Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why I think Bialek is full of crap

Because I believe sexual assault is a serious crime, I want to be clear about why I think Sharon Bialek is a full-of-shit opportunist. She alleges that in 1997 she was harassed by Herman Cain, but in reality she's saying she was assaulted. This is an important distinction from harassment. I'm oversimplifying a bit, but harassment is a workplace condition where someone makes inappropriate gestures, comments, suggestions, or attempts to coerce sexual favors predicated on getting something in return, or "quid pro quo" harassment. Telling a female coworker she has a nice rack could be harassment, but only if the comment is unwelcome. Telling someone you'll promote them or give them a raise if they sleep with you is quid pro quo harassment. In the corporate environment, there's a pretty wide latitude about what is considered harassment. All someone has to do is say something made them uncomfortable, or they feel the workplace has become 'hostile' and Human Resources will raise red flags all over the place. Often, the company will run a calculation on what it will cost in lost productivity of the people involved, litigation expenses, and other tangible costs, and if that number is greater than, say, one year's salary for the complainant, the company will offer them that amount to just go away, typically with the person signing a non-disclosure agreement and covenant not to sue, which then protect the company from further action. This doesn't do anything to confirm or deny the guilt or innocence of the accused; it's simply the most cost effective way for the company to end the incident. Until Sharon Bialek stepped forward, these were the types of accusations described against Herman Cain. Often, the person filing the claim is looking for a cash settlement, or knows they're about to be fired, so they throw a charge of harassment like a hand grenade, hoping to save their position or get something (CASH!) on their way out the door. Personally, if I were the victim of workplace harassment, it would take a lot more than a year's salary to get me to shut up...I would want heads to roll. This happens even if the person is the president of the company. Just ask Mark Hurd, formerly CEO of HP. The legitimate cases of harassment I have overseen in my career in management were from people who were wronged, had evidence, and simply wanted the harassment to stop and the harasser to be appropriately punished. No cash was offered, no settlements proposed.

What Sharon Bialek is alleging happened is not sexual harassment. She claims Cain put his hand under her skirt in an attempt to fondle her genitals, then pushed her head towards his lap to encourage oral sex. She fought him off and after she emphatically said no, he backed away. This is called attempted sexual assault. This is not a matter to report to the person's employer; this is a matter for the police, yet no police report was filed. So here we have he said/she said anecdotal evidence with no actual proof and no corroborating witnesses being used to defame a political candidate. But why? Here are a few things we know about Bialek:

  • She is a single mother of a 13 year old

  • She had just been fired from the National Restaurant Association one month before the alleged groping incident

  • She's serially filed for bankruptcy; first in 1991 and again in 2001, just four years after she lost this job.

  • One of her creditors in the second bankruptcy was a lawyer who represented her in a paternity suit, and she owed them more than $17,000 when she filed

  • Since 2001 she's had five liens filed against her for more than $21,000

  • She says she did not file a claim for harassment or notify the national restaurant association like the other women had because she had lost her job. While she doesn't go on to say this, the implication is that she considered this option but there was nothing it it for her

  • She gives an unusually specific detail about the event, saying that she booked herself a hotel room in the Capital Hilton (202-393-1000) and when she checked in, her room had been upgraded by Cain to a suite. (Another version of this story I have read is that her then-boyfriend (who suggested she go meet with Cain) had booked the room, so there's some inconsistency here)

  • She waited over eight days after the other reports of harassment until she had a high-profile celebrity lawyer by her side before coming forward

  • She's in the middle of a series of job interviews with WIND radio, with a second interview scheduled for Thursday this week

  • She last saw Cain a month ago at an event in Chicago and approached him (she says) to see if he would come clean about his actions from 14 years ago

Maybe it's the cynic in me but the picture I see forming is that of a woman who has a decades long history of financial problems, some of which may likely have been precipitated by losing her job at the NRA while Cain was the organization's president. She's interviewing for a position in radio and has a teenager to support. There are two things you can call a person to discredit them; racist or sexual predator. Since the race card cannot be played against Cain, we're left with someone trying to turn him into a Kinsey-esque figure who runs around willy-nilly laying hands on women (ask Clarence Thomas about this tactic!) Bialek, with her financial troubles, her history with the NRA, and pending interviews with WIND radio, is a prime candidate to pay off to spread a false story, either benefitting directly from a cash payment (Soros I'm looking at you) or via the astronomically raised profile she'll enjoy from this (unless she's proven to be a liar). If she becomes the 'Able woman who slew Cain" you can imagine the book deals, the job offers, etc that will be coming her way. And hey - she's being represented by Gloria Allred, so despite ostensibly being a registered Republican (I wonder for how long) she will automatically be the darling of the left.

The serial bankruptcies and liens make me suspicious as well. This is noteworthy because I only know a handful of people who have filed for bankruptcy. I don't know anyone who has had one lien filed against them (let alone 5), and Bialek has multiples of both. The only person I know who has filed bankruptcy more than once lived way beyond his means and filed every 8 to 10 years as a matter of course. I think it's important because she claims to be a Republican and a Tea Partier, and these behaviors do not typify the fiscal conservancy and personal resposibility that are the calling cards of the Tea Party.

If her allegations are true, why did she not go to the police when it happened? There's no money in that, but it would have certainly created a bulletproof piece of evidence that something happened. Instead we're left with virtually unprovable allegations.

Why did she wait EIGHT DAYS after the initial allegations came out - until she had a celebrity lawyer at her side - to come forward? If she's been stewing over this for 14 years, to the extent that she ambushed Cain 30 days ago in Chicago (well BEFORE the other allegations), why did she have to read the statement from a sheet of paper yesterday, sounding like she'd never read it before. I could recite the details of her 'ordeal' more convincingly than she did, and I haven't lived through it.

I also find the whole setup of that initial meeting odd. She'd just been FIRED from the NRA. Fired. Given the boot. Ejected. Her next move is to request a meeting with the president of the company to get help with her job search? Is that normal? I've never been fired from a job so I don't know, but I have a hard time believing that he would have taken that meeting under those circumstances. If I were president of a large organization, I would not meet an ex-employee like that. Heck, I've managed a team of 40 people and I wouldn't even go out for drinks with them because of what can happen (side note - this is management 101, and is drilled into us during new manager's school, and I have personally benefitted from following this policy on more than one occasion). The few times where I had to fire someone, or had peers fire someone, there is no way on earth I would have met any of those folks for dinner a month later. That scenario just SCREAMS of being a set-up. If I know that, I have a hard time believing Cain wouldn't know that.

She claims that Herman Cain upgraded her hotel room. This is a very specific detail that, if true, could add a piece of credibility to her story. I've called the hotel to ask if they can confirm this information but they've transferred me to the hotel's HR department where I got voicemail, and they've not returned my call (nor am I optimistic that they will). If this is disproven, however, it shreds what little credibility she has.

The way this is playing out is very reminiscent of the James O'Keefe/Andrew Breitbart method used to take down Acorn, where every day a new revelation is revealed and over the course of several days an insurmountable pile of evidence demands attention. In the case of Acorn, this approach was necessary because the media initially was willfully ignorant of the issue, but Breitbart forced them to look. In this case, the problem is the opposite; the media is paying attention to nothing BUT this story, and there has yet to be one single, provable piece of evidence that Cain actually did anything wrong.

To sum it up, I think Sharon Bialek was desperate to get her job back, thought she could coerce Cain into making it happen back in 1997 (IF that dinner actually happened) and that plan failed. A bankruptcy, a paternity suit and five liens later she's finally in a position to get her revenge against the man she sees as having derailed her career, so she jumped on the chance to bring the man down.

Unfortunately, the media has been all too willing to help her, and the damage has been done. The guys and gals at MSNBC have been on the edge of orgasm since this story broke, and they've already convicted him. Cain has been taken off message, forced to respond to these allegations and has dropped in the polls as a result. Even if proven completely false, these lies are out of the gate and the adage is 'a lie makes it halfway around the world before the truth catches up.' Herman Cain is the first candidate to forcefully attack two of the power bases that government uses to control we the people - the tax code and social security. As such, he is dangerous to all politicians, not just those on the left, though they have much more to lose than the GOP does if these tools are taken away from them. Because he's so threatening to the establishment, it is more important than ever that his supporters rally to his side.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Franklin and Jefferson knew Obama very well

I've never in my adult life paid more attention to our Founding Fathers than I have in the past three years. They were some of the most foresighted people in the history of....well, history.  So much of what they said has become distilled down to quips and quotes, but the thing is, they're all as relevant today as they were two hundred and thirty five years ago.

“Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." - Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson was speaking of the labor unions, the zombified followers of moveon.org and the hippie wannabe, patchouli smelling wastes-of-skin crowds protesting first on Wall Street and now across the nation.  These people all are fit tools for the designs of ambition.  The question is, whose ambition?

President Obama's, for one.  It's no coincidence that these protests sprang up while Obama is trying push through his jobs bill which would raise capital gains taxes on those very people at whom the protests are aimed.  When commenting on the law-breaking rabble, Obama gave implicit approval of their actions when he said the protestors “are giving voice to a more broad-based frustration about how our financial system works."  Mainly, the original protesters only seemed chagrined that the way our financial system works is "you get a job, you get paid."  One interviewee said that what they wanted was for the wealthy to give out their money so that "all of us can live in prosperity."  Indeed, that's the frustration with our financial system - that the people who work harder have more money, and they don't want to give it all to people who don't work hard.

“I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.” - Thomas Jefferson

A hedge fund manager often works 80 to 100 hour weeks. They work in the office. They work at home. They work while they're on vacation. They're motivated by money, every second they're trading is a second they're making money, and every second they're awake is a second they can be working. Some people consider them greedy. Some people envy them. Some people are jealous of their success. While some of these people are the ones protesting wall street, others are in the political realm (Obama being one of them). These are the people who preach 'redistributive justice.' What I never get is that people want the money of a hedge fund manager, but they don't want to put in the time and effort to earn it.

Are some hedge fund managers crooks? Sure, you bet. So are some mailmen (locally, tens of thousands dollars worth of DVDs in red Netflix envelopes were found in the house of a mail man). So are some union bosses. And so are some politicians. The point is, where there is opportunity, you will find weak willed individuals who will exploit the system. The system itself isn't to blame, these unscrupulous predators are.

In order to 'take care of' the poor who could not buy a house, the Community Reinvestment Act was created in 1977 to push lenders into making home loans to people who would not ordinarily qualify for a loan ('sub-prime' borrowers). These sub-prime borrowers were largely in urban areas and predominately minorities. In 1992 George HW Bush made reporting the race of loan applicants not just preferable, but mandatory. In 1993 Bill Clinton made the reports public, and Fannie Mae began withholding financial backing from lending institutions who didn't make certain percentages of these sub-prime loans to the right races and income levels. In 1999 Countrywide went to Fannie Mae to protest the risk of default from these increasing numbers of sub-prime loans. The response was simple; 'we'll give you more money if you go away.' All of this happened BEFORE George W Bush was president. Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines was eventually ousted over misstated earnings statements (to the tune of $300,000,000) but not before he got his multi-million dollar bonus based on these misstated earnings. You know the rest of this story - the bubble grew, collapsed, and Obama has spent the last three years blaming Bush for the whole thing. He said Thursday (Oct 6th) “I think part of people’s frustrations, part of my frustration, was a lot of [lending] practices that should not have been allowed weren’t necessarily against the law, but they had a huge destructive impact.” (emphasis mine)
Whether he meant to or not, he almost hit the nail on the head. It's not just that these practices weren't against the law, they were ENCOURAGED by the government. But since government is the solution to all problems, let's blame Wall Street. By the way, Franklin Raines, a man who holds as much responsibility for the housing meltdown as anyone in congress (or any president for that matter) was one of Obama's first economic advisers. But, no, really, Wall Street has all the crooks. Nothing to see in the White House, please move along....

"We have the greatest opportunity the world has ever seen, as long as we remain honest -- which will be as long as we can keep the attention of our people alive. If they once become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, and Congress and Assemblies, judges and governors would all become wolves." -- Thomas Jefferson
I'm not going to pretend that Obama and his minions invented governmental grift. It's been happening for a long time. Financially, we've been screwed by Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson more than Obama, because they've set us up with an entitlement system that has over $115,000,000,000,000 ($115 trillion) in unfunded obligations. But while he didn't invent the grift, Obama has perfected it, right down to laundering money to line the pockets of his own re-election fund with our tax dollars. How does he do that? Well, he makes government loans to dubious 'green energy' companies. These companies then pay their employees and someone else work with the employees to bundle donations to Obama's campaign. It happened yesterday in St Louis at the residence of Tom Carnahan. Carnahan received a loan for his energy company, and then hosted a $25,000 per plate fundraiser. Your tax dollars at work.

“God bless their spontaneity,” - Nancy Pelosi referring to the Wall Street protesters.

Nancy Pelosi is a good example of a pure politician. She does nothing without an angle that will benefit her. She doesn't care what she says, how stupid or false the statement is, or what it might do to her image. With almost anything she says you can bet it's either nonsense (think "we have to pass it to know what's in it") or an outright lie (like the quote above.)

One example of how spontaneous these protests are is the Craigslist ad posted by the Working Families Party
 (see it here) offering to pay people to protest, and help shape New York politics "for the next 20 years." Yep, that's pretty spontaneous all right.

Another example is the sudden surge in participation from the public sector unions. Seeing people from the teacher's union holding up professionally printed signs literally SCREAMS spontaneous.

Further proof is the following, which comes from none other than the 'Green Jobs Czar" Van Jones. On September 27th he went on MSNBC, while the protests were still fairly small, and said this: "We are going to build a progressive counterbalance to the tea party...And you're going to see an American fall, an American autumn, just like we saw the Arab spring. You can see it right now with these young people on Wall Street. Hold onto your hats. We're going to have an October offensive to take back the American dream and to rescue America's middle class." And a week later, protests have sprung up (with spontaneous union support) in 147 cities.  Coincidence?  I think not.  I can only assume by 'counterbalance' to the Tea Party
he means 'polar opposite."  When the Tea Party marched on Washington with a half million people there were no arrests, there was no vandalism, no one got hurt and there was no trash left behind.  By comparison, in New York several people have gotten hurt, there have been hundreds of arrests and thousands of dollars in damage, and the show ain't over.  They're the Bizarro Tea Party.
I don't think that I can succinctly respond to the protests any better than Ben Franklin did over 200 years ago when he said "In my youth I traveled much, and I observed in different countries that the more public provisions made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
“When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.” - Benjamin Franklin
Currently only about 47% of the population pays income tax. Obama and his cronies do not think that's enough. Not only does he not want them to pay income tax, he wants to get them out of paying the payroll tax too - at the expense of the rich. His beleaguered jobs bill, the one that these protests are supposed to help him pass, reduces the payroll tax and covers the cost by increasing taxes and fees on the wealthy. This class warfare is what the founders warned against. A vote for Obama is like voting for reducing your payroll taxes. This Robin Hood mentality plays well with the disaffected, spoiled youth who have the luxury of growing out their hair, letting it soil itself into dreadlocks, skipping showers and going out and protesting for days on end about how unfair it is that people who get up and work hard every day have all the money. But eventually these people are going to have to get jobs...and if they move up the ladder, they earn more and suddenly they're the ones paying for the hippie trash to lay around bitching about how they've done nothing all day and have nothing to show for it. It's not so groovy then. Churchill described it best when he said "If you're not liberal when you're 20 you have no heart. If you're not conservative when you're 40 you have no brain."

We're at a tipping point. I saw a sign one of the protesters was holding up that said "Turn Wall Street into Tahrir Square." Really? That's the goal? I have to laugh at that because I work with several people in Cairo who told me, during the uprising, that the protesters/rioters were mostly unemployed, undereducated people who had nothing better to do. Sound familiar? It's pretty clear that Obama and the Obamites know that 'leveling the playing field' doesn't mean lifting people up, it means tearing the successful down. They know that government, to paraphrase Von Mises, can't make anyone richer, but it CAN make people poorer.

Watch the people on Wall Street, watch the people across the country in the astroturfed events put on by unions and backed by Van Jones and MoveOn.org. This, folks, is what the end of the Republic looks like.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Not Again.....

I watched the Politico/MSNBC debate at the Reagan Library. If you're interested, here are my impressions in no particular order:

1. Someone at MSNBC and/or Politico is in an office today saying "can you believe they let us host this thing? The media is trying to pick the GOP for us, again, just like they did with McCain.

2. It wasn't really a debate. Johnathan Harris from Politico could barely contain his contempt for Governor Perry, baiting Governor Huntsman to rebut Perry's RHETORIC (emphasis his). The best line I saw on Twitter all night came from Neal Boortz about Harris: "Who is this footstool from Politico?" For his part Brian Williams could barely contain his contempt for the audience when they applauded Perry's actual enforcement of the death penalty. With all the attacks on Perry, it was less a debate than it was hit job. Makes me wonder who the establishment is really afraid of.

3. The hosts directed almost nothing at Bachman, Gingrich, Cain or Paul. Santorum got more time than they did. Afterwards, MSNBC unilaterally declared Bachman's campaign "Dead", adding "but we already knew that." Hmmm....again, who are they afraid of? If I were the GOP, here's how I would mandate the next debate be organized: if there are 8 participants, you have 8 questions. They each answer them, with the first response moving down the row so everyone gets a chance to go first. Then you have a lightning round where the AUDIENCE, not the hosts ask questions of specific candidates. The audience will have numbers assigned to them and the candidates can pick a number (without seeing the question first) to minimize the chance of plants being selected. Then you have a 2 minute summation by each candidate on why they're the best option, and you shut off their mike at two minutes. This way the hosting network has to check their views at the door.

On to the candidates, again in no order:

1. Huntsman came on strong last night. The hosts threw a lot of softballs at him, letting his liberal side come out. I think the media would love to see him as our candidate because he has no chance of beating Obama, and even if he did, he's a climate change believer and evolutionist so he's halfway in their court from the outset. He lost me on those two issues alone, but his "Hey, Romney & Perry, I was a governor too!!" schtick got old. Plus the spray tan looked like it was about to run. On Twitter someone said he was the "Orange-American" candidate.

2. Santorum was like a potted plant. I honestly can't recall a single thing he said.

3. Paul did OK but didn't get any time to talk. When he did he was hard to follow. I know Paul has a lot of hardcore believers, but for me his Achiles heel is foreign policy. Anyone who is OK with a nuclear Iran has lost me.

4. Gingrich continues to be the smartest man in the room. He scored major points for calling Harris and Williams on their bullshit. I don't think he's electable, but he belongs in the White House in some capacity. He knows too much to keep him out, and I mean that in a good way.

5. Bachman did well when talking about health care and jobs. She's good at humanizing the topics, but like Paul she didn't get much opportunity to say a lot. After all, MSNBC already knows her candidacy is dead.

6. Romney actually did a capable job defending his healthcare mandate in Massachusetts by pointing out it's failures. That's really what needed to be looked at for Obamacare: "Look, here's a case where it's been tried and it failed. Going national with it is a bad idea." Romney seemed more electable than the others, which is largely due to his having been through this before. As The Daily said yesterday though, the only reason he's not a career politician is because he loses a lot. Big points for him though, when he said he'd fire Bernake on his first day.

7. Cain impressed me. A Twitter user said he takes Paul and translates him into English. His ideas are smart. His idea for Social Security is in line with what I've been saying for a long time, and he says it better than Perry. It's too bad he didn't get more time last night. Like Gingrich, he belongs in the next White House in some capacity.

8. Lastly, Perry underwhelmed me last night. I liked his double down on Social Security being a Ponzi scheme. Like a trusty pitching wedge, Social Security is one of the best clubs the left has in their bag. If they ever get in a fix, they just scare the hell out of the elderly who are held hostage by their dependency on it. For that reason alone, the left has to be terrified of a world where Social Security is not an issue. Perry was more direct about it than Cain, but rightly said that young people are being lied to about the safety of the Social Security system. If Perry wins, he should put Cain in charge of fixing it. On the downside, Perry seemed a little stuttery and halting in his responses about climate change science being full of shit. He got there eventually but not in a concise way. This led mental patient Chris Matthews to say afterward that Perry is "Anti modern technology." Ah Chris, ever the non-biased journalist.

So what's the outcome? I would expect to see Santorum drop out soon. The rest will hang in there, especially Huntsman who got a fresh breath of life last night courtesy of the Footstool.

One final quote from Twitter: The entire panel, on their worst day, would be a better president than Obama. Let's hope we can raise that bar at the next debate.

Monday, August 8, 2011

The New Meme: Blame The Tea Party For...Everything

"The problem with the economy these days is Republican extremism."

This is a quote from esteemed economist Paul Krugman. His expanded comments expressed a desire for the mainstream media to flat out blame the Tea Party for the S&P downgrade. John Kerry wants the media to stop giving airtime to the Tea Party because they don't have 'legitimate' ideas. And so the attempted destruction of the Tea Party continues in earnest with a new front of attack - the muzzling of anything that sounds Tea-Party-ish.

Media expert Bernie Goldberg had a great analogy tonight. He said blaming the Tea Party for the downgrade is like blaming the guy who calls 911 when there's a fire. All the Tea Party has done is sound the alarm, and that is a problem for the left. Exposing the ineptitude of Obama, his administration, and a Senate that has gone more than 800 days without voting on a budget is to expose the ineptitude of the left at large.

Several liberals have said that downgrade wasn't necessary. Here's the crux of the downgrade; with the extension of the debt ceiling to 116% of GDP, the United States government has become synonymous with people who, in the height of the housing bubble, mortgaged their homes to 120% of their value. How did that turn out?

Standard and Poor took some heat during the last months of the Bush presidency for not lowering ratings for companies offering mortgage backed securities. Now that we're, as a nation, acting irresponsibly about our spending (let's just keep spending and not cut anything!) and S&P is doing *gasp* their job, the downgrade is suddenly not necessary? Give me a break.

The bottom line is this - the Tea Party is the last line of defense against a liberal ideology that has no interest in saving the America our Founders created. And for that, per the Liberal-Media complex, they must be destroyed.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Obama, The Deadbeat Relative

President Obama has just become that relative that only calls when he needs money.  I say 'just become' because now that he doesn't have a stranglehold on both houses of congress, he has to ask rather than take whatever he wants.  And despite what the old guard thinks, we have the Tea Party to thank for this.

First and foremost, the process of getting these hugely unpopular bills has changed because the Tea Party-backed House majority banned earmarks; therefore when Boehner needed votes, he had to make real deals rather than buying support with tax money.  I hate to think how much money the DNC would have siphoned to pass this sham if they were in charge.

Next, the Tea Party-backed Reps held their ground for a long time through this farce, which frustrated the hell out of people in the old guard.  It also brought out the true feelings of our nations leadership.

People like John McCain, who referred to the Tea Party as 'hobbits.'  People like Joe Biden (and several other Democrats) who started referring to the Tea Party as 'terrorists' who were holding the economy 'hostage.' I found the insertion of this extreme rhetoric by the Democrats interesting given that Rep. Giffords returned to cast her first vote since being shot in the head by an assailant who was allegedly inspired by what the left believed to be extreme rhetoric, prompting them to say we need to end all of the extreme rhetoric.  You see what they did there?  They brought it full circle, in a kind of hypocritical-we're-so-superior-to-you-we-don't-even-know-we're-hypocrites kind of way.

The barely intelligible Chris Matthews seized on this meme, incessantly referring to the GOP as hostage takers, and the debt ceiling as a baby.  "Why'd we let them get control of the baby?" he whined while sounding as though he was 5 martinis into a 3 martini lunch.  But I digress.  This screed started off talking about Obama.

Obama dealt with stiff opposition like a rookie used car salesman trying to sell a taxi that's been repainted (bonus points for anyone who gets the movie reference).  He lied, badly, and tried to shift blame everywhere but on himself.  He pushed for the stimulus bill (because there would be Armageddon if it wasn't passed NOW), he pushed for Obamacare (because there would be Armageddon if it wasn't passed NOW) and so he naturally blamed Bush and said if we don't raise the debt ceiling NOW there would be Armageddon.  Only, like a savvy auto shopper, we know there's no such thing as yellow primer.  We knew that there would be enough tax money coming in to pay for Social Security, Medicare, military expenses and pay the interest on our debt.   The only way we were going to default on our interest was if Obama deliberately defaulted, or the government stopped collecting income tax.

The treasury threw in their two cents, echoing the same statements that we were running out of money.  Of course, asking the treasury department to handle our finances is like asking a fat man to stand watch over a freshly baked batch of Krispy Kremes.  The media bought into it (surprise) including the evil Newscorp e-publication 'The Daily' (which did surprise me.)  There were several stories published about how, ending July, Apple Corp. had more cash on hand than the US Government did.  All that did was make me think that Steve Jobs should be running the economy instead of Obama.  I bet if he were in charge we would have come up with more than $1 Trillion in savings over 10 years. 

In an odd coincidence, the average household that has credit card debt has $14,600 of it; just a few (nine) decimal places away from the national debt figure of $14.6 Trillion (I know, it's only $14.3 trillion but I am trying to make a point).  If someone told you that they were trying to pay down their debt, and they had a plan to reduce their $14.6 thousand credit card balance by $1000 over ten years ($100 per year, less than $10 per month!), would you think they were serious about their situation? Me either. And neither is our government serious about paying down our debt.  You know it, I know it, and the stock markets sure as hell know it too.

In the end, passage of the increase in the debt ceiling was inevitable.  (Almost) all of Washington wanted to see it raised so they can keep spending our money.  Obama dropped double digits in the polls throughout this sideshow, so he clearly lost some ground in the process.  The Tea Party made it more difficult than it needed to be and in the process exposed that much of Washington, on the left AND the right, is afraid that their business as usual way of doing things is coming to an end.  And it will, if we continue to elect principled leaders in 2012.  Insult us, denigrate us, try to minimize us, but this Tea Party is just getting started.  Viva la revolucion!!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Obamaland - Where All Of His Fantasies Come True

Obama, during the 2008 campaign, derided Hillary Clnton's health care mandates by saying that they are ineffective. "If mandates work," he said, "we could cure homelessness by mandating that everyone buy a home." Somewhat surprisingly that is about the only thing he hasn't tried to mandate in the last three years. And yes, as we all know, his health care plan includes a mandate that is central to it's success.

He seems to believe the hype that his ascension to the presidency heralds a sea change in the world, as if just by being who he is things will get done. One of his latest moves is to push for 56 MPG standards for auto fleets by 2025, a move the people in the auto industry - you know, the ones who make a living manufacturing and selling cars and trucks - say will cost another 220,000 jobs. The problem here is you and me - the consumer. It turns out that we don't really want to pay more money for a vehicle that doesn't satisfy our wants or needs. We want cars that perform well, that can go hundreds of miles between refueling, and can be refueled in minutes rather than hours. But if the auto companies sell such vehicles to us, they will be fined for not meeting the standards set forth by the government. So this cost will get added to the price of the vehicle - estimates put it at $1000 per car - and WE will pay the price.

Proponents say that we should welcome the higher cost of a more efficient vehicle because it will save us $6000 on average. Whenever I see something like this I try to validate their numbers, but nowhere can I find how this figure was calculated. I did the math on my own vehicle. Buying a hybrid SUV would cost about $3000 more than a non-hybrid. The improved mileage would save me about $500 per year in gas based on my average annual mileage, or about $2500 over the life of a 5 year loan. So I would have to have it for 6 years to break even. Not a problem, since I've had my current SUV for 8 years now. But, here's the thing; by NOT buying the car I am saving $500 PER MONTH by not financing the new car. And my current one, poor mileage and all, is running just fine, thank you.

That's the biggest flaw in Obama's 'legislate it into reality' philosophy. For it to work, we all have to view the world the same way. While most of us are pretty grounded in reality, he operates as if the world is the way he wants it to be and then throws a fit and talks down to us when we don't cooperate. Along the way, people voted for him because they wanted him to live up to the hype have become somewhat disillusioned. Those that voted for him because they were pouting over their candidate not getting the nomination have seen the error of their ways, and those of us that saw behind the curtain and didn't vote for him in the first place can say we told you so. He will not get re-elected, at least that the version of the world as I see it. We HAVE to vote him out. Now, there's a mandate for you.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

State Of The Union: Full Of Hot Air

The 2011 state of the union speech was less a report on the state of our blessed union, and more a pep rally for pie in the sky projects. As Michelle Obama said in 2008, Obama's speech tonight was less about “the world as it is” and more about “the world as [he thnks] it should be.”

One of his central points was that the worst of the recession (the worst one that most of us can remember, by the way, just in case you forgot) is over, and the stock market has roared back.  This is a far cry from the President who, when the market dropped every time he spoke in 2009, said "It bobs up and down day to day, and if you spend all your time worrying about that, then you're probably going to get the long-term strategy wrong."  But now that it's approaching 12,000 it's a mark of success.  Of course, it's built upon company profits generated in part because companies aren't hiring, or are hiring contracted labor.  But don't worry, with 15,000,000 people out of work and another 15,000,000 underemployed, the worst is behind us.
He did have one phrase that caught my attention, and it’s one of the first I have heard from him that I agree with. He said, of our global competition for skills and jobs, that this is our “sputnik moment.” What we do after this will determine if we regain control of our collective destiny, or sink into a morass of complacency and dependence. Unfortunately, the 'what we do next' part was long on imagery and short on solutions. As usual.

On education, he touted the ‘race to the top’ program as being the salvation of the education system. I personally haven’t heard much about this program so it’s hard to offer a critique, but like most of his programs it centers on making the government (in this case the school system) responsible for the outcome.  In other words, he wants the government to be responsible for the outsome of the education of America’s children rather than the parents and the children themselves. Everyone in the public school system is essentially on a scholarship, paid for by the members of their communities. Any system that allows the individual to be absolved of any responsibility for their performance is doomed to fail.

He also touted the reform of the student loan program as making college more affordable for millions of kids. What he didn’t mention was that the savings was divided into two piles – one aimed predominately at minority colleges and universities, and the other pile went to help fund the health care reform bill. This says two things – first, that funding education for America’s kids – ALL of America’s kids – is not his top priority, and secondly that his health care bill was not affordable on its own merits. More on this in a minute.

The final point he made regarding education was done in an attempt to tie immigration reform to our country’s success. He said that children of illegal immigrants are some of our most successful and brightest students (I'd like to see evidence to support that claim!), who, in his words, “pledge allegiance to” the same flag we do. I laughed out loud when I heard that, because as we all know, much of our liberal school system is no longer allowed to say the Pledge because of those two despicable words ‘under God.’ If immigration reform includes teaching in English only and reciting the Pledge on a daily basis, I might be able to support it.

Back to health care, Obama said he would welcome ideas from the GOP about how to make the health care bill better. If this sounds familiar, it’s because he also said it in last year’s SOTU in January 29, 2009. Shortly afterward, he was pressed by Tom Price (R-GA) about saying the GOP has no ideas, and he responded with a denial: “I remember that speech pretty well. It was only two days ago. . . . I said I'd welcome ideas that you might provide. I didn't say that you haven't provided ideas. I said I'd welcome those ideas that you'll provide."  This year, he said the same thing, then essentially admitted he ignored Republicans by indicating he would consider adding tort reform to the bill – an “idea put forth last year.”

He made a plea to avoid repeal of the bill, saying it would add "a quarter of a trillion dollars" to the deficit.  As opposed to the trillion it will cost to keep it in place?  Sounds like perhaps he got his math skills from one of those failing public schools.

He also recycled the idea of government transparency by proposing a web site where we citizens can go view how and where our tax dollars are being spent. If this sounds familiar, it’s because he campaigned on a similar promise – to have legislation up for review on the White House web site for 5 days of public comment before taking it forward for a vote. He broke that promise with the very first piece of legislation he signed (the public was invited to comment AFTER he signed the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act into law).

Speaking of taxes, here he was full of contradictions. He touted lowering the tax burden for Americans while wanting to raise taxes on the rich. He touted the great work congress did by extending the Bush-era tax cuts, while saying that these extensions can’t go on forever. He wants to remove tax barriers for businesses to spur job creation while punishing the oil industry with higher taxes.

He returned to form regarding business as weel.  He spoke of reducing subsidies to oil companies, which is his most hated of all industries.  He has to make oil more, and really all conventional forms of energy more expensive as it’s imperative that he drive up energy costs for his renewable energy plan, which he droned on about for the first 15 minutes of the speech, to succeed. He’s calling for massive spending on renewable energy, calling out the specific success of a plant making solar roof shingles (with the help of a government grant – i.e. taxpayer money), but the problem he doesn’t discuss is that it’s too expensive to have a market. A kilowatt of electricity produced by gas fired power plants costs about 4 cents. Coal is about 5 cents per kilowatt (as is wind energy, which is not ‘always on’ and therefore is unreliable). Hydroelectric costs about 8 cents, nuclear costs around 12 cents, geothermal about 17 cents  Last but also least, is solar at 22 cents per kilowatt (and that’s a vast improvement over the past). In short, the only way there is going to be a market for alternative forms of energy is if the conventional costs rise to 2 or 3 times (or more) of the current costs. This is what Obama himself alluded to when he said of his cap & trade energy plan that costs would ‘necessarily skyrocket,” but of course this was left out of tonight’s discussion altogether.

In summary, the state of the union speech was less about the union and more about reelection. It was much akin to his campaign speeches of 2008, even recycling many of the same themes from the last two years. Obama has returned to what he does best – deliver a talk high on promise, low on details, high on ‘hope’ and low on reality. Truly, the 2012 presidential campaign has begun.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Welcome to the AOL! Your thoughts must be in line with ours!

I just read an article about Maine's new Republican Governor telling the NAACP to kiss his butt and I was going to leave a comment when I got greeted with this message:

"Our New Approach to Comments
In an effort to encourage the same level of civil dialogue among Politics Daily’s readers that we expect of our writers – a “civilogue,” to use the term coined by PD’s Jeffrey Weiss – we are requiring commenters to use their AOL or AIM screen names to submit a comment, and we are reading all comments before publishing them. Personal attacks (on writers, other readers, Nancy Pelosi, George W. Bush, or anyone at all) and comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period, to make room for a discussion among those with ideas to kick around."

At first I thought "hey, this will shut down the vile leftist comments saying the Governor should be killed" (because you know they're coming) but then I read the message again.  The problem I have with this whole concept is that it's completely subjective.  What constitutes a personal attack?  Calling someone vulgar?  Idiotic? Simple?  There are no clear definitions here. 

The line that really bothers me is "comments that are not productive additions to the conversation will not be published, period."  How is that defined?  Productive in what way?  By whose agenda?  Productive to a Republican will most likely not be producitve to a Democrat, so do you let them all in, or keep them all out?  And if you let them all in, why have the policy in the first place?

I predict that people will start complaining about the content that has been allowed to be posted.  It's too liberal, it's too concervative, it offends me, etc - and AOL will be forced to either abandon this policy (the best possible solution), enforce it in a very strict manner (which is tantamount to censorship) or the comments section will wither on the vine because people will just go somewhere else to read and comment on stories. 

I think that's what the left wants - for censorship to increase and participation to decrease.  They have control of the mainstream media...the internet is the only place where conservatives have an equal voice to liberals.  Even if the policies of censorship quiet the liberals on the web, they still have the edge in MSM communication (though conservatives have the edge on talk radio, which is also under attack).  I also suspect that this is not the only web site where we're going to see this kind of policy being employed.

The PC crowd is doubling down and your thoughts and comments had better line up with those of the establishment, or you're going to lose your voice.  Welcome to the post-Tuscon world.