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

Thursday, May 31, 2012

We Can't Afford War No More

No matter whether you think the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were correct or mistakes--it is clear the costs of those wars are going to be hard to "justify"--and for those Democrats and Republicans who are concerned about "deficit spending"--I've got news: we can't afford wars like Iraq and Afghanistan no more--and the greatest cost is human:

U.S. vets' disability filings reach historic rate – USATODAY.com: "America's newest veterans are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate, claiming to be the most medically and mentally troubled generation of former troops the nation has ever seen. A staggering 45% of the 1.6 million veterans from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now seeking compensation for injuries they say are service-related. That is more than double the estimate of 21% who filed such claims after the Gulf War in the early 1990s . . . these new veterans are claiming eight to nine ailments on average, and the most recent ones over the last year are claiming 11 to 14. By comparison, Vietnam veterans are currently receiving compensation for fewer than four, on average, and those from World War II and Korea just two. . . Government officials and some veterans' advocates say that veterans who might have been able to work with certain disabilities may be more inclined to seek benefits now because they lost jobs or can't find any. . . As the U.S. commemorates the more than 6,400 troops who died in post-Sept. 11, 2001 wars, the problems of those who survived also draw attention. These new veterans are seeking a level of help the government did not anticipate, and for which there is no special fund set aside to pay."


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Chen Guangcheng was not an exceptional case

The blind activist Chen Guangcheng was not an exceptional case in China--

Watching dissidents is a booming business in China - San Jose Mercury News: " . . . While China has long been a police state, controls on these non-offenders mark a new expansion of police resources at a time the authoritarian leadership is consumed with keeping its hold over a fast-changing society. . ."Social activists that no one has ever heard of have 10 people watching them," said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher with Human Rights Watch. "The task is to identify and nip in the bud any destabilizing factors for the regime." Mostly unknown outside their communities, the activists are a growing portion of what's called the "targeted population"—a group that also includes criminal suspects and anyone deemed a threat. They are singled out for overwhelming surveillance and by one rights group's count amount to an estimated one in every 1,000 Chinese—or well over a million. Targeted are growing numbers of people, from typical political dissidents to labor organizers and, increasingly, ordinary Chinese who want Beijing to correct local wrongdoing. . . . "


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Greece: “The situation is getting out of hand”

More on Greece today--“The situation is getting out of hand”--people aren't paying their taxes, utility bills, etc:

Greece warned of public finances collapse - FT.com: " . . . Mounting anxiety that Greece is headed for further political instability and a possible exit from the euro has prompted many Greeks to postpone making tax payments, and has also accelerated outflows of deposits from local banks. Athens bankers estimate that more than €3bn of cash withdrawn since the May 6 election has been stashed in safe-deposit boxes and under mattresses in case the country is forced to readopt the drachma. . . . “The state will face considerable difficulty covering its expenses in June”. . . The EU has held back €1bn from its latest tranche of bailout money pending formation of a stable government in Athens. . . . The struggling state electricity utility PPC has received a €250m special payment from the budget to help cover a widening deficit. The utility has been hit by a sharp rise in non-payments of household electricity bills after the finance ministry imposed an extra “solidarity tax” last year that was added to the bills. “The situation is getting out of hand,” said a private sector economist. “If a government is formed after the June election, it’s going to find that the fiscal programme agreed in March has already been derailed.” (emphasis added)

The Greek election is June 17--but at this point does it really matter who is elected?


Monday, May 28, 2012

An Exit Strategy for Greece et al

Everyone in the Eurozone is wringing their hands about Greece and its possible exit from the euro (Eurozone). Here's an exit plan to which one could say, "the devil is in the details," but this looks like an "elegant" strategy--

Mosler/Pilkington: A Credible Eurozone Exit Plan – Smart Taxes Network: "So, we contend that the periphery governments should have a credible exit strategy on hand and it is to this that we now turn. Such a strategy would not be very hard to implement and would consist of two key principles: 1. Upon announcing that the country is leaving the Eurozone, the government of that country would announce that it would be making payments – to government employees etc. – exclusively in the new currency. Thus the government would stop using the euro as a means of payment. 2. The government would also announce that it would only accept payments of tax in this new currency. This would ensure that the currency was valuable and, at least for a while, in very short supply. And that is pretty much it. The government spends to provision itself and thereby injects the new currency into the economy while their new taxation policy ensures that it is sought after by economic agents and, thus, valuable. Government spending is thus the spigot through which the government injects the new currency into the economy and taxation is the drain that ensures citizens seek out the new currency."


Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Truth About Private Equity

This past week Charlie Rose interviewed Don Gogel, CEO of Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (he supported Obama in 2008) and discussed private equity in the presidential race and other issues--well worth watching:

Charlie Rose Show video, Thursday, May 24, 2012: 

photo of Don Gogel on the Charlie Rose Show
Don Gogel (source: charlierose.com)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Next Pension Crisis

The next pension crisis (and it has nothing to do with public unions)--

The Next Pension Crisis | The Cynical Economist: "In other words, because of the new transparency requirements, the stock of unionized companies could take a big hit. What’s more, transparency about union pension liabilities could end up depressing entire industries. That’s because union pension plans are interconnected. If pension plans start failing in heavily unionized sectors such as construction, transportation, and supermarkets, it could have an ugly domino effect. . . . "

That's why I've said pensions are dead. We need to go to self-funded retirement accounts and everyone being in Social Security.


Friday, May 25, 2012

Obama's Problem In A Nutshell

It's not often I come across an article with great insight, and yet is succinct-- I excerpt such an article below by Debra Saunders. It explains what Obama's problem really is and unfortunately, for him and the Democrats, the problem is systemic--not just policy and politics--but his entire worldview:

RealClearPolitics - Obama Thinks He's the Fairness Czar: "Cory Booker, mayor of Newark, N.J., came across as a moderate, sensible Democrat when he said on "Meet the Press" Sunday that negative political ads are "nauseating to the American public. . . . Booker, a Barack Obama surrogate, later tried to walk back his comments. . . . But there is no walking back from Booker's disapproval of the Obama campaign's attacks on Bain Capital . . . In the ad, laid-off steelworkers had some choice words for Romney. Like "vampire" and "job destroyer." The problem with such ads, Booker said Sunday, is that "we're getting to a ridiculous point in America." Pension funds, unions and others invest in companies like Bain Capital. Bain's record has been to grow businesses. To Booker, Bain Capital has been good for America. To Obamaland, Bain Capital has been bad for America. As a mayor, Booker said, he, too, has had to lay off workers "because it's the only way" his "government would survive." He added, "Call me a job cutter if you want." . . . Monday, a reporter asked Obama about Booker's remarks and the role of private equity. The president explained that the goal of private investment is to "maximize profits," whereas a president's job is to make sure that everyone has "a fair shot" and that everyone pays his or her "fair share" of taxes. That's the problem with Obama; he thinks he's the fairness czar. He didn't say that a president is supposed to create an environment that nurtures business success. . . . Obama's war is a war on private money. He thinks his job is to create job training programs, not create an environment that creates real jobs." 

The FOCUS (whether Obama knows it or not) needs to be on economic "growth" not "jobs"--real jobs in the non-government sector are the RESULT of GROWTH. This is what Obama doesn't get. Anyone in government can just create "government jobs" by spending money (of course government today has already spent all its money, hence deficit spending).  To create REAL JOBS--jobs sustainable in the private economy--government can only create an "environment" which encourages growth. Unfortunately, Obama hasn't a clue how to do that.


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Barney Frank Does Not Want Secret Service at Wedding

One wonders at what point the President (current or future) will say "enough" when it comes to his 'layered protection" that shuts down an "entire region" when he travels--at some point the bureaucratic mindset of "more and more" has got to be tamed:

Barney Frank Does Not Want Secret Service at Wedding - NYTimes.com: ". . . “We’re having this in the city I live in, in Newton, Massachusetts, on a Saturday afternoon. I don’t want to be accused of having shut down the entire region for a five-mile radius on a holiday weekend. I don’t want my guests going through a magnetometer. I would be flattered to have the president do that, but it would ruin the party to have the Secret Service. I’m not critical of them, but they can go take their layered protection of the president somewhere else. Not to my party.”"


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What's wrong with Obama's Bain ad?

“If you look at the totality of Bain Capital’s record, they’ve done a lot to support businesses, to grow businesses," Booker (Democratic Mayor of Newark, New Jersey) said during an appearance on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

What's wrong with the Obama campaign's Bain ad?--Democratic Mayor of Newark, New Jersey, Cory Booker characterized Obama's Bain ad as "nauseating" on NBC's Meet the Press on Sunday, for reasons he explained which also deal with the whole issue of the purpose and place of private equity in the American economy: “I have to just say, from a very personal level, I’m not about to sit here and indict private equity,” Booker said. “I live in a state where pension funds, unions and other people are investing in companies like Bain Capital.” Booker also said“This kind of stuff is nauseating to me on both sides,” Booker said. “It’s nauseating to the American public. Enough is enough. Stop attacking private equity. . ." 

"Booker’s remarks earlier Sunday were aimed at a television advertisement introduced by the Obama campaign last week that sharply criticized Romney’s record at Bain — a line of attack seen as central in an election whose outcome is expected to be shaped by voters’ economic concerns" (Washington Post).

Debra Saunders in Real Clear Politics nails the Obama campaign for the deceit and lies embedded in the ad itself--

RealClearPolitics - Obama Thinks He's the Fairness Czar: "Obama campaign ad: "After purchasing the company, Mitt Romney and his partners loaded it with debt, closed the Kansas City plant and walked away with a healthy profit, leaving hundreds of employees out of work with their pensions in jeopardy." Missing from the story: the fact that Romney wasn't in charge anymore and that in 2001, the steel industry was in a world of hurt -- with low steel prices and high production costs -- which drove a lot of mills out of business. I would add that the steelworkers in the political ad were talking about the heyday of the steel industry, which occurred long before Bain stepped in to rescue an ailing mill." (Debra Saunders in RealClearPolitics)

Lies, deceit, misleading--the hallmarks of Obama as shown by his own campaign ad. Is this the kind of guy you want to be President for the next 4 years?


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Obama: Losing Women

The View | Obama is Losing the Woman's Vote to Romney: "Since April, women have gone from strongly backing Obama to endorsing Romney. In April, Obama held a 49 percent to 43 percent lead among women. That has now flipped to 46 percent backing Romney with 44 percent for Obama, an 8-point switch."

Obama is losing the "women's vote"--and a few are telling him why:

Obama, Condescending to Women - NYTimes.com: "I have always admired President Obama and I agree with him on some issues, like abortion rights. But the promise of his campaign four years ago has given way to something else — a failure to connect with tens of millions of Americans, many of them women, who feel economic opportunity is gone and are losing hope. In an effort to win them back, Mr. Obama is trying too hard. He’s employing a tone that can come across as grating and even condescending. He really ought to drop it. Most women don’t want to be patted on the head or treated as wards of the state. They simply want to be given a chance to succeed based on their talent and skills. To borrow a phrase from our president’s favorite president, Abraham Lincoln, they want “an open field and a fair chance.”"


Monday, May 21, 2012

Obama: Running a Losing Campaign

I listened to Cory Booker (Democratic Mayor of Newark, New Jersey) on Meet the Press yesterday--very impressive guy and hopefully he is indicative of the future of the Democratic Party. Mayor Booker said he personally found the Obama campaign tactics of demonizing Romney (see Obama "Bain Capital" ads) and smearing Romney campaign contributors, "nauseating." At the same time, it is worth noting that the Romney campaign has refrained from personal demonizing of Obama (see Romney's rejection of Rev. Wright ads) and has not run smear campaigns against Obama's campaign contributors.

All campaigns are full of "noise" and "craziness." There are always "haters" on both ends of the spectrum.  The mark of integrity is to say "no" and draw limits in the public interest of good government.  As I've said before, no matter the outcome of the Presidential campaign, the Obamas and the Romneys will personally be just fine. The question is, what about the country and its future? If you have to win by "demonizing" your opponent and "smearing" his campaign contributors, what does that say about the future of this country, much less the leadership qualities of the candidate who allows his campaign to engage in such destructive tactics?


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Good News for Android Users

China finally figured out what the EU and US did quite a while ago--the Google-Motorola Mobility deal is good for everybody except maybe Apple and RIM (BlackBerry):

China Approves Google Acquisition of Motorola Mobility | PCWorld: " . . . A Google spokeswoman confirmed the deal was approved early Saturday and that it should close within the week. Motorola Mobility ships phones and tablets with Google's Android operating system. The close of the deal means that Google has a hardware manufacturing arm with which it can closely work to develop Android. Google will also have control of Motorola's massive patent portfolio. Motorola Mobility has said that it owns or has applied for more than 24,000 patents. The deal has already been approved by antitrust authorities in the U.S. and Europe. Chinese authorities have approved the deal on condition that Google keep Android free and available to other mobile device manufacturers for five years, according to a source close to the deal. . ."


Saturday, May 19, 2012

Obama's in charge - be careful where you fly!

If the hassles and indignities of TSA aren't enough--there's more reason not to fly--

Midnight Was Movie Hour, Nap Time in New York Air Tower - Bloomberg:
" . . . In New York, investigators found a facility in which FAA managers were unwilling or afraid to discipline controllers’ union members, the reports said. Supervisors who tried to enforce the rules had their cars vandalized or were threatened. The result was widespread violations of rules that undermined safety, reviews by the special counsel and FAA found. . . ."

Remember President Reagan and PATCO? Still think it doesn't make a difference who is President?


Friday, May 18, 2012

The Facebook Fad

For those who may not keep up with such things--Facebook went "live" today on the Nasdaq. However, there was no "pop" in the stock price.

Billionaires Take To Twitter To Talk Up Facebook - Forbes: "Billionaire and Pacific Investment Management cofounder Bill Gross was quoted by his company’s Twitter feed, @PIMCO, with a surprisingly sarcastic take on the whole offering. “Gross: Go #Facebook!,” read a PIMCO tweet at about 11:07 AM in New York. “I don’t know how to use it but I know a Bubble when I see one!!!” . .  .  AOL founder Steve Case has been tracking the company closely in the days leading up to the offering on his account @SteveCase. Presenting a stark contrast to Gross, Case tweeted: “Celebrating Facebook IPO today while reflecting on AOL IPO 20 years ago. Valuation was $70 million. Most thought Internet was a fad. #wrong. . . .”

Obviously the internet was not a fad, but AOL? OMG! (AOL stock went from $226 billion in 2001 to about $20 billion in 2006.)

And Facebook? Caveat Emptor!


No "bot" here

OK, I think I've got this "social media thing" figured out--I've "arrived"--how do I know? Look at the kind of "direct messages" I get on Twitter--

"hey johnmpoole. thx 4 following. hope ur 4 real and not a bot. "

no "bot" here.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

In JPMorgan Chase Trading Bet - read the fine print

JP Morgan--my take--read the fine print:

In JPMorgan Chase Trading Bet, Its Confidence Yields to Loss - NYTimes.com: " . . . In the case of the trade that generated the huge loss, the insurance on the contract does not come due until 2017, so JPMorgan could potentially hold off any actual losses until then. If the economy improves, the cost of insuring American companies could drop again. But now that the London Whale’s trade is public, hedge funds could force the cost of this specific insurance contract up, and with it JPMorgan’s paper losses. This is what appears to be happening now. On Friday, the insurance index spiked sharply, bringing it up 32 percent from its low in March. “There are no buyers or sellers in the market right now. Because of that, it is impossible for JPMorgan to get out of this trade,” said Gennaro Pucci, who oversees the PVE Macro Credit Fund in London. “These positions, which made sense for them to put on, just become impossible to manage when liquidity dries up.” A senior Wall Street executive said on Friday: “JPMorgan violated the cardinal rule of risk: Don’t become the market.”"


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Greece and the Eurozone: Voting with your Money

June 17th is the date for new Greek elections but it looks like the Greek people are already voting (with their money):

Greek politics: Slouching towards the drachma | The Economist: "Today, cash was being taken away from the banks in orderly fashion. There were no queues outside branches in central Athens or its suburbs. Customers ordered cash by telephone and picked it up 24 hours later. Some went straight into safety-deposit boxes at the same bank; some was stashed beneath mattresses in case Greece has to re-adopt the drachma. "People are taking preventive measures," says one veteran banker. "If you own a pile of euros, you’ll feel rich in a drachma environment." Despite their enthusiasm for holding on to the euro, Greeks are fed up with the austerity that German politicians say is the price of continued membership. . ."

Paul Krugman: Jogging for the Exit "What’s happening now is a “bank jog” — Greeks are pulling euro deposits out of banks fairly rapidly, but not quite fast enough to be called a bank run. But where are the euros coming from? Basically, banks are borrowing them from the Greek central bank, which in turn must borrow them from the European Central Bank. The question then becomes how far the ECB is willing to go here; is it willing, in effect, to lend enough money to buy up the entire balance sheet of the Greek banking sector, given the likelihood that this sector will be left insolvent by Greek default? Yet if the ECB says no more, Greek banks stop operating — and it’s hard to see how they can be restored to operation except by ditching the euro and using something else. And if that happens, surely depositors in other European countries will start their own bank jogs …"

Question: If you owned a pile of euros, wouldn't you be better off converting them to pound sterling or U.S. dollars?


How I Fixed the Tax Code (In Half a Day)--another view

How I Fixed the Tax Code (In Half a Day) - SmartMoney.com: "I figure a good tax code should be simple, efficient and fair. So I wondered if we could just combine a national sales tax, which is simple and efficient, with a drastically simplified but progressive income tax, which would be fair. Scrap the regressive payroll tax. Scrap the regressive corporation tax, too: Instead tax the business owners, and treat all investment income and capital gains as income. No loopholes. No breaks. Easy. The IRS says 2011 taxes total about $2.3 trillion. A 10% national sales tax would bring in about $1.1 trillion, or nearly half of what we need. That would ensure everybody pays something, and it would be relatively easy to collect. What about income taxes? I played with three tax rates: 0%, 25%, and 40%. (Notice I have shunned the cowardly "39.6%," as well). . . "

The fix is easy . . . the political will is missing.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Greek Drachma Cometh--are the Fed and U.S. Treasury ready?

The Greeks (and who can blame them?) have had enough already with Eurozone "austerity" which, afterall, was a cruel "hoax" (zero chance of success) the Eurozone imposed on Greece in order to "save" French and German banks, and now the endgame is playing out--

Brace, brace. Dark times ahead as Greece heads for the exit - Telegraph: " . . . If Greece redominates all its debts in cut price drachmas, the ECB and its backers – in particular the German Bundesbank – will take a terrible hit, but it won't be terminal. The Bundesbank would most likely simply write off its Target 2 lending to Greece, which would certainly be a major curiosity given its abhorrence of debt monetisation but wouldn't of itself destroy either the Bundesbank or the euro. The threat comes instead from market contagion to other eurozone countries worst hit by the debt crisis. To Germany, Greece has always been a special case, a nation which cheated its way into the euro, whose citizens are lazy and won't pay their taxes, and is in any case basically ungovernable. There is a very different attitude to Spain and Italy. Germany's determination to make the rest of the eurozone work should not be underestimated. . . ."

As the Telegraph points out, once Greece leaves the euro, the Germans will begin to realize the euro could all come down (as a flawed currency, it probably will inevitably) and focus diligently on (and be preoccupied with) Spain and Italy--but what about Greece? Greece may be small but its membership in NATO and its strategic location make it too important to be left adrift--Bernanke and Geithner better be ready to step into the breach and extend Greece a "helping hand."


Monday, May 14, 2012

James Carville: Democrats could lose


Carville: Wake up Democrats; you could lose - CNN.com: "You can shoot five Bin Ladens, you can save 10,000 banks and 20 car companies, even pass the most sweeping legislation in modern American history; if people don't think that you are connected to their lives and are fighting for their interests they will vote your tush out of office in a nano-second. For historical reference see Winston Churchill election of 1945 and President George H.W. Bush in 1992."


Sunday, May 13, 2012

EPA Official On Oil Companies: 'Crucify Them'

One more example of the Obama administration's war on business--

EPA Official's 'Philosophy' On Oil Companies: 'Crucify Them' - Just As Romans Crucified Conquered Citizens | CNSNews.com: "Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) took to the Senate floor today to draw attention to a video of a top EPA official saying the EPA’s “philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies - just as the Romans crucified random citizens in areas they conquered to ensure obedience.

Video from 2010 of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official, Region VI Administrator Al Armendariz, admitting that EPA’s “general philosophy” is to “crucify” and “make examples” of oil and gas companies."  UPDATE--YouTube yanks EPA 'crucify' video - Bob King - POLITICO.com: "Finally, it appears as of late yesterday afternoon that Citizen Media for We The People took down all of the video content relating to Armendariz's hourlong comments." The video excerpt posted by Inhofe has inspired outrage among critics of EPA regulations, as well as calls by several Republican House members for Armendariz to either step down or be fired. The "Citizens Media" channel includes videos about fracking, gay rights protests and other causes. McFatridge could not immediately be reached for comment."

"In his Senate speech, Sen. Inhofe said the video provides Americans with “a glimpse of the Obama administration’s true agenda.” That agenda, Inhofe said, is to “incite fear” in the public with unsubstantiated claims and “intimidate” oil and gas companies with threats of unjustified fines and penalties – then, quietly backtrack once the public’s perception has been firmly jaded against oil and natural gas."


Saturday, May 12, 2012

Will Higher Tax Rates Balance the Budget?

As the U.S. debt and deficit grows, some politicians and economist have called for higher tax rates in order to balance the budget. The question becomes: when the government raises taxes, does it actually collect a larger portion of the US economy? 

Professor Antony Davies examines 50 years of economic data and finds that regardless of tax rates, the percentage of GDP that the government collects has remained relatively constant. In other words, no matter how high government sets tax rates, the government gets about the same portion. According to Davies, if we're concerned about balancing the budget, we should worry less about raising tax revenue and more about growing the economy. The recipe for growth? Lower tax rates and a simplified tax code.


Friday, May 11, 2012

Student Debt--a problem the government created

Colleges Confuse Students With Letters Offering Aid That’s Debt - Bloomberg: " . . . A letter from Butler University, a private college in Indianapolis, initially appeared to offer more: the $28,100 amount highlighted in a box. After calculations, he and his coach determined the gap was bigger at Butler. Jamrozik and his parents would need to take out $28,000 in loans, more than double the amount for the state school. “It’s certainly not our intention for them to be confusing,” Melissa Smurdon, director of financial aid at Butler, said in an interview. “There is a significant amount of information that needs to be conveyed.” Jamrozik equated the letters to a scavenger hunt. “You’re just going to be suffering for an eternity to pay off the debt,” he said."


Thursday, May 10, 2012

More on Obama's "Evolution"

Here's an update to my previous post--Weekly Standard says Obama has not "evolved:"

‘On My Behalf’ | The Weekly Standard: "  . . . . In fact, Obama has not “evolved”—he has changed his position whenever his political fortunes required him to do so. Running for the Illinois state senate from a trendy area of Chicago in 1996, he was for gay marriage. “I favor legalizing same-sex marriages,” he wrote in answer to a questionnaire back then. In 2004, he was running for the U.S. Senate and needed to appeal to voters statewide. So he evolved, and favored civil unions but opposed homosexual “marriage.” In 2008, running for president, he said, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage.” Now in 2012, facing a tough reelection campaign where he needs energized supporters of gay “marriage” and has disappointed them with his refusal to give them his support, he is for it. To paraphrase John Kerry, he was for it before he was against it before he was for it again. . . . "

On the other hand, Gawker thinks Obama's announcement was all BS:

"ABC News has only released one brief clip of Obama's conversation about gay marriage today, but it seems fairly clear from the network's coverage that his announcement amounts to much less than meets the eye. He now believes that gay couples should be able to marry. He doesn't believe they have a right to do so. This is like saying that black children and white children ought to attend the same schools, but if the people of Alabama reject that notion—what are you gonna do? The key language in the ABC News write-up is this: The president stressed that this is a personal position, and that he still supports the concept of states deciding the issue on their own. On this afternoon's special broadcast, Jake Tapper echoed that point: "The president said he thought this was a state-by-state issue." Well, before Roe v. Wade, abortion was a state-by-state issue, too. So was slavery. There are 44 states in which gay men and women are currently barred from marrying one another. . . . "

What are you gonna do?


President Obama Flip-Flops on Gay Marriage

Oh, I am sorry--when a Democrat changes his/her position--it's not a "flip-flop." It's an "evolution"--

President Obama . . . Support for Same Sex Marriage | ABC News Blogs - Yahoo!: "President Obama today announced that he now supports same-sex marriage, reversing his longstanding opposition amid growing pressure from the Democratic base and even his own vice president. In an interview with ABC News' Robin Roberts, the president described his thought process as an "evolution" that led him to this decision, based on conversations with his staff members, openly gay and lesbian service members, and his wife and daughters."

Hereinafter, no Democrat (or other member of the mainstream media) had better accuse Mitt Romney of a "flip-flop"--from now on it's an "evolution"--just ask President Obama.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Google rebuffs FCC -- yeah Google!

The Obama administration's war on business continues--but Google strikes back--

Google rebuffs FCC over 'Wi-Spy' flap - Tony Romm - POLITICO.com: "Google rejected the FCC's argument that the company obstructed an investigation of the so-called Wi-Spy privacy flap — blaming the FCC in part for the delay — in a stinging rebuke filed with the agency Thursday. At the same time, Google acknowledged for the first time in its formal response to the FCC that the Justice Department had already reviewed the case, and "concluded that it would not pursue a case for violation of the Wiretap Act." Google filed its 17-page response to the FCC on Thursday after the agency concluded it lacked evidence to determine whether the company broke federal anti-wiretapping laws. The inquiry stemmed from a 2010 incident in which Google's cars, dispatched to map neighborhoods, intercepted private emails, Web pages and other documents sent over unencrypted Wi-Fi networks.As part of the FCC's scathing order, issued in early April, the agency accused the company of having "deliberately impeded and delayed" its probe." It slapped Google with a proposed $25,000 fine, which Google noted Thursday it would not appeal. But Google turned the tables and struck back, criticizing the regulatory agency for its conduct in the probe. "Over the course of the 17 months it took the FCC to officially conclude its investigation, the commission did not contact Google for weeks and months at a time," Google wrote in the reply. It described two periods of silence — one gap of 83 days and another gap of 52 days — in which Google never heard from the agency. "It is difficult to reconcile those lengthy delays with the FCC’s criticism of Google’s responses as 'untimely,'" Google argued. The company noted the commission ran against its deadline and received Google's approval to extend the review period by seven months."

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0412/75659.html#ixzz1tAykAd9r

Just one more reason (you only need one) to vote for Romney instead of Obama!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

FTC Wastes Taxpayer Funds "Investigating" Google

Obama administration's war on business (and waste of taxpayer money) continues:

FTC brings in former government prosecutor to dig deeper into Google’s business practices - The Washington Post: "Wilkinson is best known for helping to convict Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh in 1997. Now a partner at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, in Washington, D.C., Wilkinson also has experience in antitrust law and white-collar criminal cases. The FTC stressed that Wilkinson’s hiring shouldn’t be interpreted as a sign it intends to sue Google Inc. “We are delighted to have someone of her caliber helping us on such an important matter,” said Richard Feinstein, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Competition."

Delighted? Really? Here's a question no one seems to be asking: why are taxpayer funds being used (wasted) to pay a high-priced D.C. lawyer working a no-bid government contract to provide legal services to pursue a meritless claim against a legitimate business (Google) that has done nothing wrong?

Also, how much will Google have to spend to defend itself against the FTC's waste of taxpayer funds?

Does the FTC not have any legitimate work to do? Perhaps the Romney administration should abolish or severely cut back funding of the FTC as it seems to have gone "astray" and is lost in its "inside the beltway" bureaucratic mentality.

Thankfully, I am not alone--others are waking up to the FTC's waste of resources hassling Google:

Economists tell FTC to 'buzz off' on Google antitrust investigation | The Daily Caller: "Economists have had it with the forceful gaze of government regulators directed at Google. 101 economists from some of the nation’s most distinguished universities, and from the National Taxpayers Union, expressed concern over the swath of scrutiny directed at Google in an open letter published Monday. The Federal Trade Commission recently announced it hired a prominent outside litigator as part of its current antitrust investigation into Google. The NTU letter openly criticized the antitrust regulatory framework that the government has forced businesses to operate under, claiming that it is doing more harm than good to the economy. . . “Policymakers should instead deploy their talents on restructuring our broken, burdensome regulatory and fiscal management systems in order to foster strong competition and economic growth into the future,” the economists wrote."

Read more: http://www.ntu.org/news-and-issues/telecom/57an-open-letter-to-public.html


Monday, May 7, 2012

You can forget about housing coming back soon

The New Normal is about accepting reality--and moving on.  The fact is housing is not coming back soon so we need to quit basing national policy on an outdated concept.  We (as a society) want people mobile, able to move to change jobs, take advantage of better opportunities and not be weighed down by debt and illiquid assets (like housing) that have very little chance of appreciating.

Maybe no housing rebound for a generation: Shiller - Chicago Tribune: "April 24, 2012|Reuters NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Housing market is likely to remain weak and may take a generation or more to rebound, Yale economics professor Robert Shiller told Reuters Insider on Tuesday. Shiller, the co-creator of the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index, said a weak labor market, high gas prices and a general sense of unease among consumers was outweighing low mortgage rates and would likely keep a lid on prices for the foreseeable future. . . ."


Sunday, May 6, 2012

Real Estate Trend: downsize for hassle-free living

For large cities, the trend is to live in a high-rise within an integrated community with its own all-encompassing integrated feel, where you work, live, and play, although it appears the east coast (just look at Miami) is leading the west coast--

Big Deal - In Los Angeles, Condos Are a Tough Sell - NYTimes.com: "“While the idea of living in a condo in a sprawling city like Los Angeles is still tough to imagine for many who prefer more space, the area’s growing congestion is slowly shifting tastes, said Paul Habibi, a lecturer in real estate at the Anderson Graduate School of Management at the University of California, Los Angeles. Each of these communities — Brentwood, Santa Monica — is taking on its own all-encompassing integrated feel, where you work, live and play all within these communities,” Mr. Habibi said. But that transition is in its early stages, he said. . . .“A lot of that buyer pool,” Mr. Habibi said, “are your foreign buyers and bicoastal people who are looking for a low-maintenance alternative, a very nice place to live when they are in town.”. . . At the Century, in Century City overlooking the Fox movie studios, most of the buyers are owners of Los Angeles estates looking to downsize for more hassle-free living, Ms. Osborn said."

Yes, that's a key for the future of real estate--"looking to downsize for more hassle-free living."


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Enjoy the day by the sea

What better way to spend the day, than by the sea with someone special?

Nautica at Debenhams video.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Loeb Demands Yahoo Board Fire CEO

OK, this is getting interesting--and worth watching:

Third Point Letter to Board May 4 Release

Full screen: http://www.docstoc.com/docs/120048668/Third-Point-Letter-to-Board-May-4-Release
If you need more background on this--

Loeb Demands Yahoo Board Fire CEO by Monday Over False Resume - John Paczkowski - News - AllThingsD: "Now that activist shareholder Dan Loeb has discredited Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson’s educational credentials and credibility, he’s going full bore after the company’s directors and demanding Thompson’s head. In a new letter to Yahoo’s board today, Loeb and his shareholder firm Third Point called for the company to disclose details of Thompson’s vetting process and, more importantly, to reveal whether or not Yahoo directors knew of the holes in his academic background. They also demanded that Yahoo fire Thompson and director Patti Hart, about whose academic background questions have also been raised. . . ."


Best time to send email so it will get read

The best time to send email so it will get read - CBS News: ". . . if you want an email to get read, send it Sunday afternoon or early in the morning. . . "


Scriptkitty Dreams [video]

I received the following from EFF and recommend:

EFF works tirelessly to protect programmers and developers engaged in cutting-edge tech exploration through our Coders' Rights Project. To help get the word out, we're introducing a new Coders' Rights List with a short video, which could just be the coolest video about hackers, cats and robots you will see all day. Sign up for the Coders' Rights List today to get the latest news on computer security law, upcoming events with EFF lawyers, discounts on infosec conferences like BlackHat, SOURCE, HOPE, and open source software events, and even get a jump on EFF's third annual D(EFF)CONtest launching next week! To help get the word out about the new Coders' Rights List we've created a short video, which could just be the coolest video about hackers, cats and robots you will see all day. Share the video. Do it for the kittens. eff.org

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Gallup: U.S. Unemployment Rate Up in April to 8.6%

Are things really getting better? Is the economy stalling? Just look at the data:

Gallup Seasonally Adjusted U.S. Unemployment Rate Up in April: " . . . applying the government's historical April adjustment to Gallup's unadjusted number yields a seasonally adjusted April estimate of 8.6%, up from 8.1% in March. . . . the rise in Gallup's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate suggests that the government will report an increase in its seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for April. Such an increase would contrast with the consensus forecast that the government's April unemployment rate will be unchanged at 8.2%. However, it does seem consistent with the increase in jobless claims in recent weeks and Wednesday's ADP report showing that the economy added only 119,000 new private-sector jobs last month -- not nearly enough to lower the unemployment rate, particularly when seasonal hiring should be increasing. . . ."

UPDATE (Friday, May 4, 2012): Reuters-- U.S. employers cut back on hiring in April and more people gave up the hunt for work, dimming hopes the economy was turning a corner just as President Barack Obama prepared to launch his re-election campaign. Employers added 115,000 workers last month after increasing payrolls 154,000 in March, the Labor Department said on Friday. Economists had expected to see the creation of 170,000 jobs. The unemployment rate ticked a tenth of a point lower to 8.1 percent, a three-year low, but only because people left the workforce. It was the third straight month in which hiring slowed, intensifying fears that the U.S. recovery is losing momentum and opening the door a bit wider for the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy. "The bottom line is you don't have evidence that this economy has reached escape velocity," said Robert Tipp, an investment strategist at Prudential Fixed Income. . . . 


Obama's dog-eating jokes make crategate a non-issue

OK, I wrote about Mitt's crategate problem before, but now it's a non-issue "officially" since Obama jokes about eating dogs (which he admits he has actually done in his autobiography)--

Dog-eating jokes are the main course at press dinner: "But the featured item on the menu was dog ... jokes -- which figured, since Barack Obama's old admission to eating dog as a child was just recently revived as a campaign sideshow. "Last week we learned that the president's two favorite steaks are rib eye and seeing eye," cracked comedian Jimmy Kimmel, the evening's host. But even Kimmel got a taste that it's tough to work a room better than the Obama himself. The president touched on Sarah Palin's recent hosting of "Today" to segue into the night's toughest line: "What's the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? A pit bull is delicious.". . . "


California Student Had To Drink His Own Urine To Survive - Left In Holding Cell For 5 Days by DEA

Student Drank Own Urine After Being Forgotten In Holding Cell For 5 Days « CBS DC: "The Drug Enforcement Administration issued an apology Wednesday to a California student who was picked up during a drug raid and left in a holding cell for several days without food, water or access to a toilet. . . . Chong, 23, was never arrested, was not going to be charged with a crime and should have been released, said a law enforcement official who was briefed on the DEA case and spoke on the condition of anonymity. . . . "

Welcome to Government "Obama Style"--so much for constitutional rights, or for that matter, common human decency, and of course this whole episode reeks of the incompetence which has become systemic in the Obama administration--anyone up for a GSA Las Vegas party?  Oh--and don't worry--no one will lose their job because Obama will never fire anyone who works for the Government. November 6th can't come soon enough.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Hard Thing CEOs and Presidents Have To Do

"I don't work here. I work for another company that lends me out to pussies like Steve's boss who don't have the balls to sack their own employees."
--George Clooney in "Up in the Air"

The Hardest Thing CEOs Have To Do - Business Insider: "Yesterday at Lerer Ventures' CEO Summit, The Facebook Effect author David Kirkpatrick asked two founders, "What's the hardest thing you've ever had to do for your company?" Both CEOs agreed: it was firing people."

Unfortunately, we have a President, Barack Obama, who is unable to bring himself to fire ANYBODY--

Views under the Palm - johnmpoole.com: Predictions: 2012 Presidential Race: " . . . James Carville pleaded with him (Obama) "fire somebody!" (Actually Carville went on to say "No -- fire a lot of people.")  Obama doesn't fire anybody--government employment is lifetime employment even if you're inept, incompetent, or just doing a lousy job. Think of "Fast and Furious" (where the U.S. government--Justice Department's ATF--armed a foreign criminal enterprise and thereby engaged in "state-sponsored terrorism") for just one of many examples. Anybody fired? How about firing the Attorney General who is either clueless or inept to allow such an operation to be conducted? Unfortunately for Obama (and the Democrats), the American public conducts its business differently--just ask Jimmy Carter or George H.W. Bush."


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dan Rather: Mitt Romney has "a good chance of becoming President"

When a liberal newscaster gives Romney a good chance of being elected, you know Obama is in trouble--

Dan Rather: Mitt Romney has ‘good chance’ - MJ Lee - POLITICO.com: " . . . . Rather says he believes that President Barack Obama is a much more effective campaigner than a president, and that a failure to regain his ability to be engaging and persuasive as he was on the campaign trail in 2008 could cost him a second term in the White House. “I have no idea what kind of president Gov. Romney will make, but I do think [that] … he has a good chance of becoming president,” Rather said. . . .  "


The Big Picture

Financial Crisis - The Telegraph

JohnTheCrowd.com | The Sailing Website

Craig Newmark - craigconnects