Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas 1776

As we are enjoying our Christmas festivities this year, let us remember another Christmas day over two hundred years ago that may well have altered the course of American history.

1776 had been a very discouraging year militarily for the Americans. The Continental Army had suffered several defeats in New York and had retreated to Pennsylvania. Morale was low; soldiers were deserting. Soldiers lacked adequate clothes and sometimes even shoes. Public spirits were very low.

General Washington knew that he needed some sort of a success soon in order to keep the whole revolutionary effort from collapsing. He devised a plan to attack the enemy garrison at Trenton, New Jersey, which consisted of about 2000 Hessian soldiers. There is speculation that this particular target and time were selected because Hessians are German; they were mercenaries (hired soldiers). Christmas is a big deal in Germany, and it was felt that the Hessians would no doubt have a lavish dinner on the evening of Christmas Day with much beer and dancing. Early the next morning would be a good time to challenge them.

On Christmas Eve, Washington called together his Lieutenants and outlined the plan. The army was to attack across the Delaware River in three places. One force, a smaller one, would cross downriver of Trenton and advance north. A second, even smaller force would attack directly across the river at Trenton and hold a strategic bridge over a creek that could be used by the enemy as a retreat route.

Washington would lead the largest force, 2400 men, which would cross the river nine miles upstream and then head south to Trenton.

Everything depended upon the crossing of the river by these three forces. This was to occur on Christmas night and be finished by midnight. They would arrive at Trenton at five o’clock the next morning and the attack would occur at 6:00 a.m., an hour before daybreak.

On Christmas Day, the weather started deteriorating. The river was high and contained much ice. As the day progressed, the weather got worse. It turned into a full-fledged storm. It rained, hailed, snowed, and froze.

The river crossing was extremely treacherous, at night in a storm. Horses and artillery as well as soldiers had to be loaded onto the boats and taken across. The two smaller forces, unbeknownst to Washington, could not cross at all due to the ice. Washington’s force got across by 3:00 a.m., three hours late. A Sergeant informed General Washington that the soldiers’ powder was wet and they could not fire their muskets. Washington replied that they were to use their bayonets.

The attack began just after eight o’clock in the morning on Dec.26. It all happened very fast, in snow. After forty-five minutes, it was over. Twenty-one Hessians were killed (including their commander), ninety wounded, and nine hundred taken prisoner. About five hundred escaped over the very bridge that was supposed to have been blocked by one of the smaller Continental Army forces but wasn’t because that force couldn’t get across the river. Incredibly enough, no Americans were killed in the battle and only four were wounded, although two froze to death the night before in the march.

Although the strategic fruits of the battle were minimal, the psychological effects were phenomenal.The Americans had beaten a force of the British regulars. Prisoners had been taken; the Americans had captured canons and other materiel. The course of the war had been changed.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Commission Designed To Fail

The budget deficit and debt debate has been so debilitating to Congress that they gave up on trying to reach an agreement and instead appointed the so-called “super committee” to do it. This committee, consisting of six Democrats and six Republicans, was chartered to formulate a plan for reducing the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next ten years. The committee would report back to Congress with its plan, and Congress would vote on it. If no plan was presented or if Congress voted it down, automatic spending cuts equal to the $1.2 trillion would kick in.

In government, when you want to make sure nothing happens, you appoint a committee.

There are 535 members of Congress (100 U.S. Senators and 435 Representatives). They argued about the debt and deficit for months, and couldn’t agree. What reason was there to think that this super-committee of twelve would be able to work magic and come up with a plan when Congress had been so utterly unable to do so for so long? And even if the committee did somehow develop a debt plan, what reason was there to think Congress would approve it after Congress had been deadlocked for so long?

The answer is that this committee was designed to fail. The people appointed to it were the most ideological from both sides. There was no chance they were going to come together after all of the political wrangling and suddenly have a love fest. It was just a way of letting Congress kick the can down the road a little longer and avoid having to make tough choices.

So the committee has failed, as planned, and the automatic spending cuts will be enacted.

In a paragon of political double-speak, Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) said, “It wasn’t so much a failure as a failure to seize an opportunity.” If you want to know what’s wrong in Washington, just mull that statement over for awhile. Here we have a committee that was given the expressed mandate to formulate a plan to reduce the budget deficit by $1.2 trillion, yet when the committee functionally collapses with no plan, it’s not a failure, it’s a missed opportunity.

Mr. Hensarling, instead of lamenting this missed opportunity, why don’t you take the lead in getting Congress to fix the problem? Congress has unlimited opportunities to fix the deficit. Congress could have done it instead of appointing a committee. Congress could go into session tomorrow, or the next day, or next week, or next month, and do what needs to be done.

Well, now because this committee has failed, oops, I mean missed an opportunity, we’ll be afflicted with those “draconian” (if I hear that word one more time, I’m going to throw up) automatic across-the-board budget cuts.


Congress, demonstrating yet again that it isn’t serious about any of this, put in place the provision that the cuts won’t happen until 2013, over a year from now.

Once again, we see that the committee was a farce. It didn’t have those “draconian” (excuse me for a moment – OK, I‘m back now) cuts hanging over it ready to immediately fall like a guillotine if the committee failed to reach agreement. The cuts won’t happen until over a year from now!

Hmmm - 2013. There’s something about that date. 2013, 2013 – what is it? Oh, yes, we have an election in November 2012. They put the cuts off until after the next election!

So what do you think will happen in the first Session of Congress in 2013? They’ll undo the cuts, of course. The cuts will never happen, and that was the way it was planned.

You can’t make this stuff up.

$1.2 trillion sounds like a lot of money, but in the world of Washington, it isn’t.

The total federal deficit recently reached $15 trillion. So even if the deficit were reduced by $1.2 trillion, it would be a rather modest 8% reduction. And that’s over ten years, so it comes out to only 0.8% per year. Yes, all of this caterwauling in D.C. is because they can’t find a way to reduce the budget deficit by somewhat less than 1% a year.

Or look at it this way. The total federal budget for 2011 is $3.8 trillion. The $1.2 trillion of cuts over ten years represents a cut of $0.12 trillion per year, or a little more than 3% per year.

In a time of financial distress, Congress can’t manage to reduce the federal budget by 3% a year or reduce the deficit by 0.8% a year. How much do we pay these people?

It gets better. Another factoid that no one is talking about right now is that even if the $1.2 trillion of cuts do happen, nothing is actually going to be cut. That’s right, even under that “draconian” (there I go again) scenario, nothing will be cut, because in Washington, an increase is a cut. The “cuts” that are the target of all of these political machinations represent a reduction in the budget increase. That’s the notorious base-line budgeting process whereby every year the federal budget automatically increases across the board by some percentage, and then any reductions to those increases are demagogued as “draconian” (I can’t help it) cuts. But the spending goes up in absolute terms everywhere. So an increase is a cut in Washington; even if those $1.2 trillion in “cuts” happen, spending will still go up. Nothing will be cut!

Here’s what’s really going on. There is a fundamental ideological war going on in this country. There are two competing visions for the future of America. Liberals want to continue on the path to a European-style socialist democracy with lots more government spending, much higher taxes and more government borrowing, a much smaller military, complete government-run healthcare, more government spending on “green” energy, more entitlements (the latest proposal being government-paid-for baby diapers), more government jobs programs, more environmental regulations, and so on. Conservatives what to roll back the welfare state, cut government spending, reduce taxes, reduce regulations that inhibit the economy, keep a strong national defense, promote traditional American values and patriotism, foster individual responsibility and self-reliance, let the private economy create jobs, and not have the government do anything for people that the people could and should do for themselves.

This battle for the future of the country vis-à-vis big government vs. small government has been going on for decades, but it has intensified during the last three years. Since then, Democrats and Republicans in Congress have been fighting vigorously over everything, but especially over the issues of government spending, entitlements, the federal budget, and the deficit, as we have all witnessed.

The resolution to this fundamental conflict will not come until November 2012. Until then, expect more of the same.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Obama's Occupiers

On October 18, speaking of the Occupiers, President Obama said on ABC news, “We are on their side.” And the President told Occupy demonstrators in New Hampshire, “You are the reason I ran for office.”

Here are some recent news headlines and quotes concerning the Occupiers:
“Wall Street Protesters Evicted From Camp”
“Police roust protesters from New York square”
“It took 150 Sanitation Department workers hours to clear the mess, finding everything from hypodermic needles to buckets of human waste”
“L.A. Police Disperse Protesters’ Camp”
“Death brings more pressure to close camps”
“Occupy Atlanta organizers said Sunday that they plan to again try to camp at a city park, setting up yet another overnight showdown with police a night after 19 people were arrested -----.”
“Anti-Wall Street protesters dig in against police”
“Occupy Wall Street Gets More Violent”
“Kitchen Volunteer’s Sex Arrest Shocks Zucotti Park”
“Police clear protesters near Oakland’s City Hall” “They cited concerns about rats, fire hazards, public urination, and acts of violence at the site.”
“A woman involved in the Occupy Philadelphia protests was raped in a tent by another protester”
”Salt lake City police Chief Chris Burbank said officers have made 91 arrests at the camp -----.”
“These incidents follow violence last month in Oakland, California, in which protestors shut down a busy port, took over abandoned buildings, set fires, burned American flags, defaced private property, and destroyed ATM’s.”

These are apparently Obama’s kind of people.

Who, besides Obama, sympathizes with the Occupiers? The Socialist Party USA, the Democrat Socialists of America, the Communist Party, the chair of the Democratic National Committee, House Democrat Minority Leader Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and one of the main committees of the Democrat Party (the Democrat Congressional Campaign Committee) have all either endorsed the Occupiers outright or expressed support for them.

I have some questions for you. How many tea party rallies did the police clear out? How many tea partiers were arrested? How many people were raped, shot, or assaulted at a tea party really? How many tea partiers shouted insults at police, or at anybody? How many American flags were burned at a tea party rally? How many buckets of human waste did the tea partiers leave behind? Did you ever hear tea partiers saying such things as “take back”, “reinforcements”, “tactics”, “demands”, and other such aggressive talk as has come from the Occupiers? No, tea partiers would have a remarkably well behaved rally and then go home (leaving the area cleaner than when they arrived). They might also call or write a letter to their Congressman.

What do the Occupiers want, other than sex, drugs, and a rent-free place to live? It’s hard to tell, since when some of them were asked, they gave incoherent answers. When they have been able to speak clearly about their issues, they have said that they want an end to all home foreclosures and millions of new living-wage jobs.

Lets look at the demand for an end to all foreclosures, and do a little thought experiment. Suppose that actually happened. What would immediately occur next, as a result? Everybody would stop paying their mortgage, of course, which would lead to a new economic catastrophe that would make the one we just came through look puny by comparison. So, ending all home foreclosures is a nonsensical idea.

What about the Occupiers’ demand for millions of new, living-wage jobs? This is a laudable goal, but where could those millions of new jobs possibly come from? In order for these new jobs to be sustainable, on-going jobs rather than just temporary make-work jobs, they could only come from a re-invigorated private sector, the very thing that the Occupiers decry! More silliness.

These Occupiers fall into the category of “useful idiots”. They are useful to the Democrats now because they direct the public’s attention away from Obama’s terrible record as President. And since the Occupiers have become experienced in street violence and anarchy, they could also be very useful to Obama and the Democrats after the next Presidential election in the event Obama looses.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Democrats Are Killing Jobs

When President Obama proposed “son of stimulus”, any remaining doubt about his intentions was removed. He doesn’t care about jobs; his overriding concern is to massively increase government spending and raise taxes to pay for it. One member of Obama’s staff famously said a crisis should never go to waste. That’s what this is all about - Obama using the economic situation as an opportunity to further his agenda. He doesn’t want to solve the problem; he wants to exploit it. He and his enablers are statists who want most of all to increase government control of every aspect of our lives. To them, only the elite ruling class is competent enough to know what’s good for the masses.

If Obama wants jobs, why does he prevent more off-shore drilling and the thousands of high paying jobs that would go with it? Why does he want to bankrupt the coal industry (as he was caught on tape saying)? Why has he delayed the Keystone pipeline project that would create more thousands of jobs? Why is he letting the EPA put forth even stricter standards that will cause AEP to have to close six power plants (including Glen Lyn). Why is he pushing cap-and-trade that will send thousands of jobs overseas? Why is his administration going after Gibson Guitar? Why did he let his NLRB sue Boeing to keep them from building a new factory in South Carolina? Why is he continually talking about higher taxes? Why is Obama doing so much to kill jobs if he wants jobs?

The facts show that the first stimulus was an abject failure. Unemployment is stuck at 9%, and the real unemployment rate that covers the underemployed and those who have given up is estimated to be at 16%. The economy is still on life support and the housing market is not recovering at all. These are the results that Obama and crew have achieved with all of their massive government spending.

What is their response to the failure of the first stimulus and all the other government spending? Spend more!

The government has no money of its own. It only has money that it takes from us as taxes, or it can borrow.

How can the government stimulate the economy by taking money from one citizen (as taxes) and giving it to another citizen? There is no net gain in that.

Or even worse, as is now happening, how can the government stimulate the economy by spending borrowed money. The national debt is now close to $14 trillion, which will all have to be paid back with interest. This will be a burden to the federal budget and the economy for generations. You can’t continually borrow your way to prosperity.

The Republicans tried to provide some adult supervision in the recent debt ceiling issue, but the Democrats fought it tooth and toenail. The Democrats don’t care about trillions of debt and all of the bad effects of that; they demand more of it.

If you want to look back at the Great Depression, it is actually very instructive. President Roosevelt and all of his massive government spending and government make-work jobs did not solve the unemployment problem. What got us out of the Great Depression was World War II and the real jobs in the private sector that came from that.

If Obama wants to create jobs, he needs to learn how to do it.

Steve Jobs literally started Apple Computer in his garage, with his high school buddy. After some initial success with his fledgling company, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded by the person he himself had recruited to take over as President so that Steve could focus on the technical innovation side of things. He then founded another company, sold it to Apple, returned to Apple again as part of the deal, and the rest is history, as they say. Today, Apple Computer is wildly successful, has revolutionized the way we get and use information, employs 46,000 people, has created thousand of other jobs in suppliers, has made millionaires of hundreds of its employees through stock option grants, and has more cash on hand than the U.S. government!

This all happened without one penny of government stimulus money. There are untold more such examples. That is how you create jobs - provide an environment where companies large and small can flourish, grow, and hire people because they need them. Obama does the exact opposite; he punishes companies and incites class warfare.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Liberals Feel; Conservatives Think

During my decades of observing and commenting on political and social issues, I have slowly come to the conclusion that liberals apparently live in a parallel universe where reality is not defined by past history, logic, reason, hard data, common sense, and factual observations but rather by how one feels. Reality to a liberal is determined by their feelings and their dogma. This is why you can’t have a legitimate debate of the issues with liberals; what they feel must be true even though past history and hard data show the contrary.

Let’s go on a journey through the parallel universe in which liberals live.

Liberals’ parallel universe: The “rich” don’t pay their fair share of taxes.
Real universe of facts: The top 1% of income earners paid 38% of all federal incomes taxes, the top 5% paid 59%, and the top 10% paid 70%, according to IRS data from 2008, the most recent year for which data is available. On the other end of the income scale, 49% of U.S. households paid no federal income tax whatsoever.
Liberal response: The rich have too much money and need to pay more, no matter what IRS statistics one can come up with.

Liberals’ parallel universe: The current federal budget deficit could be fixed if the “rich” paid only a little more in taxes.
Real universe of hard data: If Congress tried to pay off the deficit by raising taxes on small businesses, investors, and individuals making more than $250,000 per year, the top two tax rates would have to be raised to 132% and 142%, i.e., more than the affected people make. If Washington took all of the income of the top 1% , it would yield $938 billion, compared to a $14 trillion national debt.
Liberal response: Well, no matter, the rich need to pay more.

Liberal’s parallel universe: The economy can be jump-started by government spending.
Real universe of historical experience: After TARP, the stimulus, bailouts of Wall Street, bailouts of Detroit, cash-for-clunkers, bailouts of the states, bailouts of teachers, huge government deficit spending, etc. the economy has not recovered, the housing market is still in the tank, and unemployment has not gone down.
Liberal response: The government didn’t spend enough; we need another stimulus.

Liberals’ parallel universe: The temperature of the earth’s atmosphere is rising due to the effects of mankind’s energy usage.
Real universe of actual events: Leaked emails from East Anglia University, one of the major climate research institutions, show that climate research scientists who support man-made global warming fudged the numbers to get the answer they wanted, ignored evidence to the contrary, ostracized and persecuted scientists who disagreed with them, and raked in millions of dollars in research grants in the process.
Real world of common sense: Meteorologists can’t accurately and consistently predict the weather for next week, the Farmer’s Almanac can’t reliably tell us what the weather will be this coming year, but global warming scientists can predict the earth’s temperature fifty years from now to within a hundredth of a degree, with surety.
Liberal response: It doesn’t matter, because man-made global warming just must be true.

Liberals’ parallel universe: Public schools are failing, in general, because they are underfunded.
Real universe of observable, factual results: The Washington, D.C. schools get more money per capita than any school system in the country, but achieve some of the worst results. Catholic schools spend much less than public schools per student and get some of the highest results.
Liberal response: It’s all about the children! Schools need more money!

Liberals’ parallel universe: Unemployment benefits are good for the economy.
Real world of common sense: So why don’t we just all quit our jobs (or get fired) and go on unemployment? The economy would boom.
Liberal response: Umm, umm, well ------.

Liberals’ parallel universe: We live in a racist society. People of color are held back.
Real universe of actual people: Condoleeza Rich, Colin Powell, Clarence Thomas, Barack Obama, Alan West, Marco Rubio, Michael Steele, Herman Cain, E. W. Jackson, the NFL, the NBA, Francis Rice, Thomas Sowell, college faculties, Nikki Haley, Jesse Lee Peterson, etc.
Liberal response: They don’t count.

Liberals’ parallel universe: People should wash their jeans less and do all sorts of other things in order to save water, because if we don’t, the planet will run out.
Real universe of science: The water cycle: Water evaporates from the oceans, goes into the atmosphere as water vapor, condenses and falls back down to Earth as rain or snow or ice, and the cycle repeats itself over and over. The water does not leave the planet. Local shortages can occur, but the planet will not run out of water, barring some cosmic event.
Liberal response: Huh?

Liberals’ parallel universe: Bill Clinton is a respectable person.
Real world of actual people and events: Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and Juanita Broderick all accused Bill Clinton of sexual abuse of the worst sort. Ms. Broderick actually accused Clinton of raping her. Clinton settled with Ms. Jones for $850,000. And then there was Monica.
Liberal response: Well, Clinton supports abortion and other liberal causes, so he must be a good guy. We need more people like him.

Liberals’ parallel universe: Cigarette smoke is so dangerous that smokers must be banished to 25 feet from an office building because just a whiff of second-hand smoke or even coming into contact with third-hand smoke (yes, we’re up to third hand smoke now), such as touching the steering wheel of a car in which someone has smoked a lot, can kill you.
Real world of common sense: Touching the steering wheel of a smoker’s car can kill you?
Liberal response: You want people to die, don’t you?

The list goes on: Barack Obama has been a good President; The “occupy” movement is a peaceful uprising of ordinary citizens; Ted Kennedy was a great human being; “Cash for clunkers” was a worthwhile program; The H1N1 scare warranted a massive government response; Eating red meat is bad for you; CO2 is a pollutant; Passing out condoms to ninth graders is a good idea; Polar bears are dying off; The sub-prime mortgage collapse was caused by greedy banks; etc. ad nauseum. All of these notions are demonstrably false in the real world of rational fact-based thought, but they and many others live on and thrive in the parallel liberal universe of “feelings”.

The next time you try to have a discussion of some issue with a liberal, notice how quickly they resort to name calling and the questioning of your character. That’s because if they debate the issue, whatever it is, using facts, hard data, actual experience, logic, and reason, they lose every time. So they call you names instead and retreat to the safety of their parallel universe where all that matters is how they feel.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Yes we Cain!

Herman Cain is running for the Republican nomination to be their candidate for President in the 2012 election. To say that he’s not your usual Presidential candidate is an understatement. As far as I’m concerned, he’s a breath of fresh air in what can be the stultifying world of political candidates.

Let’s take a quick look at his life. He has truly lived the American dream.

Herman Cain grew up in Atlanta in the 1950’s and 60’s with, as his bio says, “loving parents and little else”. His father worked three jobs and his mother was a domestic worker. Their dream was for their two children to go to college. Herman graduated from Morehouse College in 1967 with a degree in mathematics, and his brother graduated from Morris Brown College. Mission accomplished.

Herman went on to get a Master’s degree in computer science from Purdue University while working full-time for the Department of the Navy (as a civilian employee). After moving back to Atlanta, he took a job as a computer systems analyst for Coca-Cola. His mathematics and computer science degrees made Herman somewhat of a techno-geek of that time. He liked the work, but gravitated toward business management. He moved to Pillsbury and became regional vice-president of the Burger King division. Herman was assigned to a low performing region of 450 restaurants, and within three years it became the best performing segment of the company.

With that success under his belt (no pun intended), Herman accepted the challenge to become President of Godfather’s Pizza, a company that was close to bankruptcy. Herman and his management team returned Godfather’s to profitability; then they bought the company!

All of this led to Herman being named President of the National Restaurant Association, a trade and lobbying group for the restaurant industry. In this role, he once had the opportunity to speak to President Clinton regarding the impact to businesses of Clinton’s proposed health care overhaul. Herman challenged the President on this issue, which gained Herman some national attention. Newsweek magazine credited him with being one of the primary reasons that Hillarycare got nowhere.

Herman’s work at the National Restaurant Association gave him the opportunity to work with business leaders across the country. This resulted in him being named to the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. He subsequently became Chairman of the Board.

Think about this life. Here is a person who started with literally nothing except his God-given talents, a desire to get ahead, and a willingness to work hard to make it happen. And look at what he’s accomplished! Only in America; that’s what I love about this country.

Now Herman is running for President, because he thinks the country is headed in the wrong direction. He sees a big, bloated federal government that is exerting too much control over almost everything; he sees an economy that is on life-support with no improvement in sight; he sees federal government policies that are making the economic problem worse; he sees out-of-control federal spending; he sees a President who only wants more of the same. Herman wants to get us back on track as a nation so that the American dream he experienced can continue to be available to future generations and so we will remain the land of the free.

I had the opportunity to hear Herman speak live at an event last June. At that time, he was getting little attention, and many of the political elite were saying that this pizza guy had no chance to get the nomination. Herman came out on stage and blew the others away. No one else was close. His catch line was: I didn’t get that memo (saying I have no chance), so I’m going on. Nicely done, I thought.

Speaking of the “pizza guy”, I really do wish Herman would let it be known that he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in Kansas City. Given that the economy is one of our major problems and there is all of this talk about monetary policy, quantitative easing, inflation/deflation, interest rates, etc., I don’t understand why Herman doesn’t play up his experience in this area more. No other candidate has this kind of monetary policy experience

Now Herman is pushing his “9-9-9” plan to improve the economy and overhaul the federal tax code. His plan is getting a lot of attention. It’s all over the news, the internet, and even The Wall Street Journal did a piece on it. In one of the recent debates, the other candidates were attacking 9-9-9 from all angles, which was curious, I thought, since at the time the only other candidate with an economic plan was Romney. So all of the others who had no plan were attacking Cain’s plan!

Herman’s 9-9-9 plan does, however, need to be discussed and debated. That’s as it should be. But whatever you may think of 9-9-9, Herman deserves credit for taking a bold position and for initiating a national discussion on this major issue, rather than tiptoeing through the tulips, as politicians are wont to do.

And that brings me to another reason why I like what I see in Cain: He’s not a career politician. Herman isn’t running for President because he’s next in line, or because this is his next promotion, or because he’s good at telling people what they want to hear, or because he has been pandering to various special interest groups his whole life and they will now support him, or for his own self-aggrandizement.

Not being a career politician has another benefit: Herman has no fear of the party bosses. They didn’t make him, and they can’t hurt him. His career isn’t at stake. He’s already made it in life. He is untouchable.

Herman has lived his life in the real world; a world where he solved problems instead of just talking about them. It’s a world where posturing isn’t enough; you actually have to deliver. He wants to be elected President so he can lead the way in solving our nation’s problems and ensuring that America remains that shining city on a hill, the world’s last best hope, the greatest nation on Earth.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Government Greed

Greed – Intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power, or food. (Oxford American Dictionary).

President Obama and others in Washington have been vilifying “the rich” for months, saying among other things that they don’t pay their “fair share” in taxes. The greedy “rich” apparently want to keep all of that money for themselves, the selfish SOB’s.

And now we are hearing about “corporate greed” and all of the selfish people on “Wall Street”. Why do they hoard all of that money; why don’t they hire some people or do some such generous and appropriate activity with that money; spread it around, you know? But no, they keep it all for themselves. How greedy; they need to be punished.

I have a different view. There is a much bigger, much more powerful, much greedier villain out there: the federal government. I am organizing a new “occupy” movement. I want “we the people” to rise up and march on Washington to send a message to that huge, bloated, selfish bureaucracy and its protectorate (i.e., politicians).

Let me tell you a story about one of the “greedy” corporations I worked for. It was, at the time, a mid-sized, growing company with great prospects. Their goal was to dominate their market by way of superior products, which would lead them to becoming a big company. But, along the way, there was a business slowdown. In order to remain at a sustainable profit level and keep going toward the future growth that would no doubt return, the company President decided that two actions would be taken: 1) There would be a six percent reduction in the workforce, and 2) All executives, of which I was one, would take a ten percent pay cut. And so it was done. It wasn’t pleasant, but that’s what well-run companies do when their income goes down and it no longer lines up with expenses. In this case, the growth did return. Today that company is the dominant player in its market, is very profitable, and provides high-paying jobs for tens of thousands of people.

This is just one of an untold number of such stories in the corporate world.

How about Apple Computer, whose founder, Steve Jobs, tragically died of cancer at a young age recently? Steve Jobs literally started Apple Computer in his garage, with his high school buddy. After some initial success with his fledgling company, Steve Jobs was fired from the company he founded by the person he himself had recruited to take over as President so that Steve could focus on the technical innovation side of things. He then founded another company, sold it to Apple, returned to Apple again as part of the deal, and the rest is history, as they say. Today, Apple Computer is wildly successful, has revolutionized the way we get and use information, employs 46,000 people, has created thousand of other jobs in suppliers, has made millionaires of hundreds of its employees through stock option grants, and has more cash on hand than the U.S. government!

Is Apple Computer greedy? If so, give me more of it. All of those job holders plus the roughly seventy percent of Americans who are either directly or indirectly dependent upon corporations for some of their financial well being through the stock market, mutual finds, or retirement plans would probably agree.

Was Steve Jobs greedy? When he died, he was worth billions, and was also the largest shareholder in Disney Corporation (through another brilliant deal of his). Does he really need that much money?

I celebrate what Steve Jobs did. It’s the quintessential American story. Look at how many other people his “greed”, if you want to call it that, has enriched.

I don’t want to soak the rich such as Steve Jobs and others of his ilk; I want to join them!

Contrast these stories with the government’s intense desire for money and power.

During the last three years or so, our economy has gone through some very tough times, and it still is sickly. Obama has said that we were at the “precipice” economically. Given all of that, has the government cut back any? Has Congress taken a pay cut? Have any of Obama’s multitudinous czars taken a pay cut? Has the federal bureaucracy been cut? Has anybody in the federal government lost his job due to a reduction in force? Has federal spending been cut such that the budget is balanced, as corporations do routinely when times are tough?

None of that has happened. Quite the contrary. Obama is telling Congress it needs to spend MORE, and he is calling for higher taxes. Think about that. In the midst of all of this economic carnage, his response is to go on yet another spending spree and to demand that the federal government be given more of our money.

No, I don’t worry about corporate greed, because corporations have very limited power over me. In most instances, I can simply walk away from them if I think they are misbehaving. Corporations can’t pass a law requiring me to do something.

But the government, now they have real power over my life.

I worry about a government that is continually demanding more money from whomever seems to be the most promising target at the time. I worry about a government so power crazed that it wants to get total control of the very air that I breathe. I worry about a government that is so hell bent on exercising absolute control over my life that it is trying to seize the medical system and associated decisions that determine whether I live or die. I worry about a government that is completely incapable of showing even a modicum of financial responsibility. I worry about a government that is starting to tell me what I can and cannot eat. I worry about a government that pits one group of Americans against another in class warfare rhetoric to foment hate, under the strategy that if the people are fighting amongst themselves, the government can do pretty much what it wants. I worry about a government that uses its “bully pulpit” and the force of law in these ways.

If that’s not “greed”, then the word has no meaning. Government greed is the most dangerous kind, because it’s extremely difficult to rein it in. That’s the greed we should all be worried about it.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Is Social Security A Ponzi Scheme?

Few people attract so much notoriety that their name is coined into a new word. One interesting example is the word “hooker”, meaning a prostitute, which came to us from General Joseph Hooker during the Civil War who reportedly had so many women of ill-repute hanging around his headquarters that they became known as “hookers”.

Another example is “Ponzi scheme”.

Recently, a Presidential candidate said that Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. What was he talking about?

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, a “Ponzi scheme” is an investment fraud that involves the payment of “returns” to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest their money in opportunities that are claimed to generate very high rates of return with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the perpetrators focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to siphon off for personal use, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity.

With little or no real earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of new money from investors in order to remain in operation. Ponzi schemes collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit enough new investors or when a large number of existing investors ask to cash out.

The schemes are named after Charles Ponzi, who conned thousands of New England residents into investing in a postage stamp speculation scheme in 1916. At a time when the annual bank account interest rate was 5%, Ponzi promised investors that he could provide a 50% return in only 90 days. Ponzi initially bought international mail coupons in support of his scheme with the intent of reselling them in another country at a higher price, but he quickly switched to using new investors’ money to pay the promised high returns to earlier investors. Once Ponzi was no longer able to persuade enough investors to keep giving him additional money, his scheme collapsed. Ponzi didn’t invent this type of fraud, but he took in so much money that his was the first to become widely known in the U.S.

Under the Social Security (SS) system, employees and employers pay into the system, and employees receive a monthly pension upon retirement.

The payments to current SS recipients are taken from current incoming SS money. Any money that is not paid out is put into certain special U.S. Government bonds. That is, the SS system loans any left-over money to the rest of the government, which immediately spends it, as part of general revenues, on defense, the federal bureaucracy, other entitlements (Medicare, Medicaid), interest, and miscellaneous spending. None of the SS money taken in every year is saved, invested, put aside, or any such thing. The money is either paid out to SS recipients or used for other government spending.

There is no SS “lockbox”. There also is no SS “trust fund” in the sense of a bank account somewhere with money in it that can be drawn on as needed. The SS trust fund, or lockbox, consists solely of promises by the rest of the government to pay the SS system back someday. But since the entire federal government is operating at a deficit and there is a national debt, there is no reserve money with which the SS trust fund can be paid back. The only assurance that the SS system can ever get this money back is the full faith and credit of the U.S. government.

The very first SS recipient, one Ida Mae Fuller of Vermont, received her first check of $22.54 on January 1, 1940. She had paid only $44 in SS taxes over a three year period, but collected a total of $20,993 in benefits, since she lived to be 100. Such high returns were possible in the early years of SS since there were many people paying into the system and only a few taking benefits out. In 1950, there were 15 workers supporting every SS retiree. Today, there are just over three. By 2030, it’ll be down to two. The “baby boomers” are starting to retire and it’s swamping the system.

Another issue affecting SS negatively is that people are living longer and therefore collecting benefits longer. Data from the National Center for Health Statistics show that in 1900 the life expectancy was 47.3 years; 68.2 years in 1950; and 77.3 in 2002. When SS was first enacted in 1935, people didn’t live nearly as long as now, and so the system wasn’t designed to handle an aging population.

In 2010, annual SS costs (benefits paid out plus administration) exceeded non-interest income. However, from 2010 through 2022, total SS income including interest will be more than enough to cover costs. Beginning in 2023, SS assets (bonds and interest) will start to diminish until they are gone in 2036. At that time, there will be no more bonds to redeem or interest income from them, so SS will have only current tax revenues with which to pay benefits. Unless something is changed, that tax revenue stream will support benefits at a level of 77% of what has been promised, and the benefit level will gradually decline thereafter. In order to keep benefits at 100%, either SS taxes will have to be increased significantly or benefits will have to be reduced significantly, or some combination thereof.

Is Social Security a Ponzi scheme? No, because Congress can simply raise taxes and/or reduce benefits in order to keep the system solvent.

But SS does bear some disconcerting resemblance to a Ponzi scheme. Both pay early participants with money taken in from more recent participants. Both function best when there is a continual supply of many new participants. Both systems are unable to pay all participants the full benefits promised.

The key difference is that a Ponzi scheme is doomed to ultimate implosion since it cannot, by its nature, restructure itself. A Ponzi scheme can only keep on keepin’ on until the day of reckoning finally comes. SS will not collapse; it will be fundamentally modified, some day when Congress gets the will, into a sustainable program given today’s demographics.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Obama Wants More Taxes On The "Rich"

President Obama is worried about the "fairness" of the federal tax code. He says he wants changes to make sure millionaires are taxed at a higher rate than their secretaries. I guess he doesn't know that they already are.

On average, the wealthiest people in America pay a lot more taxes than the middle class or the poor, according to private and government data. They pay at a higher rate, and as a group, they contribute a much larger share of the overall taxes collected by the federal government.

This year, households making more than $1 million will pay an average of 29.1 % of their income in federal taxes, including income taxes, payroll taxes, and other taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank. Households making between $50,000 and $75,000 will pay an average of 15 % of their income in taxes. Households making between $20,000 and $30,000 will pay 5.7 %.

The latest IRS figures are from 2009 and are limited to federal income taxes; they show much the same thing. In 2009, taxpayers who made $1 million or more paid on average 24.4 % of their income in federal income taxes. Those making $100,000 to $125,000 paid on average 9.9 % in federal income taxes. Those making $50,000 to $60,000 paid an average of 6.3 %.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that 46% of households, mostly low- and medium-income households, will pay no federal income taxes at all this year, although they will pay other taxes.

If Obama wants to make the federal tax code "fair", he's barking up the wrong tree. As shown above through hard numbers, the "rich" already pay more than their "fair share". Obama needs to go after those 46 % of the people who pay not a dime in federal income tax. Wouldn't "fairness" require that everyone pay at least something?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The King's Speech

It’s déjà vu all over again.

President Obama recently gave his umpteenth speech about the bleak situation we have with jobs and the economy and what needs to be done to make things better. That’ll solve our economic problems – another speech.

The next day, the stock market dropped three hundred points.

Obama proposed his latest and greatest plan to fix the economy, and it was for more of the same: massive government spending, throwing money at his favored groups, demonizing “the rich”, repairing the infrastructure, touting “green jobs” as the savior of the economy, demanding that Congress pass his proposal immediately, blah, blah, blah.

You may have detected that I am more than a little skeptical, which I am, because we have been down this road before with Obama. I’m sure you all remember the last stimulus, in 2009. It was twice as big as this one; we were told at the time that it would revive the economy and keep unemployment under eight percent. We were also told back then that that stimulus, like this one, had to be passed immediately in order to avoid financial calamity. Now, two years later, unemployment is stuck at over nine percent, the economy has flat lined, the housing market is non-existent, and there is almost no good economic news. Everything that Obama and crew told us the last stimulus would prevent has happened! So why would anybody still listen to these people when it comes to the economy and jobs? They are obviously clueless.

I actually read in the paper after Obama’s speech that an economist at Moody’s Analytics said this latest stimulus plan would reduce the unemployment rate to, you guessed it, eight percent!!

Of late, Obama has developed a new concern for the federal budget deficit, or at least he wants us to think so. In his speech, he said that the new spending called for in his current plan will not increase the deficit because everything in his bill will be “paid for”. He didn’t tell us how it would be paid for, though; he promised to do that later.

You can’t make this stuff up.

No matter which way one looks at Obama’s new plan, you find absurdities. Let’s start on a broad, overall scale and then work our way down to some of the specifics.

OK, from the 30,000 foot level, as they say, let’s look at this plan. It’s another government stimulus, much like the last one, only this one is smaller by half. It’s about half as big as the 2009 stimulus, and that one, by any objective measure, was a total failure. Here’s the absurdity: If a big stimulus has already failed, why will a smaller one now work? The only logical argument one could make is that the last stimulus failed because it wasn’t big enough, so now we need a larger one. But a smaller one --- ? Absurd.

Let’s go on to some of the specifics of the new plan.

It calls for government spending to keep teachers, firemen, and police on the job. But why do we only want to keep these groups employed? With the jobs picture being as bleak as it is, we need to do something to increase job creation across the board; we need to get everyone back to work. We need to create economic conditions such that all companies, large and small, in every industry, in every location, will be able to expand and start hiring. It makes no economic sense whatsoever to restrict job creation efforts to just some segments of the work force.

Now let’s look at the proposed tax breaks in Obama’s plan for companies that hire or increase wages.

I worked in the corporate world for over thirty years as an engineer and manager at various levels up to vice president. During that time, I must have hired literally hundreds of people. Never, not once, did I or anyone I knew or observed ever hire somebody because of a tax break, nor would we have. That’s not why businesses and companies hire.

Hiring is a serious matter to companies. It involves taking on a significant new expense that will be there far into the future. Note: I’m not talking about temporary or seasonal help here. Companies are looking out into the future, not just the short term. They don’t like to have to lay people off, so they only hire when they are convinced that they can afford it in the long term and that the additional sales will be there to pay for it. Hiring is a business decision, not a public service matter.

People are hired because the company has more work than it can handle, or because the company is confident that additional business is coming, or because they see a new business opportunity, or they want to do a better job of servicing customers. Those are the reasons that companies hire, certainly not because of some one time tax break or other such gimmick.

People who think that such short term tweaking of tax provisions here and there will stimulate broad scale hiring and reduce unemployment in the long term have absolutely no knowledge of how the business world operates. In the real world, that kind of an approach is pure nonsense.

Then there is the part of Obama’s new plan about giving a tax break to companies that increase workers’ wages. This is so idiotic it defies belief. How could increasing wages possibly spur hiring? If anything, such an action would have the opposite effect, since the more a company pays existing employees, the less money it has to hire new ones. Furthermore, the tax break is a, again, one-time thing, but the increased wages are permanent, so no business will pay the slightest attention to this provision of Obama’s new plan.

Obama wants to, once again, extend unemployment benefits. Regardless of the merits of this proposal on humanitarian grounds, as far as job creation is concerned, it’s another absurdity. Paying people not to work for an even longer period of time will obviously not get them a job. Our goal in this area shouldn’t be to keep people on the unemployment roles for a long time; or goal should be to get them off of unemployment because they have gone back to work. The unemployed don’t need another government handout; they need a job. Extending unemployment benefits will not get them onto somebody’s payroll; if anything, it might discourage them from looking hard.

I have a suggestion for President Obama: If you want to stimulate the economy and job creation across the board, stop doing those things that stymie that. Mr. Obama, you’re part of the problem, and if you truly care about job creation, here are some things you could stop doing.

First, stop demonizing “the rich”. We continually hear you talking about how the rich don’t pay their fair share, that they are greedy, that they got where they are because they won life’s lottery rather than due to their own hard work, etc. Why would anybody, such as a sole proprietor or a small business, who can afford to hire someone actually do it when they feel they are being targeted by the government? So just stop it, Mr. Obama.

Next Mr. Obama, stop punishing companies that you regard as unworthy or that your political cronies don’t like.
Your National Labor Relations Board recently sued Boeing for moving a factory from a unionized state to a right-to-work state, which was displeasing to your union buddies.

Gibson Guitar was raided by the government because of some obscure law about wood that they import from India.
Coal users and producers have been on your hit list for years. You famously stated that you want to bankrupt the coal industry, because you think they are polluters. Your EPA recently issued new emission standards for coal-fired power plants, which will result in the closing of plants and the loss of jobs.

You apparently don’t like oil drillers, either, as you have stopped any new offshore oil exploration or drilling, loosing potentially tens of thousands of high paying jobs.

Mr. Obama, if you really care about jobs, just stop this jihad against companies and businesses.

Once you have stopped you job-killing behavior, Mr. Obama, here are two positive actions and one attitude adjustment you could undertake. These alone would have a game-changing effect on the U.S. economy and job creation.

Number 1. The U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the world – 35%. Cut it. You could follow the example of Canada, and use their 16% rate. With this one action, you’d see so much increased business activity and the hiring that goes along with it that your head would swim.

Next, take a machete to onerous government regulations on business. A good start would be to cut the EPA staff by, say, half, and then go from there on a rampage through other government regulators. Companies would save millions, which they would be more than glad to use on business development. This, too, would promote economic expansion and job creation in a significant fashion.

Finally, Mr. Obama, have an epiphany. Start looking at companies and businesses of all sizes as the drivers of our economic prosperity that they are. Come to realize that the private economy, not government, creates wealth. Celebrate our free enterprise system and the magnificent benefits we all receive from it.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Big Education

Radford University (RU) raised tuition by 8% this year, after an 11.3% increase last year. That’s a 19.3% increase in just two years. Other Virginia colleges and universities have had similar tuition increases in recent years, as have colleges around the country. One year of a college education now typically costs between $20,000 and $50,000, which comes out to $80,000 to $200,000 for the four years it normally takes to graduate.

My entire undergraduate education at the University of Virginia cost me a total of about 12 or $13,000 (that’s for tuition, fees, room, food, books, everything). Now at UVA, it’s going to cost you $25,000 a year, at least. That’s a 669% increase (since 1969).

Here is a test: Why do we not hear politicians, newspapers, TV talking heads, pundits, and all the chattering class fulminating about “big education” and price gouging and demanding investigations, and all that?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Exegesis on "ed"

This is the one that pushed me over the edge.

Yesterday, I went to McDonald’s. This is something I do now and then as a reward for having done some especially hard work. I had been in the vineyard all day pruning the vines and picking off bad grapes one-by-one, getting ready for the harvest. So, on the way home, I stopped at McDonald’s to get a small burger, small fries, and a soda, a line-up that would be heavenly after a hot day in the field.

And then the trouble started.

I am particular about what is put on my hamburger. I want lettuce, tomato, and onion on it, but nothing else. Nothing else; especially not mayonnaise, mustard, or ketchup. So, on that day, I innocently ordered a burger with lettuce, tomato, and onion only, as I have done many times before. But this time, things progressed differently. The lovely young lady behind the counter asked if I wanted leaf lettuce or shred lettuce on my burger. I said that I’d have shredded lettuce, she punched it in, and it came up on the screen: shred lettuce. I saw it with my own two eyes: shred lettuce. I wasn’t just misunderstanding her; they were actually calling it “shred lettuce”.

So I now must address this issue, which has been tormenting me for years: the omission of “ed” in words that cry out for it to be there. I can no longer let it go. Which is one of my problems; I can’t let anything go. Really, I get concerned about such matters, because they are important to an inquisitive and disciplined mind. Yes, the proper use of “ed” is critical, because if we don’t pay attention to such details in matters of linguistics, before long we’ll all be talking baby talk.

By the way, I never talked baby talk to my babies. I conjugated verbs to them instead, but that’s another story.

Back to “shred lettuce”. Don’t the people running McDonald’s know that “shred lettuce” is what you do in order to get “shredded lettuce” to put on burgers? How can they not know this?

This is not the only time I’ve been haunted by a missing “ed”.

I actually saw a sign at a local produce stand that read, ”tree ripen peaches”. I am not making this up; it was right there on the sign. Don’t the fresh produce mongers know that “ripen” is the present tense of the verb “to ripen”; “ripened” is the past tense and is also used in the past perfect and future perfect tenses. “Ripen” means it’s occurring now; “ripened” means it has already happened. Voila! Peaches that have been left on the tree until they are fully ripened rather than being picked green are called “tree ripened”, because that’s what happened to them. I couldn’t sleep that night.

There are more. All of these are real life examples I have personally observed, much to my consternation.

When you drink cold tea with ice in it, you are consuming “iced tea”, not “ice tea”. Food that is put into cans is “canned food”. Staying with the food theme, potatoes that are mashed are ------ mashed potatoes! I have seen “mash potatoes” on a menu, and I had to bite my tongue in order to avoid making a scene. Don’t get me started on “bake potato”, because it won’t be pretty. How about “toss salad”, again, right there on a menu. What am I supposed to do, throw the salad around or something? No, it has already been “tossed” in the making, so it’s called “tossed salad”. How hard is this?

Thankfully, the cereal makers understand this issue and correctly label their boxes “shredded wheat” so I don’t have to start my day by foaming at the mouth on those mornings when I have this particular cereal for breakfast.

And if you do or make something the way it was done in days gone by, that item is “old fashioned”, as in: I am old fashioned about the proper use of the ed suffix.

Reliving all of these horrors has drained my psychic energy. I’m emotionally exhausted. But it has been worth it, because now I’m sure the world will understand this issue and it’s importance. Finally, everyone will diligently use, and pronounce in an exaggerated fashion, the “ed” that is so needed at the end of certain words.

Now, if I can just get people to understand that they don’t “graduate” high school or college, they “graduate FROM” a school, my work will be done.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Saved From The Edison Light Bulb

While the politicians in Washington haven’t been able to do anything serious about unemployment, the economy, or the out-of-control government spending, it is reassuring to keep in mind that they can, in fact, solve big, important, pressing problems from time to time. Congress can rise to the occasion. For example, come January 1, Congress’s solution to one of the most serous problems to confront America in recent times will kick in. As of that date, a bill passed by Congress will save us from a deathly hazard that threatens “the nation’s future and collective health”, as the luminaries at the L. A. Times put it. That threat is the light bulb invented by Thomas Edison.

Take heart, my beleaguered friends. Your 401k may have tanked, you may not have a job or any prospects for one, the U.S. Government may have less cash on hand than Apple Computer, you may have to pay an amount for your little cherubim’s college education that would have gotten a building named after you in the old days, the comrads in Washington may want to raise your taxes to cover their profligate spending because you don’t pay what they consider to be your “fair share”, Iran may be about to nuke up, the country may lurch from economic and budgetary crisis to crisis, but at least you no longer have to worry about incandescent light bulbs. Those are the ones that have that horrid little filament in them. You know, the type of light bulbs we’ve been using for the last 130 years or so.

I’m sure you have been worried about them, unless you are a dim bulb indeed. As you no doubt know, incandescent light bulbs are energy hogs of the worst sort. They suck up energy like Fat Albert chowing down on the vittles over at the all-you-can-eat catfish and hush puppy shack. You have noticed that incandescent light bulbs do that, haven’t you? Pay no attention to your air conditioner or heat pump; it’s those evil light bulbs that are wreaking destruction on you and the world.

But you have been saved. You no longer have to live in fear of incandescent light bulbs. You can now rest easy; CFL’s (compact fluorescent lamps) have arrived just in the nick of time.

Umm, well, those CFL’s do have some very minor problems, but you needn’t worry your pretty little self about any of that.

What are those problems, you say? My, my, my, aren’t you the curious one. It’s nothing, really, nothing.

Oh, OK, since you insist.

First of all, CFL’s contain mercury, an extremely dangerous substance. It’s a small amount, to be sure, but it’s mercury none the less.

If, God forbid, one of those Earth-saving CFL’s happens to break in your house, people and pets must immediately evacuate (avoiding the “breakage area” on the way out), windows and/or doors should be opened to air the place out, central heating or air conditioning is to be turned off, and then you are to follow the seven step Hazmat clean-up procedure published by the EPA. If you use a vacuum cleaner in the clean-up process, the vacuum cleaner bag must be sealed in a plastic bag and immediately removed from the house.

Because of this problem with broken CFL’s, the EPA also recommends that a drop cloth be used when replacing a CFL, in case it is dropped and broken.

Since the CFL’s contain mercury, disposal is also a problem. Again, one CFL contains only a very small amount of mercury, but with the millions upon millions of them that will be used over the years, the total amount of mercury involved is significant. If the used bulbs are thrown into the trash, you’d better make sure you don’t use a trash compactor that will crush them. Even if the used CFL’s make it out to curbside unbroken, they will get deposited in a landfill to be pushed around by a bulldozer that will no doubt break them, and all of that mercury will eventually seep into the ground water. Or you could take your used CFL’s to a recycling center (being sure to tell them what you have), and let them worry about it.

Other than all of that mercury stuff, the CFL’s are just great.

Well, there is one other very trivial problem. Some CFL’s have been known to smoke or catch on fire. The August 2011 issue of Consumer Reports had an article under the title “Bulbs pose fire hazard” discussing this and identifying the CFL’s that have been recalled.

Did I mention that CFL’s typically cost several times as much as an incandescent bulb? No matter, you’ll recoup that extra cost by means of reduced electricity usage and longer bulb life.


The Department of Energy has said that mandatory use of CFL’s will save 15 quadrillion BTU’s over the next thirty years, or about 0.013 percent of U.S. energy usage. You will personally save pennies upon pennies in your monthly electric bill.

But your saving could well be eaten up by the greater cost of the CFL’s, since it turns out that they are not lasting nearly as long as expected. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) in California has reported that CFL’s are lasting an average of 6.3 years verses the 9.4 that they initially estimated, or thirty-three percent less. An article in the Weekly Standard reported that a quarter of CFL’s only achieved about 40% of their projected life span. It seems that the life span tests were done under ideal conditions; e.g., turning the lamp on and leaving it on continuously. Surprise, surprise; in the real world, lights aren’t used that way. They are turned on and off, sometimes frequently, and that kind of usage reduces their life span. This is something that the incandescent people at GE and Sylvania have known for at least a hundred years, but it somehow escaped the notice of the CFL people until after they had convinced Congress to pass a law on the matter.

The last light bulb factory in the U.S. has closed, and it is most likely that CFL’s will ultimately be made only in China. The additional transportation costs should be factored into the CFL cost saving calculation, but it is difficult to do as accurately. The additional cost is there, though. And so much for “buying local”.

In any event, please join me in giving thanks that we live in a country where we have a government wise and caring enough to save us from incandescent light bulbs. That is of great comfort to me as I consider all of the other problems we face in this country.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obama's Bus Tour

President Obama has embarked on a bus tour of the Midwest. Who is the only other national political figure to go on a bus tour in the recent times? Sarah Palin, of course. And the media ridiculed her. But now, Obama is following Sarah Palin's lead.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Debt Ceiling Deal: Nothing Is Being Cut

Here is some real eye-opening news.

During the last few weeks, there has been a non-stop soap opera in Washington about the federal government’s “debt ceiling”. Much of the debate has been about whether the government should cut spending or raise taxes or do some combination of both in order to get the deficit under control. We’ve heard about this plan that will cut X trillion in spending, and that plan that will cut Y trillion, and the compromise plan that will cut Z trillion.

You know all of that; it’s not news.

Here’s the news that has barely been mentioned because the big-spending, big government, career politicians don’t want you to be aware of it: Nothing is being cut, in any of these plans. Nothing.

Then why do we hear from supposedly legitimate news media that federal spending is being cut, with the only debate about how much, you ask. Dear reader, let me explain.

The federal budget is on autopilot that results in across-the-board increases occurring every year, automatically. It’s called “base line budgeting”, and here’s how it works.

Every year, the proposed federal budget increases from the previous year by eight percent. This increased budget proposal becomes the “baseline” for budget negotiations. If it is suggested that the budget should not increase by the proposed amount but by some lesser amount instead, which is still an increase over the previous year, that suggestion is scored by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) as a “cut”.

Stay with me on this, because it’s vitally important.

Let’s put some hypothetical numbers on it as an example. We’ll say that last year’s federal budget was $100 (you can put as many zeros on that as you want). The budget proposal for this year will come out initially as $108. If this proposed budget were reduced to, say, $105, it would be billed as a cut.

Hypothetical Example – Federal Budget Process
Last year’s federal budget: $100
Initial budget proposal for this year (the baseline): $108
Final budget for this year: $105
Scored as a $3 cut.

That’s right, even though the federal budget went up from one year to the next in this example, it’s called a “cut” in politician-ese. That’s how baseline budgeting works; it’s designed to mislead the public so that politicians can claim they’re cutting the budget when in actuality the budget is going up.

Now for the coup-de-grace. Under all the plans being debated recently in Congress concerning the federal debt ceiling, government spending will rise across the board, in some estimates by seven to nine trillion dollars over the next ten years. Nothing is being cut! Yet we hear about how these various plans will cut spending by so many trillion. That’s the intended effect of baseline budgeting, letting politicians call an increase a cut.

Let’s move on to two other fundamental dishonesties that are rampant in the debt ceiling debate.

There has been a lot of talk about the U.S. Government’s credit rating possibly being lowered from AAA to AA+. What is this all about?

When a lender loans money to a borrower, the lender wants to know ahead of time the likelihood of the borrower being able to pay back the loan and the interest. That need led to credit ratings.

If a borrower is unable to pay the interest or principle on the loan, they are said to have defaulted on the loan.

Everyone probably knows about their credit score and how a good score makes it easier for an individual to borrow money and to get a lower interest rate. That’s because the higher a person’s credit score is, the less likely they will default on a loan.

Government entities (and companies) are rated in a similar manner by the major credit agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poors (S&P). Triple A is the highest rating. The U.S. Government has always had a AAA rating because there is almost no chance that it won’t be able to pay the interest on borrowed money or the principle amount when the time comes.

Throughout this federal debt ceiling saga, one of the major reasons given as to why we must raise the debt ceiling is to prevent the federal government from defaulting on it’s loans (bonds), and to keep its credit rating from being downgraded.

The truth is that even if the debt ceiling is not raised, the government will not default on it’s bonds. There will still be tax money coming in, and there will be enough to pay the interest on the bonds, even though other areas of spending would have to go without in that scenario. But a default would not occur.

Next truth factoid: No matter which plan concerning the debt ceiling is finally adopted, the U.S. Government’s credit rating will go down. S&P has already said that neither of the final two proposed plans reduces federal spending enough such that Uncle Sam’s AAA rating can be maintained.

Here are the salient points we can distill out of all of this blathering and disingenuineness about the debt ceiling:
1. Nothing is being cut.
2. The federal government will not default on its loans (bonds).
3. The federal government’s credit rating will be downgraded no matter which debt ceiling plan Congress adopts since none of them are serious about balancing the federal budget.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Obama Voted Against Raising the Debt Ceiling As A Senator

"The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can't pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our government's reckless fiscal policies. Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that 'the buck stops here.' Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. America deserves better."

Barack Obama, circa 2006

Friday, July 29, 2011

Out Of Control Spending In Washington

It's worse than we thought. The out of control spending in Washington is so bad that Apple Computer has more money than the U.S. Government. Yes, that's right. Uncle Sam is so flat out busted that one private company has more cash on hand the the U.S. Treasury.

Apple currently has $74.4 billion in cash on hand, but the Treasury Department now has only $73.7 billion (as reported by the BBC).

How did Apple mange to accumulate a larger cash horde than the U.S. Government? Apple routinely, month in-month out, year in-year out, spends less than it takes in.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Why is there a debt ceiling?

As I watch the circus in Washington with regard to the Federal government’s so-called “debt ceiling”, I‘m now thinking that this issue is strange in one very fundamental, basic way.

We see various high ranking government officials and other supposedly smart people running around like Keystone Cops and hyperventilating about why we must, absolutely must, raise the Federal government’s debt limit on August 2 (not August 3), and that if we don’t, then the economy as we know it will cease to exist. We’ll drop off a cliff. The worldwide economy will implode, and we’ll never recover. It’ll be over, the end, fini, sayonara, the fat lady will sing, Armageddon will happen, etc. So we’re told by all of those people who are so much smarter than us.

Now here is the strange part. Ponder this: Why does the federal government have a debt limit, if once we reach it, we have no choice but to raise it? Why is the “debt ceiling” there in the first place if it’s not a ceiling at all?

“Debt” is, of course, borrowed money. That means it will have to be paid back some day. Think about buying a new truck. If you don’t have the cash to buy it, you can usually get a loan, and then you pay monthly payments, often for a long time, to pay the loan back.

Suppose you also buy a nice, new boat with another loan. Now, you have more monthly loan payments.

How about a house? Nobody has enough cash to buy a house, so you get a mortgage. More monthly payments.

And then there are those credit cards. Still more monthly payments.

If this keeps up, a person may reach a point where they just can’t make all of those monthly payments, and that’s a real problem. Foreclosure, repossession, nasty debt collectors calling, and other such unpleasantness will most likely ensue.

So the concept of limiting one’s debt seems like a good idea. Depending on the household income level, some specific number representing the total debt that a person or family can carry is established, and then they know not to go above that number in their total borrowing. This “debt ceiling” serves as a restraint on their borrowing, which is a good thing. It keeps them from getting “over extended”.

In concept, that is what a debt ceiling or limit is. It’s a tool for exercising basic, sound financial management by making sure that one doesn’t borrow too much money.

Currently, the federal government borrows about thirty-two cents out of every dollar it spends, so the debt is piling up. Right now, the total national debt is about fourteen trillion dollars, a lot of money to have to pay back to the lenders.

Let’s put that number in perspective.

The federal government currently is spending $3.8 trillion a year; of that, $1.2 trillion is borrowed. Percentage wise, thirty-two percent of the federal budget is borrowed.

The $14 trillion total national debt represents 3.6 years of the total federal government spending. In other words, if Uncle Sam did nothing but pay down the national debt, it would take 3.6 years to do it. Of course, that scenario is very hypothetical, since it means that all spending on the military, Congress, government agencies, Social Security and other entitlements, and everything else the federal government does would have to stop, which they won’t. In fact, because the government is borrowing money as described above, that total national debt figure isn’t going down at all; it’s going up.

Congress apparently realized that unlimited borrowing and spending on their part would lead to some very bad financial consequences. So Congress set a national debt limit, meaning that Congress couldn’t borrow more than that amount of money. I guess the intent was to force some self-restraint in borrowing and spending. But here we are, up against the $14 trillion debt limit and rising.

The big money sinks in the federal budget are Social Security and Medicare. The Social Security trustees estimate that, left on it’s current course, Social Security alone will run a deficit of $3.76 trillion in 2075. Add in Medicare, and you have a one-year deficit of $4.80 trillion, for just two entitlement programs. Those estimates are under an “intermediate” scenario, not a worst-case or best-case scenario.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the total value of all goods and services produced in the entire country. That $4.80 trillion deficit will be somewhere between 24% and 50% of 2075 GDP, depending on the assumptions made.

Think about that. On the current trajectory, in 2075 we will spend between 24% and 50% of the value of everything produced in the country on two entitlement programs.

For you “sustainability” advocates, that is not sustainable.

Here are two conclusions we can draw from all of this.

First, since debt is caused by spending more money than is coming in, when a pre-defined debt limit is reached, shouldn’t spending be reduced?

Second, the only way to have any significant impact on federal spending is to make structural reforms to Social Security and Medicare.

No, raising taxes on the "rich" won’t solve the federal debt problem, especially something as meaningless as closing a tax loophole for corporate jets or some other such silliness. In previous columns, I have discussed who pays the most federal taxes, and space doesn’t allow me to repeat all of that here. But consider two factoids. One: In 2008, the last year for which IRS data is available, the top 50% of income earners paid 97% of all federal income tax. Two: If the feds took all of the taxable income of all people earning over $200,00, it would only pay the Social Security – Medicare - Medicaid bill for 2012, but not for any one year in the future since the costs of those programs are expected to rise rapidly. So increased taxes won’t do it.

Now we know the answer to the question. The debt ceiling is there to keep the Federal government from borrowing excessively, and once the limit is hit, spending needs to be cut.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The Great Toyota Hoax

Do you remember the Toyota Crisis of 2010? It was one of the biggest stories of the year. There was a grave danger in Toyotas: Some electronic gadget in the cars was causing them to suddenly lurch forward at high speed. They couldn’t be brought under control even with the brake pedal; millions of people were at risk due to these demon machines. It was such a threat to so many Americans that no less than the Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced that “Toyotas are unsafe”. The Democrat controlled Congress jumped into action to avenge this death threat that had been inflicted on the American people. Hearings were held. Toyota executives were accused of lying and covering up the problem. The nation’s leading newspapers, news magazines, and television networks ran numerous stories on the “killing machines” theme. Toyota was fined $48.8 B for what the Obama administration called its inadequate response to the crisis. Toyotas stock price and market share declined.

Well, never mind. Earlier this year, after an exhaustive study by that very same Ray LaHood’s transportation department, assisted by NASA engineers, the U.S. government officially concluded that there was no evidence – no evidence whatsoever – of any mechanical or electronic defects in Toyotas that would cause sudden, unintentional acceleration.

Will their $48.8 billion be refunded?

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Eat Your Peas

President Obama has been telling us for some time that there must be shared sacrifice throughout the country, that we will all have to feel a little pain in order to solve the nation's problems. Now we know specifically what he means. We must all eat our peas.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

More Environmental Dishonesty

Recent news headlines: “As sea levels increase more rapidly, new report cites global warming”.

This news article talks about how the ice of Greenland and the Arctic is melting faster than expected, sea levels will rise more than previously projected, Florida will be under water, New York City subways will be flooded, etc. according to a report from the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program, the scientific arm of the eight nation Arctic Council. At the very end of the news article, in the very last sentence, we see this: “The melting of Arctic glaciers and ice caps, including Greenland’s massive ice sheet, is projected to help raise global sea levels by 35 to 63inches by 2100, the report said, although it noted that estimate is highly uncertain.”

Did you catch the “highly uncertain” part of that? Even the global warming wackos, in order to try to maintain some modicum of honesty, are forced to admit that their projections of doom are “highly uncertain”, but they bury this admission at the very end of the article after big headlines and the body of the article portray it all as established fact.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Declaring Our Independence From Environmental Tyranny

Energy is essential to our way of life and our economy. Without energy, nothing happens. The availability of abundant, cheap energy has given us the highest standard of living in the world and enabled our economy to generate wealth on a scale the world has never before seen. Cheap energy is a blessing to us all.

My father and grandfather were coal miners in Virginia and West Virginia. My father was born in Dante, Virginia in the early nineteen hundreds when Dante was a booming coal town. He never graduated from high school. He met my mother when she went to Dante as a schoolteacher. After getting married, they went to Caretta, West Virginia where he worked at the mine for twelve years. They moved to Narrows when he got a job at the Virginian Railway power plant there, which is where I was born.

I graduated with Distinction from the University of Virginia with a degree in electrical engineering, and went on to get a Master’s Degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. I entered the work force right at the beginning of the computer revolution, ending up in the high tech Mecca of Silicon Valley where I ultimately became Vice President of a software company.

After my first year in college, I was fortunate enough to get a summer job at AEP’s Glyn Lyn power plant. It was my first real job, and I was very glad to have it since I needed the money. I was paid $2.05 an hour, and thought I was raking it in.

The environment is now cleaner than it has ever been. To cite just one example, AEP has reduced pollution from its power plants by 80%.

But no matter how much progress is made, no matter how much the environment is cleaned up, it’s never enough. Restrictions must be made ever tighter and new bogeymen must be found.

So, the EPA has issued new emission rules for coal-fired power plants, and AEP will have to close five plants at a cost of 600 jobs and another ten to fifteen percent increase in electricity rates on top of the sixty-six percent increase that has occurred over the past few years.

The environmental extremists are overjoyed, just ecstatic, that finally those plants will be closed and electricity rates can go up. Diana Christopulos, president of the Roanoke Valley Cool Cities Coalition, has been quoted as saying, ”This is truly good news ----“ . The Roanoke Times could barely conceal its glee in an editorial on June 16.

Another local resident made a fool of himself recently in a screed against Rep. Morgan Griffith. This person makes the absurd argument that new EPA rules will actually create hundreds of thousand of new jobs. Closing power plants will create jobs? Also in his piece, he rants about toxic pollutants, spewing, poisoning our environment, etc. But the picture of the Glen Lyn power plant included with his article shows a pristine surrounding environment. The air is clean, the river is clean, there are lots of green trees and lush vegetation, right there beside the power plant that is so terrifying to him! Comical.

Environmental extremists are tyrants. No matter what the cost, they demand that we drive cars that they approve of; that we use forms of energy that they approve of; that we use light bulbs, water faucets, washing machines, windows, etc. that they approve of; that we use public transportation; that we live where they dictate (in sustainable “hubs”); and it goes on and on. They arrogantly tell us that we are guilty, that we have been “complicit”.

Even worse, if we don’t willingly follow their mandates, they try to use the government (EPA) to force their environmental tyranny upon us.

We Virginians have a long and storied history of standing up to tyrants, going all the way back to the American Revolution. Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.” Our state flag shows a depiction of Liberty vanquishing Tyranny, with the words, ”Sic Semper Tyrannis”. “Thus Always to Tyrants”.

I am tired of sanctimonious, self-righteous, pointy-headed environmental do-gooder elitists who live in ivory towers telling the rest of us how to live our lives because they said so.

It’s time we Virginians started dealing with the environmental tyrants the same way we have dealt with all tyrants who have wanted to take away our freedoms. We must now declare our independence from them, and send them packing.

It starts here and now.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

2012 Republican Strategy Starts To Take Shape

At a three day party rally in New Orleans (June 16 – 18), a Republican strategy for the 2012 Presidential election started solidifying: Hang the economy, unemployment, federal budget deficit, out-of-control spending, Obamacare, stimulus, TARP, bailouts, and unending wars around Obama’s neck like albatrosses and let them rot there until November, 2012. This will all be put against a backdrop of patriotism and American exceptionalism.

Much to the chagrin of the liberal media elites and the Democrats, the Republican candidates for the party’s nomination in 2012 are not attacking each other, but rather are so far unanimously focused on attacking Obama. The Republicans’ opposition are praying that the Republicans will have a vicious street fight for the nomination so that whoever emerges will be bloodied to the point of being a weak candidate. It does not appear as though that will happen.

Haley Barbour, Governor of Mississippi but not a presidential candidate, said that the 2012 election will be about Obama’s record. He said bigger government means a smaller economy. On energy, he pointed out that energy is 100% of the American economy, but yet Obama wants to drive up the price of the domestic supply. He also called for party unity, saying whoever the Republican nominee turns out to be, he/she will be many times better than Obama. His final advice for Republicans between now and November 2012 was to remember that, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing”, meaning Obama’s record.

Herman Cain played off of the “I have a dream” theme, saying he was taught to believe in God, yourself, and America. He took a jab at the media by saying that the people are going to elect the next President, not the media. He focused on the economy and “common sense solutions”. He recounted that the Founding Fathers gave us a new form of government based upon the exceptional idea that our human rights come from God, not from the king or the government, and that now it is up to us to be the “Defending Fathers” to preserve that.

From Michele Bachman we heard that peace comes from strength. She also pointed out that the per capita share of the national debt has gone from $35,000 to $46,000 so far with Obama, a 31% increase. She talked about fiscal conservatism and social conservatism, and noted that she had founded the Congressional Tea Party Caucus.

Rick Santorum is in a class by himself. He talked about the economy, as did all the others. He also explained how the Marcellus share in Pennsylvania and elsewhere contains the largest natural reserve in the world. But after talking about those and some other specific issue, he moved into something like a spiritual realm. He started taking in a whisper, and the room became so quiet that you could literary hear a pin drop. He said things like, “In 2012, we don’t need a President we can believe in, we need a President who believes in us”. “Passionate” is not the right word to describe him, although he is that. Maybe ethereal. I don’t think being President is his destiny, but he does seem to have one.

Ron Paul called for abolishing the Federal Reserve.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich promised to end the 80 year rule of the left in the United States.

Former Louisiana Governor and current bank CEO Buddy Roemer decried money in politics. He wants to downsize government (e.g., eliminate the Department of Energy), reduce spending, and enact the fair tax. He also talked about “greedy” corporations, a little odd juxtaposed with his other comments. He is a declared candidate for the presidential nomination, but is given little chance.

Jeff Landry, Representative from Louisiana and not a candidate for the nomination, said, “As government expands, liberty contracts.”

Texas Governor Rick Perry is not a declared candidate but will probably soon be. He emphasized his work as the longest tenured Governor of Texas ever. He lambasted Obama, at one point saying, “The arrogance of the Obama administration is an affront to every freedom-loving American and to every private sector job in this country.”

Mitt Romney, considered by some to be the frontrunner for the nomination, did not attend. Former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman did not attend either; he declared his candidacy after the conference.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Palin Derangement Syndrome

She’s baaaack!

The effect that Sarah Palin continues to have on liberals and the media elites is astonishing. They are obsessed with her. They are moths drawn to light; they can’t help themselves from following her around even though they detest her. It’s worse than that. It’s gotten to the point of being psychotic, as though they are possessed by some demon that forces them to do irrational and downright foolish things. I have a vision of them rolling on the floor, sputtering: “Puh --- puh --- puh ---- Palinnnnnnnnnnn, why dost thou torment us?” Sarah stretches out her arm in that signature wave of hers and says, “Media, get thee behind me.”

Mrs. Palin has been on a bus tour recently. As of this writing, she has not announced that she is running for office, but she is drawing huge crowds everywhere. And the media has flipped out.

Palin’s aides have refused to publish the tour’s itinerary, forcing anyone trying to cover it to engage in a Keystone Cops routine of chasing her bus down the freeway in order to be there when she gets out and says something. At one point, fifty (yes, fifty) reporters pressed her unsuccessfully for details of future stops. Mrs. Palin said she didn’t think she owed anything to the media. That’s putting it diplomatically, considering the despicable manner in which the media has treated her and her family for the last three years.

Sarah has now completely turned the tables and is actually playing with them. The bus tour circus may have reached its apogee in Gettysburg when Mrs. Palin used the tour bus as a decoy to lure a bunch of reporters to the back door of her hotel while she went quietly out of another entrance to visit the battlefield. The bus, meanwhile, was driving around in circles, followed by a caravan of reporters and others. Eventually, Sarah did get on the bus and headed for Dillsburg with media vehicles in hot pursuit. As she neared Philadelphia, the media caravan still following, a couple of local news helicopters flew overhead to film the spectacle.

This is from the very same media which called her an idiot, stupid, ignorant, a yahoo, etc. If any of that is true, why do they care where she goes or what she says?

MSNBC’s Martin Bashir made a complete fool of himself recently when he told viewers that Palin’s bus tour is illegal because the bus has American flags painted on it! He really said that, on national TV. You see, there is some federal law that says the U.S. flag can’t be used in advertising, or something like that. No more Fourth of July fireworks sales, I guess. According to Mr. Bashir’s logic, the flag will also have to banned from all political rallies from now on since they raise money at those events.

That’s what seeing Saran Palin riding around in a bus painted with images of the Stars and Stripes does to the media elites; they turn into blithering idiots.

There’s more. On, Kasie Hunt published a piece that lambastes Palin and her bus tour because the two SUV’s Palin uses locally, get ready , “--- flew right past a flashing sign informing them they were going 45 in a 35 mph zone.” That’s right, the bus tour is a rolling menace. According to the Politico, it’s horrors include speeding; making sudden lane changes; not giving turn signals; almost hitting a biker; running stop lights; creating traffic jams. Strangely enough, amidst all of this hell on wheels from Mrs. Palin’s bus tour, the police have issued no tickets.

Chris Matthews in his June 2 “Hardball” show on MSNBC (Why are so many of these nut cases on MSNBC?) said that Sarah Palin is the most divisive figure since Abraham Lincoln “caused” the Civil War. Matthews fulminated that “Sarah Palin went right into New Hampshire, serving as a human grenade -----.” This is “Palin Derangement Syndrome” on full display.

Here’s how good Sarah Palin has become at this political game. One hour before Mitt Romney made his official announcement, in New Hampshire, that he was running for President, Sarah Palin was in Romney’s home state of Massachusetts criticizing Romneycare, one of Romney’s signature achievements as governor of that state. Then Saran Barracuda, the Pit Bull with lipstick, “went right into New Hampshire”, as Matthews put it, to annihilate Romney’s big announcement. And she isn’t even running.

There was a large article by Kimberly Strassel in the June 3 edition of the Wall Street Journal on Sarah Palin. Ms. Strassel goes on at length about how Mrs. Palin has not taken advantage of the time since 2008 to “redefine herself”. She hasn’t boned up on the issues; she hasn’t educated herself; she hasn’t built a “brilliant” team; she hasn’t accomplished anything (never mind that million seller book and TV series).

They’re talking about Palin on ABC, where Good Morning America correspondent John Berman dismissed her bus tour as a “magical mystery bus”, and went on to say she makes Romney appear as a “more safe, a more secure, a more reasonable candidate”. Let’s see, now, was that before or after she blew up his announcement?

She ate pizza with The Donald. She went to a clambake in New Hampshire. Who knows where she will pop up next? It’s all so terrifying! No one is safe! Aughhhhhhhh!

Here’s what we learn from all of this. Either the liberal media is deranged when it comes to Sarah Palin, or they discern something in her that they see as a serious threat to their anointed candidates.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Sabato's Crystal Ball

This is interesting, but keep in mind that the author is a liberal Democrat. Copy and paste the link.

Monday, June 6, 2011

The Diversity of the Republican Party

The presidential campaign season is upon us. On the Republican side, the field is crowded and wide open. Watching and reading about all of these contenders, it struck me that this is a very diverse group of people. And the more I researched the candidates, the more intriguing it became. There are some top tier candidates, so to speak, but no “crowned princes/princesses”. Many of the candidates represent what is best about America: Ordinary people who have achieved extraordinary things; people who through their God-given talents and their own hard work, have gone far in life. Some of the candidates are lawyers, of course, but we also have everything from the college professor to the air force pilot to the doctor to the beauty queen to the real estate mogul to the corporate CEO to the Godfather of pizza (whose mother was a cleaning lady, by the way).

Here is a synopsis of the background of most of the candidates or potential candidates.

Mitt Romney (64)
Romney was born and raised in Michigan. Romney is a corporate executive turned politician. He is the son of a corporate CEO and former governor of Michigan. He is highly educated and very successful in the corporate world, and he is quite wealthy. He is a Mormon and is married with four children.

Romney ran for U.S. Senate against Ted Kennedy and lost in 1994. In 2002, he was elected Governor of Massachusetts. He improved the state’s finances via spending cuts and increases in fees. One of his signature accomplishments as governor was the landmark Massachusetts health care reform, which provided near-universal health access via subsidies and state-level mandates.

In 2008, Romney ran for the Republican Presidential nomination and did well, but dropped out (McCain became the nominee).

Tim Pawlenty (51)
Pawlenty is a lawyer who got into politics at an early age and has been there ever since. He has lived his whole life in Minnesota. He is married with two daughters. He was raised as a Roman Catholic but converted to Evangelical Christian, probably due to his wife.

His career includes Eagan City Planning Commission, Eagan City Council (at the age of 28), state Representative (four terms), and Governor of Minnesota (two terms). He eliminated the state budget deficit by cutting spending and using earmarked funds. In 2007 and 2008, he served as the chairman of the National Governor’s Conference.

Pawlenty was closely involved with McCain’s presidential campaign in 2008, and began early steps for his own run in late 2009.

Rick Santorum (53)
Santorum was born in Winchester, Virginia, and grew up in West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. He is married with seven children. His wife also had another child born prematurely that lived only two hours. He is Roman Catholic.

Santorum has BA, MBA, and JD degrees. He practiced law for four years in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1990. In 1994, he was elected to the U.S. Senate, at the age of 36. In 2006, he failed to win re-election in an election fraught with much controversy.

Sarah Palin (47)
Palin was born in Idaho but her family moved to Alaska when she was a few months old, and she’s been there ever since. In 1984, she came in third in the Miss Alaska beauty pageant. She attended a number of colleges and community colleges, ultimately receiving a BA from the University of Idaho in 1987. She worked briefly as a sportscaster and sports reporter. In 1988, she eloped with her high school sweetheart; they now have five children.

Starting in 1992, she was elected to the Wasilla City Council twice, then she was elected mayor of Wasilla for two terms. From 2003 to 2006, she held various appointed positions in Alaskan government. In 2006, she became the state’s first female governor and the youngest governor in Alaska’s history. In 2008, she was the Republican nominee for Vice President on the McCain ticket.

Her book Going Rogue has sold more than two million copies.

Herman Cain (45)
Cain was born in Memphis, Tennessee and raised in Georgia. His mother was a cleaner and his father was a chauffer. Cain received a BA in math and a Master’s degree in computer science while working full time for the Department of the Navy. He worked for Coca-Cola, Pillsbury, Burger King, and ended his corporate career as CEO of Godfather’s Pizza. After turning Godfather’s around, he lead a group of investors that bought Godfather’s Pizza. He was a director of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and it’s Chairman. In 1996, he became CEO of the National Restaurant Association. He hosted The Herman Cain Show on talk radio until February, 2011.

He is married with two children, and is a Southern Baptist.

Ron Paul (75)
Ron Paul is a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and graduate of Gettysburg College and the Duke University School of Medicine. Paul served as a flight surgeon in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 until 1968, during the Vietnam War. He worked as an obstetrician and gynecologist in Texas in the 1960s and 1970s. He was first elected to Congress in 1978. He has the most conservative voting record of any member of Congress since 1937. He has run for President three times. He has been described as a conservative, Constitutionalist, and Libertarian.

He is married with five children, and is a Baptist. His son, Rand Paul, was elected Senator from Kentucky in 2010.

Newt Gingrich (67)
Gingrich is a college professor turned politician. He was born in Harrisburg, PA in a military family. The family moved a number of times while he was growing up; he graduated from high school in Columbus , Georgia.

Gingrich has been married three times. He was a Southern Baptist but converted to Catholicism.

Gingrich represented Georgia’s 6th congressional district from 1979 to 1999. He served as Speaker of the House form 1995 to 1999. In 1995, Times Magazine selected him as “Person of the Year” for his role in leading the Republican Revolution in the house, ending 40 years of the Democrat Party being the majority. In the 1994 campaign season, Gingrich came up with the “Contract With America”, which contained ten policies that Republicans promised to bring to a vote on the House floor if they won the election, which they did. Congress fulfilled Gingrich's Contract promise to bring all ten of the Contract's issues to a vote within the first 100 days of the session, even though most legislation was initially held up in the Senate. Many aspects of the proposal were implemented in subsequent legislation.

By 1998, Gingrich had become a highly visible and polarizing figure in the national public's eye, due to political ethics lapses and events in his personal life .Gingrich announced on November 6, 1998 that he would not only stand down as Speaker of the House, but would leave the House as well. He had been handily reelected to an 11th term in that election, but declined to take his seat. He has since maintained a career as a political commentator, public speaker, and author.

Rick Perry (61)
Perry is a fifth generation Texan. He grew up on a ranch in West Texas and attended Texas A&M. After graduation, he was commissioned into the Air Force and flew C-130’s in the U.S., Middle East, and Europe. In 1977, he returned to Texas and went in to the cotton farming business with his father.

Perry served in the Texas legislature as a Democrat starting in 1984. In 1989, he switched to the Republican Party. He also was elected as Texas Agricultural Commissioner, and Lieutenant Governor. He became Governor in 2000 when George Bush resigned to become President. Perry holds all records for Texas gubernatorial tenure. He was elected to full terms in 2002, 2006 and 2010, an unprecedented feat in Texas political history. He served as Chairman of the Republican Governors Association in 2008.

Perry is married to his high school sweetheart; they have two children. He is a Methodist.

Michele Bachman (55)
Bachman was born Michele Marie Amble in Waterloo, Iowa into a family of “Norwegian Lutheran Democrats”. After her parents divorced, she was raised by her mother. She graduated from Winona State University and received law degrees from Oral Roberts University and William & Mary. She worked as a tax attorney for the IRS from 1988 to 1993. She left that position to become a full time mother.

Bachman has been a tea party, pro-life, and defense of marriage activist. In 2000, Bachman defeated an 18 year incumbent to be elected to the Minnesota Senate. Since 2007, she has served in the U.S. House of Representatives. She is a founder of the House Tea Party Caucus.

Donald Trump (64)
Trump is the fourth of five children of Fred Trump, a real-estate tycoon and developer based in New York City. Donald was inspired to follow his father into real-estate development, and began working on projects for his father's real-estate firm while still in college. Upon his graduation from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in1968, Trump formally joined his father's company, Elizabeth Trump & Son. He took the helm in 1971 and renamed it The Trump Organization.
His extravagant lifestyle and outspoken manner have made him a celebrity for years.

Trump has done many real estate deals in New York City and elsewhere. He saw early success, but then ran into some financial and legal difficulties. These matters were worked through and he has had a resurgence in the last few years.

His television show “The Apprentice” is highly successful; he is now one of the highest paid TV personalities. In 2007, Trump received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Trump has dropped out of the race, but then said he might get back in if no “suitable” candidate emerges.

There are others I haven’t mentioned: Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York City and the 13th richest person in America; Mitch Daniels, Governor of Indiana (who has dropped out of the race); Ron Hunstman, Governor of Utah; Paul Ryan, the man who tackled the federal budget.

This race is going to be fun ----- let ‘er rip!!!!!