Category Archives: Politics

The Buffaloisation of America

Note: Sometime back I decided to stop writing this blog. I figured only a handful of people were reading it and I was unlikely to change any minds. I figured that I would be able to devote writing time to finishing my languishing novel and a couple of short stories that needed some work. Fact is I did not work on the novel or short stories. I did a lot of reading and little writing. Then I chanced to hear from friend I have not communicated with much in recent years. He reported that he enjoyed several of my blog pieces, a surprise because I did not think he even knew the blog existed. Long story short: I decided to give it a couple more tries. If you actually read this, let me know so I can be assured that I am not talking to myself.


The news out the other day: The US census reported that the poverty rate in the US hit the highest level in history. 3.7 million Americans joined the ranks of the poor in 2009. Unsurprisingly, single parents head 70% of poor families. Marriage, it turns out, is the number one weapon against poverty. If fathers married the mothers of their children, 2/3 would be lifted out of poverty. However, welfare discourages this solution by virtue of the welfare rules. In 1964 when LBJ launched his “War on Poverty” 6.8% of births were to single moms. Now it’s 40%. For Hispanics it’s 50% and for blacks it is now 70%. BTW, the US spends one trillion dollars annually fighting a losing battle against poverty.


Of course, with a nasty recession going on and some 15 million Americans out of work, you should expect poverty to be on the increase. But, this has been going on for a long, long time.


You may well ask what has this got to do with Buffalo. Patience. I’m getting there. I returned to my hometown of Buffalo after many years of absence and was amazed that it had not changed all that much. The biggest difference was that all the major factories were shuttered, stores boarded up and the place reminded me of Warsaw right after the Soviet Union fell apart… run down and desolate. I later learned that 50% of Buffalo’s population had fled since I left high school in 1959. I stayed downtown in the Hyatt situated in a four square block of renovated buildings filled with shops and restaurants. As I ventured out after dinner for a little cigar stroll, one of the several private security guys I ran into to warned me not to venture out past the “green zone”. On the same trip I drove by the waterfront where the once mighty Bethlehem Steel plant still stands, although now silent and empty, like a neutron bomb had gone off. All along the waterfront other industrial buildings all stood empty, silent monuments to failure.


I guess Detroit is worse but all across the “rust belt” of the NE and Midwest the story is pretty much the same. Industry has fled to more welcome climates, some to the south and many to overseas. “Greed” say my liberal friends. Really? I think not. Corporations have an obligation to their stockholders to make a profit and if high taxes, stifling regulations and intransigent unions prevent a business from making a profit, they will relocate and move to a more favorable environment. California is experiencing this outward migration of industry now as the granite headed Democrats that control things in Sacramento pile on taxes and regulations.


Now comes the Obama Administration with its collection of egghead academics with zero business experience and anti-business Marxists to finish the job on American industry. The policies already inflicted on business so far are breathtaking. From the auto bailout/takeover, financial regulation, increased taxes to the drilling moratorium and the new health care mess, businesses in the US are pulling in their horns and trying to ride out the storm. Obama and the Democrats seem determined to turn all of the US into Buffalo.


Americans are scared and rightly so. The rise of the Tea Party movement reflects this fear and represents a grass roots ground swell that has caught entrenched Democrats and complacent Republicans by surprise. Many are still in denial.


Reality for many will set in on November 2nd. Most pundits believe that the Republicans will take over the House and some believe the Senate too. I suspect that the Senate will wind up evenly divided insuring gridlock and an inability to overcome an Obama veto. It will be a long time before Obama is voted out of office and he replaces Carter as the most clueless president in history. He can still do a lot of damage even with a Republican Congress.


The US was once the industrial giant of the World. No more. Go into any store and look for something made in the US. Good luck. The good paying jobs for middle class Americans in factories across the US are gone as a result of decades of stifling government actions. And, they are not coming back unless some serious changes are made. Here are a few recommendations, made with the understanding that few, if any, will be adopted.

  • First, the brakes must be put on the trial lawyers and the rules that give hunting licenses to them. Every corporation has hundreds of frivolous lawsuits going at any one time costing them millions to fight.
  • Second, the US levies the highest corporate tax in the industrialized world. Capital gains taxes should be cut to zero.
  • Unions are way too powerful, especially under this administration that curries political favor from them.
  • Regulations need to be cut at all levels of government.
  • And, the death grip that the teacher’s unions have on education needs to be broken. For all the money that’s thrown at education the end product only gets worse. It’s time to try something different.

The above is just a partial list but you get the idea. The loss of good paying industrial middle class jobs falls hardest on the poor and poorly educated. From there many social problems arise from the poverty inflicted on the lower classes. When people see no way out of poverty, crime, drugs, unwanted births and chronic welfare dependency result. If we do not reindustrialize America the whole country will be like Buffalo… or Detroit. Heaven forbid.


Don’t forget to vote.

2 Comments

Filed under Buffaloisation, Election, Politics

Tax Suicide

After spending money like Michael Jackson, (deficit this year at $1.5 trillion) Obama and his Democrat pals are suddenly concerned about the “cost” to the government if they do not raise taxes at the end of the year. The so called “Bush tax cuts” enacted in 2001 and 2003 got past the Democrats at the time by having an expiration date and that time runs out on December 31st of this year. If Congress does nothing, taxes on everyone will go up… a bunch. The taxpayers in the bottom groups and the elderly will take a huge hit. You can figure out how much you will get nailed by going to the American Tax Foundation website and entering your numbers into their “tax calculator”.

First of all, I have a real problem with this “cost to the government” characterization of NOT RAISING TAXES. Chris Wallace raised this Democrat talking point last week on “Fox News Sunday”. I came out of my chair and slopped my coffee on myself. “What?!” I shouted at the TV. It’s absurd. If the government allows you to keep more of your hard earned money by NOT raising taxes, it’s a gift or a “cost” to the government? This assumes that all your money belongs to the government.

Second, this Administration has already raised taxes this year on corporations, tobacco and small businesses. And, let’s not forget the $500 billion in tax increases contained in ObamaCare. Despite Obama’s repeated promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $200,000, the above taxes already hit the lower and middle classes. If Congress does not act, these folks will be stunned by how much their taxes increase next year. The American Tax Foundation estimates that a married couple with two children earning $45,000 per year will pay $3000 more in taxes in 2011.

Other little changes that will whack the middle class and retirees include:

  • The child credit will drop to $500 from $1000 per child.
  • “Marriage Penalty” will return (CBO est. in ’96=$1400).
  • Small business will no longer be able to expense equipment purchases.
  • Retirees who rely on dividends and capital gains will see the rates go from 15% to a max of 39.5% on the former and from 15% to 20% on the latter.
  • The Alternative Minimum Tax will hit about 20 million more taxpayers.
  • Death taxes will go from 0% this year to 55% next with a reduced limit of $1 million for an estate. One million is not a lot these days for a farm or small business and the heirs will have to sell the farm at fire sale prices to pay the taxman.
My concern is that Congress has a lot on its plate right now (the SALT treaty with Russia and the Kagen confirmation among others) and not many weeks before they all head home to try and get re-elected. They just may not get an agreement to keep the taxes where they are and, BING, like the time running out on your parking meter, everyone gets a whopping tax increase on Jan 1st.

The White House has floated the idea of keeping rates where they are for all but the “rich”, those making $200,000 as individuals or $250,000 as a couple. This plays to Obama’s pledge and the Democrat demonization of the rich. Ample historical evidence exists to prove that raising taxes on this group is a lousy idea, especially as the US tries to struggle out of a deep recession.

Art Laffer’s excellent article in the WSJ (“Soak-The-Rich-Catch-22”, Aug 2, 2010) cites some interesting statistics. Since 1978 across the board rate cuts have resulted in the top 1% of taxpayers increasing their share of taxes from 1.5% of GDP in ’78 to 3.3% of GDP in 2007 (last available figures). Receipts from the bottom 95% fell over the same period from 5.4% to 3.2%. IOW, the rich paid a larger share with tax reductions. Conversely, increases in rates on the top 1% of taxpayers under Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter resulted in a reduced share of taxes for top earners from 1.9% to 1.5%.

The CBO estimates on how much money will be raised by increased taxes are consistently wrong. That’s because they use a “static” analysis that excludes any consideration of people’s behavior. Nice recent example: Sen. John Kerry’s $7 million yacht. He had it built in NZ rather than one of the many great shipyards on the East Coast. Then he docked it in RI to avoid the $500,000 tax and $70,000 annual registration in his home state of MA. The wealthy are much more able to manage their affairs to reduce their taxes. Like Charlie Rangle, for instance.

High rates on the wealthy results in less employment, output, sales, profits and capital gains and all that means lower tax receipts. This has been demonstrated time and again with the capital gains tax. When the rate is reduced, receipts go up, and down when rates are raised. Charles Gibson posed this historical observation to Obama in an enlightening interview on ABC during the campaign. BHO was stumped by the question of why he would raise rates if receipts would clearly go down. After stumbling around he finally came up with “It’s a question of fairness.” Fair to whom? The 80% of Americans who own stock?

A number of Democrats realize a tax increase on anybody at this time is a dumb idea. Even Christina Romer, White House Economic Advisor to Obama has broken ranks from the party line and wrote in the June issue of The American Economic Review, “Our estimates suggest that a tax increase of 1% of GDP reduces output by nearly 3%. The effect is highly significant.”

Obama, Pelosi and Reid would be well advised to listen to her and one of their former Democrat Presidents who said:

“Tax reduction thus sets off a process that can bring gains for everyone, gains won by marshalling resources that would otherwise stand idle- workers without jobs and farm and factory capacity without markets. Yet many taxpayers seemed prepared to deny the nation the fruits of tax reduction because they question the financial soundness of reducing taxes when the federal budget is already in deficit. Let me make clear why in today’s economy, fiscal prudence and responsibility call for tax reduction even if it temporarily enlarged the federal deficit- why reducing taxes is the best way open to us to increase revenues.”

John F. Kennedy

Economic Report of the President

1963

President Hoover raised the top tax rate to 63%. Roosevelt raised it again to 79% plus increasing corporate and other taxes.

The economy went into a double dip depression. Why, if taxes are raised now, do we think that this time it will be different?

1 Comment

Filed under Obama, Politics, Taxes

Come On A My House

Come on a my house, I’m gonna give you candy.

Come on a my house, my house, I’m gonna give you a plum and apricot-a too, eh.

Come on a my house, my house a come on.

Come on a my house, my house. I’m gone give a you

Figs and dates and grapes and cakes eh.

Come on a my house, my house a come on.

Come on a my house, my house. I’m gonna give you

Candy.

Come on a my house, my house. I’m gonna give you

Everything.

This was Rosemary Clooney’s big hit in 1951. Now I recognize that people who did not grow up in the wonderful ‘50s would not know Rosemary Clooney from George. And, of course, no one is going to recall this as high art a hundred years from now any more than the tortured, off key whining of Justin Bieber will be remembered as great moments in musical history.

Rosie’s song crawled to the surface of my swampy brain the other day like a fetid methane bubble as I listed to Obama’s speech on immigration. Obie called for “comprehensive immigration reform” to be passed this year to stop the flood of illegals flowing across the southern border. “Comprehensive”, of course, is the code word for amnesty and comes right off the talking points memo that all Democrats and liberals use whenever the subject gets mentioned.

Obama knows there is not a farts chance in a hurricane of passing an immigration bill this year but he hopes bringing it up will curry favor with Hispanic voters and help stem the tide running against the Democrats in the fall elections.

You don’t have to be a congenital cynic like me to see through the lack of serious effort to contain the flow of illegals. (They halted construction of the fence and are going to sic the Justice Department on Arizona for trying to enforce the law.) Like the half-hearted attempts to clean up the oil in the Gulf, the Obama Team plans to use the “crisis” to further their own anti-fossil fuel and amnesty agendas.

Rosemary’s song popped into my head in the midst of a thought experiment. Suppose you owned a large tract of farmland with orchards, fields, gardens and a huge house. To your immediate south lived a large community of exceedingly poor and uneducated people. Word gets around that if they manage to get across the simple fence surrounding your property that you will make only token efforts to kick them out and will give them free food, medical care and educate their children. They hear that if they have a baby on your side of the fence that the child will immediately become a member of your family and that the parents will be permitted to remain on your farm forever. They discover that they will be paid for working in your orchards and fields and allowed to send money back to their relatives to the south. How long would it take before your farm is over run with your destitute neighbors? And, how long before you went broke trying to pay for it all?

This is precisely what the US is doing with the Mexican and South American neighbors and as long as these financial and social incentives exist, they will keep coming…. Fence or no fence.

You don’t have to be an American citizen to receive food stamps, Medicaid or welfare or even SSI (Supplemental Security Income). And, if you are deemed to be a PRUCOL alien, someone the INS decides not to remove because “it might cause undue hardship”, you are entitled to social assistance without going through the not altogether difficult process of acquiring a fraudulent Social Security Card.

The National Research Council estimates the cost of supporting illegal immigrants at $345 billion per year. Border states are already going broke supporting illegals. In 2004 California spent $10.5 billion on providing health care, education, incarceration and welfare to illegals. An estimated 15% of the school population is comprised of children of illegal aliens who are not only accommodated with free education but also, free meals and special teachers to teach in their language.

In case you missed it, California is seriously broke.

Obama, in his speech, and everyone else who pontificates on this subject, admits there are some 11 to 12 million illegals living in the US. All agree that it is impossible to send them back. Too costly, they say. Really? Why not let them go back of their own accord? During our current recession many illegals have chosen to go home because of the lack of jobs. Many politicians say that cracking down on employers who hire illegal aliens is the answer. Sure, that would help but, what about this? No more free lunch. No more welfare, free medical care or education. No more “anchor babies”. If you sneak across the border to give birth, little Jose is NOT a US citizen and entitled to all the benefits thereof. Without all the free stuff a lot of illegals would be heading home and the financial pressure on the Border States relieved. Natch, the chances of this happening are about the same as me beating Tiger. IOW, less than nil.

A lot of people display the thinking of Speaker Pelosi who said, “We have an estimated 12 million illegal aliens in our country who need our help along with unemployed minorities. Stock market profits taxes could go a long way to guarantee these people the standard of living they would like to have as Americans.” It’s hard to know where to begin with this insane statement. Let’s try. First of all, illegals are not Americans and, while I do not doubt they would enjoy a better standard of living (who wouldn’t) it remains unclear why real working and tax paying Americans should fund the improvement in life style of illegal aliens.

In addition to the bleeding heart liberals who want open borders and obligate the American taxpayer to support anyone who wants to come to the US, you have the cynical politicians who love illegal immigration. Obama and his leftist cohorts believe that their path to continued power lies with getting more and more voters on the government dole. They regard these people as reliable Democrat voters by convincing them that only the Democrats will insure continued largess from the public coffers.

If they can grant amnesty to 12 million illegals….. Well, I guess you can figure that out.

1 Comment

Filed under Immigration, Obama, Politics

Flunking Out

I have often puzzled over the gulf that exists between liberals and conservatives on how they look at the issues of the day. This is never more evident than when I visit my liberal friends and in-laws who frequently treat me with the bemused tolerance one would expect for a dimwitted and slightly addled child. To maintain peace and harmony I chew on my tongue and try not to let any political comments pass my lips.


One of my theories on how liberals and conservatives can arrive at such divergent conclusions from the same set of facts supposes that we are not, in fact, using the same facts. This theory surmises that liberals read the NYT, the Daily Kos and The Huffington Post and listen to NPR, MSNBC and CBS News. Conservatives, on the other hand, read the WSJ, Bloomberg, Townhall.com and listen to Fox News. In other words, we libs and cons may NOT be operating from the same set of facts or, at least, the emphasis or interpretation of those facts.


An older theory of mine postulated that people adopted a stance early in life… either left or right and simply stuck with it. This firmly held conviction thereafter colored whatever information they received. This tied in with another theory of mine that I call “tribalism”. I postulated that people in their early years decide to which “tribe” they belong: Hippy, punk rocker, preppie, biker, geek, etc. From there onward they adopt the dress, speech, mannerisms, life style and attitudes of that tribe. Therefore, if you decide that you are an educated, hip, urbane person concerned with the environment and socially conscious, you join the liberal tribe and accept anything “liberal” and reject as downright stupid, if not corrupt, anything labeled as “conservative”. (Note to my liberal friends: Don’t get hostile here. I am just trying to figure this shit out.)


I was never all that convinced that either of those two theories sufficiently answered my questions.


Now comes a new theory to further confuse me. Daniel Klein recently published a piece in the WSJ entitled “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader”. Mr. Klein is a professor of economics at George Mason and together with Zeljka Burturovic, a Zogby researcher, conducted a December 2008 survey of 4,835 American adults. The survey asked them eight questions about basic economics. They also asked them about their political leanings: progressive/very liberal; liberal; moderate; conservative; very conservative and libertarian. The researchers here were looking for incorrect answers, and only, as Professor Klein said, “A response was counted as incorrect only if it was flatly unenlightened.” The possible responses to the questions were: 1. strongly agree 2. somewhat agree 3. somewhat disagree 4. strongly disagree and 5. not sure. “Not sures” were not counted as incorrect. I will list the questions below and the correct answers at the end of this piece so you can, like, figure out if you are, like, a liberal or like, a conservative. No, like, cheating by going to, like, the end of the article.


Pick one of the above highlighted answers to the following questions:

1. Restrictions on housing development make housing less affordable.

2. Mandatory licensing of professional services increases the prices of those services.

3. Overall, the standard of living is higher today than it was 30 years ago.

4. Rent control leads to housing shortages.

5. A company with the largest market share is a monopoly.

6. Third World workers working for American companies overseas are being exploited.

7. Free trade leads to unemployment.

8. Minimum wage laws raise unemployment.


So, how did the self-identified ideological groups fare in this simple economics test? Remember, we are scoring incorrect answers here.

Very conservative: 1.30 wrong

Conservative: 1.67 wrong

Libertarian: 1.38 wrong

Moderate: 3.67 wrong

Liberal: 4.69 wrong

Progressive/very liberal: 5.26 wrong


When asked about party affiliation, those responding as Democrats averaged 4.59 incorrect answers. Those responding as Republicans got 1.61 incorrect.


You can read Klein’s original article (link) to get the specific scores on the individual questions and his explanations of the correct answers.


A lot of brain cells can be destroyed trying to figure out why the most liberal among us did so poorly on a simple economics test compared to the most conservative citizens. I won’t attempt that here. Suffice it to say that the “progressive/very liberal” wing of the Democrat Party has been in charge of things for some time now and this simple test helps explain the unenlightened economic policies now coming out of Washington.


Wrong answers to questions: 1. Somewhat disagree, strongly disagree. 2. Disagree. 3. Disagree. 4. Disagree. 5. Agree. 6. Agree. 7. Agree. 8. Disagree.

4 Comments

Filed under Econ Quiz, Politics

Score Card

In February of 2009 I posted a piece entitled “Prognostications” in which I made a number of predictions about what Obama and the Democrat controlled Congress would do now that they had complete control. As I was driving back from our annual fly fishing expedition to central BC the other day I thought about that list and concluded it was time to see how I faired in my predictions. Hereafter, the list and the score thus far into the “Hopie-Changie” era.



· The Stimulus Package: Originally at some $870 billion, winding up with some add-ons at around $1 trillion, has failed miserably to prod the US out of recession. The “neo-Keynesians” that populate the Obama economic brain trust assured us that if this thing were not rammed through Congress immediately that unemployment would go above 8%. Well, it’s been hovering around 10% for many months and only that low because the millions of workers who are no longer even bothering to look for work are no longer counted in that calculation. 325,000 people dropped out of the “lookers” category last month. Congress recently passed an extension of unemployment compensation to 99 weeks, assuring that the unenthusiastic and disinterested will remain on the sidelines. The recession continues. The deficit? Greece here we come. According to the Heritage Foundation the US is poised to have the deficit exceed the GDP in the near future. Score: YES.


· Card Check Legislation: They made some feeble attempts at this but backed off to concentrate on the health care bill. Obama did reward the unions big time by giving them big chunks of GM and Chrysler stock when the two auto giants went tits up. Score one NO.


· Give More Money to the Auto Companies: The US government now own most of GM and the bondholders at Chrysler (these are the secured creditors in a bankruptcy) got stiffed. GM paid back part of the money, but that money came from previously borrowed government funds. So, you can’t really say they paid off the loan. They still owe some $40 billion. Score: YES


· Pass the Fairness Doctrine: They did not really have the courage to tackle this one and totally piss off the millions of listeners of conservative talk radio. Instead they dispatched Mark Lloyd, the Diversity Czar for the FCC to see if he can “back door” the thing through regulations. Score: NO.


· Restrict drilling for oil and gas: At the time of posting “Prognostications” Salazar had already cancelled leases and set aside huge swathes of the west where no drilling was allowed. Now, with the oil disaster in the Gulf every-thing is shut down. The irony is that if the regs had not forced the oil companies to drill in such deep water (a mile down) and instead were allowed to drill on land or in shallow water, this thing would have been fixed already. Score: YES


· Not allow the construction of nuclear power plants: Obama says they want to build them but they shut down the Yucca Mountain repository where they were to store the waste signaling their real intentions. Score: YES


· Enact cap and trade: It has already passed the House and is currently introduced in the Senate. Debate has been stalled with the intrusion of other matters like voting themselves a raise and fine-tuning their special medical program. Some GOP Senators will vote aye. Score: YES


· Toss money at solar and wind power: Money for these industries was included in the stimulus bill and much more to come with the cap and trade legislation. Score: YES


· Abandon missile defense and reduce US nuclear arms: Obama cut funding for missile defense programs, refused to provide funding to upgrade the US’s aging nuclear arsenal, cancelled the missile defense shield for Europe and made a lopsided deal with Russia to reduce the number of nuclear weapons. Score: Big YES


· Enact restrictions on gun ownership: Hillary is trying to work something through a UN agreement. Score: NO


· Appoint “living constitution” fans to Supreme Court: Sonia Sotomayor has been confirmed and Elana Kagan has been nominated and awaiting confirmation in the Senate. She’s sure to be approved. Score: YES


· Squelch school choice: The Congress withdrew funding for the charter school program in Washington, DC, thus ending a successful program and signaling the Adminis-tration’s aversion to charter schools. Of course, the Dems are much beholding to the teacher’s unions and they hate charter schools. Obama has created a program called “Race to the top” providing certain states with substantial funding. Some states are refusing to participate as the money comes with the Feds getting too involved in local schools. BTW, the June 5th edition of the WSJ has a great piece about Madeleine Sacker, an independent filmmaker, who has created a documentary called “The Lottery”. It’s about the thousands of Harlem kids and their parents who show up for a lottery to try and secure the few slots open at Harlem Success Academy. Surprise! The teacher’s union paid Acorn $500,000 to pretend to be parental protesters. Score: YES


· Abandon tort reform: Of course. Don’t be silly. Score: YES


· Attempt to make illegals citizens: They are trying to push “comprehensive” immigration reform, but not yet. Score: NO


· Put the government in charge of health care: You know all about that one. Score YES



Somehow I neglected to put tax increases in the Feb ’09 post. It did, however, appear in previous posts. Here’s a list of the tax increases the Democrats have enacted so far.


· $500 billion included in the Health Care bill.


· Double taxation on corporations doing business overseas.


· When the Bush tax cuts expire taxes on upper incomes will increase from 35% to 39.6%. Dividends will be taxed at 39.6% instead of 15%. The capital gains tax will increase from 15% to 20%. The inheritance tax will increase from 0% this year to 55%.



Congress is currently working on a bill to raise taxes by $43 billion on corporations and another bill to tax S-Corps (small businesses taxed as individuals). While the details of this one are as yet unclear, it appears to apply to independent operators like architects, accountants and the service industries. It sounds like it will hit them at about 15%. So much for the talk about helping small business and not taxing the little guy.



Another thing I did not anticipate is Obama’s muddled and wrong-headed foreign policy. He has offended and insulted the US’s allies, especially Israel, Poland and the UK while trying to suck up to the Muslim world. This has only confused our allies and emboldened our enemies. The combination of an isolated Israel and an aggressive Iran and Syria only make the likelihood of war in the Middle East more certain than not. He’s pushing Israel into a corner. Watch the price of oil when that one tees up.



As a new prediction (at least to blog readers) I feel the sum of Obama’s economic policies insure a double dip and protracted recession. You cannot crowd out capital with an annual deficit of $1.5 trillion dollars, raise taxes on individuals and corporations, driving jobs and businesses offshore, raise the price of energy with cap and trade taxes and expect a growing economy. They’ve got a lot of Harvard folks in the Administration, but they will need to get glass eyes installed in their navels if they expect to see where they are going.

1 Comment

Filed under Politics, Predictions

Done Deal

So, the Democrats, after 14 months of contentious internal wrangling, finally managed to pass their mammoth overhaul of the US health care system. Since the Republicans in the prohibitive minority, could never do anything to stop it, the problem always was to convince enough Democrats to vote for this socialist wet dream.

Making laws has often been compared to making sausage… a messy business. But, the ugly process of cramming this unpopular law through congress makes the production of links and patties positively clean and efficient by comparison.Sleazy’ is a word that comes immediately to mind.Arrogant’ is another.

To get it through the Senate where Democrats held a veto proof majority before the historic election of Republican Scott Brown to occupy the “Kennedy Seat”, special deals were struck with Senators to secure their votes. Mary Landrieu of LA sold her vote for the $300 million “Louisiana Purchase”, and Ben Nelson sold out for the “Cornhusker Kickback” for a similar amount. Much less discussed were: “carve outs” for Mutual of Omaha and other insurers in Nebraska; $100 million for Chris Dodd (a hospital in CT) and Tom Harkin got a hospital in Iowa. Democrats in Florida, North Dakota, Montana, Vermont and Michigan all got exemptions for their states from the substantial cuts to Medicare Advantage, a popular program with seniors.

Perhaps the most predictable of the breaks was that for the UAW. They got an exemption from the new tax on “Cadillac” health insurance plans. And why not? In the 2006 and 2008 election cycles the UAW gave $1.5 billion of their members dues to Democrat candidates. After giving them 50% of GM, the Democrats continue to pay them back.

To force the Senate bill through the House, Nancy Pelosi and the White House had to pull out all the stops. We don’t know all the strong-arm tactics employed to convince wavering Democrats to vote for the Senate bill that many members admitted they hated. Their constituents were telling them in no uncertain terms that a “yes” vote would insure their defeat this fall. Kim Strassel (WSJ, 3/19) wrote about the plight of Jason Altmire of PA. His story may be similar to other reluctant Dems. She likened his situation to a man being forced to walk the plank with his choice being facing the cutlasses of angry pirates behind him or sharks circling below. The sharks, of course, were the voters and the pirates organizations like MoveOn.org and SEIU who were already running negative ads against him in his district and promising to sabotage his election campaign in the fall by withholding money and running primary challengers against him. On the other hand, a “yes” vote pretty much assured he’d get his ass handed to him in the fall and have to go find a real job.

Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), a no vote last time, got a nice ride on Air Force One, some face time with Obama, and Denny’s wife got a job working for Michelle. Jim Matheson was convinced to vote yes when his brother suddenly got appointed to a lifetime position as a Federal judge.

Surely the most cynical of the purchased “yeses” were that of Reps. Cardoza and Costa of CA. Their districts have been devastated by the decision to shut off the water to the San Joaquin Valley to protect the two inch Delta Smelt. Environmental groups had sued and a Federal judge decreed that the endangered minnow required shutting off irrigation to 1,000,000 acres of farm land, throwing 40,000 farmers and their workers into bankruptcy or onto the streets. Turning the “bread basket of America” into a dust bowl and ruining the economy of the region was not enough to sway the Obama Administration from their love of the Delta smelt. But, getting two more votes for ObamaCare? Screw the minnow! The water has been turned on.

To get the health care bill passed into law the Democrat controlled House had to pass the Senate version without changes. With any changes it would have to go back to the Senate where the election of Scott Brown had eliminated the veto proof majority. But, many Dem House members hated a number of provisions in the Senate bill, particularly language that provided for public funding of abortions. Bart Stupak (D, MI) led a group of Democrats strongly opposed this provision and threatened to provide enough votes to defeat the bill. After serious arm twisting failed to sway him, President Obama stepped in and offered Bart political cover by promising an Executive Order prohibiting public dollars for abortion. While everyone agreed that it was “not worth the paper it’s printed on”, Stupak and his small group figured it a sufficient fig leaf to vote yes for the bill.

The House decided to use “reconciliation”, a parliamentary gimmick that would require only 51 votes in the Senate, to “fix” the objectionable bits of the original Senate bill.

At the same time the Congressional Budget Office released the analysis of the bill’s impact based on a bogus collection of assumptions, double counting, Medicare cuts and tax increases. The CBO came back with the wildly implausible projection that the deficit would be slightly reduced by the bill. This flimsy piece of political cover, coupled with the Stupak cave produced sufficient Democrats to pass the bill with zero Republican votes.

Done Deal!! Pop the corks on the champagne, let the party begin! Obama gloated and continued his speechifying touting the bill even after he signed it. As the Congress packed their bags and their hangovers to head home and face their constituents, the details of what’s in this 2600 page monster started to get analyzed and its impacts calculated. Dozens of major corporations now estimate that the bill will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars. (AT&T says it will be a cool $1 billion). This is only the beginning of the reality check. Those disparaged prognosticators who pegged the cost of the bill at close to $2.5 trillion will certainly be vindicated. There is no doubt that this take over of the health care system will be a killer of jobs and a massive increase to the deficit at a time when the US economy can afford neither.

As I have said before, this legislation has never been about improving health care or containing costs. On 3/20 the WSJ reprinted a 1996 piece by the late Milton Friedman. In it, the brilliant economist explains that the rapid rise in the cost of medical care has been the result of policies that separate the receiver of care from the entity that pays for it. Most people receive medical insurance from their employer (either management or union) or from Medicare and Medicaid. Since someone else is paying, there is little incentive for the users to concern themselves with cost and that encourages the overuse of services. With users unconcerned about cost, providers face no competitive pressures to reduce them. And, since the employer provided insurance is tax deductible to the company and tax free to the employee, this distortion of the market has grown over the years.

Medical Savings Accounts were created to let market forces do their magic in a small segment of the health care universe. People could set aside some tax-free savings in a HSAs to pay for routine medical expenses and purchase high deductible insurance in case of something really serious. When spending their own money, people become much more judicious. ObamaCare will eliminate this common sense approach using the gentle persuasion of the IRS.

The unchecked predations of the trial lawyers who attack health care providers for crimes real or imagined has also added greatly the rapid inflation in health care costs. This not only drives up costs directly but also results in a tremendous amount of “defensive medicine” where doctors and hospitals add tests and procedures in anticipation of lawsuits.

ObamaCare does nothing to address these factors that increase costs. In fact, it makes them worse. Provisions in the bill actually make it easier for tort lawyers to sue doctors and hospitals. Pushing more people into Medicaid will not reduce costs and it certainly won’t improve quality. Besides, debt heavy states can ill afford to have these costs fobbed off on them.

So it’s a done deal…. Against the wishes of a vast majority of the American public. The new taxes start immediately but the “benefits” won’t show up until 2014. In the meantime, we will get to find out what it really means and hire the 16,000 new IRS agents to track down and jail the scofflaws who refuse to buy health insurance. (String them up!) It is difficult not to believe that the whole purpose here is to drive private insurance and health care delivery out of business. Perhaps the Left believes that health care nirvana arrives when the US has a government run system like Canada or Great Britain. I can assure you after living in Canada for the last 15 years, that Americans are going to hate it.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Health Care, Politics

The Depends Bomber

“The US does not have an (air) security system; it has system for bothering people.” Shlomo Dror, Israeli Air Security Expert, 2002.

The Obama Administration dodged anther bullet on Christmas day when a Nigerian Muslim by the name of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (hereafter referred to as UFA for obvious reasons) attempted to set off 80 grams of PETN hidden in his Depends-like briefs while aboard NW flight 253 as it approached Detroit. You may have seen the video of what 50 grams of PETN can do to a jet liner. 80 grams would surely have done the job, killing all 300 aboard and an unknown number of unsuspecting innocents on the ground. Had UFA’s detonator worked, the public reaction to the resulting catastrophe would be furious rather than the “ho hum, another failed terrorist plot”.

The President, not wanting to disrupt his vacation in Hawaii, took three days to comment on the incident. In his statement he used the word “alleged” numerous times.

Alleged?

Alert passengers subdued this turkey with his genitals on fire and his diaper loaded with high explosives! Obama’s statement plus the fact that UFA was arrested and given a lawyer rather than turned over to the military for questioning certified yet again this Administration’s return to the pre-9/11 mentality of treating terrorism as a legal matter. We know how well that worked out during the Clinton years.

With the lawyer’s sage advice, UFA immediately clammed up and that eliminated any possibility of obtaining any useful information from the guy. Had the CIA been given a crack at him and allowed to water board, we might have learned some useful information about his network in Yemen. Not to worry said spokesman John Brennan on the Sunday talk shows, they might offer UFA a plea bargain to obtain info. Al Qaeda is laughing their asses off. Plea him down to what? Smoking on an aircraft?

DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano issued a statement saying, “…the system worked,” thus sliding just under the wire for the Stupidest Statement of 2009 Award. This is no small achievement given her other statements in ’09, such as her pronouncement that “terrorism” would now be called “man caused disasters”. She also opined that veterans, gun rights advocates and various right-wingers were serious threats to national security. Among many notable challengers on the Obama Team, ol’ Janet may be the most uniquely unqualified of the lot.

The monumental absurdity of Napolitano’s statement became glaringly obvious when it was revealed that not only had his own father reported to the State Department that his son was a threat but also, that the British had warned the US about this guy over a year ago. He had purchased a one-way ticket with cash and traveled with no luggage. The Brits had denied him a visa and yet he had a valid one from the US. This nut job was waving more red flags than a North Korean May Day parade. The only way he could have been more obvious would be to wear a tee shirt with the word “Terrorist” on the front and an arrow pointing to his crotch with the words “bomb here” next to it.

The system worked? Nothing worked… most importantly the detonator. A week after the incident Obama, after meeting with his “security advisors”, announced that, yes, “mistakes were made”. That’s my all time favorite Washington cliché. It covers crimes big and small. He informed us that from now on they would be looking more carefully at people flying in from certain Middle Eastern countries.

That’s a start but still avoids the major and blindingly obvious issue: 100% of the terrorists are Islamic fanatics, young men and primarily Arabs. Obama’s new policy would not have stopped UFA since he boarded the plane in Amsterdam. And, what about flights originating at US airports? The BHO administration, and Bush’s before him, refuse to do the one thing that would make us safer….PROFILE. Giving young Muslim men the identical scrutiny as white haired grandmothers from Omaha can only be described as idiotic.

This political correct mania and reluctance to offend any Muslims is what got 13 soldiers and one unborn child killed at Ft. Hood recently. And, it’s behind the decision to try KSM and his 9-11 terrorist cohorts in NYC instead of using military tribunals.

I can’t understand why Obama thinks it perfectly fine to vaporize suspected terrorists in Pakistan with missiles from Predator drones, but if we happen to catch one, we give him US Constitutional rights and a free lawyer. God help any SEALs or spec ops guys who might give the terrorist a fat lip in the process of capturing him. And profiling? Furgetaboutit.

Meanwhile, the TSA and FAA are dreaming up more ways to make air travel even more inconvenient and intrusive. Not only will we be just taking off our shoes and having our toothpaste and shampoo confiscated, carry-ons are now forbidden and no standing up or potty breaks on the last hour of the flight. What’s that supposed to do? Next up: full body scanners. They’ll see what Granny has in her knickers but still won’t give any special attention to the young man from Saudi Arabia with the sweat running down his forehead. Maybe everyone should simply refuse to fly until some common sense gets injected into the issue? I wonder how long it would take?

2 Comments

Filed under Obama, Politics, Terrorism

The New Deniers

Skeptics of man made global warming have been called “deniers”, a name purposely chosen to tie them to “holocaust deniers”. In other words, nut cases refusing to recognize the obvious. Skeptics like me were held in contempt and shouted down by the true believers. Most skeptics kept their doubts about the doomsday predictions to themselves.

One would have thought that after the publication of over 3000 emails and reams of data either hacked or released by a whistle blower on November 17th from the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia, that things would change. I naively expected that the scandal dubbed “ClimateGate” would anger journalists and editors and they would now aggressively investigate and report on what appears to be a massive fraud. HA! Silly me.

“The Vancouver Sun” reluctantly ran a brief report on “ClimateGate” a week or so after the story broke on the internet and then pretended it did not matter, running one global warming scare piece after another on the buildup to the climate conference in Copenhagen. Today they ran four pieces lamenting the failure of the UN conference to impose massive restrictions and taxes on Canada and the developed world.

The ClimateGate emails revealed that the dons at CRU had fudged and cherry picked the data, conspired to “peer review” each other’s work, frustrated FOI requests for other researchers to see their data and methods and pressured scientific journals to exclude articles critical of their positions. Now they claim they have “lost” the original data on which they based their research! They also wrote each other lamenting the inability of their theories to account for recent cooling. Pretty damning stuff and those defending the emails as simply ‘banter between scientists’ sounded more than a little lame.

Honest and diligent reporters should have smelled out this story years ago. Canadians Steve McIntyre and Dr. Ross McKitrick have been working on it for years and have written papers discrediting Dr. Michael Mann’s famous “hockey stick” graph widely used by alarmists. The graph showed a dramatic rise in temperatures in the last century and eliminated the Medieval Warming Period of 800 years ago. M and M, as the CRU scientists called them, discredited the hockey stick proxy data showing that they had cherry picked the data. (Recently Russia revealed the CRU had also selectively utilized the weather station data provided to them by Russia. CRU researchers only used 25% of the data, selecting the warmest locations.) McIntyre also made NASA back off from their contention that 1998 was the warmest year on record. It was actually 1934. NASA admitted their error. Did you read about any of this in your local newspaper or see it on TV? No, of course not. Should they take Al Gore’s Nobel Prize away and give it to McIntyre and McKitrick? Certainly.

You would think that when new evidence is presented a rational person would reevaluate their position. That does not seem to be the case with global warming (oops. Climate Change). And, with record breaking cold and massive snow dumps in Europe and North America even before winter’s official start (yesterday) one would expect some concern. Hey, it actually snowed in Houston and collected on the beaches in the south of France. Hello. Oh, I forgot, that’s climate change formerly known as global warming. Right.

There seem to be two camps that have a vested interest in perpetuating the global warming alarmism: The scientists who receive massive amounts of money from various governments to conduct their research. If scientists scream the world is coming to an end government opens the purse to fund the research. CRU received $20 million from the Brits. The US has doled out far more. This camp also includes those who invest in industries poised to gain from government funded alternative energy projects and those who can get in on the carbon trading schemes.

The other camp includes socialists who believe the solution to all the ills of society can be rectified by a world government. Craig McInnes wrote a piece in today’s Sun (After Copenhagen: Political Climate Change Begins at Home). He summed it up for us with this quote: “What Copenhagen demonstrates again is that we don’t have a system of international governance that allows a global interest to override national interests…” Just what Canadians need, the UN telling us how many cow (or moose) farts are allowed, how we can heat or light our homes or whether we can barbecue a steak. If you think about the UN Food for Oil scandal or the ongoing slaughter in Darfur you can probably guess how well global governance might work out.

What about the editors and journalists, you might ask? I suppose some are just lazy or hired to be the “environmental reporter” inclined to lean left and green. They have tended to just parrot news releases and propaganda put out by environmental groups without doing any serious checking of the facts. Hey, scary stuff sells papers. Don’t rock the boat.

If you really want to get information on global warming you have only to go to the internet. (Journalist take note.) You can start by viewing a special report by Fox News called “Global Warming, Or a Lot of Hot Air”. It ran last Sunday but it’s now posted on YouTube (part 1 of many–look for other links). If I could find it, you can. Next I would suggest Steve McIntyre’s site, Climate Audit and then Climate Depot. If you still believe in global warming after a little honest research God love ya. You’re a New Denier.

1 Comment

Filed under Global Warming, Politics

Mixed Grill

Just a few thoughts on recent items in the news of late.

Major Hasan’s potential for mass murder was ignored by the Army prior to his attack at Ft. Hood, despite glaringly obvious clues. His many radical public statements and comments to associates (duly reported), his attendance at a radical mosque frequented by the 9/11 perpetrators and attempts to contact Al Qaeda should have rung some serious alarm bells. Nobody did a thing. The only explanation seems to be political correctness. At all costs we must not offend any Muslims.

This tendency continued even as the bodies were being hauled away. Commentators in the MSM carefully avoided the obvious and refused to call the slaughter an act of Islamic Terror even in the face of the facts and that Major Hasan had shouted “Allahu Akbar” as he fired over 100 rounds into the unarmed troops. The contortions were almost funny as the talking heads explained that Hasan had “snapped” and perhaps suffered from “pre-traumatic stress disorder”. Since Hasan had never been in battle (or near it) he presumably contracted this new syndrome from anticipating his deployment or from talking to troops who had seen action. Absurd.

The degree to which the MSM will go to avoid calling a spade a spade was humorously on display last night when Bill O’Reilly interviewed Sally Quinn, veteran reporter of the “Washington Post”. You should watch the interview. He had to practically pin Ms. Quinn to the wall and throttle her to get her to say the words “Muslim terrorist”.

President Obama did not look very good in his handling of this tragedy either. Attending a conference with American Indians he stepped to the microphone to speak to the nation about the attack. Before getting to the Ft. Hood incident he spent several minutes discussing the conference and giving “shout outs” to several attendees. Almost as an after thought he brought up the Ft. Hood shootings. Then he choppered off to Camp David for a relaxing weekend. Meanwhile, with cameras and publicity prohibited, George and Laura Bush quietly drove to Ft. Hood and met with the victim’s families. This is what a Commander-in-Chief does instead of slipping off for a weekend of R & R.

================

In case you missed it, the House rammed through a 1990 page health care reform bill with two votes to spare, including one lone Republican. 39 Democrats voted against it. The Dems spent a lot of time figuring out who would be permitted to vote NO and still get the thing to pass. Surely the Democrats in the safest districts (those likely to be re-elected even if caught on video snorting crack while sodomizing a sheep) voted YES with little fear. Those in districts carried by McCain or considered conservative were given a pass. This measure is highly unpopular and will prove more so as the taxes, penalties and coercion kick in. The cynical Democrat calculus is that short- term losses are acceptable, and if they can once get this implemented, will ensure a left of center government forever.

They are nervous though. The public gets ever more angry as the unemployment rate keeps climbing (10.2%) and the debt piles up. The health care bill costs over one trillion dollars even with the increased taxes, and forcing the unwilling to purchase health insurance or face penalties, or even imprisonment. It has people more than a little concerned. Now it’s up to the Senate. They have not even released the bill yet and if Harry Reid is to be believed, it will mirror the House bill. The question remains: if the Democrats don’t have the 60 votes, will they pass the thing by “reconciliation”, the parliamentary procedure requiring only 51 votes? While it’s a highly questionable maneuver, Reid may do it as a parting gift to the liberals as it seems likely the good people of Nevada may toss him out next November.

************************

As the health care train trundles down the tracks, those busy Democrats in the Senate are quietly preparing the Kerry/ Boxer version of a cap and trade bill. You might remember that the House has already passed its version. Cap and trade is a huge tax on an already strained economy that is struggling to rise out of a serious recession.

Why the Democrats figure hanging these two anchors around the necks of the taxpayers at this time is a good idea befuddles me. I guess just as the health care bill is not about improving health care or making it more affordable, the cap and trade bill is not about reducing carbon emissions. Both of these boondoggles are about power and control. And, if anyone thinks the government can effectively run health care or the energy industry, you have not communicated with the Social Security Administration or the IRS lately. Social security and Medicare are headed for bankruptcy and Amtrak and the Post Office on life support. If you think these new initiatives are a great idea, you need a reality check.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Cap and Trade, Health Care, Obama, Politics, Terrorism

Fox Hunt

A couple of times in recent years my liberal friends have offered without any prompting from me, a disparaging comment about Fox News. In both cases I responded, “How would you know? You’ve never watched it.” That ended the debate because, of course, they never had tuned into Fox News.

In the past week the White House and George Soros funded Media Matters all came out attacking Fox News, the latter with a “Fight Fox Campaign”. White House advisor and former campaign manager for President Obama, David Axelrod, appeared on one of the Sunday talk shows and opined that Fox was not actually a news organization. Rahm Emanual, White House Chief of Staff appeared the same day on another show and uttered essentially the same exact words. Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director said the same exact thing. Gee, what a coincidence. The previous Sunday Obama appeared on all five morning talk shows…. Except Fox.

What the Hell is going on here? Actually it’s quite simple. Fox is the only network reporting on some of the radical people Obama has chosen to be part of his collection of “Czars”, positions within the White House reporting only to BHO, unconfirmed by Congress and accountable to no one. They have also reported on the unlawful activities of ACORN, the community organizer and receiver of government funds and SEIU, the radical union that heavily supported BHO’s election.

None of the other news organizations bothered to report any of this stuff. In fact, readers of the NYT and viewers of the major networks were confused when Van Jones, the “Green Jobs Czar” was forced to resign because of videos of Jones admitting he was a communist and other racist and absurd comments. They were confused because the major outlets had completely ignored the controversy and had failed to report that the guy was on his way out!

Messrs. Axelrod and Emanual both observed that Fox has a “point of view” ie. They are conservative and therefore should not be taken seriously. What a joke. Like MSNBC, CNN and the NYT do not have a distinctly liberal point of view? ABC, NBC and CBS are similiarly left wing and all were cheerleaders for Obama during the election and haters of GW Bush during his Presidency. They failed in their job of vetting this man during the election and since Obama took office the MSM have been fawning over him like a love struck teenager. None of the late night comedians do any jokes about Obama and when SNL did a mildly critical skit about Obama it caused the Left to go crazy. CNN even did a “fact check” on the skit.
Only Fox and talk radio have been questioning what he’s doing and looking into the CVs of the radicals he’s appointed to be his “Czars”. BHO has appointed 30 of these folks at recent count. Here’s a sample of some of the people closest to Obama and the positions of power and influence that they hold:

Valerie Jarrett: Senior Advisor and closest confident to BHO. Former advisor to Mayor Daley in Chicago. She has ties to communist Frank M. Davis and has been linked to left wing radical causes.

Van Jones: Former “Green Jobs Czar”. Embraced communism when in prison. Professional radical. Resigned.

Ron Bloom: “Manufacturing Czar”. Former union executive, has made anti-capitalist statements and said Mao Tse Tung is a political guide.

Anita Dunn: White House Communications Director. Also said Fox “… is not a news organization”. Quoted as saying Mao is “one of the two political philosophers she turns to…” (Mao, you might remember, was the dictator of China responsible for the death of 70 million Chinese.)

Carol Browner: “White House Director of Energy and Climate Change Policy”. One of 14 leaders of Socialist Internationals “Committee for a Sustainable World Society” calling for One World Government.

Cass Sunstein: Head of “Office of Administration and Regulatory Affairs”. Argues for bringing socialism to the US and lends support for communism.

Kevin Jennings: “Safe Schools Czar”. Homosexual who has worked to teach gay topics in schools including elementary schools. Ties to NAMBLA (you can look that up).

Mark Lloyd: “Diversity Czar for the FCC”. Praises Hugo Chavez for his stifling of the press during Venezuela’s “great” revolution. Big fan of Saul Alinsky and government control of all media.

And this is just a partial list.

In one of my blogs right after Obama was elected, I said he would surround himself with radical leftists from the fringes of society. Even I had no idea he would be brazen enough to recruit a bunch of left wing kooks this far out of the mainstream.

It seems pretty clear that this attack on Fox News is an attempt to intimidate the rest of the media into continuing to keep silent and not question what the Czars are up to. With Obama’s approval ratings falling rapidly (51% as of 10/28/09) they want to keep the news of their radical agenda under wraps long enough to ram through socialist policies unpopular with the electorate. And, of course, with his Czars he can use regulations and mandates, avoiding the messy business of passing laws.

This guy is even more dangerous than I thought.

1 Comment

Filed under Czars, Fox News, Obama, Politics