Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Cover-Up?

What's Bush hiding here? And considering how P-Oed everyone is about all this bailout nonsense, why aren't more people interested in getting this information? Once again, MSM asleep at the wheel. Do the reporter's for the MSM actually DO any actual investigating? Ever?

Fox Business Network suing Treasury
Seeking bailout documents under FOIA
By Paul J. Gough
Dec 18, 2008, 05:45 PM ET
NEW YORK -- The Fox Business Network is suing the U.S. Treasury Department in federal court under the Freedom of Information Act after the Bush administration failed to hand over details about the bailout.Fox Business Network said that the Treasury Department ignored two separate requests on what it calls "actual data" on the bailouts of American International Group and Citigroup as well as the role of Bank of New York Mellon in the government-funded bailout. Bank of New York Mellon was named the custodial firm to oversee the bailout.The data included the assets that were purchased, collateral and restrictions. But Steven Mintz of Mintz & Gold, who is representing the network, said FBN journalists have received nothing more than a form letter in response."The American public is entitled to know that information and what we'd like to get them (the Treasury Department) responding to it," Mintz said.A U.S. Freedom of Information Act request was made Nov. 25 involving AIG. A separate request Dec. 1 had to do with Citigroup."We never received a substantive response," Mintz said. "The deadlines have passed." The lawsuit is being filed in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington.On air, FBN had been threatening that they would take the Treasury Department to court. The case has been assigned to federal judge Richard J. Holwell, himself a Bush administration appointee. There is no court date set.The Treasury Department didn't return a phone call seeking comment. Mintz said that the Treasury Department would be served with the papers within a day or so.

Ode to 2008

A variation on "My Favorite Things"....

Patriots blow a SO perfect season
Real estate markets collapse for some reason
Fannie and Freddie and Barney and Dodd
Madoff's exposed as a rob-the-rich fraud

McCain and Obama run a strange race
Media bias a slap in the face
Caribou Barbie riles up the crowds
Wright hates the US and yells it out loud

Terrorists, Pirates, and Hurricane Ike
Joe asks Barack all about his tax hike
Iran's getting Nukes and Putin's real cranky
Edwards the Hypocrite likes hanky-panky

Meltdown on Wall Street, $700 billion bailouts
Bush and Congress, OMG they're such sell-outs!
Mumbai and Plaxico, where does it end
Dems are UAW's very best friend

GM and Chrysler and Ford all with their hands out
Blagojevich puts Senate-For-Sale out
Gas and oil prices go through the roof
Kenyan Obama won't show us the proof

When I watch stocks fall, and more bailouts,
and I'm feeling mad
I simply remember I'm not going insane
And then I don't feel so bad.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

It's About Time

The Republicans are finally getting the message that the taxpayers are furious at the exhorbitant sums of money being thrown about on the hill. In Bloomberg today, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he wants to slow consideration of the economic stimulus package Democrats are drafting, warning that the measure sought by President-elect Barack Obama invites wasteful spending.

" “A trillion-dollar spending bill would be the largest spending bill in the history of our country at a time when our national debt is already the largest in history,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, said in a statement. “As a result, it will require tough scrutiny and oversight. Taxpayers, already stretched to the limit, deserve nothing less.”
McConnell called for giving lawmakers and the public at least one week to review the legislation once it has been written. He also said he wanted Senate committee hearings on the measure, rather than immediate floor consideration.

“We must make distinctions between what is ‘stimulus’ -- defined by Speaker Pelosi earlier this year as ‘timely, targeted and temporary’ -- and what is merely more government spending on favored projects we don’t need with money we don’t have,” McConnell said.

House Republican leader John Boehner of Ohio said today he has reservations about the size of the plan. He also called for hearings on it and at least a week of publicly available text for taxpayers to review. In the House the minority party doesn’t have as much power as in the Senate to stall legislation. "

Let's hope that the small band of fiscally conservative legislators can force some prudent thought about how our money will be allocated onto the rest of the slap-happy spenders.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Shot in the Rear

Americans are not prepared for the necessary pain of withdrawal from the virtual reality lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. But unless a full catharsis is allowed to take place, all of the government intervention of propping up failed companies and failed individuals will result in nothing more than rebuilding a house of cards. The pain has to come. Does Obama get this, and will he act in the best interest of the nation, or with 2012 on his mind? I think that answer is clear. We've either got to take a quick painful shot in the rear, or hold off until we need extensive surgery and a long, painful recovery. As much as I hate needles, I opt for the shot.

This op-ed from WSJ lays it out ever so clearly.
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123033898448336541.html

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Rebooting America

In his NYT op-ed column today, Thomas Friedman discusses the need for America to "reboot"and renew it's focus on core infrastructure improvement and utilization of 21st century technologies, education, and innovation. Mr. Friedman opines about the fabulous airport, trains, and wireless services in Hong Kong as compared to that which is available in New York. While I agree with Mr. Friedman's vision for a new America, the problem will be the manner in which the new government coming in next month will attempt to reboot the country.

Instead of capitalizing on the great innovative enterprise of its citizens by offering creative tax incentives and then getting out of the way, our government will no doubt take the polar opposite approach. Obamalamadingdong and the doowops in Congress will continue to spend vasts amounts of money creating new entitlements and propping up failed businesses and unions, none of which creates jobs or provides the necessary incentives for American ingenuity to thrive. Enabling the destructive behavior which has gotten us to this point is a surefire way to prolong the problem. Consumers have started the painful withdrawal from living above their means on credit they cannot afford. Most businesses have cut out any remaining fat in their budgets. Government at all levels needs to do the same, and quit reckless spending and rewarding failure. As painful as it may be, we've got to hit bottom before we can build again. Otherwise we'll be rebuilding on a pile of sand. Government doesn't need to reboot. It needs a boot in the ass.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Moving House and Such

I apologize for the dearth of new posts whilst I am in the midst of our house move. Clearly moving is not something recommended during the Christmas season, but sometimes choices are limited and we must work with what we are given. There are so many issues which I have been dying to write about: Bush's bailout of the automakers (how dare he?), Caroline Kennedy's run for the Senate (isn't the inherited passing of power something we attempted to rid ourselves of with the American Revolution?), Bubba of Arabia, Frankenstein steals the Senate, and so much more. Painting, cleaning, hanging pictures, and more cleaning will eventually become less restrictive of my time and I promise to come back with more prescient viewpoints than ever.

Until then, wishing you a Happy Hannukah and a very Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our First Socialist President

It's 2016. The Presidential election is coming up and the talking heads, economists, and political analysts write books and chatter on tv about the great socialist expansion of the United States of America. Industries have been nationalized, and the country carries a dangerous amount of debt, much of it held by the other major global power, China. But the focus is not on Obama. It is on our 43rd President, George W. Bush.

In recent months, Bush has presided over the largest expansion of government into private industry in the history of America. We are all acutely aware of his and the Congress' penchant for spending; the deficit has spiraled upwards during his presidency, throwing out all of the old ideals of Republican fiscal restraint. But this latest intrusion of government into having a stake in so many private industries is not just another spending bender. It sets a new precedent for the nationalization of any industry the government deems necessary. In a capitalist society, this has downright ruinous implications for our future.

Capitalism thrives on free markets in which there is inherent risk and reward. The higher the risk, the higher the chance for great reward. Many innovators fail, but for the chance at grabbing the brass ring, many entreprenuers continue to strive, sometimes at great peril to their financial and personal circumstances. In a country where the government swoops in and artificially props up certain businesses and prices at taxpayer expense, risk and reward are diminished. There is only so much money the taxpayers can reasonably afford before the incentive to work harder is thwarted. And because innovators in a government funded environment cannot expect great reward, there is less incentive to go above and beyond to create that new world changing technology. If, for example, the new technology creates a life saving medicine, and government runs healthcare, there will either be price controls placed on the drug or it will be rationed to keep expenses down. The end result is less innovation, and a slower growing economy. Without new ideas and creation, the pie never grows. In countries in which government does not allow businesses to fail, taxpayers shoulder the greatest burdens, and risk and reward are mimimized, the same old worn out pieces of the pie are just shuffled around again and again.

I cannot imagine why George Bush believes this is the best road for our country to take. Perhaps he does not understand the ramifications, particularly with the looming inauguration of a President who believes down to his core that this is the direction our country should take. Perhaps he does not want the failure of so many huge businesses tarnishing his legacy. But in reality, Bush is doing the most damage to his legacy with these very actions. He is setting us about on a dangerous path, making it easier for Obama to come in and finish the job, all under the auspices of a national emergency. When we look back in 2016, we'll wonder how our country changed so fundamentally, so quickly, and with nary a peep from we the people.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Is Rahmbo in Trouble?

The Chicago Sun Times caught up with Emanuel Rahmuel at city hall this morning, where he was reportedly to watch his kids in a music performance. When the reporter from the Sun Times asked Rahm if he was the Obama advisor named in the criminal complaint against Governor Bleep-ovich, who had a two hour conference call on November 11th to discuss the Gov's expectations for payoffs for Obama's Senate Seat, Rahm refused to answer.

Blagojevch was caught on tape saying that he wanted the Obama advisor in question to know what Blagojevich wanted in exchange for the Jarrett appointment.
Blagojevich said, “He asks me for the fifth CD thing, I want it to be in his head.” Emanuel represents the 5th Congressional District in Illinois.

Obama is learning firsthand that when you hone your political skills in a snake pit, eventually one of them is going to rise up and bite you in the ass.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

What If...

Headlines scream of looming deficits and ongoing, seemingly never ending new stimulus programs proposed and dreamed up by the Democrats in their quest to nationalize every industry in the USA, and I wonder what the consequences will be. What will the USA look like when my kids are adults? What kind of tax burdens will they shoulder in order to ensure that everyone gets their "fair share", with no regard to their contribution to society? Will they ever know of the opportunities to attain prosperity for which America has been known for 200 years? Or will their efforts be for naught in a country which will eagerly strip them of their earnings should they desire to go above and beyond to educate themselves, work harder, and provide more for their own families?

If indeed the USA of tomorrow looks more like the France or Denmark of today, (minus the beautifully preserved historic cities and towns), then would I, or my children choose to live here? What other options exist for a fruitful existence based on one's personal responsibility and desire to achieve, to reach farther down into the human spirit to create, to strive, to provide a better life for one's family? What if huge numbers of educated people with a strong work ethic got so fed up that they just....left? Went to Mexico or Tazmania or Kenya or wherever to start a new life? Doctors, lawyers, accountants, teachers, engineers, computer geeks, scientists, entreprenuers, manufacturers. For a moment, forget the issues related to visas and attaining citizenship and whatnot. Just imagine a mass of the (relatively) richest, most educated, and entreprenuerial people on the planet moving to some other place to start a new life, based on the principles espoused by the America they once knew. The America which rewarded creativity and work ethic and education and risk taking rather than rewarding only abject failure. The kind of America our ancestors left their homelands for in search of opportunity. Would a developing country willingly throw this great human capital away? Perhaps some would welcome their traditional American can-do spirit and allow them to create an existence which would better the lives of all. Without having to own them all.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

One of the comments I received on my last blog post suggested that I list the links to our government leaders on the blog. I thought that was a superb idea, and now you can easily access your US Congressman or Woman and your Senators by clicking on the links to the right. We can complain all we want about how inept, corrupt, or out of touch our leaders may be, but unless we make our opinions known to them, nothing will change. Thus I urge you to contact your government leaders as often as you feel necessary and Let Your Voice Be Heard! Do nothing and you will change nothing.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I've Been Thinking

As I watch and read about Congress grilling the CEO's of the Big Three Automakers, some questions keep popping into my mind.

1) The CEO's rightfully took it on the chin for flying to Washington to beg for money in their private corporate jets. They have failing companies, and yet they still flew in those things, which cost $20,000 each for a round trip from Detroit to Washington. The leaders of Congress also have failed miserably in their jobs, and have approval ratings in the toilet. Why doesn't someone grill Nancy Pelosi about her taxpayer funded jumbo jet, which flies her non-stop to California and back every week at an estimated cost of over $5 million per year? Of OUR money? In THIS economy?

2) Barney Frank has also been front and center in the debate about how to spend bailout money. Why doesn't someone ask him about the part he played in the collapse of the economy with his demands to allow non-qualified buyers to buy houses?

3) Chris Dodd is asking for the ouster of failed GM CEO Richard Wagoner as part of the auto bailout deal. Why doesn't somone ask for his ouster for his part in the Fannie and Freddie debacle?

4) Sniveling Senate leader Harry Reid complains about the stinky tourists in Washington. Why doesn't someone ask him to go home where he will not have to put up with the unwashed masses he purports to stand up for?

The outright hypocrisy of our Congressional leaders boggles the mind. They don't even bother to hide it. Do they think that we are really that stupid? Apparently so.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Rhode Island Innovation

I've got to hand it to the big thinkers in Rhode Island. When it comes to taxes, the lawmakers of L'il Rhody are as innovative as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs rolled into one. Clearly, brilliant minds are at work here, spinning out new ideas to chase people and businesses away from the state with a single-minded determination.

This week, a Blue Ribbon Panel pulled together by Governor Carcieri came out with a set of ideas to raise funds for our crumbling roads and bridges. While the Governor hasn't said anything yet, my bet is he's not thrilled with the panel's recommendations. Among the host of new fees and taxes suggested by the panel was a mileage fee, in which RI drivers would be charged a yearly fee for every mile that they drive. It could be half a cent or a cent, so for someone who drives 10,000 miles per year, a one cent fee amounts to a $100. Mileage would be verified during the required annual auto inspections. Other ideas include tolls on I-95 at the Connecticut and Massachusetts borders, increased registration fees, a higher gas tax, and a tax on any petroleum based product, which includes everything from paint to plastics.

With the highest unemployment rate and per person deficit in the country, perhaps the RI Government should put their innovative thinking to work and come up with ways to make the state more attractive to higher wage earners and businesses. I have a funny feeling that the business-as-usual approach of increasing taxes isn't the answer to growing our economy.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Someone to Watch Over Me

Someone at the US Department of Justice seems to really dig my blog. I'm not sure who, but I'm guessing it's the FBI who's been checking in more often than my own mother. While I would like to think that their unfettered loyalty is because of my brilliant commentary, I have a hunch it has to do more with the rather snappy name I chose for the blog. As a firm believer in the right of the government to monitor and wiretap to smoke out potential terrorist activities, I don't find the interest of law enforcement in what I have to write disconcerting. I'm hoping that they are as diligent in locating actual terrorists on the internet, and have the tools and rights necessary to do it.

This brings me to the real point of my concern, which is the nomination of Eric Holder as US Attorney General. Obama sure picked a winner for this post. By now, everyone knows about Holder's role in Clinton's pardon of the biggest tax evader in history, Marc Rich. But Holder also had his hand in pardoning of 16 Puerto Rican terrorists, part of the FALN group, and during his illustrious career represented the sandinistas and many other unsavory characters. Many are greatly concerned that he will make unavailable to law enforcement many of the tools necessary to prevent another 9/11. And good luck to Obama in finding someone to head up the CIA. That person will be a sitting duck for Holder and his mountain of new rules tying the hands of those who seek out terrorists. After 9/11, Holder changed his tune about how to deal with enemy combatants, but in the years since he seems to have gone all soft and fuzzy again. With the recent headlines of the likelihood of a biological attack on US interests by 2013, God help us all if he does not use all the tools available to track down, capture, and interrogate those who would gladly snuff us out. This is no time to play nice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Support the Taxpayer Bailout

Rep. Louis Gohmert, Republican from Texas, has proposed that Paulson use the remaining $350 billion from the $700 Billion TARP for a Taxpayer Holiday, instead of bailing out more failed businesses and Congressional cronies.

If you agree with his proposal, please pass the information along so that citizens may contact their congressional leaders and demand that it's OUR TURN for a bailout. And then be sure to contact your congressmen.

Convert Paulson’s Last $350 Billion
into Tax Holiday, says U.S. Congressman
"Billions of Dollars for Taxpayers, but Not One More Penny for Executive Bailouts"

WASHINGTON, D.C. - As millions of Americans are hoping to maximize their holiday shopping budgets on today's Black Friday bargains, one U.S. Congressman is fighting to prevent more outrageous spending sprees by Washington with taxpayer dollars going to executive cronies.
With $350 billion of the $700 billion bailout still available to Paulson pending Congressional approval, a conservative Texas lawmaker is proposing to put that money towards a tax holiday from both personal income tax and FICA tax for Americans during January and February of 2009.
He stated, "By instating a temporary tax holiday, we could electrify the American economy and provide overwhelming relief to taxpayers, all for less than the cost of the current failed Paulson-Pelosi bailout system."
"We need to give this money to the people who earned it. I am sick of Washington millionaires trying to decide which of their cronies should get the next wad of taxpayer money," Rep. Louie Gohmert continued. "Think about how much you would have if you didn't have any social security or income tax withheld from your pay check, or if you didn't have to pay those taxes for January and February! Americans could take and invest their own money where they believe it should go - to paying down mortgages, buying a new car, making credit card payments. The economy would get relief where it is needed the most. Why try to decide how to prevent foreclosures? Just give taxpayers their own money to catch up on their payments. Those in lower income brackets who are hit the hardest by the FICA tax would see huge money back, and then THEY could choose who should benefit from their hard earned money. Even the self-employed and small business owners would receive a fantastic amount of their own much-needed money, and they will be able to invest that back into their businesses and even create the ability to hire more people.”
Gohmert is currently preparing a bill to declare the tax holiday for January and February of 2009 and is also gathering support at the same time. He said, “We can save more home mortgages, increase employment, and boost economic growth for a lower price tag with this plan than with any centralized bureaucratic program, all by giving the power back to the taxpayers. I am demanding that not another penny goes to executive bailouts, but these billions of taxpayer dollars should go to the taxpayers who earned them."
According to American Solutions, a conservative think tank founded by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Americans pay $101.6 billion per month in personal income tax and $65.6 billion per month in FICA tax. Under Gohmert's proposed plan, all of these taxes would not be paid during January and February of 2009, and the money would stay in the hands of American taxpayers - the ones who best know where economic stimulus should be targeted. Gohmert's two month tax holiday would stimulate the economy while costing less than the remainder of the Paulson-Pelosi bailout plan.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01) has also recently proposed returning all 2008 income taxes to American taxpayers as a solution to boost the ailing economy, as he believes taxpayers, rather than the government, should be using their hard-earned money to choose the economy's winners and losers.
If you'd like to support Rep. Gohmert's plan and tell Congress to put an end to the government's excessive bailouts, sign the online petition at RedState.com by clicking HERE, or paste https://redstate.kimbia.com/taxholiday into your web browser.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Throwing Mud Against the Wall

It appears that nobody has any clue as to whether the billions of dollars spent on easing the financial crisis is working or will work at all. Whilst we put our faith in the masters of the financial universe to turn this Titanic of a crisis around, it seems that they are almost as clueless about what to do to solve the issues at hand as my grandmother residing in her assisted living facility. And forget about Congress. If the A students in finance don't get it, how can we expect the C students with all of their grandstanding and focus on self promotion to get it, or to actually do the right thing?

Today in the NYT an article leads off with "The head of a new Congressional panel set up to monitor the gigantic federal bailout says the government still does not seem to have a coherent strategy for easing the financial crisis, despite the billions it has already spent in that effort.
Elizabeth Warren, the chairwoman of the oversight panel, said in an interview Monday that the government instead seemed to be lurching from one tactic to the next without clarifying how each step fits into an overall plan.
“You can’t just say, ‘Credit isn’t moving through the system,’ ” she said in her first public comments since being named to the panel. “You have to ask why.”"

I previously posted an article which put the number of Fed dollars being used for economic stimulus at $7.4 TRILLION dollars. That's $24,000 per man, woman, and child in this country. Why doesn't anyone answer some basic questions for the taxpayers, instead of just ramming through bailout after bailout with our money? I'd like to know:
1) How much money does the Fed actually have?
2) Where does it come from?
3) Is anyone to be held accountable for this spending spree? I mean REALLY accountable.
4) What are the future ramifications of all this spending? If you are not sure, please provide various scenarios.
5) What if it doesn't work?

I have felt from the beginning of this craziness that in 10 years, analysts will look back at the government reaction to this crisis and conclude that at least half of our money was wasted. Yet we will still be stuck with the bill. When you throw enough mud against the wall, some will inevitably stick, but this particular mud is OUR money and OUR future. I for one would like some explanations.