Twitter Updates

What People Say:
"I never thought I'd read the phrase Crazy Politico's Rantings in the NYT. I'll bet they never thought they'd print anything like that phrase either." TLB

Blogroll Me!

My Blog Rolls

American Flag Bloggers

American Flags

Friday, May 30, 2008

Climate Security Act

Next week our Senate will be debating the "Climate Security Act", which in some circles is becoming known as the Economic Insecurity Act.

What the Act does is mandate reduced carbon emissions, by allocating every dwindling numbers of carbon credits to industry, then setting up a "cap and trade" scheme, in which your industry, if it's good, will have extra credits, and can sell them to those that don't.

Exceed what you are given and you either buy excess credits from someone else, or pay hefty fines to the new government bureaucracy set up to administer the system. Here's the Chamber of Commerce's depiction of the bill's regulatory set up. Go ahead, try and figure it out without getting a migraine.

A lot of focus is spent in the bill, and in editorials and other opinions on the problems this is going to create for the electric generation business. The only (viable) option to meet the reduction goals mandated is going to be replacement of coal plants. Since oil fired plants wouldn't reduce emissions enough to meet goals, that leaves "Green Power", nuclear, or Natural Gas as the fuels of choice.

Green is the least cost effective, and effective period, option. For a newer generation coal plant to be replaced would take between 25 and 50 square miles of windmills packed as tightly as possible. Solar isn't an economically sound option due to cost, and area required. In the areas where coal is most prevalent, the upper Midwest and North East, solar isn't viable due to sun availability.

Natural Gas would use many less carbon credits, but again, to fire a large enough plant to replace a coal generation facility, you'd need a much larger NG infrastructure. The bill contains no provisions to increase the supply of that cleaner burning fuel, or make it easier to transport. You end up with residential customers fighting utilities for a dwindling supply.

That brings it to nuclear. The problem is we'd need to more than double our current number of nuclear plants to replace our coal fired plants. The bill again contains no provision to make that happen, and the electric industry says while 150 new plants would be needed by 2020, the realistic number that could be built is closer to 30.

While cost is the initial barrier to nuclear plants, over their lifetime they end up costing less than coal plants because of reduced staff needed, lower maintenance costs, and obviously, not having to buy fuel daily.

The bigger problem, which again, the bill doesn't address, is the legal maze that pops up every time someone says "I want to build a nuke plant". Start planning now and you MIGHT be able to break ground in 12-15 years on a new plant.

Max Epstein, writing in the Washington Post points out other flaws in the bill, specifically how the "free credits" to power companies actually increase the cost to consumers of reducing carbon emissions.

The Wall Street Journal points out that the EPA has estimated a drop in GDP growth of between .9 and 3.8% by 2030, and 2.4-6.9% by 2050. That's somewhere between 1 and 3 TRILLION dollars of economic growth stiffled by the legislation.

They also point out that there are a lot of more transparent tax increases that could be used to try to adjust behavior. However, cap and trade lets the legislators decided who are the winners and losers, other tax hikes leave that to the people taxed. Congress just can't have that happening.

I will be writing both of my Senators this weekend (Durbin and Obama) and letting them know that this bill seems to be the worst possible option to try and drop the growth of carbon emissions, and that they should vote against it. I know those letters will be ignored, but at least I' can say I tried.

Labels: , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Where's The Revenue?

The Wall Street Journal has a great piece up on how well raising taxes raises revenues. Governor Jennifer Granholm's package of income and gross receipts tax hikes, and new real estate transaction fees were supposed to fill the coffers for the state, raising $1.3 billion. Instead, it's going into the next budget cycle with a $350-550 million hole in the budget.

As is always demonstrated, and contrary to those who sell tax hikes, the folks who pay those taxes don't keep their behavior the same as the taxes go up. More companies are leaving Michigan, more residents are leaving that arriving, by a 2:1 margin, and consequently less revenue is being generated.

Home prices in Michigan, according to the article, are falling the fourth fastest in the country, and Granholm blames that crisis for her budget issue. Here's the problem, when prices rose Michigan wasn't in the top 4, or even top 10. Arizon, Nevada, California and Florida; the speculator heavens; were the top four in home price increases. They make up four of the top 5 in declines, with Michigan tossed in.

At some point Michigan might have to look south to Indiana, or worse, Ohio, and figure out how they are growing, when Michigan isn't. The common thread, both lowered taxes, and removed regulatory hurdles for businesses that wanted to move in. Both have much lower unemployment than Michigan, and net gains in residence. No doubt many of them moving from the Wolverine State.

Who's moving to Michigan? Retirees. Yeah, it's cold, but guess what, pensions aren't taxed there, and property taxes can get capped for older residents. Wow, low taxes attract people to move to the state. Maybe the governor should look at that during the budget battle that is looming.

Hopefully, the GOP on both state and national levels will remind voters of just how well such tax increases have worked.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Was Barney Fife Working?

While driving to work this morning, (about 7:00am) I heard on a Milwaukee radio station that there was a police standoff in Hales Corners, Wi. Evidently overnight neighbors hear gunshots, and did what you are supposed to do, called the cops.

The police arrived, surrounded the building, and tried to all the shooters. No answer. They evacuated the area, just in case. They kept trying to call the shooters. Still no answer. They called in the SWAT folks, who tried to call, and got no answer.

At 8:30 am they found out why there was no answer, the shooters; two 19 year olds and one 21 year old; after firing the gun while playing with it, went to sleep. They woke up at 8:30, saw all the cops, and left with them peacefully.

Now, I'm not a cop, but I'm wondering, why wasn't someone in full protective gear sent up to knock on the door? Or use a bullhorn, or call a relative of one of the guys and get a cell phone number?

I'm sure Barney Fife would have been brave enough to volunteer for that job.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Happy Memorial Day!

It's Memorial Day Weekend, the unofficial start of summer. And it was 48 degrees at my house last night, not exactly "summery" weather.

I'll be out of town for the weekend, though I may still post a thing or two since I have to take the laptop and catch up on missing paperwork for the boss.

If you are traveling, be safe. If you aren't, I hope you are enjoying the weekend with family and friends.

Monday keep in mind why this is "Memorial Day" weekend, and remember those who gave all so that we can bbq, water ski, and picnic this weekend.

Now here's a little "light reading" from the Wall St. Journal's editorial pages this week.

From Friday's Potomac Watch, Kimberly Strassel wrote about "The Obama Learning Curve" when it comes to foriegn policy. Joe Biden attempts to come to Obama's defense on the same page with "Republican's and our Enemies" but omits every lesson of appeasement over the last 30 years, since the original Iranian Hostage Crisis. Not a surprise, since those lessons paint the Obama strategy as a new folly in foriegn policy.

Biden's opinion is a direct response to a Wednesday piece by Joe Lieberman, "Democrats and Our Enemies" which asks, "How did the party of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and John F. Kennedy drift so far from the foreign policy and national security principles and policies that were at the core of its identity and its purpose?"

Contrast the two and what you see is Lieberman giving an honest assessment of his party and it's move left. Biden's piece like the standard Democratic Party (or MoveOn.Org) lines of the last 7 years, with no real answers, or solutions, but instead whining about everything being W's fault.

Finally if you skip everything I recommended above, read Paul Ryan's (R-Wi) "How To Tackle the Entitlement Crisis", which outlines his legislative initiative "A Roadmap for America's Future". Ryan points out that, left unchecked an unchanged, which is the easy road for our Congress, by the time his kids reach 38 government spending on entitlement programs will consume 40% of our economy. That's not 40% of our taxes, we're past that point already, but 40% of GDP. In otherwords, current spending isn't sustainable.

Ryan; who should be John McCain's running mate come the convention; asked the CBO to provide him the required tax numbers to balance the budget under the assumption that no economic feedback occurred from tax increases, and that increasing taxes was the only way to balance the budget. The result was we'd need an 88% tax bracket, and the lowest bracket would have to be 25%. He based his roadmap on getting rid of that insane tax requirement.

Ryan knows that his plan will go no where, and admits it. What he hopes is that providing the rest of congress an honest assement of the state of entitlement spending might spur them to take honest steps to address it.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Friday, May 23, 2008

Battling Over A GI Bill

Barack Obama and John McCain are taking shots at each other over McCain's opposition to an increase in GI Bill benefits, and Obama's lack of military service.

The gist of the new GI Bill, as envisioned by James Webb (D-Va) is that instead of $1,100 a month for school, as the current Montgomery GI Bill pays, you'd get the average cost of tuition at a State University ($1,450/mo) plus a $1,000 living stipend to help with other expenses. Instead of the service member paying $1,200 at the beginning of their enlistment as an enrollment fee, that would go away, and those who've paid it would get a refund.

Obama can't understand why McCain would be against such a bill, and McCain say's Obama's support without question shows his lack of understanding of the military.

"I take a backseat to no one in my affection, respect and devotion to veterans," McCain said. "And I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."

The source of the dust up is, in basic terms, the difference between liberalism and conservatism. Liberals believe that fairness should drive everything, and everyone should get the same thing, conservatives believe you should be able to earn more of those things.

McCain's belief isn't that you shouldn't increase GI Bill benefits, but that they should be increased based on time served. The longer you are in the military, the more benefits you get.

Very simply, Obama, and a bunch of other folks have it wrong on this program, and it's been proven in the past. The approach of "throw the bone to all the dogs" doesn't work well for military readiness, retention, or to attract the best you can to the military in the first place.

In the early 1990's, when "force reduction" due to the end of the Cold War was driving the military a lot of programs were developed to get folks to leave, including the Montgomery GI Bill.

The effects of the programs, though predicted by the military, were ignored by Congress. For example, Voluntary Separation Incentive (VSI) and Special Separation Bonus programs were enacted to give a monetary incentive for mid-grade people to leave the service.

The idea of the program was good, the problem came about with who took it. As my boss at the time (who was in charge of retention programs for Surface Forces, Pacific Fleet) pointed out the only people taking the program were "the best and brightest". In other words, the people the military needed to keep were the one's leaving. Bottom feeders, as a rule, didn't take the money and run.

There's a good master's thesis from Navy Post Grad School (pdf format) in that time frame that showed that economic incentive by the service alone wasn't enough to get someone to take the program. They also needed to know that they'd make enough money outside the service (pay and benefits) for it to be worthwhile.

Top performers knew they would succeed outside the military, and jumped at the programs. Lower rated performers stayed in, knowing that unless they committed a crime, the military would find a way to keep them, or give them even better compensation if they were forced out.

How does this equate to a more generous GI Bill? Simply put, those who join the military because they know that they probably wouldn't be successful in college will probably stick around, regardless of the GI Bill benefit. Those who join, as today, with an eye towards money to help with school will probably leave, as they do today.

The third group, the "on the fence" folks, are the biggest, and the group the military likes to move up from within. Many of them, given the bigger incentive immediately, won't look at the idea of a career in the military. Retaining them is always a chore, and given a bigger incentive to leave makes it a harder chore. Currently many of them are kept through tuition assistance programs, and commissioning degree programs. Why take those, and the strings attached, when you can just get out and get a huge freebee?

McCain understands that to retain them; and facilitate success for them later in life; a new program needs to balance the needs of the military with the individual. To that end, he wants to increase the benefits later in a career. A one term Soldier or Sailor might get the current GI Bill benefit. Do a second tour, get a bigger benefit, and so on.

As a taxpayer I like that idea better than the Webb plan, as it will obviously cost less. As a career military guy, I like it because I know how hard it would be to keep that guy or gal who's on the fence about what to do.


Here is a link to the full text of McCain's response to Obama, and the Webb version of the GI Bill.
Wow is all I can say. Barack, you been schooled.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Thursday, May 22, 2008

At It Again

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, the most overturned court in the country, is at it again. This time they've ruled that "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" can't be enforced against Major Margaret Witt if the military can't show her dismissal furthers the goals of troop readiness and unit cohesion.

This is a very easy, slam dunk case for the military. Very simply, all they have to do is go before the court, with 100 straight Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines, male and female, and ask them if they would be more or less comfortable in their units if every activity was made co-ed. This would include showers, rest rooms, berthing areas, medical facilities, etc.

The obvious answer is no, a good percentage, male and female, would be quite uncomfortable with such arrangements. The guys might joke about it, but they'd be just as uncomfortable as the women. In fact, the courts, for that very reason, one sexes comfort, have held up the rights to have women's only gyms and health clubs, etc.

In the mid-90's I had the "pleasure" of dealing with this subject as part of the a Navy Human Resources office. The above arguement ruined every conversation on the subject, since it undermines the gay position. I still think that arguement, more than my rank, kept me out of a few working groups on the topic.

Simply put, the arguement that not every gay person desires every other person of the same sex, which was one of the biggies during the forming of "DADT", doesn't hold water. I don't lust after or desire every woman out there. That doesn't mean that I'd be comfortable in a situation where I'd regularly see them in various states of undress. And it certainly doesn't mean they would be comfortable with me there to see them. And, I'd probably be less than happy having them see me in my skivvies or less.

The introduction of women across the military is one of the other arguements of the pro-gay crowd, they point to the fact that there were problems, but it's been generally successful.

They just conveniently ignore the fact that those uncomfortable situations were intentionally minimized to a numbing degree. It's nearly impossible for a man or woman to enter an opposite sex berthing area at a military post or on a ship without severe consequences.

In the case of homosexuals, that's a pretty difficult task to accomplish, unless you are going to develop four sets of living quarters, straight men, women, gay men, women.

One hopes that eventually the folly that is "gay rights" in the military is brought up on common sense terms. Unfortunately, who ever does has to be willing to be labeled a bigot or worse, since that's what will happen from the groups pushing this agenda.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Time For A Carbon Tax?

Vox Pop (a Chicago Tribune blog) has an article up claiming it's time for a carbon tax in the US to reduce global warming, and discourage the use of carbon based fuels, and help ease oil consumption.

First, the writer ignores (nearly completely) the fact that any carbon tax will be passed on to consumers. Wake up, that's how it works, it becomes a "cost" and prices are adjusted to deal with it.

The other problems are three fold, as we've seen lately more scientific groups are questioning the underlying premises of global warming. Secondly, we have no coherent energy policy in place to reduce carbon based fuels use. Finally, we are no longer the driving force behind energy prices going up. Former third world countries like China and India are driving up the price of oil as their consumption grows.

On the first point, even if global warming is a hoax, development of altnerative, cleaner burning fuels isn't a bad idea. Forcing it through taxation, which is really forcing the choice of staying in the US and moving to China or India or Mexico, without a carbon tax is not great for staying competitive.

As far as energy policy, we need a system that lets energy companies get off of carbon based fuels without the litigation/NIMBY runaround they have now. Why are we building coal fired plants when nuclear are more efficient and less costly over their life? Because it costs less in litigation, and takes less time to get them on line.

States like Wisconsin have mandated 10-15% of electricity sold in the state come from "renewables" in the next decade or so. But the state is also a tort hell, and everytime someone wants to build a windmill the protectors of bats and geese show up to stall them. And let's face it, the north ain't a great place for solar farms.

We also need a policy that encourages domestic production of oil (as pointed out by Vox Pop), instead of hampering it at every turn.

On the final point, our increased taxes will have no effect on the increased use in newly emerging economies in Asia and Eastern Europe. In fact, if behavioral patterns of business hold up, a US Carbon Tax would probably INCREASE use in those countries, as companies expanded or moved to them, expanding their economies.

The biggest problem with the carbon tax debate is that the US editorials and environmental elitists don't get that it's not 1950 anymore. We aren't the only engine in the world economy like we were then. There are places other than the US and Western Europe who are also helping to drive oil prices, and polute the world. Those places will benefit from bad US energy policy, just like the Middle East and Hugo Chavez do today.

Labels: , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

McCain on the Farm Bill

John McCain has a great editorial piece in today's Chicago Tribune on why the recently passed Farm Bill needs to get vetoed by President Bush. Keep in mind, it passed both houses with enough votes to override a veto, but that doesn't mean it should just get a free pass.

Keep in mind, we aren't in the "Farm Aid" days, when cripplingly high interest rates, along with low commodity prices were killing farms left and right. Today we have low interest rates, very high prices for most every farm product out there, and of course Congress decided that we still need subsidies. On top of that, the majority of them go to corporate farms, not the family farm everyone worries about.

McCain not only calls out congress for the bill, and the billions in earmarks attached to it, but also Barack Obama. He gets Obama for supporting the farm bill, at the same time complaining about level playing fields in other areas of trade. (Note to Obama, this is a losing battle to try and fight.)

Give it a read, it's a nice piece of work, not through the filter of a reporter, instead from the candidate.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

P.J. O'Rourke on Politics

Many years ago I got into reading P.J. O'Rourke, it started with "Parliment of Whores", and I ended up reading many of his books. His appeal was not only that he's conservative, but as a conservative, unafraid to bash the right along with the left when he see's them veering off course.

The fact that satire is his preferred method of delivery helped hook me. Unlike William F. Buckley and George Will, who are brilliant writers, but end up being dry and lecturing, O'Rourke's mix of humor with fact made it easier for me to follow him, and led to a better understanding of the Will's and Buckley's of the world.

At the Cato Benefactor Summit, O'Rourke was at it again. The text of his speech in the spring volume of Cato's Letter, (pdf file) and he hits both sides, though he saves most of his ire for the Democrats.

A lot of conservative bloggers are picking up on one of the big quotes from the speech:

Two substantive political issues are the federal budget deficit and the war in Iraq. Now, if you’re electing Democrats to control government spending, then you’re marrying Angelina Jolie for her brains.
This leaves the Democrats with one real issue: Iraq. And so far the best that any Democratic presidential candidate has been able to manage with Iraq is to make what I think of as the high school sex promise: I will pull out in time, honest dear.
We've already seen with the broken promises on earmark reforms, and the attempted expansion of SCHIP to cover folks making $80,000 a year that the first part of the quote is right on target.

The second part is pretty easy for folks to get if they understand the folly of the Murtha "redeploy to Okinawa" strategy, or Obama's "reintroduction of troops, if needed" thoughts. The problem is, to understand the folly of either of those strategies, you have to have a good understanding how both militaries, and abandoned countries work.

The left has a bunch of folks who understand the latter, and promptly ignore it. What they've learned from Rwanda and Somolia, Viet Nam, etc. has no bearing (to them) in Iraq. They have a serious lack of understanding of the former, with a few mouthpieces like Wesley Clark and Tony McPeak, who refuse to bring their actual military knowledge to the conversation because it completely contridicts their political agendas.

Another great quote from the speach is this one on the problem of politics:

The key ingredient of politics is the idea that all of society’s ills can be cured politically. It’s like a cookbook where the recipe for everything is to fry it. The fruit cocktail is fried. The soup is fried. The salad is fried. So is the ice cream and cake. And your pinot noir is rolled in bread crumbs and dunked in the deep fat fryer. It is just no way to cook up public policy.
He is slightly off on this quote though. I actually enjoy fried ice cream, and most Mexican restaurants serve it. His lack of fine dining knowledge doesn't really diminsh the quote, though.

To see his point, you have to be willing to look at the areas where public policy was going to fix a problem, and made it worse instead. One of the most recent examples was the Democrat's "fixing" of the problem of student loans last fall, after the '07-08 school year loans were written.

Big bad banks were making too much money on servicing them. The (political) solution of course was to change the way the program worked, limit the returns banks could see on loans, and limit their options on dealing with defaults.

That "solution" drove a large number of the biggest student loan lenders to leave the business, and now for the 2008-2009 college year, there is a lack of lending available for students. Now Congress is once again "fixing the problem", and we'll see how bad they screw it up this time.

O'Rourke also spends time speaking about the most important number in politics, not votes but the lowest common denominator, to make everything fair.

No matter how foolish, irresponsible, selfish, grasping, or vile everyone may be, politics seeks fairness for them all.

Then goes on to give the example of his 10 year old daughter, who complains when things aren't fair:

“Honey, you’re cute; that’s not fair. Your family is pretty well off; that’s not fair. You were born in America; that’s not fair. Honey, you had better pray to God that things don’t start getting fair for you.”

We'd all better hope that things don't get made more "fair" for us, as most of Europe has proven, fairness only leads to brokeness for the majority. But at least it's fair that everyone's broke.

You'll have to go back to the link above and read the whole speech to find out who the Seven Dwarf's are, what Canada can teach us, and when price fixing is a good thing.

(H/T to Charlie for leading me to this piece)

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Friday, May 16, 2008

Hating History

"Some seem to believe we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," Bush told the Israeli lawmakers. "We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if only I could have talked to Hitler, all of this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history." George Bush to the Isreali Parliment (from the Washington Post)

Some folks are very upset by the above remark made yesterday during Israel's 60th Anniversary celebration. Evidently, pointing out historically correct analogies to today's world bothers the current group of appeasers, known mostly as Democrats here in the US.

If you read it, you'll see no names, no political parties, no groups are named, other than the Nazi's, yet the Democratic party, from the top down, called it a shot at them collectively, and Barack Obama, specifically.

Hillary Clinton denounced the remark, but is probably thankful that he didn't use more recent examples to make his point. The sell out to North Korea in the 1990's, providing tons of food, heating oil, and reactor technology for power generation didn't stop them from developing a nuclear weapon. Instead, it gave the North Korean army tons of food and fuel, while millions starved and froze to death in their country.

The problem with the appeaser position, that we can negotiate an end to terrrorism, be it in general, or against Israel is that you need both sides to be willing to concede on a major point. In the case of Israel and a Palestinian state, that both have a right to exist.

The US, and world in general, through the Oslo Accords, the "Road Map" strategy, and countless other negotiations have agreed that a Palestinian State should be an end goal. Iran, Hamas, Syria and general Palestinian population however, still hold that Israel should be wiped out. So what is the beginning position for negotiating with them? Do the Democrats believe if only they were listened to, this could all be over? If that's the case, then why, from 1993-2001 didn't all these problems go away when they were in power?

The Camp David Accords don't provide any help in this, situation. Egypt went into those negotiations with a grudging willingness to accept that Israel was there to stay. There is no such willingness on the part of Iran or Syria (Hama's bankers) to accept that point, so there is little room for negotiation with them.

Barack Obama wonders why he has such a low standing in the Jewish community, not seeing that appeasing leaders like Ahmadinejad of Iran fuels their anger towards him.

John McCain, to his credit, stood by Bush's comments, and even fired a few shots at Obama and the appeasement crowd. He gets that fact that until the Iran's of the world submit to a few major points; like the existence of Israel, and the ending of state sponsoring of terrorism; there is no place for negotiation with them.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today's Funny Politics

I got some good laughs, politically, today. The first was listening to Rush Limbaugh nearly in tears declaring the end of the GOP. If, by the "death of the GOP" Rush means lockstep dittoheads who do his bidding, and only his bidding, I hope he's right. It would be the best thing for the GOP.

If he means the "Reagan GOP", that died years ago. That caused the other part of my laughing at Rush. He whined about the loss of Dennis Hastert's Illinois congressional seat to the Democrats. The thing was, Hastert was one of the leaders of the death of the conservative end of the GOP. Dennis, while out of power, talked of fiscal restraint and smaller government. When the GOP got control of the House (and appropriating money) he was one of the fattest pigs at the trough. He never found an earmark he wouldn't toss into a bill.

He could stand to be reminded that under Reagan, who did get tax cuts pushed through, just like with George Bush's time in office spending went up. It took Gramm Rudman and Gramm Rudman Hollings to get spending under control.

If Rush means the GOP that holds it's breath and stomps it's feet when it doesn't get exactly what it wants in Congress, I hope that one is dead. Just like I hope the Pelosi-Reid Democratic party dies. All or nothing politics, which is what it sounded like Rush was lamenting the loss of has done NOTHING good for the country. If that brand of politics goes away we are all better off.
Rush should keep in mind that St. Ronald was not only the great communicator, but the great negotiator, and was able to move things in goverment not by an iron fist but through shrewd give and take since he never controlled both houses of Congress.

The second big round of political laughs today was a two parter with Barack Obama as the star.

After Hillary crushed Obama yesterday in West Virginia I'm sure John Edwards phone started ringing off the hook with DNC big wigs telling him to endorse Obama NOW!!!! That happened this afternoon.

The party wants, desparately, for Hillary to go away, and quit pointing out that Obama can't win white working class votes, no matter how hard he tries. Somehow a millionaire trial lawyer is supposed to make a millionaire latte liberal look like the new champion of the working guy.

Dick Morris does a good job of pointing out why that group isn't voting for Obama, and why many of them still won't when Hillary is out of the race. Sorry Barack, getting the endorsement of Edwards, who didn't even last to Super Tuesday, won't help you much.

For the record, Senator Obama, your "bitter" remarks, your reverend, and your wife have permanently turned them off. Even your new lapel pin won't help much. Now wearing the flag looks like you are pandering to the folks who called you on it months ago.

The second laugh is Obama campaigning in Michigan. I'm sure that while he was stumping there today, he didn't mention that it was his campaign that kept them from having a new primary where their votes would count. He couldn't, it would have been another example of how the working class whites won't support him.

I'm sure that he didn't mention that at the end of the month, when the rules committee of the DNC meets, his folks are going to fight to keep Michigan and Florida's delegations out of the convention. If those get counted, he no longer gets to claim he won the popular vote.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Smacking Down Newsweek

John McCain's campaign evidently wasn't too happy with Newsweeks recent Obama-gasm cover story. So, Mark Salter, one of McCain's senior advisors decided to shoot off a response to the story to Newsweek. To their credit they printed it, since it paints them (rightfully so) in a horribly biased light.

Salter calls out not only Newsweeks shoddy job of reporting and fact checking, but the Obama campaign, DNC and a few 527 groups and Unions. It's about time someone did.

In the letter Salter, and McCain's team basically tossed off the gloves, and said enough tap dancing around. Instead of asking talk radio folks to shut up when they decided to scream "Barack HUSSEIN Obama", it sounds as though McCain's will probably ignore it, and let Obama deal with it.

When the NC GOP wants to run montages of Rev. Wright and Obama, instead of asking them not to McCain is probably going to use the DNC line on 527's and state parties "we really don't have any control over them".

Newsweeks article also let out the Obama (and general Democratic) complaints about the "GOP Smear Machine"®. That phrase got a lot of traction in 2004 with the "Swift Boating" of John Kerry. But, as Salter points out, the Democrats, not the GOP were the recipients of most 527 money in 2004. (They still are by a large margin)

In fact, the top liberal 527 in 2004 raised more than twice as much money as the top 2 conservative 527's. The top 5 liberal 527's outraised the top 5 conservative 527 by nearly $225 million. Here's Open Secrets list of the to 50 federally focused 527's from the 2004 cycle.

Which brings me to another of Salters points. If the liberals are outspending conservatives by those amounts to get their message out, and still lose elections, maybe it's the message.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

The Association Game

Barack Obama's campaign started showing it's game plan for the general election this weekend. One of the points they made is that the "Keating 5" scandal of the late '80's is on the table and in play.

For a few reasons I find it an odd choice of things to run out. First, if the Democrats want to get "down and dirty" with the Keating 5, they'll be reminded that 4 of the 5 were Democrats. The only one of the 5 to be officially censured by the Senate wasn't McCain, it was a Democrat (Alan Cranston).

John will probably bring out the Keating 5 special investigator, Robert Bennett, who'd recommended no charges to brought, or reprimand given to McCain. Bennett has said on many TV shows, and in his own book that McCain was charged only because the Senate Ethics Committee (chaired by Democrats) didn't want it to be a "Democrat's only" scandal.

The other thing that could cause the Keating 5 issue to backfire on Obama is the aftermath. It would be easy to see why McCain could have gotten bitter, and been a pain in the ass for Democrats after they toss him under a bus to make themselves look less bad. Instead, he spent the next 11 years working with Democrats to come up with a workable (though questionable) campaign finance reform bill.

Obama has no such story to tell. He can't tell, legislatively, where he's taken a stand on anything unpopular with his party. He can't say "Here's where I made a mistake, and this is how I worked to fix it". McCain can say that, and has the laws to prove it.

The other problem for Obama is that playing the "associate game" with McCain is probably a minefield he should stay out of. Amy Geiger-Hemmer has a nice piece up with some of the questionable characters associated with the Obama camp. I don't agree that every name on her list should be there, they are very peripheral players in the Obama world, but other should bother you when you read about them.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Friday, May 09, 2008


Congratulations to my son Gary, and his wife Angela on the birth of their son, John Robert . He came into this world this morning at 9:49am weighing in at 5lbs 13 oz. Mom and baby are both doing fine, and I lost the "pass out pool" on Dad watching the c-section.

I guess, since I am now a grandfather, I'm officially "old", right :)

Like most children born into my family, he has a full head of hair, an iron grip, and a yell that can be heard for blocks. He'll need that yell to be heard over my family.

Labels: , ,

Read The Full Post!

Fixing The Housing Problem?

The House finally passed Barney Frank's home bail out bill yesterday, though it probably won't make it through the Senate, or past the veto pen of President Bush. Hopefully there is a compromise bill out there waiting in the wings, one that unlike the Frank's plan helps the folks who need it, not anyone who wants it.

I know that there are a lot of people out there wondering about the Frank's plan, since I wrote about it in early March that has been the top search hit on my blog. (Sorry Tonya Harding, your nake pix search comes in much lower).

Frank's plan, for those who don't remember, would allow a homeowner to refinance the current value of their house into a federally insured FHA loan, provided the lender was willing to take the loss between the original loan and the new value.

I'm not sure lenders are going to run to this program, in any case. While they may look at some loans and think it's worthwhile, they'll probably turn down the short sell offer on a lot of them, figuring they can get a better deal in liquidation sales. While it might be popular in California, Florida and Nevada, where speculators ran up the prices, they'll probably ignore it altogether in the North East, middle south, and Texas where the housing market hasn't taken such a big hit.

Frank's plan also allows borrowers who wouldn't qualify under current FHA lending rules to participate, based on having the income (but not credit worthiness) to make the new payments.

One of the things I find oddest about this plan is that the very reason for a chunk of the housing market problem, according to congress, was lenders allowing people who shouldn't have qualified for a mortgage to get one. Now, they want to change the rules so that the government can guarantee those same types of loans! Evidently making bad loans is only okay if the fed's are involved.

There is one good point, if the owner makes a profit on a refinancing or sale of the home, part of those proceeds go to the feds. I'm pretty sure though that decent accountants will figure out a way to shield a lot of that money.

Here's my prediction, should the Frank's bill pass as is. You'll see a six month drop in foreclosures, as a number of people refinance into the FHA program. Then, in about 12 months, foreclosures of those loans will spike, and we'll have Congress pulling in the head of the FHA to find out why he needs so much money to pay off those loans.

Here's a few common sense changes I'd like to see before they pass anything.

First, if the person applying owns two homes, and isn't behind, or upside down on one of them, they be required to sell it, and use the proceeds to pay part of the difference in the loan they want to refinance. Right now 25% or so of foreclosures are on second homes, those folks shouldn't be rewarded.

Second, the loans need to go to people who have paid their bills (other than mortgages) on time. In other words, help those who obviously are trying to keep up on their other bills, but can't because of the mortgage. Suspending credit rules to refinance allows the worst offenders to get the biggest break, and they probably deserve it the least.

Third, require automatic payment debits for the mortgage after refinancing. If that's going to cause a hardship, the borrower probably can't afford the new mortgage either, and needs to become a renter.

Labels: , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Spin Cycle

The spin cycle has gotten running so fast on the elections that I think I'm stuck in my washing machine. If you don't believe it, go to the Washington Post editorial page, where there are five by-line columns devoted to the idea of the campaign, four of them on the fate of Hillary Clinton.

Depending on your angle, Hillary has to drop out to save the party, should stay in to save the party, should fly to the moon to save the party.

Harold Meyerson over at the WaPo has written the liberal view on what a lot of conservatives have been saying about the final outcome of the Democrat's process in "Titans On The Mat".

That view is that Clinton can't win without destroying the party. A victory by her will assure that the black vote stays home, or shows in a dwindling number come november. The youth vote that Obama has gained would walk too, and then of course, Hillary would be crushed by McCain.

The problem with that is if Hillary doesn't get the nomination, then you have the Florida and Michigan voters who will (rightfully) be able to say that Obama didn't want them counted. Make no mistakes about it, quotes from Obama and his crew that killed any possibility of a revote in those states back in March and April, and having them count will pop up in October.

This hasn't been discussed much since April when Obama killed the "do over" vote plans in both states, and now acts as if they don't exist.

The other group that will probably bail on Obama in fair numbers is the white working class. Especially those in the upper middle class who will be reminded (ad naseum) of his tax plans that will crunch that group hard. He hasn't done well with them in any state, and it's hard to believe a scenario where suddenly they find him the savior. In fact many of them might be a little "bitter" about him.

Finally, and I think this group is ignored way to often by the media and politicians, the older vote. Hillary Clinton has carried the AARP vote in every primary. Many of them will see in McCain a guy their age, or slightly older, with more experience, who can talk to them.

And while the Democrats love to rage about the youth vote, the AARP group is voting in much bigger numbers in every primary. When you break down the demographics, it's a much more important block of voters than the unreliable youth, who may well lose interest by November if a good PS3 games comes out.

It's going to be an interesting time, the next few weeks, as Hillary tries to hang on, and I think eventually realizes she can't. But she will try, and may well alienate more voters in the process, creating a bigger chasm in the Democratic Party in the process.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

It's Going to Go Nuclear

Looks like today's primary results won't result in Hillary Clinton leaving the race. While she's only winning Indiana by 5-6%, she "only" lost North Carolina by about 14%, or 10% better than she'd been polling there a few weeks ago.

I think the party leaders will be screaming before next weeks primary in West Virginia for Clinton to drop out. They've been asking kind of nicely up until now; but she'll probably win that in a landslide, and Kentucky on the 20th; and they don't want her to reload the "I'm more electable" cannon and start shooting it off. Considering she's moved up in most polls by 5-10 points in Oregon, and could make that a close race, the leaders want her out.

The more I think about it, the more I think that there is going to be a nuclear war in the Democratic Party, with Clinton lobbing the missiles. And, while I dislike both of them, she's got not only a right to do it, but a point.

The "Electability Arguement", whether Obama supporters like it or not, is a valid one. And, again whether they like it or not, he hasn't done well in any large state that Democrats "have" to win to take the White House except Illinois, which isn't a surprise. When it comes to swing states, he's hasn't done particularly well and doesn't poll well against McCain.

Expect to start hearing from Hillary's folks about electability, and the popular vote, with Florida and Michigan counted, since with those votes she's ahead in the popular vote. In fact, expect her to fully channel Al Gore's 2000 mantra of "every vote must count" on a regular basis for the next week or so, fighting to get the delegates from those states seated.

One other bomb waiting to be dropped on Obama before June is the Tony Rezko verdict. That case rested yesterday, with closing arguements next week and then to the jury. If there is a conviction, expect Clinton's folks to quietly remind Superdelegates that the "GOP Attack Machine"® will have commericals up faster than you can say Swift Boat to remind folks that Obama is a good friend of Mr. Rezko.

I'd like to say I feel sorry for the Democrats for having this long drawn out primary, but I don't. As I've said before, they've brought this on themselves by insisting that everything be "fair" and now it's biting them in the ass.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Monday, May 05, 2008

Calling Out Obama, Again

Poor Barack Obama can't catch a break. Even after his softball session on Sunday morning TV, columnists are blasting him for his hypocritical Rev. Wright reaction.

Gregory Rodriguez from the LA Times is the lastest. I'm going to have to look at some of his past columns, if they are all as full of sarcasm as this one, I'll start reading him regularly.

Rodriquez calls on Obama to live up to his own speech from last month in Pennsylvania. In it, he said we had to re-examine the old wounds of racism and start a dialogue to start healing. His minister started talking about those wounds, and Obama dumped him faster than you can say "dropping in the polls".

I'm actually not sure why Rodriquez, or others, are surprised by Obama's actions. It's the typical one of both politicians, and various leaders of different races and religions. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton have been calling for the same type of dialogue for decades, and immediately shutting up anyone who's "dialogue" isn't exactly what they want to hear.

What Rodriquez gets right in his column is the fact that you can have as many group discussions with various leaders as you want, those don't deal with the everyday, everyman reactions that keep racial tensions festering. And, he realistically points out, we probably never will get rid of all of those reactions.

Just like "Crazy Uncle Jeremiah" won't go away, and probably won't continue to thinks AIDS was invented by the government for genocidal purposes, Jesse Jackson probably won't quit being relieved when the footsteps behind him are a white man. To his credit, at least at times Jackson has listened to why so many black youth end up in a life of crime. Wright, on the other hand, hasn't addressed the reason AIDS is so prevelant in the black community, he's looked for a scapegoat instead.

No, it doesn't matter how many touching speeches Mr. Obama gives, Grandma is probably still going to be warry of the black guy at the bus stop. Hopefully she never says it again, lest she be disowned, too.

Labels: , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

McCain Calls DNC Liars

John McCain has done something more politicians need to do. He's call the folks behind the new "100 Year War" ads airing on TV liars. And he' s right about it, they are liars. So who's behind the ads, The Democratic National Committee and MoveOn.Org, a (far)left wing 527 campaign.

Were the RNC to team with a 527 to run ads you can bet that the left would be screaming, and filing all kinds of paperwork with the Federal Elections Commission about it. The RNC may well scream, but they probably won't file anything with the Federal Elections Commission. The FEC is helpless to do anything, since Harry Reid hasn't followed the rules on confirmations for it. In fact his own nominee dropped out, having gotten sick of waiting to be confirmed.

At issue in the ads, and a lie repeated regularly by Barack Obama, is McCain wanting a 100 year "war" in Iraq, based on a comment he made in January. The problem is, that's not what he said.

(From the AP, emphasis mine)
At issue is McCain's answer, in January, to a question about Bush's theory that troops could be in Iraq for 50 years.

McCain said: "Maybe 100. As long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed, that'd be fine with me, and I hope it would be fine with you, if we maintain a presence in a very volatile part of the world where al-Qaida is training, recruiting, equipping and motivating people every single day."

That doesn't read much like the script for a "war" if no one is getting harmed, wounded or killed. It sounds more like a strategic presence, like the 55 year one we've had in S. Korea, or the 60 year presences in Japan and Western Europe since the end of World War II.

We've already maintained a strategic presense in the Persian Gulf for about 25 years, with a base in Bahrain, facilities in the UAE, and since 1991, Kuwait. Adding Iraq, after stabalization, to the list of friendly to the US countries in the region would be a huge step forward based on it's location between Iran and other folks we already have agreements with.

Don't expect the DNC, MoveOn, or Obama to back off of their lie, if they told the truth about McCain's remarks, and contrasted that to their own positions it would make them look more like what they are, weak on security, and hopelessly clueless about world affairs or how the Middle East works.

Labels: , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Friday, May 02, 2008

Poor Obama Supporters

The poor Barak Obama supporters have been trying to find a way to spin their candidate out of the Rev. Wright mess all week, and not have Obama look like either a fool or a bigot. Unfortunately for them, he put himself in a position that leaves only those two views available.

Charles Krauthammer has an excellent piece in today's Washington Post called The 'Race Speech' Revisited that has those supporters in a tizzy in the comment section. Krauthammer calls the race speech in Philadelphia "that shameful, brilliantly executed, 5,000-word intellectual fraud", and he's correct. Wright himself proved that on the main stage of the National Press Club, by repeating all of his "out of context" quotes (as Obama called them) in full context, to a national audience.

The current spin du jour for the left is that McCain has the same problem, with John Hagee, who is a white minister and has spewed some pretty lousy stuff himself. Warner Todd Huston at NewsBusters actually wrote a very good breakdown (6 weeks ago!) of why these are two completely different situations.

A quick recap, Obama sat in Wrights pews for two decades, McCain doesn't attend Hagee church, Obama had Wright baptize his children, McCain's kids never knew Hagee, Obama in his book (unlike his recent news conferences) called Wright his spiritual mentor, McCain hasn't claimed anyone as a mentor in that capacity.

E.J. Dionne, spinning for Barack, wants "Fair Play for False Prophets", and tries to put Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson and others into the same mold as Wright when it comes to politics. Again, the comparisons fail since no candidate has other than Obama has spent a majority of their adult life in the pews of any of these guys.

I also challenge his assertion that the media isn't as tough on them as they are on Wright. The media has been beating up on "religious right" ministers since the Reagan years. If anything, they've given black ministers like Al Sharpton a pass on their rhetoric and actually made them out to be somehow above the fray; when in fact they stir the pot.

With the primaries in Indiana and North Carolina coming up Tuesday it will be interesting to see how much this week has hurt Obama. He's never done well with the white working class, and if those numbers take a big drop in these to primaries expect to hear Hillary talking about electability louder and louder in the next couple of weeks.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Read The Full Post!

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Someone Is Getting A Timeout!

"A 10-year timeout for global warming, study says", is the headline in the Christian Science Monitor. Reading the article, as a global warming skeptic, I felt validated.

The bright guys who believe in global warming have now added more variables to the equation, and found that Global Warming is bored, and needs a rest. It's going to take 10 years off.

A couple of years back, you find articles that say in that same time frame we'll hit the "tipping point", and be unable to stop global warming.

The Disciples of Al have been telling us (with faked footage in movies) that the buildup of CO2 and other greenhouse gases is too much for mother nature to combat, and we'll all die.

If, what they've been feeding us the last half dozen or so years is true, then what the CSM is reporting MUST be false. There can't be a simultaneous increase in greenhouse gasses, and a period of cooling. Yet, as the CSM notes in the article, the world hasn't warmed appreciably in the last 7 years. And, it's looking like the next 10 aren' t so good for that trend either.

The real lesson here, if you can get past my sarcasm, isn't that global warming isn't happening, ore isn't man made, or that it is happening and we do cause it. The real lesson is that we don't know, and the science; as the German team CSM is talking about demonstrates; isn't anywhere near complete.

The models are changed regularly, some, like the one in the Monitor, seems to be changing based on new information and new methodologies. Others are changed, unfortunately, to validate bad methodology. Either way, if you have to change your models on a regular basis, that probably means the previous one's need to be tossed, and ignored as unreliable. If they weren't, why the changes?

Labels: , , ,

Read The Full Post!