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    Saturday, January 31, 2009

    Daschle Stinks to high heaven

    Yet another tax cheat is running into some hot water trying to get through his nomination.

    This time, it's Tom Daschle, former leader of the Senate's Dems. And, he owed over $130k in unreported taxes, until, of course, he had to come clean. As John Hineraker, at Powerline pointed out, this does have the side benefit of helping to collect a bunch of unpaid taxes.

    But, will we see a handful of Republicans again cave in to BHO's interest and confirm this cheat?

    For those who don't recall, Tom and Linda Daschle have a long history of questionable financial dealings, usually tied to Linda's position as an aviation industry lobbyist.

    Tom Daschle may be the most wonderful man in the history of the world to lead HHS, but, he's surely there's some other Liberal Democrat who doesn't carry the same stinking baggage as him.

    end...

    Not a time for profits?

    So, President Obama thinks now is "not the time for profits." The O admin also decided that Citibank's previously planned purchase of a new $50M corporate jet (retiring two older jets) was not in the best interest of...someone.

    A couple of questions on these:
    1. How many workers did it take to design, build, market, sale, and deliver that $50M aircraft? How many more $50M planes are not being delivered because recipients of the taxpayer's money are not allowed to either spend as they please, or carry through with previously (board-approved, most likely) plans? How many additional people will lose their jobs because of government meddling in public companies? Of course, the government didn't ask these questions (or didn't care) when they passed ridiculous laws like Sarbanes-Oxley, either, so why should they now, when WE MUST DO SOMETHING!
    2. Since these banks, etc, are publicly traded companies (in most cases), shouldn't their boards and shareholders be making these kinds of decisions and not (after the fact), the government?
    3. If now is not the time for profits, when is the time?
    4. Is this part of an Obama signal to all businesses, that if you make a profit, BEWARE! the government intends to get its hands on it somehow?
    As a stockowner, I happen to like profits. It makes the stock prices in my portfolio go up. As an employee of a public company, I like profits, it means we can invest in new technologies and products, and we can start projects to bring those things to market, we can hire more people to make them happen, and we can reward those people who excel with nice bonuses and pay raises.

    So, Barack Obama, I think now IS the time to make profits, but, I am a filthy, nasty capitalist pig.

    ...end...

    Friday, January 30, 2009

    Economic Tidbits

    While Washington fiddles over the porkulus bill before them, and President Obama and Chairpersons Reid and Pelosi march us towards depression, here's a caution from Dick Morris today about out hyper-inflationary future:

    "In the seven years between 2000 and 2007, the money supply rose from $600 billion to $800 billion. In 2008, alone, it more than doubled from $800 billion to $1.7 trillion! We cannot sustain this level of increase in the money supply without having way too much money chasing way too few goods and services, sending prices up into double digit inflation. While the economy is in shell shock, at the moment, we face deflation. But once it begins to come back and the dollars come out of hiding, we will find the resulting inflation intractable and very difficult to cure."

    In news closer to home, the CEO of AT&T (my employer) today asked the Board to not pay him a bonus for 2008, which they obliged. At the same time, he promised no management salary increases in 2009, but, the board did approve management bonuses, thus much, much reduced from previous years.

    ...end...

    Wednesday, January 28, 2009

    Congressman Tom Price - A Stand-up guy

    Yesterday, politico.com published this article about a conservative Georgia congressman defending the GOP congressional leadership.

    However, in their initial version of this, they attributed the quotes to my representative, Tom Price, instead of Phil Gingrey. I immediately fired off a missive to Congressman Price, so shocked was I that in perhaps the reddest district in Georgia he would say such a thing.

    Anyway, he was kind enough to reply today, which I do appreciate. Of course, Congressman Price laid a big fat kiss on Rush, "Rush Limbaugh is one of the country's strongest conservative voices, and I appreciate his work in making sure that Republicans return to the majority."

    So, Congressman, thank you, and I won't be making that primary challenge now.

    By the way, Gingrey was on all the big talkers today (Rush, Hannity, who knows who else) making his apologies.

    ...end...

    Tuesday, January 27, 2009

    Stimulus will stimulate nothing

    Is there any thinking person in America who actually believes that the proposed $850B "stimulus" package is going to do much to help this economy?

    Readthestimulus.org
    provides some snapshots of the bill, from the CBO's analysis. Whether you agree with the stuff that we're going to find in the bill (and I guarantee, we're going to find lots of egregious stuff), it is obvious that this bill isn't going to provide much of a stimulus for at least a year, if ever.

    I encourage everyone to read the CBO analysis, as its 18 page write-up is probably the easiest way to digest, in a summary, what this bill is all about. And, frankly, reading this analysis, the GOP had better come up with a way to fight this monster and keep it from happening. This bill is a waste of taxpayer's 'money, and I guarantee, it'll end up filled with pork in a vote buying effort.

    The Heritage Foundation also has some analysis of this pig, among their points:
    • This bill will cost over $10,000 for every family in America. Better to send every family a check for $10k - trust me, they will spend it better and it'll provide more stimulus than this pile of liberal doggerel.
    • The bill doubles federal spending on education. Liberals will say that either 1)we need the money to improve failing schools, or 2) the feds are doing such a good job with education, they should spend more. They'll say it with a straight face
    • A significant expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. I will say that if you're poor (or make below about $40,000/year, and depending on how many kids you have) the EITC is a great thing. However, it goes largely to people who don't pay any income taxes. The EITC is a massive transfer payment program.
    If we really wanted to stimulate the economy (yes, I contend that President Obama et.al. do not give a rat's ass whether the economy is stimulated, they intend to consolidate power and votes in an old-fashioned vote buying scheme - making government your mommy), we would lower corporate tax rates, nearly eliminate the capital gains tax, make the Bush tax cuts permanent, and cut government spending, including some privitization of social security (don't think markets could use a massive injection of capital right about now???).

    Of course, that won't happen with this crowd in charge.

    Monday, January 26, 2009

    Twitter and other cool web stuff...

    Ok, I have discovered Twitter. While my Facebook introduction isn't new, my Twitter introduction is.

    In case you're not already tuned in to Twitter, it's the latest (ok, not the absolute latest, since they started a year ago) form of social networking, which basically let's you use short messages (Tweets, which are up to 140 characters, akin to the old SMS limits) to let people know what you're doing, where you are, or what you're thinking.

    You can also link your updates to your blog (look to the right). You can choose other people to follow, to see what they're thinking, doing, etc. Famous people, family, morons, you name it!

    We'll see how old it gets, as I am experimenting with Twitter now. The killer part of twitter is that you can send tweets from your cell phone, so, anytime you have an insightful thought, you don't really have to remember it to have it recorded for posterity.

    Of course, who wants all their thoughts recorded for posterity! That's the beauty, though, unless you're a complete fool, you can just record the interesting stuff!

    So, check it out, and see what all the fuss is about!

    In other news...

    This recent CIO magazine article takes a stab at predicting what the big web-technologies/sites of 2009 will be. Among their picks:
    • tv.com - owned now by CBS, it aims to compete with NBC Universal's and Fox's Hulu.com. If you're not checking out Hulu.com for some streaming video of tv shows and other stuff, you might try it. tv.com promises the same from CBS's library.
    • Qik - this one seems really cool. It's a site where you can send your cellphone video live, or archive it to the site, Facebook, or even your blog. I am going to have to check out my cellphone camera and figure out how to do this. Look for some lame video of my dogs soon!
    • Boxee - looks like they're trying to be the first out of the box to be an aggregator of on-line video. A way to organize all those online video sites.
    That should get you started!

    ...end...

    Crook Geithner Confirmed - UPDATED!!!!!

    The tax cheat, Timothy Geithner, will be our new Treasury Sec'y.

    34 voted against.

    UPDATED:

    Hotair has the names, of those voting yes, these were the Republicans who apparently think it's ok to be a tax cheat:

    Corker
    Cornyn
    Crapo
    Ensign
    Graham
    Gregg
    Hatch
    Shelby
    Snowe
    Voinovich

    2 Dems voted against:
    Byrd
    Harkin


    ...end...

    Sunday, January 25, 2009

    Rush Responds to Obama

    Rush Limbaugh provided a response to President Obama's targeting of him today in a response to National Review's Byron York.

    Key quote:

    "Put simply, I believe his stimulus is aimed at re-establishing "eternal" power for the Democrat Party rather than stimulating the economy because anyone with a brain knows this is NOT how you stimulate the economy. If I can be made to serve as a distraction, then there is that much less time debating the merits of this TRILLION dollar debacle."


    ...

    Saturday, January 24, 2009

    Obama shoots at Limbaugh. Misses.

    In a meeting with lawmakers, Obama chose Friday afternoon to remind Republican leaders that he "won" and that they had best not "...just listen to Rush Limbaugh and [expect to] get things done."

    In an interestingly-timed (Friday after Rush's show aired) jab, Obama signaled that he understands that Conservative thought leadership and backbone will come primarily from people like Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity, in addition to organizations like The Heritage Foundation and the Cato Institute, magazines like National Review and Human Events - but, his primary foe from the Right is going to be Limbaugh.

    I think it's no coincidence that the timing was as the weekend approached, and after Rush had spent the previous two nights in an exclusive, extensive interview on Sean Hannity's new FoxNews show, where Rush made it clear that conservative lawmakers should not offer compromise to Obama's leftist, statist, ideology. Rush demonstrated that he knows what the Democrats are up to, and Obama fears this reaching the maximum number of Americans, or getting any traction in the press because GOP lawmakers oppose him at every left-wing opportunity. Obama fears Rush (and Hannity to a lesser extent, I believe), because Rush can articulate opposition position, to wit:

    • "I think the intent here is to create as many dependant Americans as possible looking to government for their hope and salvation. If he gets nationalized health care, I mean, it's over, Sean. We're never going to roll that back."
    • "I don't know where what he wants to try has worked. It didn't work in the Soviet Union. It doesn't work in China. They're having to become like us in China in order to survive. It hasn't worked in Cuba. It hasn't worked! It didn't work when the Pilgrims arrived. They tried socialism."
    • "The New Deal didn't work. You know, Hoover was president through the Depression for one year. FDR prolonged the depression for seven or eight years."
    • "What made this country great is the recognition by our Founders that individuals are all created equal, endowed with certain inalienable rights: life, liberty, pursuit of happiness. If you look at the Democrat Party, are they for life? Folks, they're the party of abortion. Liberty? Uh, these are the people that are trying to pass any law they can to restrict where you can go, what you can do when you get there, where you can eat, what you can eat, what you can smoke, when you can't smoke, what kind of baby you can have, all these things."
    • "What we need to be doing is Reagan. Very simple. He made the people of this country understand that its greatness is due to them. They're the ones that make the country work. Not policies, not laws, not committees in Congress and so forth, and not cult heroes or personalities, but individual freedom"
    • "And Colin Powell says, 'Yeah, the Republican Party should stop listening to Limbaugh.' Well, excuse me. We haven't pulled the party to the right at all. This party has gone to the left; it's gone to the center. We haven't done this. They got the candidate they wanted."
    • "I never hear Democrats talking about walking across the aisle. I never see any of them praise each other or brag about the fact that they do it. They brag about the Republicans that they destroy. They brag about the Republican bills, legislation that they defeat. The people that are running our party now have such a defeatist inferiority complex. They want to be accepted by people that hate 'em. They want to be accepted by people that despise 'em. It makes no sense to me. "
    • "It wasn't six months ago that the Democrats were out ripping Bush for deficit spending. It was horrible; it was rotten. Now, of course, the question is, 'Can we spend it fast enough to save America?' It's a bill of goods, and a lot is going to depend on how long the media sticks with this. I think they can't let him fail. And there are enough Americans who are simple sponges that watch news twice a week, believe what they see, and are done with it."
    Read the whole thing and visit some of those linked sites for conservative, free-market based alternatives to what the Left wants to do this country, which is seize power permanently, while bankrupting our economy.

    Whining About Obama, or Welcome to France

    I have recently joined Facebook. I did this to follow my kids around, but, have found it, as others have, to be a fun way to reconnect with old friends. One of the amazing things I have discovered, though, is how many of my (formerly intelligent) college friends have turned into Obamaniacs. These people weren't indoctrinated into Liberal theology at college, since they all went to a Southern, conservative-dominated engineering school. I thought most of these folks were thinking people, who would apply logic and reason to their political views. Somehow, they have been duped, conned, or lost their ability to think rationally. I blame 8 years of constant attacks by the mainstream media, weariness with the war, the downright gloomy economy, and in many cases, a healthy dose of white guilt. Heck, if you weren’t too sure in your beliefs to begin with, what Obama is selling would seem pretty darn good, I suppose.

    But, what, exactly, is Obama selling?

    Dick Morris has it pretty much figured out, as he paints a pretty bleak picture of Obama's plans to turn us into France. Unfortunately, I believe there are many Americans who see the Western European democratic social-welfare state (see paragraph one) as some kind of ideal to which we should aspire. After all, isn’t France the land of great wine, tasty cheese and some wonderful existentialists?

    Why, yes it is. But, it is also, as Homer Simpson informs, the land of “cheese eating surrender monkeys” as it’s most recent wartime past is marked by defeats, usually requiring the American fighting man to bail them out. France is also suffering from a disturbing demographic trend, in which it is turning into a Muslim country. Because of Western-style birth control and attitudes about children in general, to continue to grow their economy and fill low-end jobs, the French have embraced unfettered immigration, and, in their case, much of it has come from African Muslims. Thus, we ultimately get things like the Paris riots of a couple of years ago. In a country we like to idolize as some kind of “thinking man’s paradise” there is actually a native population just as concerned about the country’s make-up as us rednecks are about ours. Hence, Sarkozy strikes a chord.

    To our own Liberal elites, it’s not so much what France has become that appeals to them, it is the way France got there. Essentially making itself a socialist state and putting the reins of industry into the hands of elite policy makers. For Liberals, it is about power. It is about proving they really are smarter than the rest of us, and that state run economies have only failed in the past because they haven’t run them. For them, the current global (and American) economic situation provides an awesome opportunity.

    History means nothing to them. They don’t care that every socialist utopia was a failure. They don’t care that FDR’s “New Deal” or LBJ’s “New Society” were abject failures. They have actually spent 70 years trying to sell FDR as the saviour of the Depression (perhaps Hitler more accurately deserves that title, or Hirohito, since he managed to get the U.S. into WW2), and now, they actually, with a straight face, suggest that Obama will follow FDR’s model and do for us, what FDR did for 1930's America? Unless Obama has a World War up his sleeve, we’re doomed to economic rough times for at least a few more years.

    For those of you who voted for, and support Obama, I only ask that you replace your emotional cap with a thinking man’s cap and start asking where his policies will take us, how comfortable you are with the people who are going to be managing what will become a state-run economy, and whether you are willing to consign your children to lives of weak, but predictable growth, where our personal freedoms, tied as they are to our economic freedom, slowly deteriorate, and our place as the world’s leader is supplanted by China.

    A great president told us that “government isn’t the answer to the problem, it is the problem,” and that is just as true today is it was in 1981.

    Friday, January 23, 2009

    Change has come, updated

    Barack Obama promised change.

    So far, things have changed. He has gotten at least one tax cheat, Timothy Geithner, confirmed for his cabinet where Bill Clinton had to withdraw nominations for similar (actually lesser) indiscretions. And, this is for the man who will lead the IRS.

    Good work, Barack!

    In an update, Barack Obama signed an Executive Order Wednesday putting into place new ethics rules that would greatly limit the ability for lobbyists to enter his administration, and for former Obama-admin people to work for lobbyists. Obama said, "The way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable."

    However, that lasted until today, when the Deputy Sec-Def designate was given an exemption.

    Hillary Clinton, of course, was confirmed, despite apparent conflicts of interests with foreign donations to the (Bill) Clinton library, and, Eric Holder will be confirmed despite either being a liar or an idiot.

    Oh well. The Obama administration is going to hold their people to the same ethical standards as Nancy Pelosi's Congress.

    Monday, January 19, 2009

    Miracles

    Some of my email readers (yes, there are some, mostly family!) took slight issues with my characterization of US Air 1549 as "not a miracle."

    Dictionary.com's salient definitions are:
    1. an effect or extraordinary event in the physical world that surpasses all known human or natural powers and is ascribed to a supernatural cause.
    2. such an effect or event manifesting or considered as a work of God.
    I think 1) is the one in play here, and, I just don't think this event is something we can ascribe to the direct hand of God. I think God was involved in helping Chesley Sullenberger hone his talents, but, God nothing extraordinary on the Hudson (it is normally quite calm), bird strikes are quite common in aircraft, and flight attendants are well trained as a norm. I don't find the passengers bahavior that unusual, certainly not miraculous.

    Parting the Red Sea, walking on water, feeding thousands with two loaves of bread, raising the dead. Those things are miracles, surpassing all known human or natural powers. Landing a plane safely on water, while a fantastic achievement, is a human achievement, accomplished by humans, granted, yes, with their God-given skills, but human nonetheless. Chesley Sullenberger and the people responsible for this can (and should) give credit to their God.

    But, it's not a miracle.

    Don't...

    Friday, January 16, 2009

    US Air 1549

    Being a bit of an aviation buff, I was amazed at the successful water landing this week of US Air's flight 1549, an Airbus A320, bound from Laguardia to Charlotte.

    My first thought was that there had never been a successful water landing of a commercial airliner before, which was wrong, as this Wikipedia entry proves. Actually, I am surprised, and pleased, that there have been so many successful water landings.

    Of course, that should not take away from the amazing airmanship of US Air's pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, an Air Force Academy grad, and former F-4 pilot, and, apparently, quite the accomplished pilot and safety expert. The passengers and crew of US Air 1549 could hardly have been in better hands. As the NTSB investigates, everyone fully expects they will determine a double bird strike took out both engines. Like water landings, you might be surprised how many bird strikes there are.

    I don't believe this was a "miracle" as some people want to call it. Nearly all airline disasters require a sequence of unfortunate events to cause them. In this case, that sequence of unfortunate events was followed by a series of fortunate events - the skill of the pilot, the professionalism of the crew, the design and flying characteristics of the aircraft, the proximity to the glassy Hudson, the landing site itself close to ferrys and watercraft, the calmness of the passengers.

    One other thing this story proves, once again, is that the press is filled with idiots. I listened to some of the NTSB's initial press conference today, and I swear, the people covering this should really spend 5 minutes educating themselves about aviation.

    Don't...

    313 Ship Navy? Never going to happen.

    National Defense Magazine this month discusses the Navy's efforts to get to 313 ships. Their conclusion: It ain't gonna happen. In fact, they think the odds are quite good that we're headed down from the 280 odd ships we have today, and they recommend going from 14 to 10 SSBN's and reducing the number of carriers to 10.

    I have been discussing this with some surface warfare friends of mine, and they agree that efforts like the LCS, the DDG-1000, and the CG(X) are all flawed. The Navy has serious issues with costs and delivery schedules on these projects. Interesting that, just like the Seawolf, the SWO's are going to get 3 DDG-1000's. The LCS, slated for a class of 55, is in serious danger, as well.

    Is the Burke design so old that it can't be used again? Are our enemies so sophisticated that the core platforms (hull design and propulsion plant) can't be reused? Just a thought.

    What is to blame? Well, just as most I/T projects are derailed by an inability to hold the line on new requirements after coding begins, the Navy has been unable to restrain itself in issuing new requirements after construction has begun. The Navy is right that it is impossible anymore to wait until a design is finalized before beginning construction, but... a little discipline has to be exercised.

    For example:
    On the Seawolf, only about 6 percent of the design was complete before construction began in the late 1980s. About 68,000 changes were made on the ship as it went through the construction process. When EB later set out to build the Virginia-class submarine, its engineers had completed about 50 percent of the design before bending steel. That ship experienced 12,000 changes.

    This is all pretty basic stuff, whether you're delivering custom software, integrating large information systems, or building ships.

    Amazing that in a $500B DoD budget, we can't get but $15B for shipbuilding.

    Anyway...

    Saturday, January 10, 2009

    Obamania having an impact on Americans perceptions

    Rasmussen Reports that Americans are warming to the idea of more government intervention in the economy. Some highlights from recent Rasmussen polling:
    • 45% of voters nationwide fear the government will do too much in response to the economic crisis while 44% are concerned that the government won’t do enough. In September, the numbers were 63% too much, 25% too little.
    • The one constant throughout, however, is belief in the power of tax cuts to help the economy. In every survey conducted over the past few months, a majority of voters have favored tax cuts and tax cuts have consistently been more popular than stimulus plans involving new government spending. The latest findings show that 55% of voters believe any economic recovery plan approved by Congress should include tax cuts.

    So, Obama is selling the idea that government is the solution, the media is contributing to Obama as the "New, New Deal" savior, and Americans are buying that government is the answer.

    Although most Americans understand that tax cuts should be included in any recovery plan, my fear is they are only thinking of the pittance they will get, and are buying into the "tax the rich" scheme that Obama is peddling. As I have posted recently, we need big, bold tax cuts, for individuals, for corporations, and for investors. The overall economy won't benefit from government "investment," "stimulus," or other "infrastructure" spending. This is only taking money out of the economy from one place (taxpayers or investors) and transferring it to another (see this Heritage org piece).

    Conservatives and Libertarians need to band together to return our nation to fiscal responsibility and sound tax policy. We are rapidly devolving to a Western European style welfare state and a future of low (or no) growth, and will be likewise ceding our leadership place in the world to the Chinese.

    nothing more to

    Discovering the fate of Hunley nears....

    The mystery remains on what happened on board the CSS Hunley the night it sunk the Housatonic. Although this article doesn't shed much light, are historians approaching the conclusion that the Hunley's crew died from lack of oxygen?

    Big Hollywood. Thank you Andrew Breitbart

    Andrew Breitbart has started a new Conservative/Libertarian site for the Left Coast, Big Hollywood. I encourage you all to check it out.

    Warning - Liberals will be incensed, so visit at your own risk.

    No more to read...

    George H.W. Bush Commissioning

    This weekend, in Newport News, the final Nimitz-class carrier, the George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) is being commissioned. It's a pretty big deal, with the namesake, the President, pretty much every other Bush alive, and Greta Van Susteren in town for it. It's hard to believe it's been over 30 years since the Nimitz was commissioned, but, alas, it has been.

    If you're like me, and you think that naming vessels after living people is bad luck, go read how Bubblehead is lamenting the announcement that we're going to name a Virginia-class SSN after John Warner. Lots of good comments over there.

    I'd like to get away from this practice, and I agree with Bubblehead that we could have honored Warner with a destroyer or something else...

    At any rate, read about the H.W. Bush here.

    Friday, January 9, 2009

    Posting

    Wow! It's been over a month since I last posted.

    Sorry, if you're a regular reader. Christmas was a busy season around our house, and I have been pretty busy at work preparing for a potential calamity.

    Plus, the guys at The Sub Report and our other submarine bloggers keep a good job keeping you abreast of submarine issues, and Obama has basically become Bill Clinton III, so, what more is there to say about him until he actually starts governing?

    Since it's about a week away, all I will say to you is: BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!

    The Left is in control, and rather than do those things that will actually get this economy out of the mess it's in, we have Obama proclaiming that only the government can save us. If that's the way we're going to treat this economy, we're all screwed.

    We'll get a bunch of roads out of it, we'll get another "Stimulus" check, and the unemployment rate will keep rising, and growth, if it ever returns, will be stymied by the massive deficits we are ringing up.

    When I have more time, I'll discuss, and point you all to links that blow away the myth of FDR as savior of the Depression. Passive students of history know WW2 saved us from the depression, and that the statist policies of Hoover from 29-32 and FDR from 32-40 were abject failures.

    So, what will save us this time?

    As I have said before, we need massive reductions in marginal tax rates - FOR EVERYONE - but mostly for the BASTARD RICH. We need the people who have real money to invest, to invest.

    We also need corporate tax rates lowered, we need cap gains rates cut in half, and we need the government to stop pushing the phony-baloney global warming crap, put in place incentives to drill for oil, and allow the automakers to go into bankruptcy, if that's what their business model leads them to.

    Without those steps, or some portion of them, we will see a prolonged recession, more unemployment, and a weakened economy when it finally does turn around.

    So there.