When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do? -- John Maynard Keynes

Monday, April 30, 2012

Why are Taxpayers Paying for Obama's Campaign?

It's a question even the mainstream media is asking. If this kind of misuse of taxpayer funds by Obama continues,  you can expect a call for appointment of a special prosecutor:

Live Not By Obama’s Lies | Washington Free Beacon:
The president scheduled appearances at three colleges located purely by coincidence in swing states, and booked a guest spot on Jimmy Fallon’s late-night talk show. His objective? Promise to keep loans cheap and, as always, slam the GOP. And do all of this not as a candidate but as a president. Otherwise he’d have to spend some of the cash in his Chicago money bin.

Campaign events? Not at all, Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter told MSNBC’s Chuck Todd Wednesday morning, while refusing to say when the events will begin. But the visuals from the campuses—showing Obama preening and asking, “Can I get an Amen?” as hordes of squealing teenagers answered his call—was too much even for the liberal media to stomach.

How much longer do we have to pretend these POTUS events aren’t campaign events?” tweeted MSNBC’s Mike O’Brien. “This is campaigning. Just call it that,” said the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein. They were echoing ABC’s Jake Tapper, who noted last week that the White House “seemed offended” when asked whether “electoral factors” determined Obama’s travel. Seizing an opportunity, the Republican National Committee lodged a formal complaint with the Government Accountability Office, alleging that the White House was using official funds for electioneering.

The sudden refusal by the media and RNC to participate in the charade got Obama’s attention. By Wednesday evening David Axelrod and Jim Messina were on the phone telling reporters that the president’s reelection would officially kick off Saturday, May 5, with rallies at Ohio State and Virginia Commonwealth University. Just like that, the lie that Obama hasn’t been “campaigning” came to an end. But does anyone seriously doubt that Obama would have postponed his campaign’s official kickoff for as long as possible, if his traditional allies in the media hadn’t called him on it?

Perhaps this is only the beginning. Perhaps the frustration expressed in those tweets augurs a fresh look by the media at Obama . . . . “So in our timidity,” wrote Solzhenitsyn, “let each of us make a choice: Whether consciously, to remain a servant of falsehood—of course, it is not out of inclination, but to feed one’s family, that one raises his children in the spirit of lies—or to shrug off the lies and become an honest man worthy of respect both by one’s children and contemporaries.” Can I get an Amen?"



Sunday, April 29, 2012

Escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speaks out [Video] - latimes.com:

The facts in this case speak for themselves. This will also be a test of the Obama administration. The world is watching--

Escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng speaks out [Video] - latimes.com:
"After escaping from house arrest, blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng issued a dramatic video message calling on Premier Wen Jiabao to protect his family, punish the people who had attacked them and combat corruption, recounting alleged abuses he and his family suffered at the hands of police.
"Premier Wen, so many people do not know whether such illegal acts are the acts of corrupt local officials or commanded by the central authority. I think you must thoroughly investigate the truth and give your people a clear answer," Chen said. "If you continue to ignore this and do nothing, what will the people think?"
Chen, a 41-year-old lawyer, was jailed for four years after exposing forced sterilization and other abuses carried out by Chinese family-planning authorities, then placed under house arrest once his prison term was over. He escaped last weekend in a rescue operation mounted by his supporters.
"I finally escaped," Chen began his Friday video message to Wen.
Chen asked Wen to investigate and punish police officers who he said had repeatedly attacked his home, robbing and assaulting his family. In one instance, more than 10 men had pinned him to the ground, and beat and kicked him for four hours, Chen said.
His wife was beaten so badly that her eye socket bone was broken, but she was never allowed to call for medical treatment . . . . Chen's rescue appears to have been timed to coincide with U.S.-China discussions on human rights this week. His case has attracted global attention."


Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Secret Service and Strippers--Not Secret Anymore

"Do you not know, my son, with how little wisdom the world is governed?"

New Secret Service scandal centers on strippers,... | www.kirotv.com: "Seattle-based Investigative Reporter Chris Halsne (KIROTV- CBS- COX MEDIA GROUP)  just returned from El Salvador, where he interviewed a U.S. government subcontractor who worked extensively with the Secret Service advance team (snipers, K-9 and explosives sweeps) in San Salvador prior to President Obama’s trip there in March of 2011.The eyewitness says he joined about a dozen Secret Service agents and a few U.S. military specialists at a strip club in San Salvador a few days before President Obama and his family arrived in El Salvador to meet with its new president, Mauricio Funes.This source witnessed the majority of the men drink heavily ("wasted," "heavily intoxicated") at the strip club. He says most of the Secret Service "advance-team" members also paid extra for access to the VIP section of the club where they were provided a number of sexual favors in return for their cash. Although our source says he told the agents it was a "really bad idea" to take the strippers back to their hotel rooms, several agents bragged that they "did this all the time" and "not to worry about it." Our source says at least two agents had escorts check into their rooms. It is unclear whether the escorts who returned to the hotels were some of the strippers from the same club.   These alleged incidents in El Salvador occurred a full year prior to recent revelations that secret service agents used prostitutes in Cartagena, Colombia, on a presidential trip this month. . . .  "

While President Obama is  apparently in denial about the extent of the systemic problem obviously present within the Secret Service--

President Obama slow jams the news with Jimmy Fallon - The Washington Post: "“The Secret Service, these guys are incredible,” Obama said, according to the White House press pool report on the interview. “They protect me, they protect our girls. A couple of knuckleheads shouldn’t detract from what they do. . . . "  A couple?

Obama's Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, appears entirely clueless and inept:

Prostitute scandal posed no risk to Obama: Napolitano | Reuters: "Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano assured senators Wednesday. "There was no risk to the president," Napolitano told a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in the first public questioning of an administration official since the scandal broke. Napolitano said that a review of Secret Service records showed no similar episodes of misconduct that might have warned of brewing problems at the agency. The Office of Professional Responsibility has looked back at two-and-a-half years of complaints and found "there was nothing in the record to suggest that this behavior would happen," she said."

Really Secretary Napolitano? You mean an investigative reporter (see above) knows more about malfeasance within the Secret Service than you do?

I wonder how much in "taxpayer funds" were used to pay for strippers, etc., for Secret Service Agents and U.S. "military specialists" in their "escapades" in foreign lands?  Maybe Representative Issa and his committee will find out--

Rep. Issa: Secret Service scandal could 'lead to blackmail' [video] - Los Angeles Times: "Issa, the chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has already pledged to monitor the allegations that members of the Secret Service and U.S. military were caught with prostitutes during preparations for President Barack Obama’s visit to the Summit of the Americas."


Friday, April 27, 2012

Are you sure you want to re-elect Barack Obama?

Barack Obama is an Illinois Democrat and it shows--

Illinois Shows What Not to Do by Steven Malanga, City Journal Spring 2012: "Illinois Shows What Not to Do; Wise Wisconsin isn’t imitating its spendthrift neighbor. - In January 2011, facing a forbidding budget deficit and a backlog of unpaid bills, Illinois officials decided that a massive tax increase would lay the groundwork for the state’s recovery. As Barbara Flynn Currie, the majority leader in the state house of representatives, said at the time, the nearly $7 billion in new revenues would allow Illinois to “pay our old bills and deal with the structural deficit.”. . .  Little more than a year has passed, and Illinois is right back where it started: the state’s unpaid bills now top $9 billion. Meantime, Wisconsin’s state and local governments have made substantial strides toward long-term budget stability. . . . Illinois has emerged as a poster child for fiscal irresponsibility. With its legislature beholden to public-sector unions, Illinois has long avoided financing state workers’ pensions out of its own budget. Instead, the state skips its contributions into retirement funds in some years and borrows money to finance the pensions in others. Since 2003, Illinois has floated more than $15 billion in pension-obligation bonds rather than pay for workers’ benefits out of its annual budget. Even with the borrowing, Illinois has one of the worst-funded pension systems in the country. One study estimates that the system could run out of money by the end of the decade. Illinois legislators have consistently avoided tough choices. When the recession of 2008 curtailed tax collections, Illinois stopped paying its bills rather than cut spending. The state has accumulated a steep pile of IOUs, including tax refunds owed to corporations and Medicaid payments owed to doctors and hospitals. Though Illinois’ constitution mandates a balanced budget, the state has met that requirement only by ignoring those bills. The Chicago-based Civic Federation projects that, under current budget trends, the state’s backlog of unpaid bills would grow to $34 billion in five years. All this has made investors and job creators leery of the Prairie State. In February, Peoria-based Caterpillar announced that it would not consider Illinois as a potential home for a Japan-based plant that the giant company was moving to the United States. In a statement to Illinois leaders, the company noted that “even if your community had the right logistics for this project, Caterpillar’s previously documented concerns about the business climate and overall fiscal health of the state of Illinois still would have made it unpractical for us to select your community for this project. . . . ” (emphasis added)

When you see President Obama fail to exercise leadership and make the tough choices necessary to deal with the fiscal problems of the United States (see Simpson-Bowles), just remember he is an "Illinois Democrat."

So, are you sure you want to re-elect Barack Obama?


Thursday, April 26, 2012

All you need to know about Election 2012

It's still the U.S. economy, stupid - Ben White - POLITICO.com: "The 2012 campaign sometimes feels like a debate over dogs riding on car roofs and which party likes moms more. But the election almost certainly will still turn on the state of the U.S. economy as the nation tries to pull away from one of the worst recessions in history." 


Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The California Nightmare

California is the kind of blue state that will vote overwhelmingly for Barack Obama in November--indeed, it epitomizes what he would like the U.S. as a whole to become. California used to be a place many Americans yearned to move to, including those ambitious people who had dreams and wanted to build big companies--think Intel, Apple, Oracle, Hewlett-Packard--but no more. Oh yes, Silicon Valley is still there (at least for now), but technology is no "lover of place" and even Mark Zuckerberg has expressed regrets for having moved Facebook to the state. Meanwhile other tech centers are rising fast: both here in the U.S. and places like London and China. So what happened? California is the epitome of the fruition of Democratic Party policies--

The Great California Exodus - WSJ.com: What is driving the middle class out of the Golden State? Joel Kotkin, leading U.S. demographer and 'Truman Democrat,' explains in a piece by Allysia Finley in the Wall Street Journal (excerpt below):

" . . . . Now, however, the Golden State's fastest-growing entity is government and its biggest product is red tape. The first thing that comes to many American minds when you mention California isn't Hollywood or tanned girls on a beach, but Greece. Many progressives in California take that as a compliment . . . . Nearly four million more people have left the Golden State in the last two decades than have come from other states. . . . things will only get worse in the coming years as Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown and his green cadre implement their "smart growth" plans . . . Oh, and don't forget the $100 billion bullet train. Mr. Kotkin calls the runaway-cost train "classic California." "Where [Brown] with the state going bankrupt is even thinking about an expenditure like this is beyond comprehension. When the schools are falling apart, when the roads are falling apart, the bridges are unsafe, the state economy is in free fall. We're still doing much worse than the rest of the country, we've got this growing permanent welfare class, and high-speed rail is going to solve this?" Mr. Kotkin describes himself as an old-fashioned Truman Democrat. . . . Meanwhile, taxes are harming the private economy. According to the Tax Foundation, California has the 48th-worst business tax climate. . . . As progressive policies drive out moderate and conservative members of the middle class, California's politics become even more left-wing. It's a classic case of natural selection, and increasingly the only ones fit to survive in California are the very rich and those who rely on government spending. In a nutshell, "the state is run for the very rich, the very poor, and the public employees.". . ." (bold added)

Read the full article to get a true picture of the California "nightmare."


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Party Is Over? Really?

The government agency throwing $1m parties as the US tightens its belt - Telegraph: "While everyday Americans are forced to contend with sky high unemployment and a moribund economy, one US government department has found the austerity diet altogether more fattening. The General Services Administration – the agency charged with maintaining buildings and buying supplies for the US government – is facing a backlash that is gripping the country. As Congress prepares to face the headache of spending reductions and the expiry of tax cuts early next year, politicians are letting out their frustrations on the GSA and its luxurious habits. At the centre of the furore is a four-day conference GSA hosted for 300 of its staff at a luxury Las Vegas hotel. Employees were allegedly entertained by clowns, comics and mind-readers and fed fine food in a blow-out event that cost almost $1m (£623,000). The revelations – revealed in a report by a US watchdog tasked with controlling government spending and involving business suppliers that could also come under the spotlight – have provoked apoplexy. “The party is over,” thundered California Senator Barbara Boxer at one of four hearings Congress held this week into the GSA’s spending."

Really--"the party is over?"  A little late don't you think?  After all  the Obama administration knew of this malfeasance a year ago and did nothing.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Leadership, not popularity or likability

Whether it's the "popularity" of Tim Cook vs. Steve Jobs, or the "likability" of Barack Obama vs. Mitt Romney, the media, as usual, have it all wrong--

Holden Leadership Center: Peter Drucker-- "Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes."

When it comes to results (and leadership)--Steve Jobs and Mitt Romney win hands down.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Media Inaccuracy: So Much for Headlines

We are inundated by media inaccuracy and bias--and not just traditional mainstream media. Here's a recent headline from Politico.com--"Poll: Obama lead over Mitt shrinks." Now reading that you would think Obama still leads Romney, just by a narrower margin. Not so! Read the bold below--

2012 Presidential Election: Campaign News, Polls, Results & Candidates - POLITICO.com: "Poll: Obama lead over Mitt shrinks By DARIUS DIXON | 4/17/12 6:28 AM Just more than half of registered voters surveyed said that jobs and the economy were the most important issues of the presidential election, while 45 percent to 43 percent voters preferred Romney — a statistical tie with the president." 

Obama's "lead" shrinks? I'd say more like "gone" or "disappears." As is so often the case, the true story and facts are different from the headline. So much for headline accuracy at www.politico.com or elsewhere in the "news media!"


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Barack Obama's re-election bid is already in deep trouble

I don't read the Mail  (when it comes to U.K. newspapers, I generally recommend the Telegraph) but Toby Harnden has written the best analysis of the Presidential race at this point, which I suggest is "must" reading for any follower of U.S. politics--excerpt below:

Barack Obama's re-election bid is already in deep trouble - Mail Online - Toby Harnden's blog: ". . . . If you viewed all this solely through the prism of media coverage and listened just to Washington pundits, you'd conclude that Obama has about an 80 percent chances of victory. In reality, his chances are much closer to 50:50, perhaps even with Romney holding an advantage (though many things can and will happen in six months). This cognitive dissonance is partly because of a liberal tilt but also because most reporters and talking heads live in bubbles of comfortable affluence insulated from the economic pain most Americans are facing. Even without factoring in the likely negative political impact of, say, Obamacare being struck down by the Supreme Court in June, Obama's re-election bid is already in deep trouble. Only a fool would underestimate Obama's campaign machine, his ability to raise money and the fact that he remains personally likeable to a majority of Americans despite the state of the country. Anyone who argues at this stage that Obama is doomed to defeat is deluding themselves. But the reality of this campaign is that it is likely to be brutal, very close - and could well result in Mitt Romney becoming the 45th President of the United States next January 20th." (bold added)

Obviously, Harnden's analysis affirms my analysis earlier this week. If I were a Democrat politico, I would be preparing for a Romney victory and the GOP holding the House--can the Democrats hold onto the Senate?


Friday, April 20, 2012

Keep the Internet Free: ACTA treaty ‘dead in the water’

Good news for internet freedom: ACTA treaty ‘dead in the water’ --

ACTA treaty ‘dead in the water’ - Telegraph: "The European Parliament will effectively kill off the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the treaty’s rapporteur tells The Telegraph. David Martin MEP said that the controversial treaty was likely to be rejected by the Parliament in July, and that new measures to deter music, film and software piracy were likely to take two years before they came into force.  Mr Martin stepped in to become the Treaty’s rapporteur in the European parliament after the resignation of Kader Arif, who condemned the process of secret talks. . . ."


Thursday, April 19, 2012

Meet the Romneys

Ignore the mainstream media narrative, and meet the Romneys:

"I think there's one word that would be high on my list of a few words you would describe Mitt with. It would be trust. I think the qualities Mitt would bring to the Oval Office would be integrity, intelligence, an ability to see a problem and see a solution and make people recognize that he has those leadership qualities that would unite many people." - Ann Romney


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

2012 Presidential Election Projection

You can read the Associated Press's analysis of the 2012 Presidential Election, state by state electoral vote projection, here. I've found the best method is to start with the 2008 results and build in the scenario that fits the Obama-Romney race. My take shown here-- 2012 Presidential Election: Electoral Map --results in Romney victory (271 electoral votes*) over Obama (267 electoral votes**). Very close race but a change in a few states could substantially increase Romney's winning margin--Obama's probably most vulnerable in Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa.  

Well that's my take, what's yours?


2012 Presidential Election Projection (state listing):

*States Romney Wins (271):
Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska (split with 1 electoral college vote for Obama), Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

**States Obama Wins (267):
California, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

What's it going to look like November 7th?

November 6, 2012, will be an historic election in the U.S. from at least one perspective--for the first time in American history, both candidates for President will be from "minorities" within American society--Obama (race--African-American) and Romney (creed--Mormon). Not that such things (creed, race, etc.) matter--here's the question voters in the U.S. should ask themselves: "What's it going to look like on November 7th?"  Because the morning after the November 6th Presidential election, there will only be one of two possible scenarios:

1) Barack Obama wins re-election and we look forward to four more years of what we've already experienced in his first term (everyone has his/her own experience and judgment of  this--good, bad, or indifferent);

2) Mitt Romney is elected President and we look forward to four years under a new administration in Washington, D.C.

Under the first scenario, Mitt Romney and his family will go back to doing what they were doing before  he decided to run for President. He and Mrs. Romney have plenty to keep them busy (16 grandkids, etc.) and the well-earned means to live a very comfortable life.

Under the second scenario, Barack Obama and his family would start to transition to a "post-Presidential" life--the U.S. government has made former Presidents almost "royalty" with full-time security  and other lavish benefits provided courtesy of the American taxpayer for as long as they live. The options that would be open to "former President" Obama would be numerous--whether as president of a prestigious university, author, speaker, foundation founder, etc.,--and obviously it would be a decision (in consultation with Mrs. Obama of course) for him to make at the appropriate time. It's no secret that Mrs. Obama was never crazy about Barack Obama's political ambitions nor "life in Washington."

In any event, whatever the outcome of November 6th, the Obamas and the Romneys will be just fine, thank you. The real issue is: what about the USA and the rest of the world (as "leader of the free world"--the U.S. Presidential election has global consequences)?

Under the first scenario, you can project the next four years based on President Obama's first term.  If you really liked that--he's your man!

Under the second scenario, things would be different--or at least some things would be different.

Here's what I think is going to happen.  Mitt Romney is going to be elected the next President of the United States. In many ways President Obama has done his best in a very difficult situation--the economy, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc. But Obama is facing "headwinds" in the coming months--more Eurozone troubles that will affect and infect the global economy--including the U.S. economy, Iran/Israel and the rest of the mess in the Mideast, a U.S. Supreme Court decision on Obamacare, and his own increasing "mistakes" that indicate a failure to understand the fundamental problems that need to be addressed and either an inability or unwillingness to exercise leadership. In some ways it is not really Obama's fault. His background is "community organizer" and "consensus builder"--good qualities in the right situation.

Mitt Romney is made of different "stuff." Forget the "mainstream media narrative" about Mitt Romney you've heard over and over again. Drill deeper and you'll find a different guy than what has been revealed in the media thus far. He's cut from different cloth than Obama OR your typical Republican politician. That's one reason he's found it difficult to be "accepted" in certain quarters of the Republican party (which is actually a positive in my view).

Here's the key to understanding Romney:  Mrs. Romney reportedly asked him, when they were discussing his possible run for the Presidency, "Can you fix it?"--meaning the economy.

Whether you look at his career at Bain, his tenure as head of the Salt Lake City Olympics or his term as governor of Massachusetts, this guy is a fixer, a doer, a leader--here's one short bio--

Mitt Romney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: " . . . . served as a Mormon missionary in France. He married Ann Davies in 1969 and they have five children. He received his undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University, and then earned a joint JD and MBA from Harvard University. Romney entered the management consulting business, which led to a position at Bain & Company. Eventually serving as CEO, Romney brought the company out of crisis. He was co-founder and head of the spin-off company Bain Capital, a private equity investment firm that became highly profitable and one of the largest such firms in the nation. His wealth helped fund most of his future political campaigns. Active in his church, he served as ward bishop and later stake president in his area. He ran as the Republican candidate in the 1994 U.S. Senate election in Massachusetts, losing to long-time incumbent Ted Kennedy. Romney organized and steered the 2002 Winter Olympics as head of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee, and helped turn the troubled games into a financial success. Romney was elected Governor of Massachusetts in 2002 but did not seek re-election in 2006. He presided over a series of spending cuts and increases in fees that eliminated an up to $1.5 billion deficit. He also signed into law the Massachusetts health care reform legislation, which provided near-universal health insurance access via subsidies and state-level mandates and was the first of its kind in the nation. . . . " (emphasis added)

This guy Romney fixes broken situations, is a good steward with investors' money (think "taxpayer" instead of "investor" and you'll get my drift) and is not afraid to lead and get political consensus to get things done--even trying novel things to solve real-life problems like health care. Actually "Romney care" is a real positive on this guy's resume, and if you don't believe me, read this. Probably his best quality is he's smart--and I mean really "smart."  So smart that even the very liberal, Nobel Laureate economist, Paul Krugman, who is a big supporter of Barack Obama and rants against Romney on a regular basis in the New York Times, concedes "Mr. Romney is not a stupid man."

In the end, I believe the American people will elect the best person to lead the country in its present situation. My judgment is that person will be Mitt Romney. Tomorrow I will show the Electoral College path to a Romney victory.


Monday, April 16, 2012

ICANN Corrupts Internet With New Domains

If ICANN has its way, only huge corporations (paying hefty registration fees) will own top level domain names and publish on the internet--

BBC News - Icann's internet suffix application deadline looms:
"Organisations wishing to buy web addresses ending in their brand names have until 00:00 GMT on Thursday to submit applications. For example, drinks giant Pepsi can apply for .pepsi, .gatorade or .tropicana as an alternative to existing suffixes such as .org or .com. Parties are able to request up to 50 web address endings. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers plans to publish application details on 30 April. Companies had to sign up to its process by March to qualify for the upcoming deadline. It says 839 users are taking part. Canon and Google are among the companies to have said that they paid the $185,000 (£116,355) fees required to take part in the process. Nominet, the organisation which manages .uk domains, confirmed it was also applying for .wales and .cymru. Successful applicants also face $25,000 in costs per year to maintain the addresses. "We plan to apply for Google's trademarked gTLDs, and we're currently exploring opportunities to apply for new ones as well," the search giant told the BBC. . . . . The process has the potential to cause problems among firms that share brand names. The US and German firms that both operate under the name Merck have already clashed over ownership of a Facebook page. . . . In November, 87 business associations and companies sent a petition to the US Department of Commerce complaining that the program entailed "excessive cost and harm to brand owners"Signatories included the tech giants Adobe, Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Samsung. The department subsequently snubbed Icann by cancelling a bidding process that was expected to extend the organisation's right to run the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority - the contract which allows it to manage the domain name system. Although Icann retains control for now, its mandate runs out in September."

ICANN has deliberately disregarded its public mandate and should be stripped of all authority, including its authority over the schema of internet domain names. The system we had--.com, .net, etc.,--was not broken, but ICANN decided to create a new class of "Super Internet Goliaths" with ownership of whole domains.  This really "smells" and is shameful. So much for the public trust and public interest. ICANN has corrupted the internet.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Spanish banks now "mainlining" ECB cash

Spain is beyond "life support"--its banks are now "mainlining" ECB cash to stay alive--

Turmoil in global markets as Spanish bank borrowing from ECB doubles - Telegraph: "The Bank of Spain disclosed the country's biggest institutions borrowed €316.3bn (£260.9bn) from the ECB in March, almost twice the €169.8bn in February. Traders dumped Spanish stocks and bought insurance against Madrid defaulting, convinced the data showed that the banks are now almost shut out of international credit markets. Spain's Ibex stock market plunged 3.6pc, with bank stocks leading the fall. The nation's benchmark 10-year bond yields soared past 6pc, heading deep into the danger zone that experts say is not sustainable without external support. Meanwhile, the cost of credit default swaps hit a record high of 500 basis points, meaning it costs £500,000 a year to insure £10m of Spanish debt over five years. This compares with around £70,000 for German debt. The spectre of another eurozone bail-out saga - only this time far bigger than Greece - rattled stock markets across Europe. In Italy, where protesters against austerity measures gathered in Rome, the MIB closed down 3.4pc. The French CAC fell 2.5pc; Germany's DAX dropped 2.4pc; and in London the FTSE 100 slid 1pc."

First Greece, now Spain, coming soon Portugal and Italy. The "turmoil" continues-- the Eurocrisis is far from over--oh, and the French are about to throw out Sarkozy. Stay tuned.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Democrats painting Mitt Romney as Don Draper--cool!!

The Draperizing of Mitt Romney - Jonathan Martin and Maggie Haberman - POLITICO.com: "He may not drink or cheat, and he lacks the fictional ad-maker’s charisma, but Democrats, despite the potential perils of such a strategy, remain determined to paint Romney as a throwback to the “Mad Men” era — a hopelessly retro figure who, on policy and in his personal life, is living in the past. . . ."

All I can say is that if this is the Democrats' "best thinking" on strategy, expect a Romney landslide come November.


Friday, April 13, 2012

All You Need To Know About the Gingrich Campaign

Newt to Utah: Drop dead - POLITICO.com: "Utah Elections Director Mark Thomas said a designated agent for the Gingrich campaign brought the filing papers and a check for $500 in March, but after the check was deposited, the state was notified by the bank that the check had bounced. He said the office has tried to contact the Gingrich campaign through the telephone number and email provided on the application, but have not received a response. Recently, the state sent a certified letter to the campaign, stating that if the fee isn’t paid by April 20, Gingrich will be disqualified and will not be on the ballot"

First Read - Gingrich explains bounced check: "The former House speaker, who’s fighting to remain a viable challenger to Mitt Romney in the Republican primary, laughed off a $500 bounced check cut by his campaign that was intended to help him pay to qualify for the Utah primary. “This is one of those goofy things,” Gingrich told reporters following a speech at a senior citizen center here. “That check was drawn in December. The account actually was closed by the time they processed it. It wasn’t a question of money. That particular bank account was closed.”"

OK, just "one of those goofy things"--apparently the Gingrich campaign writes checks and then closes the checking account.  Memo to vendors: if you get a check from the Gingrich campaign, RUN to the bank to cash it before the campaign closes the account!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Caspsize Rescue: 10 people in a 14-foot boat?

10 people in a 14-foot boat? Common Sense Isn't Common--

Coast Guard: 10 pulled from water after boat capsizes off coast of Miami - Miami-Dade - MiamiHerald.com: " . . . The Coast Guard said it got a report a few minutes before 8 p.m. Saturday that 10 people were in the water and clinging to 14-foot pleasure craft. The boat was about 250 yards off of Sea Isle Marina. . . . "

On the other hand, you've got to love the Coast Guard--saving the general public from stupidity at sea.


Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Failed Florida reef -- one more "good idea" gone bad

Here's something to remember the next time you hear someone (including a perceived do-gooder) try to propagate their "idea of the moment" by the contagion of "group think" without conducting "due diligence"--

Failed Florida reef now the star of Wynwood art exhibit - Biscayne Corridor - MiamiHerald.com: "In the 1970s, a nonprofit group called Broward Artificial Reef, or BARINC, had an idea that it thought would create a win-win situation: Repurpose up to two million tires that were filling up landfills by using them to create an artificial reef that would attract big game fish and tourists. No one knew at the time that coral would not grow on rubber, or that the metal latches holding the tires together would disintegrate after years in saltwater. Loose tires, pushed by strong currents, crashed into the natural reef, causing damage, disease and death to the delicate coral. For more than 10 years, there have been federal, state and county efforts to remove the tires, but most have fizzled. The current focus is to remove the loose tires pushed by the current into the eastern ridge of the natural reef. Pat Quinn, a natural resources specialist with the Broward County Environmental Protection and Growth Management Department, estimates there are about 300,000 tires in that area, which is about 70 feet beneath the ocean’s surface. . . ."

This is why most "government programs" by definition are "suspect," as the public trust that the "government knows what it is doing" has many times over been proven false. If nothing else, the "unintended consequences" of most social programs are never taken into account or even looked for before enacting legislative schemes.


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Ann Romney video

Anybody who thinks Mitt Romney can't win the Presidency ought to watch this--

So much the "mainstream media narrative" of  "wealthy, out-of-touch" etc.


Monday, April 9, 2012

Dogging Mitt Romney

As I've said before this crategate story isn't going away--here's a reference to a recent article:

Dogging Mitt Romney - NYTimes.com: By Gail Collins, Published: March 7, 2012, New York Times--

"I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this, but Mitt Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter on the roof of the car. Seamus, the dog-on-the-roof, has become a kind of political icon. You cannot go anywhere without running into him. There are Seamus T-shirts and endless Web sites. This week, the story was a New Yorker cover, with Rick Santorum playing the role of the Irish setter. Neil Swidey, the Boston Globe reporter who first broke the Seamus story in 2007 . . . "

Heck, even Team Santorum joined in:

The Page by Mark Halperin | Team Santo Won't Stop Seamus Barking: "Santo spox Stewart follows Brabender, attacking the frontrunner on being "out of touch," pandering in Puerto Rico and Seamus. Stewart: "If you can't be nice to your dog, who you gonna be nice to?""

Memo to Romney: time to show some "puppy love!"


Sunday, April 8, 2012

Google and Privacy: Nothing Evil

Good article in USA Today by Alma Whitten, Google's director of privacy for product and engineering--

Google: 'We protect your data' – USATODAY.com: "Our approach is based on security, transparency and control. We protect your data from bad guys, tell you what information we're collecting as clearly as we can, and give you meaningful choices so you can feel comfortable when using Google. We'll keep trying to make this all as simple and intuitive as a search query."

She references Google's policies and tools for users to manage their privacy--here are two of the sites:



There's nothing evil here folks, no matter what some bureaucrat in Washington or the EU believes. Check it out for yourself.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

Hey, you're not unemployed, you're "not in Labor Force"

"Not in Labor Force" now "off the chart"

CNBC: "Economists polled by Reuters had expected nonfarm employment to increase 203,000 and the unemployment rate to hold at 8.3 percent."

Instead, "U.S. payrolls rose far less than expected in March (Employers added 120,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said on Friday, the smallest increase since October)" and yet "the unemployment rate fell to a three-year low of 8.2 percent." (source: CNBC).

How could the economy add fewer jobs than expected, and yet the unemployment rate drop? That's easy, those classified "not in labor force" increased to an "all time high."

NFP Big Miss: 120K, Expectations 205K, Unemployment 8.2%, "Not In Labor Force" At New All Time High | ZeroHedge: "The unemployment rate drops to 8.2% for one simple reason: the number of people not in the labor force is back to all time high: 87,897,000."

This is how Obama is getting the unemployment rate to decline:

Now, if we could only get everyone to "drop out of the Labor Force," our unemployment rate would be 0% and all of our problems solved--right?


Friday, April 6, 2012

Magic City on Starz

Just finished watching the first episode of Magic City--kudos to Mitch Glazer et al, cast and crew--outstanding!

Magic City debuts on Starz on April 6th at 10 pm ET

First three episodes are free, and available for viewing on demand here: Miami Beach - Magic City (and also here).



Google, Larry Page, Steve Jobs, and Apple: a different take

The Education of Google's Larry Page - Businessweek: " . . . At the end of the conversation, Page addresses one anecdote relayed in Walter Isaacson’s best-selling biography of Steve Jobs. According to a story in that book, Page called Jobs before his death, seeking advice on how to run Google. Jobs had threatened “thermonuclear war” on Google for copying elements of the iPhone, Isaacson wrote, but put aside his animosity over Android to counsel the young CEO. Page offers a different version of those events. He says that Jobs reached out to him, not the other way around, and that when they met, in the last months of Jobs’s life, the Apple founder offered useful insights into how to run a company. Page believes that Jobs’s fury toward Google was not entirely genuine and was “actually for show.” Asked to explain, he suggests that Jobs’s apparent rage about Android was merely meant to motivate Apple employees. “For a lot of companies, it’s useful for them to really feel like they have an obvious competitor and to rally around that. I personally believe it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors.”. . ."

Interesting and very possible, but also note that Page concludes: "it’s better to shoot higher. You don’t want to be looking at your competitors."

While the markets are enthralled with Apple and the IPO of Facebook, it's worth noting that Google is best in class in Search, Browser (Chrome), Email (Gmail), Mobility (Android), Video (YouTube), and Advertising (Adsense etc.), with an array of additional products that appeal to a wide range of users and content creators including Google Docs, Google Voice, Google Talk, Blogger, Picasa, and now Google+ and Google Play.

No wonder Steve Jobs felt threatened.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Hey President Obama, ever hear of Marbury v. Madison?

There really is no excuse for the ignorant words spoken by President Obama this week about the case before the Supreme Court concerning the constitutionality of "ObamaCare." Having been a constitutional law professor, he is either intentionally misleading the public or is inept and incompetent when it comes to the principles of the U.S. Constitution and the authority of the judicial branch under the doctrine of "judicial review"--

Review & Outlook: Obama vs. Marbury v. Madison - WSJ.com: "The President needs a remedial course in judicial review. President Obama is a former president of the Harvard Law Review and famously taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago. But did he somehow not teach the historic case of Marbury v. Madison? . . That's a fair question after Mr. Obama's astonishing remarks on Monday at the White House when he ruminated for the first time in public on the Supreme Court's recent ObamaCare deliberations. "I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress," he declared. Presidents are paid to be confident about their own laws, but what's up with that "unprecedented"? In Marbury in 1803, Chief Justice John Marshall laid down the doctrine of judicial review. In the 209 years since, the Supreme Court has invalidated part or all of countless laws on grounds that they violated the Constitution. All of those laws were passed by a "democratically elected" legislature of some kind, either Congress or in one of the states. And no doubt many of them were passed by "strong" majorities. As it happens, probably stronger majorities than passed the Affordable Care Act. Readers may recall that the law was dragooned through a reluctant Senate without a single GOP vote and barely the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster. Despite a huge Democratic majority in the House, it passed by only 219-212. . . . "

President Obama is starting to remind me of Jimmy Carter in the last year of his Presidency--whining and complaining and blaming everybody but himself for the mess created under his leadership.


Wednesday, April 4, 2012

The Eurozone Disease

The biggest failure of the Obama Presidency? Without a doubt his failure to address the fiscal crisis facing the United States. Instead of providing leadership after the report and recommendations of his own appointed Presidential Commission (Simpson-Bowles)--he did nothing. Failure to lead, failure to act, that is his undeniable legacy on this issue. So where does this leave us? Completely vulnerable to "catching" the "Eurozone disease"--

Agenda | Irwin Stelzer: Euro-Zone Shark Still Has Its Appetite - WSJ.com: "Bankrupt Greece; junk-rated Portugal pleading with Angola for inbound investment; jobless Spain, facing some interest rates that have doubled in the past month; and recovering Ireland have already fallen to the bond vigilantes. Growth-free Italy is fighting a rearguard action, facing unsustainable interest rates despite the stellar reputation of its newly appointed technocrat prime minister, Mario Monti; Belgian debt, now equal to its GDP, has been downgraded, in part because of the inability of this seat of the EU to form a new government. France, consumer confidence dropping, is likely next. . . . The failure of the supercommittee to find some trivial deficit reductions means America might also slip into the ungovernable category. And the Federal Reserve Board is imposing new stress tests to determine whether leading banks can withstand a wave of sovereign- debt and bank defaults in Europe. Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Charles Krauthammer is not alone in arguing that the euro-zone disease, unless cured, might well turn slow growth in the U.S. into recession, and scupper any chance President Barack Obama has of avoiding a forced return to Chicago in 2013. Which is why Mr. Obama will do more than present German Chancellor Angela Merkel with the Presidential Medal of Freedom when she arrives in Washington Monday evening. He and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner hope to persuade her to stem the rot. Whether she is prepared to take advice from the team that has driven American deficits and debt to such levels that their nation's debt has been downgraded while Germany's remains triple-A is uncertain. . . . "


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Don't Trust Those "In Charge"

If you read nothing else this week, read the article from Forbes excerpted below. I remember being told  in Miami in late 2004, by a PR guy who did work for real estate developers, that a huge "real estate bubble" was developing that would burst and cause "a lot of banks to fail." He expected it to happen in 2005--a little early--but he was proven right. On the other hand, those "in charge" never saw it coming.

Don't Trust The Wise Men Of Finance - Forbes: " . . . Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke told a George Washington University class last week ( I saw it on C-Span) that the 2008 financial crisis took place because “nobody was looking at the whole system.” Almost simultaneously former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin was telling another GWU group, televised on C-Span, that “no one saw the Long Tail coming,” meaning that no Wall Street leader, no economist, no legislative committee, no regulator, could predict the perfect storm of all investment assets collapsing at the same time. I beg to differ. Here, from a piece I wrote on June 18, 2007 — more than a year before the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy, I was talking to a whole mess of well-connected people about what danger we might be in. . . . "


Monday, April 2, 2012

Obama: A Failed Presidency?

It is now evident that Mitt Romney will be the Republican nominee. President Obama, already in campaign mode, will now come under closer scrutiny by the electorate and media. Modern politics is a lot like tennis, he who makes the fewest mistakes wins. Obama is making lots of "mistakes"--

HURT: Brutal week for Obama, the worst of his presidency: "The past seven brutal days will go down as one of the worst weeks in history for a sitting president. It certainly has been, without any doubt, the worst week yet for President Obama. Somehow, Mr. Obama managed to embarrass himself abroad, humiliate himself here at home, see his credentials for being elected so severely undermined that it raises startling questions about whether he should have been elected in the first place — let alone be re-elected later this year. . . ."

A few weeks ago, Obama looked increasingly likely to win re-election.  Now his "landmark" legislation--"Obamacare"--appears to be only weeks away from a devastating ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court. If the Court does anything along the lines of the consensus expectation, it will be a defeat not only for Obama and his claims to be a competent leader, but to the Democrat Party as a whole.

Things are bad in the Mideast--Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran--and not likely to improve but instead likely to get a lot worse before the November election. Americans may not keep up with foreign affairs, but they do notice increases in gasoline prices.

The economy, although improving in some sectors, is still very weak--U.S. Unemployment Up in February: "Underemployment is 19.1%, up from 18.7% in January--by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist--PRINCETON, NJ -- U.S. unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, increased to 9.1% in February from 8.6% in January and 8.5% in December. . . . "

The President not only appears weak abroad and domestically, but apparently has lost standing in his own party and is totally unable to "get things done"--The Daily Caller: "By a stunning 0-414 tally Wednesday night, the House of Representatives voted down a budget proposal based on President Barack Obama’s 2013 recommendations. Congress hadn’t seen a budget vote that lopsided since last May, when the Senate voted down an Obama budget plan by a 0-97 margin."

In 2008, after the disastrous administration of George W. Bush, the country needed a change. Unfortunately, instead of bold leadership, we have had to accept the diminishment of "hope and change" into something less than that "hoped for." This shows in the lagging fundraising and apathetic support among young people for Obama's re-election.

Can President Obama recover? Perhaps, but as they say on Wall Street, the "trend line" is not looking good.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What You Need To Know About The U.S. Housing Market

Home prices fell in January in most US cities - National Business - MiamiHerald.com: ". . . . prices fell in 17 of the 20 cities in January compared to the same month in 2011. The group's nationwide index of prices has fallen 34 percent since the housing bust and is now at 2002 levels. The continued drop in prices suggests the housing market remains weak, even after the best winter for home sales in five years and steady improvement in the job market. . . The biggest reason why prices are still falling is foreclosures, which are still high across the country. Foreclosures and short sales - when a lender accepts less for a home than what is owed on a mortgage - are selling at an average discount of 20 percent. Foreclosure activity surged in February across half of U.S. states.. . . ."

Prices are down, mortgage rates are low--it might be a good time to buy a house if you have a compelling reason to do so--but read this first--"Why Entrepreneurs Should NOT Buy Homes."

The reality today is that most working people (exluding those working in government jobs) by necessity are "entrepreneurs"--lifetime employment for one employer in one location is a dying, if not already dead, concept. Which is why Robert Bridges, professor of clinical finance and business economics at the University of Southern California's Marshall School of Business, wrote last year in the Wall Street Journal that "today's young people would be foolish to imitate their parents and view ownership as the cornerstone of personal finance"--

A Home Is a Lousy Investment
“. . . . the average single family house has never been a particularly stellar investment. In a society increasingly concerned with providing for retirement security and housing affordability, this finding has large implications. It means that we have put excessive emphasis on owner-occupied housing for social objectives, mistakenly relied on homebuilding for economic stimulus, and fostered misconceptions about homeownership and financial independence. We've diverted capital from more productive investments and misallocated scarce public resources. . . .
. . . a dollar used to purchase a median-price, single-family California home in 1980 would have grown to $5.63 in 2007, and to $2.98 in 2010. The same dollar invested in the Dow Jones Industrial Index would have been worth $14.41 in 2007, and $11.49 in 2010”
“. . . . A nation of house buyers becomes captive to the economic cyclicality caused by bursts of construction activity, and it is not lifted or sustained by the limited levels of service employment related to existing housing. By contrast, a nation of business startups and investors supports our capital markets and creates long-term employment, income, exports and the myriad technological advancements desperately needed by an expanding American society.”

I cited the above in a post last year and then posed the following (still relevant) question: I wonder if anyone in Washington D.C. gets it?

The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects