Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Nevada Ranch Standoff: Feds Back Off -- For Now

For more than a week, a Waco/Ruby Ridge like, rancher-vs-feds standoff raged in the Nevada desert.  The news coverage was intense; and, quite frankly, a negative for the Obama Administration. Once again, the federal government was seen as an overbearing bully tormenting its own people.

Then, all of a sudden, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) just backed off; claiming public safety concerns. A fact that took them days to comprehend even as more and more armed civilians and protestors kept descending on the scene. They even released all the cattle that they had seized.  They could have easily kept those cattle and shipped them off to another ranch, but the release was almost like a peace offering and seemed too say: See, we're not really the bad guys here.

I believe the motivation for the stand-down was all about the media coverage and all about the bad press that the Obama Administration was getting.  The worst thing that could happen in this election year was to have dozens of Americans hurt or killed in a guns-blazing shootout with the feds.   Surely, this President and his advisers are aware that most American's already fear big government intrusion.  A fear that 64% expressed in a recent poll and, probably, a direct result of the Democrats forced takeover of their healthcare. A disaster in the Nevada desert would only serve to further that fear and definitely hurt them at election time since they are truly the party of big government.


If my above assumptions are correct, the feds will certainly be back, but not until after the election.  This is probably just another delay for similar reasons that so much of ObamaCare was delayed.

One last thing.  Cliven Bundy and his refusal to pay fees for grazing on public lands is, without doubt, a violation of law.  Whether or not his grazing animals are endangering the desert turtle is a completely  different issue.  Apparently, the endangered turtle was not a problem when, not far from the Cliven ranch, the construction of a massive solar power plant was approved.  The Obama Administration has "fast tracked" 26 such solar power facilities within the Mojave Desert; all of which put the turtle at risk because of the complete upheaval of its burrows.  Just another example of the President expecting Americans to do as he says and not as he does.

References:

BLM backs down in dispute over Nevada rancher’s cattle: http://kdvr.com/2014/04/13/blm-backs-down-in-dispute-over-nevada-ranchers-cattle/

In U.S., Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level: Democrats lead increase in concerns about big government: http://www.gallup.com/poll/151490/fear-big-government-near-record-level.aspx

 Where Tortoises and Solar Power Don't Mix: http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-10-04/where-tortoises-and-solar-power-dont-mix

Senator Reid Breaks Ground On Solar Facility Near Cliven Ranch: http://www.infowars.com/flashback-sen-reid-breaks-ground-for-nevada-solar-farm-near-bundy-ranch/

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

National Equal Pay Day Theatrics: Tragedy or Comedy?

First of all, if you have never heard of National Equal Pay Day, not to worry.  It only came into existence the day before it was first celebrated with a proclamation by his Majesty, Barack Obama.  Of course, with such short notice, there wasn't enough time to invite everyone to the festivities.  That's probably why no Republicans returned their RSVP's in time.   Also, after reading the proclamation, it appears that it won't be an annual event anyway.  It only existed that one day, this one year, an election year.  I'm quite sure that all women can appreciate this President's valiant one-day effort  to eradicate pay inequality among women.

Sadly, the day was marred by many factual inconsistencies.

It all started with the President claiming that women only made 77 cents for every dollar a man makes.  However, this number is disputed by Obama's own Bureau of Labor Statistics report that states that the current number is 81 cents to the dollar; well up from Obama's consistently, falsely claimed, politically-motivated number.  

Then, there was also embarrassment when it was pointed out that women, as part of the White House staff, are only paid 88% of what men are. The best that Presidential Press Secretary  Jay Carney could do to explain this was to say that the White House was doing better than the nation as a whole.  Well one would think so, since I'm guessing that the female staff members aren't merely waitresses who are able to supplement there legally paid less than the minimum wages with tips.

Of course, no Obama event would be complete without him using his faithful pen and issuing an order or two.  On that day, he used it to sign an executive order and to issue a memorandum.

The executive order told federal contractors that they cannot retaliate against anyone who wants to discuss their pay.  But, the order also states that contractors aren't required to discuss it.  So, if an employee wants to talk about salary, his boss can just say "shoo, out of here" because the President's order says I don't need to talk to you about it.   It also states that the employer is not compelled to make public everyone's pay. That's a relief.  Can you imagine a corporation, of say 50,000 employees, publishing everyone's salary.  Chaos and morale problems would be immediate and intense.  Supervisors, managers, and human resource personnel would spend their entire workday justifying wage disparity, not just locally, but nationwide.

Besides being a waste of ink, this executive order shows how out of touch the President is with business operations in the U.S.  We are, primarily, a country where one's pay is determined by merit.  Raises are typically handed out annually.  At that time, it is common for salary (and job performance) to be reviewed.  Additionally, most businesses have an "open door policy" where employees can discuss any grievance; without retaliation.  Many businesses have a Human Resources department or personnel manager who can intervene if there seems to be an unresolvable issue between a supervisor and an employee.  If all else fails, an aggrieved employee can always file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and that federal agency can guarantee that no retaliation will take place by doing so.  So, this begs the question: Do we have such a massive "retaliation" problem in this country that Obama needed to correct it by executive order?   Just more theatrics from this very tragedian President.

Then, there was the President's memorandum "instructing the Secretary of Labor to establish new regulations which will require federal contractors to submit to the Department of Labor, summary data on compensation paid to their employees, including data by sex and race."  Again, more theatrics.  The EEOC already, by law, collects such data from every business with 100 or more employees, or any federal contractor with more than two employees, in the form of 4 different reports.

Lastly, the day was to be capped with the Democrat-controlled, Senate's passage of the Paycheck Fairness Act which was supposed to mirror much of the President's executive order and apply those mandates to all businesses. But, that failed; for the third time.  It failed because too much of the law was a gift to trial lawyers; giving them broad sanctions to literally sue some businesses out of existence. It never had a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House and that was the real purpose of the re-submission of it in the Senate.  Obama had hoped for passage in the Senate so he could point to the House's rejection of the Paycheck Fairness Act as further proof that the GOP are conducting a war on women.

The real tragedy of that day was the President's fake attempts to convince women that he was doing something for them.  From fake data to a useless executive order and memorandum and a previously failed piece of legislation, nothing attempted or accomplished that day furthered any woman's pay situation in America.  It was all a bunch of fluff to garner women's votes in the fall and distract from the horrors of ObamaCare.  Further, it was a tragedy that the real problems facing women aren't being addressed. Things like jobs, the economy, and truly affordable healthcare for their families.

The rich comedic payoff was watching Jay Carney dance around the fact of the White House's failure to pay women equally.  Just as laughable was the fact that the Democrat-controlled Senate failed to pass any legislation that might have helped them in the fall elections.  This was their own fault by presenting legislation that overreached and would actually hurt the economy and ultimately women's causes. If employers start thinking of women as constant adversaries who will easily take them to court, their chances of even being hired, let alone promoted, could be greatly compromised.


References:

Presidential Proclamation -- National Equal Pay Day, 2014: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/07/presidential-proclamation-national-equal-pay-day-2014

President Obama’s persistent ’77-cent’ claim on the wage gap gets a new Pinocchio rating: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/wp/2014/04/09/president-obamas-persistent-77-cent-claim-on-the-wage-gap-gets-a-new-pinocchio-rating/

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Women's Earnings: http://www.bls.gov/cps/cpswom2012.pdf

As Obama Spotlights Gender Gap in Wages, His Own Payroll Draws Scrutiny: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/08/us/politics/as-obama-spotlights-gender-gap-in-wages-his-own-payroll-draws-scrutiny.html

FACT SHEET: Expanding Opportunity for All: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women and Promoting the Women’s Economic Agenda: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/08/fact-sheet-expanding-opportunity-all-ensuring-equal-pay-women-and-promot

EEO Reports / Surveys: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/04/08/fact-sheet-expanding-opportunity-all-ensuring-equal-pay-women-and-promot

Senate falls six votes short of passing Paycheck Fairness Act: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2014/04/09/senate-falls-six-votes-short-of-passing-paycheck-fairness-act/

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Question Nobody Seems To Be Asking About Sharpton's "Snitch" Story

According to the "Smoking Gun," Al Sharpton "snitched" for the FBI on some of New York's prominent drug kingpins such as the Genovese family.  While everybody seems to be focusing on the ethics of Sharpton even being a "snitch", nobody seems to be questioning why he became one in the first place. At one point, he was actually caught on tape discussing cocaine deals with an undercover FBI agent. Now we all know that dealing cocaine is a felony punishable with some hard jail time.  So, the question is: Did Sharpton trade jail time for being a snitch?  If so, he really is a felon.

Of course, Al is fully denying either snitching or working for the FBI.  But, think about this.  Would anyone really want the world to know that you might have put some NYC mobsters behind bars?  The penalty for doing that may be a little steep.

Reference: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/apr/8/rev-al-sharpton-denies-snitch-allegations-i-was-vi/

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Finally, An ObamaCare Success Story: Sebelius Resigns

There should be no tears or praise over Sebelius' leaving.  She had 3-1/2 years to roll out ObamaCare and she failed miserably; and, people were hurt in the process.  Many lost their insurance -- some with life-threatening illnesses -- and the confusion and uncertainty of not being able to sign up for replacement insurance was nothing short of torture for many of them.

Simply, she is incompetent and she should have been "fired" back in October when the website totally failed to meet even the most minimal of expectations.  Sure, she didn't have anything to do with writing such a bad law as the Affordable Care Act (ACA a.k.a ObamaCare) but, she only made it worse by focusing more on what typical bureaucrats do, which was spending too much time writing 20,000+ pages of regulation and caring less about how John Q. Public would interface in compliance with those regs.

In the face of adversity, she just lied and kept lying to save face for her, Obama, and the Democrats.  She told Congress that delay was not an option.  Yet, all we saw were delays of the most politically damaging parts of the law.

Now, with her leaving, we get another bureaucrat, Sylvia Mathews Burwell with absolutely no background in health care or human services.  She is merely  a head number cruncher who just helped put all of Obama's never-once-passed-into-law budgets together.  So, I guess for the remainder of his Presidency, she will do nothing but blame her predecessor when things continue to go wrong with ObamaCare.  This, in much the same way the President blamed George Bush, and continues to do so. This way, she's sure to keep her job, no matter how badly she does, for as long she wants to stay.  But, like that old saying, Burwell's lack of experience is probably "close enough for Government work!"

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Truth About Buying Gold And Silver

Every day, the radio airways and cable news broadcasts are filled with advertising from "gold bug" companies who are trying to convince you to buy both gold and silver.  There are dozens of them: Goldline, Lear Capital, Rosland, Merit, and so on.  All of whom claim that, by holding these precious metals, you are being protected against inflation as a result of massive government spending and the devaluation of the dollar, or, protected against another recession, depression, or stock market crash. 

The problem is that all of those claims are bogus. The proof of that is in the chart below, which shows the combined price of gold and silver which has been adjusted for inflation in today's dollars:
Click on Chart to Zoom
As you can see, these two metals have a history of spiking in price, but once that price hits some "tipping point", there is a long and painful slide downwards.  This happened in 1980 when gold hit a high of $850 an ounce or nearly $2,000 when adjusted backwards in today's dollars. By 2001, just before the next spike upwards, gold hit a 20-year low at $250 (unadjusted); or about $325 (adjusted).  During that 20-year slide, holders were paid no dividends; probably weren't savvy enough to hedge against their losses; and, most likely got stuck with relatively high storage and insurance costs to protect their investment. Worse, if you did buy gold in 1980 at its high, you are still underwater (see graph) when adjusted for inflation.  Just the opposite of what buying gold was supposed to do.

What none of the gold bugs are willing to tell you is that, in 2011, gold and silver both hit respective nominal (unadjusted) highs of $1,904 and $49.50 an ounce.  Today, gold is trading around $1,300 or down $600 from 2011.  Silver is even worse off  with today's price near $20; and, that's a loss of more than 60% since its 2011 high. All indications are that these prices will continue to slide; just as they had done in the 20-year period after the 1980 spike.

I guess what really bothers me about the gold bug ads is that they make all kinds of unproven claims and predictions.  For example, Lear Capital is running a current ad that features Eric Sprott; a billionaire Canadian hedge fund manager.  In that ad, Lear offers any callers a report by Sprott that predicts that gold will exceed $2000 an ounce sometime this year and that silver will be at least $50 an ounce by the end of the year.  Well, that's the same claim Sprott has made every year since 2011.  In fact, in 2011 he predicted $2155 (Canadian) for gold and $64 for silver before the beginning of 2012.  While close in 2011, none of Sprott's predictions since, have been anywhere near being true.  My guess is Sprott is holding a lot of gold at a loss, and by hyping its price potential he can cover those losses and find an escape hatch.  While Sprott's claims seem outrageous, there are a bunch of people predicting that gold will hit $5000.  Just Google it and you won't believe how many, and for how long they've been making that prediction.

Lastly, these metals have big liquidity problems. There's a lot of dealers out there who will sell you this stuff.  Try selling it back to them; especially when the prices are falling.  Try finding buyers on your own.  In either case, you will have the cost of shipping to the buyer, and the additional  cost of hefty shipping insurance.


References:

Chart Perspective – Gold: 100 Year Historical Prices: http://www.gcasset.com/chart-perspective-gold-100-year-historical-prices/

What Happened to the Gold Price in 1980?: http://buying-gold.goldprice.org/2008/01/what-happened-to-gold-price-in-1980.html

Sprott On Gold In 2012: http://katchum.blogspot.com/2012/05/eric-sprott-on-cnbc.html

Sprott On Gold In 2011: http://www.jaggards.com.au/news/medusa/article_75.asp


Thursday, April 10, 2014

Why ObamaCare Forces Universal Coverage For Childbirth

Many people signing up for ObamaCare are shocked to find out that their new health policy covers maternity services.  This, when those people either have no intention of, or are totally incapable of having children.  The only explanation that we ever get from Health and Human Services is that maternity coverage is part of the 10 Essential Health services that are mandated by the law.

But, the real reason behind the maternity mandate is the fact that the U.S. has the highest costs for childbirth in the world.  Costs that are being totally driven by malpractice lawsuits aimed at OB/GYN's and hospitals for any birth defects or infant deaths.  Rather than implement tort reform as part of ObamaCare to lower those costs, the Democrats decided to protect the trial lawyers -- and their generous campaign funding to the Democrat party -- by spreading those high costs among all the insured; whether they need maternity care or not.  By doing this, the trial lawyers would be protected against any public backlash over the spiraling out-of-control costs of having a baby.

In countries like Canada and the U.K., where damages are capped and where jury trials have either been eliminated or minimized, maternity costs are almost a fourth of what it is in the U.S.  Yet, while the Democrats are always quick to point to countries like England, where health care costs are some of the lowest in the world, they aren't so quick to follow that country's lead in controlling costs when it comes to tort reform.  Instead, the trial lawyers are free to keep suing and reaping 30 to 40 percent commissions as emotionally-charged juries award higher and higher malpractice damages.  This is why ObamaCare has no real intention of fixing the high cost of health care.  Instead, the Democrats would rather us all pay big so they can protect their political base.


References:

HHS: 10 Essential Benefits: https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/essential-health-benefits/

The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/803426_2

CNN: Cost of U.S. childbirth outrageous: http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/09/opinion/declercq-childbirth-costs/

American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/health/american-way-of-birth-costliest-in-the-world.html?hp&_r=3&

Rising Cost of OB/GYN Malpractice Insurance: https://www.equotemd.com/blog/obgyn-medical-malpractice-insurance/

Medical Liability: A World Of Difference: http://www.amednews.com/article/20100503/profession/305039938/4/



Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Feinstein's 'Torture' Report: Why Now?

Seven years after the whole world knew the U.S. conducted harsh interrogations, and five years after Obama banned it by executive order, Senator Dianne Feinstein wants to do one more autopsy on the topic by declassifying and releasing a summary report that she had previously commissioned.  In her explanation in wanting to do so, she said it would "ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted."  Of course, the release of the report will only serve to put the total blame on the Bush Administration and all other Republicans who will naturally be guilty by association for such an "un-American" and "brutal program."

But here's the back story on this whole "interrogation" mess.

First of all, Feinstein could have released such a report at any time over the last five years that she has served as chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence.  But, she only elected to do so this year, an election year, when the Senate Democrats are in serious trouble.

Of course, what that report won't show is how complicit Democrats were in allowing those interrogation techniques; going all the way back to 2002.  Nor, will it take us back to the emotions of the days and weeks following 9/11 or recreate the shock and fear we experienced.  Americans demanded any and all measures that would make us feel safe again. Of course, this response was no different than this country's detention of Japanese Americans during World War II.  Another dark time in our past that should never be repeated.

Knowing Obama and how totally political he is, he will probably issue an executive order that declassifies the report and, as such, exposes interrogation techniques that could be used sometime in the future,  against our own soldiers, or by one country against another.  This is why the report has been classified all along.  Simply, there are some things that should not be common knowledge. 

References:

Hill (Democrats) Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/12/08/AR2007120801664.html

Hayden thinks Feinstein's 'emotional' opposition to CIA interrogations taints report: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/06/hayden-thinks-feinstein-emotional-opposition-to-cia-interrogations-taints/http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/04/06/hayden-thinks-feinstein-emotional-opposition-to-cia-interrogations-taints/