Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Nothing is Sound

On Thursday I am going to the "Music Builds" tour with my son. I've been looking forward to this Concert for months.

The concert features Third Day, which is the band most responsible for revolutionizing the worship music genre. They have a classic southern-rock type of sound which reminds me of the Eagles or Lynyrd Skinard. That's not the style I usually prefer, but they have a few songs I really like, such as "Show me your glory."

Also appearing is Jars of Clay, the alternative band which released one of the best albums ever clear back in 1995, featuring remarkable songs like Flood and Love Song for a Savior. I stopped following them when their second album stunk. Turns out I should not have given up on them so soon. Their 2002 album "The Eleventh Hour" was exceptional including a wide variety of songs ranging from the rocking "Revolution" to the deeply pensive "Edge of Water." "Redemption Songs" was a one of the most unique and inventive worship albums ever, featuring modern recordings of ancient hymns. Their recent song "Dead Man" is easily as good as anything on their first album.

But the band that I am most excited to see is Switchfoot, a newcomer compared to the others. Switchfoot arrived on the national scene on 2003 with their amazing album "The Beautiful Letdown." "Meant to Live" is one great song from this album, but there are really too many to list them all. If you want my recommendation for one album to buy, this is it. Their rise to fame brought new attention to their independently produced song "Dare you to Move", a great song in spite of the obviously low-budget video. Their next album, Nothing is Sound included the big hit "Stars". But the real gem on this album is "Happy is a Yuppie Word", a song which sums up why I love Switchfoot. The idea behind this song came from an interview of Bob Dylan on his fiftieth birthday. He was asked if he was "happy". Dylan answered "You know, these are yuppie words: happiness, unhappiness. It is not happiness or unhappiness, it is blessed or unblessed." That idea is combined in a very unlikely way with themes from Ecclesiastes. Now Bob Dylan and Solomon have nothing at all in common, but the song works amazingly well. Listen to it and get lost in the lyrics. Once you get to know this song you can't avoid being swept away by the refrain "Nothing is sound" as the song reaches its climax. This rings particularly true today as the financial markets crumble. Switchfoot's most recent CD, "Oh, Gravity" included some hit songs such as "American dream" and the title track (I love the completely unexpected transition into the second verse). However, my favorite is the much-overlooked "In this life" with one of my favorite lines in any song: "You're everything that's fair in love and war." The song builds to a passionate apex where Jon howls "In this life you're my only one" a heart-felt cry to God which in my opinion is the high-point of the album.

Each of these three bands has enough top-quality material to make a great show. Put them all together and it will be an unforgettable night of music.

A fine day

I woke up this morning, and entirely without the assistance of Congress, the sun rose, pouring light and warmth down upon us. The birds sang, the breeze blew, and all was well. I flipped the light switch and the light came on. There was food in the kitchen and gas in the tank of my car. I turned the key in the ignition, and the engine started. I pushed the accelerator petal and the car moved.

Based on the panicked frenzy of the talking heads on TV you would think that the world was coming to an end. Congress didn't sweep in and save us. What are we to do? Well, I've got a news flash for the media: America will survive this. We've pulled through much worse than this and come out stronger for it.

Yesterday's vote was not a failure of leadership. Instead, yesterday was a fine day to be an American, because for once, Congress heard the voice of the people and refused to pass a bad bill in the face of pressure from all sides to ram it through.

But what about the 778 point plummet of the stock market. Believe me, I am aware of that. Yesterday was the first time in my life that I lost $20k in one day. But today I am smiling regardless. My loss yesterday was on paper, and I am not selling. The market will recover. The plunge was a good thing. After all, the stock market is a barometer of the emotional state of the top echelon of business and finance -- the very people who were key players in creating this crisis. They should be shell-shocked. The bet the farm and lost, and yesterday the thought registered that Congress might not ride to their rescue. They hoped that the taxpayers would be compelled to cover their loss, but the taxpayers spoke up and 218 courageous members of Congress heard.

Citizens getting informed and putting their foot down is generally a very good thing. It prevented Nancy Pelosi from sneaking in a provision to funnel money from the bailout to wacko leftist groups including ACORN, a fringe group built on tactics from Saul Alinsky. BO was a trainer for ACORN in Chicago, where he employed methods from Alinksy’s book Rules for Radicals, a manual for the overthrow of the US Government. ACORN members trained by BO used Carter’s Community Reinvestment Act to shake down banks, forcing them to make risky loans under threat of lawsuits. ACORN was a major player in the push to lower lending standards, which is what created the mortgage crisis in the first place. Today ACORN is in trouble in a number of states for voter fraud. When the public became aware that Pelosi was using this bailout bill to channel money to ACORN, she sheepishly removed the provision, but her cover was already blown. It was now apparent that she was not laying aside partisan politics for the good of the country, as she claimed.

But we need to do more than just avoid channeling taxpayer money to far left groups responsible for the crisis we are trying to escape from. We need criminal investigations of Senate Banking Committee Chris Dodd who accepted $166,000 in contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac while assuring that Congress would ignore their fraudulent accounting scheme. We need to investigate Barney Frank who said these institutions were fundamentally sound, and should be more aggressive in getting loans to low-income people. And we need to prosecute Obama advisors Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, and Clinton administration official Jamie Gorelick and Rahm Emanuel, who received tens of millions of dollars in bonuses from Fannie and Freddie while they cooked the books and steered the ship straight into the iceberg.

Yesterday’s victory proves that Congress will listen if we shout loudly enough. Now it is time to demand the things which must be in the bill. If taxpayers are to buy out the bad loans, it must be at a large enough discount to make it a reasonable investment, likely to return a profit commensurate with the risk being assumed. The people listed above who broke the law while creating this crisis must be prosecuted. Fannie and Freddie should be privatized so that they will no longer be subject to government meddling. Laws which force lenders to make unsound loans must be repealed. Corporate tax rates must be reduced to keep America competitive in the global marketplace. Finally, “mark-to-market” accounting should be waived.

So don’t buy into the fear mongering. Yesterday’s vote means that there is still time to do this thing right by fixing what is broken rather than simply buying off the consequences of the criminally irresponsible actions of the mortgage lenders and the government institutions which encouraged making bad loans.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What to do instead

I made the case a couple of days ago that we should not use taxpayer money to nationalize the failing finance companies, and in spite of the fact that President Bush and both candidates for President support that $700 billion bailout, I remain convinced that it would be a huge mistake.

This is a government-created crisis, and turning to government to prop up the corrupt government-chartered structure is just more of the wrong-headed thinking that got us here in the first place. So what should we do?

The Republican Study Committee has a proposal which is worthy of consideration from those of us who believe in free markets rather than government control as the most effective way to build and grow a sound economy. It is rare to find someone in Congress who gets it, so I want to give credit to the few remaining conservatives. This letter from the RSC to the Bush Administration nails the case against the huge power grab.

The RSC outlines a pro-growth agenda to get the economy moving by getting government out of the way, instead of simply throwing our money at the problem. Here are the major points of their plan:

1. Give the capital-gains tax a two-year vacation. “Suspending capital gains taxes would bring as much as a trillion dollars of capital sitting on the sidelines back into the market,” Hensarling predicts. Also, as the Tax Foundation proposes, cutting America’s 35-percent corporate tax — the industrialized world’s second highest, after Japan’s — would boost U.S. global competitiveness. Since equity prices partially reflect long-term after-tax profits, lowering corporate levies should buoy stock markets.

2. Denationalize, then privatize Fannie and Freddie. “These troubled financial Frankensteins — created in a government laboratory — are not creatures of the free enterprise system,” Hensarling said. “We must ultimately take their monopoly powers away and return them to the marketplace” by auctioning off their loans.

3. Waive “mark-to-market” accounting. As the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s John Berlau argues, when distressed mortgage-backed securities sell at bargain-basement prices, unhelpful new bookkeeping regulations require that similar instruments elsewhere — including viable loans — be valued at equally low prices. This needlessly stains balance sheets.

4. Strengthen the dollar. Bernanke should boost U.S. currency, not pose as America’s uber-stock broker. A strong dollar lowers inflation, cheapens oil, and soothes world markets.

Let the White House and your Congresscritter know that you support the RSC position.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Stand up for Joe

We've all seen the email saying that Joe Biden is going to drop out of the race after the VP debate, and be replaced by Hillary. While anything is possible, I don't have any reason to believe that whoever originated this email has any special inside information. I am certain that BO is kicking himself for picking Biden, and Joe himself says that Hillary would have been a better pick, but at this point BO is pretty much stuck with the bumbling but lovable guy. And that is fine with me. While Sarah Palin is propelling the McCain/Palin ticket, Biden is dragging down "Barack America". When I hear the verbal train wreck that is Joe Biden, one word comes to mind: terrible. McCain doesn't have to go on the attack -- just wait for Biden to open his mouth and switch feet, a move he learned as President during the First World War.

So let's stand up for Joe Biden.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Let them fail

Unless you are living in a lead-lined cave you have heard the reports on the coming end of the world. By this time next week, civilization will have collapsed and we will all be bartering for water, food, and handgun ammunition as we struggle to stay alive. We are in the midst of the worst financial disaster since the Great Depression. In fact, this one might be worse! Forget the Savings and Loan collapse, the stock market crash of 1987, and the dismal 1970’s. This one dwarfs them all.

Well, not really, but it does sell newspapers, and we all know that newspapers need to do something to increase their readership before they become completely irrelevant. Doom and gloom is also a useful tool for the media, which is completely in the tank for BO.

While there has been considerable hyperbole from a media more concerned with sensationalism than responsible reporting, and many are seizing on the events to further their own political agenda, there is a real problem which has been years in the making. It deserves our attention to understand how we got here, what we should do at this point, and what we can learn for the future.

With a crucial election 42 days away, the political blame game is in full swing.

I could make a pretty good case that the roots of the problem go back to Jimmy Carter’s programs, primarily the “Community Reinvestment Act,” to encourage home ownership by pressuring mortgage companies to lower their lending standards for lower income people who would not otherwise qualify for a loan.

Clinton expanded those programs in 1994, and Alan Greenspan’s policy encouraged further reducing the lending standards, resulting in mortgage companies lending billions of dollars to people who didn’t have the financial means to repay the loans. By this time, not all of them were lower income. Instead of letting mortgage brokers decide who to lend money to, and what rates to charge, the government stepped in with their VHA loans and government-chartered organizations run by former top Clinton White House officials. These government intrusions were the driving force behind the sub-prime lending spree, where millions of loans were made to people without documenting their ability to pay the loans back.

I’m sure you heard the advertisements for loans with no money down, no income verification, and no credit check. “You can buy a house with no money down one day after filing for bankruptcy!”

Many people took out adjustable rate mortgages when interest rates were at historic lows, leaving no direction for their payments to adjust other than up. There is no justification for that kind of foolishness, but people did it because of the teaser rates which permitted them to buy a much more expensive house than they could afford.

No money down, interest only loans also flourished. In this kind of loan, you never gain any equity, unless the value of the house increases. If the value of the house decreases, the homeowner is in a slippery, slimy hole, where selling the house would not generate enough money to pay off the loan.

Safeguards such as 20% down payments, qualifying ratios, credit requirements, and income documentation protect the buyer from being forced into default and foreclosure, and they protect the lenders from loosing their principal. These safeguards were thrown to the wind, both to meet government mandates on lending fairness and based on pure greed. With real estate prices soaring, everyone wanted in on the game, and the loans didn’t look risky as long as interest rates stayed low and real estate values kept going up.

Government organizations such as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac rated pools of sub-prime mortgages as AAA and sold them to money-market funds and Wall Street investment bankers.

The borrower had no skin in the game – they paid nothing down and had little or no equity at risk.

The broker had no skin in the game – they made the loan and sold it in a pool of other sub-prime loans rated as prime-quality low-risk paper.

The investment bankers who bought the pools were making money hand over fist, so they were not concerned about the actual quality of the loans.

With loads of money available to for loans at low interest rates, and with lenders willing to offer unrealistic “teaser” rates which allow people to qualify for a much bigger loan, people wanted more and more expensive houses, and the surge in demand drove prices way up, forming the self-sustaining real-estate bubble of the 2003-2006 period.

Near the end of 2006, the bubble popped.

Interest rates started to creep up. Adjustable rate mortgages started to adjust upwards. Real-estate prices started to fall, and buying houses no longer looked like a fail-safe ticket to riches. For the first time in years, there were more houses on the market than buyers to purchase them, and people stuck with a house they couldn’t afford were forced to sell at a loss to downsize to a house they could afford.

There were some feeble attempts to tighten up the standards and institute responsibility in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Bush introduced several measures in 2003 which might have helped, but he didn’t push them hard enough to get them passed.

In 2005, Alan Greenspan warned of a coming crisis: “If Fannie and Freddie continue to grow, continue to have the low capital that they have, continue to engage in the dynamic hedging of their portfolios, which they need to do for interest rate risk aversion, they potentially create ever-growing potential systemic risk down the road,'' he said. “We are placing the total financial system of the future at a substantial risk.''

The Senate Banking Committee passed the first-ever reform bill for Fannie and Freddie. The bill would have required the companies to eliminate their investment in risky assets. It may have already been too late to avert disaster entirely, but it would have reduced the scope significantly. However, the bill did not become law. Senate Democrats voted the bill down in a party-line vote. Many of the senators who opposed reforming Fannie and Freddie, including Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Chris Dodd, received huge campaign contributions from those institutions over the years. BO ranks second only to Dodd in lifetime contributions from Fannie and Freddie. Dodd, the Senate Banking Committee chairman has raked in more than $165,000, while BO got $125,000. Clinton is the 12th ranked recipient, with $75,000. This profit found its way back to the Senators who killed the fix.

Clinton and Obama cronies, including Obama advisors Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson, and Clinton administration official Jamie Gorelick and Rahm Emanuel raked in huge bonuses while they cooked the books to create the illusion that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were sound, when in fact they were steering it directly towards collapse. All told, Clinton and Obama cronies looted Fannie and Freddie to the tune of over $100 million, money which the taxpayers will now be asked to cough up. To be completely clear, your money taken from you by the government is going to pay Clinton’s and Obama’s buddies for creating this crisis.

One footnote which is worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and election day: Senator John McCain was one of three cosponsors of S.190, the bill which would have attacked this problem before it got so completely out of control.

Today, the house of cards is collapsing and the results of the mortgage crisis are being felt in many other circles. Financial companies not directly in the mortgage business held mortgage securities that are now failing. These contracts, rated AAA by government regulators, and thus assumed to be safe investments, are now worthless or reduced to some fraction of their face value. This explains the wave of bank failures. AIG, an insurance company, was caught in a double-whammy. At the same time that they are facing billions of dollars in claims from two hurricanes, a significant portion of their assets have been rendered worthless, leaving them unable to pay their obligations.

Government tampering, under both parties, led to the current crisis. Today, politicians of both parties want more government tampering as a “solution” to the crisis. What they propose amounts to using our money to buy the failing loans which no one in their right mind would buy, and placing huge portions of the financial industry under government control. That is the wrong answer. We need to get government out of the way and let failing businesses fail. Bailing them out sends a really dangerous message. It encourages foolish risk-taking by assuring that businesses can reap the potential reward of excessive risk, but government will bear the cost of the down-side of that risk.

Think of it this way: you are offered the chance to flip a coin. If the toss comes up heads, you win $100,000. Tails costs you $200,000. Since you don’t have that kind of cash on hand, they will take your house, cars, bank accounts, retirement savings, and all of your property. That won’t quite cover it, so you and your entire family will become indentured slaves until the debt is paid. Sound good? No way! It is a foolish risk and you wouldn’t touch it with a ten foot pole. Now imagine that if you loose, we’ll go out and force a bunch of people you don’t know to pay your debt. It still is a bad risk, but you no longer care so much about the downside, because it doesn’t affect you directly. You would be a lot more prone to accept the risk because you would benefit from the upside.

If we set the precedent that taxpayers will bail out businesses who take excessive risks, we can expect more of the same in the future. I understand that allowing these businesses to fail involves significant amounts of pain. But bailing them out is not pain-free either. It is simply a shell-game. When the government buys a bad loan, it doesn’t make it into a good loan. It simply makes it a bad loan that we, the taxpayers are responsible to cover, and moves the industry from the private sector with government tinkering to complete government control. A look at the history of centralized control of the economy indicates that government doesn’t do things better than the private sector, it does things worse. The solution is not to socialize the mortgage and financial industry, but to get rid of government intrusion, letting successful companies survive and flourish and unsuccessful companies fail. None of us should be happy to see hundreds of billions of our dollars used to prop up failing businesses in huge government power grabs. It is politically expedient to protect people from the pain of reckless risk-taking, but in the long term, the failure of poorly-run businesses is just as important as the success of well-run enterprises.

I say let Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman, Bear Sterns, and the rest of them fail, let the chips fall where they may, and get the government out of the way so that the industry can rebuild in a more sound way, recognizing that there are consequences for excessive risks.

Friday, September 19, 2008

There is no try

Just after watching the new Star Wars movie, "The Clone Wars" BO changed his slogan from "Change we can believe in" to the more direct appeal "Change we need."

Emerging from the movie, BO was heard to say, "Thinking I was. Change we need. Checks we also accept. Expensive campaigning is. Hmmmm? Yes. Expensive. Unfortunate to run before ready were we. Before complete was our training."

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Washington DC math

After a tax cut, will your taxes be more or less than they were in the previous year?

It's a trick question, because if you use Washington DC math like BO does, the answer is not what you expect at all.

BO claims that he will cut taxes for all but the top 5% of taxpayers.

The reality is that all Americans will pay more under President BO.

BO's proposed "tax cuts" are illusions, but his tax increases are all very real. The "tax cuts" he proposes are to extend the Bush tax cuts and to eliminate the Alternate Minimum Tax.

Extending the Bush tax cuts (for those making less than $250k) is not a tax cut in the way most people would think of it. He is keeping taxes the same and calling it a cut. McCain has consistently been in favor of making the tax cuts permanent, but BO has voted against it every time. Bill Clinton campaigned on a promise of middle-class tax cuts, and then turned around and raised taxes on the middle class. Expect no different from BO.

The AMT was originally implemented to keep the super-wealthy from avoiding all taxes by using various loopholes. In the first year it applied to exactly 135 households. But because it is not indexed to inflation, year by year it has come to include more and more people. Today it would affect nearly 60 million people if it were applied as written. However, for years Congress has passed a year-by-year patch to the law to adjust it so that it still only applies to the wealthiest people. Obama says that he will eliminate the AMT, and counts that as a tax cut for all of the 60 million people it would affect without the yearly patch, even though hardly any of them have ever actually paid the AMT. Interestingly enough, last year BO voted against eliminating the AMT. I guess HE wanted to claim credit for that "tax cut" as President.

So BO is going to cut taxes that you are not paying anyway. Yay hurrah!

But his tax increases are 100% real money out of your pocket.

He wants to nearly double the capital gains tax from 15% to 28%. This is not a tax paid only by fat cats. If you own stock, it will impact you even if the stock is held in a tax sheltered account. If you own a home, it will impact you too. Investors, faced with the prospects of skyrocketing capital gains taxes, are sure to realize their capital gains before BO takes office, preferring a 15% rate to a 28% rate later on, leading to a major selloff, which will drive stock value down. The same market forces will make home ownership much less attractive and drive real estate values even further down. This proposed tax hike is truly disastrous for the economy.

BO also wants to hike taxes on dividends, a move which would further batter stock prices and drive capital out of the market. The hardest hit would be seniors who are dependent on dividends to provide their income.

As if that is not enough, BO plans to increase the payroll tax, a tax which impacts anyone who has a job. This sort of tax increase would destroy jobs and depress wages.

Even dying won't help you to avoid BO's tax increases. He plans to lower the ceiling for estate taxes to $1 million.

And then there is the real crowd-pleaser, the tax hike on those evil corporations. Who could oppose sticking it to them? After all, a corporate tax increase only impacts those who work for corporations or buy stuff from corporations.

Only Washington DC math could describe imaginary tax cuts and real tax increases as a "tax cut for 95% of taxpayers." Since his days as a Chicago Alinskyite, BO has a long track record of wealth redistribution, extorting from the productive to buy the support of the unproductive. The tax code is the single biggest source of power BO could possibly get his hands on, and given the opportunity, he will use it to expand his own power at your expense.

Kindergarten Condom

Last week John McCain released an ad attacking BO for his failure to do anything to improve education. The ad points out that his one and only accomplishment in this field is to support comprehensive sex education for kindergarteners.

Within moments of the ad’s appearance, the BO campaign called it “shameful and downright perverse.” The legislation in question, a bill in the Illinois State Senate that was supported but not sponsored by Obama, was, according to Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton, “written to protect young children from sexual predators” and had nothing to do with comprehensive sex education for kindergartners. Daily Kos wackjobs were quick to jump on, calling the ad "racist" and "pro-pedophile."

If this claim from the BO camp was true, it would not mitigate the charge that BO failed to improve the dismal education provided by public schools in the primary topics they are responsible for teaching: math, English, science, history, geography, etc.

But the claim is not true.

The bill in question was Senate Bill 99, introduced in the Senate in February 2003. I encourage anyone interested in the facts about what BO supported to read the bill.

A press release announcing the introduction of the bill quoted the bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Carol Ronen, as saying, “It teaches students about the advantages of abstinence, while also giving them the realistic information they need about the prevention of an unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.” The release contained no mention of sexual predators or inappropriate touching.

The bill appears to have three major purposes:

1. To mandate that information presented in sex-ed classes be “factual, medically accurate, and objective”. Fine.

2. To increase the number of children receiving sex education. To do this, it amended the existing law requiring the teaching of sex education, contraception, and AIDS prevention. The old law covered grades 6 through 12. That was amended to cover Kindergarten through twelfth grade.

3. To remove value-based language from the existing law. For instance, the following language was removed from the existing law:

Course material and instruction shall teach honor and respect for monogamous heterosexual marriage.
Course material and instruction shall stress that pupils should abstain from sexual intercourse until they are ready for marriage.
Classes shall emphasize that abstinence is the expected norm in that abstinence from sexual intercourse is the only protection that is 100 percent effective against unwanted teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.
That language was replaced with the following:

Course material and instruction shall include a discussion of sexual abstinence as a method to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Course material and instruction shall present the latest medically factual information regarding both the possible side effects and health benefits of all forms of contraception, including the success and failure rates for the prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
Near the end of the bill there is one paragraph addressing inappropriate touching:

Course material and instruction shall teach pupils to not make unwanted physical and verbal sexual advances and how to say no to unwanted sexual advances and shall include information about verbal, physical, and visual sexual harassment, including without limitation nonconsensual sexual advances, nonconsensual physical sexual contact, and rape by an acquaintance. The course material and instruction shall contain methods of preventing sexual assault by an acquaintance, including exercising good judgment and avoiding behavior that impairs one’s judgment. The course material and instruction shall emphasize personal accountability and respect for others and shall also encourage youth to resist negative peer pressure. The course material and instruction shall inform pupils of the potential legal consequences of sexual assault by an acquaintance. Specifically, pupils shall be advised that it is unlawful to touch an intimate part of another person as specified in the Criminal Code of 1961.
But this paragraph is not the primary or central focus of the bill, as BO suggests.

In the wake of the recent controversy about this bill, Senator Martinez, one of the bills sponsors, was asked about the purpose of the bill:

I told Martinez that reading the bill, I just didn’t see it as being exclusively, or even mostly, about inappropriate touching. “I didn’t see it that way, either,” Martinez said. “It’s just more information about a whole variety of things that have to go into a sex education class, the things that are outdated that you want to amend with things that are much more current.”So, I asked, you didn’t see it specifically as being about inappropriate touching?“Absolutely not.”

Careful reading of the bill brings me to the conclusion that the bill is about much more than preventing inappropriate touching. It mandates that topics such as contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted diseases be taught to Kindergarteners in Illinois’ public schools. That is BO’s sole contribution to improving the education of Illinois’ kids. I wouldn’t be proud of it either.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Speaking for the whole world

Hollywood actor Matt Damon, who is more qualified than the rest of us to decide who ought to be President by merit of having appeared in movies, had the following to say about Sarah Palin.

I think there is a really good chance that Sarah Palin could president. And I think that's a really scary thing because I don't know anything about her. I don't think in eight weeks I'm going to know anything about her.
Matt, welcome to the information age. If you don't know anything about Sarah Palin it can only be because you have not taken advantage of the reams of news coverage and public records documenting Governor Palin's career.

I would like to know what you know about BO? No one else I have talked to can name one significant accomplishment from BO's career. They can't point me to an important bill he wrote and carried through the legislature to passage. They can't tell me what a community organizer actually DOES. So far all we know about BO is that he can beat Alan Keyes in Illinois.

Obama jumps the pig

Sarah Palin: Do you know the difference between a hockey mom and a pitbull? Lipstick.

Barack Obama: You can put lipstick on a pig, and it's still a pig.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

I've got a bridge to sell you

Check out this web site which computes "Your Obama tax cut."

Now before you get too excited, remember that a campaign promise is only as good as the person making it. Remember back to 1992 when Bill Clinton was running on a platform which included a "middle-class tax cut." Did you ever see it? Me neither. Just a few months after he took office, he announced that cutting taxes on the middle class was just not possible. Instead he pushed through the biggest middle-class tax increase in history.

In addition, recognize that BO has proposed tax increases in a number of other areas. He has said that he will increase the payroll tax, capital gains tax, interest income tax, death tax, and corporate tax rates. For those of you who like corporate taxes because you think that BO will really be sticking it to those big evil corporations, remember that corporate taxes are only paid by people who work for corporations, own stock in corporations, or buy things from corporations.

BO has proposed more than $335 billion in new spending annually. If we know anything about Democrats it is that their appetite for money is insatiable. All of the wonderful new programs which BO wants to inflict upon us will suck up all available money and preclude any tax cuts. Make no mistake, taxes will only go up with Obama in the White House.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Quarterly report

My brilliantly conceived business plan to match Exxon's $14 billion profit by selling bumper stickers on Zazzle.com is off to a slow start.

At 40 cents profit per bumper sticker, I need to sell 35 billion bumper stickers to catch up to Exxon. This means that every man, woman, and child on the planet must buy five.

Unfortunately, Exxon has a significant head start and a better developed base of customers. As of Monday September 8, I have sold 4 bumper stickers, generating $1.60 in revenue.

Some analysts have suggested that I have undermined my market by giving away more bumper stickers than I have sold, but I look at the practice as viral marketing, which in the long run is sure to result in more sales through word of mouth.

Others have questioned my strategy based on the observation that the Obama bin Biden ticket is due to be relegated to the ash-heap of history in roughly 56 days, leaving me a very short window of opportunity to reach my goal.

I address all of these very valid concerns with one response: diversification. Instead of just the one bumper sticker, you can now find t-shirts, various color schemes, and a few other designs. There are sure to be five items to appeal to every human on the planet. I hope Zazzle has the capacity to handle the coming flood of orders!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Chocolate New Orleans

In honor of New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin and their new Republican Governor, Bob Jindal and their much improved handling of Gustov, I am reposting my recipe for a Chocolate New Orleans posted exclusively here on February 28, 2006. It appears that Nagin was concerned that another failure like Katrina, where he left hundreds of New Orleans school buses to be inundated by floodwater instead of using them to evacuate people in front of the storm, might result in voters telling him to "get your butt moving out of New Orleans right now".
  1. Start off with a large brownie with chocolate chunks baked into it.
  2. Apply a generous layer of chocolate mousse.
  3. Add a second brownie.
  4. Lay down a thin layer of chocolate pudding.
  5. Add a third brownie.
  6. Put two large scoops of chocolate ice cream on top.
  7. Cover it with a generous layer of hot fudge.
  8. Sprinkle dark chocolate shavings on the hot fudge.
  9. Have a transvestite from the French Quarter pee all over it.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Change that's hard to find

Last week in Denver there was a lot of talk about change.

Barry Obama tried to paint himself as some sort of new, post-partisan Democrat.

But how much "change" does he really have?

To find out, let's compare BO's platform to John Kerry's 2004 platform which was soundly rejected by voters.

The two are so similar that it is easier to note the changes than the similarities. Point by point, Obama wants to do the same things the voters said "no" to in 2004. There are some minor details altered, but it is surprisingly devoid of new ideas.

Both platforms extend Bush's tax cuts for the middle class, but repeal them for the "rich". The definition of "rich" has changed from $200,000 in yearly income to $250,000. That's change you can believe in, if you make between $200,000 and $249,999.

The 2004 platform proposed a major increase in the Earned Income Tax Credit, a wealth transfer provision which gives refunds to the poorest working Americans. The centerpiece of the 2008 tax plan is a radical new idea to help the poorest Americans: an increase in the EITC!

In 2004 there was a plan to "pay for child care and elder care". This time it just says that government will "help pay for child care." No mention of elders, but that is probably just an oversight, unless jettisoning the elderly is the change we can believe in.

The platforms for 2004 and 2008 both promise to change the tax code to make it less rewarding for U.S. corporations to locate operations abroad. Kerry also promised also to reduce the corporate-tax rate a bit, an acknowledgment that the U.S.'s high taxes were undermining our competitiveness.

This convention's plan has ditched that carrot, and replaced it with the silliest passage in platform history: ``We will bring together government, private industry, workers, and academia to turn around the manufacturing sector.'' Obama's plan to help the manufacturing sector appears to be, ``Unleash the bureaucrats and professors.''

In 2004, when oil was trading for $40 a barrel, the platform called for some additional exploration. Now, with oil over $100 per barrel, BO doesn't call for any new exploration. Instead, just inflate your tires.
For Social Security, both platforms promise to protect it, and not to privatize it. The platform this time around also advocates automatic enrollment for 401(k)s.

In 2004, Kerry promised to use tough "pay as you go" rules to enforce fiscal discipline. Those rules were adopted in 2007, but they proved to be ineffective, as the budget deficit under the Democrat-controlled Congress rose from $248 billion in 2006 to $357 billion in 2008, mainly because Democrats voted to ignore the "pay as you go" rules when they got in the way of their big spending plans. The fact that "pay as you go" has been shown to be a failure doesn't seem to make any difference to the Party Platform. The same "pay as you go" language is in BO's 2008 platform. What makes anyone believe that it will work this time? After all, it was not President Bush who voted to ignore the rule, it was Democrats in Congress.

So when you line it all up, the promise of "change" is just a promise to do the same old things that Democrats always do. More taxes, more government intrusion, more wealth transfer, more entitlements. In the past it failed every time, but that is only because it wasn't done by the right people. BO is the right person because he can give a really good speech. This time it will work. Really. It will.