Thursday, July 30, 2009

Think of the possibilities!

Today's beer summit was on its face just a ridiculous attempt at pandering and a photo op. I am confident that we have made not even a single step toward race reconciliation and it was one of the most ridiculous examples of political circus I have ever seen.

But then I started thinking....

Maybe we can have the Palestinians and Israeli's in for a brewski at the White House. While the Israeli's are there, we can hook them up with Iranians for a beer. Kim Jong Il can hang out at the WH kegger. We can get the congress of Honduras and ousted President Zelaya to chat over a Corona. The possibilities are endless. Fidel Castro and some of the people tortured over the decades by his regime. The presidents of India and Pakistan. Sunni and Shiites. Protestants and Catholics. The head of the Eastern Orthodox church and the head of the Roman Catholic church. The beer detente knows no bounds!

At least while he is doing foolish photo ops like this, he is not spending more of our money. The amount of mischief he can cause is really limited "hanging out" with the guys. I am opposed to drinking, but in this case I say bottoms up!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

If you can’t deliver the mail, how can you deliver health care?

Before we blithely run off and give the government control of our health care system, keep this in mind…

Post office cited by GAO as a troubled agency

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Government Accountability Office on Tuesday added the Postal Service to its list of high-risk federal agencies in need of change.

The post office has been struggling with a sharp decline in mail volume as people and businesses switch to e-mail both for personal contact and bill paying. The agency is facing a nearly $7 billion potential loss this fiscal year despite a 2-cent increase in the price of stamps in May, and cuts in staff.

"There are serious and significant structural financial challenges currently facing the Postal Service," the GAO said.

When I read that to my wife this morning, she quipped “And they want to give the government control of health care.” The postal service has a virtual monopoly on mail. Bulk mail, letters, etc. all run through the postal service. If you want to send a regular letter or mail back a bill, you pretty much have to use the Postal Service. It seems like a small amount, but think how often the price of first class postage goes up. It seems like it is an annual event and from a percentage standpoint it is a big increase each time. They still can’t get it right!

The post office does what we expect. You put a stamp on a letter and put it in the mail box and it probably arrives on time at its destination. I am not sure if we have numbers on how efficient they are, but the private sector has been replacing the postal service with package delivery through Fed Ex and UPS and technology has been driving nails into the postal service coffin through fax machines, email and online bill payment. I probably haven’t used ten stamps over the course of the last couple years. On the other hand…

We probably don’t want a private company to replace the post office. We know it is flawed and inherently inefficient but it is a cornerstone of America. The postal carrier goes by your house every day even if you don’t get mail for a week. It serves an invaluable and uniquely governmental role and it does so in a typically governmental way. They deliver mail when they want, not when you want. It comes the same time every day, they get a ton of holidays off and are talking about reducing the number of delivery days. Postal workers get paid a ton of money when you think about their skill set and getting a job there is hopelessly convoluted. It is inefficient but it fills an important niche, one that is less important than it was in the 1950’s but important nevertheless.

Is that how we want our health care delivered? Because believe me, if we turn it over to the government that is exactly how it will be delivered. When the government wants, how the government wants. Costs will rise and no one will be able to do a thing about it. Quality will drop because our best and brightest will choose other professions. The system will get sucked dry by hypochondriacs and the more important health issues will be impacted. The deficit will keep on rising and nothing the Obama administration has proposed will even scratch the surface and everyone who is being honest knows it.

The free market and innovation have made many functions of the postal service obsolete and those same forces have given us lifesaving drug after lifesaving drug. Hospitals compete with each other and they offer better care because of it. The market has decided that medical care is a premier service and pays doctors accordingly, which leads to the smartest kids going into medicine. People live a lot longer now not because of government intervention but because of free market competition and *GASP* profit motive.

Let the government stick to the business of delivering the mail inefficiently and try to focus on securing our borders. If they can’t even get those two basic functions right, why would we trust them with our health?

Monday, July 27, 2009

Who cares what happens in Honduras?

I do.

Never been to Honduras. Probably never will go there. Don’t know anyone there. So why should I care? Why should you? Quite frankly, we should all care because these events in this little country can have repercussions that will impact America and the world as a whole. In addition, the way this has been handled by the “mainstream” media is ridiculous. I am surprised that they didn’t label the arrest of the mayor of Hoboken, New Jersey last week as a military coup in New Jersey.

The whole Honduras event may seem like small change, I mean who cares about the machinations of Latin American countries where the government seems to change on an annual basis? What is instructive about this is that we have two major factors at work here:

The first is the Obama administration. The reaction to the events in Honduras smacks of being knee-jerk. When segments of the press that probably couldn’t find Honduras on a map with both hands characterized these events as a military coup, the Obama administration responded to the alleged coup as you would expect. The problem of course is that this was not a coup. Virtually the entire legal system and the government are in total agreement that the deposed President had acted illegally and was deposed legally. In an effort to “do something”, the administration did exactly the wrong thing and took the side of the legally deposed former president Manuel Zelaya. In doing so, America found itself opposing the people and the legitimate government of Honduras and standing alongside a litany of thugs in South and Central America.

The other issue is our nemesis in the Southern Hemisphere, Hugo Chavez. Mr. Chavez has been emboldened no doubt by the Obama administration policy of “grip and grin” diplomacy. How much more must he be chuckling at the way he has played the U.S. when it comes to Honduras. Mr. Chavez has been interfering in Honduras for some time apparently and has made thinly veiled threats of military action against the legitimate government of Honduras. Instead of facing American opposition, he has gotten tacit approval of his thuggish tactics by our silence. Mr. Chavez is seeking to dominate the Americas south of the U.S. and thus far is moving that way unopposed by the United States.

The current, legal president of Honduras, Roberto Micheletti, is from the same political party as Mr. Zelaya. He wrote an excellent editorial for the Wall Street Journal today that everyone should read. The duly elected congress and the legally appointed court system all agree with the legality of what has taken place. Thankfully, the Obama administration seems to be tempering it’s response somewhat and I am confident that everything will be legally settled before these events led to mass bloodshed and instability. However, I am concerned that this event exposes the general lack of depth and maturity in the Obama administration. If faced with a real crisis, I have no confidence that this administration can be trusted to support American interests, to stand up to dictators or to be firmly on the side of liberty. Predators watch prey for signs of weakness. The events in Honduras, coupled with the “American Apology Tour 2009” has exposed the weakness inherent in the Obama administration’s foreign policy. If Israel strikes Iranian nuclear facilities, which is likely, will the administration stand with our democratic ally or will they falter? If China makes aggressive moves toward Taiwan, will we stand with the Taiwanese people and their freedom or will we take the safe and economically beneficial route? Being President of the United States is not a job for playing it safe and timidity is not a virtue of the Presidency.

All of the complaints that liberals made about Sarah Palin during the election regarding her inexperience and naïveté in matters of foreign policy apply equally to President Obama. Unfortunately he is President and his inexperience and naïveté are showing and continuing on this path might someday soon lead to another misstep in a more serious situation. Honduras is pretty small potatoes. A shooting war between Israel and Iran is not. The Presidency, as someone remarked during the election, is not the place for on-the-job training. Let’s hope that President Obama gets up to speed and gets America solidly on the side of liberty and freedom before something really bad happens.

Friday, July 24, 2009

3,000,000,000,000 dimes

Obama sells health care reform at town hall meeting in Shaker Heights and Cleveland Clinic

He may be selling but the American people aren't buying! I love the shot of him taking off his jacket and rolling up his sleeves to signify that he means business! This spiel was precious:

"I have pledged that I will not sign health insurance reform that adds even one dime to our deficit over the next decade," he said. "And I mean it. We have estimated that two-thirds of the cost of reform to bring health care security to every American can be paid for by reallocating money that is simply being wasted in federal health care programs. This includes more than one hundred billion dollars in unwarranted subsidies that go to insurance companies as part of Medicare — subsidies that do nothing to improve care for our seniors."

Even if that were true, and no one believes it, that still leaves 1/3 of a trillion unaccounted for. I am not great at math, but that is 3,000,000,000,000 dimes of deficit spending. That's a lot of dimes! But no one is allowed to question the math that says we can put the most inefficient and wasteful organization in America, the Federal government, in charge of health care and in doing so give better service and save money. It just doesn't make sense and already existing schemes like medicare and medicaid prove that government is inherently inefficient because there is no incentive to be efficient. We have heard President after President promise to eliminate waste in government spending and yet the government grows unabated. There is only one way this goes down, more deficit spending coupled with job killing tax increases. That is change we can all do without.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Democrat Economics

If job loss is a problem in Michigan, we can fix it by making it more expensive to hire workers in Michigan! That is exactly the kind of job killing brilliance we are getting from the Michigan Democrats:

Michigan Democrats aim to test support for higher minimum wage

Here are some of the proposals:

• Raising the minimum wage in Michigan to $10/hour

• Imposing a blanket moratorium on home foreclosures for 12 months.

• Cutting utility rates 20% across the board.

• Requiring all employers to provide health care to their employees.

Why not a new law that requires any company advertising for a job opening be fined $1000 and that the recruiter will be flogged. That is about the same job killing impact we are going to see if the far left keeps running the economy. Or just arbitrarily lowering utility bills. Why stop there? Why not just slash utility bills 50%? Or slash beer prices 50%? Why stop with utility bills? Lets arbitrarily prevent home foreclosures for 12 months. A year of living in a house for free, that sort of regulation will encourage lending in Michigan! Forcing all employers to provide health insurance for their employees. Maybe I will start my new business in Indiana. Maybe I will build a new plant in Arkansas. But I sure am not going to invest in Michigan, because Michigan clearly doesn't want my business and why would Mr. Business Owner or Mr. CEO go where they are not wanted when there are 49 other states who would love to have their jobs and investment.

People who neither understand nor believe in the free market and commerce are incapable of making decisions on economic growth. This is nothing more than a thinly disguised income redistribution scheme, taking money from highly paid workers and business owners in the form of higher labor costs and higher costs for goods and services and passing that money on to the least skilled workers. In a functioning economy, the higher skilled, more educated, more experienced workers make more than those who are lower skilled, have less education and less experience. Democrats in Michigan are engaged in pure pandering and their proposals will hurt the very people most likely to get sucked into their schemes. The business owner in Holland can move somewhere else, the unemployed mother in Flint can't. The only people who will be helped by these moves are Michigan Democrat politicians and they are fully willing to sacrifice the poor they supposedly care so much about to maintain their power.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Breaking the Bank

In his increasingly shrill defense of socialized health care system he is pushing, President Obama made the following statement:

"Think about that," Obama said. "This isn't about me. This isn't about politics. This is about a health care system that is breaking America's families. ... We can't afford the politics of delay and defeat when it comes to health care -- not this time, not now."

Actually it is all about politics and what is going to be "breaking" American families and the American economy for generations to come is a massive spending spree on health care with no way to pay for it.

Obama's popularity is dropping like a stone, his agenda is mired and in danger of complete collapse and his fawning supporters in the media and in Congress are start to get a serious case of buyers remorse. Maybe he is going to be a lame duck a mere six months into his first term? Remember what happened to the Democrats after Bill Clinton's failed attempt to cram socialized medicine down our throats?

Welcome Back Carter!

Apparently more Democrats are starting to worry about the direction of the administration, especially those in Congress representing the wealthiest districts, according to the Wall Street Journal: Democrats' New Worry: Their Own Rich Voters. I found this statement to be especially interesting:

Election gains in some of these affluent regions have helped give Democrats big majorities in the House and Senate. Of the 25 richest districts, 14 are represented by Democrats, according to Congressional Quarterly. In 1995, Democrats represented just five of those districts.

Huh, see we are always being told that Republicans are the party of the rich. Guess that may not be true. I wondered what these people driving BMWa and Mercedes-Benz with Obama bumper stickers were thinking. If you were paying even a little bit of attention during the race, which apparently most people were not, you would have known that we were in for massive spending and tax increases.

We are about to see a massive increase on taxes that will take the top tax rate to around 47%, the highest it has been since 1986 when President Reagan successfully rewrote the tax code. You may wonder why you should care that those rich people are paying “their fair share”. After all I doubt too many people reading this are millionaires.

People who are millionaires are not idiots. They can afford the finest tax attorneys and CPAs and investment specialists. There are plenty of ways for them to hide their income. So guess what is going to happen when these magic tax revenues don’t materialize to pay for all of this new spending? The old liberal shuffle starts and next thing you know a lot of people who used to be middle-class find out they became “rich” and congratulations on your newfound wealthy status, now you get to pay “your fair share”. The rhetoric sounds appealing to many people, let the rich pay for it, but the numbers and the reality show the lie. You cannot finance the new spending President Obama is proposing without tax increases that are going to hit a lot of Americans. The Anerican people have been sold a mess of pottage and the price was our national identity.

When you couple irresponsible economic policies that are crippling the economy with a general malaise in America and the Obama “America Apology Tour 2009” where the President and his cronies are apologizing to anyone who will listen for America being a terrible place and cozying up to thugs and dictators with “grip-and-grin” diplomacy, we find ourselves living like the late 1970’s and the age of Jimmy Carter. President Carter was a failure as a President but we find ourselves with the same leadership in 2009. I guess we didn't learn the first time.

Look around you and talk to people. People are not glad to be Americans. There is no shared sense of purpose. Maybe a shared sense of suffering, but not a belief that we can pull together as a nation and get things back on track. Americans were once a people of optimism, of a can-do spirit. Now we all look like dogs that have been hit too many times and are flinching and slinking around. You will look in vain for leadership from Washington D.C. It is about time that “we the people” start to take back our country, our national identity. We need to stop feeling sorry for ourselves, stop being envious of others, stop entertaining ourselves to death and start doing the hard work that we as a people have always been willing to do. Otherwise we will leave future generations with a mountain of debt and without a national identity other than “victim”.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

40 years after Chappaquiddick

Today is the 40th anniversary of the "Chappaquiddick Incident". On the evening of July 18, 1969 Ted Kennedy left a party with a young woman, Mary Jo Kopechne. What happened next is a little sketchy, because only one person in the car lived to tell the story. What we do know is that the car driven by Ted Kennedy went off a bridge and ended up upside down in Poucha Pond. Ted Kennedy escaped the car, Ms. Kopechne did not. Senator Kennedy then went back to the party to "get help" after passing several houses with telephones from which he could have called for help. Unable to rescue Ms. Kopechne, Senator Kennedy returned to his hotel and collapsed. No one at this point had called the authorities. In fact they were not contacted until the next morning when some fishermen discovered the car and the police traced it back to Kennedy.

Kennedy admitted his culpability in the events and through his influence and family name got a suspended sentence. He went on serving in the Senate with many questions unanswered. He claims he wasn't drinking and did not have a relationship with Ms. Kopechne. He claims he was in shock and that is why he didn't call for help or perhaps that an aide was going to handle calling the police. How long did Ms. Kopechne live in the submerged car before drowning and was drowning really the cause of her death? We will never know because this investigation was closed and forgotten by and large a long time ago.

Forty years later, Ted Kennedy is still a U.S. Senator and has essentially gotten off unpunished. His only real penalty was that he was unable to make a successful run for the Presidency.

The lesson here is that if you have enough money and come from an influential enough family, you can get away with a lot. Perhaps even manslaughter.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Republicans unify to oppose more stimulus

GOP unifies against any more stimulus spending

WASHINGTON – Republicans lined up Sunday in opposition to a second economic stimulus package, a rare demonstration of unity from an out-of-power political party in search of a rallying cry against President Barack Obama.

Republicans called Obama's $787 billion spending plan a "flop" and said it hasn't fulfilled its hype. They criticized the White House for increasing the federal deficit and doing little to combat an unemployment rate that hit 9.5 percent in June.

"The reality is it hasn't helped yet," said Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. "Only about 6.8 percent of the money has actually been spent. What I proposed is, after you complete the contracts that are already committed, the things that are in the pipeline, stop it."

Obama urged patience with his spending program, which administration officials acknowledge was designed with incorrect or incomplete economic data.

"The stimulus package is working exactly as we had anticipated," Obama told CNN in an interview from Ghana that aired on Sunday.

Well, that is great! According to the associated press, the GOP is going to put their foot down and oppose more porkulus spending. That is somewhat like the French deciding to stand up to the Germans while U.S. tanks were rolling into Berlin. A nice gesture but a little late.

I am starting to really suspect that the reason that the spending has been so delayed is to hold back the artificial and temporary bump in employment that the massive deficit stimulus bill might have caused. By holding back and letting the economy collapse further, it will be easier to jam through another "stimulus" bill later this year when unemployment hits double digits. Perhaps that is what the President meant, the stimulus is "working" exactly as planned, i.e. not working and leading to even more deficit spending, bigger government, higher taxes and greater socialism.

Less than 10% of the approved money has been spent and now we are hearing that this has always been a two year plan. Really? Because that is not the way it was spun to us originally. We had to pass it right now without looking at the details because even a day delay would be a catastrophe. Meanwhile months later the economy continues to slide and we are looking at something like 6.8% of the stimulus money being spent. It takes time for spending to impact the economy and they flat out aren't spending money. Makes you wonder what they get out of it...hmmmmm.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Not allowed to fail and not allowed to succeed

I loved this sentence from an editorial by Holman Jenkins that suggests that the Obama administration is crippling the airlines:

The new administration seemingly won't let companies fail, and won't let them succeed either.

That is a great line. The administration is refusing to let big companies fail, even companies like Chrysler that should fail, but then is handcuffing them so that they cannot succeed either. Proof of that statement? What do you suppose the likelihood of success is going to be for an auto company being run by the governments of the U.S. and Canada and the UAW? Pumping out cars that have already been proven to not be what consumers want, and making them at a loss? Pretty slim. It seems that even after the managed bankruptcy, there is little chance GM will be able to succeed as more than a lab for social experimentation.

The Administrations economic policies leave companies in a state of perpetual dependency. They cannot move forward because they are crippled and no one will put them out of their misery. They cannot be allowed to fail, we are told, because that would be so damaging to the economy with not thought to the damage done to the economy by deficit spending and taxation to prop up these companies. So they keep shuffling along, bleeding money and becoming an even greater burden on the tax payers.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The market is excited about a new pork laden stimulus!

Wall Street hits 10-week low amid talk of new stimulus

REUTERS — 4:43 PM ET 07/07/09

By Edward Krudy

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Socks fell to their lowest level in 10 weeks on Tuesday as talk of a second government stimulus plan heightened fears that the economy is not yet on the path to recovery and that the corporate earnings season starting this week will be weak.

A member of the Obama administration's economic advisory panel said the United States should plan to possibly provide a second round of stimulus funds to prop up the economy. The comments come as investors question earlier optimism for a quick recovery, which had driven stocks as much as 40 percent higher since early March.

"It's clear that over the last three plus weeks that investors are becoming concerned that the recovery in the economy will not come as soon as expected and will not be as strong as expected," said Hugh Johnson, chief investment officer of Johnson Illington Advisors in Albany, New York.

"When there's talk about another stimulus plan that adds fuel to that fire, it intensifies the concerns about the timing and strength of the recovery."

Priming the pump for more deficit spending

Here it comes

WASHINGTON -- A top House Democrat said Tuesday lawmakers need to be open to the possibility of the need for further economic-stimulus spending by the federal government.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it was too early to judge whether the $787 billion economic-stimulus package agreed to in February has been a success, but he said more government intervention in the economy may be necessary.

"We need to be open to whether or not we need additional action," Mr. Hoyer said in a weekly press briefing.

This week, Vice President Joe Biden suggested in a television interview that a second stimulus package may be required to bring the U.S. economy out of the worst economic recession since the second world war.

Um, it is not really too early to tell. I could have told you before the bill was signed that the stimulus bill was never going to stimulate the economy. All it did was add an enormous amount of debt and increase the size and scope of the government. All of that will be used as an excuse to later raise taxes and in doing so crush the private sector economy further which is turn makes everyone more dependent on government, and on and on it goes.

You can see the beginnings of what will be the inevitable push for yet another stimulus package. First Biden and now Steny Hoyer. Notice that the second string is starting the conversation, leaving President Obama and Speaker Pelosi with their hands clean while their proxies take the heat. As their surrogates start making offhanded comments like this aided by their willing accomplices in the media, people will start to become resigned to the idea. As the buzz grows for more stimulus, as unemployment tops 10% nationally and with no end in sight, President Obama will give us one of his teleprompter specials to tell us how he really wants to cut the deficit but “doing nothing will cost more than another stimulus”. With a filibuster proof senate majority and a leaderless GOP, another stimulus bill is sure to pass and just as assuredly it will mean nothing more than a bigger national debt, a bigger Federal government and a populace more dependent on the government for basic services.

It makes perfect sense for Beltway bureaucrats and career politicians. If you spend a bunch of money and your effort is a failure, the problem is not in what you were trying to accomplish, the problem is not spending enough (see: Schools, Public). Even in my worst nightmares I didn’t figure Obama would be able to cause this much damage this quickly. We already have trillions in unfunded liabilities with no way to pay for them and now we are looking at adding even more debt and potentially a massive takeover of the health care system, also with no way to pay for it.

Welcome to life in the Obamanation!

Monday, July 6, 2009

More on Romney

Gerald Seib from the Wall Street Journal has similar thoughts regarding Romney being in the drivers seat for 2012. Again, not my favorite candidate or the one I would choose if I were picking the President, but conservatives may have to weigh an imperfect candidate in Romney versus another four years of Obama. Anyone who thinks that there is no difference between Romney and Obama is delusional. We cannot afford another four years of Obama to make a political point. The changes he is instituting and the insulation provided for him by the press means that 2012 is the most vital election in a very long time.

I don’t get it

Sarah Palin kissing her political career good-bye?

I have been trying to work through the Palin resignation and have it make sense, thus far to no avail. The big knock on Palin was a lack of experience, so she quits as governor before the end of her term? Her only real experience, mayor of Wasilla aside, was as governor of one of the remotest and least populous states. Now she looks flighty and opportunistic. Gone is the down to earth hockey mom of five from Alaska coming to set things right in Washington. Now she looks like just another politician. I am trying to see the upside here. Alaskans are mad at her, the party is mad at her, the media is having a field day. Who is this benefiting? I guess she could spend the next few years working the circuit, speaking at events, sharpening her political acumen a bit but that seems to be strengthening her only among a small subset of the party. She references a “higher calling”, so maybe she is going to stay home and take care of her kids and help her daughter who is an unwed mother raise her child. That would be nobler than abandoning office in a Quixotic run at the White House but I doubt that is what she has in mind.

I was talking to a co-worker this morning and even though he is a dyed-in-the-wool democrat, we both agreed that at this juncture Mitt Romney looks like the strongest candidate in a weak field (and getting weaker through self-inflicted wounds seemingly by the day), which granted isn’t saying much. What will defeat Obama in 2012 is not going to be culture war social issues. As important as abortion is, from a pragmatic standpoint it is not going to make or break the 2012 election. It is going to be economics. The runaway spending, the absolute certainty of either massive tax increases or equally massive defaults on debt, the creeping socialism of the car company takeovers and health care “reform” all make Obama ripe to be painted as a lightweight socialist.

Conservatives have to get a solid candidate in 2012 to run against President Obama. None of this “It is his turn” garbage. The nation might have dodged a bullet because President Obama’s runaway spending train has done nothing to “stimulate” the economy and that has made people leery of an enormously expensive socialized medicine plan. President Obama is clearly in over his head, whether in dealing with rogue states emboldened by his “grip-and-grin” diplomacy or in dealing with financial calamity brought on by irresponsible spending by engaging in even more irresponsible spending. The economy and impending problems globally may have bought us some time, but make no mistake that if President Obama is reelected in 2012, we are going to see a de facto single payer socialized health care system and who knows what else. Romney is not my favorite candidate, but he might just be the best chance to dethrone Obama in 2012.

Romney’s grace in losing in the 2008 primaries engendered him a lot of good will from Republicans, including me. He has already been through the media circus, so it is unlikely that he has any skeletons in his closet. He is a known quantity. His business experience, his soberness and maturity will all play well in comparison to President Obama bumbling his way through crises, domestic and international. After four years of Obama, Christian conservatives will be far more willing to vote for a mormon. Better the socially conservative believer in a false religion than a socially liberal believer in himself.

Thursday, July 2, 2009