Friday, January 27, 2012

Oh, and about Warren Buffet and his Secretary

I wonder if Buffet pays Ms. Bosanek a "Demagogue Bonus"? With effective unemployment in this country northward of 10% and people losing their homes, trotting out a billionaire and his $200K+ secretary with two homes as examples of anything, much less the nebulous concept of "fair share" is insulting. 

Look, I'm all about capitalism; make all the money the law allows. That said, casting Berkshire-Hathaway and Warren Buffet as heroic and Bain Capital and Mitt Romney as villainous strains credulity. 

Let's face facts: increasing Capital Gains Taxes and spurring investment in innovation are mutually exclusive.

Is this beginning of the much antiipated "Newt Implosion"?

Gingrich Campaign: Debate Audience Stacked For Romney 
Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich rode a strong performance and crowd enthusiasm at a debate in South Carolina to victory in that state’s primary, but the crowds at two debates in Florida this week haven’t been as wild for Gingrich. Now his campaign is claiming that rival Mitt Romney’s campaign stacked the audience at Thursday’s debate with its supporters to shift the energy toward Romney, the Huffington Post reported. 
“They definitely packed the room," Kevin Kellems, a Gingrich adviser, told the Post. 
But that’s not the case, according to both the Florida Republican Party and the Romney campaign. The party, which doled out 900 of the 1,200 tickets, says most of them went to “rank and file” Republicans.

Gingrich professes shock at Romney’s ‘dishonest’ debate performance 
MIAMI —Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said Friday that the reason he seemed less combative during Thursday’s televised debate was that he was shocked by what he described as rival Mitt Romney’s “totally dishonest” replies to several questions. 
In a telephone interview, Gingrich cited Romney’s remarks on immigration, his vote for Democrat Paul Tsongas in 1992 and whether he knew about an ad his campaign is running against Gingrich. 
“I think it’s the most blatantly dishonest performance by a presidential candidate I’ve ever seen,” Gingrich said. At several moments during the debate, Gingrich simply leaned away from his lectern and looked down at his feet because he was so stunned by some of Romney’s statements, he said. He didn’t engage Romney at the time, he said, because “I wanted to fact check. I wanted to make sure he was as totally dishonest as I thought he was." 
Gingrich spoke as a new poll from Quinnipiac University showed Romney back on top in Florida’s high-stakes Republican primary, adding to the momentum for the former Massachusetts governor following a strong debate performance Thursday night.

This clears this primary quandary quite nicely

President John Tyler’s grandson says Newt Gingrich is a 'jerk'

President John Tyler’s grandson Harrison Tyler, 84, says he’s not impressed with the state of politics today and particularly thinks Newt Gingrich is a “big jerk” for his three marriages.

Incredibly, President Tyler, who was born in 1790 and became the 10th president in 1841, has two grandchildren still alive today. His grandson, Harrison Ruffin Tyler, currently maintains the Tyler presidential home, Sherwood Forest Plantation Foundation in Charles City, Va.

The ancestral wisdom of Mr. Tyler may not have taken into consideration that the elimination of "jerks" would seriously limit the available pool of Presidential Candidates.

Alas, an unfortunate unintended circumstance of Mr. Tyler's assertion is that Googling John Tyler Jerk produces some 921,000 results, as of now. I'm sure President Tyler would gratified to be recognized in our modern world. No one really understood "Tippecanoe and Tyler too", anyway.

That's an odd way to bolster confidence, Mr. President

'I make a mistake, every hour, every day': Obama admits his presidency has been flawed... but claims economy is stronger

Barack Obama said he makes mistakes on an hourly basis as President but stood firmly behind his administration's work in bolstering the U.S. economy and jobs market.

The President was in Las Vegas to champion investment in clean energy, declaring the U.S. 'the Saudia Arabia of natural gas' in a speech to UPS workers.

However in an interview with ABC News' Diane Sawyer last night, he said: 'I second-guess constantly… I make a mistake, you know, every hour, every day.'

I have to say, that explains a lot. One does wish this would have come out in the job interview...hell, I wish there would have been a job interview!

David Cameron: UK Rock Star

Well, perhaps that's a bit overblown, but he seems to be one of the few European (forgive me for including Great Britain in that sorry lot) leaders with the courage to speak uncomfortable truths. Kudos for that!

Why is that here, in the cradle of modern capitalism, the points he put forth not accepted fact instead of topics for debate?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Well, I guess it's glad we have this, er, recovery thing going...

US new-home sales fell in Dec., finish dismal 2011

The Commerce Department says new-home sales fell last month to a seasonally adjusted annual pace of 307,000. The pace is less than half the 700,000 that economists say must be sold in a healthy economy.

Total sales last year were less than the 323,000 sold in 2010, making it the worst year on records dating back to 1963.

The median sales prices for new homes dropped in December, as builders continued to slash prices. It fell 2.5 percent to $210,300.

The decline in sales comes as other signs suggest the depressed housing market is starting to recover. Construction picked up, sales of previously occupied homes are rising, and builders are slightly more confident.

Is This an Example of "Bad Optics"?

Actually, arrogance may be more like it.
36 Obama aides owe $833,000 in back taxes
Photo Via 
How embarrassing this must be for President Obama, whose major speech theme so far this campaign season has been that every single American, no matter how rich, should pay their "fair share" of taxes. 
Because how unfair -- indeed, un-American -- it is for an office worker like, say, Warren Buffet's secretary to dutifully pay her taxes, while some well-to-do people with better educations and higher incomes end up paying a much smaller tax rate. 
Or, worse, skipping their taxes altogether. 
A new report just out from the Internal Revenue Service reveals that 36 of President Obama's executive office staff owe the country $833,970 in back taxes. These people working for Mr. Fair Share apparently haven't paid any share, let alone their fair share.
Previous reports have shown how well-paid Obama's White House staff is, with 457 aides pulling down more than $37 million last year. That's up seven workers and nearly $4 million from the Bush administration's last year.
Nearly one-third of Obama's aides make more than $100,000 with 21 being paid the top White House salary of $172,200, each.
Someone needs to follow up and see if there's actually anything done about this. For those of you too young to remember, that's why the press used to do.

Bravo Blogmocracy!

A very thoughtful piece and reasoned discussion with regard to a piece in the Washington Post entitled "Four ways Republicans can win Hispanics back" by Jeb Bush.

So far (30+ comments in), the discussion hasn't evolved into a "Bush Bashing" session. Credit where credit is due - KUDOS!

Pick Newt and You'll Likely Get More of This

As I've said before, Newt's quite good at "off the cuff" answers and turning negatives into positives.  Alas, it's far more impressive when an "off the cuff" answer that's used to throttle the questioner is, in fact, true.  While I hate to post a CNN video, facts are facts.

For the video impaired, from Politico:

After nearly a week on the defensive, CNN's John King reports tonight that Newt Gingrich'sclaim about offering witnesses to ABC News in his defense — to rebut the network's interview with his second wife, Marianne Gingrich — was not true.
"Tonight, after persistent questioning by our staff, the Gingrich campaign concedes now Speaker Gingrich was wrong — both in his debate answer, and in our interview yesterday," King said on tonight's edition of John King USA. "Gingrich spokesman R.C. Hammond says the only people the Gingrich campaign offered to ABC were his two daughters from his first marriage." 
An important victory for John King in his ongoing effort to justify last Thursday's confrontation.
I applaud anyone who beats the press at their own game, but I detest it when it's done with a lie. Sorry, this isn't the stuff that'll beat Obama; it's the stuff that'll make laughing stock out of Newt and anyone who supports him.

Aw, C'mon Blogmocracy, Get a Grip!

What a great site with an equally great problem!

Today, at the ever-tightening circle, we have the discussion: Is Fox News Heading Left? with a smattering of Drudge being a co-conspirator with the GOP establishment to sink Newt.  To Speranza's credit he/she noted that Newt was doing a pretty good job of sinking himself.

The fact is that the stories emerging about Newt are really just the beginning.  He's had a storied, yet checkered career in politics; he's a soaring rhetorician whose flaws and failings simply cannot be ignored and any news organization that would could legitimately be called a "tool".

If the stories are false, prove it.  If they're true, deal with it.  For God's sake, though, the GOP Establishment/Saudi Conspiracy thing is wearing a bit thin.  Well, at least Birtherism is, to their credit, rejected.

A Moment of Self-Conratulation, If You Will - A Chantix Epilogue

Tuesday, January 24 marked a full year off the cigarettes.  Last year at this time I wrote a series of small pieces about Chantix.  Did I find it to be a miracle drug?  No, not quite, but I did find it to be enormously helpful.  Yes, it has side effects, predominately with me they consisted of "unusual" dreams.  Frankly, they were just plain weird but, as a child of the late 60s/early 70s, I rather enjoyed them.  When I stopped taking the drug, I must say that I missed them.

I've quit before; once for nearly two years.  What I've found is that crutches such as Chantix, or gum, or patches, or whatever you may choose are enormously helpful.  In the end, however, your success or failure is all about how badly you want to quit.  I wish I could go all motivational and inspirational on you, but that's the honest truth and those who tell you otherwise are trying to sell you something.  As for me, I'm a  58 year old stroke survivor whose motivation was "last chance" writ large.

Gawd, I hate "born again" ex-smokers so I'll not regale you with even a hint of that.  If you'd like to continue smoking, have at it.  Just be polite and considerate about it - I always was.  If you know me, don't feel squeamish about smoking around me; you'll hear no sermons from me.

On the other hand, if you'd like to quit, I wish you luck.  It may be hard for you and it may be easier than you thought, but it's eminently doable.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Buh Bye Blogmocracy

If your in the mood for a level of political discussion generally found in a pub after a couple of rounds of pints, then man do I have the place for you!  If you believe that George W. Bush is nothing more than a warmed-over Socialist whose name should be pronounced with spittle and you'd like to share your thoughts with like-minded folk, many of whom believe that a second Obama term may well be preferable to Mitt Romney, you really should drop by; they'll welcome you with open arms.

Beware what you say as you may be called a traitor for having Leftist leanings as a young man, as was I, regardless of the fact that I later served my country in the Navy and volunteered for both Reagan, both times.  The admins really don't care, and the offended party is expected to just "suck it up" and STFU, if you know what I mean.  Yeah, I'm still angry about that one - but it taught me an invaluable lesson.  Civilized men and women admit their error; not so much at The Blogmocracy.

All's fair in love, war, and at The Blogmocracy, short of actually condoning violence.

The shame is that there are some excellent posters making some salient points, and I'll miss that.  What I won't miss is navigating around discussions of Michelle Obama's backside and feeling more than a little sophomoric when I've participated.  Oh, and "nuke 'em" is the stuff of bar room rhetoric and not serious foreign policy.

For me, life is far too short not to spend it without hearing "Third World Liberation Theology" and "Transnationalist Progressives" ad nauseum.  Life's simply to short to spend any more time with people whose list of acceptable candidates grows shorter by the day and a website that's looking less like a free discussion of ideas and more like a circular firing squad.

No thanks. While I've enjoyed my time (and, admittedly, engaged in all of these excesses), I've come to see that this is simply not a place for me any more.  The place had potential, but I prefer a degree of civility and good taste and a place where intelligent discussion is the norm, rather than the exception.  With the proper guidance, this could have been that place.

I wish the denizens of The Blogmocracy all the best, at least some of them.  The rest can either grow up or go to hell.

More SOTU Musings

The President, for the first two years of his administration, enjoyed both a Democrat House of Represeentatives and Senate; effectively making him the most powerful president in recent memory. Along with that, as the First Black President, he enjoyed enormous popular support. Did he do great things? Not really. He and his Democrat-laden majority in Congress spent their time and political capital forcing through a Health Care bill that has never enjoyed popular support, that never has, and never will, result in anything but higher costs and lower quality, and becomes more npopular by the day. Nearly a $Trillion was spent on "stimulus" which, from all appearances, has done nothing positive. Now, three years into the era of "Hope and Change", much of the country is jobless, hopeless and our national debt has increased 30% with no visible effect least no positive effect.

Now, as is the case with every president, we had the annual "State of the Union" address. What the Emmeys are to Hollywood and the glitterati class, the SOTU is to Washington and the political class - an embarrassing orgy of mastubatory self-congratulation. Needless to say it was short on the failures of the past and long on the magical future. Unbelievably, he's still selling "Hope and Change" like a carnival barker, even as America is looking more dystopian by the day.

Instead of a austere financial plan to get us through a rough patch, he gave us a shopping list of all of the items we'll be needing for our national trip to Futureworld.

Observation of the members present. I sensed confusion in some, incredulity in others, but in those who are the true believers, I saw faces intoxicated by wonderment. Given the circumstances, it has a creepy factor that was unsettling in the extreme.

As far as President Obama himself he masterfully portrayed his cluelessness as wisdom and his implacable partisainship as above-the-fray unification of the warring benighted.

It's going to be a long, difficult year.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

SOTU Musings

Obama says we need an "economy that's built to last". Oh, like the Chevy Volt? We already have one.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Israel Was Once The Darling of The Left, Now They're the Enemy

I’ve been looking through old things, trying to divest myself, and came across some Life, and Saturday Evening Post magazines that I retained from the late 60s/early 70s. It struck me as to how many positive stories there were about Israel. Back then, they were the darlings of the press, as well as the Left, in general. Of course, back then, there were leaders who were principled, thoughtful and honorable “men of the Left” who drove liberal thought. Their positions were born out of ideas, not out of mindless ideology and they were Americans first and liberals second.
When winning becomes all that matters, we often become that which we hate the most. Today, the Left is practically bereft of honorable, thoughtful leaders. They’ve been replaced by ruthless ideologues to whom raw, political power is all that matters. They no longer support Israel because they no longer fit their vision of a “victim”, so they’ve sold the laughable vision of Palestinians as “victims”
Their pivot on Israel is emblematic of how hollow that the Left has become; no longer are they Americans who respectfully disagree – they joined the other side quite some time ago.

Is Newt What We Need?

Could this be 1980 redux, with some 1968 social unrest thrown in for good measure?  This movie seems vaguely familiar.

For me the '70s were a Leftist blur as I moved away from that madness toward political agnosticism.  I had voted for McCarthy out of sheer fashion and Nixon typified the Republicans.  I felt done with the Left when the "Peace Movement" resulted in sue 2 million murdered Cambodians, and a stint in the Navy was also an invaluable eye-opener.  Nixon proved as corrupt a president as I'd seen in my lifetime.  Throughout the 70s I had taken that youthful exuberance and applied it to work and had become quite successful, but that career was being destroyed by inflation and a generally disastrous economy, and I had a pristine '74 Corvette that I couldn't afford to drive.

By 1980, many of us were weary and disillusioned as we saw our burgeoning careers falter and any money we had eaten up by inflation .  I was considering marriage but geez, the country was a mess.  I had heard of Reagan ("Ronald Ray-Guns", we used to call him) but I had been assured that he was crazy and was intent on starting WWIII.  Then, one day, I started to listen to him and he made sense.  It was as though he was putting to word all of what I was thinking, and you know, he didn't sound at all crazy.  He sounded like my father giving me sound advice.

I broke a decades-old family tradition and not only voted Republican, I actually volunteered in the campaign.  Throughout the 80s i preached to my friends and acquaintances and now, they're all conservative Republicans....well, a lot of them.

1980 was a watershed and I'm certain my story is, by no means, unique.  Neocon Boomers, such as myself,  were instrumental in electing Reagan - even though a decade earlier we were calling him a crazy old man.

This is looking remarkably like 1980, with a little 1968-style social unrest thrown in for good measure.  Events change hearts and minds forever.  Can Newt be elected, and can he be a good president?  My logical mind has profound doubts, but there's a little voice inside that says "you've been here before, haven't you?".

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Negative Panic

Hell, I’m beginning to wonder if anyone even cares anymore – on either side. I don’t think Democrats are enthused with Obama (far from it), and Republicans seem to be just going through the motions. I once thought it was just paralysis born out of fear of how to oppose The First Black President but that fear has developed into fatalistic apathy. The deeper we sink and the more serious our problems become, the less we seem to be willing to do anything.

It’s the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen. In the psychological study of reactions to crises, such as air disasters, it's called "negative panic".