Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Will Google Glass Users Run Afoul Of Federal and State Wiretap Laws?

By any measure, Google Glass is an amazing technology.  Having  "eyeball" access to the internet, email, caller-ID, and so much more; and, to do it all with simple voice commands in such a small device makes us all wonder where technology will take us next. But, one capability of Google Glass -- the ability to record audio and video -- has many questioning whether or not this technology has gone too far.

Rightly, people don't like the fact that someone can be taking their picture without their knowledge and Google Glass does just that. The "Glass" gives no indication that a recording is in progress.  Only the wearer knows that for sure.  Before, it was easy to see if someone was recording you.  You could see a camera pointed in your direction.  Or, you could see someone holding up a cellphone.  You had the ability to "duck" those cameras if you didn't want your image  captured.   Not so with Glass.
Even though people might be upset with not knowing that someone is recording their image, it is not unlawful to do so; and, therefore, there is nothing anyone can do about it.  The courts have ruled, over and over again, that, when you are in public or in any establishment that has public access, you have no expectation of privacy and, therefore, are free to have your image recorded.  However, interestingly, recording audio is a different story. That's because, in doing so, a Google Glass wearer might be in violation of federal and state wiretap laws; and, as such, be subject to fines and/or imprisonment or, even, the target of a civil lawsuit. 

According to federal law, if you are in a conversation with someone, you can record that conversation without having to tell the other party.  However, if you are not part of the conversation, and you are recording it, at least one member of that party must be aware that the conversation is being recorded.  This is called the "one-party consent" rule.  Similarly, this is the law in 38 states.  However, in 12 states -- California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Washington -- all parties need to be warned of any such audio recording activity.
Going forward, it is hard to say what impact Google Glass with have on wiretap/privacy laws.  Certainly, people, unaware of the laws, are sure to get themselves in trouble; especially, if they make an illegally recorded audio conversation available to the world by posting it somewhere on the internet.  Along with "no shirts, no shoes, no service," some business are starting to post "no Google Glass" signs in order to calm the fears of their patrons; especially in bars where people aren't always at their best.  The technocrats who find these signs objectionable have resorted to name calling by referring to those sign-posters as Anti-GlassHoles.
Obviously, the current privacy and wiretap laws never anticipated a technology like this.  And, with the growing anxiousness of the public about being captured by this device, lawmakers may be forced to adopt the all-party consent requirement in all 50 states.  At the very least, the state laws may force Google to add some type of a "recording in progress' indicator on the Glass.  

Anti-Glassholes: Understanding the growing movement against Google Glass:!EMBTP

Monday, April 28, 2014

Obama Meets The Future of the Minimum Wage Worker


Reference: ObamaCare, The Minimum Wage, and Automation:

Thomas Piketty: Another Socialist Solution To Income Inequality

For years, the rock star economist for the political left was Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman.  His endorsement of taxing wealth and encouraging massive government spending -- as a means of driving the economy -- has been music to the ears of all those who love and worship big government.  Now, the left has found a new leader to follow.  He is a French economist by the name of Thomas Piketty.  The recently released English language version of his book -- Capital in the Twenty-First Century -- has every socialist-minded politician and media type going gaga over his proposed solution to income inequality.

Essentially, Piketty believes that capitalism -- and democracy -- is doomed to collapse because it creates an ever increasing disparity between the rich and the poor.   It does this because, over time, capitalism spawns a faster growth rate in the return on capital investment versus any real growth in wages. Thus, the rich, by using their wealth as investment, are able to grow their status much quicker than the majority of citizens.  So, Piketty's solution to this fatal flaw of capitalism is to force the rich out of existence by imposing an 80% tax on incomes above $500,000 and a 50-60% tax on those with incomes between $200,000 and $500,000. This way there will be no rich and our democracy will be saved.

But, then there's this:  What if society is actually able to eliminate all of that rich class? What then?

Well, first of all, all those people who had careers that support  the rich would lose their jobs.  Jobs such as the staff of upscale restauranteurs, landscapers, caterers, housekeepers, expensive fine artists and craftsmen, boat and private airplane builders, and so many others.  Then, too, high taxation of the so-called "rich" will only reduce overall spending. Since our economy is 70% driven by consumer spending, we would be sure to fall into a recession.  Additionally, the $200,000-and-above crowd are givers.  Not necessarily in direct charitable giving, but as the primary supporters of the arts and culture in America. They are a dominant source of non-Pell grant college scholarships and fellowships.  Most private colleges and hospital expansions would not happen if it weren't because of their generosity. Without outside donations, does anyone think that a religious college or university would receive a grant from the federal government? Not with the ALCU jumping in to cite the separation of Church and State.

More importantly, the rich provide an essential economic benefit to society by providing the seed money to promote the development of inventions, new products and new businesses; all of which create new jobs.  Under Piketty's flawed beliefs, the concept of wealth investment would simply cease to exist. And, don't think for one minute that the government, with all that new found money is going to pick up the torch and act as America's new Venture Capitalists.  All it would do is fuel more crony capitalism so that we wind up with endless failed ventures like Solyndra.

The problem I have will people like Piketty is that they never once have a solution that elevates people  out of poverty.  Their answer is to always attack the rich; as if they are somehow the wealth takers and not the wealth creators.  Economists aren't sociologists; but, they should be. Only then would they understand what the real reasons are for income inequality.  Totally missing in most left-wing proposals is the concept of income mobility where 80% of the of the rich, today, are first generation millionaires; and, in as little two generations, much of that wealth (60%) will be gone.  At the same time, nearly 85% of all Americans have wealth greater than their parents.  Studies have also shown that between 86% and 95% of all those who were once living in poverty would shed that condition in as little as 15 years.  The bottom line is that people, whether they be rich or poor, are likely to reverse that status, through their own initiative, in just a few years.  Because of capitalism, poverty is not necessarily a permanent condition.

If Mr. Piketty is so sure of his beliefs, he should implement them in his home country of France and then we'll see what that country looks like in, say, 5 or 10 years.  Lastly, Picketty's book is so hot that 80,000 copies were sold in just two months and it is now back-ordered.  Apparently, it is a must read among all socialist Democrats. At a list price of $39.95, it's pretty pricey.  So, I guess it's Mr. Piketty's goal to get rich before anyone can impose that 80% tax on his rich-guy income.


Thomas Piketty Revives Marx for the 21st Century:

Piketty's 'Capital': A Hit That Was, Wasn't, Then Was Again How the French tome has rocked the tiny Harvard University Press :

The Facts About Income Mobility:

29 Valuable Facts About Millionaires and Billionaires:

Friday, April 25, 2014

The Bureau Of Land Management: The True Face Of Big Government

I don't think many people know just how heavy handed the federal government is when it comes to land ownership and control in all the western states; including Alaska.  But, here's the map that tells it all:

In Nevada,  the feds control almost 85% of the state; the highest percentage among all the states.  In the rest of the western states, they control no less than 30% of the land.  So, it's no wonder that people in the West resent the government and its intrusion into their lives.

The west has been at odds with the federal government over this for years.  During the most recent government shutdown, Obama closed many of the national parks in the west in order to make it as painful as possible.  The western states, that depend so much on tourism, even offered to pay the  government to keep them open.  But, Obama said no.  This was a clear and unreasonable warning sign that the feds just have too much power.

But, there's this issue too: Wealth.  The west is rich in natural resources such as forests, oil, and minerals; most of which are controlled by the Bureau of Land Management.  The states don't share in any of this wealth because the feds control the leases and take all the revenues.  So, there's a clear issue of state's rights.

Recently, the state lawmakers and commissioners held a summit meeting in Utah to create a plan to retake the land that the federal government now controls. Expect this whole thing to eventually wind up in the laps of the Supreme Court justices.

Reference: Western states hold summit on controlling federal land, say 'It's simply time':

Thursday, April 24, 2014

With More Than 50 Years Of Affirmative Action, Have Blacks Benefited Economically?

To those on the political left, the recent decision by the Supreme Court to side with the will of the Michigan voters to ban Affirmative Action quotas for college admissions is tantamount to promoting state-wide racism.  But, to many others, Affirmative Action unfairly uses racial discrimination to fight racial discrimination; especially in college admissions where some well qualified non-Blacks can be denied enrollment because the college must meet a Black enrollment quota.  So, in theory, by broadly forcing quotas for education and employment, African Americans should have greatly improved their economic stations in life.  But, is this the case with more than 50 years of active Affirmative Action behind us?  To that question, one need only look at this chart:

Click on Chart to Enlarge
What this clearly shows is that, while all median incomes by race have improved since 1965, Black  incomes have consistently remained at roughly 65% of what all races, combined, are being paid.  Of course, some would argue that this only proves that racism still exists in America. On the contrary, this just proves that Affirmative Action is a complete failure.  A failure because Blacks are still falling behind in their incomes.  As I have written before, education is the only true key to erasing income inequality. 

To that point, one need only to look at a few statistics.  When it comes to race and educational attainment rates, 84% of Blacks hold a high school diploma and 19% hold a college degree.  Compare that to Whites statistics of 87.6% and 30.3%; respectively.  Then, too, when Blacks do go to college, the graduation rate is only 32% as compared to 50% for Whites.

Forcing colleges to enroll less qualified students, who are more likely to not graduate, while rejecting more qualified applicants, who are more likely to graduate, is not only unjust but a waste of our country's limited college education availability.  To solve income inequality among Blacks, we need to address why there are higher percentages not graduating from High School. At the same time, we need to improve the quality of education so that Blacks, entering college, can have a reasonable expectation of graduating.  Otherwise, simply sending them to college without the proper educational background is a totally fruitless endeavor.

To me, the Supreme Court's decision may actually turn out to be a positive for African Americans because no longer can they depend on Affirmative Action to get them into college.  As a result, if they truly want to go, they will have to seriously work harder to achieve that goal.  Thus, a better educated Black America should emerge with more sharing in the American Dream.


U.S. top court upholds Michigan ban on college affirmative action:

Median Income Falls For 5th Year, Inequality At Record High:

Failing Education: The True Cause Of Income Inequality:

Education Attainment By Race:

U.S. College Graduation Rates By Race:

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

8 Million Signups Is Success And Talk Of ObamaCare Repeal Is Over?

I'm sorry, Mr. President, having 8 million people or 2-1/2 percent of the population signed up for ObamaCare hardly proves success. Success should only be judged on whether or not the law actually meets the goals and promises that justified a complete upheaval of the healthcare system.

For years, Democrats have argued that we need to reform healthcare in America for the following reasons:
  1. People with pre-existing conditions should not be denied insurance or medical care.
  2. People should not be dropped by their insurers if they become seriously ill.
  3. Millions of uninsured are clogging our emergency rooms or are going without needed care. We need all Americans to be insured.
  4. With the highest cost of healthcare in the world, reform is needed to bend the cost curve.
In selling healthcare reform, Obama added some additional promises.
  1. If you like your insurance, you can keep it.
  2. If you like your doctor, you can keep him/her.
  3. The average family will see a $2500 drop in their insurance premiums.
  4. No one should go bankrupt because they get sick.
Then, the title of the law -- The Affordable Care Act and Patient Protection -- implied two more  promises: (1) healthcare will be affordable and (2) patients will be protected.

Meeting those goals is the true measure of success. Not some vague number of people who are forced to signup because the law cancelled their insurance or because they are under the threat of having to pay a penalty. At this juncture, ObamaCare isn't even meeting one quarter of all of those promises.  That, to any rational person, isn't success, or a reason not to debate its repeal.  Finally, can it be viewed as a success when the President finds it necessary to delay so much of its implementation until after the mid-term elections?

Reference: Obama argues healthcare law is working, rejects Republican criticism:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Too Much Misinformation About Heartbleed

For more than a week, Heartbleed -- an internet security bug (flaw) -- has received a lot of attention because, it puts the passwords of billions of Internet users at risk.  Essentially, if the "criminal minds" among us are tech savvy enough to take advantage of this flaw, they could watch everything you type on a login screen; including the password that you previously thought was secured.  So, the general advice out there is that you should log into all of your accounts and change your passwords.  That way, any unwanted observer of your now unsecured login can't follow you back into your account; once you've logged off. That information is both right and wrong at the same time.

What's wrong is that, if a site doesn't patch the bug before your next log in, your password is again at risk and must "again" be changed.  So,  how do I know if a site is Heartbleed protected?

Well, many  have already patched or fixed their vulnerability and have modified their login screens to indicate that fact.  But, even if they do or don't, the biggest names in network security -- Norton, Symantec and McAfee -- have free online webpages that will "test" any login screen for the Heartbleed vulnerability. Those sites are as follows:
Personally, I prefer the Norton test. I've experienced some errors with the other two.

So, go ahead and change your passwords.  But, before you log in again, do the test.  If the site fails, then either don't log in at that time or, if you must, change your password again before you leave.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Naivete: 15% of America Still Thinks Obama Always Tells The Truth

In a shocking Fox poll result, only 15% of Americans thought that Obama was being truthful all of the time.

Personally, I'm shocked that there are even that many.  

Where were these people when the President received the "lie of the year" award for his "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" proclamation.  Here's his badge of honor for that one:

Surely, those 15% must have heard about it.  Even if they don't watch the news, it was the favorite punchline on too many comedy shows not to have been noticed. 

It just proves that, once again, polls can't be trusted. Obviously, Fox wants to curry favor with the Prez by under-reporting that only 85% of Americans think he's a liar; when we all know the number must be higher than that.  


Poll: Most Believe Obama Lies:

Lie of the Year: 'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it':

Friday, April 18, 2014

Rick Perry Is Right Not To Expand Medicaid In Texas

Job "one" for every state Governor -- and, certainly, every President -- is to do whatever is best for the people they serve.  But, according to Barack Obama, Governor Rick Perry of Texas is failing one million of his people by not allowing the expansion of Medicaid under ObamaCare in his state. But is he?

Actually, by not allowing the expansion of Medicaid, Rick Perry is best serving his people.

Medicaid is the worst possible insurance a person could have.  It sorely underpays healthcare providers, and therefore many of them won't accept Medicaid patients; leaving those people with second or, even, third class healthcare access.  Texas is no exception. For proof look at this chart from the Texas Medical Association.
As shown, fewer and fewer doctors can afford to take on new medicaid patients. Others have dropped them completely; and, across the nation only about 56% of all doctors -- pre-ObamaCare --  accepted Medicaid, and, this chart stops at 2012.  Who knows what the number is today or would have been if Medicaid was expanded in Texas.  It's quite possible that it would show less than 20% participation or perhaps nearer to zero. 

So, who is more irresponsible?  Perry for not giving his people a 'mirage' of believing they have healthcare, or Obama, who just wants to play a political numbers game by forcing a million Texans onto a system that is already broken and sure to be even more so if it is expanded?


Obama says Perry’s opposition to Medicaid expansion is ‘bullheadedness’:

Drop in Physician Acceptance of Medicaid, Medicare Patients:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

In Frustration, Climate Change Proponents Resort To Childish Tactics

From early on, children learn that they can use name-calling and bullying to diminish an opponent.  So, the smart boy in the class -- the one who may not do well in sports -- is belittled by some dumb bully calling him a "girlie guy" or some other name he perceives as insulting.

Hopefully, as adults, we learn that this is no longer effective when someone else questions your work; such as a scientific paper, a business proposal, or some new legislation.  Your retort must be, instead, logical and convincing. Yet, the climate change proponents of today have decided to revert to these childish defenses in order to diminish the opponents by calling them "Climate Deniers"; itself a form of name calling.

Recently, Secretary of State John Kerry compared "climate deniers" to members of the new "Flat Earth Society." Prince Charles said deniers where a "headless chicken brigade."  Not to be outdone, Al Gore compared them to racists, homophobes, smokers, and drunks; and one only wonders why he stopped there.

Then, there are the bullies.  The President's own Organizing for Action (OFA) group has a website where every member of Congress who is a known "climate denier" is listed.  In Britain, the Green Party is proposing they should lose their government jobs. Then, there's climate scientist Michael Mann who was at the heart of the so-called ClimageGate scandal.  He's suing people like Mark Steyn for  publicly questioning his scientific work.  Of course, if he wins, this will make any denier think twice about making statements that would question any scientific climate change findings.  But, the ultimate in bullying is being floated by a professor with the Rochester Institute of Technology by the name of Lawrence Torcello who is proposing that deniers be silenced through imprisonment because they are threatening public safety. 

Quite simply, all this shows is that the climate change movement is losing in the court of public opinion.  All their wild predictions are simply not happening. In terms of priorities, fighting climate change is either at the bottom or close to the bottom of what Americans believe we, as a country, should be spending our time on.  Thus, the only defense tactics left are the childish ones.


Secretary of State Kerry lashes out at climate change skeptics:

Prince Charles: climate change deniers are 'headless chickens':

Al Gore Compares Climate Change Deniers To Racists And Drunks:

Call Out the Climate Change Deniers:

Greens call for clear-out of 'climate change deniers':

Mann vs. Steyn: The Trial of the Century:
Professor Calls For Climate Change ‘Deniers’ To Be Imprisoned:

Gallup: Climate Change Not a Top Worry in U.S.:

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.


BLM backs down in dispute over Nevada rancher’s cattle:

In U.S., Fear of Big Government at Near-Record Level: Democrats lead increase in concerns about big government:

 Where Tortoises and Solar Power Don't Mix:

Senator Reid Breaks Ground On Solar Facility Near Cliven 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.


Presidential Proclamation -- National Equal Pay Day, 2014:

President Obama’s persistent ’77-cent’ claim on the wage gap gets a new Pinocchio rating:

Bureau of Labor Statistics: Women's Earnings:

As Obama Spotlights Gender Gap in Wages, His Own Payroll Draws Scrutiny:

FACT SHEET: Expanding Opportunity for All: Ensuring Equal Pay for Women and Promoting the Women’s Economic Agenda:

EEO Reports / Surveys:

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.


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.


Chart Perspective – Gold: 100 Year Historical Prices:

What Happened to the Gold Price in 1980?:

Sprott On Gold In 2012:

Sprott On Gold In 2011:

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.


HHS: 10 Essential Benefits:

The Cost of Having a Baby in the United States:

CNN: Cost of U.S. childbirth outrageous:

American Way of Birth, Costliest in the World:

Rising Cost of OB/GYN Malpractice Insurance:

Medical Liability: A World Of Difference:

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. 


Hill (Democrats) Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002:

Hayden thinks Feinstein's 'emotional' opposition to CIA interrogations taints report:

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Obama and Climate Change: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Even as a Senator, running for the presidency, Barack Obama made fighting climate change a priority. In fact, in his latest budget submission, the dollars to fight it got top billing and some big bucks.

So, one would think that, if climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time, this President would personally do as much as possible to minimize his own carbon footprint.  But, no.  Instead he has used Air Force One, and its entourage of vehicles and other planes, more than any other President in our history; and, subsequently, has left a massive carbon footprint on the planet.

When ever any President travels, there is a minimum of two copies of Air Force One (one serving as a backup), 45 vehicles, and 3 massive cargo jets to transport those 45 vehicles.  On top of that, there are hundreds of members of the Presidential entourage who can't be accommodated by the two hundred available seats on the 2 Air Force One's.  In fact, on a recent trip to Belgium, 900 people accompanied Obama. That meant that 700 of them needed to arrange their own transportation over and above what Air Force One could handle.

Of course, there are times when any President must travel.  But, think about this. Was it necessary for Obama to take all those aircraft, vehicles and personnel in order to use a New York City GAP store as a mere "prop" to sell an increase in the minimum wage?  Oh, yes, he did buy a few clothes. But here's a question.  Were there no GAP stores near the White House in Washington, D.C.?  Well, in fact, a Google search shows there are two.  Yet, it was essential that he travel 400 miles to New York City and burn up as much fuel as possible.

These prop-trips to sell some personal political agenda item are a constant habit with Obama.  It seems like he has made 2 or 3 of them a week since he's been in office.  But, he doesn't have to pay the bill or, more importantly, worry about his personal impact on the planet.  Yet, he wants all of us to pay more and conserve more in order to fight climate change.  Even Jimmy Carter, when telling us to turn down our thermostats in order to conserve energy and fight the OPEC oil embargo, did so while wearing that now-famous sweater.

The fact that the President doesn't personally reduce his own carbon footprint just shows he doesn't care or really believe in it.  If he did, he would walk-the-walk to match all the talk.  Instead, combating climate change is just another political issue that he uses to garner votes.


Obama's Budget Puts Climate Change Front and Center:

Air Force One Stats:

5 Facts You May Not Know About How Much Obama’s Travel Costs You:

Are you watching Vladimir? Obama lands in Belgium with entourage of 900 and 45 armored vehicles for ONE night only costing THEM $10.4 million in security:

President Obama makes shopping stop at New York Gap as part of minimum wage campaign:

Monday, April 7, 2014

March's Employment Report Finally Exposes Obama's Poor Job Creation Record

In the latest employment summary, it was reported that 192,000 jobs were created in March.  Additionally, the jobs numbers of both January and February were revised upwards to 144,000 and 197,000; respectively.   So, in three months 533,000 jobs were added to the economy. Yet, the unemployment rate actually went up from from 6.6% to 6.7%.  This simple contradiction exposes a clear flaw in how we measure unemployment as a nation and how Obama has benefited from it and has been able to make the claim of 49 consecutive months of job creation.

For over 4 years, the Obama Administration -- not the country -- has benefited from the fact that millions of able-bodied unemployed workers have just stopped looking for work out of sheer frustration.  Quite simply, when a job seeker gives up, our government no longer considers them part of the unemployed or part of the workforce.  Thus it appears there is job creation and a lowering of the rate of unemployment when there really wasn't.  Proof of this comes from the fact that, from January through March, the number of unemployed workers rose from 10.236 million to 10.486 million.  This was despite a supposed job creation of over half a million jobs. Logically, you can't have job creation when job losses are increasing.  Thus the flaw in our system of measuring this important number.

The reality is that we still have record numbers of sidelined workers who have given up; and, that is the only reason why Obama's job creation record, is as good as it is.  But, if one looks at the U6 accounting of the unemployment rate, which doesn't exclude those no longer job hunting, we have an unemployment rate that is still at 12.7%; well above the officially high rate of 10% in 2010.  The simple fact is that, for every job Obama says he created, two unemployed workers just gave up looking for work.


March Employment Situation Summary:

March Household Survey Data:

March Alternative Measures Of Labor Utilization (U1 through U6):

49 Consecutive Months Of Private Sector Job Growth:

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Proof That Obama Fudged The Signup Number

The day after the midnight signup deadline had passed for ObamaCare, Presidential Press Secretary Carney proudly announced the following:
“With the remarkable surge in enrollment, 7,041,000 signed up for health insurance before the midnight deadline yesterday.”
Just a couple of hours later, in an Rose Garden press briefing, the President announced ObamaCare's success with 7.1 million signups; with the 41 thousand now being remarkably rounded up to one-tenth of a million.  However, that rounding was a complete violation of the rounding rules.  The true number should have remained at 7 million. But, you see, Obama and his people probably surmised that if the signups came in exactly as predicted at 7 million, people would be highly skeptical. So, to avoid that probability, they just fudged it with a 59,000 rounding error so the media could report that Obama not only met his goal but "exceeded it" by an extra hundred thousand enrollees.

So much of what comes out of this White House is constantly being skewed to look more positive.


White House: More Than 7 Million Sign Up for ObamaCare:

White House: 7.1 Million have signed up for ACA:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Treasury Selling GM Stock Last December -- A Wee Bit Of Insider Trading?

Back in December, the Treasury Department announced that they would sell off the last remaining shares of GM stock that it owned since the bailout, and since becoming publicly-traded once again in 2010.  It also sold a block of shares in November.  This was somewhat surprising since GM's stock price was largely on a tear due to good sales activity ; moving from just under $20 a share in mid-2012 to a record of more than $40 a share last December; and, as such, it was looking like the chances that the taxpayers would be left holding the bag with billions of dollars of losses were being diminished by the prospect that the stock price would continue to rise.  But, rather than hold out for that prospect, Treasury's sell left the American tax payer a $10.5 billion loss.

Now, as it turns out, Treasury's selling when they did was near perfectly timed because, from that point forward, the stock leveled off and, then, began falling throughout this year.  In fact, the stock price is off about 15% from its December highs.   It was almost as if Treasury knew, somehow,  that GM, because of their 10-year avoidance of an ignition switch problem, would result in having to recall and repair millions of automobiles and potentially suffer millions of dollars in lawsuits and fines, all of which could send the stock price into free fall.

While I applaud the fact that Treasury was able to "cap" taxpayer losses by selling when they did, the whole thing smells a bit like "a little bird told me" that the government was about to lower the hammer on GM's ignition problem.  Now, I can understand that previous liquidations were done while the stock price was falling, and those actions would be naturally done to minimize further losses.  But, to sell when they did, while the stock price was rising,  makes no trading sense unless it was known that the stock was at a peak. 


Treasury sells rest of GM stock, ends bailout with $10.5-billion loss:,0,4629861.story#axzz2xkoFDjLm

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Only 7.1 Million Signups Proves ObamaCare A Failure

First of all, the 7.1 million number is highly suspect.  While the Health and Human Services Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, can't tell us, at the federal level, how many of that number have actually paid for the insurance they signed up for and, thus, are truly insured, a review of the state exchanges shows that only about 80% have paid for their policies.  If that's true, and it holds to be true at the federal level, that means that only about 5.7 million are truly signed up for ObamaCare.

To put that into perspective, 5.7 million is only about 1.7% of our population.  So, one has to wonder why we had this total upheaval of our health care system for the benefit of less than 2% of the population.

But, it looks even worse when you look at the total uninsured number. Two separate studies of ObamaCare signups were recently conducted: one by the Rand Corporation and the other by McKinsey & Company.  Rand found that only 1/3 of the enrollees previously had no insurance.  For McKinsey, it was 27%.  Now, if you split the difference of these two studies you get 30%.  This means that only 1.7 million of the 5.7 million number previously had no insurance.  What that is really telling us is that, of the 15.9% or 50 million who don't have health insurance, 48.3 million or 97% would prefer to pay the penalty rather than buy into ObamaCare.  Hardly a success story for a law that was primarily intended to solve the uninsured problem.

Then, there's this measure of the law's failure.  From the paragraph above, we can deduce the fact that about 4 million of those signing up previously had insurance.  Logically, some number of those millions voluntarily left their existing policies because they got federal subsidies and their cost for insurance was lowered.  But, what doesn't square with that number is the fact that more than 5 million lost insurance at the beginning of the year because of mandates of the healthcare law.  The conclusion being that ObamaCare is better at kicking people off their insurance than providing them an alternative once they've lost it.

It's important to note that the Obama Administration set the 7 million number as a measure of success; and, conveniently, they not only met that goal but slightly exceeded it.  This from an Administration that lied about keeping your doctor and your insurance.  They also said that delay "was not an option" yet, there have been numerous delays.

Obviously, people aren't "door busting" to saddle up with Obama's signature healthcare plan. With what we know -- along with so much that we don't know and should -- ObamaCare is not a success and it will only become less so going forward as more and more of the damaging portions are rolled out.  In my opinion, there should be as much outrage over Obama taking a Rose Garden victory lap for signing up 7.1 million people, as there was for George W. Bush giving his Iraq invasion speech with that infamous "Mission Accomplished" sign hanging behind him.  But, as usual, the media is just dutifully and lovingly joining in the celebration.


The ObamaCare Numbers Racket:

RAND: Only One-Third Of Obamacare Exchange Sign-Ups Were From The Previously Uninsured:

Gallup: Uninsured Americans:

Obama Celebrates 7.1 Million Enrolled in Obamacare:


Wednesday, April 2, 2014

There Are Illegal Immigrants And, Then, There Are Illegal Immigrants

Since the beginning of the year, the talk of immigration reform has almost reached a fever pitch. Mainly, because Democrats want to use it as a wedge issue in the run up to this Fall's elections. But, in the minds of most Americans, immigration reform is all about those Hispanics they read about who are entering our southern borders without papers, passports, or invitations.

The real fact is that anywhere from 40 to 45% of all illegals in this country came here as invited guests of our government and just never went back home. They came here on work and student visas and, even as tourists with valid passports and travel visas.

For this reason, I think any type of immigration reform must consider the fact that there are really several classes of illegals and each should be treated separately.  In my opinion, someone overstaying their welcome is a less egregious wrong than someone who, from the very onset, was never invited and totally ignored our immigration laws.  As such, they should have the least easy pathway to citizenship and should have to pay penalties for doing so.

Those who should have the easiest path to citizenship should be those who overstayed their work visas or green cards.  They got here because our government felt they would be a valuable asset in that they would be able fill some of the experience-level or educational voids in our workforce.  Most all are highly educated and experienced English-speaking professionals in valuable career fields like computer sciences, engineering, health care, medicine, and research.

Similarly, students who overstayed their educational visas are also valuable; especially if they completed their education.  Like the group above, they are all English-literate; otherwise they would not have been able to pass the admissions tests. With some college or a degree, they have a low chance of being a drag on our economy by being unemployed.

The last group would be those who overstayed their tourist visas and those who came across our northern and southern borders.  I agree with the many pro-immigration reformers who believe that, before any of them can be eligible for citizenship, they should be able to speak English, pay a fine or penalty for coming here illegally, and show proof of employment. Only then should they be allowed to go to the back of the line for legal immigration (ie. green card or work visas) with a possible pathway to citizenship.


10 Myths About Immigration:

John Carter claim that 40 percent of nation's illegal residents came by plane and overstayed visas draws on 2006 estimate:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Los Angeles Is On Shakey Ground; Literally and Economically

All three of our largest cities -- Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles -- are currently walking a fine line between solvency and bankruptcy.  While all three cities must better manage their finances in order to avoid looking like the Godzilla of all bankruptcies in comparison to, say, Detroit, Los Angeles has an added difficulty to contend with: A Possible Mega-Sized Earthquake. 

Right now, the series of earthquakes near Los Angeles have mostly resulted in minor damage; although, some homes have actually been structurally condemned.  But, what if a 6.7 quake or higher hit the city?  The damage could be massive.  Just as it was when a 6.7 hit the Northridge area in 1994.  That quake caused $25 billion in damages in a somewhat smaller and must less densely populated area of  Los Angeles.  But, the current activity is on a little known Puenta Hills Fault which extends through downtown L.A. and into Hollywood. Between a tangle of overpasses, high rises, and older buildings, the toll in lives and damage could be many times greater than what Northridge and other surrounding communities experienced.

If such an event did hit the heart of L.A., police, fire, and most city workers would all be called into action.  There could be serious damage to many civilian and municipal buildings, city roads and bridges.  The cost could literally tip the city into bankruptcy almost instantaneously; and, certainly a lot earlier than the estimated 2 to 3 years that lawmakers had "thought" they had left to fix their financial woes.  If it is hastened by an earthquake, the city managers have only themselves to blame. For years, they've dallied while, all along, bankruptcy was staring them right in the face.


Three Huge Cities Flirting With Bankruptcy:

1994 Northridge Earthquake:

Major quake on Puente Hills thrust fault could be worse than San Andreas: