Sunday, November 27, 2011
Just like no football team ever won the national championship with a string of 'moral victories' (meaning 'close losses'. see Duke University, circa 2011).
We try to give you as much information, some off-the-wall admittedly, but important nonetheless, so you can make your own decisions about political goings-on in Washington.
Or plan to hunker down in a bunker somewhere with a hoard of gold, food and water and wait til this 'madness' is all over and done with.
Unfortunately, it is not 'over-and-done' with. Not by a long shot.
Did the Tea Party 'win' by the lack of an agreement by the now disgraced 'Super' Committee? How about the Progressive Liberals...did they 'win' anything due to the lack of any agreement? How about the GOP in the House and President Obama...do they now look like heroes or chumps in the eyes of the vast majority of the American populace, those who can still think and see things clearly and are not totally blinded by the poison of partisan politics on every single issue?
Let's look at this objectively as if you just landed on earth in a space ship:
The over-riding #1 Problem We Americans Face Today? The Profound Budget Deficits And Debt.
Did anything that happened, or failed to happen, over the past 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 3 years do one darned thing to stop this problem or even arrest its acceleration any at all?
If the question is posed as this: 'Are we any closer to solving the debt explosion now than we were in the past 3 years?', the answer is a resounding 'NO!', isn't it?
The Tea Party has 'failed' in this regard. The GOP has 'failed' in this regard. President Obama most certainly has 'failed' in this regard. The Progressive Liberals who are the majority party in the Senate have 'failed' in this regard as well.
We are being run as a nation by 536 collective 'failures' right now to address the biggest threat to our economic and national security we have seen since the Great Depression and WWII.
Our father and grandpas 'saved' the world from the Nazis and Imperial Japan in 4 years. Their generation of 'real' leaders made a lot of very difficult, tough decisions very quickly and they all made a huge sacrifice for the good of the nation. Many chose to enlist in the armed services when they knew they might not be coming back to their homes and family.
We, our current generation, have been running our great nation into the turf for the past 10 years now by not being smart about our fiscal decisions in Washington.
How does that make you feel when you read this blatant fact?
We need people to represent us in Washington who will 'solve the problem' and not worry so much about whether they are going to be re-elected or not.
Memo to All Current Incumbents in the White House, the US Senate and the US Congress: 'You are not that important! Especially not when you fail to solve our most pressing issues.'
You can be replaced. And you should. In 2012. In the primary or the general election by someone who can and will cut the deals necessary to solve our fiscal problems.
Take a look at the following chart based on most recent CBO projections of our debt with and without the sequester. This is the 'actual' debt outstanding to the public that has to be paid each month with 'real' interest payments, not the 'fake' intragovernmental debt like the so-called Social Security 'Trust Fund' that is never really going to ever be paid by with real money:
Despite the hand-wringing you are going to hear from all sides about the draconian cuts to their favorite part of the federal budget, the outstanding federal debt is expected to go up by close to 30% over the next 10 years.
So it is a little hard to believe that the cuts are going to be so terrible when the debt is still going up 30%, isn't it?
How can anyone in the Tea Party, the GOP, the White House or in the Democratic-controlled Senate claim 'victory' in the aftermath of the Super Committee and Congressional 'Failure' recently?
People in the Tea Party and the GOP will claim that 'Well, we prevented taxes from going up!' That you did.
People on the progressive liberal side of things, including President Obama will shout at the top of the rooftops: 'We saved Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and every single domestic discretionary program we all love to grow and expand!' That you did as well.
But claiming 'victory' on such matters when our nation is at total risk of becoming the next Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland, Italy or Zimbabwe due to excessive debt and possible hyperinflation (it can happen you know, and when inflation does rear its ugly head out of that snakehole, there is zero legislation that can be passed to arrest it), then that is truly a Pyrrhic 'victory' (sic) by anyone in Washington now associated with the Tea Party, the GOP, the Democrat Party and the White House.
We have a US Congress, Senate and White House now made of up of people who apparently do not understand: 1) how to win 'The Big One!' or 2) The immense gravity of our current situation.
The main question you have to ask each incumbent when you see them on the campaign trail is this:
'Have you done anything that will reduce the future deficits and accumulation of debt by 1 penny?'
And since the answer so far is 'NO!', you can shake their hands and say: 'So long. It has been so nice to know you.'
As we said at the outset, it is up to you to decide what to do with the information we give you. Like run for office yourself and/or vote for a solid reasonable candidate opposing these 'failures' in the primaries and general election of 2012.
It is up to you. We don't have time for any more 'Pyrrhic victories' by any side of the political spectrum.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
Is anyone really that surprised? It is such a sad commentary on the lack of real statesmen and women in our federal government today from the White House to the US Senate to Congress.
They have folded their tent due to 'irreconcilable differences' between the 3 Republicans and the 3 Democrats on the committee. Sounds like a bad marriage, doesn't it?
Why didn't these leaders in Congress, which now 'enjoys' (sic?) an 8% approval rating in the American public eye, come to some agreement at the very minimum to save some face and prove that American representative democracy still offers the last great hope for mankind on earth?
We think there are a few basic reasons:
1) There was no immediate 'pain' associated with failure. The automatic 'sequesters' or spending cuts, where 50% will come from the defense department are not scheduled to take place until FY 2013, almost a year from now.
A year is a very long time in politics and government. Waiting that long gives Congress and the President every chance possible to rewrite the law; try to figure out a way to neuter the sequester and find yet another way to avoid making the tough decisions we elect them to do. They are good at that, aren't they?
We wonder what would have happened if Father Abraham (not Lincoln) had given the Hebrew men a full year to think about whether they would accept the terms of God's Covenant with them.
'Ummm, Abe, that is a mighty big sacrifice you and Jehovah are asking of us here. I mean, can't He come up with a better way of us showing our faith in Him like wearing a badge or painting something on our foreheads instead of, well, using a sharp rock or shell to circumcise us? Can you give us a full year to think about it first?(Abraham would have never become the Father of Anything under those circumstances)
2) President Obama completely abdicated his responsibility as Chief Executive Officer of this nation to work with Congress and provide leadership for this Super Committee process. He started the process when he set up the Bowles-Simpson Commission in 2010 but failed to follow through and ask his fellow Democrats to introduce the Bowles-Simpson recommendations in legislative form earlier this year.
Apparently, he completely washed his hands of this process and did not participate in any of the negotiations this summer and fall. According to Keith Hennessey, President Obama and his Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner spent more time negotiating with the European governments about reducing their budget deficits than he did with his own American government!
What is the deal, Mr. President? Is the fate of Europe more important than the fate of The United States of America, the country you took an oath to lead and protect against all danger?
3) There is not enough of a groundswell politically to rid ourselves of people now sitting in Congress who do not grasp the enormity or gravity of the fiscal and economic dilemma we now find ourselves deeply mired in.
When was the last time you got a solicitation to support a group called 'Get Rid of The Deficit, Now!'? You surely have seen commercials from the AARP growling that 'if anyone touches our Social Security or Medicare benefits, we will kill you!' or something to that effect.
You surely have seen news stories or read about Grover Norquist's 'Tax Pledge' (which makes us laugh every time we hear it as we remember Douglas C. Niedermeyer's famous words to Flounder in 'Animal House': 'A pledge pin! On your uniform? Just tell me, mister, what fraternity would pledge a man like you?')
We often wonder what would happen if a duly-elected sitting incumbent US Senator or Congressman just said: 'You know what? In the best interests of this nation that I love and have the honor or representing, I am going to vote for this package of $10 trillion in spending cuts in return for a $1 tax hike on the head of every single taxpayer in this country'.
Would Mr. Norquist be duly chastened and embarrassed? Such a simple trade-off exposes the weakness of the tax pledge; anyone who would reject such a deal would be lucky to even qualify to get into an insane asylum because people would think they were too nuts in the first place.
Or would Mr. Norquist go after said Senator or Congressman with tooth and nail like some crazed bully after he had been punched in the mouth?
No one looks good in this. Not President Obama. Not the Democrats who control the Senate. Not the GOP which controls the House. No one 'wins' when every part of our elective government looks like spoiled (and not very smart) school children hurling sand at each other in the sandbox at recess time.
We think the time has come to just unlock the floodgates to the dam that has been holding back many people from going down to their local Board of Elections today and change their registration to Independent. That way, neither the Democrats nor the AARP on the left or the Republicans and the Tax Pledgers on the right can hold you captive from supporting smart, reasonable people who can see this economic conflagration for what it truly is, which is a direct threat to the future economic health and prosperity of this nation.
And stop sending money to any organization like the AARP or Grover Norquist. Send your money only to people you think are sentient, coherent people with experience in the private sector with integrity who decide to run for public office against the seemingly brain dead people who are now representing you in Congress.
Like in 2 months. Next year is the year. Maybe, just maybe, the good people of this nation will run against every incumbent in every congressional primary and general election, maybe dozens at a time and finally get rid of the people who have gotten us into this mess and who now are not doing a darned thing to get us out of it.
Nothing. Nothing at all. Not very inspirational, is it?
Thanks, President Obama and the US Senate and Congress. For showing us how brave people in the past had to have been to make the sacrifices they did to get us to the 21st century.
Because you guys are not up to the job.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
'The Chicago Guys would not let me do it'.
Just who is the President here and who are the minions serving whom?
President Obama might have had the best of intentions when he officially signed the document creating the BS Commission by Executive Order 13531. We’ll give him credit for that at least, although at the time, we speculated on January 29, 2010 that this commission would fail just like the other 18 before it. (see 'Graveyard')
But when the BS Commission failed to pass the recommendations by the required 14 votes out of the 18 members present in late 2010, President Obama still had it within his power to be the Chief Executive of this great nation of ours and ask the Democrat Majority in the Senate to introduce the BS recommendations and force a vote on the floor of the US Senate and then the US House.
It could have been one of the great debates of our time. A full-blown debate on what the proper size of our federal government should be; arguments about who should pay more taxes and who should not and an exposition of the grave dangers we are now facing should we fail to arrest the debt accumulation monster that is still multiplying and helps make this period of time one of the top 5 ‘financial follies’ of the past 800 years according to Harvard Professor of economic history, Kenneth Rogoff. (you need to read his book: ‘This Time Is Different’. Right. Now.)
Alas, President Obama blinked. And blinked again and again and again over this past year. He has blinked so many times at taking real action to reduce this deficit that you really have to wonder if he is up to it at all.
The so-called ‘Gang of Six’ in the US Senate tried to take basic elements of the BS Bill and get them passed to no avail in 2011 as well.
Democratic Senator Mark Warner deserves special commendation for his courage to advance this approach. We wonder if it is because he is a businessman that he actually ‘understands’ the gravity of our current debt situation and trend lines whereas perhaps the other incumbents who are trial lawyers or not business-oriented simply can not fathom or grasp anything it seems.
But we now have it on good sources and corroborated by two people we respect and trust that President Barack Obama actually said the following words, in some fashion or another, when asked why he didn’t just get someone to introduce the BS Bill regardless of whether the Commission passed it or not with the requisite number of votes:
‘The Chicago guys (meaning his political advisor David Axelrod, among others) told me that if I did that (introduced the BS Bill), I would not win re-election in 2012.’
Honest to God Above. Our current sitting US President, the highest office and honor in the land, admitted that he lacked the courage to help save our Republic because his ‘Chicago guys’ told him not to touch it with a 10-foot pole.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury: That is exactly what we elect our Presidents to do! And if they don’t lead, why keep them in the office? Why is he listening more to David Axelrod and David Plouffe than to what he must know is the 'right thing' to do in his heart which is to reduce these enormous deficits?
Ronald Reagan came into office as a ‘small government, lower tax, strong national defense’ President. He achieved 2 out of 3. (Guess which one he fell short on)
But when he was forced to make a decision, he ‘led’. He got bills introduced. He negotiated with Congress. He sent his congressional liaison teams to Capitol Hill to lobby for his position. He called reluctant Congressmen and Senators to urge them to 'do the right thing for the country'. He signed bills that raised taxes 11 different times over his two terms in the Oval Office. Each time, he told Senate Majority Leader or Republican Leader Bob Michel in the House to ‘get 75-80% of what we want, maybe 65%, and then I’ll sign the bill and we will come back next year to get more of what we want.’
That is the way our democratic republic is supposed to work. A President and Congress can raise taxes….and then come back to repeal them the next year. They can raise spending…and then come back to repeal and reduce that spending the next session of Congress.
It is a fluid process. But it needs a strong President in the White House working with all sides in both the House and the Senate who is actually taking risks to ‘lead’ the entire nation to economic health, prosperity and freedom.
Today, in the news, we learned that President Obama has basically taken a complete 'hands-off' approach and said: 'This is Congress' problem. Call me when you get something done...but not when I am on vacation or playing golf somewhere nice and sunny'.
By openly admitting that he failed to do so because his ‘Chicago Guys’ told him not to, President Barack Obama has demonstrated he is unfit to run this great nation of ours, in our humble opinion.
Nothing personal. He actually seems like a nice guy to have a beer with or shoot some hoops with and we hope his daughters grow up to be wonderful mature women who do honor to their examples as young women growing up in the public glare.
But this is the tough job we elected him to in 2008. He has succumbed to political advisor pressure when all he had to do was look at the portraits of Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson around him in the White House and realize that he had a chance to do something important and wonderful and marvelous to help save this great Republic of ours.
He blinked. And now, we need to find someone else to take his place who will not ‘blink’ and who will take action.
Erskine Bowles ran for the US Senate twice and lost from the Great State of North Carolina. But he, as well as Alan Simpson have shown tremendous courage and stamina in this whole BS process.
How about this: ‘Erskine Bowles. For President. Of The United States of America. 2012.’
Democrats: There is your man to run against the Republican candidate whoever he might be. At least we will know that 2 people running for President in 2012 will be serious about solving our deficit/debt dilemma.
Instead of only 1.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Imagine that. Back then, Duke University was associated more with prominence in college football than in basketball, by a long shot. The young school, started only 12 years earlier in 1924 in Durham, North Carolina, was coached by the legendary Wallace Wade and was regularly in the top 10 along with other prominent names such as Pittsburgh, Alabama, Southern Cal and Notre Dame under Knute Rockne.
He was an All-American and is now enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in recognition of being the real football star that he was.
His generation, our fathers and grandfathers, did not lead the life of leisure that many, or even most of us, have. Even this desultory recession that just seems to want to linger on doesn't even come remotely close in orbit to the Great Economic Depression those guys and our moms and grandmoms suffered through for 10 long years before they were plunged into the largest and most terrible and horrific world war the world has ever known.
With this year's Veterans Day upon us, we thought we would try to fathom the sacrifice men like my father and millions of others made to insure our freedoms in this great democratic republic called America. We many times take America for granted that it will 'always be here' doing what it always has done: allow a prosperous free people to pursue their hopes and dreams in life as they choose.
Dad served on the USS Lexington, the massive aircraft carrier as a lieutenant commander in the artillery division. Just to show you how little Dad ever talked about his war experience, which was never, consider this:
It took a meeting with John Hanford of Charlotte in 2002 for me to have ever known the circumstances and even the place where dad was burned over 70% of his body when the Lexington was hit by a Japanese plane.
In 2002, I was helping then-US Senate Candidate Elizabeth Dole on her election campaign against Erskine Bowles, specifically on policy papers and debate preparation.
One day, we met in Charlotte at the home of her older brother, John Hanford and his wife, Bunny. John had been at Duke when Dad was playing on the football team and knew him socially as well from the on-campus and fraternity scene.
As we were speaking, Mr. Hanford said: ‘You know, I was on the Lexington when your dad was evacuated after we were hit.’
‘I did not know that’, I said, mainly because no one ever told us the details of what happened, when and why especially since Dad had never done so.
All we had ever seen in our den closet was a small case where Dad had his 2 Purple Hearts stored. They are quite the sight to see and very striking when you first open the case. But as a kid, you just can never grasp the context or the enormity of what you might be holding in your hands unless someone stops and tells you point-blank.
John went into some room of his house and brought out a scrapbook of sorts and pulled out a map of the Philippines where The Battle of Leyte Gulf was fought in 1944.
‘Right there, where that X is, you see it? That is where we were when your dad was hit by flaming oil from a Japanese plane that hit the tower in which he was directing artillery fire.’
Inside of my head I was thinking to myself: ‘Mr. Hanford, are you telling me that my father who had been a college football star and an assistant AD and chief football recruiter at Duke University was trained; shipped out; placed in command of the artillery unit on the largest carrier the United States had left at the time and was in active combat fighting for our freedom in the largest and greatest world war mankind has ever known?
We just can’t hardly grasp the magnitude of the challenges our parents faced in the immediate moments, days, months and years following Pearl Harbor. How did they do it?
‘Yes, Frank, right there where the X is. We were attacked by many Japanese fighters and bombers and one struck the tower where your dad was and he was severely burned over most of his body from the flaming oil from the Japanese plane that we had hit but that steered his plane right into the tower before it exploded.’
Now Dad had told us a few times that he had seen a Japanese plane that his artillery team had shot and hit almost go down near the Lexington only to turn up at the last moment and come close to the edge of the Lexington…and he had seen the edge of the wing cut off the heads of perhaps 100’s of sailors who were leaning over the side of the ship to see what was going on.
That was about as far as he would go with that story. Ever.
But apparently, it must have been the same one that hit his tower and burned him over 70% of his body.
John Hanford went on to say: ‘Yes, I remember it like it was yesterday. I knew your dad at Duke and we were good friends. He, of course, was the big football star and everyone knew him.
But I remember the day after the Battle of Leyte Gulf was over and seeing them pulley your dad over the open seas on a gurney from the Lexington to the medical rescue ship that had come alongside to take the most critically wounded off the ship first.
He was wrapped in white gauze from head to toe and the big thick wire cable between the much larger carrier and the tiny medical ship looked thin as a hair from where I was standing. The big ship went up and the little ship went down as the waves filled and lowered beneath us. All I can remember is thinking how small Dan looked wrapped white in that gurney and how all of us hoped he would make it across to the hospital ship without the cable breaking somehow and him being dumped into shark-infested waters out there.
When he made it across safely, me and most of the men on the ship cheered, just as we cheered every other wounded sailor who made it across that day.’
The USS Lexington was damaged beyond repair this time, far worse than it had been at Pearl Harbor so it was scuttled and sunk to the bottom of the Pacific soon thereafter.
Odd name for an ocean that saw so much terror and bloodshed over the ages and especially during the Second World War.
But that day in the home of John and Bunny Hanford in 2002 was the first time I knew for sure what had happened to my Dad in World War II, how and why.
He spent the next year or so in Navy hospitals on the west coast recovering from his wounds. He had suffered 3rd degree burns over much of the 70% of his skin that had been burned and he had very translucent light Irish skin to begin with. You can almost see the blue veins through the skin of many Irish guys, especially as they age.
Dad would cover up in a white sheet and cover his head with a hard African safari hat and spread zinc oxide over his gnarled nose and much of his face when we went to the beach and stay under a pitched tent of some sort. It looked like he was enjoying it about as much as being in an outdoor torture chamber, truth be told.
After learning the extent of the pain and suffering he went through on the USS Lexington in 1944, I wish we had never bugged him about going to the beach or laughed at him when he came out of the cottage looking like a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia.
He was a real American Hero. And not because of his football exploits this time around.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
-Made all the financial/investment mistakes imaginable leading up to the Crash of 2008 that is still lingering with us;
-Ran to Washington to get bailed out; and
-Now have had all of their wealth restored and kept their jobs with the help of the US Taxpayer and the seemingly-oblivious Chinese and foreign sovereign lenders who keep shoveling money to the US absent any substantive reform at any level of business or government.
Here is something that the OWS crowd is finally getting around to that will really and truly make a difference though. We suggest you consider seriously doing the same if you are 'mad' about anything and everything.
Apparently, the OWS crowd is suggesting that everyone transfer their checking and savings and business accounts away from the banks that made such disastrous decisions in the first place and then put them all in smaller community banks that did not engage in such idiotic behavior.
We. Salute. That. Approach!
Seriously. It is called 'market pressure'. The only way anyone in the world of business ever really 'gets' the message is when sales drop and revenues dry up and profits evaporate and their pay is threatened and reduced.
It is the only way.
For banks, it is also called 'disintermediation'. Meaning deposits dry up faster than dew on a desert flower in the morning. But it gets the attention of their senior executives fast and then they start doing anything they can to make you happy so you will keep your money with them and not with someone else.
Which brings us back to the AARP.
We think it is time everyone knew the real truth about the AARP.
They may not know it but their 'Burly-Man' ad we spoke of in the prior posting pretty much rubbed a lot of people wrong. Including several seniors we have spoken with over the last couple of days.
Besides being just basically 'offensive' in tone and manner, these responsible seniors said the ad also completely reflected a total lack of concern about the United States of America as a whole.
'They apparently don't care if we fall into another major economic/financial collapse or if we have hyperinflation or a weaker economy as a result of these devastating debts we owe as a nation' they said.
Why is that? Why would the executives of the AARP be so diffident about the future prospects of the United States of America?
The AARP started out as a noble mission: help poor seniors survive end of life circumstances with dignity.
We get that. We support that. Everyone does. Liberal, Conservative, Independent, the Martian who just landed on Planet Earth.
But what has the AARP become over the past 30 years of its existence?
A monolithic, monstrous health care insurance, car insurance, life insurance behemoth! $1.4 billion in annual revenues! What kind of benevolent charitable organization lobbying for the interests of Ma and Pa Kettle racks up $1.4 billion in annual revenues from any source?
Check out the compensation for their chief executive. 'Thomas C. Nelson, Past Ex-Officio/Past COO AARP Foundation; AARP, respectively $1,176,614. Includes a separation payment of $682,285. The full amount of Thomas Nelson's compensation was paid by AARP, not AARP Foundation.'
Wow! That sure is a lot of $10 annual memberships if that is all they are doing at the AARP. 117,661 seniors would have had to have paid the $10 annual membership fee just to pay one person at AARP, Mr. Thomas Nelson.
Sounds like Wall Street overcompensation to us.
We never thought of the AARP as a benign, saintly, Mother Teresa-type organization in Washington seeking to bring solace and hope for the downtrodden seniors of this nation. They are a bare-knuckled, hardcore political machine that seeks to destroy any politician who dares speak the truth about our out-of-control entitlement spending programs. We have seen them do it time and time again in this nation supposedly that worships 'free and open speech'.
They have protected Social Security and Medicare benefits for the less-fortunate, we grant them that.
But they have assiduously expanded the scope of both programs under the guise of 'protecting the elderly' when many seniors are now living much higher standards of living than their children who are struggling to keep up with paying for their highly-subsidized SS and Medicare benefits!
Again, why in heaven's name are we still paying for over half of Warren Buffett's Medicare benefits from the general taxpayer revenue and loans from China? He and millions of other well-off senior citizens 'don't need SS or Medicare and can take care of themselves!'
Do we have pass an Emancipation Proclamation for Seniors to free them to do so?
Here's what let's do today:
Everyone who reads this article, and agrees with it, please tear up your AARP card if you have one.
Send a note to the AARP in Washington that you will not re-join until they get serious about rectifying the out-of-whack budgets for SS and Medicare in the federal budget.
In addition, send this article to everyone you know on your email lists; Twitter accounts, Facebook pages and let's call this the virtual 'OCCUPY AARP' movement in cyberspace.
We don't want you to go camp out in the cold, sleep in dirty clothes or starve to death on hunger strike or anything hard like that.
We just want you to sit at your computer in the warmth and security of your home today and help 'starve' the beast called the AARP until their senior executives 'get with the program' and start supporting even some of the President's own Bowles-Simpson recommendations on entitlements that he has never properly introduced in legislative form for some odd reason.
If the AARP starts seeing the 'disintermediation' of thousands and then hundreds of thousands of sub-60 year old people (and above 60-year old people who agree with us), they will change their tune and they will change it fast.
They are just like the bankers on Wall Street. Send them a message. And keep it going til they change their ways.