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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Idiot On Parade

Barack Obama considers himself the smartest man in the room most days. Of late, though, he's proving to be much less so, in fact, he's like an idiot on parade.

Why do I say this? Well the renewed health care push this week brought it back to the forefront, but he's had a slew of "wow, I'm dumber than a stump" moments lately.

Let's start with the KSM trial in New York. When it was announced the administration said it was a thoroughly vetted plan. Within days other politicians; especially the folks in New York; were asking "WTF, over?". Evidently 'well vetted' means running it around the dinner table with the kids but not asking the people in charge in New York.

Then we get to the budget. In two years he's going to run up more debt than George Bush managed in 7 of his 8 years in office. When folks freaked out about the $1.9 trillion in debt, what did he do? He appointed a panel to figure out how to reduce the debt. Here's an idea, Mr. Smart guy, DO NOT SPEND SO MUCH! Not rocket science, not even close. 3rd grade math, maybe, but rocket science, no.

So now we get to health care, where to start. The election of Scott Brown wrecked the filibuster proof majority he wasted in the Senate to try and get health care passed. The public disapproved of the Senate plan by a 2-1 majority. So, if you are the smartest man in the room, what do you do? You double down on the Senate plan by making it worse, the tax increases higher, the government intrusion more intrusive. And, since you are so smart, you release it 3 days BEFORE you are going to hold a "bi-partisan" meeting on the subject, which pretty much ruins any chance of saying the other guys won't play nice.

Oh wait, you aren't done being "smart" yet. You also tell the Senate to ram it through using the "Nuclear Option". For those who don't understand, that option is to use the budget reconciliation process to get a bill through the Senate on a straight majority vote. Technically, it's only to be used to pass a spending bill. So the Senate would tack health care reform onto a budget item it considers imperitive to get passed, and then use the reconciliation vote to do it.

If it sounds vaguely familiar to you, it's probably because in the years the GOP held the Senate there were occasional thoughts of using such an option to pass legislation. or get jammed nominees to the Senate floor.

This was always; not occasionally, but always; met by Democratic cries that it would destroy the Senate and what it stands for. Here's a nice LA Times op-ed piece on why the Nuclear Option is a bad idea; or at least was when the GOP threatened to use it. I'm wondering if they'd publish it today and replace each reference to judicial nominations with health care reform.

So, if you considered yourself the smartest man in the room, how much of the above would you try?

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Sunday, February 21, 2010

Too Late To Apologize

Interesting history lesson in the form of a music video

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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Counting the Days

Counting the days, getting channel fever, those were normal things when I was a sailor. Suddenly, I'm doing it again. This time it's for something different. I got tickets this morning for Eric Clapton's 2010 Crossroads Guitar Festival. Glad I got online right away, they are sold out.
The proceeds help fund the Crossroads Centre, in Antigua, a rehab and education center Clapton's helped to found. Not only has he held the two previous festivals, but other concerts and auctions of his memorabilia to benefit their programs.

It's not until June 26th,(125 days) but I already can't wait. So, what does $121 bucks get you (after handling fees, taxes, etc.). How about a day with not just Clapton; who unlike The Who, still has it; but 30 of his closest friends. B.B. King, Albert Lee, Earl Klugh, Jeff Beck, Jimmie Vaughn, Robert Cray, and dozens more.

Robert Randolph, an awesome steel guitar player, is one of the players that I'm wanting to see badly. If you think the steel guitar is only for country music, check him out on the web, he can play any genre on it, and kick ass.

I'm also looking forward to Earl Klugh, who was one of the first "smooth jazz" players I listened to. A fellow sailor from years ago introduced me to both Klugh and George Benson's music and I realized that it's not just rock gods that can make a guitar sing.

Anyway, I'm stoked. Now I probably need to hit the gym so I can push the punks out of my way when I try and get front & center for the show.

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Friday, February 12, 2010

What The Hell, Part 2

Tragedy hit the Olympics before they started today, with the death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, a luge rider from the country of Georgia. He came out of turn 16 and flipped off the track, hit a support column, and was pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Supposedly; according to ABC news; the IOC suggested a higher side rail be installed to prevent such accidents, but it wasn't.

If you've seen the video, and I'm sorry I did, you can see that the posts could have been covered and padded, or even had a padded fence placed between them, and it may have saved a life, who knows.

What I do know has to do with seeing the video. Why is it all over the news? I understand pictures telling stories, sometimes they tell too much of it, and make it too graphic. I'd love to hear a network flack tell me why I needed to see the video of a man dying to understand a man died.

The stills of him on the side of the track, with rescue workers trying to save him was enough to show me he wasn't going to make it. I didn't need to see an 80 mph slide into a steel post to understand it.

I hope that other views follow my lead and e-mail or otherwise contact the networks to tell them that sometimes there is such a thing as "too much information", and this was a case of it.

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Wednesday, February 10, 2010

What the Hell?

So, no only did I get about a foot of snow at my place, but I find out that Illinois also had a magnitude 4.3 earthquake last night. Guess the Gods are angry at Illinois, or maybe it's global warming.

What ever it is, Lake Michigan isn't big enough for Tsunami's, is it?

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Saturday, February 06, 2010

The President is Stealing My Stuff

President Obama is getting lots of laughs for his comment about "snowmaggedon" hitting Washington DC last night and today, to the tune of about 2.5 feet of the white stuff.

I guess he's been reading my blog for a while, since I used the phrase here in 2008. (http://crazypolitics.blogspot.com/2008/12/snow-maggedon-08.html). That's okay, Mr. Prez, I didn't trademark it or anything.

I miss my days in Virginia sometimes, but now when I see them getting hammered with snow like this. They are ill equipped to deal with it, and the people can't drive in it.

Now, as payback for laughing about DC this weekend, I just got bleeped on my phone with not 1, but 2 "Special Weather Statements" the first says between Monday and Tuesday I should see between 6-11 inches of snow. Then, since I live close to Lake Michigan, another "several" inches of lake effect snow through Wednesday. Yahoo.

Again, it probably won't bug me too much. I can deal with driving in it, have a shovel and snow thrower. However, the customer I'm handling Monday and Tuesday has a bunch of people flying in from Sunnyvale, Ca. for the week. They should have a ton of fun dealing with it. Hope the hotel isn't far from the plant.

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Tuesday, February 02, 2010

If Canadian Health Care is So Good

So, if the Canadian single payer health care system is so good, could someone please explain why the Premier (governor in US terms) of New Foundland, Danny Williams, is coming to the US to have his heart worked on? And why isn't the procedure he's having done available in his province?

And why won't he say what it is, and why won't anyone say if whatever it is can even be done in his country.

This is, by the way, the second high profile "single payer refugee" in the last few months. Johnny Hallyday, "The French Elvis" was flown from France to the US in December after they goofed on his heart surgery there.

For the folks that keep telling me single payer is better, please explain why the folks who need serious care keep coming to the US to get it, instead of one of the bastions of medical fairness. So if we adopt that type of system, then where will you go when you can't get what you need here?

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Tighten Your Belts

Remember last week when the President told us DC had to tighten their belts, and feel the pain of the rest of us.
He lied.
He's taken his belt off, put on a pair of over sized sweat pants, and is doing a tour of the DC area All You Can Eat buffets.

That wasn't his only less than intellectually honest statement concerning his budget. In trying to explain away $1.56 Trillion in debt, Mr. Obama claims that he inherited a $1 trillion deficit. That's true, except the real "long term" deficit was about $560 in Bush's last budget. The rest was one time bank and auto bailout money.

Obama doubled down on that in his first budget, with $787 billion (now $850B) in stimulus money to come up with a $1.43 trillion dollar deficit for FY 2010, or a real deficit of about $640B. The 2011 budget he has proposed now has nearly $1.6 trillion in debt, yet no "one shot" stimulus type budget buster. So in just 3 fiscal years he's found a way to just about triple the real deficit.

But it's not just that deficit increase, included in that budget is tax increase averaging over $110 billion per year, meaning he's accelerating spending even faster than it looks like when you just see the raw numbers.

Most folks with any common sense would look at the results of the bail out era and realize that the bailouts and stimulus haven't worked. Stabilizing automakers and banks was supposed to trickle down to other manufacturers and employers, and make money available for hiring. Yet unemployment is up about 40% since we went Kenysian on the economy. Another huge dose of federal spending isn't going to fix that. It will make it worse.

The stimulus hasn't created private sector jobs, it's expanded government jobs, which just means the government needs more money to satisfy itself. Most of those jobs are at the state and local level, so after you get the whammy of new federal spending, your state and local taxes will have to go up to pay for those jobs no longer funded by the feds.

The tax increases are targeted directly at the group that creates self sustaining private sector jobs. 75% of the people who make over $200,000 a year are self employed as Type S corporations, small businesses. What do those folks do when they see an extra $8-10K a year in taxes? They either don't hire more people; and unemployment stays high; don't buy new equipment for their business; which impacts other businesses; or just shut down because the tax increases don't make running their own business worthwhile anymore.
The President's budget has a $5000 tax credit for hiring people, but in the small business world it will mean nothing, it won't cover the tax increases in the budget, or come close to the expenses of a new employee in most businesses. Large corporations might benefit some from it, but it will be negligible for them, also. The place I'm working this week found it cheaper to cut two full time jobs and have the rest of the folks in that group work four hours of overtime a week. I doubt a $5K tax credit would have kept those two on the job.
Even if those seeing the increases do as the Kenysians would like to think, and just take it out of their own pocket, it still has an impact. If you remove $150 from my wallet every week how do I adjust? Well, I probably go out to dinner 2 less times per week and kill a trip to the book store.
So what I've really done is taken that money away from other businesses. Multiply that by a few million people and all of the sudden it means unemployed waiters, waitresses, bus boys and cooks and clerks. As those restaurants and other businesses close it means less local tax income, since empty commercial real estate pays a lower rate than property generating income.
Or maybe they just won't invest as much, which means that the $110 billion in taxes doesn't go into the markets, keeping them lower, and every one's 401K suffers.
Remind me again why these tax increases are going to help.

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