Story).  In Sun Valley, for an undisclosed, but discount-bundled amount, they were given exclusive use of the mountain. Moreover, at both locales, Michelle had the White House chefs and food tasters flown out there too to save the cost of eating at the expensive local bistros. These chefs then could prepare their favorite waygu beef sliders and other apres ski snacks.  She also had White-House staff flown in to lay out their (cut-rate) designer ski wardrobes.

Now, aren’t we happy that our First Lady is so sensitive to the government spending sequestration and the current economic crunch in which we find ourselves … and is willing to cut back on non-essential  luxuries like the rest of us?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Follow the Money

The other day Rob Reiner (remember “Meathead” in that old TV series, All in the Family) said that same-sex marriage was a “civil right” and that such decisions “should not be left to the will of the people.”  What?  First of all, same-sex marriage (or its equivalent) might be the proper thing to do, but it clearly is not a “civil right.”  This effectively is a semantic contortion to entice those younger voters, who can’t think their way out of a paper bag, into supporting this proposition.  Saying that suppressing gay marriage is the equivalent of Jim Crow laws makes no sense whatsoever.  To be brutally honest, the legalizing of gay marriage is primarily an economic issue.  Here is a listing of the considerable benefits that accrue to “married” couples… please click on: Nolo Listing to see a fairly complete list.  Looking through these 32 benefits, I count 21 being financial and 11 being what I call social benefits.  These benefits have been gifted to “married” heterosexual couples by our society in return for the implicit promise to procreate and to "civilize" their issue ... an expensive proposition both financially and emotionally.  This social contract is not as frequently entered into by same-sex partners.

We should not kid ourselves into believing that same-sex marriage is an issue of social justice.  The social benefits that are most often noted by proponents of same-sex marriage are hospital visitation rights and making burial arrangements.  These can be granted in a trice.  However the financial benefits are far-reaching and disproportionate … often running into the tens of thousands of dollars per year.  Same-sex married partners could benefit from the same favorable inheritance laws and government benefits (joint federal tax return filings, claiming a spousal exemption from estate taxes or collecting Social Security survivor’s benefits, etc.) as heterosexual partners.  So, while the Obama administration is, with one hand, attempting to raise more revenue by closing tax loopholes … it is, with the other hand, opening up the generous federal coffers to millions of potential Democrat voters.

So, the Supreme Court has (because of its charter) not much delved into the economic implications of same-sex marriage.  But, lurking behind the ersatz curtain of “social justice” is this elephant in the room ... the far more important economic issues.  And, weighing their decisions in these matters, the nine black robes should eschew Meathead's advice and instead listen to the counsel that was proffered by Deep Throat during the Watergate investigation and “follow the money.”  Maybe the proper solution would be to eliminate the financial benefits from heterosexual marriage?  Now, wouldn't that be the Solomonic solution?

Afterward:  For another slant on this issue see: The Diplomad Blog 

After Afterward: Actually the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) case in the Supreme Court does have, as its base, an economic issue ... a $363,000 estate tax on Edie Windsor which she would not have to pay if the government recognized her Canadian marriage to Thea Spyer ... see the details: HERE  (A real heart-string strummer.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

We’re Number One

I don’t know if the United States is necessarily number one in the world for Socially Transmitted Infections (STIs) ... but we must be close … at least on a percent of population basis.  The Center for Disease Control in Atlanta recently disclosed that the total STI cases in the U.S. (in 2008) had increased 19.7 million to 110.2 million prevalent cases … costing about $16 billion a year in health-care costs alone (see: CNS News Story).  About half of this increase (9.8 million) were in our 15-to-24 age group.  Since the rate of new STI infections each year approximates about 20 million, one can estimate that the number of prevalent cases in this country is now (in 2013) rapidly nearing 200 million.  If this were one case per person (which it apparently isn't), this would total well over half the population of the U.S.  … a staggering number and one that could well move this country into the vanguard of STI cinfections world-wide.

According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, in 2009 the United States’s education system's worldwide rankings were 31st out of 74 in mathematics, 23rd out of 74 in science, and 17th out of 74 in reading (see: Wikipedia Entry).  I suspect these poor showings must mean that our children have something else to do besides studying.

Le Jeux Sont Fait

What was once a sure bet ... building a casino ... has turned sour. The $2.4 billion Revel Casino in Atlantic City has just declared bankruptcy after less than a year of operation (see: CNBC Story ). The losses should top $1 billion for the initial investors and Atlantic City will continue to take it on the chin after years of hoopla.  This is an oft-repeated story. The casinos in Rhode Island are have been in steady decline for years.  I stopped going to them when it became obvious that their payout percentages were being reduced to make up for declining business ... which, of course, caused even greater visitor defections ... a vicious cycle.

Now the native-American casinos in Connecticut, Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods, are also apparently on the downward slope and have extended their hands to Uncle Sam for some more sugar (see: Breitbart Story).  Six years ago these casinos were on a building binge ... expanding their gambling, lodging, dining, and commercial retail areas.  Now this optimism appears to have been misplaced.  Plus, Massachusetts is on the verge of authorizing slot parlors and destination casinos which will surely erode business away from Connecticut.  And, if the potential investors in these Massachusetts casinos are the slightest bit perspicacious, they probably should re-jigger their financial models to account for what is apparently a growing aversion to tossing away money on the part of the Supp-hose set.

The chips are down.

Monday, March 25, 2013


President Obama’s recent Mideast tour was so laden with butter that the arteries of all involved must be crying out for mercy.  The President released $500 million to the Palestinians and donated $200 million to King Abdullah of Jordan to help with his Syrian refugee problem.  He gave a stirring belly-rub to Israeli students in a speech in Jerusalem (for this whole tub of oleo read: Political Ticker).  He spoke to the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, in the West Bank promising a new start to the peace process with the aim of a “contiguous” Palestinian state … see: Algemeiner Story.  (A contiguous Palestinian state, of course, is an impossibility.) He also appeased the Turks by having Bibi Netanyahu call them to apologize for an Israeli attack on a Turkish blockade-running ship in 2010 … see: Breitbart Story ...  even though the U.N. has determined that this raid was justified.
What is not so clear is what dairy product Obama promised to Israeli's President, Netanyahu.  It must have been considerable for Netanyahu to eat so much humble pie and allow Obama so much purchase in this tour.  Many suspect that the United States has given Israel the green light to attack Iran … and maybe threw in a few bunker-buster bombs to boot.  If he did, it goes against what I have been predicting and what appeared to me to be U.S. policy vis-à-vis Iran … allowing it to get the bomb and then guarantee “containment” (a public promise to retaliate if Iran were to use this weapon.)  I hate to be so cynical, but if this was the ton of margarine promised and, if the U.S. does not follow through with this commitment, U.S.-Israel relations may be forever destroyed … just like the country, Israel.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Global Smarming

You would think that this issue of global warming would finally go away.  But no … too many people have too much invested in both ill-gotten money and prestige to let this happen.  I thought the clear frauds that arose out of East Anglia University would put the final nails in the coffin of these climate charlatans.  But, like in The Night of the Living Dead, we are still being threatened by the zombie zealots … and their putrid pundit, Al Gore.

Yes, our climate does change and we have dust bowls and tornadoes and hurricanes, but finding carbon dioxide to be the culprit is only because it is, conveniently, the only possible reason for global warming that man has the (very) remotest chance of controlling.  Ocean currents, the Earth’s tilt and polar wiggle, the thermodynamics of our sun, any small changes in the Earth’s orbit, global levels of volcanism, etc, etc. are all beyond man’s control … so, again conveniently, they cannot possibly be the culprits.  That is they couldn’t be the culprits if, in fact we were warming up … which, it seems, we haven’t been since 1999 (see: Daily Mail Story and Powerline Piece -- Tip o' the Hat to Bill Miller for this last one).

Every time we have slightly warmer weather, the global-warming Clicken-Little's go running around clucking about the end of the world.  When things are abnormally cold (like now), these same alarmists can be found huddled under their electric blankets … counting their pelf from our last warm season.  Wake up you Sierra-Club smarmies!  Climate change is normal and we are just as likely to be getting colder as warmer.

Afterward:  Here is a very interesting story on "global warming": The Australian

Let Them Eat Cake

We are living in a plutocracy of insanely-wealthy bankers and let-them-eat-cake governance … while, at the same time, the rest of us are pinching pennies to try to pay the taxes that support these lavish Washington lifestyles.  The governing class in this country is tone deaf to the need to cut back on their spending.  In fact, many of our brain-dead bureaucrats have said that government spending is not a problem.  It clearly is.

In early February, right before the federal government-spending sequestration took place, Vice President, Joe Biden, traveled to Europe with his wife, Jill, and his security staff for a 4-day trip with a modicum of official business.  There are few knowns about this trip (see: Neon Tommy) and many unknowns. We do know that he and his group went to Berlin, Munich, the German resort, Landstuhl, Paris and London.  We also know that this group stayed overnight in Munich (probably), Landstuhl, Paris and London … and it wasn’t cheap.  In Paris, it cost us taxpaying schlubs $585,000 for their one night stay at a five-star hotel (see: Weekly Standard Story) and, in London, they put us back $459, 387 for equivalent opulence (see: Weekly Standard Story).. Who knows what Munich and Landstuhl cost?  And this was just for lodging.  Add to this, transportation, meals, and, I would wager, lots and lots of other expensive extras.

Perhaps we could ask Good Ol’ Joe for a justifying trip report and a detailed expense account … showing what portion of these cost he was covering?  (HA HA)

Thursday, March 21, 2013


After more than four years of dumping on the Israeli Prime Minister, Bibi Netanyahu, (refusing to meet with him in New York, making him exit the White House via the back door, etc.), President Obama has made a dramatic u-turn with his first trip to Israel and the Israelis don’t know why (see: Breitbart Story ).  Actually they do suspect why … Obama’s over-sized ego has caused him to try to reach around Netanyahu and influence Israeli politics directly with his charming personality and good looks.  This tactic has worked for Obama his entire life so why not pull a Cairo (as he did in the early days of his Presidency with his speech there) and make his case directly to the people … particularly the young people … see: FT Story.

Perhaps the looming Iranian nuclear threat is one reason he wants the Israeli citizenry on his side when he opts for containment rather than confrontation when Iran finally has the bomb (my on-going speculation)?  Possibly, another aim is that he wants the Israelis to embrace Egypt’s President Morsi and the Arab Brotherhood like he himself has?  And maybe he will also try to influence them to stop their West Bank settlement expansions?  We will have to wait to hear his speech to the Israeli students to understand all of his motivations for this seeming "humble-pie" trip.  But, be assured, President Obama has not left his hubris back in Washington.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Carrying Water in a Sieve

Politicians of all stripes (including Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and, now, Rand Paul) are falling all over one another to construct a way for illegal aliens to finally achieve U.S. citizenship.  These are all variations of the Dream Act which failed in Congress in George Bush’s last year in office … but which Obama has partially implemented by fiat last summer (see: The Atlantic Story).  It is assumed that Democrats are pushing this meme so that they might get an additional nine million or so votes in upcoming elections (70% of what would be 12 million or so new voters). Republicans are … well … I can’t really figure out why Republicans are pushing this agenda.  The reason I say this is based upon two fallacious assumptions that I believe underlie the Republicans’ thinking.  These flawed assumptions are:

1)       Illegal immigrants will come forward to take advantage of this path to citizenship of whatever form it takes.  Think about it … why would you as an illegal immigrant … living in the shadows and getting many if not most of the benefits of citizenship, come forward and get your name entered in a database that would possibly take away some of these benefits and/or get the Internal Revenue Service on your trail to pay taxes and/or fines (see: The Daily Beast Story)? By staying in the shadows, it is also reasonable to assume that any onerous aspects of being “illegal” will be ameliorated by President Obama and future Democrat administrations … witness the above-mentioned executive order last summer.  Thus, the status quo has a very attractive appeal to this class on non-citizen. With a Dream Act, they might even be required to learn English for heavens sake!

2)       Illegal immigrants, as an indication of gratitude for their efforts, might vote in greater percentages for Republicans than such Hispanics and other immigrant groups now do. Why?  Survey after survey has shown that the reason such immigrants vote for Democrats is that they are for big-brother government and all the largess that such form of government returns to them (see: Huffington Post Opinion).  Besides, in many states (such as Nevada), many of these illegal immigrants vote Democrat already … goaded on by their conspiratorial unions (see: FrontPage Story).

I do believe that, with these Dream-Act look-a-likes,  the Republicans are attempting to carry water in a sieve.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of George W. Bush’s inspired invasion of Iraq in order to secure its weapons of mass destruction (WMDs).  Even though the U.S. was successful in this military operation, the popular narrative is that there were no WMDs in Iraq … and thus “Bush lied, people died.” 

Now, the civil war in Syria is again raising the specter of WMDs which most concede that President Assad of Syria has at his disposal … see: The Atlantic Wire Story.  Many analysts believe that, in the months that it took George Bush to muster the U.N. support and the coalition forces to invade Iraq, Saddam Hussein merely transported these weapons into Syria where they now still reside.  If Bashar Assad has WMDs, surely Saddam Hussein did also.

Another incident in this on-going saga of  Iraqi WMDs was when ex-diplomat, Joe Wilson, said that his trip to Niger in 2002 produced no evidence that Iraq was trying to purchase yellowcake uranium from that country.  This was the trigger to the infamous Valarie Plame CIA-operative outing and huge investigation in a New York Times’attempt to defame many in the Bush administration.  Isn’t it funny that in 2008 the United State secretly transported 550 metric tons of yellowcake uranium out of Iraq and into Canada … see: NBC News Story

So, even though the popular narrative is that there were no WMDs in Iraq ten years ago, I think the evidence is not so conclusive.  However, going against the popular narrative is not the brightest thing to do if one wants to establish one's street creds.  But then truth has, for me, an insatiable appeal.  The popular narrative be damned.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tiger’s Stripes

I knew it would surely happen.  Elizabeth Warren, after three bazooka attacks on the Obama Administration and the Federal Reserve Bank (see: The Warren Court), recently blew the White House a bevvy of kisses.  She swung back far left and suggested that the minimum wage might better be set at $22 per hour rather than the Democrats's current proposal to increase it to $10 per hour (up from the current $7.25 p.h.) … see: Redit Reference.

Once again this proves the truth of that old proverb about a tiger and its stripes. 

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fire-Hose Spending

The current United States government is addicted to profligate spending.  It is behaving like a young tyke in a candy store without parental controls.  In the first five months of fiscal 2013 (begins Oct. 1st, 2012) our government spent $30.5 billion more than in the same period of fiscal 2012 … see: CNS News Story.  If this rate of fire-hose federal spending continues, our deficit for the entire 2013 fiscal year will increase by $73.2 billion over last year’s number.  This would take our deficit for 2013 to $1.400 trillion instead of its budgeted number (in Congress’s continuing resolution) of $901 billion (see: Federal Budget - FY 2013).  This would mean that the Obama administration would have overspent its credit card limit this year by one-half a trillion dollars! 

Now, even with the recent $43 billion spending sequester, I think that it is well-neigh impossible for our Administration spendthrifts to meet the budgetary goals that Congress had established for them.  And I also suspect that much of the current well-touted spending cuts are just desperate Administration attempts to get back on the track set for them by Congress last year … and blaming these inflated cuts on the sequester.  Neil Cavuto’s green-eye-shade people (from Fox News) have already estimated that, if all the spending cuts being advertised by Obama were to take place, they would add up to ten-times even that phony $85 billion sequester amount.  Q.E.D.

Yes, if the Obama Administration pares back second-half spending by even close to a half a trillion dollars, we surely will go back into a recession (blamed on the Republicans, of course).  And if it doesn't meet it budgetary constraints, it will have some serious explaining to do late next fall.  Little Timmy Geithner got out of town just in the nick of time.  

This cannot all end well.

Afterward:  I keep asking myself why did our government so overspend in the first half of this fiscal year?  Were they setting the Republicans up to be blamed for the humongous cuts they would have to make this spring and summer?  My wife suggests that they were perhaps greasing the skids, money-wise, for a Democrat victory in November?  Maybe a bit of both ...

After-Afterward:  What I didn't account for in the above analyses is the additional revenue that would be coming into the government due to the three tax increases that occurred at the start of this calendar year (to a 30% rate on earners over $400,000, Obamacare taxes, and a 2 percentage point increase on payroll taxes).  I can't imaging that these three tax increases total more tan $100 billion for this fiscal year (see: Wall Street Journal Article) ... so we still have around a $400 billion nut to crack.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Star Wars

Ronald Reagan first proposed the anti-ballistic-missile Strategic Defense Initiative in 1983 … to which the liberal media promptly applied the mocking  pejorative “Star Wars” … and have ridiculed its tortoise-like progress ever since.  In 2009, President Obama, true to the Democrat tradition, abrogated existing agreements that we had with Poland and the Czech Republic to install these weapon shields on their soil (see: Swinging Gates) … much to these countries' annoyance and chagrin.  And he has just recently rubbed salt in these wounds by canceling what was to be the fourth phase of such installations … see: NY Times Story. (Remember Obama’s 2012 whispered aside to Russia's then-President Medvedev that he would have more disarmament flexibility after the next election. … see: Wink Wink Nudge Nudge).

Ah but here’s the rub … North Korea is now nuclear-saber rattling and the U.S.'s liberal West Coast is nervous.  So this Administration has decided that such a defense against nuclear-tipped ICBMs suddenly is a priority.  This is as a result of North Korea's Kim Jong-un threatening to press the nuclear-war button (Dennis Rodman notwithstanding).  So these defense weapons once destined for Eastern Europe will now be sited in Alaska.  One small problem … such a shield will not be operational until at least 2017 … see: US News/NBC News Story … hopefully not to late to matter.

Funny how oxen often get gored at the most inconvenient times.

Charm Offensive

I don’t know about you, but I am offended by President Obama’s “charm offensive.”  Yes, one can attract more bees with honey than one can with vinegar.  But the President has splashed around so much acetic acid during his last four years, that switching to Karo syrup just at the time when his media acolytes are beginning to waver seems rather disingenuous … see: Huffington Post Story

Offering candy to children to get them to toe the line often works.  But the Republicans in Congress are, hopefully, a little more sophisticated than turnip-truck ejectees.  I think that the current best Republican strategy is to wait for Obama’s budget proposal sometime in April (hopefully) and then pull out all the stops in educating the American public as to the debilitating ramifications of same.  Certainly, if the President’s 10-year fiscal outline is anything like Senator Patty Murray’s recent Democrat thigh-slapper (see: Pattycake), this should be an easy sell. Then, they might even get some minimal cooperation from main-stream media outlets.

If the Republicans need to throw the President and Democrats a bone in order to get any serious entitlement reform, then getting rid of the "carried interest" tax loophole would be my best candidate for a compromise.

Friday, March 15, 2013


Eating Ice Cream on Mt. Desert Island

President Obama couldn’t eat his lobster-roll lunch yesterday with Republican Senators because he didn’t have his “taster” with him: see: Daily Caller Story .  He didn’t have his taster with him!?!?  What about when he grabs a quick ice cream cone on Mt. Desert Island in Maine?   Senator Susan Collins (also from Maine) who had put this lunch together cajoled Obama with “We are all tasters for you!.”  But Obama demurred and went hungry. 

Are we living in the poisonous age of the Medici here?  Is this an indication of why Janet Napolitano is also going over the top by purchasing 1.6 billion rounds of ammo?  See my previous blog: We're Buying This Round.

Afterward:  Given these recent shenanigans of Janet Napolitano  (including the release from prison of over 2,000 illegal immigrant criminals) can we now officially title her Barack Obama's Consigliere?

We’re Buying This Round

Mini-Urban Tanks (from the Forbes Story)

Why is Janet Napolitano’s Department of Homeland Security buying 1.6 billion (with a "b") rounds of ammunition (including hollow-points) and 2,717 mini-urban tanks?  Are they expecting an invasion from Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea simultaneously?  Or, perhaps, something more sinister?  Forbes Magazine details and comments on this quite disturbing bit of news: here

Maybe we need to rename Napolitano’s group the Department of Homeland Insecurity?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


Senator Patty Murray (D, Washington) just submitted the Democrat’s first 10-year budget proposal in the last four years … about a week after Representative Paul Ryan (R, Wisconsin) offered the Republican’s perennial plan … and about a month before President Obama has promised to submit his administration’s fiscal guidelines.  This is topsy-turvy.  The Congress as per the Constitution requires that the President must offer his budget by the first Monday of February to be followed, traditionally, by the Senate and the House reconciliations (see: Redhaired Grrl ).  Needless to say, although Paul Ryan has created a ten-year path to zero deficits, Patty Murray does not even offer a feigned attempt to do so.  And, in his “leading by following” style of (non)-governing, Obama’s budget is expected to even outdo Patty Murray’s profligate taxing-and-spending proposal.

To be specific, Patty Murray’s budget includes about $1.5 trillion of additional tax increases and fire-hose spending that culminate in annual deficits well above $500 billion continuing well after the ten-year view of her document … resulting in a total increase in our national debt by over $7 trillion by 2023 (to $24.4 trillion).   Please explore the details of this budget proposal at: Powerline Blog.  But what is even more maniacally unrealistic is that Patty Murray is using economic (GDP) growth expectations that are obviously science fiction.  Here they are as calculated by a clever reader of the Powerline reference, Mike McNary, and offered therein:

Year    Expected GDP Growth
2014            3.81%
2015            5.92%
2016            6.58%
2017            6.20%
2018            4.93%
2019            4.52%
2020            4.40%
2021            4.32%
2022            4.26%
2023            4.23%

Such robust economic expansion is possible and has happened in the past (like under Ronald Reagan), but Obama’s record for GDP growth shows that a 2% annual increase is the best he has been able to produce … but this was before his recent actual and additional hoped-for tax increases and the impact of Obamacare on our nation’s economy.  So, dear reader, if Patty Murray (and President Obama) have their way with us, there is no possibility that this country can outrun fiscal ruin over the next ten years.

Afterward: It's even worse!  Senator Sessions exposes Democrat double-counting budget mendacity.  See: Breitbart Story

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Sprats?

The United States government is wacky.  Because of the recent spending sequestration, it chooses to close down visits to the White House by schoolchildren on spring break to save a few hundred thousand dollars … yet it is spending $1.5 million to find out why lesbians have a propensity to be overweight while gay men are generally lean (see: CNS News).

I scratch my head.

Afterward:  Obama now claims that he had nothing to do with closing down the White House to visitors ... see: Weekly Standard Story.  My question now is ... from whom did Barack inherit his lily-liver ... his Mom or Dad?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

The Three Rs

New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg has a lot on his mind these days … transfats, too much dietary salt, 16 ounce + soft drinks, open access to homeless shelters (see: Weekly Standard Story), etc.  But what he doesn’t seem to be too concerned about is that 80% of this City’s high-school children are graduated as being functionally illiterate … see: CBS Local Story … and this is just for the ones who graduate.  35% of high-school students there don’t even graduate (see: Gotham Schools Story).  This means that only 13% (20% of 65%) of students who enter high school in NYC (how many even even get this far?) can really read a fast-food menu. How can this be?  New York spends almost $19,000 per student (see: CBC NY Story ) to “educate” their students but with clearly catastrophic results (and they say we need to spend more money on education) … yet Gotham’s mayor seems distracted with all these other "vital" matters.

Supposedly the “rubber rooms” that were once used to warehouse incompetent teachers have been closed down … but this seems another teacher-union fiction (see: Huffington Post Story).  What has clearly happened is that past generations of uneducated students have been promoted to union-dues-paying teachers and the vicious cycle is ever continuing and worsening.  In my opinion, pretty nearly all the teachers in Gotham should be fired as a result of the above damaging statistics (or at least sent back to real schools to be truly educated).  I would also sh..tcan that billionaire Mayor who doesn’t understand where his priorities should be.

So, unfortunately, in New York City, the three Rs apparently stand for “Recess and Rubber Rooms.”

Friday, March 08, 2013

Punxsutawney Phil

Near Boston, at least 12 inches of snow outside now ... and it's still coming down (2-3 inches were forecast) and Punxsutawney Phil predicted we would have an early Spring.  I think I'll order roast groundhog for dinner.  (Or perhaps a weatherman on a spit ... maybe even Bill Ayers?)

The Warren Court

I have written before about the tyro Senator from Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren … see: Lizzy ... basically commending her for putting a bevvy of bank regulators on the hot seat for not bring criminal charges against any banking types for the 2008 financial meltdown.  Since then Senator Warren has, from her position on the bench of the Senate Banking Committee, embarrassed two more sets of financial officials testifying there:

1) She asked the Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke, why the “too big to fail” provisions of the Dodd-Frank financial reform law have not yet been fleshed out and implemented.  She said that not only have the big financial-center banks gotten bigger since this act was passed, but that they are benefiting from a money-cost differential between themselves and the smaller regional banks ... to the tune of something like $83 billion per year.  (See: Huffington Post Story).  Bernanke gave a dismissive response even after Warren kept pressing him on this issue.  (I must add however that, after Bernanke’s testimony was over, one could see Warren rushing up to the Fed Chairman as he was exiting the hearing room, presumably with some backtracking words.)

2) And, more recently, Senator Warren pressed Treasury officials as to why officers of HSBC bank have not been prosecuted (and/or had serious sanctions imposed on the bank) for laundering considerable drug money whereas minor drug dealers end up in the poky, see: Reddit Reference.  (HSBC did pay a $1.92 billion fine which seems to indicate that these were pretty serious offenses.)

Please don’t misunderstand me.  Although I commend Ms. Warren on her aggressive cross-examination style from the bench of the Senate Banking Committee, I still have serious questions about her own ethics regarding her long-ago claims of minority Native-American status … and the character weakness she displayed in how she ran her campaign against the incumbent Senator Scott Brown.  So I am conflicted about my above paeans for this woman ... but I do hope she continues her aggressive judicial ways from the bench.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Ambassador Rodman

North Korea's chubby child ruler, Kim Jong-un, has rattled his nuclear sword once again, threatening a preemptive atomic bombing of the United States (probably Los Angeles and/or San Francisco) ... see: The Sun (of U.K.) story.  Perhaps our unhinged, ex-NBA-er, Dennis Rodman, on his recent visit to North Korea, didn't pander to this tin-horn despot quite enough?

Now aren't we glad that the Democrats have opposed and slow-walked our anti-ballistic-missile-defense system?

Joe for Oil

Joe Kennedy II, one son of Robert Kennedy, has been running ads on local television touting his and the recently departed Hugo Chavez’s generosity in providing heating oil for the poor people in Boston.  (As it turns out, this generosity is limited to 100 gallons of free oil per household … if you can get his company on the phone … and then you need to buy the rest of your oil-tank fill-up at normal rates.  See: Breitbart Story).

He has given himself the puffery title “Joe for Oil” and is seen on his TV ads dragging the oil filler hose with some impoverished child … preparing to provide (some) oil to the family of this urchin.  To see part of one of these self-aggrandizing ads go to: YouTube Video

Long ago, I wrote about this Kennedy charlatan (it seems to run in the family) … see: Sow's Ear, but Howie Carr has better scoured “Joe for Oil” in a recent column in the Boston Herald newspaper.  Joe Kennedy takes a salary of almost a million dollars from what he touts as a non-profit company, “Citizens Oil," and his wife pulls down well over $300,000 (for doing what it is not clear).  Basically, Joe Kennedy is running an ancillary for-profit oil trading operation (like Enron) and had gotten cozy with “our friend in Venezuela, Hugo Chavez” I’m reasonably sure to get a good price for the oil he then mostly resells at a nice profit … all the while giving the impression that he is a super do-gooder.  This is despicable behavior and I hope against hope that his unfair price leverage in now diminished as a result of Hugo Chavez’s demise.

Instead of “Joe for Oil,” I think that this Kennedy poppinjay might better be called “Oily Joe.”

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Screw Job #5

This is not so much as a screw job as it is a fake screw job.  President Obama said in a recent news conference that Capitol-hill janitors just got a pay cut and are going to have problems making ends meet.  This result supposedly is because of the recent government spending sequestration  This whopper was endorsed both by White House Economic Council’s Director, Gene Sperling, and Obama’s common streetwalker, Jay Carney … basically, as later explained, because there will be less overtime available to these janitors.  This blatant exaggeration won him and his two acolytes four Pinocchio's from the Washington Post’s Fact Checker (see: WaPo Fact Checker).  Actually, the overtime pay there is very small when compared to their total salaries … generally less than a 1% kick … yet, so far, this overtime pay still totals more than all of last year.

To see more details of this sky-is-falling lying on the White House’s part see: More WaPo Story   (Actually, making around $50K a year as a Capitol “cleaning technician” ain’t such a bad gig.)

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Screw Job #4

Our Dear Leader has just slammed the White House door on visitors as a consequence of the government spending sequestration that started on March 1st (see: Washington Times Story)   No longer can Girl Scout troupes tour our First Family’s residence while visiting Washington, DC to see the cherry blossoms.  No longer can a future President say hello to Barack Obama on a Boys State visit (like Bill Clinton did with JFK many years ago).  No longer can the hoi polloi see the 54 Christmas trees that Michelle Obama lavishes on her residence at year end (see: Oh Oh Tannenbaums).  What does this White House public access cost our government?  Maybe a few hundred thousand dollars a year?  And our Secretary of State, John Kerry (who served in Viet Nam), just signed over a U.S. taxpayer check to President Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt totaling $250 million (see: Huffington Post Story) because he promised to be nice to us.  (This amount equals about 1,000 years of the White House being open to visitors.)

I think the world has started to spin out of control …

The Uninformed Voter

Even with the stock market hitting a new high, I think that there is a reasonable chance that the U.S. economy will experience a slow-down, if not a double-dip recession, this year.  The fourth quarter of last year's GNP growth has been revised up to a still-anemic +0.1% and four significant economic events have occurred since then: 1) as a result of the fiscal cliff, an increase of the tax rate on high-earners to almost 40% and on dividends to 20%, 2) an increase in the payroll tax rate on everyone by 2 percentage points, 3) the real start of the myriad taxes and regulations associated with Obamacare, and 4) the $43 billion reduction in federal spending that came with the recent sequestration.  With the continuing government spending resolution due to occur in Congress at the end of this month, there is still another element of uncertainty facing American companies ... causing them to approach any business expansion with caution

OK, given that an economic slow-down might occur, how will it be viewed by the uninformed voters in the U.S.?  Obviously, the Obama Administration will be beating the demagogic drums and blaming such a slowdown on the sequestration events.  But, as can be seen from above, three tax increases will be taking considerable money out of the economy and giving it to the government (see: Breitbart Story) whereas the sequestration might slightly ease the pressure on the Federal Reserve Bank to fund America's crippling deficits ... which, I think, might even be a plus for our economy.  And, given that this country will still be running close to a trillion dollar fiscal deficit this year and the Federal Reserve Bank will still be printing about $85 billion of monetary stimulus each month (with "quantitative easing"), by all logic an economic slowdown should not occur.  So, if and when it does as I predict, it should be fully the responsibility of the Obama Administration and its hostile business and taxing environment.

But do you think that uninformed voters will understand this logic?  Or will they give the Democrats even more (destructive) economic leverage in the Congressional elections of 2014?

Monday, March 04, 2013

Screw Job #3

This blog entry started out as a recognition of another screw job on the American public as a result of the $43 billion spending sequestration that took effect on March 1st.  Homeland Security chief, Janet Napolitano seems to be in the vanguard of sticking it to the U.S. public … first by releasing thousands of illegal immigrant criminals (see: Screw Job #1) and now by cutting back on TSA agents at key airports (see: Nattering Napolitano).  As I read this article, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute, furloughing TSA agents won’t do anything to save money.  Furloughed workers will still be paid their lost salaries when they return to work.”  In other words, accrued expenses should still be counted against what the government spends … no?

This led me to the bigger question … and the much, much bigger screw job when I researched the subject of whether our government accounting is run on an accrual or cash basis.  As it turns out, like many other things in our dysfunctional Washington, it depends … see the following reference on this subject: Accounting Smart Pros.  When asked this question our ever-alert government bureaucrat responded,
"I don't think there's a way to answer that question in such a broad sense of the term," she said. "For any given report, it depends. There are reports that refer to obligations made or funds that have actually been paid out. The question depends on which line (of the budget) you're referring to, basically."
What?  Are we nuts?  If any company or individual mixed accounting methods, the IRS would put them on the CPA rack and then send them to Leavenworth for the rest of their natural lives.  See this comment from the previous reference:
It's the kind of answer that seems to upset many economists and politicians. Just last March, Rep. Todd Platts, R-Pa., and chairman of the House's Government Organization Subcommittee, held hearings to see why the real 2010 federal deficit was possibly $800 billion more than the $1.3 trillion reported. One reason they investigated: The government still mixes the two accounting methods, which may produce a rosier bottom line.
So, now we see that even the officially published numbers for the deficits we have been running up are suspect.  Depending on the trustworthiness of our various government agencies, we may be much further under financial water than we have been led to believe.  So now I ask the $64 trillion question … do we trust our government agencies not to cook the books?  I think I smell some acrid smoke and hear the alarm bells going off ...

Sunday, March 03, 2013

Pardon Me

On March 1st (coincidence?), President Obama pardoned 17 criminals, including one with a serious firearm conviction (see below ... the penultimate pardon).  Like the release of thousands of illegal immigrants before the sequestration, can we assume that this was an act to save our government money?  Or just to annoy us?  Is cronyism involved?  Or perhaps political contributions? Wouldn’t it be nice if the President were required to give his justification for each pardon?  (President Lincoln issued quite a few pardons, but I think he gave his reasons in most all the cases.)  Anyway here is the list from the White House via Politico:
·    Robert Leroy Bebee – Rockville, Maryland. Offense: Misprision of a felony, 18 U.S.C. § 4. Sentence:  Two years probation.
·    James Anthony Bordinaro – Gloucester, Massachusetts. Offenses: Conspiracy to restrain, suppress, and eliminate competition in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; conspiracy to submit false statements, 18 U.S.C. § 371. Sentence:  12 months imprisonment, three years supervised release and a $55,000 fine.
·    Kelli Elisabeth Collins – Harrison, Arkansas. Offense: Aiding and abetting a wire fraud, 18 U.S.C. §§ 1343, 2. Sentence:  Five years probation.
·    Edwin Hardy Futch, Jr. – Pembroke, GeorgiaOffense: Theft from an interstate shipment, 18 U.S.C. §§ 659, 2. Sentence:  Five years probation, $2,399.72 restitution.
·    Cindy Marie Griffith – Moyock, North Carolina. Offense: Distribution of satellite cable television decryption devices, 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(4), 18 U.S.C. § 2. Sentence:  Two years probation with 100 hours of community service.
·     Roy Eugene Grimes, Sr. – Athens, TennesseeOffenses: Falsely altering a United States postal money order, 18 U.S.C. § 500; passing, uttering, and publishing a forged and altered money order with intent to defraud, 18 U.S.C. § 500. Sentence:  18 months probation.
·    Jon Christopher Kozeliski – Decatur, IllinoisOffense: Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2320. Sentence:  One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $10,000 fine.
·    Jimmy Ray Mattison – Anderson, South CarolinaOffenses: Conspiracy to transport and cause the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2314; transporting and causing the transportation of altered securities in interstate commerce, 18 U.S.C. §§ 2314, 2. Sentence:  Three years probation.
·    An Na Peng – Honolulu, HawaiiOffense: Conspiracy to defraud the Immigration and Naturalization Service, 18 U.S.C. § 371. Sentence:  Two years probation, $2,000 fine.
·    Michael John Petri – Montrose, South DakotaOffense: Conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and distribution of a controlled substance (cocaine), 21 U.S.C. §§ 841(a), 846. Sentence:  Five years imprisonment, three years supervised release.
·      Karen Alicia Ragee – Decatur, IllinoisOffense: Conspiracy to traffic counterfeit goods, 18 U.S.C. §§ 371, 2320. Sentence:  One year of probation with six months of home confinement, $2,500 fine.
·     Jamari Salleh – Alexandria, Virginia. Offense: False claims upon and against the United States, 18 U.S.C. §§ 287, 2. Sentence:  Four years probation, $5,000 fine, $5,900 restitution.
·     Alfor Sharkey – Omaha, Nebraska. Offense: Unauthorized acquisition of food stamps, 7 U.S.C. § 2024(b)(1). Sentence:  Three years probation with 100 hours of community service, $2,750 restitution.
·     Donald Barrie Simon, Jr. – Chattanooga, TennesseeOffense: Aiding and abetting in the theft of an interstate shipment, 18 U.S.C. §§ 659, 2.  Sentence:  Two years imprisonment, three years probation.
·     Lynn Marie Stanek – Tualatin, Oregon. Offense: Unlawful use of a communication facility to distribute cocaine, 21 U.S.C. § 843(b).          Sentence:  Six months in jail, five years probation conditioned on residence in a community treatment center for a period not to exceed one year.
·     Larry Wayne Thornton – Forsyth, Georgia. Offense: Possession of an unregistered firearm, 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(d), 5871; possession of a firearm without a serial number, 26 U.S.C. §§ 5861(i), 5871. Sentence:  Four years probation.
·     Donna Kaye Wright – Friendship, Tennessee. Offense: Embezzlement and misapplication of bank funds, 18 U.S.C. § 656. Sentence:  54 days imprisonment, three years probation conditioned on performance of six hours of community service per week.