Friday, October 31, 2008

Suspicions Confirmed! 

The definition of "middle class" for purposes of Obama's tax plans has now been capped by Gov. Bill Richardson (D-NM) at $120,000. What a surprise!

Actually the fact that "the number" has been floating (diving?) downward this week may be part of Obama's last-minute campaign to reduce expectations, at least enough so he can say he didn't lie about what he would try to do. (You know, the old "for it before I was against it" gambit.) I'm not disappointed, since I never thought Obama's numbers added up. The fact that the Obama campaign is trying to manage expectations suggests that they think he's in, but they still want to reduce the "I told you so" factor that we'll probably start hearing from Repubs around, say, June if Obama's elected.

On another note, I think the banishment from the Obama campaign plane of three reporters who work for papers that endorsed McCain is an example of the kind of government we can expect from Obama. "Free speech and free press, as long as you support me in everything. Otherwise, I'll throw you under the bus like I did my grandmother, Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, Bill Ayres and others who outlived their usefulness."

I think the Nation is about to experience a King Midas moment if Obama is elected. He got what he wished for, and became miserable. Unfortunately, I don't think there'll be any Dionysus to make things right when the voters discover what they've done.

Be afraid. Be very afraid. I am.

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

X-Rays from Scotch Tape 

Scientists have discovered that peeling ordinary Scotch (tm) tape off a roll in a vacuum produces x-rays, according to this story.

Peeling the tape in air doesn't produce x-rays, the phenomenon only occurs in a vacuum.

This is cool, because it could lead to the capability of taking x-rays in environments where electricity is not available, such as remote villages in undeveloped countries, or in combat.

But here in California, some regulator will probably try to get Scotch tape banned because of the (nonexistent) radiation hazard.

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News Flash! Socialist = Black 

Or so says Lewis Diuguid, Kansas City Star Editorial Page columnist in this piece of highly polished fossilized intellectual horses**t.

I must be misinformed. When I hear the word "socialist" I think of a snooty European quasi-intellectual bureaucrat. I guess the schools I went to did a poor job of indoctrinating me, or so it appears from Mr. Diuguid's risible item.

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Glenn Reynolds links to this short post at TaxProf Blog, which ponders the question of what will happen when a majority of Americans have a net tax burden of zero or less. Here's the bottom line:
The plunder that the Democrats plan to extract from the "very rich" -- the 5% that earn more than $250,000 and who already pay 60% of the federal income tax bill -- will never stretch to cover the expansive programs Mr. Obama promises.

What next? A core group of Obama enthusiasts -- those educated professionals who applaud the "fairness" of their candidate's tax plans -- will soon see their $100,000-$150,000 incomes targeted. As entitlements expand and a self-interested majority votes, the higher tax brackets will kick in at lower levels down the ladder, all the way to households with a $75,000 income.

If Mr. Obama is elected and he has a heavy majority in the House and a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, free rein will be given the wildest instincts of the Democrat Party's left wing. I believe that will be a master disaster for the economy and the Nation generally.

People who vote for Obama will get the government they deserve. Unfortunately, those of us who don't vote for Obama will get the same government.

May God help us all.

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

Please Come Back, Honey--I'll Treat You Better This Time, Honest 

Saturday, 11 October, the United States removed North Korea from the list of terrorist sponsoring nations, in exchange for the DPRK's agreement to permit verification of its nuclear activities. Sunday North Korea said it will resume dismantling its nuclear facilities.

I hope the Bush administration (which is acting more like an Obama administration every day) knows something the rest of us don't, because frankly, I wouldn't trust the DPRK any further than I personally could throw one of their ballistic missiles.

They have consistently failed to perform on their numerous promises with regard to halting and/or verification of their nuclear program, and there seems to be no reason why the United States should think they will change their modus operandi. In short, I think this is one of the most dumb-ass things the Bush administration has done.

It seems that the American foreign policy establishment has developed a form of battered wife syndrome with respect to the DPRK--no matter what they do, we'll always welcome them back, while they go on cheating and carrying on with the floozy down the block.

Somehow I don't think the story will end any better than most battered wife tales.

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Friday, October 10, 2008

Observation on the Financial Debacle 

Starting around 2003 our area around Carlsbad, CA experienced a housing boom. Lots and lots of "mcmansions" of 3,000 to 5,000 square feet and lots of luxurious upgrades in the kitchens and baths selling for prices in excess of $1 million.

My wife and I kept remarking to each other, "I wonder who's buying those places? How can they afford them?"

The answers to those questions have now become clear: average upper-middle class families; they can't.

Evidently many of those home buyers got into their homes by resorting to ARMs with teaser rates and maybe only interest only terms for the first several years.

Those mortgages are now adjusting and the hard reality of doubled (or more) payments is hitting home. The result is many, many realtor signs in front yards. And because of the ripple effect, turmoil in the world's financial markets.

But why did those average middle-class families decide on that kind of financing? Did they think that home values would continue to increase without bound? Did they plan on selling and moving before the ARMs adjusted? Did they think that their income would increase sufficiently (or their expenses drop sufficiently) that the payments after their ARMs adjusted would be within their means?

My guess is that they didn't think about it. They just wanted the house and scaled up their credit card experiences to take on obligations of gargantuan proportions. In other words, they did it because they could.

I have long believed that American schools should be teaching basic economics and real-life examples such as the time value of money, the power of compound interest and the law of supply and demand. People need to realize from an early age that credit card balances that aren't paid off promptly are extraordinarily costly, and that there is virtue in deferred gratification. When was the last time you saw a store touting its lay-away plan? I believe that better-educated and more informed home buyers might have paid more attention to the financial shock that awaited at the end of the 5-year ARM rainbow, instead of believing that there was another pot of gold in the form of a low-rate refinance. I won't even go into the issue of "home equity" loans of up to 110% of value, with the proceeds being used to buy cars and big screen TVs, and to pay for exotic vacations.

You remember the fable of the ant and the grasshopper? Well, we've turned into a nation of grasshoppers, and winter is upon us. Unfortunately those few ants who bought and saved wisely are being hurt along with all the grasshoppers.


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Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Obama and Ayres 

It is inconceivable to me that Obama had no idea about Ayres' past during the whole time they collaborated on various projects and endeavors.

Why Ayres picked a brand new law school grad whose only real-world experience was as a "community organizer" to run a multi-million dollar "charity" has never been explained. Neither Obama nor Ayres is talking.

I'd be willing to bet that Ayres first met Obama during the Columbia U. years, and that's one reason why Obama was an invisible man on that campus.

Obama has for his entire adult life apparently been making a conscious effort not to leave any paper trail that might shed light on what he's all about. His senior thesis at Columbia is nowhere to be found. His only product at the Harvard Law Review is an unsigned note that is not at all controversial. He voted "present" something more than 100 times as an Illinois state senator. He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago for 12 years and never published any scholarly paper. This is in marked contrast to the behavior of most ambitious people who aspire to great things. Why? It certainly isn't because Obama is shy and retiring (see his "this is the moment" speech on winning the Dem primaries).

The man is a cipher, and we shouldn't elect a cipher to the office of President.

He seems to have discovered that people will vote for someone who acts and sounds like the presidential characters on TV and in the movies. But like a movie set, there's no structure behind the facade.

The people deserve to know.

But with the legacy media in the tank for Obama, we won't know until it's too late.

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Saturday, October 04, 2008

O.J. Found Guilty 

Story here.

It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

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Friday, October 03, 2008

Environmentalists Oppose Solar Power 

Back in June I posted on this issue.

Now Instapundit points to another story ( via Futurepundit) about conservationists trying to block solar energy projects in the Mojave Desert.

Yet another example of how the only energy technologies acceptable to the environmentalists are the ones that aren't being used.

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Palin v. Biden 

Joe Biden is a veteran of 30-odd years in the United States Senate, having been first elected in 1972. He is Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has been the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee for 16 years, including being Chairman from 1987-95. He has run for President twice, in 1988 and 2008. He participated in 14 debates during his 2008 run before dropping out of the race in January 2008.

Sarah Palin is Governor of Alaska, having been elected in November 2006. She has been involved in elective politics since 1991, having served on the Wasilla, AK city council from 1992 to 1996 and as mayor of Wasilla from 1996 to 2002. She ran unsuccessfully for Lt. Governor in 2002, was appointed to chair the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission in 2003 and served in that capacity for approximately a year, at which time she resigned claiming ethics violations by other Republican members of the Commission. After resigning she filed formal complaints against two members, who eventually resigned and one of whom paid a $12,000 fine.

During his time in the Senate, Joe Biden has been steeped in international issues and has been involved in numerous campaigns relating to the appointment of federal judges, not to mention making hundreds if not thousands of speeches and engaging in debate on the Senate floor and in committee hearings. Sarah Palin has been involved in national politics for approximately five weeks, since being tapped by John McCain to be his running mate. During that five week period she has had to get up to speed on national issues involving international relations, defense, the economy, immigration and a host of others, while participating fully in the McCain campaign, with all the travel and public appearances that entails. Most of these issues are irrelevant or at least immaterial to her current position as Governor and she has not been required to have any knowledge with respect to most of them until five weeks ago. (Most of the facts on Palin's background came from here.)

Joe Biden should have mopped the floor with Sarah Palin in last night's debate. He didn't.

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Wednesday, October 01, 2008

The Financial Crisis In A Nutshell 

You can read the absolutely, positively best description of how it happened here, in language a high schooler can understand. It's not even outrageously long.

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Our 10% Congress 

In the title I'm referring to the approximate percentage of people who, according to the polls, view Congress favorably. Even in the face of such abysmal approval ratings--I'd wager that lawyers, used car salesmen and meter maids score higher--the chances are that there will be no material change in the makeup of Congress after the upcoming election.

I believe there are several reasons for this, the most important being rampant gerrymandering of Congressional districts to make them as uncompetitive as possible. Another reason is that even though people rate Congress as an institution unfavorably, most voters like their own Representatives and Senators (duh! they get elected by majorities, usually) and it takes a major scandal or some other seismic event to unseat an incumbent. A third reason is that (I believe) people tend to vote for names that they recognize if they really don't know much about the candidates. For example, a Kennedy in Massachusetts or a Bayh in Indiana will win because many voters associate the name with a predecessor whose policies or personality they liked. This must be true to a significant degree because every challenger worries about getting name recognition, and every incumbent sends out mailers to make sure the voters remember their names.

So, although the Reps may recover some seats, perhaps even regain the majority in one or both houses (not bloody likely) and the Dems may increase their majorities, the overall performance of Congress is not likely to change much, unless the Dems achieve a veto-proof and filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.

If that should occur, you can expect Katy-bar-the-door enactment of all the pet Dem projects that they've been dreaming of since Clinton's first term, and given the Dem leadership you can expect them to ride roughshod over any Repub objections. The one silver lining in that situation will be that the Dems will not be able to blame the Repubs for anything that results, and that cold hard fact might cause some of them (the ones that actually care what happens to the country) to reign in some of their more ambitious impulses.

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