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Monday, February 24, 2014

Important things to know about Ukraine

I’ve been reading everything I could find about Ukraine’s situation.  Some are astounding and not found in most of the popular articles like AP and NY Times and Yahoo News. 

First thing to know is that Ukraine is in deep financial trouble.  It happened when the populist politicians decided that everyone should have a livable fuel bill.  So they bought natural gas from Russia and sell it to the people for 1/5 that price.  It’s kind of the Russian equivalent of food stamps, a big government giveaway for a cold country.  Trouble is, it runs up a huge deficit and has put the national debt in similar shape as Greece.  So with the fiscal crisis, Prez (now former) Yanukovych worked out a deal with Russia.  Only it is a Putin gun-to-the-head deal: Ukraine gets $15 B to cover the deficit, but they have to drop application for EU membership. Yanukovych (pronounced Yeah-nuke-a-vych.  Don’t know if vyches like being nuked or not.) took it, although the parliament had previously voted to apply for the EU. 

This ticked off the Ukrainians, especially those in the West.  Ukraine is about the size of Texas, originally grasslands, until the Slavs began to settle it down, first under Cossacks who raided and harassed the nomadic tribes who once ruled the roost (former Mongols and Huns mostly). They were originally Russians, but spoke a different language.  By WW I, the area was ruled by Russia (East and South), Poland and Austria (West).  The Russian area was heavily industrialized during communism and infiltrated by Russians.  So the East speaks Russian and the West, Ukrainian.  This matters much.  The Westerners watched as Poland and Hungary westernized and drew in investment after 1992 while Ukraine did nothing.  Poland now has three times the GDP per person as Ukraine, so the West says, Hey! That could have been us!  On the other hand the East is run like Russia with former apparatchiks taking control of industries, changing little but enriching themselves like kings.  This corruption is the real sore spot among the opposition guys who protested. 

Yeah-nuke-a-vych is the kind of guy who thinks if he wins an election, he gets to be dictator now, not president.  So in basic ways he is Obama II—giving away cheap gas and running up the deficit, changing laws at will—but also a dangerous thug.  He tried to steal the election in 2004.  There were protests in what is called the Orange Revolution, and they got him thrown out of office.  But the opposition did just as many giveaways and got the economy in trouble.  Vanny got elected for real the second time around and then strong-armed parliament into changing the constitution giving him lots of powers.   So what happened in the protests was originally they were about the EU, then people got mad when the police fired upon them and said, hey! We want a republic again!  Yanny stalled around by pretending to negotiate with spineless opposition leaders in Parliament which are like Mitch McConnell.  He promised free stuff for the people. Then he unleashed an offensive against the protestors which killed nearly 100 of them.  Suddenly the public was up in arms.  Yanukovych may not have cared a fig about this, but the MPs finally fearing for their own political lives, decided to oust/impeach him. He had jailed Tymoshenko, his main opponent on trumped up charges.  They put out an arrest warrant for Yanny who was forced to flee. They re-instated the 2004 republican constitution.  Tymo came to tell the protestors not to let up.  They have now taken over most of the government buildings. They demand a right for all citizens to bear arms.

But Yanukovych is reportedly in hiding in the Crimea where his big base of support is, and the place where the Russians dearly want as their own.  He is likely to make them a deal to give over Crimea in exchange for their army to put down his opposition.  Trouble for Putin is this.  Does he want the revolution, because to act at this point would certainly bring the ire of just about everyone in Ukraine.  He’ll probably go back to blackmailing Ukraine with gas and bail outs. 

It is for this reason that the West and Europe must act quickly and with a lot of money in support of the Ukrainians.  If we pussy foot, which is the standard lead-from-behind technique of Obama, we will lose.  Next is dominos.  Russia and Putin are set to pressure all the old republics into joining a new Russian “federation”  somewhat like the old USSR.  What Ukraine does will make or break Putin’s thuggery. 

Maybe Ukraine will split into East and West Ukraine. So what holds Ukraine together?  Kiev, the magnificent old original capital of Russia which all Ukrainians love and the feeling that they are a people apart from the Russians.  A desire for modernization instead of Russian mafia-run big businesses.  Solidarity with Poles/Czechs/Serbs and other Slavs other than the Russians. Will that trump Russian meddling and leftist populism?  Stay tuned.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Stimulating stuff

Rats! Just when I was relishing having one of those CIN-study guys from FCC come see how I write this blog, they decide to stand down on the program.  I would have loved telling that guy how my news decisions are simple: will it bring down that darned tyrant? You say, naw, FCC only wanted to control news organizations and newspapers. They will never check your blog. Okay, magazines are classified as newspapers worldwide.  Just slicker paper.  And many mags have a news section.  Vogue has Fashion News. So then can the FCC “suggest” what clothes Vogue writes about?  News is everywhere, even in what I do.

            The 5 year anniversary of the Stimulus Porkulus came and went with Oblamer now wanting more stimuli or else it is the Republican’s fault for the paltry recovery.  It always amazes me how libs can be so saavy and crafty on politics while being such bozos over economics.  The Stimulus or American Recovery Act, didn’t work.  It didn’t because of Keynesianism.  The Keynesians never figure opportunity cost.  Let me explain that economic term.

 John Maynard Keynes in the 30’s said that governments should spend and stimulate economies. This dogma was to lib politicians what heroin was to Hoffman.  Pols had already been experimenting with giving free stuff away and Keynesianism gave them cover, an excuse that vote-buying was actually benefitting the economy.  Hallelujah! The idea of a stimulus in recessions was quickly amended to stimulus all the time. Except that Keynesian stimuli don’t work.  It didn’t work for the British Labor Party or Peron or FDR or Nixon or anybody else. 

            That’s because Keynesians never figure opportunity cost. Opportunity cost is what you lost by doing something else with your money.  A Keynesian figures that government can simply print money or print bonds and hand out the (almost cost free) dough—and those handouts will stimulate a sluggish economy.   But what if the stimulus lost more economic growth with the right hand while handing out goodies with the left hand of government.  A quick example to illustrate. Suppose there exists a rich Republican small businessman who sells his business and now has a nice little pile of cash. A recession has taken place.  Should he just leave it in cash or invest?  He comes up with one possibility. He will buy junk buildings for 10 cents on the dollar, adding another 20 cents of fixup and in the end have a good building to rent.  If all goes according to his calculations he can make 30% return.  If not, he might get 5% return or even lose money.  While he is pondering what to do, the big government Democrats arrive.  “Well! We have a deal for you!  As we speak, we are printing some new government bonds.  They are tax free and yield 4% and are sure to be paid back.”  So the  Republican businessman buys the bonds (being nervous about the recession). “Gentlemen prefer bonds.”

The Dems snicker about how easy this was, like taking candy from a baby.  They gave him a promissary note and he gave them his life savings. Now they can give that money away as a stimulus, say, as a pork project for Representative Weiner, that wonderful responsible guy.  And they only have to pay it back in the far-off future.  Maybe then the future generation will tax themselves more or inflate the currency. 

Not so fast.  The businessman lender gave up on his entrepreneurial project of fixing an old building which would have employed plumbers, electricians, laborers, etc. (a true stimulus of the economy). That was the cost of opportunity which the government/country had to endure as he bought bonds.  Meanwhile the stimulus revenue garnered shrinks with 29% government overhead.  It is often dispersed to welfare recipients and the hope is that they will stimulate economic growth.  But they are the least likely to do it.  They might buy cigarettes and diapers and beer.  The worst case is where the money is given to a Museum of Senator Foghorn Leghorn Speeches.  To build a boondoggle which has no visitors and makes the effect of the expenditure die.  In either case the Stimulus actually un-stimulates the economy by drawing money from growth projects to non-growth ones. Opportunity Costs.

But you can’t tell the lib Keynesians anything.  They assume big government spending does good and won’t question that central assumption.  They insist that foreigners do a lot of the lending so our debt just works against foreigners. (Oh?  So they can’t afford our products? Explain that least-greater-fool stuff again?) Or they say that it simply wasn’t enough.  “Think how much worse it could have been had there been no Stimulus!”  And concerning the notion that we borrow from foreigners and live high on the hog?  Well you can borrow from a relative and spend like the prodigal son but eventually you’ll be eating hog slop. Tyrants just manipulate things so they won’t be in office when the slop diet begins. You see how this news article got written?        

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Limp Picks

Golly, Ma and me been watching the Limp Picks. Since she had knee surgery and I been tryin to cook, we are both housebound and so it was natural to watch TV.  Now she wants to take up Ice Dancing after she gets better.  No way!  I don’t skate, unless you count that time we had an ice storm.  I flailed my arms wildly and kicked out several times like a desperation snow angel in midair, then landed on my kiester.  They called it a triple klutz.  Well anyway, we sure enjoyed watching Meryl and Charlie do their dancing and win that gold. Now maybe Charlie will have enough money to get a haircut.  NBC interviewed Meryl and she ended the interview, “well this is wonderful, but now we have to break this off and go compete.”  I loved it. Concentration and intensity.  Heart of a linebacker.  Those TV people only yak and ask Bode Miller how he feels eleven times.  Man, never ask a guy how he feels!  Ask him if he got ‘r dun. 

Everything at the beginning was under construction but as soon as the games began you didn’t hear anymore about it.  That’s because that President of Russia never smiles.  He just writes down your name.  Better watch what you say.  No more stories about roachy Sochi.  No wise thoughts about how that Super G course was laid out by some guy who had too much vodka and couldn’t keep the course straight.  But they did have a lot of undone construction.  Here’s proof.  There was one event where the guys kept skiing into a construction site and hitting these big on-ramps that weren’t done yet.  They’d trip and flip in the air 4 or 5 times then come down like a cat that you hold upside down by four legs then release.  Good thing they were such good skiers.

Did you see everybody keeps biting them medals?  I mean you can bite gold or lead to see if it is real but silver and bronze?  Looks like a good way to lose a filling to me.  We did enjoy watching Bob and his sled.  Poor guys.  The motor wouldn’t start so they had to push the way I used to have to get help to push that old straight eight Pontiac.  Small world, I guess.  USA was driving a BMW.  You’d think Detroit and the UAW would have been able to cobble up something, especially after their bailout which they have not paid back.  I move we enlist NASCAR next time.  The NASCAR guys will be able to design a spoiler or Teflon coat the blades or something tricky.  Then you could get sponsors to put logos all over the body.  Make them Russians jealous because they don’t have all them products.  Ma, she watched the Moguls and wondered how they made all those little humps.  My theory is that in summer that thing is a salvage yard with all those useless cars they used to make over there—Volgas, Trabants, Yugos—you know, the ones that had tar paper for a vinyl top. Well you add five feet of snow over that salvage yard and you get moguls.  I once saw this happen in Idaho.  Whatever the case, Ma says those young’uns who sky don’t realize they’s lookin at knee surgery in their future.

The other thing everyone was predicting was terrorism and it hasn’t happened.  That’s because the Muslims saw all those guys coming in to do biatholon.  If there’s any terrorism, they just turn the Finnish team loose on the countryside.  Those dudes held off the Russians, you know. We have so many channels on our TV that I think I found an offshoot channel where they show events that we never see because USA doesn’t win any medals in those sports.  They expanded to several new events to try to involve the Muslims who live around Sochi.  But it’s been pretty rough going.  The Pairs Suicide Bombing Skaters kept getting big deductions because they failed to detonate.  The people who did Women’s Guard Gate Running Luge kept getting off the course because they couldn’t see due to their burka.

It’s been an interesting show altogether.  Ma looked at me and said, “You think they got rednecks in Russia?”  I don’t see why not.  They got a stray dog problem, don’t they? The head NBC dude got pink eye from ‘em.  NBC’s set has big pile of firewood but no fire because no one wants to take out the ashes.  No question in my mind.      

Sunday, February 16, 2014

How to fix the Republican Party

Everywhere you go, people are in a bad mood.  It cuts across party lines and classes.  I think I must be somewhat the exception, but it is born of the fact that I think I know what is wrong, at least in the politics.  Democrats got exactly what they asked for under Obama and are horrified at how reality has bitten them.  Republicans can’t understand why they didn’t win in 2012 and didn’t seem to connect with voters. 

And so the R’s have given some really stupid answers to why we didn’t win.  We didn’t appeal to Hispanics.  But do the math.  If Mitt would have gotten 70% of Hispanics rather than 30%, it would have increased him by 3 million votes and he lost 65 million to 60.  He would have still lost.  Yes we need more Hispanic support but that’s not  the reason he lost.  Others say we didn’t turn out the Republicans.  True.  But Romney got a million more votes than McCain and Obama got 4 million less than in 2008.  Still Romney lost. 

So what is the answer?  They ran a very good campaign against a Republican mess.  Obama’s campaign outstrategized, outorganized, outworked and outclassed the R’s.  Not only did Obama win, the Dems picked up two seats in the Senate and 7 in the House. 

And it will happen again if the R’s don’t get their act together in the mid-terms.

Problem one with the Republicans is that they have no resounding message.  That’s the way they have been going along for years, ever since FDR beat them badly. (The empty strategy of bitching is okay for a minority party.)  And then out of the blue came Ronald Reagan with a simple message—get the government off the people’s backs and stand up strong against USSR.  It resonated with America.  After losing dozens of countries to communism over the years and laboring under restraints imposed by Uncle Sam, people responded to Reagan.  He pitched the American Dream, the shining city on a hill, morning in America.  I wish we had someone that could do that in plain-spoken English again.  And then RR proceeded to vanquish the critics by making it happen.  Then the R’s lapsed back into Bush 41 and “not too good at the vision thing.” 

Again in 1994, Gingerich laid down a legislative vision in the form of Contract with America.  10 bills that had 70% approval in polls that the R’s vowed to bring up. All the critics howled about how stupid this was.  The R’s picked up 52 house seats and won the Senate. The Message resonated.  (I always wanted to go on Meet the Press after that election as Dave the Carpenter and ask why all you ding dong Dems thought the Republicans would lose?)

By 1880, the Republican party was known as the Grand Old Party.  Think about that.  The party was barely 25 years old and they called it “Grand Old”?  The reason for the name was that the party had a vision, a message that was the embodiment of the grand old ideals that had founded the republic. 

We need a Message today and I suggest we become the Party of the American Dream.  Talk about what we are going to do to bring back jobs and opportunity, how we will fix the schools and provide more choice, how we will guarantee the Constitution gets followed, the debt relieved, and Obamacare repealed. 

But instead of a grand vision, so many advisors and pundits are telling candidates not to promise anything, just attack the opponent.  Romney attacked Obama and couldn’t seem to articulate the dream.  The campaign was all negative, about fear, blaming Obama, and technical tweaks of the economy.  No imagination. Obama counterpunched with caricatures of Romney as a mean Wall-Streeter who lashed his poor dog to the roof, hated minorities, and promoted racist policies.  The Dem base lapped it up and showed up when they were prompted by Tweets.  (And by the way, we need more tech saavy in our party)

Second problem is money alone.  To win a state Senate job costs about $100,000 and each district has almost 100,000 people.  You have to appear in person before a large number of the voters to let them see what kind of a guy you are.  But US Congressmen and State-wide races don’t have that personal touch.  So Republicans have the habit of raising a lot of money and just buying TV, radio, newspaper ads as well as direct mailers, etc.  There is no army of supporters, which a state Rep. or Senator can use.  Not so with the Dems.  They always advise using a lot of NEA teachers in the summer to go door to door and union slave labor in the fall.  Republicans need to develop grassroots, especially out of the seniors and tea partiers.  The Republican establishment guys are utter fools for not seeing this.  A piece of junk mail on a candidate rarely sways a vote.  It averages 17 seconds before it hits the trash (this is the average time studies show it gets looked at).  But a humble person at your front door saying they believe so much in this guy that they have volunteered time to walk the streets (or call on the phone), has a 30% likelihood of changing a vote.   

But the political advisors and media types discourage this kind of campaigning.  They make their enormous fees be encouraging TV and splashy appearances, and various forms of advertizing.  Romney raised almost a billion and PACs raised another $1.2  billion—half a billion more than Obama—and he still lost.

Income inequality.  Once again, Obama is trying to hone a message that the R’s are the party of privilege.  If the R’s don’t counter that, they will get beat.  On the state wide level, I find an irony.  I agree 100% with the goals of the State Chamber of Commerce.  They speak about leaving business less regulated and free to do business.  But it’s weird.  The Chamber sometimes lobbies the legislature for all sorts of “projects” that benefit Chamber members.  That corporate welfare is directly counter to their stated goals.  The Republican candidates need to favor dynamic entrepreneurialism over corporate cronyism in no uncertain terms.  And if we neglect the needs and concerns of the middle class, we are sunk.  The Grand Old Party became just that by appealing to the wants of the vast middle of the American electorate.  Hence R’s are classified as a middle class party. Not so the Dems.  They are a coalition party—a party that puts together various minorities and groups trying to achieve a majority.  And so the Democrat pundits on MSNBC heckle the Republicans about needing to get more women or Hispanics.  That is how Dems do it, not R’s!

But there is an important nugget of truth in saying that Republicans need to broaden their base.  They need to stop using rhetoric that runs off their supporters.  Romney made a phenomenal gaffe when he said that 47% pay no taxes and would vote against him.  So what’s wrong with a person who lives on social security alone or gets welfare payments voting Republican?  I walk the streets of my old neighborhood campaigning in the poor side of town, and am constantly pleased with how many R’s there are to be found.  They are poor people with rich ideals.  That’s why Reagan roused the Reagan Democrats.  He spoke their language.  When an old sailor wrote him a letter protesting RR’s analogy of gov’t spending like a drunken sailor, Reagan issued a charming apology saying, “You’re right. No sailor, no matter how drunk, ever spent money like the federal government.” If I would have advised Romney, I would have told him to find a plumber working, climb down in the hole and start handing him wrenches while talking.  Contrast to Joe the Plumber and Obama.

Republicans also have to pick our fights better.  90% of people were horrified by the Gosnell case.  60% of people say they are pro-life, but when you ask the question other ways the answers often come out more like 50-50.  If you ask if abortion could be used in some circumstances, people say YES by 78%.  They are thinking about “life of the mother at risk” and other things.  What this says to me is we need to concentrate on late term abortion.  I believe life begins at conception, but that’s not where I would pick my fight.  Watch Texas governor’s race.  If it becomes about abortion in general, Wendy Davis has a chance.  If it is about her obstruction of late term "Gosnell" abortion restrictions, she’s toast. Likewise, argue Obama’s trashing of the first amendment religious expression by a flurry of facts.  He tells military chaplains how to preach, told Lutherans they weren’t free to choose their ministers, tells all manner of Christian groups and businesses they must fund abortifacient insurance.  It’s First Amendment, not just birth control—which is what Obama and Sandra Fluke want us to talk about.  Pick your fight!

Obama and the Senate Democrats have governed so badly they have handed the Party of the American Dream an opportunity, not just for a win but for a change in voter attitudes for years to come.  Let’s don’t screw it up.  Some of this stuff is just plain humorous.  When some guy said to me that Obamacare would allow people to stop working, spend more time with the family, pursue a hobby, I said, “Yeah, I think they told me that when I got laid off one time.”  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Illegal immigration and reform

I guess Senator Chuck U Schumer and Rep. Paul Ryan are having a discussion on immigration reform.  Ryan apparently told Chuck U that the House was going to do it their own way, thank you.  Having had a Mex foster daughter, having followed Mexico’s politics, having talked with hundreds if not thousands of  Mex-Americans about the immigrant problem I think I could be a good advisor to Ryan and the House. 

First problem is the border and the administration's inability to administer the border. (Did we not buy enough maps?) What is needed is a true security of the border.  Dems claim it is already secure since illegal traffic is around 400,000 a year compared to 1.5 million 5 years ago.  No, that is just recession and housing downturn at work.  What is needed is a level of under 20,000 a year to say that we have actually done something.  And this goal needs to be ascertained by an independent body, not Congress or the President.  I suggest a  commission of about 8 or 9 folks, appointed by the states, maybe 4 of whom are appointed by governors of border states—CA, AZ, NM, and TX.  And other consideration might be to heavy entry states like FL, NY, and LA.   Once our border is secured, we can talk about what to do for the 11.7 million illegals.  One might ask what happens if some Slick Leftist takes over and decides to shut down the border for a year—just to get immigration reform done-- then opens it wide again.  Answer: Legislate an allowance for state troopers to assist in ID checks and border violations arrests just as AZ did and was struck down by the court.  But simple cooperation in federal pursuits is not unconstituional.  If state cooperation in Health Exchanges is proper, so is border security.  Secondly, give all current illegals a period of time to register for free residency status.  After that time, anyone without an ID is illegal.  Children of illegals born after the securing of the border will be deemed citizens of their parents country. 

“Now listen, Chuck, Martin Luther once pointed out that you cannot hose down an unsuspecting crowd and pronounce them baptized.  Becoming a Christian takes faith.  Same with becoming an American. You gotta wanna.”  Once the border is secure and we have granted permanent resident alien status to prior immigrants, the pathway to citizenship would have to be one of naturalization and any restitution of back taxes.  If we just give blanket amnesty to all, some will be bad actors. You may be granting citizenship to Hezbollah and Al Qaeda terror cells and Chechnyans (already here) who have only disdain for USA and want to destroy us. Or Latin drug cartel members.  “And you know who they will be bombing, don’t you Chuck?  It ain’t Kearny, Nebraska or Bug Tussle, Oklahoma where the citizens have guns. It’s where Muslims discern centers of moral decadence that are soft targets, like where you live, Chuck. Same argument for drug traffickers.”

The folks who just come to USA simply to have a better life are honored and respected when they don’t get put in the same pot as terrorists and trouble makers. There are huge numbers of advanced degree students sent back to India and Sri Lanka where they have a sad unemployed life.  We Republicans like people who work hard and try to better themselves. We could even trade a few low-life Democrats to the country from which we got the geniuses, as compensation. They could march around with their awareness ribbons and show how to make better marijuana. Sorta like Democrat Peace Corps.
             "Now here’s the deal with Republicans, Chucky.  They worry that the only reason you Dems want amnesty is to get voters.  If all those illegals were likely to become Republicans, you Dems would have built the great wall of China, minefields, and machine gun towers like your socialist friends did. But it is proven that the main reason Hispanics vote Dem is that they are poor and desire handouts.  However, given the long time it takes for naturalization, restitution and the like, we think that their fiscal status will improve.  Plus we plan to show up at naturalization ceremonies with small businessmen in tow who need help and have jobs.  Alas, you Dems don’t have any small businessmen that vote for you. Just leave the job fair to us along with the voter registrations.  We’ll see who wins.”    

Monday, February 3, 2014

Random Thoughts

Here are some of my random thoughts.  Snow tonight.  But it is not winter storm Maximus.  That is the one that is currently hitting the east coast and we are getting the next one on the list. Maximus: So named for the fact that if you slip on the ice  you fall on your gluteus maximus.  However, we don't rate, here in the Mid South.  So they won't say what this storm is called until it goes east.  After Cleon and Dion and Leon this year, I figure it must be time for Neon.  Don't worry.  Storm Peon is coming later.  (It's a small storm). 

     If you believe gov't should legalize pot but agree with Michele Obama that all the munchies should be outlawed You Must Be A Liberal (YMBAL).  If you  think R's are wagging a war on women but the Muslim Brotherhood is not YMBAL. If you worry about sea level rising 26 inches in the next 100 years and think Americans who don't get enough exercise can't move uphill YMBAL.
     I understand that Christie also shut down the DMV computer in a Large New Jersey city but no one complained because no one noticed any difference.  And polling good news for Obama.  So few people signed up for Obamacare that there really weren't many complaints.  The guy also said that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol.  What's he been smokin'? And I am proud to announce that he and the R's finally agreed that government is too big so he wants to eliminate the legislative branch.  But the best zinger about Lame Duck Dynasty this week was when Star Parker said something you can only say if you are Afro.  "The President said, 'The problem is a lot of people don't like me because I'm black.' Maybe they are just judging you on the content of your character rather than the color of your skin."
   I guess the $10.10 minimum wage will only apply to federal construction projects.  Oh, like the border fence? That won't effect many workers.
  Finally another zinger I lifted from somewhere.  The young folks aren't signing up for Obamacare.  They are under their parent's policies, aren't sick and are saving for a JEEP.  They have no jobs or poor jobs to pay for the premiums.  Which will make all the premiums rise in price.  This is the First Dem idea in 40 years to make Vietnam seem well-conceived.
     Oh one more.  First we had Seung Hui Cho who killed 32 at Virginia Tech.  Then Jared Loughner shot Gabby Giffords and killed several others in 2010.  In 2011 James Holmes killed 16 in a movie theatre in Aurora CO.  Then in 2012 Andrew Engeldinger killed 7 at a Minneapolis mall.  2013 brought Adam Lanza murdering 36 at a CN school.   All these mass murders were Registered Democrats.  All were used by the Dems as examples for gun control.   So who are the Dems planning on this year?
    Ready to tune into the Olympics.  The State Dept. told American athletes not to wear their gear outside of Olympic village. State Dept?!! I mean, at this point what difference does it make!  I did hear that their uniforms were white slacks, red/white/blue coats with stars and eagles adorning.  Ha! That means that all the Dems who tune into NBC for the coverage will have to watch the College Republicans.  (Argus Hamilton)
     Oh and one news flash.  Democrats are going to seal the border immediately to try to stop Illegal Lightbulb Trafficking.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

what's next if we capture Senate?

The first races of the Senate in 2014 are starting to get polled and there are some surprises already.  Mitch McConnell of KY, thought to be toast, is running ahead of his Dem opponent. The Carl Levin Memorial seat in Michigan, which the Democrat  held for 6 terms is now open, and the R is ahead by two points in two polls.  Democrat Hagan in NC is behind every hypothetical R they can guess and has favorablitiy of 43%.  She’s toast.   Scott Brown now says he will run in NH.  He is ahead of Shaheen in a poll.  There are eleven other races that will probably be close.  Of all Senate races, the Republicans have to net 6 wins. 

So let’s imagine a Senate run by R’s as well as the House.  What then should they do.  Here’s what Mitch Daniels of Indiana says in his book should be our ultimate strategy.  I would have to think this would be somewhat the strategy of Congressional R’s.  First Daniels says we should seek to liberate the job creators and get the economy going again.  But with a highly partisan Prez and Dems in Congress, this will be hard to do.  Worse, the 800 pound gorilla is the SS and MC programs that are going broke, i.e. won’t self-finance and require funding from general budget.  NO chance getting something done until R’s capture presidency or someone less idealogical comes along.   So then Congress must concentrate on what it can do.  Defund.

First a major downsizing of the federal bureaucracy.  A hiring freeze would be best (with exceptions channeled through OMB).  Once Congress can pass an annual budget that is conservative this should be possible.  Of course Oblamer would veto and scream about shutting gov’t down.  But R’s could counter with a continuing resolution to fund gov’t with ZERO percent increases, not the 8% increases of Harry Reid.  Let Oblamer come to the negotiating table or let him live with no increases.  Second, there should be a federal pay freeze until federal salaries are more in line with private sector jobs. Let Obluster rage about how the avg. fed worker only makes $82K a year and that’s not a Living Wage. Third, Obamacare should be repealed and replaced.  The R’s have already proposed this.  Fourth, no area of the budget should be off limits, including Defense. But especially we could cut EPA and their regulations from hell that are killing business expansion.

Fifth item is for the executive branch to reinstate the power of impoundment, but that ability to stop the bureaucrats from spending all their budget won’t happen until we get a Republican President. Sixth, the CBO and GAO estimates of federal revenue coming in are being based on 4.5% growth.  US growth for the last 5 years of the recovery has been 1.6%.  2013 was 1.8.  With a Republican Congress we could at least restore sanity to CBO estimates.  This would add yet another nail in the coffin of Obamacare and illuminate national debt problems. 

Seven, fix the tax system.  This realistically would probably not be proposed until an R has become Prez, but Daniels points out that our present system locks up 6.6 billion hours of filing time on the part of private industry and people.  It costs $194 in preparation.  It leads to a terrifying IRS which has now shown it targets conservatives.  And the Dem dream of taxing the rich has only killed jobs.  2/3 of the upper 20% of income earners are small businessmen who create 70% of new jobs. Also the current 35% tax on corporations is keeping at least $11 trillion earned by US subsidiaries, locked up abroad.  Cut the tax and bring the capital home to create American jobs and growth.

Daniels then says that we should demolish many federal welfare programs except perhaps for the utterly destitute and replace with a negative income tax.  The NIT is like a larger version of the Earned Income Tax Credit.  That is, you give the poor money directly in lieu of all the complex welfare programs that employ vast numbers of federal workers and suck up most of the money for overhead.  NIT trusts the clients to order their own lives and start getting responsible.  Doubtful that Congress alone would do this, but a good suggestion.

Number 9 is regulatory relief in the form of slapping down executive orders that Obama has done.  He may have a pen and phone but we have a Constitution and Laws. Regulatory pay-go is a good solution—demanding the elimination of one rule before another can be instigated.  Better is a multi-year moratorium on new fed regulations.  Number 10 is to override Obama on energy.  Override him on Keystone pipeline and approve it.  (Strangely State Dept. has approved Keystone but because of the NB sand hills environmentalism, they have deferred to the Prez.  Clearly he wants to kill Keystone by putting it in limbo.) Drill baby drill the offshore blocks and federal lands.  Reduce the insane ethanol subsidies in the name of international starvation due to high corn prices. Reduce but don’t eliminate subsidies for wind and solar as exorbitant. The ethanol, wind, solar arguments should be couched in terms of “too much but we still want to encourage alternatives”.  This would be hard for Dems to argue against politically.  

So there you go, Mitch’s 10-point plan which would probably be partly implementable with an R Congress. It is also probably close to intents of most R's in Congress.   Once we get an R for President we can then tackle the big gorilla of what to do about MC and SS.   


Confession time.  My partner and I do a lot of risky things.  Not the skydiving and Alaskan hunting sorts of things, but business risks.  Why?  What makes us start a B&B, 2 hotels, restaurant, catering service, limo service, rentals and flips, Christmas Market Oklahoma, foster kids, and a number of other things.  I’m no great businessman.  Only the hotels and rentals made a sustainable living. But we laugh the failures off and say we survived to tell about it. Even the system kid who pulled a knife and is now in prison.

Becoming a single parent at age 19, I read a fair number of child psychologists--Dodson, Dobson, Spock and more recently Eldridge.  They say that kids who have a stable family become people who take risks.  Don’t confuse this with gambling.  Gamblers are the guys who will spend a dollar on a lottery ticket simply because it has a million dollar payoff.  Never mind the billion to one odds.  But if you offer people a $50 bill or the chance to win $120 with two-to-one odds, most people will take the less risky route of 50 bucks.  The fewer risk takers will opt for the average payoff of $60.     

When Eldridge explained so clearly that having a family that encouraged you to try something new, that even bad  mistakes can be overcome by intellectual honesty, persistence, and discipline, it gave me pause.  So then what is in store for USA as our social fabric disintegrates?  Will children raised by single parents (or more realistically by a gang of peers), will abuse and neglect and bullying and government schools cause us to become a nation that no longer takes much risk? It seems to be coming true.  I find a spiritual component to risk as well.  If God care for you, is in the process of making your life worth something he planned, then go for it.

Indeed, USA has gone from economic growth of 4.5% in the eighties, to 3.5% in the 90s to 3% in the 2000s to 1.8% in the big recovery last year.  Risk-taking has been disturbingly scarce in America of late: the number of self-employed, job creation at start-ups and the sums invested in businesses have been low.  The rich and educated have always been more daring.  But then you find out they got that way by living on the edge more.  Comes now a growing body of economic research that links low tolerance of risk with past emotional trauma (“from which there seems no escape”, the psychologists would add).  They have been studying personal financial behavior of Europeans after their recession of the early 1990s, tsunami survivors of 2004 in SE Asia, and Americans after 2007.  The results are that people are much more risk averse, even if they didn’t sustain personal loss.  Another study of Italian banking students, half of whom were shown a gory horror flick just prior to a test on risk, saw significantly more cautious scores among those who watched the movie—except those who love and laugh at horror movies.

All this makes sense to me since I hired onto a major company in the seventies, whose bosses had grown up in the Depression and fought in WW II.  They didn’t understand the new generation.  Traditionally, factories who had an assembly line worker who screwed something up would punish the worker by making them take the day off.  The traumatized employee returned fearful of job loss the next day vowing to do better.  But when my generation came along and wanted a day off, the threw bolts into the assembly conveyors on purpose. Temporary joblessnes was no punishment. Management didn’t know how to deal with it.

I think I drove my bosses nuts.  I would make goals to do what seemed very hard at times and commit to doing whatever it took to finish it.  The customers who were division offices within our company loved such things, heralded the jobs, but back home it was icy.  I remember a boss closing the door to my office and going ballistic over me promising too much.  “You should never promise ANYthing!  That way no one can say you didn’t achieve something you promised! And your reputation follows you around. If you don’t make waves you will get promoted.”  Hmm.  I read about Boone Pickens and why he quit Phillips for exactly this kind of management. 

I had to think about the invitation to become a campaign manager.  Politics is about telling people what they want to hear, and I always took too much delight in seeing the fallacy, the buffoonery, the pitfall, the opportunity in their assurance of failure.  Would I do okay? But at least I didn’t have to do the talking and I had a guy who could.  We muddled through and won.  Now we laugh about how we survived when everyone expected us to go up in smoke.

America has always confounded the critics by succeeding where they could only foresee abject failure.  Having supportive parents while just outside the window was a world waiting to be conquered, was our secret weapon.  Having a God who held us in the palm of His hand and didn’t mind us floundering was our secret weapon.  I just hope it is not so secret that we lose it without ever knowing what it is that we lost.