Saturday, January 31, 2009

Why Dirt Is Cheap

We've all heard the expression "dirt cheap." Dirt is cheap because there is just so much of it. Now, don't confuse dirt with premium top soil or potting soil. While those soils have dirt in them, you're generally paying a premium for the organic material that's mixed in with it. Dirt is actually worthless. A ton of regular dirt couldn't even buy you a cup of coffee.

In many ways, our dollars are being cheapened for the same reasons that dirt is so cheap. While our legislature, and the current and previous Administrations, busily throw money at this recession, we don't have any savings in the the U.S. Treasury to pay for it. As a country, we've been working off of IOU's, called Treasury Bonds, for decades. When we say we're going to spend another $900 billion or a trillion dollars in stimulus, we're actually saying that the U.S. Treasury will print more money to cover it; and then, to cover the increase in our money supply they will have to sell more bonds (more IOU's). As a consequence, our money becomes less valuable. Not quite as cheap as dirt, but definitely moving in that direction. If it keeps up, our currency could completely collapse, and then, it will literally be "dirt cheap."

When you expand the number of dollars in our economy, you reduce the purchasing power of each of those dollars. As a result, it will take more and more dollars to buy that cup of coffee. This is called inflation and that's what will seriously hit our economy; once the recession is over. Because of the massive amount of spending, it will probably be one of the worst inflationary periods that this country has ever seen. Right now, inflation has been kept in check by the faltering economy. Businesses aren't going to raise prices when so many are losing their jobs. Businesses are holding the line on their prices so that their sales don't completely fall through the floor. But, that condition won't last forever.

Inflation is a horrible economic disease. It destroys people on fixed incomes. The poor can hardly survive because food, clothing, energy costs and other household items will go through the roof. For some, even the cost of toilet paper could be too much to bear. This is what the Democrats are committing this country to with all the spending for unnecessary social programs that they call stimulus. Further, there won't be enough rich people and rich business in this country to pay enough taxes to cover all the human anguish that will result.

This is an extremely dangerous situation. When inflation is out of control, the government of any country is then in that situation where it becomes susceptible to overthrow; and not necessarily by force. It can quietly take place over time. To fight a rapidly inflating economy, a nation's government will increasingly have to install more social programs and continue to expand them in order to take care of its citizen's needs. It is a spiral. With each step in this process of socialization, more and more capitalism will have to die by either high taxation or by deemed-necessary nationalization of businesses. Eventually, any residual forms of capitalism will be totally unable to support the society's needs, and society will then see any form of capitalism as a failure. That's when all business operations in a country become nationalized entities and socialism has completely taken control.

You've got to wonder if that isn't what the intent is here. For the last two decades, social reformers like George Soros have increasingly been involved with our politics by backing the far left elements of the Democratic party. Barack Obama also, has a history of surrounding himself with anti-Americans and suspected socialists like Reverend Wright and William Ayers. With the stroke of his pen over the last 10 days, our new President has installed one far left program after another. Our Congress is poised to take out the secret balloting system in unionizing against any company. There is talk of stifling conservative talk radio by re-implementing the so-called Fairness Doctrine. Probably, as a means of cutting off any criticism. Barack Obama just went out of his way to criticize a private citizen, Rush Limbaugh. When is the last time any President has ever singled out a private citizen for their opinions? That was extraordinary. Then, under the guise of this ugly recession, the Democrats are pushing a near-trillion dollars of what is, primarily, a bunch of social programs. You just can't help wondering what's going on. Are we seeing the end of America as we know it? I hope I'm wrong. But, I'm not sure. And, that's just my opinion.

Friday, January 30, 2009

A Political Risk? Or, A Reward?

Many of the political pundits (mostly liberal) seem to think that the Republicans are treading on quicksand by voting "no" on this stimulus package. They further think that it is political suicide by appearing to be obstructionists when the country voted for change. Apparently, they believe (or want to believe) that the loyal opposition, the Republicans, should just roll over and die. But, let's not forget that only a little more than half of this country voted for this " change". There are millions of voters out there who didn't vote for Pelosi, Reid, and Obama and they need representation too. To that end, the Republicans are charged in serving and protecting their interests. Without them acting as a check and balance against what is a majority-controlled government, there would be nothing democratic about that government.

Well, maybe it is political suicide for the conservatives. But, at what real risk? They've already lost the White House and they've lost both Houses of Congress. They also took a shellacking in the State Legislatures. If they had lost much more, they would be nearly invisible. The real fact is that those liberal pundits want the Republicans to vote with the Democrats so this horrible stimulus package will carry the protective political cover of bipartisanship. Then, two years down the line, when the trillions being spent clearly did not work, the Democrats can look backwards, without assuming any defensive fetal position, and proudly defend themselves and their actions by saying that the Republicans were on board with this program too. It's an old game in Washington.

Actually, by not voting for this lard-laden stimulus plan, the Republicans have only a minimal risk; and, the ultimate rewards could be substantial. Rewards like regaining seats in Congress or regaining the White House. If, what the Democrats are doing doesn't do anything but further deepen the recession, the Republicans have gained a lot more then they would have lost. Any rational person can clearly see that this stimulus package is a loser. It might create a few politically-targeted jobs; but, it isn't going to bailout this massive and wide-ranging economy of ours. And, based on recent polls, the American people are seeing through this package as well. According to the latest Gallup poll only a slim majority of America (52%) has any faith in this stimulus package and that number is waning by the day as people start to see what is in it(See Full Story). If it weren't for 73 percent of the Democrats, voting with their ideological hearts and not logical minds, this bill would have very little support.

One more thing. When the Republicans talk about how fat this package is, a lot of Democrats use the counter argument that the Republicans showed no control when they were in charge for eight years. This says a lot. It just shows that the Democrats are well aware that this package is nothing more than a pork sandwich with a little bread that's hiding its fat-laden center. They are trying to use the old child's ploy of saying "Johnny did why can't I!" While it is true that the Republicans weren't fiscally responsible while they were in control, this plan, by the Democrats, doesn't just mirror the waste by the Republicans; this plan takes it into hyperspace by multiple factors of 10.

I knew that if the Democrats had enough power and a free-rein to mold our government, they would overstep any logical bounds. Now, it appears they are well on their way in repeating their past bad habits. They did it in the Carter Administration and they suffered. Carter became a one-term President. I think Mr. Obama would well-serve his own personal fortunes by looking back at history. Clearly, he and the Democrats are moving headlong into disastrous territory; and, they have only been in control slightly more than one week!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Obama's 'Spirit' of Bipartisanship

Yesterday, to a man (and a woman), the Republicans voted "no" on the $900 billion, so-called stimulus package that was written by Pelosi and her gang and backed by the President. Along with every Republican, eleven sensible Blue-dogs, Democrats who are fiscal conservatives and who, I think, could see the B.S. of this bill, also voted against Pelosi and Obama. The complete Republican no-vote came despite a meeting that Obama held with key Republicans in the morning over the contents of the Bill. The liberal press hailed this as proof of Obama's commitment to bipartisanship by his reaching across the aisle. But was it really?

Sure, he met with the Republicans and listened to their ideas for the stimulus package. But, mostly, he was there to convince them, or should I say, schmooze them, into voting the way of the Democrats. He didn't take what he heard from the Republicans and then immediately meet with the Democratic leadership in the House to have them put some or any of their ideas to work in that massive spending (not stimulus) bill. No, he let the bill stand as the Democrats had written it. That Bill didn't incorporate one single idea from the Republicans. Their ideas went in one Presidential ear, and out the other.

Yesterday, was a perfect example of what the next four years will be like in the 'bipartisan' world according to Obama. He has absolute no history of working across the aisle and yesterday confirmed it. The history he does have is one of being a smooth talker; being a con man; getting you to agree to his way of thinking. That's how he won the Presidency. He convinced the left that he was far left when he needed the Democratic Nomination. He moved to the center when he wanted to get the majority of votes he need to become President. Now, he's in office and, from day-one, everything is being done from a far left viewpoint: from abortion, to Guantanamo, to interrogation, to spending, etc. Obama's 'spirit' of bipartisanship isn't that "sense of cooperation" that you might think. Instead, his "spirit" of bipartisanship is more like some intangible, transparent, ectoplasmic representation of something that is totally dead. You can run right up to it, try and grab it, and all you'll wind up with is handful of air. Basically, it's a "ghost" of a concept and absolutely not real in any true practice.

Mr. Obama's whole concept of bipartisanship is for you to come over to his side. He has no intention of really working with anyone. To do so would be for him to give up his core, far-left beliefs. Believe me, it will be a cold day in a very hot place before he does that. And, that's just my opinion.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Numbers Game

Anyone who has followed the ongoing development and debate over the near trillion dollar stimulus plan that the Democrats have put together, knows that, from day to day, the numbers and projections keep changing. Last week, the Pelosi-gang was talking about $750 billion dollars. Now, its up $816 billion which is over 8 percent more than before. Also, last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that only about 40 percent of that money would actually make it into our economy within two years (See Full Story). In my opinion, that's not kick-starting anything. Our Democratic friends in Congress apparently have never heard the expression "Rome wasn't built in a day." Neither are roads, or bridges, or wind farms, or solar power arrays. The planning process takes time. Then there are the required months of EPA environmental studies, approvals, and contractor bids to be had before a single speck of asphalt or cement can be laid. Once the actual construction starts, it could be months to years before completion. That's why the actual creation of jobs would be too slow to effectively return this economy to good health. Something I've been saying all along.

Upset with the 40 percent number, dear Nancy (Pelosi) told the new Congressional Budget Office to again review the previous CBO work and come up with a new number. This time, the number jumped to a 64% completion rate within two years (See Full Story). So much for independent accounting. At the same time, the Office Of Management and Budgets (OMB) did their look-see at the stimulus package and they said only 49 percent of the infrastructure building would be completed within two years.

Even the 200 million that Nancy wanted in the "birth control" portion of the bill probably wouldn't have been spent in the first year "unless" those family planning agencies started handing out condoms by the case and gave out two-year supplies of birth control pills. Maybe we should have a national advertising campaign to promote premarital sex so that the money would be used up faster. That would put even more stimulus in this stimulus part of this stimulus package now wouldn't it? Dear Nancy could be the spokesperson. I can't imagine what advertising slogan they would come up with that would somehow say that having more safe-sex will save our economy; but, I'm sure Nancy could come up with one.

I don't know what the real number on actual spending will ultimately be. But, I am quite sure it won't be as effective as this Congress seems to think in putting people back to work. Plain and simple, it is a political stimulus package to buy votes and pay those back who voted Democratic last year, and not hardly the economic stimulus package that would help put an end the recession. In my simple way of looking at things, I would think that if only 50 percent of the stuff in the package will actually be applied within 2 years, then let's cut out the stuff that won't. To me, it makes perfect sense that the stimulus package should only be $400 billion. The rest is just waste and pet-pork projects of the Democrats.

The other thing that came out this last week was the fact that the original $750 billion in spending will really amount to $1.1 or $1.2 trillion after the interest is applied to that debt. So, roughly speaking, every dollar that our Congress and the Obama Administration talks about is, in reality, about 50% more when future interest payments are added on. Of course, that interest will continue to be paid as long as we still have a national debt. And, since I can't remember when we didn't have a national debt, I suspect we will be paying that interest forever. Just my opinion.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

A Ray Of Hope And Presage Of Failure

Yesterday, there were a couple of news events that, I think, were left for dead amid all the political news of the day. While the media have literally joined in on the 24/7 all-Obama coverage, significant things are happening on the economic front that are not being given the attention they should.

The first little piece of significant news was the fact that existing home sales rose by 6.5 percent (See Full Story). This was despite all forecasts of a drop in sales. This is important because it may be signaling that home prices and interest rates have come down enough for buying to start up again. But, more importantly, that number discloses that some form of mortgage lending had to have taken place in order to cause that level of buying to occur. This could mean that the actions by the Federal Reserve and the Bush Treasury Department have unfrozen some of the credit lending activity in this country. While the headline seems to almost undermine that good news by stating that prices fell by 13 percent, the fact that there was a sales increase can't be ignored. In the overall economic scheme of things, prices will continue to fall until the demand for home buying reaches a point where there is a shift from a buyers market to a sellers market. Then prices will increase. But, first things first. Buying needs to start up again in order for there to be any hope of price stability in the real estate arena.

While there was good news on the real estate front, there was a more disheartening piece of news that came from Caterpillar Inc., yesterday. Their profits tanked by 32 percent; despite significant sales increases in Latin America and Asia. The real losses were in the industrialized parts of the world like North America, Europe, and the Middle East and, finally, in the emerging economies of Africa (See Full Story).

But, more significant than the drop in sales was the announced layoff of 20,000 employees. That number says a lot about what Caterpillar sees happening in 2009 and beyond. Caterpillar is a heavy equipment manufacturer. Their equipment, supposedly, would be used in all these "infrastructure" stimulus plans that the Democrats/Obama are talking about. It doesn't matter if your digging a foundation for a wind turbine, or rehabbing an existing road or bridge or building a new one, Caterpillar heavy equipment and equipment from their competitors would be used in the process. However, with yesterday's announcement, it appears that Caterpillar isn't anticipating any great benefit from those Democratic plans. And, why? That's because the infrastructure part of the stimulus is too targeted to those few companies in this country who currently work our roads and bridges. The broader base of heavy equipment needs, i.e. in corporate expansion and in new home and retail construction, is not being addressed in the stimulus package. That's why!

As of now, there is an increasing amount of idle heavy equipment out there as companies don't expand and builders don't build new homes and office buildings. Companies involved in federally-sponsored infrastructure rebuilding will have access to all that equipment; by either buying it used or by leasing or renting it from our construction companies. As a consequence, there will have no need to buy anything new from the likes of Caterpillar. That's the reality of the infrastructure stimulus that the Democrats are hoping will kick start this economy. That is why I have always said that the planned stimulus package is too narrow in its scope to have any significant impact on our economy. We will continue to lose jobs on a broad basis because the broader market of things isn't being addressed. It appears we haven't learned a single lesson from the Great Depression and those worthless FDR WPA programs; or, from what happened to Japan in their fruitless efforts in infrastructure rebuilding resulting in a decade long recession.

The housing sales increase is a good sign but it might just be a short-lived respite from a continuing downward spiral. I just don't see anything in this Administration's plan to help the broader economy recover. And, as always (and for legal reasons*), this is just my opinion.

*Note: Expressing an opinion as fact can get you in legal hot water. This entire blog is intended to be an opinion or, sometimes, a form of satire. Facts are always pop-up linked to their source.

Caterpillar equipment image by terinea's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Monday, January 26, 2009

Optimism or Pessimism?

More than any single poll of a few hundred people, the stock market is the best indicator going to give us an idea as to the direction of the country. It isn't just a few hundred people voicing their opinions. It's millions of investors from our country and throughout the world, who look to our stock market as a source of return on their investment. This week saw a market in turmoil. On Inauguration day, the market saw the biggest slide ever on that ceremonial day (See Full Story). This showed absolutely no hope or optimism for our economy going forward. It was almost as if a message was being sent to the President. The next day showed a positive recoil from the previous day's disaster. But, as the week progressed, it was primarily a downtrend.

The market is reacting to a lack of hope for recovery anytime soon. The plans on the table give no reason for hope. There's a lot of pork on that table. It appears that the Congress and the White House want this country to have an excessively large helping of that "other white meat" so they can payback those that voted them into office. The much-needed and targeted stimulus plan to get this country back on track just is not there. Investors know this because they are selling their stocks. And, the selling isn't going to stop over the long haul.

For awhile, I was hopeful that the new Administration would continue its middle-of-the-road track that Obama, himself took after his nomination. However, it appears that was just a tactic to get elected. In three short days of being in charge, his far left-wing views are clearly coming back out of the closet he had shoved them into once he got that nomination. We are seeing why Mr. Obama was considered one of the farthest left politicians in the Senate. He snookered those in the center who thought otherwise. I once, in this very blog, thought he would shed his left-wing views to be a great President, and to get re-elected. Now, it is clear that his past actions as an extreme liberal, even as a socialist, are showing up once again in full force. From abortion, to his stimulus plan, and to the war on terror, we are clearly living with a staunch progressive/liberal/socialist in charge. I'm disappointed, and the stock market is too.

Image of the New York Stock Exchange by riacale's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Sunday, January 25, 2009

A New Era Of Trade Wars Looms

From what Mr. Obama said during last year's campaign, we already know he is no real fan of free trade. His comments about NAFTA and the pending South Korea and Columbia trade agreements made that abundantly clear. Now, as part of this new stimulus package, contractors getting funding will be required to "Only Buy American". While, if you're an American, that sounds pretty good, it might not sit too well with our trading partners who might be just as deep in a recession as we are.

Let me make this very clear. America is no longer the most powerful exporter in the world. We haven't been for the last 4 decades. As a consequence, any trade barriers will hurt our businesses the most. Like the old saying... Beggars can't be choosers. Now, in the midst of a recession, we want to be the choosers. I really think we should be out their pushing trade agreements that give us the greatest avenues to sell our products. Saying that we're only buying American, just gives Japan, China, France and England a leg up in selling things like heavy equipment, motorcycles, steel, generators, etc. to other countries if those countries are locked out from selling their own products to us. Protectionism has never worked. Somebody ought to tell Mr. Obama and our Congress that.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Our New Milk And Cookies War On Terror

We have an enemy that doesn't care if women and children are killed senselessly. They don't wear uniforms and they hide in schools, hospitals, homes, and religious places where our attempts to track them down and extricate or kill them could result in the deaths of even more innocent men, women, and children. They use suicide murders/bombers, in crowds, to kill their own people just to see if they can kill a single American. They will behead any American and American ally they capture; even if that person is a non-combatant such as a newspaper person, a social aid worker, or contractor. They might hang our captured troops from bridges or drag their dead and half-dead bodies through the streets. They literally believe that any act of terror, whether it be bombing or beheading, is their pathway to heaven. The principles of the Geneva Convention appear nowhere in their interpretation of the Quran.

With all that, Mr. Obama has decided we will take the high ground and be ethical in treating this, our extremely brutal enemy. He feels we should hold the high road; even if it means that many more of us will die. Apparently, the President thinks that, somehow, Al Qaeda and the Taliban are signatories to the Geneva Convention. I have a clue for him, they aren't! They carry no Army Field Manual. Only if we went to war with the Canadians or the French and others who signed the Geneva Convention would our troops be treated with respect (and, I'm not quite sure about the French).

I am not suggesting that we physically torture the enemy and, certainly, not on a widespread basis. But, mental torture, like water-boarding, has proved effective with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. High profile captures harbor information that could save thousand of lives. What if we catch Bin Laden in an Obama Administration? Are we going to offer him milk and cookies; a snuggly blanket and slippers; and a warm fire in hopes that he spills the beans on all his operations? "Another cigar, Mr. Bin Laden?" Maybe, we would let him plea bargain a lighter sentence on his possible sentence of 2,974 consecutive life sentences for the deaths on 9/11. Right! That'll work! The only signal that we are sending to the likes of Bin Laden is that we are soft on terrorism. It's a green light for horribly killing more Americans and not an inhibitor to our troops being treated fairly as in the precepts of the Geneva Convention. We'll only make the French happy and those at Amnesty International who constantly blame America for everything; but always turn a blind eye to the Saddam Hussein's of the world when they are busy slaughtering their own people; usually for ethnic reasons.

We should never take our options off the table. It will be a lot worse for the image of the United States if Mr. Obama, later, decides to allow water-boarding on the likes of a Bin Laden after saying we would never water-board. Rather than say we won't use psychological interrogation techniques, the President would have been better off to tighten the rules and limits as to the who, the when, the how, and the where that this type of interrogation could be conducted. Now, we are in the position of not even using the civilian tactic of "good-cop bad-cop" without being in violation of the strictly written rules of the Geneva Convention. The all-hour, blaring of music that was used against the Branch Davidians and David Koresh would not have been allowed either.

Those who hate this country, usually out of jealousy, will always make us look to be the bad guys; no matter how careful we are. They are the same people who broadly decry this country anytime we use bombs; but, seem to ignore the fact, that, as much as possible, we use smart bombs to avoid any collateral deaths and damage. No other country cares so much as to develop such targeted weaponry. Those same America-bashers idolize the Palestinians as freedom fighters and revel in their use of suicide murders to kill innocent woman and children and they applaud the Palestinian tactic of blindly firing unguided missiles into civilian neighborhoods. And, the Palastinians do it every day and multiple times a day. Like most liberal progressives, Mr. Obama is living in a fantasy world. The real world is much crueler than he seems to think. And, that's just my opinion.

One last comment. While all those liberal countries, like France, criticize us for torture, the French, like many other countries, seem not to be as "clean" as they would expect us to be (See Full Story).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Concrete and Steel Will Only Make Our Economy Weaker

As I have said all along, the concept of using infrastructure rebuilding as a mechanism to kick start our economy is too limited in its scope to actually cause our economy to get back on it's feet. In fact, it was a waste of money during the FDR Administration and Great Depression; and, it will be a waste of money, now, by the Democrats and Barack Obama (See My Blog Entry of October "The Lessons of the WPA and the Great Depression"). Basically, all this infrastructure spending is intended as political payback for the labor unions who work in the heavy constructions industry. (No real change there!)

I am certainly not alone in that opinion. (Unless, of course, I'm standing amid a bunch of liberals who only know their own view of FDR and history as seen through the rose colored glasses that they view all past Democratic Presidents.) But, now, the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has reinforced my belief by issuing a report that says that majority of infrastructure moneys won't hit our economy for "at least" two years out (See Full Story) and won't be an effective tool towards recovery. By the time two years pass, the unemployment in this country will continue to soar and it will probably be spinning out of control.

This is the problem when you allow politicians to engineer a recovery. They will always look to see how many votes they can "buy" with their actions; rather than do anything that would help the country as a whole. That's why most of these people, our politicians, would absolutely fail miserably if they tried to run a business. Just my opinion.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Noble Effort He May Come To Regret

Yesterday, one of the first official acts by our new President was to pencil in an executive order by expanding the Freedom of Information Act and providing transparency within his Administration as to all those non-national security issues that are being planned or worked on. I applaud this noble effort. However, Mr. Obama may regret it later.

Washington D.C. is awash with sharks. And, those sharks would just love to take a bite out of any President's Administration. It isn't just his enemies that Mr. Obama should worry about. It can also be his supposed fellow Democrats that may want a leg up or need to feed their own egos by exposing any problems or controversy that are going on within his Administration. The weapon of choice, by all politicians, is always information. Mr. Obama may have just, figuratively, loaded that gun and put it out there for someone to pick up and shoot down his future plans and operations. That's the reason why the Bush Administration, and other experienced Administrations before him, have been so secretive about their plans and actions.

Beyond the political viciousness, the news media is always on the hunt for information that can be used as front page fodder in order to sell those rags they write for. Too much information being put out there can cause an avalanche of questions that can put any President and his staff off-balance by constantly having to explain things. For example, you only have to look to how detrimental the New York Times article was to the Bush administration when it reported on FISA (warrant-less wiretapping). Weeks were wasted in defending a program that was eventually passed by a majority of Senators in a Democratic Senate; but, only after they had juiced it for all the political gain they could get. Other disclosures by the "Times" and other rags were equally detrimental over the last 8 years.

Sadly, Mr. Obama naively thinks he will maintain ethical behavior without consequence. However, he's dealing with politicians and a news media who have "all" left their ethics in the garage from the very first day they were either sworn into public office or were given national politics as their news assignments. That's not just my is a fact!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Unity Or Division?

As usual, Barack Obama talks the talk but doesn't walk the walk. On this day that he "preached" unity, he and his followers clearly practiced discord and division.

Obama certainly showed this fact, again, in his selection of another preacher. Reverend Joseph Lowery gave a pseudo-benediction and, with absolute unconsciousness as to the portent of the event that was at hand, spoke the following: "Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back, when brown can stick around ... when yellow will be mellow ... when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right...".

Obviously, by inference, the whites of this country must always be wrong because they, some day, must "still" embrace the "right." Apparently, this drug-store Reverend, clearly of the Reverend Wright ilk and of the school of racial hate for the white man, is too dumb to know what the word Benediction actually means. It doesn't mean that you spew childish rhyme-time rhetoric to attack the white race -- a race that didn't leave Mr. Obama at the back of the bus but, instead, game him the keys to the bus. A benediction is to ask for God for guidance and, literally, means to "speak for good." There was absolutely nothing "good" about his senseless diatribe. I realize the man was a civil rights activist at the time of Marin Luther King but, he, like a lot of those who lived then, and are living now, and are seeing the waning need for their civil rights activism, are totally clueless as to the gains that blacks have made in this country. We are not "still" living in the civil rights era of the 1960's and before, and Barack Obama has clearly proved that.

The second disgusting show of classlessness was by those Obama backers who attended the inauguration. I can understand a few boos when Bush or Cheney were introduced and were shown on the various Jumbotrons throughout the D.C. Mall. I'd expect that kind of anger from those on the extreme political left of this country. But the chorus of boos that rang out by that crowd just demonstrates the moronic behavior of a lot of "Democrats" in this country. What's worse... they also booed Bush's wife, Laura. This just reaffirms what I said in my blog of a few days ago, a "Comment About Comments", about the animals who call themselves Progressives, Democrats, and Liberals.

With Democrats like John Conyers and Nancy Pelosi promising to investigate and criminalize Bush and his Administration for possible crimes, the concept of any unity is totally out of the question. If Conyers and Pelosi pursue this, there will never be any unity in this country. The politics of division will only continue to grow. The whole theme of this inauguration is a sham. The concept of change is a sham. Under the guise of the current economic problems, Barack Obama and his gang of vengeful politicos will use this opportunity to do what Democrats have always done -- tax and spend so they can get the votes. They won't solve this country's serious problems. They certainly won't bring this country together. Further, if prosecutions of any kind do go forward, no good and qualified persons will ever want to serve in government again for fear of politically-based retribution. Again, the Obama-spew of calling for service to our country is just another hollow concept from a guy that is all words and has a complete history of inaction.

By The Way: In the 1960's I was a Democrat. I, like a lot of my fellow students of that time, clearly believed in the JFK, RFK, MLK, and JBJ dream of racial equality. I participated in actions like a sit-in on a local chain of hamburger stands that had been known to shun black patrons. And, the civil rights movement in this country was successful because of the support of millions upon millions of white people across this country. Most all the anti-discrimination and civil rights laws we have today were enacted by white legislatures from coast to coast. That's what I would easily call "whites" embracing "what is right!" So, I get a little tired of the "blanket" commentary that I hear from many of the prominent civil rights leaders of today.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

When The Partying Is Over

Today is a day of celebration as we usher in a new President. As in 43 times before this day, there is a peaceful transfer of power from one President's Administration to a new one. As the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama joins an extremely elite group of Americans who have lead this country.

Today, there are parties, dancing, and drinking at the various balls that have been planned in celebration. But, tomorrow, the new President must go to work. While, as of today, he assumes the power of the Presidency to act on those challenges that now face our country, the blame for current problems will remain with George W. Bush. However, at some point in the future, those major problems that now confront our country, if not corrected, will become the responsibility of this new President.

I would expect that our always-impatient nation will give Mr. Obama a pass of about a year on the economy; even though our liberal media will continue to blame Bush forever. If, however, the economy doesn't stabilize or even gets worse towards the end of that year, I believe Mr. Obama will start taking the blame. Not from the press; but, the people. That's just the way our nation is.

On the war in Iraq, I think things have substantially changed to a point where we could actually believe we have won this one. For that reason, this is a positive for the outgoing Mr. Bush; even if the rationale for going into that war, in the first place, is still in question. If Mr. Obama maintains or improves the relatively peaceful situation that Iraq now finds itself in, he won't assume any blame for that war. If he starts removing troops too early and things, once again, become unstable, it will then become his war.

In Afghanistan, things are already deteriorating and Bush will maintain blame for that situation. On this particular war, I believe Mr. Obama has an opportunity to shine if things improve. However, the minute that things start to dramatically fall apart, the blame for Afghanistan will transfer to him. What he does in the next few months will make all the difference.

As to the war on terror, we have been without another attack since 9/11. For this, Bush gets his gold star. I would hope the mechanisms put in place by the Bush Administration will maintain that situation. However, if an attack occurs after any new policy or operational changes are implemented by the new Administration, Mr. Obama will take serious heat. It could, in fact, spell the end to his chances for a second term.

On the general foreign policy stage, I think anything that happens will be Mr. Obama's responsibility from the get-go. That's because, other than Iraq, the Bush Administration has maintained multilateral coalitions in dealing with Afghanistan, Iran, North Korea, Russia and it's recent movements and gains in strength, and other hots spots. Foreign policy is one thing a President makes his own from the day he takes office. What happens in Israel and Palestine will quickly become Mr. Obama's responsibility. How he responds to those problems and the result of those responses will formulate how is judged as President.

One thing that could hurt Mr. Obama could be on the energy front. If his "green" policies result in intolerable high energy prices, Mr. Obama will suffer. If the economy is bad and energy prices rise in addition, we could have a disastrous economic situation. Beyond that, domestic policies, any of his programs relative to Social Security, nationalized health care, education, veterans, etc. will all be things that he will take either praise or blame for.

Quite frankly, I don't think that any other incoming President other than Abraham Lincoln or FDR has had to face so many challenges. Did the people get it right in picking this man with so little experience? Only time will tell.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Dream Has Come?

On August 23, 1963, Martin Luther King gave his most famously remembered speech. That speech, "I Have A Dream," looked to a time, in the future, when Blacks and Whites would peacefully live together. Today, we celebrate Martin Luther King's birthday (relatively). Tomorrow, Barack Obama, as a black man, will assume the job of President of the United States. I don't quite think the premises contained within the "I Have A Dream" speech will simply be achieved by what happens in the next days to come. There still will be racial tensions in this country. And, just so we understand, those racial tensions aren't just restricted to Whites against Blacks and Whites against other races and religions. There are tensions between Blacks and Hispanics and vice-versa. Between Blacks and Koreans and other other Asians. For sure, some amount of Blacks are practitioners of reverse discrimination against Whites in anger over years of racial hatred.

Racial tensions will always exist in this country and in the world. It is exists in Darfur and in the streets of Paris with the burning of cars every night. Just look at the total history of the Jews. It is something that humans can't seem to dispense of. It is an attitude that can be passed on from parents to their children. New hatreds are always being brewed in the cauldrons of human groupings and within changing attitudes in our society. Absolutely, the hatred of Muslims by many Americans was set to brew as a result of 9/11. I am sure that the senseless and brutal beheading of Nick Berg, and others, just festered that hatred. It absolutely angered me to some level of hatred at the time it happened. And, to be truthful, I still feel hostility because of those events. Mostly, because of the sheer brutality of the acts and the cheering by other groups of Muslims over those acts. I also think back to 9/11 and those Palestinians and other Muslims who danced in the streets at the deaths of thousands of Americans. In many ways, Al Qaeda's hatred for us and their attack of 9/11 just conversely created the basis of a new hatred for many Muslims by many Americans. There are some Americans who are alive today who absolutely hate Japan and the Japanese as a result of the brutality that they saw while fighting in World War II. I know a couple of those people and, in theory, that hatred will only die when they do.

Tomorrow will go a long way to help heal this country's White/Black race relationships. But, it isn't the panacea that some would espouse. It will not, by any stretch of human imagination, bring an end to racism in America. Abolishing racial hate and racial tensions of any kind will always be a work in progress. Mostly, it is time, and time alone, that washes away hate. Christianity and other moderate religions go a long way to help reverse hate. But, make no mistake about it, new tensions and new hatreds will always take the place of those that have been been moderated by time and religion. And, moderation is the best we can every hope for from our imperfect human race.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A Comment About Comments

I don't publish most comments that I receive about any of my blog entries. That's because I am generally viewed as politically right and I receive a lot of hateful commentary. However, on my blog entry of a few days ago, "Another Stake In Global Warming's Heart," I did publish such a comment. The commenter, VinceP1974, clearly demonstrates what you generally see as arguments of those on the far left. Usually, their childish and hollow arguments always come down to one thing: Name Calling. No facts. No intelligence. No ability to express themselves logically. Instead, because of their lack of depth and because of their total frustration in not being able to express themselves, they resort to the child-like defense mechanism calling.

Beyond name calling, those who clearly identify themselves on the far left are also crayola fanatics. They probably still have their 112-color crayon boxes that mommy gave them when they were still in preschool. Although, the 112 colors is probably well beyond their actual creative skills. My guess is that the use of 3 or 4 colors is about as broadly talented as they could be. They still sit, today, at their little desks and draw Nazi swastikas and Hitler mustaches on pictures of people on the right that they don't like; like Bush and Cheney. That's probably why the black-colored crayon in their big crayola boxes is completely down to a nub. Apparently, they once heard the expression that a "picture is worth a thousand words" and they have decided to toss the learning of words and just stick to primitive drawings.

Now, let's look at "what" little Vinny or VinceP1974 called me. He said I was a: "Neocon Christian Evangelical Fundamentalist Scienophobe Zionist Jew Pro-American Capitalist Nazi Fascist Anarchist States-Rights Nativist Fannie Mae-hating pro-life warmonger free thinker." Wow! I see a lot of hate by someone who considers themselves on the pacifist left. I see a Jew and a Christian hater. That could mean he, VinceP1974, is probably, let me guess, an atheist. Apparently, from his use of the "Fannie Mae-hating" label, he inversely thinks highly of the actions of Fannie Mae and the resulting collapse of our economy and he hates anyone who would disparage either Fannie or Freddi Mac. Of course our economy, in his mind, should go to blazes. I sense this from the fact that he must think that being a "Pro-American Capitalist" is a negative. My guess is that little Vinny hasn't really been a productive member within a capitalist society and he yearns for a society where government will just take care of him. That's probably because little Vinny took short-cuts in his life, like (obviously) education, and now he sees "Hope" in Obama and in a country that will soon just spoonfeed him for the rest of his life. He probably carries the picture-book version of Mao's Little Red Book.

Obviously, our little friend has all the little buzz-words down pat. However, he uses them in contradiction of each other. A NeoConservative and Anarchist are conflicted terms and are contrary philosophies. So is an Anarchist and a Pro-American Capitalist. Being a Zionist Jew and, at the same time, being a Nazi Facist shows that our mental giant has very little understanding of either history, terminology, or political and religious ideologies. I do, however, appreciate the fact that he called me a "free thinker." To me that's a compliment. However, being such a person appears to be in contradiction to someone who is locked into religious or political ideologies like being a NeoCon, or a Fundamentalist, or a Nazi, or a Christian, Jew, etc. Finally, the word "Scienophobe" must be a word he apparently copied down in error from another one of his kind. There is no such word.

I appreciate Vinny's comments. He gave me something "easy" to write for today's blog. I am sure that if he reads this, I will get more of the "same" from our little friend. He's probably pouring through the Internet, right now, to find some negative comments that he thinks sound good, from others of his ilk, and that he can copy and paste onto this blog (or others) as if they were comments of his own. I really don't expect anything personally creative or logical from our little friend!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

The Bush Years In Retrospect

After eight years of President Bush, he leaves office with little recognition for the good things that he has done and with a "high disapproval rating" based on every thing that went wrong during his time in office. In his case, the bad, at this juncture in time, is definitely outweighing the good. Some of that has a lot to do with the bias of the news media in this country. They have punished him dearly for having beaten their favored son, Al Gore, in the 2000 election. Today, many on the left, including the left-biased news media, believes Bush to have stolen that election.

History will ultimately judge George Bush. And, only history, in hindsight and without the politics of the moment, can appropriately pass judgment on Bush. Some of that judgment will be based in comparison with other Presidents that came before him and will come after him. Some of those things that may be considered poor decisions, today, might be reversed by the effects of time and the consequences of future events. Similarly, things that may have been seen, by some, as being good practices and policies by the Bush Administration may fail the test of time.

I know one thing that has hurt Bush more than anything. That was his feeble attempts at public relations over the last 8 years. He just didn't keep people informed and he didn't get out and ahead of problems. In the business world, you can avoid a lot of after-the-fact problems by being 'proactive' from the very start of any project or program. Being proactive is a well-worn business philosophy of the 1970's and 1980's that is still the foundation of good management techniques, today. Bush just wasn't proactive. In the case of the Fannie Mae and the Freddie Mac problems and the ultimate meltdown of our economy, he clearly knew that these pseudo-governmental agencies were going to eventually fail; going back to his and his cabinet member's speeches, starting in 2001. But, he didn't hit hard enough on that issue and bring the problem to the people before it blew up in his face.

The same was true with Katrina. He would have best served himself and the occupants of the Gulf Coast cities if he had been up front with the people that this was a seriously large and powerful hurricane. Afterall, it was a Cat 5 just days before it hit. He could have avoided a lot of problems and the blame after the fact if he had hit the airways with a press conferences to warn people and to advise them of what steps the government was taking in the event of a major disaster. Certainly, as the President of the United States, he had access to the best weather information in the world. FEMA was actually mobilized to handle Katrina but, based on Bush's lack of taking it to the people, no one ever really knew that to be the case. There was a lot failure on the local levels, that got transferred to Bush, because he wasn't seen as working with those local governments.

Similarly, the biggest P.R. failure, either before and after the fact, was the Iraq War. There was no clarity of facts being given to the people on why we should invade Iraq. Bush would have been best served by having a series of speeches in order to keep people informed as to what was going on in the Security Council prior to the run up to the war. People, today, seem to blame Bush for "going it alone". But, does anyone realize that we were put in that position by the French, Germans, and the Russians and their veto powers in the U. N. Security Council? Those three countries used the threat of vetoes because they had such cozy trading commitments with Saddam. They put business concerns well ahead of anything else. Certainly, human rights.

That's my biggest problem with Bush. For that, I would think he will be judged more harshly than the reality justifies. Just my opinion.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Redford's Sundance On The Poor

While Robert Redford was cozily readying his Sundance Film Festival, moral activists were picketing outside the festival facilities to protest Redford's environmental stand and how it impacts the poor (See Full Story). Last year, in an April 22nd blog, I wrote how being an environmentalist is a sport that, really, only the rich can play. Certainly, Mr. Redford is one of those, like many in Hollywood, who can easily afford the steep price of environmentalism. Sadly, for the poor, the high price of environmentalism could be their own lives. To that end, I would like to repeat my blog of last year:

Being Green: Not a Poor Man's Sport

If you're a middle-to-upper class tree-hugging liberal-elite, you are probably pushing hard for immediate action on Global Warming. Sitting in your garage is, I am quite sure, a brand new or relatively new hybrid vehicle that cost you $5,000 or more than any pure-gasoline equivalent. You may have already taken yourself off the electrical grid because you were able to "pop" for the $27,000+ to install solar panels and batteries; and, your home is large enough to support them all. The fact that it may take 15 years or more in energy savings in order to offset their costs doesn't bother you in the least. Every light in your house is a compact fluorescent bulb; each costing more than, say, 7 to 8 times the cost of a conventional light bulb. Your food costs have gone up 25-50 percent in the last two years because of the increased usage of ethanol; but, you don't care because you're liberal, you're green, and you're saving the planet and you're frustrated and can't believe that the rest of the world isn't as caring. Finally, while gasoline prices are going through the roof, you can sleep at night thinking that you and the others of your ilk have fought and won the war to restrict any more drilling of oil wells in the world! Hallelujah!

The sad thing about all of this is that the poor, not just the poor in this country, but around the world as well, are literally dying because of all these so-called actions being taken to reverse Global Warming. The poor generally live the farthest from where they have to work. Therefore, high oil and gasoline prices are taking a disproportionate amount of money away from them for the food and clothing for their families. Similarly, the high feed prices that are a result of diverted feed stock (like corn) into ethanol production are costing them 25 percent or more for their family's food. On the world scene, rice, a main staple in many countries, is at record shortages as people hoard it against any future price increases and against any future shortage. Unfortunately, the hoarding is a self-fulfilling prophecy because it is actually causing shortages. And, the world's poor aren't the only ones being hurt. The lower and middle income classes, too, are feeling much of the pain.

For sure, being a "green, Global Warming warrior" is a rich man's sport. There is nothing cheap about it. It took nearly two centuries to get to a point where we can even recognize that there is Global Warming; assuming mankind is even at fault. Yet, we are now hell-bent to stop it by 2025; a mere 18 years from now. In the meantime, society as we know it, may just collapse; starting from the poor up. There are already outbreaks of violence in Haiti over food shortages (See Full Story). The shortage of food has always been a primary reason for wars and for crime in the world. We need to stop...think... and get out of this panic mode to fight something that may or may not be caused by mankind. Let's put Al Gore on the shelf (for at least a little while) before its too late! Think people!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Another Stake In Global Warming's Heart

With temps across this country dipping to (or even past) 15-year lows, I thought I might to do another blog entry on the issue of Global Warming. It just seems like a week doesn't go by without another fact or two that refutes the false belief that we are in the midst of a worldly overheating due to man-made CO2 emissions. Here are a sampling of things that I have read over the last few weeks that just help to blow a hole in all this Global Warming hype and panic.

One thing that the fanatical global warmists always point to as a disaster that could literally swamp the modern world we live in is the anticipated melting of the polar ice caps. The worst case scenario is one where we could lose half of California and all of Florida and much of the world's coast line cities to flooding as the polar ice melts . Well, surprise..surprise! In just two month's time, at the tail end of 2008, the polar ice caps returned to levels that haven't been seen since 1979 (See Full Story). The reason that this happening is the frigid temps that we saw in the last part of 2008 and that are continuing as of today.

With all of these cold temperatures upon us, it might be wise to read this 3-page story from the Russian news agency, Pravda, that, in essence, says we are now entering into another Ice Age (See Full Story). That article also takes aim at the liberal academics, and not necessarily scientists, who promulgating the carbon dioxide, greenhouse gas theory. Of particular importance is this graph of ice cores taken from the Russian science facilities at Vostok, Antarctica (Click To See Chart). Clearly, even the non-scientific person can easily see that there are regular periods of heating and cooling of this earth that have occurred over thousands of years and, 99.9999999999999999%+ of which occurred without any of the influence of man's carbon output from power stations and automobiles. My problem with most Global Warming theories is that they give too much prominence to the activities of mankind in this world than should be and they use such a small sample, this last century, to conclude that man is destroying the earth. To me, even with all of our cars and power stations and flatulent cattle and poultry, we still have less impact on this earth than most natural events like forest fires and volcanic eruptions. And, there is no way mankind can compete with the effects of sun activity.

The last bit of information that I find interesting comes from our own U.S. Climate Survey data for December of 2008 which, then, looks backwards to the year 1895 when official record keeping began (See Current Data). By their own statistics, this last December was almost a full degree cooler than the average of all Decembers in the last century. So, where's all this heating and the famous hockey-stick rise in temperatures that Al Gore has warned us of? I would think temperatures would be consistently getting warmer if, in fact, carbon dioxide was actually affecting our climate. Further, last December was the 35th coolest December in a century of data. Beyond all that, you always hear from all those silly people pushing this global warming theory that temperatures could rise as much as a full degree in the next decade. If you look closely at the text of the U.S. Climate Survey's review of December 2008, it clearly states that temperatures in America have only risen an average of one-tenth of a degree per decade. That's a degree every hundred years. Now, with temperature falling in the last two years, I don't see this disastrous one degree leap in temps that would cause us to act immediately or the world will be doomed. If you listen to Al Gore, it might already be too late to save the world! Please!

One last thing about the melting of sea ice and floating icebergs. When I was kid, I loved to watch the General Electric sponsored science show, Mr. Wizard. As part of that show, Mr. Wizard would do experiments that you could repeat at home with simple, everyday things. One experiment that always stuck in my mind was his "water and ice" experiment. By repeating that experiment, you can truly amaze and mystify all Global Warming friends. Take a straight-sided, clear drinking glass and fill it half way with ice. Then fill that glass with water to the absolute brim; but, not overflowing. You will note that the ice will float and, some of the ice will clearly protrude from the top of the glass. What you have just created is your own mini-iceberg. You know, the ice that all those global warmists fear will all melt and flood the earth. To the non-scientist, most people would bet that water will run all over the place as protruding ice in the glass completely melts. But, it won't. That's because the water level has already been adjusted to account for the complete (above and below water) volume of that ice. So, all the floating sea ice in the entire world can melt into oblivion and won't result in any increased level of the seas. Only ice that is land-based and that melts and runs off into our oceans will result in increase ocean levels. That volume of land ice is substantially less than the volume of ice that is floating around the polar areas. In fact, the area of the North Pole is all floating ice in what is also known as the Arctic Ocean. Only Antarctica, the South Pole, has a land mass and can be legitimately called a continent. However, the South Pole is the coldest place on earth so it would take more than a just degree or two of projected overall global warming before the ice in this part of our world would have any significant melting. The coldest temps in Antarctica can actually hit -130 degrees Fahrenheit in the dead of winter; and, that's about 162 degrees (on the Fahrenheit scale) below the point where ice would melt.

I just thought you'd like to know.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Some Very Personal Injury Lawsuits Might Be Pending

In a January 4th blog entry, 'A Natural Disaster Looms', I warned that there might be a problem on Inauguration Day due to the lack of "facilities" for the millions of visitors in Washington that day (See Blog Entry). Now, a law professor, John Banzha of George Washington University, is warning of potential lawsuits over having to "hold it" due to too few available potties (See Full Story).

My guess is that one or more enterprising class-action lawyer or lawyers (probably someone like James Sokolove of mesothelioma fame) is already readying his TV commercials. I can see it all now. A spokesperson will come on saying: "If you or a loved one suffered, or even thought you suffered, from not having access to restroom facilities during the Inauguration, please call our law offices, today!" With possibly 3 million people at that event, a 1/3 cut on all those lawsuit settlements would lift the heart of any personal injury attorney. At the very least, it's a new "Bee-M-er" and a bigger boat or house.

I'm telling ya..this is all gonna hit the fan and it ain't gonna be pretty!

Image by niznoz's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing remix/adapt/modify permission (Click to View Other Works). Specifically modified by Cranky George for this blog entry.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Wild 'Green' Yonder

In July of last year, I wrote about an exciting new source of biofuel, the Jatropha plant (See Full Story). The jatropha is an especially hardy, drought-tolerant plant that produces large quantities of oil that can be refined into a good quality diesel-like biofuel. Further refining can even produce lighter fuels like jet fuel.

Similarly, I reported in December on a form of algae that produces enough oil in its cells to have it extracted as a biofuel (See Full Story). The algae is so efficient that it uses as much or more carbon dioxide in its growth than it does when used as fuel --- making it a net zero carbon footprint product. (That should really make the likes of Al Gore exceptionally happy!)

Now, I can report that these two forms of biofuel are being tested on anairliner. In the good ole' U.S. of A, in the State of Texas, they are testing both jatropha and the green algae on a Boeing 737 (See Full Story). Previously, in New Zealand, jatropha was tested with a 50 percent blend of regular jet fuel on a Boeing 747. In both cases, the tests are being conducted with Boeing as a joint venture.

Jatropha can be an important crop in this country without infringing on our food production as in the case of ethanol and corn. Jatropha can be grown in what was previously unusable or barely usable scrub lands throughout this country. Further, massive water supplies aren't needed. On the other hand, the algae production can be co-located with coal power plants so that the carbon dioxide output of the coal (of natural gas plants) can be used to pump through tubs of algae in order to generate growth. Eventually, algae power plants could be somewhat self-sustaining with the algae based power production facilities working in concert with co-located algae growth and harvesting facilities.

I just thought you'd like to know.

Image by Simon Lieschke's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing of remix/adapt/modify permission (Click to View Other Works). Specifically modified by Cranky George for this blog entry

Monday, January 12, 2009

When Is It That We Really Have One President At A Time?

When asked about the situation between Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Israel, Mr. Obama cops-out on any comment by saying this country only has one President at a time. On the other hand, however, he has been bombarding the airways with comments about every domestic issue possible; from national security to social security. At the same time he is driving Congress to accept his plans for an economic bailout "prior" to his arrival in the Oval Office. So, sometimes two Presidents? Sometimes not? Which is it?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Rough Seas Ahead?

Right now, Mr. Obama has loaded up his incoming Administration with ex-Clinton people. Apparently, Barack thinks life was great under Bill Clinton and wants to revive the feeling of those dot-com boom years that Clinton actually had nothing to do with. Before anyone gets too euphoric, just take a look at one of the key people that supposedly handed this country such a great economic ride during Bill's great adventure as President. That person was Bill Clinton's former Treasury Secretary, Robert Rubin.

Now, after being the senior economic adviser and board member to Citi Group/Bank, he has been forced to resign with a trail of $20 billion in losses to that company (See Full Story).

There appears to be a misconception that the Clinton years were perfect. They weren't. Clinton never was able to close a deal on the Palestine/Israeli tensions. He let Bin Laden slip through his fingers and strengthen operations in Afghanistan. The economy was good under Clinton but by no effort on his part. He road the wave of the dot-com boom until that bubble burst and the economy slipped into recession. Anyone knows that most any ship's crew can sail a boat in calm seas. But it is completely different in rough waters and in high seas. We are in high seas, now, and I just don't think these former Clinton people have the true experience to get us to a safe harbor. Just my opinion.

And, by the way. Before I get any emails pointing to the mess we are into today and how it is all Bush's fault, I would suggest you look at the real history of how the "cheap" housing credit situation came to be in this country. The problem had be brewing as a result of legislation that goes all the way back to the Carter Administration and was given further fuel under Clinton. Bush knew the problem was there and pointed it out in speeches going back to 2001. If Bush is to be blamed for anything, it is for his failure in being a more forceful manager and "red-flagger" on this specific issue. That's a burden of blame that his legacy will carry forward.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Lamest Excuse For Leon Panetta Heading Up The CIA

Ever since it has been known that Leon Panetta will head the CIA under Obama, I have heard a variety of excuses as to why he "should" be the chief of that extremely important intelligence group. But, no one has actually given any commentary as to why he is really qualified to run that show. Some say he is a smart guy and that's important because we don't want anymore dummies than we already have running things in Washington. Some say he is a proven organizer, but so is every gaffer on a movie set; but, I don't think any of them should be running the CIA. When it comes to his actual intelligence experience, I have consistently heard the same and lamest excuse that I have ever heard in support of his nomination. That dumb statement that seems to be getting a lot of traction among Panetta supporters is that he (Panetta) was the Chief of Staff under Clinton and he saw Intelligence reports every day from the CIA. That's like me saying I should be the managing editor at Time Magazine because I read it every week. Give me a break! Now I really know why Democrats have a jackass as their party's symbol.

Image by jaxxon's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Friday, January 9, 2009

Obama's Narrowly Targeted Stimulus Plan

By now, most Americans know that the reason we are in the economic mess that we are in is because of loose credit in the housing markets. Now, the pendulum has swung completely to the side of extremely tight credit for homes, cars, credit cards, student loans, small businesses, etc. Credit got us into this mess and only credit will get us out. By having broad based credit availability, people will, once again, be able to buy that house; or, that car; or, rack up credit card charges. That in turn will put millions of contractors and laborers to work building homes and office buildings. It will keep the United Auto Workers in their jobs. Small business loans will help start-up businesses and the expansion of existing businesses for new direct jobs and in related jobs. Also, lowered personal credit rates, as in credit cards, could stimulate consumer spending.

But, Mr. Obama's plan doesn't address that. His "put people to work" effort is narrowly targeted in heavy construction for infrastructure, green jobs, and tax rebates (See Full Text Of His Speech). In the area of infrastructure, anyone who has had dealings in this area knows quite well that materials and equipment are the highest cost components in any project of this type. You actually get less labor bang-for-the-buck than in, say, home building. Also, the concept of building green jobs is similarly limited in its scope. Once again, those industries are less labor intensive relative to the cost of materials. The cost of creating a solar array is primarily buried in the expensive cost of those cells and not in the labor to build or install them. A lot of money will be spent without getting a lot of people back to work. Every program in Obama's plan goes on like that. Big dollars - limited labor.

Even his tax credits are non-starters. Giving someone a $500 check as an Earned Income Tax Credit (if they don't pay taxes) or a true tax credit if they are a tax payers is only going to have a minimal effect on the economy. Given the high credit card debt being carried by most Americans, that check will probably only go to pay off some of that debt and nothing more. Generally speaking, the people receiving those checks won't go out and buy more cafe lattes to keep Starbucks in business or electronics to keep Circuit City from going under. The last two attempts to give money back to consumers in order to kick-start the economy didn't work. Now, Mr. Obama wants wants to go to that well one more time.

I think that the key to recovery is credit. I have long believed that if we could get banks to lend money again, we will quickly recover. But, if you want to buy a home under this current economic fog, the banks are asking for steep 10 or 20 percent down payments. That puts home buying out of the reach of most potential buyers. If you want a car, you can only buy one on credit if you have an excellent credit rating and the payments are well within the scope of your income. Increasingly, any newly issued credit cards now come with high initial rates; and, that too is a deterrent to consumer spending.

A way to get us out of this credit morass is "not" to spend government money (our money) on fruitless infrastructure projects. Those kinds of projects didn't work in the great depression (See My Previous Blog Entry of October 19) and they didn't work in Japan as it languished in more than a decade long recession that has been called the lost decade in Japan(See Full Story).

I personally believe that we could get out of this mess by not spending trillions of dollars to do so. Our Federal government could act as a loan guarantor on all kinds of loans. For example, on home loans, it could apply a small Federal insurance surcharge to all new loans. Similar charges could be set up for auto loans and credit card accounts. People with good credit would pay a minimum surcharge of, say, $10 a month for a home loan. People with less money down on a home and at a higher risk could get their loans with up to a $20 monthly surcharge. As an incentive for the Banks and lenders to give that loan, the government would insure that loan at up to 50 percent of the loan's value. This assumes that Bank's downside risk is near completely eliminated because the house or the car would, hopefully, have not lost more than 50% of its value if the borrower defaulted on their loan. A risk matrix could be established to determine the fees that each loan will carry.

This kind of program, because it is an insurance program, would actually have incoming revenues to the Federal government in terms of those "insurance surcharges" and not big payouts. Only in the case of a default would the government actually payout anything. Most importantly, it will get credit moving again and break the back of this recession. People could buy cars and homes again. Consumer credit will be freed up. People will be put back to work without our government spending billions in wasted expenses on what is sure to be another government boondoggle program or programs.

As always, only my opinion.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Will The Real Deficit Number For 2009, Please Stand Up?

Throughout 2005, 2006, 2007, and early 2008, the Congress Budget Office (CBO) was always behind the curve on projecting the actual deficit by underestimating how fast it was falling as a result increasing tax revenues. The revenue increases were a direct result of the Bush tax cuts and how they stimulated business revenues and, consequently, higher taxes being paid.

Now, the CBO is projecting that the deficit for 2009 is only going to be $1.2 trillion (See Full Story). Once again, this office, one that supposedly is dedicated to budgeting, is and will be totally off base with their projections for the same reason they were wrong over the last 4 years. First, their number doesn't even include the projected stimulus packages from either the incoming Obama Administration, which is nearly 3/4ths of trillion dollars, or the Congressional plans of as high as $1.2 or $1.3 trillion. Further, it is not known at this point if the Congressional number perfectly mates with the Obama number. Logic would say that the Congressional number is the Obama number plus some extras. My guess is that some part of the Obama plans aren't in the Congressional numbers. That's because they never are. As a result, if you mesh the two plans together, we could actually be looking at $1.5 trillion or higher than what is being stated.

Lastly, I suspect that the CBO is way off base on their numbers because they just don't know how to include the real impact of the recession on tax revenues. The reality of the tax revenue situation is that people who are out of work don't pay taxes and there will be a lot of people who will lose their jobs in 2009. Also, companies and small businesses who are falling into bankruptcy or operating at losses don't pay taxes either; and, there will be a lot of those in 2009. My guess is that the $1.2 trillion that the CBO is projecting is really upwards of $1.5 or $1.6 trillion dollars; and, that's "before" Obama or Congress gets their "trillions" in stimulus wishes. I think that the deficit spending for next year could easily be in excess of $2.5 trillion -- maybe even $3 trillion if Congress can't control themselves and Obama wusses-out on his veto pen. As usual, just my opinion!

Image by reinvented's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Intentional Atrophy?

The apparent appointment of Leon Panetta as the CIA chief just shows how little regard Mr. Obama has for our National Security. At a time when there could be serious consequences in having a nuclear Iran, Obama has decided to appoint a weak leader in the top spot for intelligence gathering. Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, India are all hot spots that need the closest scrutiny and we are literally going to put a middle manager in a job that needs a highly trained professional. He's going to spend the next two years or more just getting up to speed. A lot can happen in that time.

I think he is an intentional pick to clean out the CIA of those who would put our national security ahead of an extremely liberal viewpoint of what human rights are or should be. His pick also follows the liberal viewpoint that all mankind has rights under our Constitution; even those who could give a flying-whatever about our Constitution and our way of life and would kill every one of us if they had a chance. Somehow the liberals always feel that we should be superior in our beliefs, even if it is to our dying breath. To me, the Leon Panetta choice is a choice to intentionally weaken the CIA. No more eavesdropping, rendition Guantanamo Bay, and water boarding.

Under Clinton, the intelligence capabilities of this country were extremely weakened and we were blindsided by 9/11. Since 9/11, Bush has put some teeth back into that agency. Now, with another former Clinton person in charge of the CIA, we could easily find ourselves on the precipice of another 9/11 or worse? Sometimes we never learn.

The Hear No Evil, See No Evil, and Speak No Evil image is by Horatio3k's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

There' s A Pattern Here

Last year's election cycle saw the Democrats raising more money than ever before. Suddenly, however, we are starting to see a pattern of behavior that might explain some of the reasons behind that record money grab.

When the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, was arrested, the phrase or label of "Pay to Play" was used to describe his activities. In essence, "Pay to Play" is taking campaign money or other funds for favorable benefits to the party making those contributions. In the Blagojevich case, the big "Pay to Play" scheme (among many others) was to award Obama's former Senate seat to the player that wanted to or was willing to pay.

This weekend, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico and the Obama-nominee for Commerce Secretary had to withdraw his name for that Obama job because, guess what, he too might be involved in another "Pay to Play" situation. The accusation in his case was that contributions were made to his Political Action Committee (PAC) for favorable consideration to a California-based, financial services company that was bidding for New Mexico State contracts (See Full Story).

With lessor press, Hillary Clinton was connected to another possible "Pay to Play" situation. In this alleged case, Hillary may have given a New York contractor some favorable consideration after $100,000 was given to hubby Bill's foundation (See Full Story).

Starting to see a pattern? It seems like a lot of back-door and under-the-table stuff was going on and we are only a few weeks past this last election cycle. God only knows what other skeletons will pop up in the next few months.

Oh, by the way, there was one more "Pay to Play" situation for the Democrats. In this case, the Democrat was the "pay-er." That case was the former Governor of New York, Elliot Spitzer. That "Pay to Play" was money given to a hooker by the name of Kristen for highly favorable consideration(See Full Story).

Lastly, I find it almost laughable that three of the Democrat's Presidential candidates have, or might have, been caught in ethical problems. The three I'm talking about are John Edwards and his extramarital and possible child-out-of-wedlock problem, and Bill Richardson and, possibly, Hillary Clinton in "Pay to Play" ethics problems. Who's next? Obama?

Image by Simon Davison's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. Some rights retained. (Click to View Other Works).

Monday, January 5, 2009

Roland Burris At The Senate Door

(Click to Listen)

Just An Old-Time Democrat In A New Wrapper

I remember all those campaign promises of eliminating "business as usual" in Washington. Yes sir, Mr. Obama was all about change. He was going to go through the various government operations and hack away at all the unnecessary spending and waste in our Federal Government.

Well, now, he's for the old-time and the tried and true government building tactics of his Democratic predecessors. That is growing our government into an even bigger monstrosity. While he preaches slimming down the Federal government, he now says he has a target of adding 3 million jobs to your economy. As part of that target, 20% of those new jobs will be in the Federal government (See Full Story). Wow! There is no indication as to the "why" those jobs will be needed; they just will. How surgical and targeted is that! He already has the number and he hasn't even assessed the needs! The "one" knows all and sees all. The Swami Obama speaks.

This comes at a time when most State and local governments are trying to scale back to meet the lower tax revenues resulting from the recession. But, not Mr. Obama. So much for a new kind of government under Mr. Obama.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

A Natural Disaster Looms

I expect the proceedings of this month's inauguration to go very well. However, beyond that, the masses attending the festivities of that day could literally be in a shit-load of trouble. (Excuse my language but this could be serious!)

It is expected that Washington D.C. will swell by an extra 3 million visitors on inauguration day (See Full Story). However, the port-a-let or port-a-pottie situation will be only limited to 5,000 units (See Full Story). Now, I'm not a physicist but, that means that there could be 600 people per pottie on that monumental day. And, a monumental day it could really be! Besides the fact that, mathematically, there could be 600 persons per pooper and that means a very long wait in what typically is a very "now" situation for many, I think there may be a holding capacity problem, too. Those holding tanks are only so big. To borrow a phrase from Frank Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond fame: "Holy crap!"

Now, I have attended small social events where there are no more than 20 or 30 people in a private home and the "facilities" situation has gotten tough at times. Everyone who has flown on an airliner knows what the lavatory situation is like after meals and drinks have been consumed. Now, multiply that situation by the hundreds and the SuperDome problems during Katrina could look like child's play. One could only imagine what some would do when they are in a immediate situation and in a line that could be as long as 600 persons long.

Oh,well. It looks like President Bush might have just one more ugly situation on his hands before leaving office. For sure, if the pottie situation is a disaster, Bush will be blamed. Just mark my words!

Image by stratosphaerenlieder's photostream on Flickr with Creative Commons Licensing. All rights retained by stratosphaerenlieder. (Click to View Other Works).

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Good Times and Bad

It's no big secret that the New York Times is hurting. Besides having had to lay people off over the years, the paper just recently sold off part of it's 52-story skyscraper, the New York Times Building, to try and keep itself running. Other assets are also on the chopping block (See Full Story), and, it isn't just the New York Times. Several other papers across the country are finding themselves with a seemingly endless loss of readers. But, the majority of those who are in the most trouble are those who are considered to be the most "left" of the news groups.

I think the above stock chart of the New York Times from tells the story. The stock price of the New York Times hit its all-time high in 2002. Ever since then, the stock has collapsed; moving from near $55/share in 2002 to today's price of $7 and change. While some will point to the influence of the free news on the Internet as the rationale behind the "Times" loss of subscribers, I think differently. Some losses might have been due to the Internet but, that doesn't explain why some papers, like those owned by News Corp., have grown during this same time frame.

I think that the New York Times has lost readers do to it's left-wing political stance. Certainly, they've lost a lot of politically-right subscribers. But, my guess is they have lost some in the political middle who understand and don't like the bias of this newspaper. As a consequence and out of disgust, many of them went elsewhere to papers like the New York Post, USA Today, or to the Internet. Since 2002, the New York Times has literally campaigned with it's news content to make George Bush look bad. Often, in doing so, they have made this entire country look bad. They have literally exposed secret operations that have affected this nation's security in their zeal to take down Bush. Clearly, from the chart above, this tactic has hurt in their pocketbook and, as a consequence, in their stock price.

My guess is that as soon as Mr. Obama takes office, the New York Times will switch into their pre-Bush, happiness and love-with-the-Democrats mode; as in their boom days with Clinton (see the chart). The news will shift from the negativity of the last 8 years to the all's-well under Obama; even if it actually isn't. This will probably save the "Times" and stop the bleeding that they've had been suffering over the years. Believe me, no matter what Obama does, he will be unable to do any wrong in the eyes of the "Gray Lady". However, the eyes of that "Lady" have long since been suffering from "Repulicanus Glaucomatous". A term that aptly explains their blindness to anything Republican. The term Glaucomatous or Glaucoma (relative to sight) is derived from the ancient Greek "glaukos" that means "gray". Now, you really know why the "Times" should be referred to as the "Gray Lady".