Friday, November 30, 2012

Contentment personified, much needed

Uff da. Today at work was the day administration announced they were laying off everyone in the cashier and billing departments. NOTE: I'm in collections and the four of us are not affected. But we knew this was coming for a few months now. Their last day is January 31st. I've been through something like this a couple times now since 2008. It is difficult to see 30 some people you mostly care about face an uncertain future. But it is survivable. Been there done that.


I finished KILLING KENNEDY last night. It was a "meh" at best. Absolutely nothing new, nothing worth taking the time to read because it has all been done before in other books. The ending is rushed. Nothing on motivation, who might have been behind it; nothing. But I was amused and disappointed/disgusted at one point: I didn't know that Kennedy had come to Billings in September before he was killed and the authors say of our area "...the majestic Rocky Mountains in the near distance." Obviously, they've never been to nor seen pictures of Billings. We're the beginning of the plains and most people ask where are the mountains.

And just in time to start something new, I picked up a hold at the library on the way home, Michael Connelly's newest, THE BLACK BOX. I'll do a write up tomorrow on it. It's now almost 10pm and I don't want to spend too much more time on the laptop. I also picked up dinner at Red Robin on the way home because I didn't feel like cooking. I had a nummy Cobb salad.

Tomorrow, I need to get some groceries because I REALLY wasn't in the mood to do that after today. Steve is going to work a bit. I do still have many projects I should tackle. I just need to choose one and stick with it.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - November 30, 2012

CA Union Shuts Down America's Largest Ports

California may find itself in a disastrous fiscal situation, but that won’t stop California’s newly-empowered unions from flexing their muscle. In the aftermath of the failure of Proposition 32, which would have prevented public sector unions from funding politicians, the unions are celebrating their confirmed power by striking. The latest strikes started today with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 63, which shut down the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are the busiest ports in the United States.

Even though November traffic remains slow at the ports, that doesn’t mean the economic effect will be mitigated. These ports handle approximately 40% of America’s imports.

Shockingly, the strike doesn’t include dockworkers – it’s just the clerical staff at the union, which has now set up picket lines at the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles. The 50,000-member union supports the strikers; 10,000 dockworkers did refuse to cross the picket lines.

While the unions are shutting down America’s port traffic, they refuse to speak to the media. According to theLos Angeles Times, “The union fell back on a statement released Tuesday evening and had no further comment Wednesday.”

There were no specific demands by the union; their only statement decried “corporate greed and outsourcing.” No wonder so many companies are outsourcing, when unions shut down their ports of entry. The 14 employers negotiating with the unions contend they haven’t outsourced any jobs, and had even proposed “absolute job security” and both wage and pension increases in a rotten economy.
The last lockout of this sort took place in 2002. It cost the economy some $15 billion.

Solar firm that got $26M in Miss. loans is closing

Mississippi taxpayers may have only an empty Senatobia building and some solar panel equipment to show for nearly $26 million in loans provided to Twin Creeks Technologies.

The California-based solar technology firm is liquidating, and a company that bought Twin Creeks' assets does not intend to take over its agreement with Mississippi. The contract called for Twin Creeks to invest at least $132 million and create at least 500 jobs.

The Mississippi Development Authority's Kathy Gelston says officials are negotiating for Twin Creeks to repay aid above the value of the building and equipment.

Lenders sold Twin Creeks' technology for $10 million to GT Advanced Technologies of Nashua, N.H., in mid-November. Gelston says Twin Creeks received about $3 million from the sale, but says there are creditors beyond Mississippi.

Gitmo North returns: Obama’s shady prison deal
by Michelle Malkin

If you thought President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder hadgiven up on closing Guantanamo Bay and bringing jihadists to American soil, think again. Two troubling developments on the Gitmo front should have every American on edge.

The first White House maneuver took place in October, while much of the public and the media were preoccupied with election news. On Oct. 2, Obama’s cash-strapped Illinois pals announced that the federal governmentbought out the Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois for $165 million. According to Watchdog.Org, a recent appraisal put the value of the facility at$220 million.

Democratic Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin led the lobbying campaign for the deal, along with Illinois Democrat Gov. Pat Quinn, who is overseeing an overall $43 billion state budget deficit and scraping for every available penny. The Thomson campus has been an empty Taj Mahal for more than a decade because profligate state officials had no money for operations. Economic development gurus (using the same phony math of federal stimulus peddlers) claim the newly federalized project will bring in $1 billion.

Sen. Durbin told a local Illinois paper that “the decision to move ahead came directly from President Barack Obama” and that he had secured the green light during a discussion on Air Force One earlier in the spring. But this gift to Obama’s Illinois homeboys wasn’t just a run-of-the-mill campaign favor.

Obama’s unilateral and unprecedented decision steamrolled over bipartisan congressional opposition to the purchase. That opposition dates back to 2009, when the White House firstfloated the idea of using Thomson to house jihadi enemy combatants detained in Cuba. As you may recall, the scheme caused a national uproar. Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), chairman of the House appropriations subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department’s budget, blocked the administration from using unspent DOJ funds for the deal. With bipartisan support, Congress passed a law barring the transfer of Gitmo detainees to Thomson or any other civilian prison.

The message was clear: Taxpayers don’t want manipulative Gitmo detainees or their three-ring circuses of transnationalist sympathizers and left-wing lawyers on American soil. Period.

But when this imperial presidency can’t get its way in the court of public opinion, it simply circumvents the deliberative process. As Rep. Wolf noted: The shady deal “directly violates the clear objection of the House Appropriations Committee and goes against the bipartisan objections of members in the House and Senate, who have noted that approving this request would allow Thomson to take precedence over previously funded prisons in Alabama, Mississippi, West Virginia and New Hampshire.”

Obama and his Illinois gang insist that Thomson will not become Gitmo North. But denial is more than a river in the Muslim Brotherhood’s homeland.

The 9/11 Families for a Safe and Secure America, which spearheaded the movement against shipping jihadi detainees to the mainland, exposed the fine print of the Obama DOJ’s deal with the state of Illinois. The purpose of the Thomson facility acquisition, according to the DOJ notice filed in the D.C. courts, included this clause:

“… as well as to provide humane and secure confinement of individuals held under authority of any Act of Congress, and such other persons as in the opinion of the Attorney General of the United States are proper subjects for confinement in such institutions.”

Guess whom that covers? Yup: Gitmo detainees, who are being held under the congressional act known as the Authorization to Use Military Force of 2001.

Now, bear all this is mind as you consider the second and more recent Gitmo gambit. On Wednesday, in response to a whistleblowing report from Fox News homeland security reporter Catherine Herridge, Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) released a General Accounting Office report exploring the feasibility of transferring the Gitmo gang to civilian prisons.

Lo and behold, Feinstein concluded, the report “demonstrates that if the political will exists, we could finally close Guantanamo without imperiling our national security.”

The “political will” does not exist now nor has it ever. But thanks to Obama’s sneaky, back-door misappropriation of government funds to buy Thomson, the feds have exactly what they need to fulfill the progressive-in-chief’s Gitmo closure promise: a shiny, turn-key palace in crony land tailor-made for union workers, lawyers, and terror plotters to call their new home.

When the War on Terror meets the Chicago Way, we all pay.

Obama's opening "fiscal cliff" bid seeks debt limit hike, stimulus
House Republicans said on Thursday that Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, an immediate new round of stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, was likely to meet strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other entitlements,to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer saidthose initial spending cuts might well be outnumbered by upfront spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare…

[T]he details show how far the president is ready to push House Republicans. The upfront tax increases in the proposal go beyond what Senate Democrats were able to pass earlier this year. Tax rates would go up for higher-income earners, as in the Senate bill, but Mr. Obama wants their dividends to be taxed as ordinary income,something the Senate did not approve. He also wants the estate tax to be levied at 45 percent on inheritances over $3.5 million,a step several Democratic senators balked at. The Senate bill made no changes to the estate tax, which currently taxes inheritances over $5 million at 35 percent.

Krauthammer On Fiscal Cliff Negotiations: "Republicans Ought To Simply Walk Away"

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: It's not just a bad deal, this is really an insulting deal. What Geithner offered, what you showed on the screen, Robert E. Lee was offered easier terms at Appomattox, and he lost the Civil War. The Democrats won by 3% of the vote and they did not hold the House, Republicans won the house. So this is not exactly unconditional surrender, but that is what the administration is asking of the Republicans.

This idea -- there are not only no cuts in this, there's an increase in spending with a new stimulus. I mean, this is almost unheard of. What do they expect? They obviously expect the Republicans will cave on everything. I think the Republicans ought to simply walk away. The president is the president. He's the leader. They are demanding that the Republicans explain all the cuts that they want to make.

We had that movie a year-and-a-half ago where Paul Ryan presented a budget, a serious real budget with real cuts. Obama was supposed to gave speech where he would respond with a counter offer. And what did he do? He gave a speech where he had Ryan sitting in the front row. He called the Ryan proposal un-American, insulted him, offered nothing, and ran on Mediscare in the next 18 months.

And they expect the Republicans are going to do this again? The Republicans are going to walk on this. And I think they have leverage. Yes, for Congressional Democrats it will help them in the future if Republicans absorb the blame because we will have a recession. But Obama is not running again unlike the Congressional Democrats. He's going to have a recession, 9% unemployment, 2 million more unemployed, and a second term that's going to be a ruin. That is not a good proposition if you are Barack Obama.

No Time to Give Up in the Fiscal Fight
By Mark Davis

If I keep reading the advice of those who are saying we should give Barack Obama what he wants, let him take the American economy into the quicksand and make him own it, I am going to be tempted to agree.

So I’m going to stop reading such things.

With respect to those who offer that strategy, it is flawed on multiple levels. It may not work, it would confuse people about what conservatism is and what it does, and it would slam the brakes on our most valuable passion right now-- the desire to save what we can of America during this perilous second Obama term.

So, if you are in the mood, this is a call to battle.

The Obama win and the GOP Senate failures were like a tranquilizer dart to the neck, draining the will of millions of conservatives, and plenty of Republicans in Congress.

But we are starting to slowly awaken, and if we play our cards right, we can stand on core values and still look at ourselves in the mirror, win or lose.

I understand the appeal of an argument that says, “Okay, Mr. President. You won. You want this ship? Steer it into the rocks and we’ll be there to fix it afterward. Maybe then people will hear what we have to say.”

Except maybe they will, maybe they won’t. The notion of the public flocking to Republicans for rescue is a hard sell. Didn’t we kind of think they would do it this year?

Americans generally believe spending is out of control. We did not like the stimulus. We still don’t like Obamacare. November 6 was the perfect opportunity to turn to Republicans for relief from all three headaches.

It didn’t happen.

So now we think we’ll enjoy a popularity burst for throwing up our hands when the going gets tough?

And here’s the tricky thing: what if we let the Obama agenda roll and the expected disasters do not exactly happen?

Make no mistake, I know this second term is the worst news our economy could get. We should not be surprised to see America swirl even more deeply into the fiscal toilet.

But what if our system displays its occasional pesky resilience, and unemployment stays right where it is, or maybe only a tick or two worse? What if the stock market goes up another 3000 points by the 2014 elections? Markets rebounded strongly in 2009 and 2010 even as the fangs of Obama’s policies sank in.

Welcome to the worst conservative nightmare-- an American economy spunky enough to strain against the shackles of Obama, managing a glimmer of health just barely sufficient to fend off the stain of failure we would need for this grand experiment in surrender to succeed.

So as attractive as it sounds to abandon the post-election battlefield so that Obama can “own” the result, the risks are unacceptable.

That would seem highly unlikely. Still high on the adrenaline buzz of an election that seemed to smile on their big-government aspirations, Democrats are not in the mood to make deals.

Fine. Then let them be judged by that.

I know the media will paint any dark result as the fault of Republicans. Let them. It is time to stop worrying what the media say or how young and non-white voters might recoil at first.

We must do the right thing and let the chips fall where they may. Only then can we go to those
voters we so deeply want to attract and say that we did it for them. They may not have appreciated it, but when we refused to let spending get even more obscene, we said no, and we did it for all Americans.

When we say no to further milking of top earners, we do it not to protect the Bentleys in their garages, but to protect the jobs they create with the money we let them keep.

Republicans lost in 2012 because we did a poor job of teaching voters why we are right. We are up against growing generations of people who are not learning life lessons from intact families instilling virtues of work and self-reliance. They are learning from government schools, liberal colleges and a twisted popular culture.

We will not deserve their attention if we have to explain how we gave up the fight in 2012 because the fight got hard. We will not deserve their respect if we fold our arms in a petulant tantrum and dare the Democrats to ruin the country so we can score an I told you so.

With Democrat heels dug in, the only common ground will be found when Republicans cave on core principles.

So let’s refuse to do that. This is not the last so-called fiscal cliff we will face. The second Obama term will feature deadline after deadline and crisis after crisis, all accompanied by Democrats and the media condemning us for our our refusal to give in to ideas that will only worsen the economy.

The first step toward earning public trust is to lead by example, even when the march is hard. It does not get much harder than right now. But wherever events lead, I want a Republican party that faces voters in 2014 toughened by fighting the good fight, proud of the stands we took, unwilling to buckle for political expediency but always ready to work with anyone who wants to work with us.

More Evidence the Government is Running a Giant Ponzi Scheme

The U.S. birth rate just hit a new low which has liberal media outlets likeNPR pointing out that Medicare and Social Security are in trouble as a result. Why? Because the program isn't being paid for with money former workers put into the system, that's already been spent by the government, but by young people currently working.

The U.S. birth rate hit an all-time low last year, according to a report from the Pew Research Center — just 63 births per 1000 women of childbearing age.

This is a problem. Not just because there is less chubby-cuteness in the country. But also, as I reported earlier this month, fewer babies now means fewer working-age people a couple decades from now. And that means fewer workers helping to pay for programs like Medicare and Social Security that support the elderly.

This is the government's definition of aPonzi Scheme:

What is a Ponzi scheme?

A Ponzi scheme is an investment fraud that involves the payment of purported returns to existing investors from funds contributed by new investors. Ponzi scheme organizers often solicit new investors by promising to invest funds in opportunities claimed to generate high returns with little or no risk. In many Ponzi schemes, the fraudsters focus on attracting new money to make promised payments to earlier-stage investors and to use for personal expenses, instead of engaging in any legitimate investment activity.

Why do Ponzi schemes collapse?

With little or no legitimate earnings, the schemes require a consistent flow of money from new investors to continue. Ponzi schemes tend to collapse when it becomes difficult to recruit new investors or when a large number of investors ask to cash out.

Naturally because new workers (declining in number) are paying for the benefits of retirees, the system is going to collapse. The original intentions of Social Security and Medicare were to take money out of people's paychecks and "save" it for them until retirement. Today that isn't the case and younger generations are shouldering the burden of the government's poor decisions and actions to spend Social Security and Medicare money on other things.

Do You Secretly Hate The Rich?

We’re all just wasting our time until we finally work up the “politically incorrect” courage to say that economic bigotry isn’t something we should tolerate from anyone, whether they’re conservative, liberal, libertarian, or anything else. Economic bigotry is so common, it’s seeped into the rhetoric
even of the capitalists who supposedly embrace every economic “class”.

So what is an “economic bigot”? Anyone who thinks it’s fine to steal from the rich but not the middle class. Anyone who thinks the rich should pay a higher rate of taxes than anyone else. Anyone who thinks that “middle class” is somehow a better background than “rich parents”.

Screw that. It’s disgusting, it’s weird, and it’s based on the new infatuation of people to obsess over bending over backwards so the most radical leftists will possibly be more “open” our view. It’s so common and “normal” now that it’s getting difficult for us to even see it happen. Look at any “fire them up” speech, and you’ll see the “middle class” glorified and the “upper class” ignored — at best.

It’s fine that the rich get richer with capitalism. That’s awesome. It’s wonderful. It’s also good because other people also are better off. Everyone sees their incomes go up. Everyone. Because remember, whatever is good for the middle class is going to be good for the poor and the rich as well. And that’s GOOD. Being in one income group doesn’t mean you have extra rights. It doesn’t mean you’re more important. That’s absurd.

That’s why we shouldn’t focus only on rhetoric of “well, we need more middle class jobs!” It’s not necessary and it creates invisible “class warfare” narratives in the minds of the listener.

So here’s to capitalism, to EVERYONE it helps, which includes the people with the huge houses, the expensive private schools, the private jets, and the luxurious lifestyles we’re trained to hate — because they have identical natural rights as anyone else.

By playing along with the Marxist word games, we’re just selling the socialists the rope they plan on hanging us with.

So next time someone says something negative about someone because their parents were successful, or they have millions of dollars they can spend on anything they want, or they have a car that is as expensive as some houses, just look them in the eye and say, “I know, isn’t that great? It should be more common.”

Down with every ounce of Marxism, whether in policy or rhetoric. If we don’t stop caving to every new angle of the left, we’re just wasting our time.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Reason # 11 why I have dogs

I'm glad to say that Steve went home after an hour at work because he wasn't feeling well. This is a minor miracle. So he napped and walked the dogs. Fantastic!

Tonight we'll have dinner in front the tv per usual and then I may either read -- because I'd like to finish this Kennedy book -- or jump on the office computer.

I'm very glad tomorrow is Friday. I'm hoping it will go quickly and easily. I had a guy on the phone today tell me while he was complaining about the service he received at the ER that he wasn't a doctor but he had read a lot. Riiiiight. I wasn't quick enough to think of saying "...but you stayed at a Holiday Inn?" or "... but you've watched a lot of TV?" Ah, missed opportunities.

Dinner is about ready. The boys have been fed and are dozing for their evening nap before bedtime.

Have a lovely evening

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - November 29, 2012

The Limits of Liberal "Tolerance"

Hey, it was A-OK for the National Endowment for the Arts to fund the infamous Andres Serrano "Piss Christ." Submerging a representation of the Messiah in a jar of excrement and then taking a picture of it is "art," and museums have anobligation to "challenge the public," you see.

But don't dare eventhink about placing a representation of theObamessiah in a jar of beer, calling to mind that famous piece of "art" -- because then guys like Michael Moore will get all "wee wee'd
up" (in thePresident's memorable formulation in another context). Avert your eyes, America,


It's courtesy of Glenn Beck (and it's actually beer) -- produced, unlike "Piss Christ," without a cent of your tax money.

Michael Moore is horrified!
And I thought the conservatives were supposed to be the prudish philistines! After all, opponents of the Serrano "art" (and taxpayer funding of it) were condemned and compared to Nazis in the august pages of The New York Times. No doubt the Times will be rushing to defend Mr. Beck's free speech rights, as well.
Frankly, I find both "Piss Christ" and the piece above inelegant and debased. But obviously, Glenn Beck created itto make the point that many on the left who would insist that "Piss Christ" is "art" will take offense at the disrespectful treatment of their idol. And Michael Moore helped him make his point pretty well.
If nation goes over fiscal cliff, Obama will be sunning himself in HawaiiThe Hawaii Reporter says the 20 day trip will cost taxpayers $4 million.
But that's a small price to pay for our Dear Leader's comfort.
President Obama is reportedly scheduled to be vacationing in Hawaii on January 2, the date billions in spending cuts - and untold consequences for the economy - will kick in if a deal is not reached on the "fiscal cliff."
According tothe Hawaii Reporter, residents who live in the area of Oahu where Obama and his family vacation have been told that the usual restrictions on their movements during an Obama stay will be in place for 21 days, from December 17 through January 6.
The White House has not officially announced the vacation, and it is unclear if the travelplans are finalized or if the Obamas will be in Hawaii for the entire three-week window covered by the restrictions.
An upcoming vacation could provide subtle pressure for Obama to reach a deal, since not getting one might force him to cancel his coveted time in Hawaii. Even though the election is behind him, Obama's advisers would probably think it too much of a public relations nightmare to have the president luxuriating in paradise while the country embarks on a season of massive pain.
In the past, Obama has made sure he got his vacation time in - even extending his scheduled Hawaii sojourn after being forced to delay its start because of negotiations with Congress.
more, the Obamas skipped their traditional August trip to ritzy Martha's Vineyard, an excursion that would have contrasted too severely with a candidate supposedly fighting for the middle class. They presumably are more than eager at this point to get away.
There is serious doubt that Congress can get a deal done before the first of the year. That means that just about the time that tens of thousands are getting pink slips due to budget cuts, and milllions will be seeing a smallerpaycheck. the president will be showing off his impressive pecs to reporters on some pristine beach owned by a rich guy who supported him.
Good to know our president cares so much about the little guy.

The Governing Class and the Decline of America

BySteve McCann

The United States will not reverse its descent into the abyss of financial and  until the current political and governing establishment is replaced. That will not happen until the American people, who have been deliberately ill-educated and deceived, experience first-hand the early stages of the turmoil and suffering extant in Europe and elsewhere.
While professing to care for the interests of the average person, the underlying motivation for the vast majority of the governing class or Establishment is first and foremost self-aggrandizement and the acquisition of wealth. While a few may be motivated by ideology, the preponderance are not.
There are no offices on Connecticut Avenue in Washington D.C. with signs reading "The Republican Establishment" or the "The Democratic Establishment"; rather it is an amalgam of like-minded groups with one common interest: the control of the government purse-strings and the attendant power contained within.
The Republican and Democratic political establishments are made up of the following:
1) many current and nearly all retired national office holders whose livelihood and narcissistic demands depends upon fealty to Party and access to government largesse;
2) the majority of the media elite, including pundits, editors, writers and television news personalities based in Washington and New York whose proximity to power and access is vital to their continued standard of living;
3) academia, numerous think-tanks, so-called non-government organizations, and lobbyists who fasten onto those in the administration and Congress for employment, grants, favorable legislation and ego-gratification;
4) the reliable deep pocket political contributors and political consultants whose future is irrevocably tied to the political machinery of the Party; and
5) the crony capitalists, i.e. leaders of the corporate and financial community as well as unions whose entities are dependent on or subject to government oversight and/or benevolence .
The current iteration of the Democratic establishment was begun during Franklin Roosevelt's 12 years in office as the Party chose tofollow the lead of those such as Benito Mussolini in Italy,who promoted government as the source of all salvation and survival. This philosophy fit in nicely with those whose egos and drive was directed toward the aggregation of power and wealth.
The Republican members of the governing class, with the exception of the presidency of Ronald Reagan and the Republican controlled House of Representatives from 1995 to 1998, have been content since 1946 to merely slow down the big-government policies of the Democrats, while publically decrying their tax and spend policies. However, in truth, many have been comfortable with reaping the financial and ego-gratifying rewards of such indifference.
Since the1950's this overall scenario has been tolerated and generally ignored as the nation was experiencing overwhelming and seemingly endless prosperity. The Democrats, with the tacit consent of the Republican establishment, promoted an ever-increasing litany of government programs to ostensibly help the people, under the rubric that the nation could not only afford it but was, in fact, obligated to guarantee a "decent" standard of living for everyone. Further, in the 1960's the American left, as the Republican establishment turned a blind eye, began to dominate the education agenda. The public's children were no longer taught American history and the importance of individual liberty; instead, the basics of capitalism and wealth creation were demonized. Additionally, the essential characteristic of a flourishing republic -- a society wedded to honor, decency and integrity -- was demeaned and ridiculed.
Thus the citizenry has become more willing to not only vote for whoever promises the most financial security, but they are now easily susceptible to unconscionable demagoguery and are increasingly tolerant of dishonesty as well as unethical behavior. Today, with the advent of welfare, food stamps, near endlessunemployment benefits, free health care (Medicaid), and a myriad of other state and federal programs, the Democrats have succeeded in creating a virtually permanent voting bloc. One the Republican Establishment now claims, if they wish to win future elections, they must pander to as part of a new strategy of inclusion. Yet, by their acquiescence and indifference over the years, they helped create their electoral dilemma.
How have all these promises and deceptions perpetrated on the American people placed the nation's financial future in jeopardy? Since 1956 the United States has seen a phenomenal growth in its Gross Domestic Product from $3,700 Billion (inflation adjusted) to $16,100 Billion (+335%). However, government spending at all levels has grown from $978 Billion (inflation adjusted) to $6,400 Billion (+554%) and the nation's debt, $2,250 Billion in 1956 (inflation adjusted) is now $16,300 Billion (+625%). (source:
As of today, the nation's true indebtedness (promises that have been made for spending obligations, less all the taxes the Treasury expects to collect) exceeds $222,000 Billion. The indebtedness to Gross Domestic Product ($16,100 Billion) is a staggering13.8 to 1. The United States is not facing bankruptcy, itis bankrupt.
Yet there is no sense of urgency or desire on the part of the governing class to level with the American people. This nation is living on the residue of the economic growth begun in the 1950's and accelerated in the 1980's. That tidal wave of prosperity has ebbed. The United States has entered into a death spiral of unrestrained spending, excessive taxation, printing near worthless money, and stagnant economic activity. Rather than be straightforward with the populace, the governing class is content to paper over the problem by the usual shell games of phony long-term spending cuts, more borrowing, and prevarications about the efficacy of raising taxes on "the rich."
The true nature of the GOP establishment's motivation has been exposed by their reaction to the Tea Party movement. This grassroots rebellion was the first manifestation of the awareness by a large portion of the American public of the nation's problems and ultimate consequences. Despite the overwhelming success of the Tea Party working within the Republican Party in the 2010 mid-term elections, nearly all of the Republican elites downplayed their success and fell-in with the mainstream media and the Democrats in their well-worn and gratuitous aspersions against these concerned and patriotic Americans. The Tea Party movement poses a threat to not only the accumulated power of the governing class but their livelihoods, thus the concerted effort to marginalize them by any vile or preposterous means possible.
The United States finds itself in a circumstance once thought unthinkable. An ill-educated and near morally bankrupt society increasingly made up of those dependent on government combined with a governing class whose primary interest is themselves. The nation cannot, therefore, make any meaningful course correction unless and until the people finally understand they have been lied to and conned by the current establishment. That will, in all likelihood, not occur until America faces imminent collapse and the citizenry turns on those who brought the nation to its knees.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Ah, memories

Well, I was completely wrong on who was to go home last night on The Voice. I thought the two were protected by their fan base. I am actually very okay with them going but I was surprised.

I had an unsettled night last night (touch of a bug?) so I'm hoping to get by without walking the dogs, have some dinner, then retire with my book and then sleep. Sounds lovely.

Steve has shooting tonight but he may try to get out of it if he can because he was feeling under the weather this morning, too.

Much love,
PK the Bookeemonster

Current Events - November 28, 2012

America's True National Debt: $87 Trillion

This piece came out in yesterday's Wall Street Journal, but its content is too important to let it glide past without sufficient amplification.  Its authors are Chris Cox (a former Congressman and SEC Chairman) and Bill Archer (the former Chair of the House Ways and Means Committee).  Both were members of President Clinton's bipartisan commission on tax and entitlement reform in 1994.  As today's politicians bicker over the minutiae of a deal to avert the man-made disaster known as the "fiscal cliff," Cox and Archer warn that America is headed toward a far more dangerous precipice if our entitlement spending isn't responsibly and seriously reined in.   Their piece explicates why the record-setting, eye-popping annual deficit and national debt figures that most Americans have heard about -- $1.1 Trillion and $16 trillion, respectively -- don't even approach capturing the magnitude of Uncle Sam's red ink.  In short, the government is relying on budgeting gimmicks and practices that would land private sector accountants in jail:

As Washington wrestles with the roughly $600 billion "fiscal cliff" and the 2013 budget, the far greater fiscal challenge of the U.S. government's unfunded pension and health-care liabilities remains offstage. The truly important figures would appear on the federal balance sheet—if the government prepared an accurate one. But it hasn't. For years, the government has gotten by without having to produce the kind of financial statements that are required of most significant for-profit and nonprofit enterprises. The U.S. Treasury "balance sheet" does list liabilities such as Treasury debt issued to the public, federal employee pensions, and post-retirement health benefits. But it does not include the unfunded liabilities of Medicare, Social Security and other outsized and very real obligations. As a result, fiscal policy discussions generally focus on current-year budget deficits, the accumulated national debt, and the relationships between these two items and gross domestic product. We most often hear about the alarming $15.96 trillion national debt (more than 100% of GDP), and the 2012 budget deficit of $1.1 trillion (6.97% of GDP). As dangerous as those numbers are, they do not begin to tell the story of the federal government's true liabilities.  

So what does a more complete picture of the government's unfunded liabilities (money spent or promised to be spent, that isn't paid for) look like?  It ain't pretty:

The actual liabilities of the federal government—including Social Security, Medicare, and federal employees' future retirement benefits—already exceed $86.8 trillion, or 550% of GDP. For the year ending Dec. 31, 2011, the annual accrued expense of Medicare and Social Security was $7 trillion. Nothing like that figure is used in calculating the deficit. In reality, the reported budget deficit is less than one-fifth of the more accurate figure. Why haven't Americans heard about the titanic $86.8 trillion liability from these programs? One reason: The actual figures do not appear in black and white on any balance sheet. But it is possible to discover them. Included in the annual Medicare Trustees' report are separate actuarial estimates of the unfunded liability for Medicare Part A (the hospital portion), Part B (medical insurance) and Part D (prescription drug coverage). As of the most recent Trustees' report in April, the net present value of the unfunded liability of Medicare was $42.8 trillion. The comparable balance sheet liability for Social Security is $20.5 trillion.  

These are staggering, deeply concerning numbers.  Our real national debt is approaching $87 trillion and counting, yet our leaders are squabbling tax hikes on "the rich" that would reap (at best) approximately $82 billion per year.  Cox and Archer place the ignorance and folly of the "we have a revenue problem" crowd in stark relief:

When the accrued expenses of the government's entitlement programs are counted, it becomes clear that to collect enough tax revenue just to avoid going deeper into debt would require over $8 trillion in tax collections annually. That is the total of the average annual accrued liabilities of just the two largest entitlement programs, plus the annual cash deficit. Nothing like that $8 trillion amount is available for the IRS to target. According to the most recent tax data, all individuals filing tax returns in America and earning more than $66,193 per year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2006, when corporate taxable income peaked before the recession, all corporations in the U.S. had total income for tax purposes of $1.6 trillion. That comes to $6.7 trillion available to tax from these individuals and corporations under existing tax laws. In short, if the government confiscated the entire adjusted gross income of these American taxpayers, plus all of the corporate taxable income in the year before the recession, it wouldn't be nearly enough to fund the over $8 trillion per year in the growth of U.S. liabilities. Some public officials and pundits claim we can dig our way out through tax increases on upper-income earners, or even all taxpayers. In reality, that would amount to bailing out the Pacific Ocean with a teaspoon.

These figures underscore the profound and alarming lack of seriousness that has gripped our politics.  The president prattles on about the "Buffett Rule" and "fair shares," but those associated revenues amount to mere snowflakes in the face of the biggest debt avalanche in history sliding down our national mountain.  Sure, taxing the rich might make some people feel good (click here for an unvarnished articulation of liberals' class envy agenda), but it does absolutely nothing to fix the real problem.  The Republicans have at least put a serious plan, with bipartisan origins, on the table to begin to address these issues.  Democrats have screamed "no!" yet they continue to put forth no realistic, specific ideas of their own.  Frustratingly, this cynical strategy has worked out pretty well for them at the ballot box in recent years, but at some point the jig will be up.  I'm sure it will all be the Republicans' fault then, too, but unlike politicians and the media, the arithmetic doesn't lie.

Obama the Job-Killing Owl-Killer

By Michelle Malkin

Welcome to the pretzel logic of liberal environmental protection: In order to "save" owls, the Obama administration is going to shoot them dead.

This is not -- I repeat not -- an Onion parody.

Over the Thanksgiving holiday, the White House released a big fat policy turkey: its final critical habitat rule for the endangered northern spotted owl. The Obama plan will lock up 9.6 million acres of land (mostly, but not all, federal) in Oregon, Washington and northern California. This is nearly double the acreage set aside by the Bush administration. Thousands of timber workers (along with untold thousands of related support jobs) will be threatened in the name of sparing a few thousand spotted owls from extinction.

As House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash., pointed out earlier this year, timber-dependent counties hit hard by the federal land grab and unending environmental litigation remain racked by high unemployment. "The loss in economic activity caused by the original spotted owl plan caused an astounding decrease in federal tax receipts of nearly $700 million per year -- all from rural Northwest communities."

Despite two decades of massive government intervention and the near-destruction of the northwest timber industry, the furry bird is vanishing faster than ever. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, "(t)imber harvest on 24 million acres of federal land had dropped 90 percent from its heyday" by the year 2000. Yet, northern spotted owls are now "disappearing three times faster than biologists had feared." Indeed, spotted owl populations in key parts of Washington State "are half what they were in the 1980s." And overall, the bird has seen a 40 percent decline over the past 25 years, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Punishing loggers and bringing the timber industry to its knees have made vengeful environmental groups fat and happy. But the northern spotted owl they claim to care so much about is catastrophically worse off thanks to green zealotry. One root cause: habitat loss (thanks in part to raging wildfires resulting from poor forest management and green opposition to thinning/controlled burns).

The other major, nonhuman culprit: the barred owl.

These barred owls began migrating from the East Coast in the 1950s, and the USFWS reports that the larger, more aggressive and more adaptable birds "are known to displace spotted owls, disrupt their nesting and compete with them for food." Barred owls are more prolific breeders, less finicky about their food and less picky about where they live. They also don't bow down before the Endangered Species Act or the hallowed "threatened" status of its weaker brethren. They are brutal predators known to slam into spotted owls, slicing them with their talons and decapitating them in their nests.

Conservation groups whine that barred owls are victims of "scapegoating." But USFWS Director Dan Ashe spoke the truth earlier this year: "We can't ignore the mounting evidence that competition from barred owls is a major factor in the spotted owl's decline."

Instead of admitting failure and letting nature take its course, however, command-and-control bureaucrats have appointed themselves Mother Nature's judges, juries and executioners. Their "main priority" is "reducing competition from barred owls." How? By gunning them down. Final details are still in the works, but the agency has floated past removal schemes that involve "luring territorial barred owls into close range ... using recorded calls and an owl decoy. ... A shotgun would be used to prevent wounding and ensure rapid and humane death." Experts say such an eradication plan would need to continue for centuries.

Twenty years of regulatory salvation have failed the northern spotted owl. Who believes that another top-down government exercise in species engineering -- this time backed with bullets -- will do the trick? When the government picks winners and losers, taxpayers always get screwed. No matter the job losses. 

No matter the death toll. Arrogant and unaccountable central planners never give a hoot.

Obama administration blissfully ignorant on Egyptian powergrab

If ignorance is bliss, the Obama administration is living in a permanent state of euphoria.

Despite the fact that Egypt’s Mohammad Morsi recently granted himself far-reaching dictatorial powers, the U.S. State Department is insisting there’s nothing to see here, folks:

As we called for last week, when confronted with concerns about the decree that he issued, President Morsi entered into discussions with the judiciary, with other stakeholders in EgyptAs I said, I think we don’t yet know what the outcome of those are going to be, but that’s a far cry from an autocrat just saying my way or the highway. …

We are continuing to gather an understanding of precisely what’s been agreed, precisely what the impact is, as are Egyptians who are continuing to try to understand this. So I’m not going to opine any further till we have more information.

I’m pretty sure the tear-gassed Egyptians rioting in Tahrir Square have a clear picture of what Morsi’s decrees mean for the Arab Spring’s promise of “freedom.”

Sure the guy decreed that all of his decisions as president are not subject to any appeal in any court or by any other authority.  Sure he bestowed complete immunity for his Islamist friends who are now drafting a new constitution.  But sure, he’s a far cry from an autocrat.


MSM Starting to Notice Democrats' Recklessness in Fiscal Cliff Talks

One of Democrats' enduring, systemic political advantages a mainstream media whose levers are overwhelmingly controlled by people who agree with them on most issues.  But sometimes Democrats push their luck, and many in the press cannot help but notice.  In the midst of a deluge of Republicans showing flexibility on "revenues" -- for better or worse -- Democrats have thus far been unwilling to commit to, well, much of anything at all.  Compromises require real, tangible concessions from both sides, and a number of MSM stalwarts are beginning to point out that Democrats aren't doing their, ahem, fair share.  The Washington Post's editorial board is urging Congressional Democrats to get serious and calling on President Obama to fill the leadership vacuum, essentially echoing what the GOP has been saying for years:

Democrats, meanwhile, are sounding more and more maximalist in resisting spending cuts. Many insist that Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and education — pretty much everything except the Pentagon — are untouchable. Senate Majority Whip Richard J. Durbin (Ill.), who had been one of the more reasonable Democratic leaders, said Tuesday that, while he favors reform of entitlement programs, it shouldn’t be part of the negotiations on the fiscal cliff. The Post’s Greg Sargent reported that union leaders and other liberals came away from a White House meeting encouraged that administration officials agree. “They expect taxes to go up on the wealthy and to protect Medicare and Medicaid benefits,” one attendee said. “They feel confident that they don’t have to compromise.” Don’t have to compromise? Elections do have consequences, and Mr. Obama ran on a clear platform of increasing taxes on the wealthy. But he was clear on something else, too: Deficit reduction must be “balanced,” including spending cuts as well as tax increases. Since 60 percent of the federal budget goes to entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, there’s no way to achieve balance without slowing the rate of increase of those programs.  

The Post praises Durbin for being "more reasonable" than many of his fellow partisans when it comes to entitlement reforms.  One wonders if they'll ever notice how impossibly vague his statements have been on the subject.  Still, some accountability here is better than none at all.  Before you write the Post crew a thank-you note, however, read their humorous "fact check" of Republicans who correctly claim that Democrats' unserious tax-the-rich gambit would only fund a single week of federal spending.  (Verdict: This talking point is mathematically correct, but the "context" makes it less than true.  One Pinocchio.  Groan).  The Post also vastly understates the problem and the silliness of Obama's fanciful notion of "balance," but that sin isn't unique to them; not by a long shot.  Meanwhile, the Associated Press reports that even if the GOP lines up and salutes on new revenues, Democrat infighting could very well sink the Good Ship Compromise:

Deep divisions among Senate Democrats over whether cuts to popular benefit programs like Medicare and Medicaid should be part of a plan to slow the government's mushrooming debt pose a big obstacle to a deal for avoiding a potentially economy-crushing "fiscal cliff," even if Republicans agree to raise taxes. Much of the focus during negotiations seeking an alternative to $671 billion in automatic tax increases and spending cuts beginning in January has centered on whether Republicans would agree to raising taxes on the wealthy. President Barack Obama has insisted repeatedly that tax increases on the wealthy must be part of any deal, even as White House officials concede that government benefit programs will have to be in the package too. "It is the president's position that when we're talking about a broad, balanced approach to dealing with our fiscal challenges, that that includes dealing with entitlements," White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. But even if GOP lawmakers agree to raise taxes, there is no guarantee Democrats can come up with enough votes in the Senate to cut benefit programs — as Republicans are demanding.  

is picking up on the same dynamic.  Let's close with a recommendation to peruse this USA Today editorial excoriating Democrats for using misdirection and false assertion to try to convince the public that Social Security is in fine shape, and has nothing to do with our debt troubles.  An excerpt:

Do Democrats really believe Social Security doesn't contribute to federal deficits and the national debt? They're certainly saying it a lot: "Social Security does not add one penny to our debt, not a penny," Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, insisted Sunday on ABC's This Week. During Monday's briefing at the White House, press secretary Jay Carney repeated the theme: "We should address the drivers of the deficit, and Social Security is not currently a driver of the deficit — that's an economic fact." Well, saying it's a fact doesn't make it so. Durbin, Carney and others making that claim should take a look at the president's own budget to see what's really going on. On page 465 of the budget's "Analytical Perspectives," they'll find a chart showing that Social Security ran a deficit of $48 billion last year. This year, Social Security will come up $50.7 billion short. In 2015, as more Baby Boomers retire, the gap between cash in and cash out is expected to reach $86.6 billion. Need a second source? In a report released last month, the Congressional Budget Office said Social Security benefits began exceeding payroll tax revenue in 2010, and without changes, the program will never get back into balance.  

For much more on this front, read (or re-read) this.

- Republicans are turning to Erskine Bowles -- the Democratic co-chair of President Obama's debt commission and Bill Clinton's former Chief of Staff -- for leverage in this fight.  Smart move:

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) is turning to an unlikely ally — President Clinton’s former chief of staff — to try to get the White House to put big entitlement changes in a fiscal-cliff deal. Erskine Bowles, the former co-chairman of Obama’s debt commission, will meet on Wednesday with Boehner and other top Republicans. The GOP is using the occasion to call out liberal Democrats for working against benefit cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. “The problem is that congressional Democrats are drawing lines in the sand against the substantial spending cuts and reforms that are crucial to any agreement. We have to highlight the fact that the president’s own party is the roadblock here,” said a House GOP leadership aide.

From The Heritage Foundation: 4 Reasons Warren Buffett Is Wrong on Tax Hikes

Let’s talk taxes. In a New York Times op-ed yesterday, famed investor and Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett once again argued that the wealthy should be taxed more.

This isn’t the first time Buffett has made the case for higher taxes, and it’s not the first time he’s been wrong. Here are four reasons he is wrong to push for tax hikes.

1. Buffett says tax hikes won’t hurt jobs.

Fact: Tax hikes, especially those he espouses, hurt jobs.

Buffett cites periods when tax rates were high and says that “Under those burdensome rates,” employment “increased at a rapid clip.”

This country has an employment problem right now, and tax rates aren’t even as high as Buffett wants. The tax increases President Obama champions would hit small businesses that create jobs. According to Treasury figures, 1.2 million Americans who employ people are paying their taxes through the individual income tax, and they would be hit head-on. The amount that their taxes would go up could be roughly equivalent to one employee’s salary, meaning that’s one person they can’t hire in the new year. A study by Ernst and Young estimates that these tax hikes would kill 710,000 jobs.

2. Buffett says tax hikes won’t stop investors from investing.

Fact: Any time you tax something, you get less of it.

Buffett says: “So let’s forget about the rich and ultrarich going on strike and stuffing their ample funds under their mattresses if—gasp—capital gains rates and ordinary income rates are increased. The ultrarich, including me, will forever pursue investment opportunities.”

Let’s think about what taxes are intended to do. The cigarette tax is intended to curb smoking. Proponents of a carbon tax want to curb the amount of carbon emissions we are producing. In Washington, D.C., a plastic bag tax is intended to curb the number of plastic bags people use.

When you tax something more, people do less of it. This is how taxes work. It doesn’t change because the behavior being taxed is investing rather than smoking.

3. Buffett says the wealthy aren’t even paying a minimum tax.

Fact: We already have an Alternative Minimum Tax.

Buffett says, “We need Congress, right now, to enact a minimum tax on high incomes.”

We already have this. It’s called the Alternative Minimum Tax. As Heritage’s Curtis Dubay explains:
Congress passed the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) in the early 1970s to ensure that a few high-income taxpayers did not reduce their tax liability too much by taking advantage of all the deductions, exemptions, and credits Congress put in the tax code. But Congress did not index for inflation the income threshold over which families qualify for this extra tax. So now Congress must annually “patch” the AMT by raising the threshold to correct this mistake. Even with the patch, the AMT still ends up falling on almost 4 million taxpayers; Congress initially intended for it to hit only a few hundred.

The top 10 percent of earners in the United States already pay more than 70 percent of federal income taxes. To move forward in this debate, those who argue that we just need to “tax the rich” will have to get real. We can’t close the budget deficit by taxing the rich. Even though Buffett also claims…

4. Buffett says we need to raise taxes to bring in more revenue for the government.

Fact: The problem is government spending, not government revenue.

Buffett says, “Our government’s goal should be to bring in revenues of 18.5 percent of [gross domestic product] and spend about 21 percent of G.D.P.”

Revenues are lower now today than normal, not because of tax rates, but because of the slow-growing economy. As the economy recovers, so will revenues. And they will continue to grow as the economy thrives. Why? Because more people are investing, saving, working, and enjoying higher wages. The nifty little benefit for the government of a strong, growing economy is that people pay more in taxes.

But on to spending. The White House already estimates that federal spending will be 23.1 percent of GDP this year—well above Buffett’s target. But, unlike taxes—which will return to the historical levels Buffett aims for, spending will continue to spiral ever upwards. In 25 years, spending will be 35.7 percent of GDP. In 2025, the big three entitlements will gobble up a full 18.5 percent of GDP—the entire amount of revenue that Buffett would like to raise.

In Buffett’s world, then, after funding entitlements, that leaves only 2.5 percent of GDP for everything else (assuming that interest rates don’t go through the roof). The fact is that ever-growing entitlements have put spending on a trajectory toward a European-level implosion. If they are not reined in, taxes on everyone will have to rise perpetually just to keep pace.

While Warren Buffett is right about many things, he is wrong about tax hikes. Which leads us to the real questions: Why are we even talking about tax hikes? Where are the spending cuts?