Saturday, January 31, 2009
The Obama Administration
I believed Obama when he said he would deliver change. And not just by altering the social composition of the country by granting amnesty and citizenship to millions of illegal alians, who compete with Americans now mostly for ever scarcer jobs, and not, as they will in the future should Obama get his way, at the ballot box and for government hand-outs.
Obama and the Democrats are in complete control of the elected branches of government and seem poised to implement their Socialist agenda. The Wall Street Journal notes that Obama's "stimulus" package that passed the House "manages to spend money on just about every pent-up Democratic proposal of the last 40 years:"
In selling the plan, President Obama has said this bill will make "dramatic investments to revive our flagging economy." Well, you be the judge. Some $30 billion, or less than 5% of the spending in the bill, is for fixing bridges or other highway projects. There's another $40 billion for broadband and electric grid development, airports and clean water projects that are arguably worthwhile priorities.Doug Ross (via Ed Morrissey) has the list:
Add the roughly $20 billion for business tax cuts, and by our estimate only $90 billion out of $825 billion, or about 12 cents of every $1, is for something that can plausibly be considered a growth stimulus. And even many of these projects aren't likely to help the economy immediately. As Peter Orszag, the President's new budget director, told Congress a year ago, "even those [public works] that are 'on the shelf' generally cannot be undertaken quickly enough to provide timely stimulus to the economy."
• $83 billion in welfare payments (the earned income credit for people who don't pay income tax)That's not all. Kimberly Strassel takes a look at the health care language contained in the bill:
• $81 billion for Medicaid
• $66 billion on "education", more than the entire Department of Education required just ten years ago
• $36 billion for expanded unemployment benefits
• $20 billion for food stamps
• $8 billion on "renewable energy" projects, which have a low or negative return
• $7 billion for "modernizing federal buildings and facilities"
• $6 billion on urban transit systems, dominated by unions and which, almost universally, lose money
• $2.4 billion for "carbon-capture demonstration projects"
• $2 billion for child-care subsidies
• $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that's run in the red for 40 years
• $650 million for "digital TV conversion coupons" (on top of billions already spent)
• $600 million on new cars for government (added to the $3 billion already spent each year)
• $400 million for "global-warming research"
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts
The bill even takes a whack at the private market. Under the guise of money for "health technology," the legislation makes the government the national coordinator for electronic health records, able to certify what platforms are acceptable. This is an attempt to squelch a growing private market that is competing to improve transparency and let consumers compare providers and costs. In liberal-world, only government should be publishing (and setting) health-care prices.Indeed, they are. Ed Morrissey comments:
Add it up, and Democrats may move 10 million more Americans under the federal health umbrella -- in just four weeks! Good luck ever cutting off that money. Meanwhile, the Democratic majority is gearing up for a Medicare fight, where it may broach plans to lower the eligibility age to 55. Whatever costs accrue, they'll pay for by slashing the private Medicare Advantage option.
Mr. Obama will, of course, offer his health-care reform at some point. But he's clearly happy to get what he can, when he can. Despite talk of entitlement reform, he's voiced no disapproval of this vast new health-care grab. And don't forget he chose Mr. Daschle, who appreciates stealth himself. In his 2008 book outlining his health-care reform, he offers his party two pieces of political advice: Move fast, before there can be a public debate, and write as vague a bill as possible.
Guiding all of this is the left's hope that by the time America wakes up to what's happening, it'll be too late. Democrats might be on to something.
What this does has nothing to do with stimulating the economy. Worse, it exponentially increases the difficulty in reforming entitlements, and Medicare already was the one program most in need of reform. It’s heading into insolvency even without the additional load of ten million new and unplanned subscribers in three weeks. Now, we will have even more subscribers to throw into the reform grinder, making it more painful than ever to effect the necessary changes to bring the program back into solvency.Paul Hsieh explains why nationalized health care and individual liberty are incompatible:
And how do the Democrats plan to make this work? They want to kill the one part of the program that actually receives payments. Medicare Advantage is exactly the kind of public/private partnership that could rescue Medicare, where recipients buy supplemental coverage to make Medicare work for them better and extend the bargaining power to reduce costs at the same time. Democrats want to kill that program and force all MA patients back to the poor coverage Medicare alone provides.
What about Obama's plans for defending the nation? Dismantle the security infastructure implemented by the Bush administration which has kept us safe and instruct the Pentagon to cut its 2010 budget request by more than 10%. Ed Morrissey comments:
The Japanese government argues that it must regulate citizens' lifestyles because it is paying their health costs. This highlights one of the greatly underappreciated dangers of "universal healthcare." Any government that attempts to guarantee healthcare must also control its costs. The inevitable next step will be to seek to control citizens' health and their behavior. Hence, Americans should beware that if we adopt universal healthcare, we also risk creating a "nanny state on steroids" antithetical to core American principles.
Other countries with universal healthcare are already restricting individual freedoms in the name of controlling health costs. For example, the British government has banned some television ads for eggs on the grounds that they were promoting an unhealthy lifestyle. This is a blatant infringement of egg sellers' rights to advertise their products.
Obama’s busy expanding all of the rest of the government except for its primary, Constitutional mission: defending the nation.Exactly. But Obama isn't all that fond of the Constitution he's sworn to defend:
If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it I’d be okay.
But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical.
It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf. And that hasn’t shifted.
(The audio of Obama's interview I quoted is here.)
Those constraints exist because the founders valued individual freedom and feared tyranny. But, as Obama's views of freedom and liberty are antithetical to those of the founding fathers, he's going to try to find a way around them.
This is what Rush Limbaugh means when he says he wants Obama to fail. Obama and the Democrats plan to implement Socialism incrementally and by stealth. We should all hope they fail.
Mark Steyn reminds us that big government is where nations go to die:
Setting aside the more messianic effusions (“We needed him. And out of that great need,” gushed Maya Angelou, “Barack Obama came.”) as unbecoming to the freeborn citizens of a constitutional republic, it seems clear that large numbers of people voted for this president because they wanted something different, something other than “politics as usual.” Not just something pseudo-different like the dreary maverickiness of John McCain “reaching across the aisle” (one of those dead phrases no one outside the Beltway gives a hoot about), but something really different. But the “stimulus” package is just politics as usual with a few extra zeroes on the end. Will you notice anything? No. Don’t get your hopes up. If you’re broke now, you’ll be broke in October. The Congressional Budget Office estimates only 25 percent of it will be spent by early next year. The other 75 percent is as stimulating as the gal in the Nancy Pelosi Pussycat Lounge telling you she had such a good time she’s penciled in a second date for spring 2010. A third of all the spending won’t come until after 2011.Obama promised us hope and change. Change is coming. Once its here, we'll see if there is any hope.
In a media age, politics is a battle of language, and “stimulus” is too good a word to cede to porked-up statist hacks. “Stimulus” has to stimulate—i.e., it’s short-term, like, say, an immediate cut in payroll taxes that will put real actual money in your pocket in next month’s paycheck. That way, you don’t need to wait for ACORN: You can start “stabilizing” your own “neighborhood” right now.
But, if this fraudulent “stimulus” does pass, it will, in fact, de-stimulate, and much more than the disastrous protectionist measures of the Thirties did: Back then, America was dealing with a far less globalized economy, and with far fewer competitors. “In the long run, we are all dead,” Lord Keynes, the newly fashionable economist, famously said. But, if this bill passes, in the medium term, we’re all dead. It’s a massive expansion of the state in the same direction that has brought sclerosis to Europe. A report issued last week in London found that government spending now accounts for 49 percent of the UK economy—and in the Celtic corners of the kingdom the state’s share of the economy is way higher, from 71.6 percent in Wales to 77.6 percent in Northern Ireland. In the western world, countries that were once the crucible of freedom are slipping remorselessly into a thinly disguised serfdom in which an ever-higher proportion of your assets are annexed by the state as super-landlord. Big government is where nations go to die—not in Keynes’ “long run,” but sooner than you think.
MORE: Via Ed Morrissey, Suitably Flip illustrates that "the interest alone will be costlier than the Louisiana Purchase or going to the moon."
Thomas Sowell has further thoughts on the "stimulus."
Friday, January 30, 2009
Bacon Is My Favorite Animal
Just in time for the Super Bowl - I give you...
The Bacon Explosion
2 pounds of bacon + 2 pound of pork sausage = 5000 calories and 500 grams of fat.
PS: If you make it, keep this link handy too.
Scientists Not So Sure 'Doomsday Machine' Won't Destroy World
Now it seems that it might be even more dangerous than previously expected. These tiny black holes might hang around for awhile.
Rather, Roberto Casadio of the University of Bologna in Italy and Sergio Fabi and Benjamin Harms of the University of Alabama say mini black holes could exist for much longer — perhaps even more than a second, a relative eternity in particle colliders, where most objects decay much faster.
Which begs the question, is the LHC a doomsday device?
We're also wondering how often the LHC might create individual black holes, since longer-lived ones have a greater chance of merging with each other, and, um, well, see ya.
If the worst comes to pass, and there's now a slightly greater chance that it might, at least it might explain why we've never heard from extraterrestrial civilizations: Maybe they built Large Hadron Colliders of their own.
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Impeached Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been removed from office
Blagojevich did acknowledge that the truth of his actions might not be flattering in some cases. He referred to taped conversations played earlier in the Senate trial. The tapes appeared to show Blagojevich linking legislation to campaign contributions.
He said that's something "all of us in politics do."
I believe that (emphasis mine). I'd like to see him elaborate though. If things need to get even uglier first, that is fine with me.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
TMI about the Obama's
Sunday, January 25, 2009
This week should be particularly bad for the markets
Baltic Dry Index (ocean shipping rates) down 96%. Exports from the Asian Tigers down 27% in Japan, 30% in Korea, and 42% in Taiwan. Toyota dropping production in Japan (!!) by half. Japan output in Nov dropped 8% from October (which annualized is 96%). P/E ratios in the S&P at 22 are down more than 55% but are still much higher than at market bottoms (7 in 1932, 5 in 1982) - and the P will be chasing a falling E next two years. Little wonder his downside targets for the S&P are much lower than anyone expects, so low he has paused in printing them. And who else expects oil to soon be back to its wave 4 level at $10/bbl?
So you might want to keep an eye on the market this week. Cheers.
BTW, the interesting, if you can call it that, part of this depression is going to be coming up soon. I am talking countries defaulting on their debt wiping out the wealth of entire nations. Riots (see Iceland), political upheaval, wars, and societal breakdown in the form of people turning away from inclusion, this is why you want the gov't to get out of the business of smoothing out the business cycle. They inevitably make the booms and busts much worse and that is what leads to chaos. Capitalism has up and down cycles but only the gov't can cause a boom to grow so large that the subsequent bust threatens to destroy civil society.
Saturday, January 24, 2009
Limbaugh Responds to Obama
There are two things going on here. One prong of the Great Unifier's plan is to isolate elected Republicans from their voters and supporters by making the argument about me and not about his plan. He is hoping that these Republicans will also publicly denounce me and thus marginalize me. And who knows? Are ideological and philosophical ties enough to keep the GOP loyal to their voters? Meanwhile, the effort to foist all blame for this mess on the private sector continues unabated when most of the blame for this current debacle can be laid at the feet of the Congress and a couple of former presidents. And there is a strategic reason for this.
Secondly, here is a combo quote from the meeting:
"If we don't get this done we (the Democrats) could lose seats and I could lose re-election. But we can't let people like Rush Limbaugh stall this. That's how things don't get done in this town."
To make the argument about me instead of his plan makes sense from his perspective. Obama's plan would buy votes for the Democrat Party, in the same way FDR's New Deal established majority power for 50 years of Democrat rule, and it would also simultaneously seriously damage any hope of future tax cuts. It would allow a majority of American voters to guarantee no taxes for themselves going forward. It would burden the private sector and put the public sector in permanent and firm control of the economy. Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle.
Obama was angry that Merrill Lynch used $1.2 million of TARP money to remodel an executive suite. Excuse me, but didn't Merrill have to hire a decorator and contractor? Didn't they have to buy the new furnishings? What's the difference in that and Merrill loaning that money to a decorator, contractor and goods supplier to remodel Warren Buffet's office? Either way, stimulus in the private sector occurs. Are we really at the point where the bad PR of Merrill getting a redecorated office in the process is reason to smear them? How much money will the Obamas spend redecorating the White House residence? Whose money will be spent? I have no problem with the Obamas redoing the place. It is tradition. 600 private jets flown by rich Democrats flew into the Inauguration. That's fine but the auto execs using theirs is a crime? In both instances, the people on those jets arrived in Washington wanting something from Washington, not just good will.
If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of the trillion dollar debacle.
One more thing, Byron. Your publication and website have documented Obama's ties to the teachings of Saul Alinksy while he was community organizing in Chicago. Here is Rule 13 of Alinksy's Rules for Radicals:
"Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it."
Friday, January 23, 2009
For the MSM: Mission accomplished
For the MSM, their job is done but at what cost. I can't say that their entire problem is that they flushed their credibility during the election but it can not have helped that the public considers them to be so untrustworthy.
Americans are increasingly assuming that the "news" isn't being "reported" but that what they are being fed is meant to influence public opinion as opposed to serving to inform it. In 2003 this poll showed that 79.3% felt the MSM was attempting to promulgate a particular point of view and in the 2007 poll that climbed to 87.6%. The poll also shows that "86.0% agreed (strongly or somewhat) that the news media attempts to influence public policies -- up from 76.7% in 2003."
So good luck moving to your new careers in bridge building you former writers and editors. At least the One has a plan for you.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
She doesn't need a purse. She needs endtables.
I wish I could say this was mine.
Now we need to come up with our own S.S. code names for these two. I'll start.
Spicolli and Princess Underbite.
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
More Good News: Pelosi Open to Prosecution of Bush Administration Officials
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is receptive to the idea of prosecuting some Bush administration officials, while letting others who are accused of misdeeds leave office without prosecution, she told Chris Wallace in an interview on "FOX News Sunday."
"I think you look at each item and see what is a violation of the law and do we even have a right to ignore it," the California Democrat said. "And other things that are maybe time that is spent better looking to the future rather than to the past."
Her position is very reasonable. Crimes should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and ignoring crime to preserve comity is a disservice to the nation. Of course, it wouldn't hurt if prosecuting a few Bush administration officials kept the rapid dog wing of the Democratic party happy.
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Obama arrives in Washington
I can almost hear the tsk, tsking. It's gonna be a long four years for the humorless left.
Will Ferrell's writing partner Adam McKay, who directed the brilliantly funny film Anchorman, declared that one cannot make jokes at the expense of our 44th president because "Obama's an actual adult who knows how to work." At the Cato Institute's @Liberty blog, David Boaz points out that if our professional humorists cannot divine any Obama-related punch lines from the material he has already provided us, then perhaps "we need better humorists." [Emphasis added.]
That is what I intend to be.
Diego: While I agree that Obama will be off limits to the faithful, don't forget about Joe. Biden is fair game for them now and I don't think he will be silent so he should offer some ripe material.
Good News: Republicans have a chance in two years
Most Americans said they did not expect real progress in improving the economy, reforming the health care system or ending the war in Iraq — three of the central promises of Mr. Obama’s campaign — for at least two years. [Emphasis added.]
There is no way that we are going to be out of this mess in two years. I am beginning to get a better idea about the way things will shape up politically. I know the economic mess is going to continue for another couple of years with unemployment rising at least until the end of this year likely north of 9%. At some point Obama owns this problem I expect patience will be wearing thin around the 2010 election. It won't be a lay up for the Republicans but it will be better than 2008 when just about everything, including a candidate that was despised by conservatives, went wrong.
Remember, when the Republicans took the House in 1994 they immediately started looking to cut spending. That was one of the reasons why we had a surplus at the end of the decade and it was highly contractionary. If the Republicans can win the House or at least enough votes in the Senate to obstruct they might have the same effect on BHO's economy except this time the Fed won't be able to bail them out with easy money.
Not all that nice of a way to treat our economy in order to get rid of BHO but I certainly don't remember the Democrats being very helpful to Republican efforts to stop Fannie and Freddie or to extending tax cuts. Besides, the Democrats will do most of the damage over the next two years when the internal conflicts over intelligently using the stimulus package and enriching traditional constiuencies comes to a head. Nothing is worse for a wobbly economy than confusion and the Democrats will give us plenty of that.
Diego: I'm not sure that the point will come where Obama owns any problems. The Republicans were mostly silent while the Democrats blamed the economic situation on them last year. I don't see this changing any time soon. The Democrats will not pay any price for economic troubles and Obama will be elected for another term unless the Republicans seriously get their act together. FDR didn't have much trouble getting re-elected. The infrastructure is in place for dominance by the Democrats and it is only going to get stronger.
Monday, January 19, 2009
A 2006 study by the same scientists found that when fathers smoked as young boys, their sons tended to be more obese than did the sons of men who did not smoke as boys. Similar to the lab mice, the experience of the parents is visited upon the children and even the grandchildren. If the results hold up, says Whitelaw, "it would signal a paradigm shift in the way we think about the inheritance" of traits. [Emphasis added.]Still, I have no excuse for not going to the gym.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Disney Star Guitarist
Heck, I might buy this for myself. I miss playing the guitar. Then I could terrorize my sons friends on the back...never mind.
Diego: The point made in the interview is exactly right. A game like Guitar Hero (I've never tried it but had the same thing in mind as the guitarist in the video) leaves you with no real skill. The guitar game/learning tool promoted here leaves you with the ability to play a real guitar.
One problem brought up here that I have experienced with digital recording equipment is latency, the lag time between pulling the string and hearing the sound. If that is not eliminated completely then I don't think this game would really work. But if it works I would be interested.
Bill C: Diego, I think they solve the latency problem using strings which sense where you are on the fret board. I don't know how this works but they do mention you have to strint your guitar with these strings.
Friday, January 16, 2009
But not Sweet William
Diego: General rule: If the parents care, then I'm fine with the child's activity. That 's not to say I'm not necessarily annoyed but I'm not going to complain or try and make the parents feel uncomfortable.
As long as you can see that the parents have tried to teach their children courteous behavior then you really can't complain, they are kids after all. I worked at a grocery store for 6 years so I've seen some kids running amok before.
MLB Big Money
The L.A. Dodgers cut Andruw Jones who has a guaranteed contract. Jones will receive $22.1 million over the next six years.
If you break that down per inning played and per at bat it comes to $22.1 million for nothing.
I would do that job for much less.
15 Hall-of-Shame Predictions
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Dr Who action figures
Warning: More Doom Ahead
Last year's worst-case scenarios came true. The global financial pandemic that I and others had warned about is now upon us. But we are still only in the early stages of this crisis. My predictions for the coming year, unfortunately, are even more dire: The bubbles, and there were many, have only begun to burst.
Have you bought your guns and ammo yet? Me neither. I have been a pessimist for awhile but not this pessimistic but it is important that you hear this because I know that we are in the early innings of this financial crisis and the biggest danger is premature optimism. That is why I have been emphasizing time targets for the end of the financial crisis rather than price targets. We need time to ring out the excesses of the bubble years. So go ahead and built that moat around your castle, just don't stock it with crocs just yet.
Also, Roubini is worth reading because he has been right and has not sugar coated his forecasts. For an economist he has been remarkable acute.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
The Seven Best Capers of 2008
When the Shoes No Longer Fit (in the closet)
Shopaholic Dies In Avalanche of Clothing: a girl in the U.K. who apparently went missing over the holidays ... only to surface buried under three feet of boxes. Apparently a mountain of suitcases fell on her, burying her alive.
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Darwin Awards 2008
Monday, January 12, 2009
I have to say that I am disappointed
*Mom, hello?!?. Mom...you needn't buy me the flying car if I get this.
**When I can actually afford one of these...2016.
We're number 1
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Another New Score
According to Fox Sports that final score has never happened before in the NFL. For a while I thought we might get another 11-10 score but not so. And no two point conversion factor either, just a good old Safety.
Mercury Elite-AL Pro Performance 7200RPM RAID
Friday, January 09, 2009
Not much longer until this trio is it.
John Kass on Obama's Senate seat debacle:
So the Chicago Way hauled off and slapped the U.S. Senate in the face—one of those backhands with the knuckles to unsuspecting lips—and guess who blinked? It wasn't Chicago. It was the Senate. Get used to it, America. And it won't be the last time either.
Matt Skiba - Greatest breakup song of all time
Yes, even better than Freebird. I can't post the title because this is a family blog so consider this your warning before playing this.
Thursday, January 08, 2009
Doctor Who in pictures
Enjoy this trip down memory lane.
Diego: I can't comment on the latest Doctor, Matt Smith, since I don't know his work. Fortunately we now have SciFi Channel and other means of watching programs rather than waiting for WTTW. I have to say I do miss the fun that came with the late Sunday night broadcast on local channel 11 but the current situation and trend for TV is better. At least Max Headroom wont be the next Doctor (I was one of the few watching that saw that live).
I don't know how long Smith will be play the role of the Doctor but I think the show needs someone to approach the job the way William Hartnell and Tom Baker did. They were at opposite ends of their careers when they took on the role but had the same feeling that no other actor seems to have had in their time on the show. They didn't fear type casting but rather seemed to embrace the idea that they would become the Doctor.
Hartnell was at the end of his career when the show began and from what I've gathered seemed to relish the idea of redefining himself in a new role. For Baker it was his first major role. He enjoyed being the Doctor and took pride in being recognized as the character. Most of the others who played the role feared they would be stuck if they stayed too long. I think that is reflected on screen and the show suffers a bit for that.
Saturday, January 03, 2009
ProShares Ultra Financials
Thursday, January 01, 2009
The Glands Lovetown
Great band from Athens Georgia with one of my favorite tunes from the early Os.