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    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Obama V. Reagan

    From Jeff Douglas, via Twitter (@Boomerjeff)

    An objective comparison of two recoveries from two extremely deep, both inherited, recessions.

    No Global Warming Since 1997? Yep

    OMG!

    It seems that global warning  has not occurred at all since 1997.   This would not be an issue for the AGW alarmists if their models accurately predicted this. But, because they have chosen the one culprit (CO2) that man has an impact on, and, sadly for them, it doesn't have the impact they want it to.

     As I have posted before, as many skeptics believe, that big orange ball in the sky has something to do with long-range climate. Who knew?

    American Idol 11 - Auditions

    I just finished watching the first 5 episodes of American Idol.

    I wasn't going to watch this year, but I can't stay away.   I have seen spoilers of the final 24'so I will not reference them here ,and just give my favorites. So far, as the auditions are not over.

    1. Philip Philips
    2. Shannon Mahgrane
    3. Hallie Day
    4. Erika Van Pelt
    5. Ashley Robles
    6. Skylar Laine
    7. Baylie Brown


    Friday, January 27, 2012

    Buffett's Secretary - Why She Matters

    Warren Buffett has long contended, and Barack Obama and Liberals have parroted, that our tax system is "unfair" when it allows a billionaire like Buffett to pay a lower tax rate than an honest, hardworking person like his secretary, who most of America learned this week is Debbie Bosanek, since the President elected to invite her to his box for his State of the Union address as symbol number 1 in his class warfare project.

    Of course, they are referring to the fact the many of the super rich derive nearly all their income from investment income, which is taxed at the capital gains rate of 15%, vice the highest income tax rates of 36%.  It's an apples to oranges comparison, but to the ignoramuses who make up most of the American electorate, the distinction between taxing capital, and taxing income, is lost on them.  It's the tactic of the typical class warrior (i.e. any Liberal), because their response to address this does nothing to address the fundamental "unfairness" but only serves to address what really is their game, the redistribution of wealth to address income "inequality." I'll point out that their answer to the inequality issue is not to do the things necessary in the economy to increase Mrs. Bosanek's income, but, rather, to decrease Mr. Buffett's.  What they also want you to believe is that  the super rich (like Buffett) are only paying 17% on billions in income because they have the money and wherewithal to find the tax loopholes to reduce their payment from what should be 30-odd percent down to 17%.  They don't say that, because it's largely untrue, and even PolitiFact would call them on it, but they want you to believe it, and they nearly always include "eliminating loopholes" in their talking points.

    In their world, and what Obama has proposed again and again using this example, as the answer to the fairness issue is to repeal the Bush tax cuts on those making over $250k/year, and return them to the Cinton-era tax rates.  For those making $250k-$400k, their top income tax rate would go from 33 to 36% and for those over $400k it would go from 33 to% to 39.6%.  Those are significant increases, 10-20%. 

    Many analysts have tried to figure out just how much money Mrs. Bosanek makes. Forbes blogger Paul Broderick estimated she rakes in between $250-$500k/year, but I find that fairly unrealistic, except if you believe Mr. Buffett, who says she paid an effective 35.8% of her income in taxes (versus his own 17%), she had to rake in a 6 figure salary to pay that much (note the 35.8% includes the ~15% for social security and medicare).  Here's where I agree with Buffett that the issue really isn't what Mrs. Bosanek makes.

    The Dems want to frame this issue as about fairness, yet, again, their prescription for fairness is to raise Mr. Buffett's taxes and all those others who make their living off investment income (like Mitt Romney) by increasing their income tax rates.  Do you see the problem here?  Not even Liberals are stupid enough to suggest raising the capital gains rate to 35%, since they realize that would be a huge disincentive to investors and result in the tanking of this tenuous recovery and the seat of every Democrat who supported it and Barack Obama.  So, they propose a faux comparison, suggest a fix that won't address the fake comparison and get by with it because no one says anything. 

    The money shot here is we could increase Mr.Buffett's income taxes just as BHO suggests, and because Buffett draws a $100k salary, his income taxes will be unaffected.  Because not even these Liberals are proposing a cap gains tax increase to address the fairness issue.  So, when all is said and done, the net in their own example, is absolutely nothing. 

    Nothing. Nada. Zip.

    If they were really serious about fairness, they would instead be proposing we lower the marginal rates for Ms. Bosanek down to something closer to the 15% cap gains rate.  But, they're not doing that.

    What they want to do is increase taxes on those who actually have incomes above $250k, not from investments, and collect the money.  If you listened to BHO's speech, you also know he is disinterested in using that money to actually reduce the deficit, he has a laundry list of "investments' the government is only too happy to make (with our money).

    They're dishonest, and they want your money, your freedom, and your life.

    Don't give it to them.

    Sub Building Will Slow Under Latest Pentagon Budget

    From today's New York Times, the proposed DoD budget will slow the replacement of Ohio SSBN's, the larger Virginia Tomahawk shooter, and slow SSN construction.

    "[Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta said the Navy would delay its long-range plans to build a new nuclear-powered missile submarine by two years to ease the current budget pressures and help start the program on a more solid footing.

    "Pentagon officials have said that the new missile submarines would eventually replace the aging Ohio-class subs, which carry nuclear missiles and could cost $5 billion each. Pentagon officials said they also would delay construction of one Virginia-class attack submarine, two coastal combat ships and a large amphibious ship to reduce short-term costs.

    "The Pentagon said it also planned to redesign the Virginia-class subs, which are smaller than the Ohio-class subs."

    Not sure the details on the delayed Virginia construction.

    Saturday, January 21, 2012

    Newt, the new Churchill? I have a different former world leader in mind...

    South Carolina's primary is over and Newt Gingrich has come back from the dead to stick a fork in Mitt Romney and the establishment GOP's eyes.

    First Romney, Charles Krauthammer on Fox tonight brought out the problem I have with Romney, that he doesn't appear comfortable with his experience on Wall Street and his own wealth.  Hey man, my advice to Romney, OWN IT!  You earned what you got, don't try to act like your $390k in speaking fees was nothing.  Say that you got paid to make speeches and you got paid handsomely, and you're not ashamed of it.  

    Now Newt.

    Some (including Newt) want to compare Newt's resurgence and resilience to Churchill's.  I have a different thought.  He's brilliant.  We all see that.  He's a master rhetorician (much better than Obama, who merely knows how to deliver a speech).  We all want to see those 7 Lincoln-Douglas style debates between Newt and Obama (we won't), but we'd settle for Newt trailing Obama across the country rebutting everything he says during the election. 

    He has ideas, some of them semi-kooky, and many of them thought provoking and worth trying, and he can articulate them. 

    He has worked in Congress and gotten legislation passed in a divided government.  Legislation (Welfare Reform, Balanced Budgets) that I might add were a heck of a lot better for the country than anything Obama got passed with large Democrat majorities (Obamacare, Stimulus 1, Stimulus 2).

    But, he has clearly led a deeply flawed personal life and has made many enemies along the way.  He's asked for forgiveness and he's used the press as the bogeyman arguing they have an agenda against any Conservative candidate.

    There may be some Churchillian characteristics, and I encourage you to read the many articles available making those comparisons.  I,. however, have a different comparison, and I think it's one Newt might want to make, because I think he's more akin to Bill Clinton than to Winston Churchill. 

    I don't think that's a bad thing.




    Wednesday, January 18, 2012

    Soundtrack Albums - Updated!

    I have spent about 50 hours traveling in my car the last 4 weeks, so when the podcasts dry up, I have been listening to more music than usual.  Driving home today, I put on one of my favorite soundtrack albums, the Batman Forever soundtrack.  That got me thinking, what are some of my other favorite soundtrack albums (I exclude musicals from this, as those aren't really movies with soundtracks, but excuses to make money from the music).  There are several that border on musicals, but, I think those are good enough to stand here, and it's my list, so I'll do as I please.

    Here are some of my favorite soundtracks in no particular order (other than the first two, which I listen to all the time), and they really have little to do with the quality of the movies. In fact, I have seen few of the movies.  Also, in compiling this, I realized I have seen very few movies since about 2000, or maybe the music just isn't that good now...

    1. Brokedown Palace (1999) - I like this soundtrack so much that I rented the movie, which had a run of about a week in theaters.  The movie is actually not awful (and starts Claire Dane and Kate Beckinsale as American teenagers jailed for drug crimes in Thailand), but the soundtrack is fabulous.  It opened my eyes to a couple of
    2. Batman Forever (1995) - Ok, the third Batman movie was universally panned, but, it's soundtrack should not be overlooked.  It's full of great music from the mid-90's.  U2, Seal, Mazzy Star, The Devlins, Massive Attack.  Great stuff.
    3. The Blues Brothers  (1980) - This actually falls into the category of music looking for a movie, but, still, it's a classic cult movie, with great lines like  "It's 106 miles to Chicago, we got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark... and we're wearing sunglasses."  The soundtrack isn't all Belushi/Akroyd, it also includes appearances by Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin.  
    4. Reality Bites (1994) - The movie has an all star cast of people who would be big stars in the '90s, Ben Stiller, Wynona Ryder, Ethan Hawke, Renee Zellweger.  But, the soundtrack is what really shines in this one, made up of great songs from lots of good '90's era bands
    5. Empire Records (1995) - A movie set in a record store ought to have a pretty good soundtrack, and Empire Records doesn't disappoint.  Why does Renee Zellweger keep showing up in these movies?  This movie made nearly zero dollars, and it's not that good, but the soundtrack has always been one of my favorites.  Like Reality Bites, it's a who's who of '90's bands, with tracks from the Gin Blossoms, Better Than Ezra, The Cranberries, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Cracker, and Edwyn Collins great "A Girl Like You."
    6. Star Wars (1977) - Why do Sci-Fi films have good soundtracks?  You got me, but Star Wars eschews the typical soundtrack and actually is a double album with lots of original music, and most of it's listenable.  It'll also remind you of scenes in the movie, which, I guess, is one measure of its greatness.
    7. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) - I would get this just to listen to Also Sprach Zarathustra over and over again.  Crazy man!
    8. Tommy (1975) - Come on, Jack Nicholson, Ann Margret, Tina Turner, Elton John, Eric Clapton, and The Who's music?  What's not to love.  If the Overture doesn't get you moving, you're dead.
    9. Purple Rain (1984) - This one borders on a musical, being as it was, a vehicle for Prince to sell albums.  So, it almost doesn't qualify.  But, it was an actual movie, and, the music was Prince at his finest.  Grab your favorite girl and dance all night.
    10. Risky Business (1983) - Tom Cruise's debut also featured a fabulous soundtrack, with a mixture of rock greats (Old Time Rock and Roll), '80's new wave (Mannish Boy, DMSR), and the sultry jazz of Tangerine Dream.  If you were 18 in 1983 (I was) how could you ever forget Rebecca DeMornay and Tom Cruise to Tangerine Dream's "Love On a Real Train?"  The fact is, you can't.
    11. Dirty Dancing (1987) - Like Purple Rain, a soundtrack in search of a movie, sort of.  Unlike Purple Rain, the movie is actually watchable again and again, which has given it sort of cult status.  For the ladies, Patrick Swayze's presence helps.  This movie may have opened a lot of kids of my generation's eyes to some great '60s music that wasn't The Beatles or the Stones.  It mixed in the wonderful "Time of My Life" and "She's Like The Wind" with those oldies. 
    12. Clueless (1995) Returning to our theme of mid-90's movies with great soundtracks, Clueless delivers.
    13. Rocky (1976) - More of a traditional soundtrack, you can follow the movie with it.  Of course, Survivor's "Eye of the Tiger" is a classic today.
    14. There's Something About Mary (1998) - This one is a matter of taste.  I think we can mostly all agree the movie is a comedy great from the Farrelly brothers, with Cameron Diaz, Matt Dillon, Ben Stiller, and a cameo by her love interest, Bret Favre.  The soundtrack contains the Jonathan Richman numbers, as well as the awesome "History Repeating," "Is She Really Going Out With Him," and the finale of "Build Me Up, Buttercup."  Come on, if you can't get excited by that, there's no hope.
    15. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) - With Risky Business, this movie kind of defined a generation.  Who can ever forget Spicoli's "Eating some pizza and learning about Cuba" line or Phoebe Cates exiting the pool to The Cars "Moving in Stereo."  This soundtrack does for the early '80's what some of these others did for the '90's.
    16. Blow (2001) - The only post 2000 movie on my list.  Not only is a compelling story, but, it's really the only 1 of 2 dramas on the list.  Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Paul Ruebens.  The soundtrack is awesome, eclectic and electric, it's worth the price.
    17. Animal House (1978) I don't think I even need to say it.  The movie is a classic.  The soundtrack, likewise.


    Upon further review, there are some albums that I left off the list that I believe deserve a mention.  I left these off the list largely because I think they only existed because of the music:
    • The Beatles A Hard Day's Night
    • The Beatles Magical Mystery Tour
    • Pink Floyd's The Wall
    • The Grease Soundtrack - I am not a huge fan of this one, but it really is a musical, anyway.
    • Saturday Night Fever soundtrack - This one probably should have been on my list.
    These deserve honorable mention, and might make other people's list.  In fact, some of these should have been on my list, in retrospect, and would have been.
    • The Graduate (1967) - Great soundtrack, and should have been on my list.  Plus, it's one of the rare classic movies. Also features one of the greatest cars ever, the original boattail Alfa Spyder.
    • The Big Chill (1983) - Again, it should have been on the list.  Great movie, and the soundtrack is a walk through fantastic '60s music.
    • American Graffiti (1973) - I think this movie did for it's generation what Risky Business and Fast Times did for mine.  Of course, I don't know anybody in this generation, so I'm just guessing.  
    If we added those three to my list, that makes an even 20.  So, I'll claim them.

    How about some more honorable mentions:
    • High Fidelity (2000)
    • Juno (2007)
    • O Brother, Where Art Thou (2000)
    • Romeo + Juliett (1996)
    • The Wedding Singer (1998)
    • Footloose (1984)
    • Pretty in Pink (1986)
    • 8 Mile (2002)
    • Pulp Fiction (1994)
    • The Breakfast Club (1985)
    • The Sound of Music(1965)