Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Reports of the Death of the Death Tax Greatly Exaggerated

The Obama budget halts the phase out of the Estate Tax, also known as the Death Tax.

If Congress says okay, and with this bunch why wouldn't they, the Death Tax will carry on at 45 percent for estates over $3.5 million. This will represent a tax increase, despite Obama officials' claim to the contrary.

No one has ever been able to convince me that there was any justification for the state to take away a single penny of an estate, let alone a large percentage of it. Some will say that the estate tax only applies to the very wealthy, and I would counter with two points:

1. Why does the government have any greater claim on the accumulated wealth of a man or woman with $3.5 million than it does on another person who only managed to save $3.4 million? Government has already taxed, at multiple levels, the gross income or produce that left this net amount to be saved. Now it wants more? By what reason? That it belongs to society? Bull!

2. It is not difficult for an American farm family to amass estates of $3.5 million. It is also not difficult for farming dynasties to be wiped out due to callous death tax penalties, to the detriment of that part of our economy that actually feeds us.

If you want an interesting read on the morality of the Death Tax, stop by HERE.

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What's Wrong with Lord Obama?

I employ a double standard when it comes to Hollywood celebrity, which is that I will still watch your movies and TV shows if you demonstrate competence as an actor, even if you are a total chowderhead politically.

Unfortunately for Debra Messing, she never passed my ACT (Acting Competency Test). Now she's flunked the PCR (Political Chowderhead Review), as she is quoted by Fox News today:

Debra Messing also told Tarts that our new President is not only meeting her expectations, but going far beyond.

"He is thoughtful and considerate and he gets all the information before he speaks which I think is a wonderful quality for the ruler of the free world to have," she explained.

Ruler of the free world?


Absent the Defense of the USA

The technology transfer of guidance systems and rocketry that took place in the 1990s is starting to pay big dividends for Red China, and big worries for the United States.

After years of conjecture, details have begun to emerge of a "kill weapon" developed by the Chinese to target and destroy U.S. aircraft carriers.

First posted on a Chinese blog viewed as credible by military analysts and then translated by the naval affairs blog Information Dissemination a recent report provides a description of an anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM) that can strike carriers and other U.S. vessels at a range of 2000km. [snip]

The size of the missile enables it to carry a warhead big enough to inflict significant damage on a large vessel, providing the Chinese the capability of destroying a U.S. supercarrier in one strike.

Because the missile employs a complex guidance system, low radar signature and a maneuverability that makes its flight path unpredictable, the odds that it can evade tracking systems to reach its target are increased. It is estimated that the missile can travel at mach 10 and reach its maximum range of 2000km in less than 12 minutes.

Supporting the missile is a network of satellites, radar and unmanned aerial vehicles that can locate U.S. ships and then guide the weapon, enabling it to hit moving targets.

Pair this report with another news item today - Senator: Expect painful cuts in Pentagon budget -- and you have the ingredients for a Perfect Storm in the Pacific.

The only common denominator of the reports is that both the technology transfer and the budget cuts will take place during the administrations of those who would rather speak loudly and carry a small stick than rely on peace through strength. Trillions for pork, but small potatoes for defense.


Monday, March 30, 2009

Media Blackout Ends in Dismay

Went on a 24-hour self-imposed media blackout in order to make a short trip to Baja Oklahoma.

Punched in WBAP (Dallas AM station) on the return trip and heard how Mr. Obama is now apparently making the hiring and firing decisions at General Motors.
"Let me be clear: The United States government has no interest in running GM; we have no intention in running GM," Obama said.

But that was at the same time he was formally announcing the departure of Wagoner, whom administration officials forced into retirement on Sunday in preparation for the president's remarks.

"This is not meant as a criticism of Mr. Wagoner, who has devoted his life to this company; rather it's a recognition that it will take a new vision and new direction to create the GM of the future," Obama said.

Obviously I need to analyze the details, but on first blush it doesn't look good. No, siree!

What does Barack Obama know about running an auto company? Or any company?

Think! When you consider Tim Geithner's request for broader powers to take over "problem" companies, even those who haven't accepted federal bailouts, the president's actions would seem to give us an indication of what the endgame actually entails.

And did you hear the interview clip where Tax Cheat Tim predicted that in the future Americans wouldn't be concerned about the amount of pay they take home but the social importance of the work they do?

I'm not trying to be all 19th Century or anything, but yikes!

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Why Consumers Take Dim View of Compact Fluorescents

"In the pursuit of the holy grail, we stepped on the consumer."

That's one of the reviews of the new compact fluorescent light bulbs that is pissing off American consumers. The New York Times has an article out entitled, "Do New Bulbs Save Energy if They Don't Work?"
SAN FRANCISCO — It sounds like such a simple thing to do: buy some new light bulbs, screw them in, save the planet.

But a lot of people these days are finding the new compact fluorescent bulbs anything but simple. Consumers who are trying them say they sometimes fail to work, or wear out early. At best, people discover that using the bulbs requires learning a long list of dos and don’ts.


Experts say the quality problems are compounded by poor package instructions. Using the bulbs incorrectly, like screwing low-end bulbs into fixtures where heat is prone to build up, can greatly shorten their lives.

Some experts who study the issue blame the government for the quality problems, saying an intensive federal push to lower the price essentially backfired by encouraging manufacturers to use cheap components.

I would be remiss if I didn't point out that the Chinese once again are involved:

Victor Roberts, an independent expert in Burnt Hills, N.Y., who conducts failure analysis testing on compact fluorescents, suspects that some suppliers — many of them in China — are using substandard components.

“Somebody decides to save a little money somewhere,” he said, “and suddenly we have hundreds of thousands of failures.”

Don't you just love it when our government steps in to help us?


College Withdraws Ayers Invite

Sometimes the good guys win.

Boston College, a nominally Catholic institution, has dis-invited unrepentant "domestic disaster maker" Bill Ayers to speak at the school this coming Monday.



A (Very) Brief Moment of Political Agreement

I never thought I'd find myself in agreement with the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, the Right Reverend Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, but in his recent bitch-slapping of a peace overture from President Obama, he asked this question:

“We don’t know who is making decisions in America — is it the president, the Congress, or some unknown people who pull the strings?”

Need I say more?


Obama Justice: Some Books Could be Banned

The Obama Justice Department claims that the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law gives government the right to ban certain books and films!

No kidding. The editors of the National Review discuss this here.
Now Deputy Solicitor General Malcolm Stewart has gone before the Supreme Court arguing that McCain-Feingold gives the government the right to ban books and films. He’s right, it does. And for that reason, McCain-Feingold should be nullified.
If that's not bad enough, Stewart argued that the government has the right to ban books under certain circumstances.
At issue is a film called Hillary: The Movie, a documentary produced by the nonprofit group Citizens United, which did not wish to see Senator Clinton elected president. Because McCain-Feingold prohibits so much as mentioning a candidate’s name in pre-election communications paid for by certain disfavored groups — unions and “corporations” — the filmmakers were informed by a federal judge that showing their work would constitute a crime. The filmmakers sued, and the case is Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. Mr. Stewart is defending the government’s ban on this film; the same rules that apply to a campaign commercial apply to a documentary film, his reasoning goes. Justice Alito alertly pressed Mr. Stewart on that issue: If commercials and films are covered, how about books? How about campaign biographies? Yes, Mr. Stewart answered, the U.S. government is prepared to ban books, under certain circumstances, and is legally empowered by McCain-Feingold to do so. Jaws dropped, black robes fluttered.

Under the law, it depends on who is paying for those communications, and here the government has two targets, one well defined and one less so. The first group whose speech is suppressed under McCain-Feingold is labor unions. We rarely find ourselves on the same side politically, but we would not see them stripped of their First Amendment rights. The second group is “corporations,” a word that has practically become a term of abuse ...

Put another way, a stripper pole-dancing in Vegas has more robust First Amendment protections under current practice than does a political-advocacy group organized as a nonprofit corporation. [snip] ... Practically every media business and book publisher of any consequence is a corporation under the law. A Supreme Court decision in favor of McCain-Feingold threatens the free-speech rights of most of the organized enterprises engaged in political debate.
The NR editors correctly point out that the liberals in Congress have proposed a "bailout" for newspapers that would further restrict even their right of free speech by prohibiting "endorsement" of candidates.

What can we do about it? Start demanding the repeal of McCain-Feingold. It should not matter whether you are liberal or conservative, a D- or an R-. If you are a real American, you cannot sit idly while our precious liberties are taken from us one by one!

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Rejecting Obama's Latest False Choice

Almost missed this one, but Mark Steyn has sharp eyes:
Writing in the Chicago Tribune last week, President Obama fell back on one of his favorite rhetorical tics: “But I also know,” he wrote, “that we need not choose between a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism and an oppressive government-run economy. That is a false choice that will not serve our people or any people.”

Really? For the moment, it’s a “false choice” mainly in the sense that he’s not offering it: “a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism” is not on the menu, which leaves “an oppressive government-run economy” as pretty much the only game in town. How oppressive is yet to be determined: To be sure, the official position remains that only “the richest five percent” will have taxes increased. But you’ll be surprised at the percentage of Americans who wind up in the richest five percent.
Steyn is right. What we need right now is a chaotic and unforgiving capitalism that will clear out the detritus of failing businesses and incompetent executives, allowing the productive and competent to revitalize the American economy. It's what we needed last summer as well.

More on point excerpts:
The 44th president is proposing to add more to the national debt than the first 43 presidents combined, doubling it in the next six years, and tripling it within the decade.
Did you know that?

Put down what you're drinking before you read the next one.

When the Bolsheviks chose to introduce Russians to the blessings of a “command economy” 90 years ago, they were dealing with a relatively simple agricultural society largely contained within national borders. Obama and Geithner are trying to do it with a sophisticated global economy in which North American consumers, European bankers, Asian suppliers, Saudi investors, and Chinese debt-holders are more tangled than an octopuses’ orgy.
Or is it octopi? And is it in a garden, in the shade?
In their first two months, Obama and Geithner have done nothing but vaporize your wealth, and your children’s future. What began as an economic crisis is now principally a political usurpation.
I know it's the weekend, but read his entire column anyway.

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Earth to Mrs. Clinton?

If it is not bad enough that in the same day, Hillary Clinton was both received at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Patroness of the Unborn) in Mexico City AND by Planned Parenthood to receive the Margaret Sanger Award ...

... and taking into account her goof with the "Easy" button meant to repair relations with Russia ...

... she now wants to know, after the second time visiting the Basilica, who painted the image of Our Lady on Juan Diego's Tilma.

I love the Monsignor's answer.

DAVE the OKLAHOMILIST chimes in:

It's worse than you told us, Anthony. Not only does she go through the motions of presenting flowers to Our Lady's image and lighting a green candle, which is nice but incongruent with her Planned Parenthood award later in the day, then she walks out of the big church and tells the Mexican crowds, "You have a nice Virgin!"

(Well, yes, she is very nice, but we're kinda surprised you noticed. Maybe your headline should be: "God to Mrs. Clinton." I think she's too much in touch with the world.)

You can't help thinking: These are the professionals who were going to repair the image of the United States in the world after eight years of the "idiot cowboy from Texas"?

(By the way, if you have trouble accessing the link, try going to the CNA home page and clicking on the story from there.)

Another good review of the story can be found at GetReligion.org.

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Putting a Face on What's Wrong With the Markets

All you who are angry at AIG employees for their bonuses, here's someone else you might want to take issue with.

George Soros, who has made $2.9 billion betting against mostly American stocks and the U.S. dollar just in the past couple of years.

But other investors failed to take notice of his prediction and his decision to come out of retirement in 2007 to manage the fund made him $US2.9 billion.

And while the financial crisis continued to deepen across the globe, the 78-year-old still managed to make $1.1 billion last year.

'It is, in a way, the culminating point of my life’s work,' he told national newspaper The Australian.

Soros is one of 25, top hedge fund managers from across Wall Street who have defied the credit crunch crisis to reap a total of $11.6billion (£7.9bn) last year.

The managers made their profit by trading above the pain in the markets

...Above the pain?

That's just another way of saying that Soros and his evil imitators are not feeling your pain, and they probably never will. These are people who are smart enough to bet against everyone else's prosperity.

Now you may ask, Mr. Oklahomilist, aren't you in favor of capitalism and making money?

Damn straight, I am. But these men are not capitalists. They are gamblers who game the economic systems of the world and they do not "make" money so much as they steal it from all the people, large, small and in-between, who bust their humps day in and day out to try to eke out a living.

Then you take someone like Soros who is all in favor of riches for himself but thinks that the rest of us ought to live in the workers' utopia of world socialism, who spends fortunes on establishing and funding NGO's (non-governmental organizations) that actively work against constitutional principles, and you have to ask yourself: what is his motivation?

Is it power? Does he see himself as the man behind a future one-world government who pulls the strings on the major players?

Is it sadism? Does he enjoy stripping wealth away from those who invest their hard-earned retirement savings by hood-winking portfolio managers who thought they were smart enough to bet against him?

Is it hatred? Is it love?

Well, frankly, my dears, I don't give a damn. There is a special place in Hell reserved for Mr. Soros unless he repents of his evil ways and finds a way to make restitution. I know that I should pray for his conversion, and so I will, reluctantly.

But I ain't holding my breath.


Pelosi's Prescription for America

Were you afraid Congress had forgotten about socialized health care?

March 26 (Bloomberg) -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the House this year will consider health-care legislation including an option for a government-run program that would compete with insurers.

“This is a big agenda, and I believe it should have a public option in it for it to be really substantial,” Pelosi told reporters at her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol. [snip]

Pelosi said the Democratic-controlled House will be “aggressive” in its approach to a health-care overhaul, which is a centerpiece of Obama’s agenda. She said a government role in health care will help U.S. companies be more competitive.

“This is not only about the health of individuals in our country, which will be justification enough,” said Pelosi, a California Democrat. “It’s about the competitiveness of our businesses to make them globally competitive because they are competing with companies and countries where the federal government -- their governments -- pay for health care. They don’t have to bear those health care costs.”

My gosh, this woman is such a genius! Not! She has no clue that the reason the American health care system is the best in the world -- still, despite existing government intrusion -- is because other governments in the world have already ruined their health-care systems. And she thinks this is a freakin' selling point?

Where in the Constitution does it say the federal government should "get health care insurance premiums off the books of private business so that they can be competitive globally"?

It doesn't.

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What to Call the War on Terror?

Too good not to repeat:

Glenn Beck, on the Obama Administration's redefinition of the now-obsolete Global War on Terror, doesn't care at all for the new term, Overseas Contingency Operation.

"Why don't we call it 'Operation Ass Kickin'," he suggests. "Let's just go over there, kick ass, and call it a day."

Sounds fine with me.


Prevent Suicides, Not Drug Runners

We can't build even a fraction of the border fence that was authorized by Congress three years ago to prevent drug runners and human traffickers from plying their trade from Mexico.

But we can build "suicide fences" in Akron, Ohio.

One man jumped to his death off the All-America Bridge this year.

Two more used the Akron bridge — more commonly known as the Y-Bridge — to commit suicide in 2008.

Akron hopes to curtail future deaths on what has been dubbed ''Suicide Bridge'' by installing a fence.

The controversial fencing — some have been pushing for it, while others think it's a waste of money — was among the local projects the state approved Thursday for federal stimulus funds.

''It just makes a safer Akron for everybody,'' said Robert Conley, who has been urging the fencing since his son, Kevin, jumped off the bridge to his death in 2006.

I don't have a problem with suicide fencing, per se, although I don't see how this is a federal priority. State and local governments should be on top of that one.

But border security is one of the constitutional requirements of the federal government. Why isn't this a priority?

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More Geithner Equivocation

An interesting conversation on Capitol Hill, as related by The Washington Post:

In testimony before the House Financial Services committee that just adjourned, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner just had to defend his institutional takeover plan against charges of radicalism.

"Do you realize how radical your proposal is?" Rep. Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.) asked.

"It's not radical. . ." Geither began, before Manzullo interrupted him.

"You're talking about seizing private businesses and you don't consider that radical?" Manzullo replied, his voice rising.

Manzullo is trying to get Geithner to give details of the plan -- that's where Geithner got stung before -- but Geithner doesn't have them yet.

If the plan were not radical, Manzullo said to Geithner, "you would have answers to some of my questions, such as, what size business would be subject to this?"

Simply incredible.

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To Fight Global Warming, U.N. Will Steal Our Wealth, Jobs

Are you ready to live under global government?

If Tim Geithner's slip-up on being open-minded to a one-world reserve currency wasn't enough to convince you that we have turned off on the road to hell, consider the implications of a 16-page "note" being circulated by the United Nations to those who will attend a "mammoth negotiating session" on global climate change in Bonn, Germany, next week.
A United Nations document on "climate change" that will be distributed to a major environmental conclave next week envisions a huge reordering of the world economy, likely involving trillions of dollars in wealth transfer, millions of job losses and gains, new taxes, industrial relocations, new tariffs and subsidies, and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes — all under the supervision of the world body.

Those and other results are blandly discussed in a discretely worded United Nations "information note" on potential consequences of the measures that industrialized countries will likely have to take to implement the Copenhagen Accord, the successor to the Kyoto Treaty, after it is negotiated and signed by December 2009. The Obama administration has said it supports the treaty process if, in the words of a U.S. State Department spokesman, it can come up with an "effective framework" for dealing with global warming.

The 16-page note, obtained by FOX News, will be distributed to participants at a mammoth negotiating session that starts on March 29 in Bonn, Germany, the first of three sessions intended to hammer out the actual commitments involved in the new deal.

Consider the points:

1. Trillions of dollars in wealth transfers. You don't transfer wealth from poor countries to rich countries. That means we are the targets of this U.N. scheme.

2. Millions of job losses, and gains. Who loses and who gains? See point No. 1.

3. New taxes (see point No.1).

4. Industrial relocations (see point No.2)

5. New tariffs and subsidies and complicated payments for greenhouse gas abatement schemes and carbon taxes under the supervision of the world body (U.N.)

All of this openly discussed in a memo we weren't supposed to know about.

There is nothing in the United States Constitution that would permit our Congress or President, or any group acting in their name, to agree to this. Even if man-made global climate change were real -- and it isn't -- we would have to amend the Constitution in order to surrender our sovereign rights, and most Americans would say no to this.

Please, people, wake up! The world-wide socialist movement is hiding itself in the environmental revolution, no longer "red" but "green." Don't let them enslave you in exchange for false security for a threat that does not exist.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Politicians Debate Championship B.S.

This is why I have no use for political parties.

U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, is leading a Senate subcommittee debate on legislation that would force Division 1-A universities to come up with a "fairer" system for determining a national championship in football.

The current system "leaves nearly half of all the teams in college football at a competitive disadvantage when it comes to qualifying for the millions of dollars paid out every year," the Senate Judiciary's subcommittee on antitrust, competition policy and consumer rights said in a statement Wednesday announcing the hearings.


Obama and some members of Congress favor a playoff-type system to determine the national champion. The BCS features a championship game between the two top teams in the BCS standings, based on two polls and six computer ratings.

Behind the push for the hearings is the subcommittee's top Republican, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah. People there were furious that Utah was bypassed for the national championship despite going undefeated in the regular season.


The subcommittee's statement said Hatch would introduce legislation "to rectify this situation." No details were offered and Hatch's office declined to provide any.

Hatch said in a statement that the BCS system "has proven itself to be inadequate, not only for those of us who are fans of college football, but for anyone who believes that competition and fair play should have a role in collegiate sports."

Where does one begin?

First, the BCS system is a train wreck. Every year. So was its predecessor. So was the system before that. Every year at least one, if not more, teams get the shaft. That's football. That's life. Get over it.

Next, for the love of all that's true and righteous, doesn't the United States Senate have bigger fish to fry than collegiate football. The economy is in full meltdown, President Obama's trying to turn us into the U.S.S.A., Mexican drug gangs are spilling over the border, the North Koreans are threatening "war" and Algore has promised to unleash a new climate change book against us later this year. Don't we have enough freaking legitimate issues to deal with without wasting time on the "mythical" football championship?

We all have our points of view on college football, and if I worked for Sports Illustrated I could wax eloquently for weeks on the finer points of what would make for a more competitive and fair championship determination. But I don't and neither does Orrin Hatch or any of the other geniuses on Capitol Hill who have been there too long.

Since when did it become the responsibility of the federal government to guarantee competition and fair play anyway? I thought Uncle Sam was supposed to defend our borders, protect the integrity of our monetary system, maintain an independent and politics-neutral judicial system, and for the most part stay the hell out of everyone else's way.

Maybe I'm a little old fashioned. I expect people to follow the Constitution AND common sense. You see, that's the problem: our politicians in both parties are more interested in grandstanding on irrelevant issues that may play well back home than they are in taking courageous stands on tougher issues that can mean life or death for our economy or, more importantly, our liberty.

If Utah isn't national champion next year, this democratic republic will survive.

But if lawmakers fail to challenge the rush to socialism, the expenditure of trillions of dollars that we will have to print, and allow a small cabal of high level officials to nationalize firms "endangering" the economy, all in the name of equalizing competition and promoting fairness, there will be nothing of the democratic republic left, and no need for either Democrats or Republicans. At last the enemies of freedom, in the name of evolving standards of equality and justice, will have brought us together as We, the People who once were free.

I don't think we will lament the loss of political parties much when we realize that it was their silly gamesmanship that distracted us from the real issues.

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Striking Close to Home

It's been a good day, but I couldn't devote enough time to complete a thought for posting for the longest time.

We've had intermittent thunderstorms and our Junior Oklahomilist thought his car had been struck by lightning -- with him in it -- at one point, although I'm a bit skeptical since there is no visible burn or damage marks on the car. Admittedly it was very close to him, close enough to convince an oncoming motorist to stop her vehicle dead in the road to gape at my son.

Thank God for big favors, in this case.

The rain and warmth have signaled an explosion of blossoms and leaves on plants and trees. Several dogwoods are merely breathtaking in their glory. All of this just in time for the possibility of snow tomorrow night. Of course, most of that is expected for Tulsa and northward, not down here.

Yet, strange things do happen.


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Good Times Just Keep on Coming...

Do you think these two stories might be linked in some way?

Obama asks Volker to Lead Panel on Tax Overhaul

White House to Hunt for New Tax Revenues

A few details from Story No.1:
President Barack Obama is putting former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in charge of a tax- code review aimed at closing loopholes, streamlining the law and generating revenue, budget Director Peter Orszag said.

Volcker, 81, who heads the president’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board, is being asked to take a look at the laws in an effort to rebalance the tax system.

Orszag said the review, given a deadline of Dec. 4, is being ordered to make recommendations on steps to simplify the code, built over the last 96 years, in ways that would reduce tax evasion and what he called “corporate welfare.”

“There are hundreds of billions of dollars in uncollected taxes each year,” Orszag said in a conference call. The Volcker board “will be examining ways of being even more aggressive on reducing the tax gap.”

Do you suppose members of Congress will actually get to read any of these tax law changes before they are stampeded to vote for them at some point down the road?
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, a Montana Democrat, said the tax reform panel should “outline core principles” and leave to lawmakers the task of drafting a tax code overhaul. “We’re the Congress,” he said.
Is this where they will eliminate the mortgage deduction for "the rich" -- or the rest of us, if they decide that they need the money?

Details from Story No.2, which mentions the Volcker task force:
WASHINGTON -- The White House said it would launch a search for new tax revenues, as Congressional leaders moved to scale back proposed spending increases and tax cuts in President Barack Obama's ambitious budget. [snip]

Lawmakers also were effectively excluding several middle-class tax-cut pledges that Mr. Obama made in his budget, including long-term relief from the Alternative Minimum Tax, and even long-term extension of his Making Work Pay credit. Extending AMT relief and the Making Work Pay tax credit could run around $200 billion each over the next five years. Both are in effect now but expire soon.
The proposals giveth, the actual legislation may taketh away.

If you voted for Mr. Obama, or anyone in Congress who said they would be fiscally responsible, did you think that meant ramp up your taxes?


Rocket Surgeon Geithner Must Go!

I've had enough. Tim Geithner must go. I don't care that there isn't anyone else in Treasury yet to do any work. An empty room is better than an empty head!

The man is either an imbecile or a marionette, parroting the lines of whoever is pulling the strings behind the scenery.

China is pushing for a new world currency to replace the U.S. dollar. Do you know what the effect of dumping the dollar as the world's reserve currency will do to our economy? Our children's future? You don't want to find out!

Geithner says he's "open" to the idea.

Geithner, at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S. is "open" to a headline-grabbing proposal by the governor of the China's central bank, which was widely reported as being a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar, but which Geithner described as more modest and "evolutionary."

"I haven’t read the governor’s proposal. He’s a very thoughtful, very careful distinguished central banker. I generally find him sensible on every issue," Geithner said, saying that however his interpretation of the proposal was to increase the use of International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights -- shares in the body held by its members -- not creating a new currency in the literal sense.

"We’re actually quite open to that suggestion – you should see it as rather evolutionary rather building on the current architecture rather than moving us to global monetary union," he said.

"Evolutionary" as in how can we travel just a bit farther along the path to the worldwide nirvana where everyone will contribute according to his ability and everyone will receive according to his needs?

Yeah, I know I'm extrapolating just a bit, but what ever happened to each nation being responsible for keeping its own house in order? Once upon a long, long time ago there was nothing in this world more solid than the U.S. greenback because we kept our fiscal house in order and we kept our promises. Now we'll be lucky if we don't crater our currency before the year's out.

Immediately upon uttering this insane statement, the dollar plunged 1.3 percent against world currencies, then regained itself somewhat when he said the dollar should remain the world's reserve currency. The Dow Jones Industrials, after having been up 200 points earlier, lost all that and then some in a matter of a couple of hours.

But the money quote is yet to come. Geithner said this of the dollar's continued role as a reserve currency. Mark my words, his words will come back to haunt us:
The continued use of the dollar as a reserve currency, he added, "depends..on how effective we are in the United States...at getting our fiscal system back to the point where people judge it as sustainable over time.
You cannot rack up trillions in budget deficits, threaten to take over private corporations, and propose sweeping new spending and taxing programs that will totally remake the American economy, and be judged as having a sustainable currency.

It cannot be done.

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You Know You're in Trouble When ...

... the head of the European Union says you're acting too socialist.

a European leader who makes sense.

BRUSSELS (AP) -- The head of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plan to spend nearly $2 trillion to push the U.S. economy out of recession as "the road to hell" that EU governments must avoid.

The blunt comments by Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to the European Parliament on Wednesday highlighted simmering European differences with Washington ahead of a key summit next week on fixing the world economy.

It was the strongest pushback yet from a European leader as the 27-nation bloc bristles from U.S. criticism that it is not spending enough to stimulate demand.

Shocked by the outburst, other European politicians went into damage control mode, with some reproaching the Czech leader for his language and others reaffirming their good diplomatic ties with the United States. The leaders of EU's major nations -- France, Britain and Germany, among others -- largely ignored Topolanek and his remarks.

Topolanek is correct. It is the road to hell. The reason the leaders of other EU nations are ignoring him is because they, too, have accepted the socialist model and don't want to look like hypocrites. A nation like the Czech Republic, anxious to emulate the old U.S. model of free markets and free people after decades of suffering under Soviet domination, doesn't understand what could be sexy with growing government by spending trillions of dollars that have to be printed.

There are other European nations that are quietly warning that America is on the wrong path, but their motives are not the same. A free, vibrant United States is the economic engine that pulls the rest of the world along. Without it, the entire world will be thrown into depression. It's a lot easier to dabble with socialism as long as you have a big capitalist friend who will buy your stuff and lend you assistance from time to time. It's not so much fun when you don't have a rich friend anymore.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Not Lost in Translation

George Will is one of those great writers who should never appear on television. The medium does not accurately reflect his talent; there is too much lost in translation.

A good example is his latest column in which these thoughts appear:
With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate the legal earnings of a small, unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration yesterday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government. [snip]

From Mexico, America is receiving needed instruction about fundamental rights and the rule of law. A leading Democrat trying to abolish the right of workers to secret ballots in unionization elections is California's Rep. George Miller who, with 15 other Democrats, in 2001 admonished Mexico: "The secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." Last year, Mexico's highest court unanimously affirmed for Mexicans the right that Democrats want to strip from Americans. [snip]

... the Constitution (is) a cobweb constraint on a Congress that, ignoring the document's unambiguous stipulations that the House shall be composed of members chosen "by the people of the several states," is voting to pretend that the District of Columbia is a state. Hence it supposedly can have a Democratic member of the House and, down the descending road, two Democratic senators. Congress rationalizes this anti-constitutional willfulness by citing the Constitution's language that each house shall be the judge of the "qualifications" of its members and that Congress can "exercise exclusive legislation" over the District. What, then, prevents Congress from giving House and Senate seats to Yellowstone National Park, over which Congress exercises exclusive legislation? Only Congress's capacity for embarrassment. So, not much. [snip]

When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours.
Good writing. It's a shame the progressives in Washington are giving him so much to write about.


Just Bad Luck, Part 2

An Indonesian fisherman visited the wrong island.
(CNN) -- An Indonesian fisherman has been killed by Komodo dragons after he was attacked while trespassing on a remote island in search of fruit, officials said Tuesday.

Muhamad Anwar, 32, bled to death on his way to hospital after being mauled by the reptiles at Loh Sriaya, in eastern Indonesia's Komodo National Park, the park's general manager Fransiskus Harum told CNN.

"The fisherman was inside the park when he went looking for sugar-apples. The area was forbidden for people to enter as there are a lot of wild dragons," Harum said.

The Komodo dragon, which can grow up to 10 feet in length, reportedly has a toxic bite, but Anwar didn't live long enough to find out just how toxic.

Perhaps they should offer fishermen maps with the island marked, "Beyond This Point There Be Dragons."


Just Bad Luck, Part 1

Japanese officials have finally verified that Tsutomu Yamaguchi, now 93, was an unfortunate victim of both the atomic bomb blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki on Aug. 6 & 9, 1945.

Tsutomu Yamaguchi had already been a certified "hibakusha," or radiation survivor, of the Aug. 9, 1945, atomic bombing in Nagasaki, but has now been confirmed as surviving the attack on Hiroshima three days earlier as well, city officials said.

Yamaguchi was in Hiroshima on a business trip on Aug. 6, 1945, when a U.S. B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on the city. He suffered serious burns to his upper body and spent the night in the city. He then returned to his hometown of Nagasaki just in time for the second attack, city officials said.

"As far as we know, he is the first one to be officially recognized as a survivor of atomic bombings in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki," Nagasaki city official Toshiro Miyamoto said.
Singular bad luck.


To Nationalize or Not to Nationalize?

Would you let Timmy Geithner or Barack Obama run your business?

Someday soon you might not have a choice.

The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president's Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.

And don't think they aren't chomping at the bit to get started.
WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says he hopes "it doesn't take too long" to convince Congress to approve new authority to oversee financial firms.

The administration is pushing the idea of an overarching regulator, such as the Federal Reserve, to have the ability to take over non-bank financial entities whose failure could topple the entire financial system.

Suddenly there are a lot of companies that are just too big to fail? Or too big a target for the grubby hands of the socialists in Washington?

Where do we draw the line next? Should government officials be given authority to take over coal mines, or railroads? Oil and energy companies? How about sports teams or record companies? Sears & Roebuck? Target? American Airlines? Hospital corporations? Kentucky Friend Chicken/Taco Bell?

Which sectors of the economy are off limits and which are not? Since every business and industrial sector deals in money, and since money seems to be thing that most interests the federal government these days, what are to be the rules?

Why would I invest a dime in anyone's stock right now?


Let's Hope This Time It's For Real

Scientists in Possible Cold Fusion Breakthrough
Researchers at a US Navy laboratory have unveiled what they say is "significant" evidence of cold fusion, a potential energy source that has many skeptics in the scientific community.

The scientists on Monday described what they called the first clear visual evidence that low-energy nuclear reaction (LENR), or cold fusion devices can produce neutrons, subatomic particles that scientists say are indicative of nuclear reactions.

"Our finding is very significant," said analytical chemist Pamela Mosier-Boss of the US Navy's Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center (SPAWAR) in San Diego, California.

"To our knowledge, this is the first scientific report of the production of highly energetic neutrons from a LENR device," added the study's co-author in a statement.

The study's results were presented at the annual meeting of the American Chemical Society in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The city is also the site of an infamous presentation on cold fusion 20 years ago by Martin Fleishmann and Stanley Pons that sent shockwaves across the world.

The good news: it's the U.S. Navy reporting, not Fleishmann and Pons, although I've always suspected they were on to something, they just couldn't replicate it.

The bad news: since it is the U.S. Navy, and if it pans out, the government will be in control of unlimited safe energy and, at the rate we're morphing into the old U.S.S.R., We the People will probably play hell getting any of it.

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(Reflections on) John Mellencamp's Reflections on The Sorry Shape of Music Today

I like John Mellencamp, the Indiana rocker. I like his music, his passion for his art, his populist sensibilities, his willingness to speak out.

He has an opinion piece at The HuffPo which describes the sorry shape of the music business today. I'd say that John is dead-on accurate in about 95 percent of what he says.

But he misses a couple of big things, and they are important because it affects his conclusions. He also takes a totally undeserved shot at Ronald Reagan. We'll get to that.

Let Mellencamp take the stage:

Over the last few years, we have all witnessed the decline of the music business, highlighted by finger-pointing and blame directed against record companies, artists, internet file sharing and any other theories for which a case could be made. We've read and heard about the "good old days" and how things used to be.

People remember when music existed as an art that motivated social movements. Artists and their music flourished in back alleys, taverns and barns until, in some cases, a popular groundswell propelled it far and wide. These days, that possibility no longer seems to exist.
So far, so good. During the late 80s and early 90s the industry underwent a transformation and restructured, catalyzed by three distinct factors. Record companies no longer viewed themselves as conduits for music, but as functions of the manipulations of Wall Street. Companies were acquired, conglomerated, bought and sold; public stock offerings ensued, shareholders met.
To some extent this has always been the case, but never so much as after the success of the '60s and '70s. There was just so much money and so much greed, it was inevitable that Wall Street would want to compete with the Mob for a "piece of the action." And it meant that it became much more difficult for the small fry, the independent label run by an inspired visionary (or madman) from his garage to make it.
At this very same time, new Nielsen monitoring systems -- BDS (Broadcast Data Systems) and SoundScan were employed to document record sales and radio airplay. Prior to 1991, the Billboard charts were done by manual research; radio stations and record stores across the country were polled to determine what was on their playlists and what the big sellers were. Thus, giving Oklahoma City, for example, an equivalent voice to Chicago's in terms of potential impact on the music scene. BDS keeps track of gross impressions through an encoded system that counts the number of plays or "spins" that a song receives. That number is, thereafter, multiplied by the number of potential listeners. SoundScan was put in place at retail centers to track sales by monitoring scanned bar codes of units crossing the counter. A formula was devised whereby the charts were based 20% on the SoundScan number and 80% on BDS results. The system had changed from one that measured popularity to one that was driven by population.

Record companies soon discovered that because of BDS, they only needed to concentrate on about 12 radio stations; there was no longer a business rationale for working secondary markets that were soon forgotten -- despite the fact that these were the very places where rock and roll was born and thrived. Why pay attention to Louisville -- worth a comparatively few potential listeners -- when the same one spin in New York, Los Angeles or Atlanta, etc., was worth so many more potential listeners?
All true. The definition of "who is listening" changed with the demographic of "who is listening in the top 12 radio markets." It was an artificial manipulation of listenership statistics designed to limit costs and to achieve a pre-ordained result.
All of a sudden there were #1 records that few of us had ever heard of. At the time we asked ourselves, "Am I out of touch?" We didn't realize that this was the start of change that would grow to kill, if not the whole of the music business, then most certainly, the record companies.
Here's where Mellencamp goes off the track:
Reagan's much-vaunted trickle-down theory said that wealth tricked down to the masses from the elite at the top. Now we've found out that this is patently untrue -- the current economic collapse reflects this self-serving folly. The same holds for music. It doesn't trickle down; it percolates up from the artists, from word of mouth, from the streets and rises up to the general populace. Constrained by the workings of SoundScan/BDS, music now came from the top and was rammed down people's throats.
No, John! You missed your own point. Reagan said that government (bureaucratic) control of the private sector -- that's you and me, John -- would lead to less freedom and less fortune. The same concept holds true for the record business. You had a new (government-like) regulatory regime imposed by the powers-that-be of the music business that elevated one type of consumer over all others, and thus certain types of artists were groomed to cater to that narrow audience.

It is not unlike what happened in the mortgage business. Longstanding rules that required borrowers to show that they could actually handle a mortgage (like appreciate good music) were scrapped by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at the insistence of members of Congress, and then private lenders were forced to adopt the same insane rules, all in the name of "the public good." People who were not required to show proof of income or ability to repay were given government-backed loans. Then greedy people found a way to bundle these mortgages into debt instructments that were sold, and resold, many times over for their "value."

Bottom line: the natural market was manipulated to satisfy the greed of a few, and it required a regulatory mechanism, not unlike your BDS system, to achieve it. Reagan would never have approved.

When a system no longer makes sense -- the producers don't understand it and the consumers don't understand it -- then it stands to reason that something artificial has been introduced in between.

Mellencamp goes on to decry the "planned obsolescence" of music formats -- in his musical life he's seen the LP and single turn into the 8-track cart, the cassette tape, the compact disc (CD), the MP3 player -- which the music biz rightly or wrongly decided was an opportunity to re-sell every existing product in every existing catalogue all over again. I and almost all music lovers commiserate with Mr. Mellencamp over this. After all, it's our money! (How many times I've agonized over whether to replace an old LP with a new CD!) But it's the price we pay for living in an advanced civilization where new inventions bring new clarity to old music. (Unlike Mellencamp, I'm a fan of the CD quality over vinyl, although I still love the way wide analogue tape sounds.)

Mellencamp reveals his own misunderstanding of the beauties of the "Golden Age of Music" when he praises "Like a Rolling Stone" and derides "Monster Mash." Johnny, that was the beauty of that era: when everybody and everything competed side-by-side for our attention and entertainment dollars. Top 40 was rock n' roll competing wide open with Soul, Pop, Psychelic, Art rock, folk, country, bluegrass, blues, jazz, funk, classical: the result was often genius, or completely comical.

For instance, in the same year Mellencamp's first single hit the charts ("I Need a Lover") you also heard "Heartache Tonight" (Eagles), "Escape," (Rupert Murdoch), "September" (Earth, Wind & Fire), "Roxanne," (Police), "Ooh, Baby, Baby" (Linda Ronstadt), "Music Box Dancer," (Frank Mills), "If Lovin' You is Wrong," (Barbara Mandrell), "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough," (Michael Jackson), "Tusk," (Fleetwood Mac), "Just When I Needed You Most," (Randy Van Warmer), "Reunited" (Peaches & Herb), "Hot Stuff," (Donna Summer) and "My Sharona" (The Knack). And that's just a small sampling.

Lots of diversity, lots of styles. Personally, I'd trade any of these songs for what I'm hearing today.
But that's part of the problem faced by today's artist. For the first time in human history, musical performances are preserved so perfectly that any artist today must not only compete in a flawed, biased marketplace against his or her peers of today, but also competes for our attention span and entertainment dollars against all those recordings that came before. An artist even finds himself competing against himself! Your new stuff has to be better than your old stuff ... if you can get yourself heard.

For music listeners, these are truly the best of times and the worst of times. For music makers, not so much.
Sadly, these days, it's really a matter of "every man for himself." In terms of possibilities, we are but an echo of what we once were. ... There is no street for the music to rise up from. There is no time for the music to develop in a natural way that we can all embrace when it ripens and matures. That's why the general public doesn't really care. It's not that the people don't still love music; of course they do. It's just the way it is presented to them that ignores their humanity.
Yes, John, it is "every man for himself" but it always was. There is still a street scene for music, there just isn't much hope for those in it that they can get heard. There is still musical fruit ripening across the country but it is being sold in small markets, over the internet or hawked at small venues.

These new artists are waiting for the current system to change, or collapse, so that they will have their chance. The "music" the industry tries to peddle ignores our humanity because it is not the music we crave, if you can call it music at all.

To be historically fair, the good old days were not always so good for the artist. Legendary stories abound of artists being cheated out of their royalties, of the Cadillacs that were given at contract signings that turned out to be rentals that were repossessed; of record company owners disappearing with the looted wealth of several artists.
But the overall industry was vibrant because there was opportunity for everyone. That is what has changed.

The answer is not "compassion must replace name-calling, fairness must replace greed and we need to come together as a musical community and try to understand each other's problems" -- as high-minded as that sounds. You hit on the answer: artists must rebel against the "the Man." (Isn't that what you say you used to do?)

Don't let Don Henley talk you out of the right thing. Form your own labels, take new, promising artists and bands under your wing, and refuse to play nice with the tone-deaf fat cats who control programming and markets.
Go around them. Take risks. Your smart enough, and talented enough, to do this. Do not assume that your problem is a liberals versus conservatives issue. It is a freedom to market versus control issue: the big labels have their audience to which they wish to cater. You know that it isn't your audience. You just need to remember who your audience is: the millions of us in middle America who don't count in the BDS reports.

Don't be afraid of putting your lives, your fortunes and your sacred honor on the line. That's the American way.

I suspect the fat cats will come begging for forgiveness soon enough.

Tell 'em to go to hell.

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A Rainy Good Morning!

It's getting late on a lovely morning. Lovely, that is, if you like a gentle rain with occasional thunder, the window open just a bit so that you can hear it all and see the grass, flowers and trees enthusiastically respond to its arrival.

I love this time of year. I refuse to allow the higher pollen counts to dampen my mood, especially when I and so many others desperately need something positive to balance out the human-caused calamities that predominate the TV, radio, newspapers and internet.

At least for a few moments, I say, let's ignore the seamier aspects of civilization and embrace nature.


Monday, March 23, 2009

Just Another Apocalyptic Monday

It must be the Apocalyptic Monday.

Mike Adams, who bills himself as the "Health Ranger, Natural News Editor" explains why he has become a permanent resident of the "democratically healthy" Ecuador (they have public protests and toss their elected officials out at random intervals). He explains:
It is in America, where the sheeple have been terrorized into staying inside the boundaries of their little "protest zones," that you find a fragile, unstable nation.

Through complacency and fear-mongering, most Americans have become cowards when it comes to political activism. They think emailing their Senator a few times a year is all that's required to defend freedom and preserve a nation. Marching in the streets is seen as uncivilized... or even unpatriotic! The government agrees with this, too, now labeling anyone who protests in public a "potential terrorist" and targeting them for FBI.
Adams briefly explains why he believes the political/economic powers are stripping America of its treasures and preparing to trash out the currency soon, including the actions by the Fed to create money out of thin air.
That's why I say America's days are numbered. The America as we know it, at least. This repeated creation of trillions of dollars in new money by the Federal Reserve is the last great looting of the U.S. economy by the wealthy elite. The Titanic is sinking, and high officials have monopolized the life rafts, leaving everyone else to drown with the ship. And while they're rowing away from the doomed vessel that's taking on water, they shout back to the low-income workers clinging to the rails, "Don't worry! The ship isn't really sinking. It's just 'correcting!'" [snip]

The U.S. dollar will eventually collapse or be abandoned. This could happen literally overnight, or it could take years, but make no mistake: The American people will not be forewarned of the collapse of the dollar. ...

... Within hours, the National Guard will roll into the cities of the United States, and Americans will find themselves penniless prisoners in their own country. Anyone who protests will be arrested or shot. Law will be dispensed at the end of military rifles, and the President will get on television and explain how this is all being done for YOUR benefit! It's for your own safety and protection, didn't you know?

From here, it's difficult to say exactly what will unfold. We could see UN troops on U.S. soil, the IMF taking over the U.S. banking system, and the forced transition to a global currency. Other possibilities include the Balkanization of the formerly-united States of America, with regional nation-states declaring their own independence from Washington.
Definitely a gloomy forecast. Sadly, I can't say that he's wrong because many of his complaints are mine. But I choose to remain and fight the good fight hoping that we can reclaim our nation peacefully through political action.

If that's got you down, another article today should give you hope. The LA Times says we live in "World of End-of-the-World Predictions."
On Sept. 21, 1945, Pasadena minister Charles Long and his followers stayed up all night, reading Scripture and waiting for the world to blow up, as Long had predicted.

"Many had sold their possessions, paid their debts and made peace with their neighbors," The Times reported.

To their considerable surprise, the sun greeted them the next morning. The minister matter-of-factly explained that he had made a "minor error in his calculations," The Times said.

Sixty-four years later, there still seems no end to end-of-the-world forecasts.

The latest concerns a supposed ancient Maya prophecy that pinpoints Dec. 21, 2012, as doomsday (a Friday, in case you were making plans).

Late last year, a group of New Age entrepreneurs sponsored a 2012 conference in San Francisco for which attendees paid $300 each to hear debates on such topics as whether the Maya were actually space aliens.
It could be argued that some people deserve to have their currency destroyed.

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Mount Redoubt Fires It Up

So how will the global warming, er, climate change alarmists spin this?

Mount Redoubt, an Alaskan volcano 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, has interrupted its 20-year slumber, spewing ash up to nine miles high into the air, more than enough to get dispersed by jet streams and affect temperatures (especially if there are several weeks or months of this activity).

Stay tuned.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Federal Grizzly, Capt. Ben & the Bernacke Maneuver

It has already begun, and now it escalates.

Just as there is nothing subtle about the paw of a grizzly bear as it feels around the underside of your tent, so the paw of federal "oversight" into the tent of the free enterprise system. The grizzly may only be wanting to see if there are any cookies hidden under your backpack; he probably doesn't mean to hurt you. Yet the claws are sharp and he is not adapted to skillful maneuvering in this alien environment. The federal bureaucrat may not be aiming at you, the once happy camper who has hidden his retirement cookies in the backpack of an IRA or 401(k) plan, but their regulatory claws are sharp and they are not adapted to skillful maneuvering in this alien environment of the private sector.

First came the bailouts under the Bush administration, the suspension of free market principles in order to "save" the free market system. (This under a nominally pro-capitalist president).

Then came the stimulus bill, the Porkulus, that stimulates government spending with nearly $800 billion that this nation does not have to spend. Then within days came Son of Porkulus, the Omnibus Appropriations bill 8 percent larger than last year's bloated budget-buster, filled with 8,500 "earmarks," totalling over $405 billion. Both of these under an administration, working with a very liberal Congress, that is not a friend of the free market system, since it has done nothing but call for tighter and tighter regulations of said markets.

This week something wicked this way came, but few noticed because all the attention was instead directed to the "shocking" bonuses given management employees at AIG, an American-based insurer that got trapped in the downward spiral of mortgage-backed securities gone sour. (The company also insured many other firms that were trapped in the same derivatives bubble.)

"Look at those evil, greedy, rich bastards of AIG!" shouted members of Congress, and even the President himself, perhaps in words not quite so blunt but the meaning was crystal clear. We, the American people, should direct our anger at the trillions spent on bailouts, and stimuli, at a couple of hundred men and women who work for one firm. These evil people, who dared collect on the bonuses promised them over a year ago in their employment compensation packages for work done in 2008, represent all that is wrong with America! How dare they? Where is their shame? What are their names, and where do they live? Give us the pictures of their spouses and their children so we can threaten to turn loose the ravening hordes of outraged countrymen ...

... unless, of course, they want to play nice, do their patriotic duty, and give back the money.

Or better yet, let's pass a law and tax those bonuses back into the federal treasury. How much? How about 90 percent; we'll leave a little something for state and local governments to tax. After all, isn't that the proper place for wealth in America, back in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats where it can be spent for the greater good of all? ("I'd tax them 1,000 percent if I could," one congresswoman bravely declared in front of the cameras. Damn right, that'll show those ingrates who's boss!) Hurry, there is no time to waste! We must pass this tax legislation immediately so that the IRS can get out those notices in time to claim the money in April 2010.

All our eyes and ears were focused on our brave, patriotic elected officials working hard to protect the American people from avarice in the private sector. Only when the Obamessiah misspoke on the challenged nature of his bowling skills did we remember that there were other important issues to consider. And our March Madness brackets to fill in, of course.

So hardly anyone noticed that on Wednesday the Federal Reserve announced that it was beginning a new round of purchasing mortgage-backed securities and United States Treasury bills to the tune of $1.15 trillion. The initial purchase of T-bills is in the $300 billion range. Where is the money coming from?

Thin air.

Terence Corcoran at Canada's National Post, was not distracted:
Mr. Bernanke is sometimes known as “Helicopter Ben” because he once in an academic paper referred to the use of “helicopters” full of money to rescue an economy from deflation. In comments Wednesday to explain the Fed’s new policy of buying $300-billion in U.S. treasury bills, Mr. Bernanke noted that the Fed is now more worried about inflation being too low than about it getting too high in the future.

For the rest of the world, however, the worry is that America is at risk of becoming the fountainhead of a new inflationary outburst. The U.S. dollar is now in decline, gold is moving sharply higher, and new global currency turmoil is on the horizon.

It may not happen. A paper just published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, ... says that the Fed will have to be prepared to absorb all the excess money it has poured into the U.S. economy. It will be a technical and political challenge unlike any central bank has ever undertaken. The future of America is at stake.
Perhaps it takes someone outside the tent to see that the grizzly bear is about to do serious damage to those inside the tent. Mr. Corcoran's article, by the way, is entitled, "Is this the End of America?"

America is in grave danger. The Fed is attempting a maneuver never before tried at this stage of a financial downturn. It requires precision timing the likes of which only a competent crew on a Federation Starship can usually pull off, since it is based on a theory that you can stop an oncoming Depression with hyper-inflation, then squelch hyper-inflation by pulling back all the excess money you "created" and put into the system.

There is a technical term for such a maneuver: It is freakin' insane!

But we're committed to it. Captain Ben and his Starship Fed crew, with or without consulting those of us who are back in the tent in the woods, are already in warp drive and engaging "the enemy."

Meanwhile, according to Drudge (quoting sources in the New York Times newsroom), says Mr. Obama is about to declare a new financial regulation policy that will call for "increased oversight" of executive pay at "all banks", Wall Street firms and "other companies." Oh, goody! The grizzly is now looking for some bacon, too.

So we have to hope for two wildly optimistic outcomes now. First, that Capt. Ben successful executes the "Bernacke Maneuver" and our currency doesn't collapse like a second-hand Ferengi warp coil, and that Mr. Obama's grizzly bear is satisfied with a little bit of Wall Street bacon and doesn't come on in to the tent for the rest of our goodies, which we should've hidden in secret Swiss bank accounts years ago, but who knew?

Who knew that the American people would have dumped a bunch of cretinous, hypocritical Republicans out of Congresss two years ago for spending like drunken sailors, only to replace them with cretinous, hypocritical Democrats who have taught us that drunken sailors are pretty frugal after all?

And who'd a thunk that we'd go all "hopey/changey" and elect a man of mystery who has no legislative accomplishments, no business experience, and virtually zero abilities to think on his feet without a teleprompter keeping him from putting those same feet into his mouth, and who, for all we know, might have been born in Kenya instead of Hawaii, and might be a citizen of Indonesia; a man who was befriended by Marxists and black liberationists, and the "community organizers" of Chicago. A man who promised during his campaign to give us socialized health care, higher taxes on all types of energy, and "spread the wealth" tax policies.

When a grizzly bear is attacking my tent, I want more than a cellphone call or a text message to my congressman. I want to know that someone is nearby with a tranquillizer gun, a bullhorn, and a big bucket of raw meat with which to lure the beast away.

I don't think Mr. Obama is that guy.

I think he enjoys watching the bear.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Brain Food for a Friday Evening

A little something for us to think about as we go into this fourth weekend of Lent:

"It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."

The writer was C.S. Lewis.


90% Political Kabuki: Is There a Hidden Agenda?

Is there a hidden agenda behind the 90 percent tax on the AIG bonuses?

That's what Larry Kudlow is wondering. Kudlow not only is an economist, he plays one on TV as well (CNBC, "Kudlow & Company).
Note that the $250,000 cut-off point for the tax is the same line drawn in the sand in Obama’s budget for tax hikes on investors and successful earners. The president is proposing a tax rate of 40 percent, not 90 percent. But connecting the dots between Speaker Pelosi and Pres. Obama, it will be interesting to see if the president dares sign this bill.

And even though the 90 percent tax is a reaction to the AIG bonus fiasco, you have to wonder if the very-liberal-left House Democrats have a much broader agenda: to completely overturn the supply-side tax cuts of Ronald Reagan and John F. Kennedy.
Kudlow explains past American tax history. Most people have only a vague idea of how high tax rates were for decades.
Following WWI, the Harding-Coolidge-Mellon Republicans returned the country to tax normalcy by reducing Woodrow Wilson’s 75 percent wartime tax to 25 percent — thus triggering the roaring growth of the 1920s. Then came the Depression, spawned in large part by Herbert Hoover and FDR, who raised the top tax rate to 63 percent, 70 percent, and finally 94 percent.

The Robert Taft Republican Congress elected in 1946 lowered those tax rates, but they later bounced back to 91 percent, where they held until JFK proposed sweeping tax reform in the 1960s. The top tax rate was reduced to 70 percent, igniting the 1960s boom — until it was undone by the inflationary Fed and Nixon’s de-linking of the dollar from gold. But Pres. Reagan slashed the top tax rate all the way down to 28 percent. This launched a multi-decade boom, with the top rate not straying far from Reagan’s vision.
So is AIG the excuse the liberals were looking for to launch the first stage of their tax-reform rocket? After all, more evidence is emerging that the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats -- knew of the bonus program weeks, if not months, ago. Certainly Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, who helped write the AIG rules last year when he was at the Fed in New York, should have known.

If there was no real surprise, and no real hurry since any tax hike doesn't get collected until 2010 anyway, doesn't this all seem like political kabuki? We are being driven into a populist uproar so that progressives have an excuse to punish "the rich."

Please, if you value your bank account, read Kudlow's piece and think about it.

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A Presidential Glimpse of the Future of Your Tax Bill

Your taxes are going up very soon.

How do I know this?

All I had to do was watch President Obama last night and listen to his words.

How much will they go up? That will depend upon Congress, and we have no guarantee that if they decide you should pay more than someone else - even up to 90 percent -- that Mr. Obama will go to bat for you. Or even whether he agrees with the idea of equal protection under the law.

How do I know this?

All I had to do was watch President Obama last night and listen to his words.

Here's Jay Leno, discussing HR 1586, which passed the House on Thursday, 328-93.
LENO: Today they passed this thing that says we're going to tax 90 percent of these bonuses. And the part that scares me is, I mean, you're a good guy –- if the government decides they don't like a guy, all of a sudden, hey, we’re going to tax you and then, boom, and it passes. I mean, that seems a little scary as a taxpayer, they can just decide ... (commercial break) ...

Before the break I mentioned that they had just passed this new bill which will tax them 90 percent -- and I said it was frightening to me as an American that Congress, whoever, could decide, I don't like that group, let's pass a law and tax them at 90 percent."

How does the president respond to this question? Does he put his (and our) fears to rest?
President Obama: Well, look, I understand Congress' frustrations, and they're responding to, I think, everybody's anger. But I think that the best way to handle this is to make sure that you've closed the door before the horse gets out of the barn. And what happened here was the money has already gone out and people are scrambling to try to find ways to get back at them. The change I'd like to see in terms of tax policy is that we have a system, going back to where we were back in the 1990s, where you and I who are doing pretty well pay a little bit more to pay for health care, to pay for energy, to make sure that kids can go to college who aren't as fortunate as our -- as my kids might be. Those are the kinds of measured steps that we can take. But the important thing over the next several months is making sure that we don't lurch from thing to thing, but we try to make steady progress, build a foundation for long-term economic growth. That's what I think the American people expect."
No, he does not address Leno's question, not even indirectly. Mr. Obama does not say whether he is for or against a 90 percent tax on guys "they don't like."

But he does say that tax policy needs to change so that "you and I who are doing pretty well pay a little bit more" to pay for health care, energy, college for poor kids.

"Measured steps." By whose measurement? Congress? According to their measurement, a 90 percent tax on the evil, undeserving rich is perfectly fine, and no problem if state and local governments want to grab the other 10 percent.

Tax laws originate in the House of Representatives, then are debated and passed in the U.S. Senate. This is Congress. If we cannot count on a responsible, just Congress, we have to look for a responsible, just President.

There is no evidence, yet, that we have one.

NOTE: You can read the entire transcript of last night's "Tonight Show" HERE.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Bonus Tax Passes the House as Cowardice Prevails

There's an old adage: "There's never enough time to do something right, but there's always time to go back and fix it."

I don't think this applies to most actions of Congress.

Unfortunately, here "they" go again, passing H.R. 1586 -- to tax bonuses given by companies like AIG that received federal bailout money at 90 percent -- by a margin of 328-93.

Democrats supported the bill 243 to 6. Republicans initially opposed the measure but, cowardly fingers to the political winds, by the time the roll call was closed 85 Republicans supported the bill and 87 opposed it. (Individual vote breakdowns are not available just yet, but I am anxious to see how the Oklahoma delegation voted.)

Why 90 percent tax? Why not 100 percent?

Rep. Charles Rangel, a New York Democrat, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said he expected local and state governments to take the remaining 10 percent of the bonuses, nullifying the payouts.

Rangel said the bill would apply to mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, among others, while excluding community banks and other smaller companies that have received less bailout money.

Rangel is openly inviting state and local governments to belly up to the trough. Notice that some bonus recipients are more equal than others under this rushed, unconstitutional abortion of a law. Many observers believe that the legislation creates an unconstitutional Bill of Attainder. The bill doesn't even cover all bonuses, only those going to companies receiving more than $5 billion and only on those people who make more than $250,000 in adjusted gross income. It is very narrowly targeted!

I find the Associated Press report reprehensible in that it doesn't even mention the potential unconstitutionality of the bill. Instead, they quote a "corporate tax lawyer" in New York saying that of course it's okay to narrowly craft this sort of bill. It's an odd quote since the lawyer is defending a charge that the AP refuses to acknowledge in print.

But the Washington Times has more integrity, and spine:
But the tightly targeted tax bill, which places a special federal tax on bonus money given out since Jan. 1, could face constitutional questions over the use of the taxing power to override legal contracts and to target retroactively a specific group of taxpayers. [SNIP]

Rep. Joe Wilson, South Carolina Republican, called the tax bill "an unconstitutional joke of a bill."

Legal scholars are divided on the constitutionality of the tax measure, but critics called it a bill of attainder — a punitive, targeted tax specifically forbidden by the constitution.

"It basically targeted on a small group of people," Sen. Judd Gregg, New Hampshire Republican, told the Bloomberg News service.

The Republican website, GOP.gov, had this to say:

By legislatively imposing a tax penalty on employees that were given bonus payments by TARP recipients, some Members may be concerned that the underlying bill may violate the Constitutional prohibition on bills of attainder. Article 1, Section 9, Clause 3, states that "No bill of attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed." A bill of attainder is an act passed by a state or federal legislature that punishes a specific person or group without a trial. In determining whether a piece of legislation violates the constitutional prohibition against bills of attainder, the Supreme Court generally tests whether the act specifies a group of people, contains a punishment specifically for that group of people, and does not require a trial. Given that criteria, this legislation could be ruled unconstitutional for imposing a tax penalty on a specific group of individuals.

It's a shame that 85 Republican, who could have blocked this bill by staying true to their principles, chose instead to run with the mob. The good news is that the U.S. Senate must still vote on this, an event that won't take place until April when cooler heads may prevail.

Now you may ask yourself, "Why does Dave give a rat's behind whether these bonuses get taxed away?"

And you may ask yourself, "Does his beautiful wife work for AIG?"

But you should ask yourself, "My God, next time it could be me they're attacking with a 90 percent tax."

We never should have given bailout money to begin with, last fall when Mr. Bush and Treasury Secretary Paulson were telling us the sky was falling. Mr. Obama and Mr. Geithner have not only embraced bailouts, they've gotten creative and added new layers of spending only dreamed of by the Bush team.

It is wrong and it will be the death of our economy, if not our political system.

But wrong also is shredding the Constitution in order to punish people for accepting bonuses they were promised by contract and that were protected in previous federal legislation.

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