Tuesday, November 30, 2010

An alternate plan for deficit reduction

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), one of the 18 members of the Deficit Commission, has offered her own plan in response to the Commission's proposals, which she has rejected.

One of her proposals is to:

Provide $200 billion to invest over the next two years in measures to create jobs and spur economic growth, including passing the Local Jobs for America Act; and funding for education and law enforcement; Unemployment Insurance, Federal Medical Assistance Percentages (FMAP) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program extensions; and infrastructure.

Sound familiar? Sounds like more spending to me, more into government programs. A mini-stimulus. If $1 trillion didn't work, why will $100 billion a year work?  So where will this $200 billion come from?

First, cut $117 billion from the defense budget in 2015. And she proposes we'll save $32 billion in health care costs. She doesn't mention how.

Another $7 billion by cutting agriculture subsidies. That's it on spending cuts.

The rest is to raise taxes by about $400 billion, about half going after businesses.

Doesn't sound like much of a plan to me. With our annual deficits running nearly $1,500 billion a year, she's cutting the deficit by about $200 billion.

Can someone come up with a better plan? Please?

Over the next several days, I'll be doing a search for other plans. But I'm willing to bet there isn't one that will actually work.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Say what? The rich are embarrassed?

I just have to shake my head when I read things like this (a posted comment on the Washing Post).

Lot's of rich folks are embarassed [sic] by the money they get from the Bush-Cheney tax cuts which were suppose to end. They were designed to end. But Republicans for some reason would rather give the wealthier folks money that they really do not need or want, and yet plan to vote against helping the unemployed pay rent and buy food.
If the rich folks are embarrassed, why don't they give more to the government? Why is it the role of government to take someone's earnings? Isn't that legalized theft?

And the Republicans aren't against "helping the unemployed," but only with money we have. We've borrowed enough. And it's been proven again and again that extending unemployment "benefits" only extends the high unemployment rate. Two years of unemployment benefits is insane.

We wouldn't be having this discussion at all if the government didn't overspend, especially on liberal programs that have only made things worse (which has been proven over and over, yet no one listens).

Here's another gem, from Robert Kuttner on HuffPo:
The economy will be fixed only with more public investment, more progressive taxation, and more regulation.
Stuck on stupid! More spending, more taxation and more regulation! How idiotic. How many times do we have to do this crap and have it fail before people wake up? This is nothing but socialism, but with a different label.

Problem in this country is that about half of it's citizens are too brain-washed by the liberal educational and media establishments and can't think their way out of a paper bag. Instead they base their decisions on  feelings. If it feels good, especially if it makes me feel good, it must be good.

Bullshit, is what I say.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Keith Urban

For those of you who love guitar, Keith Urban is one of the best, but I think is overlooked as one of the best. (And I love guitar).

I'm alive and free...

Or even better:

You Look Good In My Shirt

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Al Gore and his ethanol sham

For a couple of  years I've been commenting on the problems with ethanol, such as its high-energy-cost of production, the increase in food prices, and the billions going to companies that produce the stuff. Also, when you use ethanol in cars and trucks, you actually get fewer miles to the gallon.

But the truth is emerging. Al Gore supported and pushed ethanol not for his environmental policies, but to get votes.

"It is not a good policy to have these massive subsidies for first-generation ethanol," Reuters quoted Gore saying of the U.S. policy that is about to come up for congressional review. "First-generation ethanol I think was a mistake. The energy conversion ratios are at best very small.

"One of the reasons I made that mistake is that I paid particular attention to the farmers in my home state of Tennessee, and I had a certain fondness for the farmers in the state of Iowa because I was about to run for president," the wire service reported Gore saying.

But of course, the ethanol industry will disagree, because they are getting nearly $8 billion a year of taxpayer-funded subsidies.

Growth Energy CEO Tom Buis has released a statement in response to Gore's regrets regarding his past position on corn-based ethanol:

"The contributions of first generation ethanol to our nation's economy, environment and energy production are not a mistake, but a success story."

Monday, November 22, 2010

Warfighting: Not what it used to be?

I don't mean to be an armed-chair general, but I guess this makes me so. But I was a little surprised to learn that after nine years in Afghanistan, we are only now sending heavy armor, or tanks.

In my day, I think we viewed warfighting a little differently, or at least the doctrines we studied were different. I know times and places change, but certain concepts remain valid, I believe. Otherwise, why would military students still study Clausewitz.

The doctrines I mention here I call the Weinberger-Powell doctrines.

The original Weinberger doctrine, created in 1984 by then Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, stated:

1. The United States should not commit forces to combat unless the vital national interests of the United States or its allies are involved.
2. U.S. troops should only be committed wholeheartedly and with the clear intention of winning. Otherwise, troops should not be committed.
3. U.S. combat troops should be committed only with clearly defined political and military objectives and with the capacity to accomplish those objectives.
4. The relationship between the objectives and the size and composition of the forces committed should be continually reassessed and adjusted if necessary.
5. U.S. troops should not be committed to battle without a "reasonable assurance" of the support of U.S. public opinion and Congress.
6. The commitment of U.S. troops should be considered only as a last resort.

Gen. Colin Powell, as Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, later refined and added to Weinberger's doctrine in the run-up to the first Gulf War as a series of questions that needed to be answered before committing U.S. military forces.

1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
7. Is the action supported by the American people?
8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

So would someone tell me what doctrine we're using now? Has the Counter-Insurgency manual replaced this. My one big criticism of Rumsfeld is that he did not follow the two doctrines that were formed over 30-plus years of experience.

The fact that after nine years we are just now using heavy armor lets me think something is wrong here, other than the fact we're still there.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Ron Paul: Enough is enough

In my opinion, our government is out of control. There are many others who agree.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I'll screen myself

It just keeps getting better and better. Lynda Mclaughlin is an associate producer and call screener for the Sean Hannity radio program. You gotta have a sense of humor these days...

Test your knowledge of current events

The Pew Research Center has a short on-line quiz, based on a survey they did Nov. 10-11, 2010. It's only 12 questions, and fairly basic, so that you'd think the average person would know most of them. I scored 12 out of 12 correct for 100%, but then I tend to pay more attention than most people, partly to keep this blog going.

But does the average person at least score more than 50 percent? Nope. Only college graduates scored more than 6 correct, with the average being 6.8.  Every other demographic group scored less than 50 percent.

Take the test and you can see how you compare to your fellow citizens.

Random Thoughts

There's a lot of talk about Sara Palin running for President. I don't think I've paid much attention to her, especially in this blog. But she would not be my choice. Enuf said on that I think. Don't really know why some hate her so much, but I've come to accept that hate toward conservatives -- especially conservative women -- by the left.

This TSA search thing has gone too far. Can you image the reaction if Bush was still in the White House. I won't be flying anytime soon, not necessarily because of the new search program (went through that when I was stationed in Italy in the 1980s and traveled several times to Turkey.) My biggest complaint is against the airlines. At 6-feet, I can't really fit into economy class seats anymore, and if I have to pay business class, I'd rather just drive. Then I don't have to pay ridiculous car rental fees.

And answer this one: How many terrorists has the TSA apprehended?

This whole thing about Obama's trip overseas costing $200 million a day, along with 34 Navy ships deployed, shows how real journalism has ended up in the basement. When I worked as a reporter for the European Stars and Stripes, if you didn't have two credible sources for your story, no matter how juicy it might be, it didn't make it in print. And I did some juicy stories, some which made the military look bad, and some that made them look good. And I had some stories that never made it to print, because I couldn't find that credible second source. Doesn't anyone think critically these days? It used to be that reporters were trained to be skeptical of every "fact" that came across their desk. Guess that ain't so anymore. Too bad.

The term "progressive" used by many on the left is really a misnomer, if you understand anything about the historical roots of classical liberalism. Because the left has taken over the Democratic party, it is no longer "progressive." Their big-government plans take us back before the founding of this country, when an armed revolt was needed to through off the weight of big government. (Note: I'm not advocating armed revolt today.)

For those of you who criticize Fox News, but defend Maddow, Olbermann, and Matthews, et al, are just as hypocritical as those who think Fox is the only source of valid "news." These days, it's pretty damn hard to get the straight news from any network or publication. But at least people like Hannity admit their slant is hard conservative. Maddow thinks she's a news anchor, and Olbermann -- well, I don't know what this angry man is really all about. But when MSNBC tries to claim neutrality, Fox blows them out of the water for at least being less hypocritical. Bottom line: It's ok to have a liberal-slanted show, but at least admit it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ban on American Flag reversed, but...

After being banned from flying the American flag from his bicycle, a Denair Middle School  (near Modesto, California) student, Cody Alicea received an apology from the School District.

According to a local news report, Cody was notified by a school official that the flag shouldn’t be on his bike at school as it is offensive to other students.

What is going on in this country? This is not the first time we've heard this. When has the U.S. Flag become offensive? When conservatives say things like "let's take back our country," it's because of left-wing loons who are in our school systems, teaching left-wing ideology.

But a community of Americans won this battle:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Rangel walks out during ethics hearing

(Update for Nov 16, 2010: Rangel was convicted on 11 counts of ethics violations by a House subcommittee, though it is doubtful he will be expelled.)

I think it's time to make our politicians follow the same laws we have to.

From the New York Times:

The public ethics trial of Representative Charles B. Rangel, Democrat of New York, on 13 charges of unethical behavior took a stunning turn Monday morning when Mr. Rangel walked out of the hearing 40 minutes after it began, complaining that it would be unfair to continue the process because he could no longer afford a lawyer.

But the hearing continued without him.

And Rangel got nearly 80 percent of the vote in the last election. One might claim a rasicist slant to to this, since the demographics of his district is largely black, but so was his Republican opponent. I guess the people of Harlem and surrounding neighborhoods like Charlie, even if he is corrupt. It's interesting -- and sad -- how people will vote for their party regardless of the candidate. I suppose that happens on both sides. bottom line: We get the government we vote for...

Hat tip: American Power

Obama: Didn't get cooperation from Republicans

According to the Washington Post today, Obama made this statement on 60 Minutes:

Obama has criticized Republicans in Congress for not working with him, but framed that in a personal way, saying on "60 Minutes" that "I couldn't get the kind of cooperation from Republicans that I'd hoped for."
What Obama means is that the Rebuplicans wouldn't fall into step to support programs that just won't cut it. And he spurned their ideas at every turn.

Bill Clinton used to talk to Republican leaders daily. It took Obama 18 months to talk face-to-face with the house minority leader.

Obama really doesn't want Rebublican support or ideas. He'd rather they go away and shut up. But that's not how our system works.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Factcheck.org: Pelosi, Obama overstate their case

Two days ago, I posted an article about Nancy Pelosi and her outrageous claims of accomplishments. Today, Factcheck.org released a similar article, which came to the same conclusion I did.

Here's what Pelosi said in a USA Today article:

We achieved more progress over the last four years for our veterans and military families than any time since the passage of the original GI Bill in 1944. And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.
Here's what Factcheck.org had to say:

The fact is the federal government ended fiscal year 2009 with a $1.4 trillion deficit — the highest deficit as a share of the gross domestic product since 1945. And it only dipped slightly to $1.3 trillion in the fiscal year that just ended on Sept. 30.

It is true that Congress restored the pay-as-you-go rule, which requires new spending in certain cases to be offset with new revenue or spending reductions elsewhere. The House adopted a PAYGO rule in 2007, and it became the "law of the land" in 2010 legislation. But the new PAYGO law was part of a larger bill that raised the debt limit by $1.9 trillion — a fact the speaker doesn’t mention.

President Barack Obama signed the PAYGO bill into law on Feb. 12, and it was promptly ignored. The PAYGO law was waived less than two weeks later on Feb. 24, when the Senate voted for $15 billion job creation bill.
Obama also chimed in on his greatness during an interview with 60 Minutes:

We’ve probably done more than any administration over the last 20, 30 years when it comes to increasing veteran spending. Because we’ve got over a million folks who’ve served in Iraq and Afghanistan who’ve come back with post-traumatic stress disorder you know, traumatic brain injury.

Factcheck.org came up with a different set of facts, as I did earlier this week.
That was true last year, but only in terms of raw dollars. Bigger percentage increases took place under Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush.
Final spending figures for fiscal year 2010 (which ended Sept. 30) show that total spending on all "veterans’ benefits and services" reached $108 billion, an increase of $13 billion over the previous year. That’s the largest one-year increase in that category on record, according to official historical budget figures.

But in percentage terms, the increase amounted to 13.6 percent. And the fact is, spending on this category increased 112 percent during the eight fiscal years for which Bush signed the spending bills, and there were bigger one-year increases in fiscal years 2005 (17.4 percent) and 2008 (16.3 percent).
An oh, let's not ignore his statement about there being over a million "folks" with traumatic brain injury. Hard to believe someone with a Harvard degree would say that. I think I know what he was trying to say, but it didn't come out right. And some people call George Bush a dumb-ass. Hey, Obama, ah, ah, ah, was your teleprompter broken?

Spin it anyway you want, and you are entitled to your own ideas and opinions, but not to your own set of facts. SO QUIT LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE!!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veteran's Day 2010

Our version of democracy is a noisy system, mostly because of our Constitution and our freedom of speech. We still have it, and a large group of men and women made many sacrifices -- some the ultimate sacrifice -- so that we can keep our freedoms.

Nancy Pelosi and politics

She claims the Democrats put the American people ahead of politics. But she is definitely playing politics. Her article in USA Today (see my post from Nov 10) was more of a campaign message for minority whip.

But she didn't expect to lose her Speaker job, even as late as Nov. 2. Or did she?

"The early returns show so far that a number of Democrats are coming out and we are on pace to maintain the majority in the House of Representatives," said Pelosi.

The speaker does not expect to lose her job and says that this election is going to be decided by the people. "This election will not be determined by the pundits or it won't be determined by a few precincts in the East, it's an election that will take place all across America and we are very proud of it."
But the history books have been written, and she is wrong again.

One note on the map: I believe the author left a couple of blue districts red, but in some cases, the results still haven't been determined. But the map, in general, does illustrate the historic election of 2010.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nancy: Do you know when to shut up?

Nancy Pelosi is at it again. She is so proud of her accomplishments over the last four years. She even had a party this week to celebrate. Such a productive Congress it was. Especially if you count the pages of legislation that had to be passed so we, the common people, could know what was in it.

In USA Today, Pelosi states:
President Obama and this Congress were job creators from Day One, saving the country from the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression. The Recovery Act created or saved more than 3 million jobs, and America is moving forward. October marks the 10th straight month of private sector job growth.
What's Obama got to do with this? Nancy, you and your henchmen (henchpeople?) wrote all the legislation. Obama just sat back, played some golf, and watched from afar.

She also claims that they were job creators from Day One (why the capitals? I guess this was the very beginning of all things.) and did you know that the Recovery Act created or saved more than 3 million jobs? Really? This is no longer believable, but I guess like all politicians, if they say it enough, they think us dunderheads will believe it. Well, I don't.

From Oct 2009 through Oct 2010, total nonfarm employment, according to the BLS, increased about 800,000, but the unemployment rate has stayed in the high 9s and the level of first-time jobless claims has remained stubbornly high. So the RA saved 2.2 million jobs? Prove it. I don't believe you. Besides, why would anyone spend $800 billion to save 2.2 million jobs? The private sector could have done this much better, but you took $800 billion out of the economy for your pet projects.

The RA (which has turned out be a Rheumatoid Arthritis for the nation) was supposed to limit the unemployment rate to under 8 percent. We know how that worked out.

She continues:
Our Democratic members took tough votes to support America's working families, putting the American people before politics and thinking of the next generation, not the next election.
Tough votes? You had super majorities, yet you still had to work very hard to get enough votes to pass your B.S. Nancy, everything you do is about politics. You could care less about the American people. Thinking of the next generation? Why did you add $5 trillion in debt?

Pelosi focused on seizing 17 percent of our economy by passing ObamaCare at a time when Americans were struggling to find jobs, buy food and pay rent. Rather than focusing on America, she pushed for her own personal achievement – government healthcare. Not only do Americans not believe in her core values – the government takeover of a private industry – but her timing couldn’t have been worse.

She says: "Our small business bill is now extending credit to small business owners so they can grow and hire." Nancy, small business won't hire if there isn't more demand. The demand for their products and services must grow, or at least forecast to grow, before they'll borrow money. A small business isn't like the federal government where -- as Joe put it -- you have to spend more money to get out of debt.

Here's another one, and I'll leave it at this, but the whole article smells of tripe:
We achieved more progress over the last four years for our veterans and military families than any time since the passage of the original GI Bill in 1944. And we did all of this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress by making the pay-as-you-go rules the law of the land.
Did you hear my jaw drop to the floor? I'm a veteran, so I know that you can't compare what you have done now with the GI Bill in 1944. Completely absurd. Want to really help veterans? Quit tying our health insurance to Medicare reimbursement rates.

And you did all this while restoring fiscal discipline to the Congress. How nice. The deficit in October 2010 (and that's all yours, baby) was just over $180 billion (annualized rate of nearly $1.7 TRILLION). You call that pay-as-you-go? Was this after or before you racked up $5 trillion in extra debt.

Anyone who believes this woman is either just plain stupid, delusional or ignorant. I guess we now know that makes up an unbelievalbe 80 percent of her constituents in San Francisco.

Nancy Pelosi "represents" the 8th Congressional District in California.

Raise of hands: Do you believe the CIA?

Raise your hand if you believe the CIA did a good job of collecting and analyzing intelligence leading up to the Iraq war in 2003?

Now I need to see a raise of hands for those of you who believe the CIA's latest data on health care are also accurate.

So where am I going with this? Take your typical non-thinking citizen who blames the CIA on bad intel before 2003, yet believes the data collected by the CIA about world health care are accurate. Just because Cuba says it has a certain infant mortality rate, and the CIA reports it, it must be true.

Your typical non-thinker will not see this as anything to worry about. The CIA -- if it must exist at all -- must have lied about what it knew in 2003, but would never screw up "facts" that support the desire for universal health care, if such a utopian system can even exist in the real world.

Well, Richard Cohen, one of the world's biggest idiots (how does this guy actually get his stuff published?), relies on the CIA data. It must be friggen' true, since it backs up his belief system that the U.S. has one of the world's worst health care systems in world.

According to the CIA, our system -- in some categories -- is no better than Cuba's. And of course Europe is where it's at, dude.

For statistical refutation, we need only refer to the CIA's World Factbook (no lefty think tank, to be sure) and check the health statistics. The United States is 49th in life expectancy. Our proud nation bests the Libyans in this category but not Japan, France, Spain, the United Kingdom and, of course, Italy. You not only live about two years longer in Italy, but you eat better, too.
That's where I'd end my research. If the CIA says it's so, it must be so. Richard, you do realize that most of that data is self-reported? That very little critical analysis goes into that fact book? That the GOP is not really babbling total nonsense about health care when some of its members say that we have one of the best health care systems in the world?

But in the mind of a liberal, facts are bent to support a mythical world view.

Keep up the good fight, is my advice to all you thinkers out there who value intellectual honesty. We are winning.

In the meantime, I'd like to know how many people travel to Cuba for health care? Or even Italy? Do you know why Italians spend less on heath care? Want to eat while in the hospital? Then mama needs to bring you a meal, 'cause the hospital ain't going to do it. Just one small example.

Next time I need surgery, I'll be in Roma, man...

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Kieth Olbermann: the least of the least

At least FoxNews admits it's conservative. Try getting anyone over at MSNBC to admit they're liberal (so far left in my opinion that every commentary oozes with arrogance and condescension).

The image below is in honor of Kieth Olbermann, critic of anything Republican and/or conservative, who was "suspended indefinitely" for making political contributions -- against network policy -- to Democrat candidates. Oops.

Well, in this case, "suspended indefinitely" meant only two days.

Remember when Olbermann was foaming at the mouth because the owner of FoxNews contributed money to Republican candidates. While the amounts may be different, the principle is the same.

But Olbermann is the hypocrite in this case.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Not sure the democrats get it, yet

The Associated Press is reporting on a 60 Minutes interview with President Obama:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is acknowledging in the wake of this week's election rout that he hasn't been able to successfully promote his economic-rescue message to anxious Americans.
Sorry, "dude," but we got your message and rejected your plan. How come you can't see that yet?

The story continues:

Obama also said he recognizes now that "leadership is not just legislation," and that "it's a matter of persuading people. And giving them confidence and bringing them together. And setting a tone. And making an argument that people can understand."
Oh my. Yes, we do understand. Can you understand us? I'm not sure.
It is going to be an interesting two years.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Election results speak for themselves

As expected, the Republicans took control of the House. The graphic below pretty much sums up the mood of voters. But the Democrats, as of Wednesday morning, kept control of the Senate, but with only a one seat margin.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the next 60 days, before the new Congress convenes.