Site for Free Markets and Free People

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Vacation time

On a personal note, I will be away from blogging for about a week while I'm on vacation.

Vast Majority of Mainstream America Oppose GZ Mosque

68% of America's political class like the idea of the Ground Zero Victory mosque. 77% of America's mainstream are opposed to it.

Out of touch as usual.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Intel CEO Gives Us the "Bitter Truth:" Obama Destroying Economy

Intel CEO Paul Otellini offers an ominous view of the U.S. economy and the Obama administration's faltering.

Credit Card Rates Surge

The WSJ asks a good question:

How much more consumer protection can credit-card customers stand?

Since the new financial regulations that disallow companies from pricing their risks appropriately, every consumer suffers.

This week the Journal reports that the average interest rate on credit-card customers surged to 14.7% in the second quarter, the highest rate since 2001. This is particularly remarkable given that other borrowers such as corporations and home buyers are enjoying historically low rates. In relative terms, the average credit-card rate is now at its highest level in more than two decades—11% above the benchmark prime rate, according to research firm Synovate.

Not only that, but because thousands of small business entrepreneurs fund their startups with credit card loans, it has almost certainly harmed the job creation as well. So the next time the Democrats talk about "consumer protection," grab your wallet because they are about to steal it.

Up next...our "protection" against rising health care premiums - expect to be pillaged...

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Obama-Pelosi Budget Explosion

The WSJ points out that since 2008, the Obama-Pelosi machine has already increased the federal budget by $4.4 trillion over the next decade (and as we all know, President Bush didn't exactly have a skimpy budget in 2008).

To appreciate the magnitude of this spending blowout, compare CBO's budget "baseline" estimate in January 2008 with the baseline it released Thursday. The baseline predicts future spending based on the law at the time. As the nearby chart shows, in a mere 31 months Congress has added more than $4.4 trillion to the 10-year spending baseline. The 2008 and 2009 numbers are actual spending, the others are estimates. As recently as 2005, total federal spending was only $2.47 trillion.

Keep that $4.4 trillion in mind the next time you hear Mr. Obama or Speaker Nancy Pelosi say they "inherited" this budget mess.

The GOP will likely re-take the House this fall and hopefully try to roll back a lot of this Democrat spending, although Obama has his veto pen handy. Still, another two years of Democrats and the U.S. will be, without a doubt, insolvent.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Obama: Don't Worry About Iran's Nuclear Reactor

The Obama administration says it is true that Iran is loading nuclear fuel into its reactor, but not to worry because it might take another year to build a nuclear weapon and "a year is a long time."

That's a relief for Israel, I'm sure.

Friday, August 20, 2010

NJ Bureaucrats Should Be Criminally Prosecuted

The SEC is finally bringing a fraud case against New Jersey for its blatant fraud earlier this decade by cooking its books to show that its public pension funds were well funded. From the WSJ:

In the summer of 2001, legislators in Trenton wanted to raise pension benefits 9% for state and local government employees. But there wasn't enough money in the pension system to fund the benefits and, only months before an election, the pols didn't want to raise taxes. So the legislature cooked the books, valuing the existing assets in the plan as of their market prices on June 30, 1999, before the dot-com bubble burst. Voilà, the two main state pension funds magically had enough cash to pay higher benefits.

...And get this: Congressman Barney Frank has been pressuring credit-rating agencies to give better grades to government issuers of securities, based on the fact that they've rarely defaulted in the past. Given the poor disclosure from states and cities, we don't know how Mr. Frank can even guess whether they will perform as well in the future.

...When Goldman Sachs settled its far more dubious recent case on similar charges to those New Jersey faced, it had to pay $550 million. But New Jersey paid nothing. The SEC is apparently loath to make taxpayers foot the bill for the sins of politicians and bureaucrats. We share that sympathy but wonder why it doesn't extend to shareholders in companies sued by the agency.

Good point. I think it's also fair to point out that if this were done by a company, its management team would be in jail right now. NJ's bureaucrats get to keep their power.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Happy Cost of Big Government Day

Today is the day when your share of the cost of big government is finally paid for the year. Enjoy.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Obama: Harry Reid is UnAmerican

Obama says that Harry Reid is unAmerican...well, sort of. James Taranto explains.

Democrat "Stimulus Bill for Teachers" Not Being Used to Hire Teachers

It appears that the additional billions that Democrats stole from taxpayers to "save teacher jobs" are not going to be used to keep teacher salaries. Instead, the money will be used for teacher union pensions.

Picture of the Day: Obama/Pelosi's America

This chart is the very essence of Obama/Pelosi's America:

Republicans Over Democrats, 48%-36%

I'm beginning to think November could be very big for Republicans. The generic Rasmussen poll gives Republicans the largest lead they've had since Obama's presidency started. This is a step in the right direction, but there are several reasons I'm not overly excited:

1. Two and a half months is a long time and a lot can change

2. Just because someone calls themself a Republican, doesn't reveal what they stand for

3. Even if Republicans gain control of the house and the senate, then what? I don't know what the group, as a whole, is proposing. Yes, if Republicans win back congress, it stops Obama from sending the country down the drain, and that's a good thing. But what will happen? Will healthcare reform be repealed? Will tax cuts be extended? Will spending cuts happen? We really don't know.

4. My belief is that the worst still could be in front of us for the economy. If this happens, and republicans are in control, they will take the blame for the non-recovery.

Don't get me wrong. Obama has been and will continue to be one of the worst things ever to happen to the USA. So if Republicans win and total meltdown can be avoided, that's a good thing. But I still haven't heard much from most Republicans as to what they want to do, and will do, if they are elected. If there were a few more Chris Christies out there, I'd feel a little better but I'm not hearing anything yet. Change will be good in November but the question is how good?

Goodbye Avastin, Hello Obama Death Panels

Unfortunately for those suffering from advanced breast cancer, the FDA is considering withdrawing its recommendation for use, which typically means insurers no longer pay for the drug.

Welcome to Obamacare, where your friendly government bureaucrats decide which medicines you should or should not have.

Obama Claimed Father Served in WWII

Not sure how anyone can defend this statement. Obama in 2008 claimed in a speech that his father served in World War II. On his scale of lies, it's not that impactful, but it does show how few scruples Obama has.

Kind of like saying he's cut taxes for 95% of Americans...oh, never mind.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Judge Blasts Obama's SEC in Citigroup Case

The judge hearing the SEC's case against Citigroup blasted the government agency for what was either an inadequate settlement if there was indeed fraud, or more likely, a case of political extortion.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Obamas Vacation in the Gulf for 26 Hours

Who vacations anywhere for 26 hours? I have to agree with The Daily Mail on this one - this is a political stunt to show the Obamas were in the gulf. This is Obama trying to show Americans that because of his quick action, now the gulf of mexico is safe for tourism. And they've spent 26 long hours there to prove the point. Also, they've been criticized for going to elite places and they feel it necessary to get some photo ops where they probably swam for 20 minutes or so.

I don't really care where he goes with his family, but just seems like this whole event was choreographed for the public to see the man visiting the gulf.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Maxine Waters: I'm Corrupt Because of Bush...

Not kidding - Maxine Waters says that her corruption was caused by...President Bush.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Obama Thinks Islamic Victory Mosque A Great Idea at Ground Zero

Obama loves the idea of Muslims planting a flag of victory with their mosque at Ground Zero. What else would you expect?

WSJ: Get Off Obama's Back About His Golfing/Vacations

The WSJ is absolutely right. Give Obama a break about all his golf and vacationing.

We wish Mr. Obama played more golf. Seven days a week, in fact. Imagine how much better off America would be—and how much more popular the President would be—had he taken the rising public protests against ObamaCare last summer as an opening to drop the subject and work on his handicap?

The more Mr. Obama and his White House team practice their putting strokes, the less time they'd have to pass more stimulus, overregulate more industries, or raise more taxes. The economy would recover more rapidly with less political handling.

So by all means, swing away, Mr. President. Work on that jump shot, polish your short game, practice your fly cast mending. Then watch GDP and your approval ratings rise.

10 Reasons Why Obama's Presidency is a Disaster

Nile Gardiner of the UK Telegraph lays out the 10 points rather well why the Obama presidency is a disaster.

Why does the only serious reporting these days come from foreign papers?

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Why Is OneUnited Bank Still Open?

Financial industry analyst Tom Brown asks a fair question. Of course, we already know the answer - because Maxine Waters has family money tied up in it. And even with a taxpayer bailout, the bank is on life support:

The result of the Treasury’s investment was to transform OneUnited’s balance sheet from horrific to merely ghastly. Some numbers: at September 30, 2008 (that is, before the TARP investment but after the GSE blowup), OneUnited’s ratio of tangible common equity to total assets was minus-4.97%. At yearend (post-TARP), that ratio had ballooned to . . . minus-2.65%! It has since settled back to minus-2.95%.

Obamanomics and crony difference.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Gutfeld Opening Muslim Gay Bar at Ground Zero

A little tit for tat as it's going right next to the new mosque. Although I missed Mayor Bloomberg's speech on how this is such a great idea. Gutfeld says he's serious. The running name of the bar is Heaven and Hallel, but I saw him on Beck last night and he said he was seriously considering Ramadam as well.

Obama To Give $3B More to Unemployed Facing Foreclosure

In his never ending generosity, Obama is giving an additional $3 billion of taxpayer money to help those who are unemployed and facing foreclosure.

OK, first of all, most foreclosures in this country have historically been because someone is unemployed. Second, if the unemployed are receiving benefits and now mortgage relief, why would they ever want to go back to work?

46% of Americans STRONGLY Disapprove of Obama

Ok, another new low, according to Rasmussen. To be fair, the number has hovered between 40%-45% for most of the year, so one little uptick isn't a huge deal. Or is it?

I was thinking about this when I saw the number, and I thought, wow! - he's likely to get over 50% at some stage, and then it hit me. Almost HALF THE COUNTRY STRONGLY DISAPPROVES OF OUR PRESIDENT. THAT'S A BIG NUMBER! It's not half the country that simply disapproves, it's half that STRONGLY disapprove, and that's why it's important.

George W. Bush, at his worst, had a strongly disapprove rating of 43%. And that was in November 2008, after eight long years, right after Lehman went bankrupt, and after the stock market had come 50% off it's mid-07 peak. And after being blamed repeatedly by Obama for causing the worst depression in 80 years. It doesn't get any worse than that, and GW's strong disapproval was still better than Obama's.

What does this say about Obama? I'm not sure. He brings out intense feelings in most of us - that's a nice way to put it. Another less nice way is that people simply hate what the guy is doing. And that's not good.

I've said from the beginning that Obama's toughest years will be 2011 and 2012, and I still believe that, unless he undertakes some radical damage control and starts to cut taxes and do things that go against his personal beliefs. My prediction is that he goes hunting for a third party candidate to split the opposition vote in 2012. Is there anything more scary than an Obama second term?

GE CEO Immelt Scolded Reporters for Obama Criticism

Figures. The worst CEO in the history of GE, the liberal Jeff Immelt, got CNBC reporters together in early 2009 and scolded them for criticizing Obama.

How's that for a balanced media? He should have been fired a long time ago anyway...

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Corruption at Fannie Mae?

It sure seems that way. And yet it and Freddie Mac, the 2 companies most responsible for the mortgage crisis, have not been modified in any way, its former (Democrat) executives sitting with millions of dollars without ever having been called to testify before Congress like Wall Street executives.

Just in Time For Elections: "I Want Your Money"

I'm not sure if this movie will be a theatrical release or just an internet documentary, but regardless, I will be sure to watch it. And my early prediction is that if it is released in the theaters, it will be a blockbuster. Coming this fall.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Higher Capital Requirements Won't Impact Lending?

David Enrich's article in the WSJ yesterday suggested that significantly higher capital levels at U.S. banks wouldn't impact business lending. He cited a study by Douglas Elliott of the Brookings Institution, the liberal think tank, to support his thesis.

Financial industry analyst Tom Brown scoffs at this notion.

If you go through Elliott’s study in detail, you’ll see that that hypothetical 20-bp rate rise is accompanied by some highly iffy assumptions. Among other things, “administrative costs” are supposed to fall by 10 basis points (good luck with that), while “other benefits,” whatever those are, are supposed to improve by 10 bp. And the bank’s debt costs are supposed to fall by 20 basis points, even though (as Elliott himself notes) bank liabilities are mainly deposits that are guaranteed by the federal government and therefore are already as cheap as they’re likely to get. All of which is a long way of saying that Elliott seems to have made some unrealistic tweaks to his assumptions to arrive at his conclusion that boosting capital levels would raise borrowing costs by 20 basis points.

And of course, apart from credit becoming tighter and more expensive, foreign banks would very likely take huge market share in the U.S. because even socialist Europe knows that if they have lower capital levels than the U.S., it is good for their banks.

Private Payrolls "Lower than Expected"...Again

Once again, non-farm payrolls came in lower than expected, producing only 71,000 new jobs vs. an expectation of 100,000.

My guess is that Obama will add this 71,000 to his "saved or created" job pile for which he spent almost $1 trillion last year. Huge success.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

August Surprise - Massive Homeowner Bailout??

I'm still a bit skeptical, but I would not be surprised if Obama ends up acting on a plan to have Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac provide a massive bailout to all homeowners who are under water on their mortgages. Just like that, 1 man can pile $1 trillion in incremental debt onto responsible Americans by forcing them to pay for those who overpaid on their homes.

Alexis de Tocqueville famously said that "the American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money."

We could be in the midst of this disaster right now...

Blame Game: Tax Cheat Geithner Blames Bush...Again

Tim Geithner, the tax cheat who didn't need low tax rates to avoid paying taxes, seems to forget that President Bush has been out of office while Obama spent $3.6 trillion.

Geithner again says that it was "Bush's tax cuts" that caused our deficits. Never mind that the deficit was barely 1% of GDP in 2007 and will be hovering around 10% of GDP for the second year in a row under Obama. This reasoning, of course, implies that all of the money that would have gone to the government will be back in the government coffers come January, so we should again have a surplus next year. Let's see if that happens...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Judge Who Knocks Down Prop 8 in CA is Gay

Think federal judgeships aren't important? They serve a lifetime appointment, are unelected, and can quite literally overturn any legislative action, even if supported by a majority of constituents. Today a federal judge declared the same sex marriage ban, which passed as Proposition 8 in California, illegal.

The well known secret in this case is that the judge himself is gay.

Another Bailout For Irresponsible States?

Almost 18 months ago, states knew that they were going to have to make difficult decisions because of their irresponsible spending binges over the past decade. Instead, Obama famously bailed them out so they could push forward their difficult choices (ie. lay off government workers or otherwise cut spending).

Now, Democrats are repeating the bailout, further pushing out these tough decisions by states. Make no mistake - we will again be at this point next year...hopefully by then Pelosi, Reid and the tax-and-spend Democrats will be kicked to the curb once and for all.

Missouri: Landslide 70% Rejection of Obamacare

Talk about a thumping. Missouri voters got a chance to vote their opinion on Obamacare yesterday and they overwhelmingly rejected it by more than 70% of voters.

No, but really, they're going to like it...

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Obamacare Flow Chart

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) provides a flowchart of the new government agencies created to help oversee the Obamacare disaster. Brady notes that this flowchart is so huge, it doesn't even cover half of the new bureaucracies that are to be created to run everything that impacts health care in this country.

McCain, Coburn Highlight Obama Stimulus Waste

For Obama, his $862 billion "stimulus bill" was perfect, saving jobs left and right. But as Sens. McCain and Coburn point out in a new report, this spending amounted to the usual, wasteful government spending. Here are a few highlighted projects that saved those, oh so important jobs (and keep in mind this is just a very tiny fraction of the government waste occurring every day):

1. Broadband Map That May be Obsolete by the Time it’s Complete ($350 million): $350 million was awarded to states from the Department of Commerce to build a map of its broadband Internet infrastructure, though it duplicates existing maps. Rather than spend $350 million on the project, one firm said it could map the whole nation for $3.5 million – one percent of the cost. Or, anyone with a computer could Google it – for free.

2. Empty Mall Gets Energy Award ($5 million): $5 million was awarded to the Oak Ridge Mall in Tennessee to provide geothermal heat – only the mall has few stores and customers.

3. Fossil Research in Argentina ($1.57 million): Researchers from Penn State will travel to Argentina to dig up plant fossils.

4. Anti-Capitalist Puppet Shows ($50,000): Puppet theatres with socialist, anti-capitalist messages were paid $50,000 to put on puppet shows.

5. Free Rides on Baltimore Water Taxi ($1.6 million): A program to offer free rides on the water taxi as a means of relieving road congestion got money despite it doing little to stop people from traveling in cars.

6. Digital Television Ad Campaign ($6 million): An ad agency was hired for $6 million one month before the switch to digital television—and reported creating three jobs with the money.

7. California Computer System ($60 million): In 2002, CA got $66 million to upgrade its computers for the unemployment insurance program. It spent the money on other things and just got another $60 million in stimulus for the same project.

8. Non-Competitive Contracts ($7.8 billion): Half of all stimulus contracts awarded as of the fall were not subject to full competition.

9. Mice, Alcohol and Drugs ($38,000): Studying the impact of alcohol and methamphetamines on mice and rats.

10. Tourist Railroad ($2 million): The Virginia & Truckee tourist railroad in Nevada will get more than $2 million for an extension.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Obama's EPA: Let's Regulate Dust

It's official - Obama's EPA now thinks that farm dust (like animal flatulence) is a pollutant that must be regulated.

Democrat Congressman's Husband Buys Newsweek

Sidney Harman, wife of Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) is buying Newsweek from the Washington Post. Since Newsweek long gave up any credibility it had left, it shouldn't be a huge issue for it to retain its current stature.

Voters Blame Obama for the Economy

According to a new Rasmussen poll, for the first time, more voters are now blaming Obama for the poor economy, instead of Bush. It's a slim margin, 48% to 47%, but only one year ago, 62% blamed Bush, while only 27% blamed Obama. Among independents, Obama is being faulted 52% to 44%. My favorite one: 62% of Americans trust their own judgement when it comes to the economy, while only 27% trust Obama.

My, how things change. I have no idea which direction the economy will go, and it could very well improve for a period of time before it gets worse, but I'd expect more and more Americans to blame Obama for the poor economy as time goes on.