Saturday, February 27, 2010
You want to know why I hate Republicans just slightly less than Democrats...
Read the first newsbite.
How many of you have never broken a promise? Com'on... best intentions and all that... how many of you have never failed to meet a commitment - whether to yourself or someone else?
One of my favorite American colloquialisms is... "Shit Happens!"
How true... right? This is indeed one of life's realities, is it not?
Good people don't make promises they don't intend to keep, but due to the vagary's of life, even the best laid plans end up in tatters now and then.
Think of the concept of the pension. Your employer puts money aside for you every pay period. You may contribute out of your salary... or you may not. In any case you can be sure that this pension "contribution" is coming out of your wallet either on the front end or the back end. (In other words, your employer looks upon its contribution as part of your total compensation - money you'd otherwise be making in salary.)
These "contributions" are "invested." In the early days of private pensions "contributions" were plowed back into the businesses, the pension funds invested in company stock. By the 1940's firms such as GM were diversifying their pension plans by investing pension funds into a myriad of outside investment vehicles... (Hey! Look at that! "GM." "Vehicles." I made a punny!)
Anyway... you get the idea. Google "pensions" if you're interested in exploring the details - if you feel like brushing up on the differences between defined contribution plans and defined benefit plans; if you want to review the history of private as well as government pensions. No doubt you could spend days immersed in the minutia.
Bottom line... here's the problem with the concept of the pension: It relies upon infallibility.
Unfortunately... in the real world... even in the land of the free and the home of the brave... their ain't no such thing.
What I mean is... in the real world there are no 100% concrete guarantees - except for death and taxes of course - and as anyone familiar with the info you'll often find within my "newsbites" is aware, by and large both private and public pension set-ups in America are... er... f##ked. ("Underfunded." Speeding towards the cliff of insolvency.)
There have been "bad" investments. (But isn't that the nature of the beast...??? Earth to readers: Again... there's no such thing as a "sure thing." The flip side of "the winners" is... er... "the losers.")
There have been - and continue to be - "under-contributions." (Yeah... imagine that...)
Over the decades the link between the actuarial component of pension calculations with regard to "input vs. output" has been frayed to the point of breaking by the substitution of "hope" (i.e. huge gambles, irresponsible actions) and raw political power as the arbiter of the "pension bargain."
Sorry, folks... but to throw out another great American colloquialism... "There ain't no free lunch." (Well... at least not for most of the people most of the time...)
Laying aside the question of what to do with regard to the folks already "in the system" let me make on thing perfectly clear: There should be no new pensions offered.
There should be no new pensions offered because the concept of pensions is fatally flawed and we're going to have enough trouble as it is working our way out of the mess we're already in as a society.
No new frigg'n pensions commitments from this point on... that's what I say!
What would this mean in the real world? Easy! Let's say that an employer currently offers a new employee a pension with an employer kick-in of say 5% of gross salary...
(Note: I'm just pulling a number out of thin air in order to make the point...)
Let's say the starting salary is $30K. Five percent of that $30K is $1,500 - right? So... no pension leads to an employee "raise" to a new salary of $31,500.
As to the employee's "pension"... well... let the employee - the individual... the citizen... the adult - invest whatever portion of his or her income into whatever investment vehicle he or she chooses.
(*SHRUG*) (*WIPING MY HANDS*)
Here's the deal, folks: A business... even a government entity... can effectively budget for a short period of time. Revenue goes up... revenue goes down; profits go up... profits go down. With a minimum of long term obligations a business or government entity can logically and gainfully react to real time events and act accordingly.
More profits... perhaps greater pay along with great R&D and other internal investments.
Less profits... lower the sails and batten down the hatches.
Folks... we've got to return this nation to a land where fiscal sanity again rules! We can't keep on signing off on debt we reasonably have no hope of paying off absent massive tax increases and/or horrendous inflation.
As for the private sector... same thing! Except instead of talking "raising taxes" and/or "monetizing the debt" we're talking pensions squeezing out profits and eventually leading to bankruptcy where no one is employed and no retired workers are receiving their pensions because there's simply no money left to pay the pensions!
Hey... last colloquialism... "Reality bites."
Yeah. Harsh reality I'm pointing out here. Many of you simply don't want to hear it. I "get" that. Too frigg'n bad.
(Oops... I guess that will have to be the last colloquialism.)
Friday, February 26, 2010
Thursday, February 25, 2010
Today... something different.
In "honor" of today "Health Reform Summit" in Washington I'm posting "newsbite" digests of three separate articles which appear in three different British newspapers today concerning how "national health care" is working out across the Pond.
Patients were routinely neglected or left “sobbing and humiliated” by staff at an NHS trust where at least 400 deaths have been linked to appalling care.
An independent inquiry found that managers at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust stopped providing safe care because they were preoccupied with government targets and cutting costs.
[P]atients went unwashed for weeks, were left without food or drink and were even unable to get to the lavatory. Some lay in soiled sheets that relatives had to take home to wash, others developed infections or had falls, occasionally fatal.
The report, which follows reviews by the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health, said that “unimaginable” suffering had been caused.
Not a single official has been disciplined over the worst-ever NHS hospital scandal, it emerged last night.
Up to 1,200 people lost their lives needlessly because Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust put government targets and cost-cutting ahead of patient care.
But none of the doctors, nurses and managers who failed them has suffered any formal sanction.
Indeed, some have either retired on lucrative pensions or have swiftly found new jobs.
Former chief executive Martin Yeates, who has since left with a £1million pension pot, six months' salary and a reported £400,000 payoff, did not even give evidence to the inquiry which detailed the scale of the scandal yesterday.
The Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, yesterday described the appalling treatment of patients at Stafford hospital as "ultimately a local failure". This misses the point. For one thing, Stafford is not the only NHS hospital that has put patients' lives at risk in recent years. Basildon and Colchester hospitals were also discovered to have jeopardised safety in 2009.
What is more, Mr Burnham's efforts to quarantine this disaster suggest an unwillingness to face up to the scale of the problem that has been revealed. The failure in Stafford is not just the tale of one badly run hospital, but the failure of a regulatory system that did little to sound the alarm until very late in the day. From 2005 to 2008 Stafford hospital was judged by regulators and the Government to be performing well. It passed many inspections and the Mid Staffordshire NHS Trust even achieved foundation status, supposedly the benchmark of excellence.
Well... there you go folks.
Anyway... check out the Comments Page of this thread for the rest of today's "Barkerbites."
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Another frigg'n idiot...
Mitt Romney is endorsing former rival John McCain as the 2008 Republican presidential nominee fights to keep his Senate seat.
Romney said in a statement Tuesday the Arizona senator's "record of service and sacrifice for America is honored by all." The former Massachusetts governor added, "It's hard to imagine the U.S. Senate without John McCain."
Hmm... it's not hard for me. In fact, the scenario has long been one of my most fervent hopes and dreams...!
As for McCain's military service...
Hmm... what's next... a Romney endorsement of Charlie Rangel's re-election come November? After all, Rangel did win the Bronz Star - and the Purple Heart - in Korea.
(*BITING MY TONGUE*)
Yeah, yeah... I know... Palin has campaigned for McCain. But, com'on... that's obviously out of personal loyalty - a sense of personal duty, repaying a perceived debt.
But Romney...??? He hates McCain's guts!
And McCain hates his guts... it's a match made in Washington!
Yes... the Democrats are destroying our country... but the GOP is still largely The Stupid Party.
Mark my words: If Mitt Romney somehow manages to win the GOP nomination to run as their Party's standard-bearer against President Obama (or perhaps Hillary Clinton) in 2012, then abandon hope all ye who seek salvation for our nation and a brighter future for our children.
(OK... "hey" to the two or three of you who drop by once in awhile...)
Anyway... according to my cyberbud Rob (aka Rodak) ads have been appearing on my blog.
Search me... I've never seen them and I certainly never "monetized" my blog.
Do me a favor though... if you come across any ads - either on the main page or within a comments thread - give me a shout via email.
Monday, February 22, 2010
I've gotta tell ya... today has been a real stomach churner.
As I noted in my previous post - the one slamming John "The Idiot" McCain - I didn't start out in the best of moods this morning and it seems with each bit of news I read today my mood grows darker.
Case in point:
Has anyone come across the Newsweek Magazine op-d Red Alert penned by Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI)?
Click the link. Read the piece. Take your time... I'll wait.
(OK? Done? Good... let's continue.)
While the op-ed is officially titled "Red Alert," the folks at Newsweek took the liberty of using the following tag-line to draw attention to the piece:
Paul Ryan: Don't Patronize the American People.
Cute! Hey... it caught my attention! That's how the link to the piece was "teased" via RealClearPolitics which is where I first stumbled upon it.
The line was taken out of last paragraph of Congressman Ryan's piece, which in its entirety reads...
I welcome the debate on how to tackle our fiscal crisis—and the larger debate on the proper role of government. But I'd encourage those taking aim at the Roadmap to arm yourselves with a specific alternative. My dad used to say, "Son, you are either part of the solution or part of the problem." (That was usually when I was being part of the problem.) Now we must make the same demand of politicians in Washington: Don't patronize the American people as if they were children—deferring difficult decisions and promising fiscal fantasies. Tell the American people the truth and offer them a choice, and they will do what's right.
The problem is...
...if one is to back up five paragraphs one would find - as I did find - that Ryan himself is bullsh... er... patronizing the American People.
Here... see for yourselves...
For those now under 55, the Roadmap turns Medicare into a health-care program like the one enjoyed by members of Congress.
Ryan's "Roadmap" is a good plan (if you're not familiar with it, follow the above provided link and check it out for yourself) but it's absolute nonsense to claim that either Democrats or Republicans in Washington will or could "give Americans now under 55" (or Americans now 55 or older for that matter!) a healthcare program "like the one enjoyed by Congress."
Ever hear "OAP?" The letters stand for "Office of the Attending Physician."
Well, I just called up Congressman Ryan's office and asked the poor staffer who answered the phone the following, "Hmm... question regarding Congressman Ryan's claim that his Roadmap would provide me access to a healthcare program like the one Mr. Ryan enjoys - specifically... OAP access. Where should I send my check for $503?"
Yeah. You can no doubt imagine the reaction. Hey... I'll give the staffer credit... he at least knew what I was talking about and didn't try to duck the whole "for $503 a year you get what amounts to a concierge medical service rider" issue if you're a Member of Congress or the Supreme Court.
Hey... it's a sweet deal! For instance... check this out:
Through interviews with former employees and members of Congress, as well as extensive document searches, ABC News has learned new details about the services offered by the Office of Attending Physician to members of Congress over the past few years, from regular visits by a consulting chiropractor to on-site physical therapy.
Services offered by the Office of the Attending Physician include physicals and routine examinations, on-site X-rays and lab work, physical therapy and referrals to medical specialists from military hospitals and private medical practices. According to congressional budget records, the office is staffed by at least four Navy doctors as well as at least a dozen medical and X-ray technicians, nurses and a pharmacist.
Sources said when specialists are needed, they are brought to the Capitol, often at no charge to members of Congress."If you had, for example, prostate cancer, you would go to one of the centers of excellence for the country, which would be Johns Hopkins. If you had coronary artery disease, we would engage specialists at the Cleveland Clinic. You would go to the best care in the country.
Members of Congress do not pay for the individual services they receive at the OAP, nor do they submit claims through their federal employee health insurance policies. Instead, members pay a flat, annual fee of $503 for all the care they receive. The rest of the cost of their care, sources said, is subsidized by taxpayers.
Last year, Congress appropriated more than $3 million to reimburse the Navy for staff salaries at the office. Next year's budget allocates $3.8 million for the office, including more than half a million dollars to upgrade the Office's radiology suite. Sources said additional money to operate the office is included in the Navy's annual budget.
In 2008, 240 members paid the annual fee, though some sources say congressmen who didn't pay the fee were rarely prevented from using OAP services.
One aspect of the office's operations which remains unclear is just how the annual $503 fee is determined.
Until 1992, OAP services were free to members of Congress. But after former Sen. Harris Wofford of Pennsylvania angered members by introducing a bill to make Congress members pay market rate prices for using the OAP, a compromise was reached.
Here's the bottom line: No matter what these bastar... er... "honorable" men and women in Congress promise us, no one - no one who is not independently wealthy or by dint of position or circumstance in the right place at the right time to receive "the healthcare of the rich, famous, and powerful" is going to get "the healthcare of the rich, famous, and powerful" - unless of course one wins a seat in Congress or on the Supreme Court.
Don't bullshit us. That's all we're asking.
John McCain is a frigg'n idiot.
Here's the latest:
Under growing pressure from conservatives and "tea party" activists, Sen. John McCain of Arizona is having to defend his record of supporting the government's massive bailout of the financial system.
In response to criticism from opponents seeking to defeat him in the Aug. 24 Republican primary, the four-term senator says he was misled by then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke.
So obviously McCain is calling for the Impeachment of Ben Bernanke... right?
So of course McCain is calling for AG Holder to criminally charge Hank Paulson... right?
McCain said the pair assured him that the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program would focus on what was seen as the cause of the financial crisis, the housing meltdown.
"Obviously, that didn't happen," McCain said in a meeting Thursday with The Republic's Editorial Board...
What did you VOTE for you schmuck... you senile old bastard...?!?!
Jeezus frigg'n Christ... and this dumb son of a bitch has the balls to be running for re-election...???
Hey... any of you reading this who have some disposable income... I'm begging you... send some goddamn money to J.D. Hayworth!
* YEAH, CARL... I'm talking to you!
** TED... MARY... if for no other reason... do it for your friend Bill...!!!
Here... allow me to provide the excerpt that might provide that last little shove:
But McCain stopped short of calling the TARP a mistake."Something had to be done..."
"SOMETHING" had to be done...?!?!
"SOMETHING" had to be done...?!?!
This F##king IDIOT is a United States Senator...
This halfwit (nay... quarterwit!) has been in Washington since 1983...
John. You're turning 74 in August. Give it up. For God's sake, you were never the sharpest knife in the draw to begin with. Go retire and enjoy your wife's millions.
Friday, February 19, 2010
Noonan began her latest column...
President Obama's decision to appoint Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to his bipartisan commission on government spending is politically shrewd and, in terms of policy, potentially helpful.
Obama is the President. He ran for the job.
Nancy Pelosi is Speaker of the House. She ran for the job.
Harry Reid is Majority Leader of the United States Senate. He ran for the job.
DO YOUR JOBS YOU LOSERS...!!!
I just want to scream!
If Obama doesn't feel he and HIS entire Executive Branch of Government isn't up to the task of fulfilling the responsibilities of the Office... then resign.
If Obama doesn't believe Pelosi and Reid are up to their jobs, then as titular head of the Democratic Party President Obama should make known his desire that they resign their leadership offices and he should demand that the House and Senate democrat caucuses appoint new leaders with whom the President believes he can work.
These people are passing the buck and it's disgusting.
It is shrewd in that he is doing what he has been urged to do, which is bring in wise men.
As I recall, a large part of candidate Obama's case for election was that HE was a "wise man!"
As for Congress... aren't the 435 Members of the House and 100 Senators supposed to be... expected to be... wise?
Hey... how'bout this... we just do away with the Offices of President, Senator, and Member of Congress and just turn all federal power over to the ten Members of this... er... Commission?
Again... to the President and Members of the House and Senate I say...
DO YOUR JOBS YOU INCOMPETENT, LAZY, NO GOOD PIECES OF...
(*GRITTING MY TEETH*)
Hey... I know... I'm spitting in the wind. I'm asking the impossible. I'm asking our elected leaders to provide... leadership. Silly me!
Here... let's try this:
Allow me to suggest that instead of creating a "Commission" (to provide cover and avoid responsibility), the three key dunces in Washington simply READ the following deficit/debt reduction/elimination plans that ALREADY EXIST --
1) A Roadmap for America's Future ("The Ryan Plan")
2) Red Ink Rising: A Call To Action... (The Peterson-Pew Commission on Budget Reform)
There are other CONCRETE proposals out there, but I know that between the permanent campaigning, day-in-day-out fundraising, frequent junketing, vacations...
...and other "responsibilities" of the Offices these folks hold they don't have much time for actual... er... reading; but just for yucks... just to try something "different"... perhaps "Barak, Nance, and Hank" could spend a few moments... er... WORKING...!!!
Just a thought...
Thursday, February 18, 2010
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
Monday, February 15, 2010
Actually, as you may or may not know, Presidents Day is still REALLY President Washington's birthday... but not even really that since if we were really celebrating President George Washington's birthday we'd be doing so on February 22 every year...
...but, anyway, enough of this brief and shallow history lesson for now.
Sorry for no newsbites over the weekend; my daughter and her boyfriend came down to visit us.
I'm gonna be out most of the day, but I'll try and post a few newsbites when I get home.
To those of you who are working... hope you're making time and a half!
To those who have the day off... hope you enjoy it!
Friday, February 12, 2010
Ahh... FRIDAY... the end of a long week!
I'm getting a late start today; had a project to finish up this morning and early afternoon.
Before I "get to work" on presenting today's "newsbites" allow me to give a appreciative shout-out to my cyberbuddy Rob - founder of "Rodak Riffs".
Thanks Rob for leaving a comment on yesterday's newsbite thread just to let me know that someone is at least browsing the newsbites every once in awhile...
Not that anyone has to comment, but feedback - public or private (via email) is always appreciated.
Again, I'm doing this "for me" and I'd be doing it even if no one ever tuned in, but an acknowledgement of my efforts every once in awhile would not be unwelcome...
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Monday, February 8, 2010
Saturday, February 6, 2010
Here we go...
...titled, "What Americans Really Want... Really"
Luntz provides some disturbing data and analysis, with the following finding representing ground zero in terms of sending me into a deep depression:
Page 180 - "This generation is the first to reject American Exceptionalism."
By "this generation" Luntz is referring to what he pegs "The 2020 Generation," those born between 1980 and 1991.
Folks... my daughter was born in 1987. Her friends and many of her colleagues come from that generation. Based upon my personal experience, observation, and interaction with "The 2020's," and having just read Chapter 6 of Lutz's book... his research findings sound not simply plausible, but right on target.
For those of my generation - heck, for anyone over 30 - my advice is this: The next time you're in a bookstore with 20 minutes to kill, grab a copy of "What American Really Want... Really," plop yourself down in a chair, and read Chapter 6.
You may be surprised at what you find out. And even those of you who - like me - tend to possess... umm... a certain self-confidence that, "yeah, I know about today's kids and young adults," will no doubt learn a thing or two which hadn't previously been on your radar.
If nothing else, check out the Amazon page I provided the link to up above and read the reviews and comments concerning the book.
I'm telling you... this book seems well worth reading.
Friday, February 5, 2010
Like me, Pat Buchanan is Usually Right.
Pat's latest column bears posting here in its entirety.
Republicans already counting the seats they will pick up this fall should keep in mind Obama has a big card yet to play.
Should the president declare he has gone the last mile for a negotiated end to Iran's nuclear program and impose the "crippling" sanctions he promised in 2008, America would be on an escalator to confrontation that could lead straight to war.
And should war come, that would be the end of GOP dreams of adding three-dozen seats in the House and half a dozen in the Senate.
Harry Reid is surely aware a U.S. clash with Iran, with him at the president's side, could assure his re-election. Last week, Reid whistled through the Senate, by voice vote, a bill to put us on that escalator.
Senate bill 2799 would punish any company exporting gasoline to Iran. Though swimming in oil, Iran has a limited refining capacity and must import 40 percent of the gas to operate its cars and trucks and heat its homes.
And cutting off a country's oil or gas is a proven path to war.
In 1941, the United States froze Japan's assets, denying her the funds to pay for the U.S. oil on which she relied, forcing Tokyo either to retreat from her empire or seize the only oil in reach, in the Dutch East Indies.
The only force able to interfere with a Japanese drive into the East Indies? The U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor.
Egypt's Gamel Abdel Nasser in 1967 threatened to close the Straits of Tiran between the Red Sea and Gulf of Aqaba to ships going to the Israeli port of Elath. That would have cut off 95% of Israel's oil.
Israel response: a pre-emptive war that destroyed Egypt's air force and put Israeli troops at Sharm el-Sheikh on the Straits of Tiran.
Were Reid and colleagues seeking to strengthen Obama's negotiating hand?
The opposite is true. The Senate is trying to force Obama's hand, box him in, restrict his freedom of action, by making him impose sanctions that would cut off the negotiating track and put us on a track to war - a war to deny Iran weapons that the U.S. Intelligence community said in December 2007 Iran gave up trying to acquire in 2003.
Republican leader Mitch McConnell has made clear the Senate is seizing control of the Iran portfolio. "If the Obama administration will not take action against this regime, then Congress must."
U.S. interests would seem to dictate supporting those elements in Iran who wish to be rid of the regime and re-engage the West. But if that is our goal, the Senate bill, and a House version that passed 412 to 12, seem almost diabolically perverse.
For a cutoff in gas would hammer Iran's middle class. The Revolutionary Guard and Basij militia on their motorbikes would get all they need. Thus the leaders of the Green Movement who have stood up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the Ayatollah oppose sanctions that inflict suffering on their own people.
Cutting off gas to Iran would cause many deaths. And the families of the sick, the old, the weak, the women and the children who die are unlikely to feel gratitude toward those who killed them.
And despite the hysteria about Iran's imminent testing of a bomb, the U.S. intelligence community still has not changed its finding that Tehran is not seeking a bomb.
The low-enriched uranium at Natanz, enough for one test, has neither been moved nor enriched to weapons grade. Ahmadinejad this week offered to take the West's deal and trade it for fuel for its reactor. Iran's known nuclear facilities are under U.N. watch. The number of centrifuges operating at Natanz has fallen below 4,000. There is speculation they are breaking down or have been sabotaged.
And if Iran is hell-bent on a bomb, why has Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair not revised the 2007 finding and given us the hard evidence?
U.S. anti-missile ships are moving into the Gulf. Anti-missile batteries are being deployed on the Arab shore. Yet, Gen. David Petraeus warned yesterday that a strike on Iran could stir nationalist sentiment behind the regime.
Nevertheless, the war drums have again begun to beat.
Let's pray the "Buchanan Scenario" doesn't represent future history.
Read it and weep...
City of Newburgh, NY detectives should have used an interpreter when they interviewed a 13-year-old accused killer, and that mistake will cost prosecutors statements from the boy and the knife police recovered, a judge ruled Thursday.
The decision by Family Court Judge Andrew Bivona covers an array of evidence collected following the slaying of 17-year-old Levi King Flores. The 13-year-old is accused of fatally stabbing Flores during a Jan. 13 brawl on the corner of Carpenter Avenue and First Street.
Detectives interviewed the 13-year-old twice after the killing, eventually arresting him. The boy's mother was present both times in keeping with Family Court law. She doesn't speak English so Detective Rolando Zapata, who is bilingual, read her the Miranda rights in Spanish. Detective John Zagarella then interviewed the boy, who speaks English, in English. The boy had his Miranda rights read to him in English.
Defense attorney Stuart Greenberg argued the language barrier of the mother prevented her from helping her son understand what police were asking and the consequences of answering. Bivona agreed and granted Greenberg's motion to suppress the boy's statements. That presented another problem: It was during those statements that the boy told detectives where he'd tossed a kitchen knife after the stabbing.
Lawyers call that "fruit of the poisonous tree." Because the recovery of the knife stemmed from inadmissible statements, Bivona ruled, prosecutors won't be able to use the knife as evidence. The same goes for DNA police collected.
Prosecutors will still be able to use identifications made by two people who claimed to see the stabbing. Each picked the boy out of a photo array as the killer.
Greenberg hinted he'll argue those alleged witnesses were involved in starting the fight that day. He asked Zagarella whether they were potential defendants. Bivona sustained Assistant Orange County Attorney Allan Drian's objection to the question.
The proceedings are set to continue at 1:30 p.m. Monday. The boy faces three charges of second-degree assault and a count of criminal possession of a weapon along with the manslaughter charge.
The is justice? This is common sense?
We're in deep, deep, deep trouble, my friends...
"New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America," by Burron Flosom, Jr.
Com'on, folks... $15.79 and available for FREE super shipping!
(Heck... the paperback version is only $9.47!)
Follow the links and check out the reader comments:
Folsom corrects many common misconceptions about the New Deal and the Great Depression in this book. The first misconception is that President Hoover was a principled advocate of laissez-faire capitalism. In fact, Folsom argues, Hoover was a big government Republican.
Yep! Damn straight!
According to Folsom's research, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) offered large government handouts to whichever lobbyists ingratiated themselves most with the administration. FDR used the WPA to make or break the careers of public officials, depending on whether they supported him. This corruption rose to such an overt and perverse level that officials at the WPA used to cheerfully greet callers with "Democratic headquarters!" The Hatch Act, which forbids government employees from using their office for political activity, was passed in response to these activities.
Um-hmm! Exactly correct!
I'll confess to not being a fan of big government so I was prepared to be receptive to a harsh assessment of the New Deal. However, I was not prepared for the scathing indictment armed with facts, logic, primary source quotes and data that constitute this powerful book.
The book also demonstrates the endemic political patronage and vote buying that resulted from the concentration of money and power in the hands of the federal government. State and local politicians who supported Roosevelt were rewarded with a cascade of federal dollars, those who opposed him were frozen out and inevitably lost subsequent elections.
Citizens who opposed FDR were set upon by the IRS or the NRA. The use of government power to persecute and intimidate dissension is chilling. There are several quotes or diary entries from even Roosevelt's supporters and cabinet members that point out both the insanity of the policies and the dangers of FDR's abuse of power.
With our government setting out on what's been called the "New New Deal", this book should be required reading for every citizen so they can understand both the failure of the New Deal as an economic cure and the abuse of power and vote buying that the huge transfer of money and independence from the private sector to the public sector caused and will undoubtedly cause again.
Folks... I couldn't have said it any better!
The "This" in the title refers to this morning's Drudge Headline reporting...
...that the January unemployment figures now in reflect a drop in the nation's unemployment rate from 10% to 9.7%.
So... turning to the actual reporting... allow me to ask the following question:
Does the following make ANY sense to ANYONE...???
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate dropped unexpectedly in January to 9.7 percent from 10 percent while employers shed 20,000 jobs, the government said Friday.
The rate dropped because a survey of households found the number of employed Americans rose by 541,000, the Labor Department said. The job losses are calculated from a separate survey of employers.
The report also included an annual revision to the estimates of total payrolls, which showed there were 930,000 fewer jobs last March than previously estimated. The department also revised down its estimates for April through October of last year, adding another 433,000 job losses.
The November figure was revised higher, however, to show a gain of 64,000 jobs.Huh...???
I mean, seriously... HUH...???
Now no doubt I'll be addressing this in today's "newsbites," but com'on... though these "new stats" were officially released this morning, of course the government (meaning the Obama administration) knew what the numbers would be in advance.
Funny... for the last week (as I'm sure people paying have noticed) most media stories referring to the (then) projected figures to be released had the tag line "...unemployment is expected to rise to 10.1%."
Now you don't suppose it's possible that this was a deliberate manipulation (after all, reporters get their "tips" from the government folks they expect have the inside scoop) by the Obama administration - do you...???
More on this topic later...
Thursday, February 4, 2010
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Tuesday, February 2, 2010
Check this out.
Now... check this out.
Bottom line... true conservative Marco Rubio is going to kick RINO Charlie Crist's ass and win the Florida GOP nod to be the Republican standard-bearer in this year's election against likely Democratic opponent Kendrick Meek... AND... Rubio will win the general election and be sworn in as a United States Senator in 2011.
Bottom line... true conservative J.D. Hayworth SHOULD kick John McCain's ass to the curb and win the Arizona GOP nod to be Republican standard-bearer - SHOULD by dint of DESERVING the nod - but truth be told... McCain is the heavy favorite and will probably win the nomination and then the general election.
So? My point? (Aside from the predictions themselves...)
My advice to conservative prospective Republican candidates across the nation is to stick together.
You folks want "Tea Party" support? You want Libertarian support? You want Constitutionalists on your side, in your camp? Then show you're willing to risk offending the GOP establishment(s) by reacting as ordinary fed up conservative voters would want you to by PUBLICLY ENDORSING fellow insurgents such as Rubio and Hayworth.
The political "pros" managing your campaigns would no doubt jump back in horror from what I'm proposing. "Making enemies" of folks like Crist, McCain, and their supporters "isn't the way it's done."
Sorry, boys... and girls... that's the old paradigm you're talking about. It's 2010. "Politics as usual" is over; at least for Republican candidates who hope to win elective office come November.
People are MAD...
People are PISSED...
The gloves are OFF...
Now I'm not saying that every conservative office-seeker should be giving his or her two cents regarding every other Republican primary race throughout the nation. That's just stupid. Obviously that's not what I'm proposing.
When it comes to these major intra-Party contests pitting nationally known conservative challengers against nationally known RINOs... take a stand!
The grass roots of the Republican Party will thank you for it. Those "Tea Party folks" will love you for it! Hell... regional and perhaps even national media may well take notice and the next thing you know... you'll be receiving $5/$10/$15/$20 donations from regular Americans across the country who are as sick and tired of Democrats and RINOs as you are and who may well give you a concrete "thank you" pat on the back in the form of actual dollars and cents.
And what of McCain? What of Crist?
What are they going to do about it...?!?! Nothing... that's what!
Folks like Jim DeMint and Steve Forbes are in "my" corner. (Or perhaps more modestly... I'm in theirs.)
Remember... the RINO establishment isn't the ONLY Republican establishment. Members of the House Republican Committee as well as the folks working with DeMint on his Senate Conservatives Fund are part of a national movement to reinvigorate Reagan Conservatism and save the GOP from itself.
That's it. Rant off. If any conservative candidates seeking a Republican Committee/Party nod to run for the House or Senate happen to stumble upon this blog posting I beg of you...
Consider my advice.
Lamar Alexander (TN)
John Barrasso (WY)
Robert Bennett (UT)
Christopher Bond (MO)
Richard Burr (NC)
Saxby Chambliss (GA)
Tom Coburn (OK)
Thad Cochran (MS)
Susan Collins (ME)
Bob Corker (TN)
Mike Enzi (WY)
Lindsey Graham (SC)
Jude Gregg (NH)
Orrin Hatch (UT)
Johnny Isakson (GA)
Mike Johanns (NE)
Jon Kyl (AZ)
Richard Lugar (IN)
Mitch McConnell (KY)
Lisa Merkowski (AK)
Olympia Snowe (ME)
George Voinovich (OH)
Dr. Coburn... I'm especially disappointed in you, sir.
Now I get it. Politics aside - even the substance of the argument concerning Bernanke's competence aside - there's a reasonable, honorable case for taking the view that unless a president's nominee is morally or ethically unfit for office, a president's nominee should be confirmed by the Senate. Again, I get it. A president is entitled to his choice of advisors.
The Chairman of the Federal Reserve is NOT simply "an advisor," though. Nor - strictly speaking - does he "work for the President."
Who does the Fed Chairman work for? Congress. (Though "work for" doesn't really describe the relationship.)
The Federal Reserve (whose Chairman and other Board Members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate) is an "Independent Body." Its mission...
The Federal Reserve System is the central bank of the United States. It was founded by Congress in 1913 to provide the nation with a safer, more flexible, and more stable monetary and financial system.
"...founded by Congress..."
To further complicate matters, while the Fed was created by Congress and by law reports to Congress, according to the US Code...
...wherever any power vested by this chapter in the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System or the Federal reserve agent appears to conflict with the powers of the Secretary of the Treasury, such powers shall be exercised subject to the supervision and control of the Secretary.
(And who does the Secretary of the Treasury "work for?" The President. Not Congress... the President.)
As one can see, fitting the Federal Reserve into a neat little box as regards "Separation of Powers" issues is... er... difficult - to say the least.
So... where does this leave us? I suggest you look upon the Federal Reserve as an unofficial (and some would say extraconstitutional) Fourth Branch of the Federal Government.
In any case, whomever the Fed Chairman "works for" or "doesn't work for," the issue at hand concerns whether Ben Bernanke should have been reappointed for another term as Fed Chairman.
I say "No!"
Which Senators were with me...???
Republicans who voted NOT to confirm Bernanke:
Roger Wicker (MS)
David Vitter (LA)
John Thune (SD)
Richard Shelby (AL)
Jeff Sessions (AL)
Pat Roberts (KS)
James Risch (ID)
John McCain (AZ)
George LeMieux (FL)
James Inhofe (OK)
Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX)
Chuck Grassley (IA)
John Ensign (NV)
Jim DeMint (SC)
Mike Crapo (ID)
John Cornyn (TX)
Jim Bunning (KY)
Sam Brownback (KS)
Thank you, John McCain... though I can't help but ponder the question, "If YOU had won the presidency last November would YOU as President have reappointed Bernanke?"
Bernie Sanders - self-proclaimed socialist and "Independent" Senator representing Vermont also voted "nay" on the Bernanke reappointment.
Thanks to you too, Senator Sanders... though as with my doubts regarding McCain's intellectual consistency, I wonder if you would have stuck to your position if yours had been the make or break vote for President Obama's nominee.
Eleven Democratic Senators also broke with their leadership and voted "nay" on the Bernanke reappointment. Good for them!
Returning to the question of how Senators should look upon appointment issues, it seems to me that since the Office of Fed Chairman is arguably "independent" (though in a lesser sense than the literal independence of the Judicial branch), a president's choice for Fed Chairman should be given about the same "deference" by Senators as they give a president's choice of Supreme Court nominees.
In other words... not a lot.
No disrespect to President Obama... and this would apply equally if we were talking about a Republican president... but in the case of voting for or against the seating/reappointment of a Fed Chairman, the only issue Senators should consider is their own best expectation of how the nominee will perform. In other words, if one believes a nominee will "run" the Federal Reserve in a manner that damages the economy, which causes "bubbles," which policies will lead to inflation - likely stagflation... well... then the Senator should vote "nay."
I believe Ben Bernanke is part of the problem - not part of the solution to our economic mess.
I believe that like Hank Paulson and Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke represents "crony capitalism" to the detriment of free markets and true capitalism.
Oh, the irony... so many Bush appointees are now Obama appointees...
To any United States Senator who voted "yea" on the Bernanke reappointment while believing that Bernanke's policies are not in the best interests of our nation...
SHAME ON YOU.
Yesterday I posted "One of My Sisters-in-Law Once Asked Me..." in which I premiered the concept of "Barker's Newsbites."
The long and short of the concept is this:
I do a great deal of reading each day. In addition to the reading I take notes and use these notes as the foundation for emails "spreading the news" as well as providing my own reactions, analysis, and commentary related to each item.
Well, I figure, why not use this blog to share these notes, these "newsbites?"
After all, I'm doing the work anyway - the reading, the note taking - why not share fruits of my labors?
These threads are not intended to be - and will NOT be - a substitute for reading the newspapers and staying up on current events. Nope. These "newsbites" are items that I find of particular interest and while my assumption is that by browsing through them readers will learn something, basically this isn't so much intended as a "public service" for its own sake, but rather, as I noted above, I figure since I'm compiling the "notes" anyway... why not post them here on my blog so that others can be exposed to them and take from them what they will?
Bottom line -- Throughout the day I'll be posting my "research notes" within this thread utilizing the thread's Comments Section. Each day (at least that's the plan!) I'll create a new "daily newsbites" thread.
Monday, February 1, 2010
"How do you know that...?!?!"
"Easy," I told her; "I read a lot!"
Seriously... I READ... a LOT.
As I noted in my previous post today, I've been quite busy lately. I won't get into specifics here, but suffice it to say I've been doing quite a bit of "work related" research and writing - far more than usual.
Today was actually a LIGHT reading day - at least as far as "today's headline news" is concerned. Frankly, I only had time to peruse four or five different news sites; usually I hit at least ten news sites a day.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not writing this to brag. No, my point is simply that if you wanna... er... know stuff... it helps to read a lot - day in and day out.
Just to give you an idea of the "stuff" I follow day in and day out, I'm going to post my "notes" within the comments section of this thread.
Note: If you do bother to "check out" what I've posted within the comments section, bear in mind... we're talking just a small portion of the reading I do in a single day - and further note, my daily reading isn't all news and it isn't all online. Right now, for instance, I'm reading a new science fiction novel by David Weber while also reading (and taking notes on) "New Deal Or Raw Deal: How FDR's Economic Legacy Has Damaged America," by Burton Folsom, Jr.
Anyway... on to the comments section!
(Well... at least "hiya!" to those hardy few who occasionally pop by!)
Nope! Haven't "given up" on blogging; I've just been busy.
I hope to update the blog more frequently starting this month.
In the meantime...
If anyone would care to throw out some topics, thoughts, discussion starters via the comments section of this thread...