Wednesday, October 19, 2011

America on the decline? Don't bet on it.

The unemployment rate is still at 9% with no signs of improvement in sight. Economic growth is anemic. The hippies are back on Wall Street. Regulators are going berserk. It certainly seems like things are going downhill. So why am I not worried? Because in the land of the free and the home of the brave, the people demand results. They may not always choose the right approach at first, second or even third try, but failure will not be tolerated for long.

Americans are not on the same page politically. In tough economic times, socialist policies and mega-regulation always get a new look, even in the United States. the tide will turn though, because they don't work. Eventually these policies start to impact individuals at the personal level and individuals will demand something different.

Free markets and capitalism got a black eye when, over a couple of decades, the dreaded business/government partnership came up with a scheme to maximize home ownership by essentially mandating that everyone with a pulse qualify for a mortgage. Naturally home sales soared and lots of folks got rich. Also naturally, it was unsustainable and the bubble eventually burst. We'll be cleaning up that mess for a number of years yet. In the interim, people think they want government to step in and prop up markets, subsidize home-buyers, bail out and then restrict banks and somehow artificially fix things. This too shall pass, because it doesn't work.

We've had good times and bad times in the United States, but the trend as far as quality of life in this country, if you look at it objectively over the long run, has been upward. The reason for that is that we have maintained freedom of speech, freedom of association, peaceful transistion of power and value our individual freedom. Many people may not understand the dynamics or mechanics of a free marketplace, but they do understand when someone tries to stop them from doing what they want to do, or achieving what they'd like to achieve. They know when they're not satisfied and they'll keep voting for change until somebody gets it right, or at least more right.

The overall success of this country lies in our individual ability to debate, evaluate, innovate and repeat. So, while your advocating for this candidate or that, remember to take some time to promote the essential fundamentals that are fairly easy to get most people to agree upon. Everyone has the right to express their opinion, no matter how wrong. Everyone has the right to vote, anonymously and absent intimidation. Everyone has the right to the enjoyment of their property whether they have a lot, or a little. Government exists to protect the individual, not to rule over him or her. And if your favored agenda or candidate doesn't win out this election cycle, keep in mind there will be another one soon enough.

Our strength doesn't lie in getting everyone to agree on everything. It lies in maintaining an atmosphere where non-violent difference of opinion can can be expressed and tested on a continual basis. I have confidence in the controlled chaos that is the American way. Advocate passionately for your agenda, your ideals, your candidate. But as long as we remain free, there's no need to panic.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

It's the Candidate Stupid

In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, a New Hampshire man stated that while he doesn't like Herman Cain's 999 plan, and disagrees with him on some other points, after watching the New Hampshire debate, he's decided to support Herman Cain. You might think this is contradictory. How can you support a candidate when you disagree with his signature proposal? Because we aren't electing a proposal. We're electing a President.

While there is a segment of the voting population that is single issue focused or so dedicated to their party, that they will support whoever carries their banner, regardless of the candidate, elections are decided by the 40% or so who actually consider and weigh the pros and cons of the individual. Who will be the best leader among the available candidates?

MIchele Bachmann is on the right side of virtually every issue when it comes to Conservatives, Tea Party supporters and Republicans in general, yet she's plummeted in the polls. Why? I think the last straw was when she made a big production out of acknowledging Elvis Presley's birthday, to the extent that her bus was blaring an Elvis Presley song as it pulled up to the stop. Trouble was, it was actually the anniversary of his death, not his birthday. If this had been an isolated mistake, she probably could have skated by. But this was one of a string of innaccurate statements over a period of months. Her demise wasn't that she made a mistake. It was that she was unable or unwilling to correct an obvious weakness in her own campaign; fact checking. She demonstrated incompetence as a leader, to a degree the voters found unacceptable.

Rick Perry could have overcome opposition to his stance on illegal immigration. But rather than displaying confidence and passion, he displayed confusion as to why people didn't already agree with him and scorned his detractors. His inability to confidently address his critics showed poor leadership characteristics and he's paying the price.

Ron Paul is almost a one issue guy. He hates the Federal Reserve. He's right about a lot of things, but when you look at his delivery and imagine him negotiating with world leaders during a crisis, well, let's just say it's not a pretty picture. As a Presidential candidate, he makes a good Congressman.

Rick Santorum has some good ideas and seems like a nice enough guy, but his presentation screams "Why won't anybody listen to me." Again, not a vision of a strong leader of the most powerful country on Earth.

John Huntsman is running his primary campaign as if he's in a general election contest. He seems to be trying to appeal to moderates. Trouble is moderates are folks who are not particularly passionate and probably wont go out of their way to vote in a primary. You can't be a champion moderate. You can be a champion that's acceptable to moderates. There's a big difference.

Mitt Romney is the safe candidate. A lot of Republicans have issues with Romneycare in Massachusetts, but they're willing to put that aside because he does display leadership skills. He looks confident, passionate, and can handle critics without losing his cool or being dismissive. He may not be the most free market guy on the bill, but they perceive him as better than the current occupant of the White House and reasonably adequate, if not their dream candidate.

Cain presents an image of a man who's lived the American dream. He's a likable guy, he's been in leadership positions during times of crisis and has a track record of success. Even when people disagree with a particular proposal, his ideas are at least well thought out and reasonable enough to merit consideration. They seem to be okay with his though process if not every one of his thoughts.

I think Newt Gingrich is running the best example of a candidate presenting himself as himself. He's very relaxed, yet passionate and confident in the ideas he supports. He is uncompromising and unapologetic, yet cool under pressure. He makes you believe that he believes every word he says. Essentially he's saying "This is me. Here are my ideas. Vote for me or don't." A pretty fair proposal I'd say. He may not win, but it wont be because he made a lot of mistakes, it will simply be because the voters liked someone else better.

It's fun to get on the candidates social pages and read the Jerry Springer like back and forth. It's heated and people go at it as if adherence to every word their candidate says is imperative or a bad idea from an opposing candidate will be their swan song. But we're not electing a king and the people who decide the next election aren't going to be voting for a tax plan, or a foreign policy position, or a stance on this issue or that. They're going to be voting for the person they believe will be the best leader of the United States, from among the available applicants over the next four years. They're going to be voting for a candidate.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Faster than light is not time travel

You may have heard that the folks at CERN have reported initial findings of neutrinos going faster than the speed of light. Naturally lots of commentators immediately start talking about the ability to go back in time. Just so you know, that's not what faster than light suggests.

It would be a problem for physics and for time pieces, both of which are based on the premise that nothing goes faster than light. However, consider this scenerio:

Boy throws baseball faster than the speed of light at a window. You see the window break before you see the ball released from the hand. The boy cannot not throw the ball at this point. It's already been thrown, or else the window would not have broken. You just haven't perceived it yet.

Perhaps, if confirmed, it could lead to early warning systems of some sort, or be used for long distance communication, but no, you can't go back in time.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

For the record...

I told my wife, shortly after Obama was elected that we may well witness the first mental breakdown of a President of the U.S. live on TV. Two reasons: I was confident his economic policies would make a bad situation much worse and the level of constant scrutiny is unprecedented.

Politicians in general crave attention and positive feedback. If Obama faces Carter-like approval ratings in a 24 hour news cycle for over a year, I'll be impressed if he can keep his head on straight.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spiking Their Own Kool Aid

Yet another member of the Congressional Black Caucua has suggested that Tea Party folks are crazy racists who want to "see us hanging on a tree." First of all, The Tea Party isn't an organization that issues membership cards. It's a movement that believes in lower taxes and smaller government.

People who also believe in smaller government know that they're not racist or crazy. The CBC and others who are taking this tack, only appeal to those who have already drunk the Obama Kool Aid. They just sound desperate to everyone else. If you want to promote Mr. Obama, tell us about all the great things he's done and what he's going to do.

There's a legitimate split in this country between those who believe government should be the caretakers and overseers of their constituents and those who believe they should not. Name calling and hyperbole don't advance either side and actually make those who engage in it sound nutty and/or ignorant.

If you want to make the case for the Progressive movement, make it. If you think people will abandon capitalism because they don't want you to call them names, you really are crazy.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Debt Debate - Politicians are still negotiating with the wrong audience

The House of Representatives has actually passed two debt ceiling plans and sent them to the Senate. Both were killed on arrival because they contained a requirement that Congress pass a balanced budget amendment and send it to the states. Even some Republicans voted against the idea, not because they oppose the amendment, but because they've resigned themselves to the idea that the Democrats wont go for it.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, 70+% of Americans polled are in favor of a balanced budget amendment. Why are supporters in Congress not taking this case to the people instead of bickering with other lawmakers and media pundits?

It seems to me a good strategy would be to pass a debt ceiling hike with the provision that a vote be taken in both houses on the balanced budget amendment within 60 days. Take those 60 days to appeal to the public to put pressure on their representatives to pass the balanced budget amendment. If public sentiment is where the polls say it is, Democrats will come around. If it's not, so be it.

In any case, helping to kill your own proposals because you assume you're going to lose before you even start the fight is weak. Give yourself time to make your best pitch to the masses. If they aren't moved, you did all you can do.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Where the Casey Anthoney jury went horribly, horribly wrong

From the beginning of the Casey Anthony trial, the defense had a specific story as to how Caley Anthony died. They didn't propose what if's. They didn't give several possibilities. They state their client was there and this is how it happened.

Why is that important? Because the jury was specifically told they are not to imagine. They were to consider the evidence presented in court. That means there were only two versions of events for them to consider. The prosecution's theory and the defense's statement, which we must assume came straight from the defendant.

So what was the defense's story? George Anthony, Casey's dad, wakes up and finds Caley dead in the pool; a tragic accident. He yells at Casey and says that her mom is going to be very angry. Casey is so deathly afraid of her mom's wrath (and evidently so is George) that she agrees they should put duct tape over Caley's face, put her in a bag, throw her in a swamp and pretend that nothing happened. Remember, this is the defense's (Casey's) version of what happened.

Now, just listen to the first phone call Casey made from jail when she was finally arrested. Far from being a traumatized little girl who's afraid of her mom, she holds her mom in utter contempt and has no problem expressing it directly to her. That alone totally blows up the defense's fairy tale. Remember, the jury is not to imagine alternate scenarios of their own concoction. the defense gave us a specific story in which the defendant was there. This is the only alternative to the murder scenario.

No sane person could conclude that Casey had any fear whatsoever of her mom. There is only one logical conclusion. She's lying again. The jury is not obligated, nor is it entitled to come up with new imaginary alibis for the defense.

But that's exactly what they did. Maybe they just didn't want to believe that Casey Anthony did what she obviously did. I hope it keeps them awake at night, but I suspect there's not enough brain activity between them all to enable a guilty conscience.

Monday, June 27, 2011

EU discovers it's Special Purpose

The French have come up with a solution for the Greek debt problem! They're going to create a Special Purpose Vehicle ( no, I'm not kidding.) Here's how it works. Bondholders actually get about 30% of what they're due at maturity. The rest is voluntarily rolled over into 20 and 30 year bonds. Here's the good part. The banks, who were the bondholders don't have to carry the new Greek bonds on their books. Instead, the new SPV will own the bonds and the banks will own shares of the SPV. Hmmmm, where have we seen this scheme before?

The beauty is, when the EU has to cover the bonds in the future, they won't be bailing out Greece, or the banks, they'll be bailing out this SPV. I guess they think that will be more politically palatable to EU taxpayers.

Let's review. To deal with toxic assets, bundle, distribute, insure, bail, repeat.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Real Cushy Job

A guest post by Tim Churchill

With all the potential Republican candidates falling in and falling out, it becomes hard to know just who might square off against Mr. Obama in 2012. Some of the quitters might even return to the brawl. I suppose you can’t blame them for wanting such a cushy job. And you certainly can’t blame Mr. Obama for wanting to keep it. After all, he has time for golf and for vacations at the drop of a hat. He gets to take crowds of people to foreign countries as his “entourage” without regard for cost or the inconvenience to those who must be displaced by his desires, or the desires of those in his group.

As an added perk for his vacations, how about his right to hop aboard the luxurious airplane called “Air Force One” with all his attendees? Of course we don’t call the golfing trips vacations. Those are just short breaks, for his relaxation. I can just imagine how Mr. Obama might shake a bit at the thought of losing such a job. Shortly before he was catapulted into it, he didn’t have a pot to cook in. He took trips abroad without a valid passport (or did he?). His friends at school thought he was a foreign exchange student, or something like that.

Thinking of his position, where the buck stops, isn’t it great to have so many Government employees to share those vast responsibilities? When you are President you can have a Czar for almost anything. With so many people in charge of almost everything, you can just tell someone what you want and, “voila” it gets done. Since Mr. Obama became President, the number of Government employees has doubled. Isn’t that great? Just think of all those people added to the Government payroll. No worries about the money rolling in. Oh, and don’t forget this, with all those Government folks paying their dues to the Union leaders, his supporters are ready to vote.

And here is something you may not have thought about. The pay is really good. Mr. Obama has been to the bank enumerable times. His deposits were over five million dollars for just his first year in office. How can you beat that, even in the Chicago underworld? The really big deposits though will come after his reelection. That will be when he starts collecting for all those appointments to high places. Never mind that his withdrawals will contribute to the bankruptcy of the Treasury. Don’t forget, he owns the printing press!

It is hard to imagine, wanting to leave such a job. No production is required. If a crises occurs, go golfing, or to South America. Someone will take care of it. Big decisions can be delayed for as long as it takes. And that is the greatest benefit of all the pros. You don’t have to do a thing except go around patting people on the back, making speeches, throw in a bit of praise for the military And the Trade Unions, just to keep the masses happy. Just sign off on the spending bills until we are flat broke, literally, and he will have the Socialist country he wants.

One more thing: The job virtually cries out for edicts, Executive Orders, and Legislation to get rid of that cumbersome Constitution. What a waste of paper that was. Mr. Obama doesn’t have a lot of time for silly questions, like where he goes to church, or why it took two years to come with a Birth Certificate, or why he should worry about the economy. He has appointed Czars to handle that. What a great country, huh?

Sunday, May 22, 2011

2012 Republican Presidential Candidates - The Early Going

It’s very early, but the candidates for the 2012 Republican nomination are beginning to mix it up. Here are my personal observations so far.

Mitt Romney - Mitt has money, name recognition, charisma, gives a good speech and takes a good picture. He’s also got Romneycare around his neck. As long as he opposes Obamacare while defending Romneycare, he’s not going to appeal to the base. He may win the nomination, but if the choice is between a Republican progressive and a Democrat progressive, I think the incumbant wins.

Newt Gingrich - Newt had public relations issues before he announced and made matters worse shortly thereafter. He clearly stated that he considered Paul Ryan’s plan for block granting Medicare to be “right-wing social engineering”. He was not taken out of context or misquoted. He managed to infuriate the party base with that statement, then make himself look like a chump to everyone else, days later, when he totally reversed himself on it. Newt may well be the “smartest guy in the room” but perhaps not the wisest.

Rick Santorum - I agree with a lot of Rick’s positions, but something about the guy gives me the creeps. Judging by early polls, I’m not alone. Not a very thoughtful analysis, I know, but if the question is, does he have a chance, I think the answer is no.

Tim Pawlenty - Nice guy, I like a lot of his positions and his track record. I haven’t seen enough of him on the stump to know if he can sell himself in the national spotlight.

Herman Cain - Herman did well in the first Republican debate. He has a growing and very enthusiastic following. However, lack of political experience and not having access to classified material is not an excuse for not being at least familiar with foreign policy issues. If he’s going to have mass appeal as a potential competent commander in chief, he’s got a lot of homework to do. He should be surrounding himself with experts now, not waiting to see the election results.

Michele Bachmann - As of this moment Michele has not announced. She also has an enthusiastic following and is also subject to rookie mistakes. She’s been called out more than once for quoting figures that are not accurate. In this day and age, you have to know that everything you say is going to be scrutinized and every mistake will be held against you. She needs to get a top-rate fact checking team now, if she’s going to be a serious contender.

Gary Johnson - Love what he says, hate how he says it. He comes across to me as someone who is confident that most of the people in the room disagree with him. This smells like weakness. He needs to learn to address his supporters and convey the confidence in his convictions. If you can’t move people to action, your agenda is meaningless.

Ron Paul - Another candidate with a lot of enthusiastic supporters. Dead right on a lot of issues. Dead wrong on others. I think his appeal is still very limited. He’ll have a role in shaping the issues, but his isolationist agenda is going to be a non-starter.

Fred Karger, Vern Wuensche and Tom Miller - Who?

Other names have been suggested, most of whom are probably not even considering running. However, the biggest wild card out there, I believe, is Sara Palin.

Sara Palin - You either love her, or you hate her. What I find very appealing is that she has learned not to waste time trying to appeal to those who have already decided to hate her. I think she’s sincere when she says she’ll wait and see how the race shapes up. I believe that if she deems all the other candidates unworthy, she’ll get in late in the game. She can afford to, and I believe she would be a formidable candidate.

Ultimately, the 2012 election is going to be about the economy. If people generally feel good about how things are going, Obama gets another term, if they don’t, the other guy wins. The Republican nomination process is all about who gets to be the other guy (or gal).

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Maybe the indentured servant factory model isn't the wave of the future after all

Here's the thing about cheap crap made by $2/day employees and prison labor; the people who make it, can't afford it. The unemployed ex-manufacturing workers in the U.S. have taken it off their shopping lists and people with money don't want it.

The model seems to be sputtering.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Apples, Oranges and Nuts

Reality - When talking about "enhanced interrogation techniques" what is specifically being referred to is the water boarding of three individuals by the CIA in the weeks and months after 9/11.

Reasonable people can disagree as to whether this constitutes torture and whether or not such techniques should be used.

Juan Williams talking about enhanced interrogation on ORielly last night - "I can't support the gouging out of someones eyeballs or yanking out their fingernails."

This is why we can't all just get along. How do you debate somebody who just makes up stuff on the fly to support the conclusion they've already committed to?

Monday, May 2, 2011

Don't hack on the parade

I sense a lot of Obama opponents are a bit anxious that the successful hit on Bin Laden could propel him to a second term. First, enjoy the good news. He made a gutsy call and it worked out well for all of us. President Obama is entitled to the kudos he's receiving. Second, this will not be a factor in the election.

President Bush, Sr had Desert Storm and the fall of the Berlin Wall on his resume. He still lost. Why? If people feel good about the economy, incumbent wins. If they don't, incumbent loses. I won't say nothing else matters, but it won't determine the victor.

So does this mean if you don't like Obama, you sabotage the economy? No. First of all, you aren't that powerful. Second, that would not be Republican or Democrat. That's just psychotic. If you're right about proper economic policy and Obama is wrong, he either comes around to your way of thinking and wins or sticks to his guns and loses. If it turns out the Keynesian Progressive model leads to economic vitality, I'll be shocked and a bunch of us have to accept we were wrong. On the bright side, wouldn't it be great to learn that maintaining a healthy economy is as simple as spending as much as you can, as fast as you can?

The point is, you don't have to participate in the ridiculous spin machine. Let reality do it's thing and speak the truth, even when/if it surprises you. And if the guy you didn't vote for and don't like is having a good day, don't be a jerk about it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Trump Card

There are plenty of things, in my humble opinion, to find fault with Donald Trump over. For example his support for the extensive use of eminent domain and his seeming lack of a concrete philosophical base. However, Trump is getting a lot of things right lately, while his competitors, Democrat and Republican continue to display their cluelessness.

I don't know or care if Trump really ever believed whether or not President Obama was or wasn't born in Hawaii. A recent Pew Research poll indicated that about 62 percent of Americans still had doubts (this was before today's display by the White House). The administration had decided it was a non-issue. Most Republican candidates decided it was a non-issue. The press had decided it was a non-issue. The public wanted more clarification. The establishment essentially told 62% of the voting public that they weren't going to dignify their question with an answer. This can only be described with one word: Stupid.

Trump got them their answer. He delivered where even the Clinton machine couldn't. It took only 2 days from the time President Obama sent a request to Hawaii for the "long form" birth certificate until he had it in his hand, so it wasn't a matter of any kind of hardship or difficulty. He simply didn't want to do it until Trump forced him to.

Another area where Trump is crushing his detractors is in talking to the appropriate audience. He states the obvious; that China is manipulating its currency to our detriment; that U.S. policy, however well-intentioned, warm and/or fuzzy, has driven manufacturing jobs out of our country; that we provide defense for oil rich monarchies and dictators, free of charge, for the privilege of paying through the nose for oil while we refuse to develop our own resources.

It's not that the other candidates are not aware of these things. But saying them out loud might make you look less "stately" and diplomatic on the world stage. They're speaking to news editors, pundits and foreign dignitaries, not to the American public. This might work out okay during good times, but right now the public is looking for someone that will unequivocally and unapologetically advocate for the best interest of the United States. Let China look out for China and Saudi look after Saudi. We need leaders that are on our side. Maybe it's his TV experience that has helped him out in this area, but Trump is addressing the right audience. His rivals are not.

I don't know if Trump will run or not. I don't know if he'd be a good president or not. But he will be a formidable candidate if he wants to be. Any competitor that denies that does so at their own peril.

Monday, April 25, 2011

PFC Bradley Manning - An American Zero

PFC Bradley Manning was recently transferred to a detention facility at Ft Leavenworth, KS. He is accused of providing volumes of classified military documents to Wikileaks. Manning has many supporters in this country. This is not unusual. There is always a segment of the population drawn to the underdog, regardless of what they've done or what they've been accused of or the facts of the case. We've seen people demonstrate in support of cop-killers, rapists, child molestors and tyrants. I'm no psychologist, but there seems to be an attraction for some people to anything unacceptable to the masses.

PFC Manning is a young man who was seeking attention and acclaim and, unfortunately, fell victim to a predator named Julian Assange, founder of Wikileaks. Manning was convinced that his actions would be regarded as heroic, and so he handed over documents that put actual heroes lives in real jeopardy. Assange is probably in the clear legally speaking, as he simply reported what was given to him.

Now Manning will spend most of the rest of his life in prison, while Julian Assange will spend most of the rest of his life in 5-star hotels, surrounded by adoring idiots, seeking their next victim. The tale of Bradley Manning is tragic and unfortunate, but there's certainly nothing heroic about it.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Will 2012 be the nastiest election year ever?

One result of the explosion of social media and media in general is that more people than ever are engaged in conversation, debate, punditry and bloviating on the events and issues of the day.

This has illustrated a definite divide among Americans that goes deeper than disagreement on ways and means.

One one end of the spectrum are folks like myself that would like to live in a world where the government's role is limited to ensuring that individuals are not coerced or subjected to force by other individuals or groups as they go about their business.

On the other end are folks that believe the government should ensure that everyone has enough to eat, a place to sleep, clothing, health care and all of the basic needs of human life.

Those of us in the first group are not only opposed to the vision of the second because we believe it can't be done. We also believe that it's no way for a free human being to live. I wont launch into a lengthy debate of the merits of either view here.

The point is, when you get down to the core issue, there is no compromise, and we're getting closer and closer to finally getting down to the core issue. Do you want to live free or do you just want to live?

It would be nice if the folks in group 2 would actually engage in a debate of the merits of one view vs. another, but what I expect to see is more of what I've seen my whole life. If you are an individualist, you will be called cold hearted and greedy. You'll be characterized as someone who hates children, is under the spell of the rich, wants to kill old people, is opposed to clean air and water and is generally a horrible, terrible monster of a human being.

None of this is new, and it only influences the feint of heart, but I expect it to be exponentially multiplied this year due to the shear number of people with access to so many different outlets. Compounding the issue is that Americans are paying closer attention to the goings on of their government these days. We are at a turning point. It's time to pick sides. We may not settle the issue this cycle or the next, but soon and it's getting harder to pretend that there is no direct conflict of interest at play.

In any case there will be desperation and panic on one side or the other or both. That leads to outrageous behavior and speech. If nothing else it's shaping up to be quite an entertaining season.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The budget crisis - They still don't get it

First Republicans and Democrats praised themselves for the bold new cuts proposed for the 2011 budget (roughly 1%). As it turns out it's only a cut if your starting point is the Obama proposed 2011 budget that was never acted upon. Spending for 2011 will be higher than it was in 2010 under the new agreement. It's neither bold, nor a cut.

Paul Ryan offered a glimmer of hope with a proposal to cut back on the proposed increases in spending over the next decade by about $6 trillion. This is still not an actual cut, but a reduction in the pace of growth, and it doesn't have a snowball's chance of getting past the Senate.

President Obama has his own plan, that he claims would reduce spending by $4 trillion over 12 years. That's about the same amount he had proposed increasing spending by just a few months ago. He plans on getting there, in part, by raising taxes on "millionaires and billionaires" and has redefined "millionaires and billionaires" to include couples with a combined income of $250k or more.

Both parties are trying to find ways to fund our enormous federal government at its current size or bigger. Even if they could find a way to accomplish this task (and they wont), it misses the point. Government is too big and too intrusive. It needs to be reduced in size and scope, not funded or financed. The obsession with maintaining the status quo, among both politicians and the general public will only succeed in the continuing erosion of most everyone's standard of living.

Here's hoping we get a clue at some point.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Putting the Obama birth certificate issue to bed

Donald Trump caused a bit of a stir on the View recently when he suggested that President Obama put the issue of where he was born to rest by just producing his birth certificate. This sent Whoopie Goldburg into a tizzy, as she suggested that a white candidate would never be asked such a thing. Actually, many white candidates have been asked to produce their birth certificates, including McCain, G.W. Bush and Ronald Reagan. All complied.

It may be unwise of Mr. Trump to get into the issue, because even if a valid birth certificate is never produced, another thing that will never be produced is any conclusive proof that Mr. Obama was not born in the U.S..

It's entirely possible that the Obama team isn't complying with requests because they believe that the people harping on the issue are making themselves sound foolish and they have no desire to put a stop to that.

There is a very simple solution, however. I find it hard to believe that this is not already required, but evidently it is not. Since the law says you must have been born in the United States to run for President, why not just introduce legislation, effective in 2012, that says you must provide a valid birth certificate, or some conclusive proof of the time, date and location of your birth, to register as a candidate for President of the United States? Problem solved. Joke over.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Libya - Can we get on the same page?

Although the President's rhetoric wasn't as strong as some would have liked, I think it's fair to say the military operation recently started in Libya was put together pretty fast. It was only a few weeks from the beginning of the protests to the beginning of cruise missle strikes.

It's true the mission remains unclear. We should come out and say Gadhafi is the target and regime change is the goal. But there is time to make that case and get it done.

I'm discouraged by those on the right, griping about how action should have begun earlier. It reminds me of a "Kids In The Hall" sketch where a restaurant patron wouldn't stop whining that he wanted his check 15 minutes ago. It just smacks of looking for a.reason to oppose the President for the sake of opposing the President. I didn't like it when the Democrats did it to Bush, and it's just as distasteful when Republicans do it to Obama. We've taken on the mission of protecting Libyan civilians. Our representatives need to do what they can to make it successful, not look for opportunities to score points. There will be time for that when the job is done. Yes, helping the President define the job would be part of helping to make it work.

Of course the far left is opposed to any U.S. Military action anywhere. That's par for the course. I don't expect that will ever change.

If you truly believe we should cease and desist in Libya, make that case. If you just don't like the way the operation is being conducted, fix it. Publicly whining sounds like you're routing for failure because it might suit you politically. What could be less American?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who is "undisclosing" Wisconsin Senators location?

Since Wisconsin Senators went to Illinois to avoid a vote on their budget, the media has interviewed and filmed them from what they refer to as an "undisclosed location". Why is it undisclosed? Of course they know where they are. ABC just had a photo session with them, again with the undisclosed location bit. Would the press extend such a courtesy to you or I?

I really don't care exactly where they are, but I don't like the display of coziness between the press and politicians in agreeing to keep any information from the audience. Are they reporters or public relations managers?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Palin and Huckabee Not Running In 2012?

Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum both had their FOX News contracts suspended today. The contracts will be terminated if they don't notify the network that they are NOT running for President in 60 days. FOX is concerned about campaign finance issues. Interestingly, Huckabee and Palin were not suspended. I'm sure the network had the same conversation with all of them.

I assume Huckabee and Palin have assured their bosses that they are not running. It makes sense to keep the public guessing though. A potential candidate is a better draw than just a pundit. I'm not surprised that Palin isn't running. She's got a pretty good gig already. Huckabee does too, but he sure sounded like a candidate recently.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

New Insight on The War on Terror

I used to think that The War on Terror was a misnomer in that terrorism is a tactic. How do you wage war on a tactic. But recent events illustrate that terrorism is not just a tactic. It's a motis operandum, a strategy, an environment one creates and maintains to achieve and maintain control of a population. People who subscribe to this operating model are the enemy, and the U.S. is not alone in the fight.

It occurred to me that Libyan dictator, Moammar Gadhafi is a true terrorist. He has ruled his country for over 40 years by demonstrating continually that there is no limit to his capacity for cruelty. He had the population in constant fear for their lives. A recent dispatch out of eastern Libya (not under Gadhafi's control as of this post) by a local man stated that, in the past, if the people of his town protested, they would simply all be killed and nobody would ever hear about it. The new technologies and services on the Internet enabled people across the whole continent to communicate and share ideas and frustrations despite government's all out efforts to stop it.

In the real War on Terror, Gadhafi, Mubarak and anyone else who governs without the express consent of the governed, has to be on the hit list. I'm not making the list. The White House isn't making the list. The list becomes clear when you realize that the freedom to communicate and associate are not things people will give up. They've had a taste of the liberation that comes with the free flow of ideas and it's spreading like wildfire.

Gadhafi is losing because he's lost the fear factor. His proposal: "My way or you die." was answered with "We'd rather die." The Internet is no small factor. Dying for your principals when nobody will ever know about it is noble, but not very compelling. A chance to go down in history for standing on your principals is another matter altogether.

With a clearer view of the enemy, the battle lines and the battlefield conditions, I now feel much more confident that the good guys are going to prevail. Now if we could just have a popular uprising in support of accounting and budgeting...

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Nice one Peru

From Al Jazerra English

1:55am: Peru becomes the first country to formally severe all diplomatic ties with Libya. President Alan Garcia said:

Peru is suspending all diplomatic relations with Libya until the violence against the people ceases.

Peru also strongly protests against the repression unleashed by the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi against the people who are demanding democratic reforms to change the government which has been led for 40 years by the same person.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The trouble with public sector unions

The battle of the budget continues in Wisconsin with Democratic lawmakers hiding in Illinois to prevent a vote on a bill that would restrict collective bargaining by the teachers union to wages only. The idea is to give local authorities in charge of balancing the books, some flexibility.

It's tough to get an objective description of the issues involved. Most pundits will either suggest that supporters of the union are lazy, greedy and irresponsible or that opponents are mean spirited hate-mongers who want to destroy working families. I'm going to dispense with the emotional hyperbole and try to present a logical description of the actual dynamics at play.

Public employees have had the right to collectively bargain for around 50 years now. They cannot strike for a couple of reasons. One is public safety of course. The other is that they generally work in monopolistic enterprises. If Safeway employees go on strike today, I can go to Albertsons instead. If public school teachers strike, my children are denied services due to a dispute I'm not directly involved in. It gives the union a vastly unfair advantage if they are allowed to strike, hence they are not. Some teachers have gotten around this restriction by calling in sick in Wisconsin.

Over the years, public employee unions have gained the right to collectively negotiate not only wages, but other "working conditions". You might think this applies only to benefits such as health care and retirement. It goes much farther than that. Almost anything that happens in the workplace can be called a "working condition". This puts the union in a position to dictate the actual operational details of the enterprise and not just employee compensation.

The situation is further complicated by the fact that unions can and do make large political contributions. They have wisely chosen to favor one party over another (Democrats), which creates an alliance whereby unions help get their folks elected and their folks help the unions get what they want. The result is not a negotiation between two rivals, but a joint venture to capture as many tax dollars as humanly possible. Both parties look out for their best interest and the taxpayer doesn't get a seat at the table.

A simple fix would be to forbid unions from making political contributions. But, since the politicians would have to vote away a huge source of their own funding, that's not likely to happen.

However you feel about the issue, the reality is that Wisconsin and a lot of other states are in deep fiscal crisis. Either the taxpayers have to agree to pay more or the public employees have to agree to take less. It's not good guys vs. bad guys. It's employees and employer trying to deal with reality to reach an agreement everyone can live with. The status quo will not work. The terms must change and the system that lead to this mess must change.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We have met the enemy and he is us.

As we prepare to raise the debt ceiling once again, and inflation begins to rear its ugly head, there seems to be a general awareness that we're in serious trouble, but no will to do anything about it. I'm not talking about politicians, but their bosses, the American public.

Our government is fixing to collapse under it's own weight, yet every proposed cut meets with shrill opposition. The real issue is the proper role of government. Is it to provide for the basic needs of everyone by confiscating as much wealth as possible and redistributing it to those people, causes, companies, organizations and projects it deems worthy? Is a society's progress directly proportional to the size and scope of it's government?

The actions and behavior of the general public seems to indicate that most believe that is the case. They still believe quasi-socialism can work. We just need to tweak it. The mandate? Make the budget issue go away, but keep the entitlements coming. Raise taxes on everyone that has more than me if you have to. It's just that easy.

The fiscal meltdown will not be the fault of the representatives. It's the represented that absolutely will not tolerate the actions needed to avoid it. Therefore we will not avoid it. A few years from now it will be Americans chanting in the streets, demanding higher subsidies on bread and a larger allotment of government cheese. I sure wish I were wrong, but I'm not. Like the man said, You can't stop what's comin'

Iranian warships heading toward Suez on "training mission"

Cheering on civilian protesters is one thing. How will the White House respond to a direct confrontation?
I hope we don't find out.