Friday, July 29, 2011

A Rich Guy Speaks Out

This is one of the finest interviews in a long time.  Sit back and listen to a very wise man:

Ken Langone, the other co-founder of Home Depot speaking truth to the madness of Washington DC.

Some highlights:

What do rich people do?

  • They provide jobs - his company employs over 320,000 people nationwide.
  • They give to charity - he has given away far more than he has ever spent on himself.
  • They pay plenty in taxes already - but Langone offers that he is willing to pay more in taxes if there were a commitment that every penny of the overage went to paying down the debt.
What does he think of the debt ceiling crisis?
  • It's going to get solved - the deal is already done.
What does he think of Obama?
  • He probably went to college on a scholarship that some rich person helped fund.
  • He's "petulant" and he wants to divide us.
  • He had no respect for the office of the Presidency
It's a little long, but do listen.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Good Feed

My post on 7/22 included a link to an article about the death of high-speed rail in this country...I also frighteningly predicted what would happen with the Chinese HSR system - didn't know it would happen the next day: Chinese Train Wreck.

Sic semper medius consilium!  (Thus always to central plans.)  The analogies between the central planning aspect of Obamacare and the Chinese HSR system are legion.  They are trying to run a shiny new system over aging tracks with inadequate safety control over a geography that may/or may not want it...but doesn't have any say...just like the Chinese rail system!

We're good - just chillaxin!
Say, while we are bragging about our ESP on what happens, I had also posted a piece about how wonderful our forests are doing because of the CO2 and that increasingly, scientists see raised levels of CO2 as a pretty good thing...contrary to the global warmers.  Guess what?  They busted another one!  First it was East Anglia and all the phony data points with the resulting "Climategate" scandal.  Well, remember how the polar bears were all going to drown?  Guess not - turns out the "scientist" who dreamed that one up...lied.  He's on administrative leave...from the government...which means he will probably still be able to retire with a cushy pension.  Liberals must just hate it when facts get in their way.

What are the unintended consequences of central planning?  Well, the Obamacare legislation is certainly demonstrating one of them: slaughter of private sector jobs.  While correlation is not causation, the one-to-one relationship between the passage of Obamacare and the death of the private sector in America is inescapable.  Frankly, all the fluff and feather flying in Washington over the precious debt ceiling is just that - the Boehner plan, if it passes today is DOA in the Senate and the White House - but to me, the larger issue in the wonderful paradise of "compromise,"  (which is Democrat speak for "do it our way, or else") is the fact that a brand new entitlement program that has already demonstrated it's ability to shackle an economy, is not on the table.  This is a fight worth having if you are a Republican, but apparently one they insist on shying away from.

But, hey, we have ridden this pony before!  Government overreach in the 1930's perpetuated the Great Depression.  Even some left-leaning pubs like The Atlantic are starting to get the message: "Repeal the Democrats Complex and Expensive Legislation."  Here's the money quote from that short piece:

This is not the first time we have faced intractable unemployment. The same thing occurred during the New Deal, when employment, which had averaged 6 percent during the 1920s, never dropped below 14 percent until the US began to prepare for war. The reason, I believe, was business uncertainty in the 1930s because of constantly shifting government policies and a well-founded fear of costly and adverse government action. That is what is afflicting us today.

Switching gears, the Left is going apoplectic to call the Norwegian madman, who murdered innocent people, a "Christian."  It's very simple - Christians don't spend their waking hours figuring out how to pack cars with explosives and kill children - period.  I always find it ironic that the same people who want to label Breivik a "Christian" would never put "Muslim" and "Major Nadal Hissan" in the same sentance.  But that's to be expected from the sere wasteland of liberal thought.  Anyhow, a real threat outside of Al Queda does exist and it is the "lone wolf" kook. Jared Loughner, Timothy McVey and Anders Breivak provide glaring evidence that evil is alive and well and lurks in the minds of people we might otherwise call "normal."  Here's a good sober write-up on the attack from Stratfor:  "Norway Lessons from a Successful Lone Wolf Attacker."

What do Christians do in times like these?  Some answers: "Christians Worldwide Reach Out to Norway."  Here's something else we do:

The veneer of civilization is alarmingly thin.  The good Pope's words deserve profound reflection.  Sadly, however, we must remain vigilant:  "AWOL Soldier Arrested Near Ft Hood."  Notice, there's no mention of Msr.  Nassar being a "muslim." When CARE and Muslim Imams the world over begin expressing outrage at this type of individual, and when our own media stops the charade, we can begin to make progress towards some kind of rapprochement with the Islamic faith...until then, vigilance.

That's it for now.

Rumble on!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Whiner In Chief

As a backdrop, take a listen to famed investor Jim Rogers on what the US credit rating REALLY is:

So what did our fearless leader have to say about all this last night?  You guessed it, not much.  It was a partisan political assault aimed at swaying feelings rather than winning an intellectual argument.  He used a prime-time address to the nation in an attempt to rally his base, which is already leaving him in droves, and he did so at the expense (and to the disgrace of) the office of the Presidency.  He maligned President Reagan by using this quote:

“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”

Yes, Reagan uttered those words in 1982 when the "Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act," or TEFRA was going through Congress. The gist of TEFRA was that there would be $3 of cuts for every $1 of tax increases.  The Democrat Congress never gave a dime's worth of cuts and Reagan later regretted his support of TEFRA as one of the "biggest mistakes of his Presidency."  For the full transcript of his speech and some good observations alongside, go to Maggie's Notebook and read all about it.

John Boehner's speech which followed was pretty political too.  It was not the snaggle-toothed-knuckle-dragging-Tea-Party-polemic that some on the left tried to say it was.  It was a very frustrated man attempting to tell the country that he's tried everything he can, but nothing is good enough and he had tired of the goalposts being moved.  Out of respect for the office of the Presidency, he avoided the juicy assaults that I only dreamed of:

1. The President is lying.

Well, that would about cover most of it, so we'll leave it there.

Hat tip Bill Whittle
So where does that leave us?  As I have shared previously on these pages, the debt ceiling was hit last May.  The Treasury Department and the White House are lying to us, period.  There is enough revenue coming in on a monthly basis to pay the interest on the debt, fund Sosha Security and pay for critical services (like the military).  Reality is, we've already defaulted.  We've defaulted in allowing increased entitlements to cloud our thinking, producing several generations of Americans now dependent on the Federal Government - good little lefites who pay no taxes all getting fat out on the Liberal Plantation.  We've defaulted in allowing a tax code to evolve that in the name of "fairness" leaves 48% of the population untouched but grousing at the "rich corporate jet owners" to pay more.  We've defaulted on electing a man man-child  whose mantra of leadership is "it's worse than I thought" or "it's my predecessor's fault."  Last night's performance affirmed him forever as the Whiner-In-Chief.

The rest of the world, as Jim Rogers points out, knows the truth about our fiscal house.  They are counting on a great people to rally and restore this nation to greatness...they weep when they see the "leader of the free world," act like Che Guevara.

Rumble on!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Friday Feed Bag

The local weatherman is describing it as "hazy hot."  Heat index pushing 105F is just plain "hot," and is unacceptable except in the middle of the Summer.  Oh wait, it is the middle of the summer - guess we'll just have to deal with it.

Say, speaking of global warming, remember when CO2 was an awful thing?  So awful that Obama's EPA has stepped into regulate it?  Well, it turns out that the forests of the world are growing faster and absorbing all the CO2 we miserable humans can put out.  The net effect is that CO2 levels are stabilizing - the earth is getting greener, not browner.  Aww, but who cares about "facts" when you have a "cause?"

One of the other liberal mythologies I take issue with is the notion that the United States needs to look more like Europe; we need to evolve into neat little hamlets connected by high-speed rail with a highly developed public transport system that everyone who wasn't walking or riding a bike would use.  It's a nice picture, but like so many Liberal panaceas, it is devoid of reality.  Let's start with HSR or "high speed rail."  Obama came to office pledging billions for a national system of high speed rail.  Well, after the local union thugs got done siphoning off the funds and the reality of actually building such a system came to play - it turns out the concept is on life support.  Here's a good thoughtful analysis of what happened: "Let's Face It, High Speed Rail Is Dead."  Please understand that I would love to have an HSR system in place - I have fond memories of riding trains in Europe and in the Orient...there was a time when Nashville had a rail line that I could jump on to get to my grandmother's house, but we have to be realistic about our priorities and build a system from density to density where the economics work.  Liberals get all misty eyed about Chinese five year plans to build more HSR than anyone on earth, but that's what centralized control does.  The end result will probably be unsafe and economically disastrous...but the trains sure look shiny right now!

Speaking of liberal mythologies and central planning, guess what yesterday way?  Why it was the one year anniversary of the Dodd-Frank Bill!!  Hurray!!  That's when two of the politicians most responsible for the financial meltdown rammed through 2,300 pages of legislation that will create some 30,000 pages of REGULATION that has left financial firms in uncertain limbo and the economy gasping on its knees.  Of course passage of Obamacare only helped the situation.  "Helped" if your goal is to wreck the greatest economy on earth.  Heritage has a great write up on this wonderful event" "Unhappy Anniversaries President Obama."

Hat tip Michael Ramirez, IBD

In the same vein - we posted Steve Wynn's rant the other day - here's another businessman weighing in - Bernie Marcus, who co-founded Home Depot, tells it like it is: "Obama Is Choking The Recovery."

I love the TED series of talks - if you are not familiar with them, Google yourself some and sit back and enjoy.  I'm going to close out today's edition with a TED talk from Eric Daniels at the Clemson Institute for the Study of Free Markets...the moral case for free markets:

Have a great weekend!

Rumble on!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Non-Headline: "Postmaster Says Days Are Numbered"

Try putting those qualifications out there today!
USA Today is reporting that due to "falling mail volume and rising red ink" the days of Saturday mail delivery are numbered.  The steady decline of the U.S. Postal Service is emblematic of the sclerotic thinking that surrounds Washington D.C.  It's a business model that is doomed to failure - anyone in the private sector could have told you that years ago.

First came FEDEX and UPS.  The story of the former is legend and only partly true: Fred Smith, a former US Marine, submits a paper in graduate school at Yale where he earns a "C."  The paper purportedly is the outline of what became the FEDEX system.  (The true story, according to Fred himself, is that the paper was written as an undergrad and was a reflection on the effects of automation.)  Point is, he built a system that people trusted.  If you wanted to make sure your package was delivered on time and in one piece - you used FEDEX.  Sure, you payed more for it, but it was worth it!

This was the first nail in the coffin of the USPS.  Then came the fax machine.  Businesses could now almost instantaneously exchange critical information without worry and only nominal cost.  Finally, the ultimate - the internet and e-mail.  In typical government fashion, what did the US Postal Service do in each of these instances?  They raised the cost of doing business with higher fees.  Oh, and the service got worse - remember when your front door had a funny little slot and mail was dropped through once a day, except Sunday?  They made us install streetside mailboxes to increase efficiency and our mailmen gained weight and lost connection with the customer.   By the way,  did I mention their labor force is unionized?  Admittedly, after 1982, the USPS is no longer subsidized by the U.S. taxpayer and they love to tout that they "are not a government agency."  But, they sure behave like one!

As internet banking and other services continue to improve and as marketing forces switch increasingly to the web, it is inevitable that the USPS will continue to dwindle.  My proposed solution?  A fee for service business model with several tiers.  First, you could have a secure scan and e-mail delivery system for a set price, eliminating the need for paper delivery period.  Second, if you want to touch the mail you would have tiers of delivery at different costs - you want your mail every day instead of once a week - it will cost you.  Finally, if you want the true personal service of mail delivered to your door - that would also be an additional cost.  It's sort of a "paygo" model, but one that might save the USPS.  Of course, in the short term you would have the problem of all those unionized postal workers that you can't fire that will be paid to do nothing...but once those contracts age out the business could be profitable.

I don't know if what I propose is the right solution.  But, this is the kind of thinking that has to be applied to EVERY government agency from HHS to Defense to Energy...all of them.  Ask the question - how have times and technology changed since we were founded and how can we adapt our businesses to exploit those changes?  Ultimately, it would save the American people a lot of cash and heartache.

I'm out of here.

Rumble on!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Feed

Obama and Biden rejoice over their "excellent" strategy
Il maestro, Victor Davis Hanson weighs in on the Libyan affair: "A Dumb and Dumber War."  This amid news that we, they, NATO, well somebody is meeting with the Libyan gov'ment, representatives, rebels?, somebody to sign a truce, discuss settlement, play Clue, do it's all good, right?  The nice thing about the VDH piece is that when you take the sweep of any event that this administration has talked about from closing Guantanamo to starving Gramma by withholding her social security check, they have done nothing.  Zip zero nada butkus.  The two things you could argue they have accomplished are a big part of the reason we're in the sticky wicket we find ourselves: Dodd Frank Financial "Reform" and the budget devouring beast, Obamacare.

Former Treasury Department big, Emil Henry, has a concise piece in the WaStreJo this AM (my attempt at text/Twitter shortening of the Wall Street Journal) titled "America's Debt Ceiling Opportunity,"   He cites the report "USA, Inc." - a report we have discussed in these pages before - that is a bi-partisan effort to look at the Federal Government's finances as a business would.  You wouldn't buy shares in this firm - here's their 2010 summary:
 For example, if Congress had submitted fiscal year 2010 financial reports of our country in a fashion similar to a corporation, the U.S. would show a negative net worth of $44 trillion, an operating loss of $817 billion, and $1.3 trillion of negative cash flow.

Reminds me of the scene in the movie "Dave:"

The way out of this morass is growth.  As Henry points out in his article - 5% growth and we are home-free.  We've been averaging just north of 2.5% for the last 20 years, so we've got some room to give.  But when you consider the other places growth could occur, a stable and prosperous United States is not that bad.  As we've discussed here before, we don't believe in the Chinese miracle over the long haul.  Europe? Done. Africa? Good luck. Japan? Done.  Some good prospects in the Asian/South Pacific markets, but security is a big concern.  So, the point is, the US of A is not a bad place to invest money.  IF you would get the Washington bureaucrats out of the picture.  OR, we could settle for some more of that good old malaise.  That's what Michael Spence, over at the Economist fears is in the mix: "America the Sclerotic."  OK, Michael, we're a little lot overweight and we have a bigger and bigger chunk of our population that has gotten fat and lazy (and believes it is owed to them!) on the Federal teat...but don't count us out yet.  This could well be capital's chant in the coming years:

Cut, Cap and Balance is headed for a vote today.  The adults in Washington continue to try to lead - sadly, the petulant Obama will probably veto it, so it is only symbolic.  But hey - he continues to be popular:

If you turn the graph upside down.

Hot day ahead!

Rumble on!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Guess They Won't Love Us More Afterall

In all the swooning of the hopey change bunch, one theme throughout was how much the rest of the world would love us if only we elected his Sainthood, Barrack Hussein Obama....mmm, mmm, mmm.

Well, like all the rest of the nonsense, this one turned out false too.  In a recent survey by the Arab American Institute, we find that they hate us more than they did under the horrifying George W. Bush:

 After improving with the election of Barack Obama in 2008, U.S. favorable ratings across the Arab world have plummeted. In most countries they are lower than at the end of the Bush Administration, and lower than Iran's favorable ratings (except in Saudi Arabia).

You can read the full report here, but if you didn't vote for Barrack Hussein Obama, you already know what's in it.   If there is a lesson in this report, it is this - they are going to hate us regardless of what we do.  Apparently they hate us more since we made Obama Osama Bin Laden fish food.  The flip side of that is they like us when a person determined to maim and kill American citizens is alive?

It's time to cut the hopey change BS and deal with these people for what they are: enemies.

On Negotiating And "Compromise"

One of the classic gambits in game theory was played out over the weekend as Republicans ignored BO's 36-hour deadline.  I don't know if that was calling his own bluff or not, but it reminded me of the wisdom of Sophocles: "Do not command that which you cannot enforce."  It is wise of the Republicans to do this - Barry seems to think that he's the Emperor and can dictate terms.  This should serve as a wake-up call to the White House which is only negotiating in the hopes of scoring political points.

Meanwhile the cacophony grows from the Scylla of the mainstream press and the Charybdis of "mainstream" Republicans and "reasonable" Democrats for the Republican negotiators to fall prostrate at the altar of "compromise."  I touched on this last week, but let's offer up some analogies for why "compromise" should not be on the table:

  • If you were dying of cancer, would you want your doctor to "compromise" and only cure part of the cancer?
  • If a thief broke into your house and was robbing you of all that you owned - should you "compromise" with him and let him take everything in the living room as long as you got to keep the den and the bedrooms?
  • If termites were eating away the timbers under your first floor, should you "compromise" and let them eat half of it?
  • If you were in a plane that was going to crash into the mountain unless you pulled the stick up sharply - should you "compromise" and agree to just smash into the top part of the mountain?
I think you get the point.  Put succinctly by Admiral Stockdale in a speech given at my graduation from Surface Warfare School many years ago: "Where matters of principal are concerned, there can be no compromise."

We are in a death struggle to save our nation.  The historical track record beautifully spelled out in "This Time It's Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly," is brutally clear.  As of June, 2011, the percent of debt of the GDP is 98.6% - and as the following chart shows, we are slated to go over 100% soon: 

The sobering conclusion of "This Time It's Different?"  Go over 90% and really bad things start to happen.  The domestic economy can no longer grow as interest carry on the debt swallows current payments, services are curtailed, gimme's get gone - result?  Chaos, riots, groups protesting in the streets...err, like the bunch in Chicago over the weekend threatening not to work for BHO if he cuts ANYTHING. A little bit of scratching on that bunch: "" - leads you to find out that they are in cahoots with Soros and "Democracy for America" and other essentially anti-American groups. 

The choice is clear.  A fundamental realignment of spending priorities and a return to the resilient society of self reliance or...Athens:

And before you choose "Athens," consider that in 2002 in Argentina when the economy collapsed in on itself in a debt drunk implosion - there wasn't money to pay the police like they still can in Athens.

Compromise anyone?

Rumble on!


Friday, July 15, 2011

Friday Feed Bag

Let's lead off our Friday Feed Bag with some great perspective provided by Dr. Krauthammer: "Regime Change May Be Needed To Cut The Deficit."  The good doctor is saying, far more eloquently than me, what I said yesterday: Call his bluff!  This nonsensical "if not now, when?" gauntlet thrown down by Obama is lunacy.  Why not when he was in the Senate, when he voted against the debt ceiling increase?

Speaking of the debt.  Here's a quick question - True or False - the debt ceiling will be reached on August 2?  Like me, you probably quickly answered "True." That would be wrong.  The actual debt ceiling was reached on May 15.  "WTF?  WTFF????"  I hear you cry.  That's right...and the world did not end, Grandma isn't eating the wallpaper to stay alive...   The Tax Cheat Treasury Secretary instituted a policy known as "DISP"  or "Debt Issuance Suspension Period."  How's he been paying the bills?  Easy - by raiding government pension funds.  Read all about it over at Casey Report's Daily Dispatch: "The Despicable DC Looters."

This just in:  "Obama says 80% of Public Sold on Tax Cuts."  This guys is starting to scare me.  It's not good to have someone that lives in a fantasy world this close to the nuclear buttons.  Here's a poll from Rasmussen just yesterday:  "55% OPPOSE Tax Hikes As Part of Settlement."  If this guy's support keeps eroding we might see a presser like this in the near future:

On vacation recently, I re-read Bill Whittle's excellent essay, "The Iceberg."  It's over a year old now but still astonishingly accurate.  I'm with him on this theory - the Titanic would have survived if she had rammed the iceberg or if she had missed it entirely.  The worst case scenario was the late attempt to miss which sliced open enough of her hull that too many compartments filled.  Looking at this debt ceiling kabuki dance, I say "Full speed ahead!"

At full speed, rudder amidships this would have been avoided.
Speaking of reading - I just loaded this book into my kindle app:

Here's why: "Blaming Women For the Infantilization of Men."  Count me in among the crowd that is sick of seeing anorexic looking metrosexual types sipping pink colored cocktails...we need some more masculinity in our midst...hell, just look at the girly president we've ended up with.  But I am also in favor of strong women, and gals, it ain't your fault.  We've got some 'splaining to do as men...I'll let you know if there any answers in this new book.

That's it for me - have a great weekend!

Rumble on!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Good Feed

Dear Mrs. McConnell,

Your lad has been misbehaving in his job at the Senate.  He seems to have forgotten what the American people want.  What they do not want is Barack Obama and his policies.  Why does young Mitch want to allow him to continue to wreck the economy?

All the best,

The American People

And note - this is Gallup - not known for pro-Republican slants.

Point is, Republicans have the wind at their backs.  Unlike Obama who thinks this is some kind of a poker game - "Don't make me call my bluff, Eric" - and is more focused on what this does to his reelection chances than making any real progress, the Republicans HAVE presented a budget, HAVE offered compromises and have got butkus in return.  (Sidebar - wouldn't you love to play poker with a guy that threatens to call his own bluff??  Toss them chips on the table, cowboy!)

The latest Dem ploy has been to fill the airwaves with reminders that even Republican saints like Ronald Reagan raised taxes.  Exactly.  In each of those instances, he agreed to tax increases in exchange for spending cuts.  The problem was the majority of the cuts were on the out years and never materialized.  Sound familiar?  This is the old rope-a-dope Democrat tactic that the idiot Republicans have fallen for over and over again.  Obama is so childish and petulant (and I might add, spoiled) that he can't understand why the current crop in the negotiating room won't go along.  

Dan Henninger has a great piece over at the Wall Street Journal this morning.  It is an accounting of a recent lecture delivered by Robert Lucas, the 1995 Nobel winner in Economics.  Lucas has been looking at historical trends and the lines that fit our current situation the best are in the 1930's.  The common threads?
What discomfits him is the similarities in the policy choices that accompanied both delayed recoveries. By 1934, the Depression's banking crisis had been resolved, "yet full recovery was still seven years away," he said in the Milliman lecture. GDP stayed more than 10% below trend. "Why?" The answer, he says, was growth-suppressing policies, such as the Smoot-Hawley tariff, cartelization, unionization and, "most important but hardest to measure, FDR's demonization of business.
And FDR didn't have corporate jets to kick around back then.  Here's a cartoon from the Chicago Tribune in 1934...deja vu all over again?

Ahh, how history repeats itself!

Of course one of the endearing features of the American landscape created by FDR is Social Security.  Remember how all that money we paid in was going to be put in one of Al Gore's safe and secure lock-boxes?  Oops!  Obama, in what the New York Times described as an "fatherly moment," said that seniors might not get their Social Security checks if Republicans don't agree to a tax hike.  That's some parenting!  "Kids, things are little tight, either take some more money from our neighbor or Grandma gets it."  But, as Investors Business Daily points out - he has publicly stated what every sentient person has known all along.  Social Security is one giant ponzi scheme - Bernie Madoff would have been so proud!  THERE IS NO MONEY THERE.  Lord knows you wouldn't want to have privatized the program years ago... jeopardize the lock box!  Read the whole point here: "Obama Exposes Social Security's Big Lie." 

Changing subjects...I'm a dog person.  Don't mind kitties in the 'hood if they are doing nice things like killing ground squirrels that tunnel under the foundation.  Round here, the coyotes have been keeping the cat population at bay though forcing your humble Rumbler into a trap and relocate program for the cute little varmints - the ground squirrels, I mean.  (Dear Liberal Readers,  Please note that I use a humane trapping system - they leave well fed are unhurt.  They are relocated to a bucolic public park about 6 miles away to live in peace.  I do this because I believe in heaven and hell and I don't want to face the dude with the pitch fork because I was mean to one of God's creatures.)  But back to the cats.  What's a liberal do when they run out of things to worry about or get all frustrated and nasty because we won't let them control our lives?  Find NEW things to worry about!  Here's one:

Enough fun for one day...I'm out of here.

Rumble on!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Good Feed

While Obama and Boehner do the Kabuki Death Dance over raising the debt, the boys over at the United Nations are demanding $76 TRILLION from the "developed" world be given to the "developing" world for "green technology."  I thought I was reading the Onion when I first heard about this, but in the words of Madeline Kahn in "Blazing Saddles:"  "It's twoo, it's twoo:  "UN DEMANDS $76 TRILLION FOR GREEN TECHNOLOGY."

Speaking of Madeline Kahn, maybe the Republicans should adopt her attitude in dealing with Obama on this debt deal.  I mean if you heard the presser he had yesterday, it's beginning to sound like "Ground Hog Day" in the White House.  Boehner and the boys have to be tired:

Short piece on the cost of regulation over at Investor's Business this morning: "Less Regulation = More Jobs."  If you don't read the whole article - remember the money line:

Federal regulations cost the economy more than $1.75 trillion in 2008, about 14% of the size of the economy.
To understand how massive that is, consider that the regulatory burden for each U.S. household is more than $15,000 a year while private health care spending per household is $10,500 annually.

That was in 2008, BEFORE the on-going implementation of Dodd-Frank and the disaster of Obamacare.  Speaking of that - Obama and the parrot Dems keep yelling that the Republicans should "compromise" and "bend" on taxes.  Really?  How come Obamacare is not allowed into the discussion when it is an estimated $14 TRILLION torpedo aimed at the centerline of the U.S. economy?

Look, Obama and his minions have already raised soon we forget: Taxes Upon Taxes Upon Taxes.  No tax ever created a job.

For all the caterwauling in Washington over the debt, in 50 state capitols, the Governors and legislators are trying to figure out how to address a collective $112 Billion dollar debt - without the ability to print money.  New Geography has a comprehensive report on their efforts that is worth a browse:  "Enterprising States: Recovery and Renewal."  The states are the laboratory of our republic and some like Texas and Tennessee are being innovative and forward-thinking while some, like California, are dying.  The whole report is available from the U.S. Chamber by clicking the picture below:

That's it for today.

Rumble on!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Good Feed

Slowly digging out from the usual pile of e-mails and detritus that accumulates when you leave your post for a week.  Today's collection for you is a little eclectic, but hopefully, as in all of our Good Feed columns, nourishing and informative!

The continuing economic recess - err, depression, has more unintended consequences than Liberals have ideas on how to spend your money.  One sad reality is the impact on the less fortunate.  One group, particularly hard hit, ironically supported Obama overwhelmingly in the '08 Election.  They are paying the price:  "The Disappearing Black Middle Class."

The "black mascot of the Wall Street oligarchs."  -Cornell West
So, the economy is tanking, the market is plummeting, unemployment is 450 bps above where you said it would be at this time, what do you do?  Go to Disney World?  NO!  Get more regulations on the sale of guns, of course!  Obama's team of behind the scenes czars are quietly wreaking havoc on free markets and free people.  Here, the Daily Beast (I am sure they published this to try to shore up the base on the Left) discusses what Barry and the Boys are doing to make it harder for you to protect your home: Obama's Quiet Guns Crackdown.

We posted a piece yesterday about political vision and will - The Audacity of Mediocrity - two pieces overlap and reinforce some of my humble assertions.  First, the Heritage Association's Morning Bell Piece this morning reminds us that we don't have to go the way of Europe - even though that IS the vision of the liberal effete elite - from John Kerry (did you know he served in Vietnam?) to our current boy president.  Great piece worthy of the read: America the Europe of the West.

The second checkpoint reinforces my assertion of the need for a strong Navy: "The Necessity of U.S. Naval Power." We are down to 286 combatant ships in the fleet give or take a few.  This is less than half of the Navy that Ronald Reagan had built.  When I was active duty in Msr. Carter's Navy, the number was just north of 300.  No space shuttles and a shrinking Navy make for a very bad duet if some bad guys come up on your dance card.

Trust me - we need these guys!
Switching subjects entirely on you - here's a great piece on the state of our educational system and a potential remedy:  "Grading the Teachers."  It is a discussion on value added teacher evaluations.  This is important...we can't all aspire to be dependent recipients of Obama's largesse!  OK, let's rock out of here with a little Pink Floyd reminiscence:

That's it - I'm out of here.

Rumble on!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

The Audacity of Mediocrity

I have returned from my journeys Northward and had some time on the road to reflect on where we are as a nation. While folks inside the Beltway (which when travelled now would really make you think you live in the Third World) dither about the debt, greatness in our nation is ebbing.

Consider this image:

This is the interior of the Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, completed in 1897. The building is a testament of a belief in a great nation with a future ahead as bright as the stars. Now admittedly, architecture and building techniques have changed dramatically, but typically these days for a civic building we get something like this:

...with lots of surface parking! But that's another story. This is the architecture of "we're done, stick a fork in it." I get e-mails and comments accusing me of being so anti-government that I prefer utter chaos to any semblance of a legal order. Not true. I want government to stay out of the way of the private sector, but in those areas where they do belong, and preserving the story of our nation a la the Library of Congress, I want them to do it right. The builders of the Library of Congress were conscious of producing something that would be admired for ages - it was hard and expensive, but they succeeded. I want our leaders to set a vision of progress for the nation not pablums about the goodies they will bestow on me if I vote for them.

Consider the following image:

Yes, that is the shuttle Atlantis blasting off for her final voyage earlier this week. There are a lot of issues with the shuttle program, but the fact remains that they were designed to each fly a minimum of 100 missions. Atlantis has flown 33. We have no replacement. It is embarrassing to note that only four astronauts flew on this last mission. Reason? The Soyuz (Russian) craft is the only thing that could fly in the event of an emergency and it only carries three at a time - they have two on stand-by with a pilot per craft.

Shocking, I know for a conservative like me in these times of budget austerity to be getting misty-eyed about the space program, but here's the reality: if we can't get into space, we can't control it. For a nation that relies on satellites for everything from our GPS units that tell us how to get to Grandma's house to watching re-runs of "I Love Lucy," not being able to control space is a frightening proposition. Did I mention that we also use that environment for military intelligence, targeting and scientific exploration? We cannot fight nor defend ourselves without having a space presence. And, wait for it, this is one area where the government DOES need to be involved, because our livelihoods and existence as a nation depend on it. We have recognized from our founding that we are a maritime nation and we have built a Navy to protect and accomodate that. Admittedly, the Fleet is down to Jimmy Carter levels again, but it can still do its job of protecting our commerce at sea and projecting power to the bad guys on an as-needed basis. Space is the ocean of the future and we just chucked our oars into the tall grass.

All of this points to our priorities as a nation. This is where leadership comes in. I find enormous fault with JFK on a lot of fronts from the absence of a moral code to the abandonment of the Cuban rebels in the Bay of Pigs. But I liked his tax policy - "rising tide lifts all boats," and I really liked his challenge to the American people that we would go to the moon. A goal and a vision fulfilled at 20:17:40 UTC, on the 20th of July, 1969. That voyage began here:

The premise laid out by JFK has not changed. All eyes are pointed space-ward...we are staring at our shoes kicking dust. Modern leaders have forgotten that part of the task of leaders is to challenge and coax greatness out of their people. Our current crop just wants to secure the next vote and the end result is the sclerosis that is killing greatness in this land.

The real tragedy is that the eyes of the world are also fixed on us. Peggy Noonan reminisced in a fine column yesterday that the world needed another Ronald Reagan. She scribes this from her recent trip to Europe where Reagan was honored in London, Prague, Krakow and Budapest and rightfully observes:

The world looks to America. It doesn't want to be patronized or dominated by America, it wants to see America as a beacon, an example, a dream of what could be. And the world wants something else: American goodness. It wants to have faith in the knowledge that America is the great nation that tries to think about and act upon right and wrong, and that it is a beacon also of things practical—how to have a sturdy, good, unsoiled economy, how to create jobs that provide livelihoods that allow families to be formed, how to maintain a system in which inventors and innovators can flourish. A world without America in this sense—the beacon, the inspiration, the speaker of truth—would be a world deprived of hopefulness. And so we must be our best selves again not only for us but for the world.

Now Dame Peggy and I have had some serious differences. She was in the "wouldn't an Obama presidency be neat" crowd, but I respect her insights. Reagan saw the big (and very hard) picture - the world would never be safe as long as the Soviet threat existed. He knew we had to build up our military and push our technology to the limit to defeat the "Evil Empire." Everyone said it couldn't be done.

A second column in the same section titled "China Versus America: Which Is The Developing Country," pointed out the pristine status of China's infrastructure to ours. It's a LOT short sighted as it avoids the point that when you get outside of China's coastal region you descend about 400 years in time and the idea of 5-Year plans didn't turn out so well in other Communist states. But I will give the Chinese this: they have their priorities right. Instead of trying to provide every form of gimme to their people, they are focused on creating jobs and building world class infrastructure.

We, on the other hand, are busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic with piddling discussions of cutting here and there and taxing more and more while the Public Sector union cancer erodes us from the inside. (How would you like to get paid $5600 a month to wash your motorcycle?) The problem is not that the government doesn't collect enough revenue - it is that we are spending it on the wrong stuff and there is no mobilizing force of leadership to steer us onto the right path.

Here's what I would like to see:

1. Recommitment to the space program with the goal of returning to the moon in 5 years.
2. Restoration of existing infrastructure around the country. Let's fix what we have first and then look into building high-speed rail and such.
3. Rebuild and modernize our military stet. Our operational commitments have strained everything from men to materiel.
4. A crash program - Apollo project? - to make us energy independent. The green stuff is all well and good, but let's be honest...there is no replacement for the gas engine that is feasible. If one comes along, fine, but in the mean time, let's drill AND refine our own oil.

How are we going to do this - after all, it can't be done!

1. A national commitment to these programs will draw private sector capital in and create jobs!
2. We will HAVE to cut, trim, eliminate (especially Obamacare) entitlement programs. A great nation should have a safety net for the less fortunate - but it should also inspire people to greatness not bully them into redistribution and mediocrity.
3. Dismantle the regulatory beast of the government - from EPA to OSHA to silliness like the Dodd-Frank Bill, we need to spend our money on the things we need not the "nice to haves," that grow into budget devouring cancers.
4. Eliminate outright those departments that are not mandated by the Constitution: Department of Energy, Department of Education, etc.

We are going to have to grow a leader that is willing to tell the American people the truth. Ronald Reagan, one speaker in London said last week, "did not move to the center to get votes. He moved the center to him." We are still a great nation, the world is counting on us, we are only in decline if we allow ourselves to believe that we are. Obama and his professorial crowd have done much to convince us that we have past our aegis. We have not, we just need someone to step forward and remind us.