Saturday, September 28, 2013

Government Shutdown a Great Idea!

I agree with Mish at Mish's Global Economic Analysis that a government shutdown is a really great idea.  Consider Mish's quote from Bloomberg:
A U.S. government shutdown means President Barack Obama will have fewer people to cook meals, do the laundry, clean the floors or change the light bulbs, according to a White House contingency plan.

About three-fourths of president’s 1,701-person staff would be sent home. The national security team would be cut back, fewer economists would be tracking the economy and there wouldn’t be as many budget officials to track spending. White House policy decisions on the environment and drug policy might get postponed, as the executive mansion struggles to cope with a shutdown of the government.

The executive office of the president would designate approximately 436 employees as “excepted,” or exempt from furlough to perform their jobs. The remaining 1,265 employees would be sent home.

Top White House aides, political appointees and officials requiring Senate confirmation are permitted to work. Of the total, 438 people work directly for the president. Under a shutdown, 129 could continue working, according to the contingency plan.

Biden, who has a staff of 24, would have had to make do with 12.

Of the 90 people who maintain the president’s family living quarters, only 15 would remain to provide “minimum maintenance and support.”

Obama’s national security staff of 66 would be cut to 42. Similar staff cuts would be imposed at the White House Office of Management and Budget, the Council on Environmental Quality, the Council of Economic Advisers and the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which are all part of the president’s executive office.
Sounds good to me.

Like the sequester, shutdown staffing levels should become permanent.  Soon comes the debt limit battle.  What if the Republicans started chanting in unison, "No More Debt," "No More Debt?"

Since the budget deficit is down to something less than 5% of GDP or about 20% of government spending,  a haircut of this magnitude would sting, but set up a healthy scenario for the country in the long term.

A reduction of 20% of government spending would reduce Federal spending back to 2008 levels or a ratio of Federal spending to GDP of something like 20% of GDP--more in line with the 1980s and 1990s.

Afterall, what part of the phrase "debt limit" do we not understand?

Obama Negotiates with Iran, But Not Republicans

You know that we're in a screwed-up times when the President is happy talking to Iran's Rouhani but not the Republicans.  It's as if he's saying Republicans are worse than the Mullahs of Iran.  But of course it's about Obama's Narcissistic Personality Disorder---he must be seen to be doing grand and exalted things even when the country really needs someone to roll up their sleeves to do their duty.

Iran is ruled by the biggest liars and cheaters the world has ever seen outside of the Communists.  There is little doubt that Rouhani is another liar who will succeed in tricking the "trickster" Obama while the centrifuges spin faster and faster. And since when are Iranian elections legitimate?  There's a reason that no American president has talked to Iranian leaders since 1979.  They are not only liars but are terrorists, murders and oppressors.  But Obama engages them but not Republicans.

Obama and Rouhani deserve each other.  Obama, arguably the worse president in American history,  talks to the leader of the worst country in the world when it comes to, well, anything!  Forget about freedom of religion, freedom of expression or any kind of freedom.  And remember that Obama had NOTHING to say to support Iranian student democratic protesters in Iran in 2009 who risked (and gave) their lives protesting the scorched earth fascism of the Mullahs only to be ignored by narcissist Obama. Obama is not about freedom either and democratic institutions are a problem for him.

Republicans Trying to Make a Stand on Spending and Debt

The Republicans are feebly trying to make a few points about out-of-control spending.  And Republicans represent about 1/2 of this country.  But don't complain because you'll be labeled racist!

The out-of-control spending includes the unpopular Obamacare.  More than 1/2 of the people don't want ObamaCare and these numbers are increasing.  The lies, which Obama made to "sell" the legislative abomination, are becoming known and it's popularity has never been lower.  It'll get much worse too.  The real cost of this disastrous example of central planning is now becoming clearer (after the election of course).   See Liberalism: Imposted by Tricks and Lies and Doesn't Work.

The federal deficit has shrunk to "only" $650 billion, so to force austerity on the government would cause some short term disruptions but could be a way to finally balance the budget. I like this idea! Austerity on the government is much better then austerity imposed on the people with higher taxes (the European way).

I think enforcing a balanced budget would hurt in the short term but would put this country on the right track long term. We don't need a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.  We have a debt limit if we choose to put our foot down.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Why Continue To Pretend Islam is a Religion?

Some Christians, in a fun way, will respond to a problem or dilemma by asking "what would Jesus do?"     Let's play that game below by asking "what would Muhammad do?"  See the chart below.

Compare the behavior and 'values' of the "savior" of Muslims in comparison to the peace-loving, justice-seeking, "turn-the-other-cheek" savior of the Christians. 

"What would Muhammad Do?" from The Religion of Peace:

Would Muhammad...?
Muslim Source (Links)
Have sex with a 9-year-old girl? Hadith
Advocate beheading?
Require women to
cover their faces?
Qur'an & Hadith
Befriend Christians and Jews? Qur'an
Own slaves?
Qur'an & Hadith
Marry his daughter-in-law?
Approve of prostitution?
Qur'an & Hadith
Ibn Ishaq
Recommend wife-beating?
Hit his own wife?
Kill prisoners of war?
Advocate suicide attacks?
Qur'an & Hadith
Kill apostates?
Qur'an & Hadith
Tell sick persons to heal them-selves by drinking camel urine? Hadith
Beat children who don’t pray?
Have boys as young as
13-years-old beheaded?
Have eleven wives?
(at one time)
Approve of Sex with Minors? Qur'an
Qur'an & Hadith
Enslave women and children?
Hadith & Ibn Ishaq
Stone adulterers to death?
Torture a man out of greed?
Ibn Ishaq
Consider men and women
equal partners?
Qur'an & Hadith
Qur'an & Hadith
Kill someone for insulting him? Qur'an & Hadith
Preach love for people
 of all religions?
Extort money from
other religions?
Qur'an & Hadith
Keep women as sex slaves?
Force conversions to Islam?
Qur'an & Hadith
Commit acts of terror?
Qur'an & Hadith
Kill a woman?
Capture a woman and rape her?
Encourage the rape of women
in front of their husbands?
Hadith (Abu Dawud: 2150)

What's the point of continuing to pretend that Islam is a religion?  Islam is not a religion but a violent, fascist cult based on the teachings of a mentally ill, violent, murdering, pedophilic, misogynist named Muhammad.
Is it any wonder that Islam is one screwed-up "religion"?   It's not even a religion but a violent, brutal cult of personality based on "the virtues" of Muhammad!   It's a sad joke.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mariachi Kid Gets Racial Tweets

Did you see the young Mexican American singing the national anthem at the 4th game of the NBA finals in San Antonio back in June?  The boy sang so proudly in his custom-made mariachi uniform, of which he was so very proud.   I meant to comment about the story back in June. 

When I saw his performance I found it very moving in particular because he was a Mexican American and wearing his mariachi outfit.  He did a great job!  While listening to him, I couldn't help but think that this boy was a living embodiment of our nation's rich history and tradition of immigrants coming to this country to settle, have families, and become true Americans but still remain proud of their heritage.  The moment literally moved me to tears.

And this boy is so proud!! Everything about that boy and his performance spoke to me of his pride and confidence.  

His name is Sebastian de la Cruz, he's just 11 years old, is a San Antonio native and was born in the USA.  He filled-in at the last minute to sing the national anthem at the NBA game.  Darius Rucker, who was late, was supposed to have sung.

The most amazing about the performance was that some people made racist comments about the boy on Twitter.  When I heard about the racist comments I was truly shocked because I was so moved personally.  But I think that there were a very small number of these negative reactions.  I want to believe that most people were moved in a positive way as I was.  One point about Twitter: Twitter (and the internet) is a place where haters and cowards can thrive in anonymity.  People can be very rude online.

Here's a good clip about the story, his performance, the backlash and Sebastian's reactions from FOX in San Antonio (2:44 minutes)

One of the amazing things about this country is how well Latino immigrants integrate in this country despite their large numbers and controversy about their official status.   Despite that, there is really very little backlash against this group.  Most Americans surely recognize that they are hard-working and have similar ethical and family values as this country.

To give you an idea of how far this country has come with regard to racism,  remember the Broadway play and movie of Rodgers and Hammerstein's 'South Pacific?'  Nellie, the nurse from Arkansas, fell in love with a French planter Emile but she was shocked and repulsed by his Polynesian children!  Can you imagine??  In her mind, non-white was black.  It's an insanity now but not so at that time. It wasn't that long ago.   Also, remember the appalling story of our round-up and internment of Japanese Americans at the outbreak of World War II?  It seems insane now and is a shameful chapter in our history.  Interestingly, Hammerstein himself adopted two biracial (Japanese and American) children in the 1950s which was very controversial at the time.

Things have changed so much since then.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

140 Years Of Bull and Bear Markets

Here are some interesting charts from Doug Short at Advisor Perspectives.

Are you aware that, from 1871 to 2009, the stock market was in a bear market for 40% of that time?  By definition, the market was in secular "bull" mode for 60% of the time.  Interesting, huh?  I grew up thinking that the stock market was a great place to lose money. (It still is!) I remember the bear market that lasted from 1967 to 1982.   That's 15 years of mostly down price action. The reason: inflation was rising that entire time and, toward the end of the period, interest rates rose up to 14% by 1981.

The chart below (click to enlarge) shows the inflation-adjusted S&P index and denotes secular bull and bear markets.  Notice, that we're still in a secular bear market since 2000.  The S&P 500 index has recently hit all-time nominal highs but not so after adjusting for inflation.  Technically speaking, this means that we've been in a secular bear market for 14 years, going on 15 years!   Maybe the bear market is about over given that duration?

Or, was the March 2009 crash bottom the start of a new bull market?  Time will tell.

S&P 500 Historical Composite:  Inflation-Adjusted Secular Highs and Lows

Here's another chart of the inflation-adjusted S&P 500 from 1871 shown with a linear regression trend line and variation from that trend line:

S&P 500 Composite Shown with Regression Trend Line

From Doug Short at Business Insider:

"Since that first trough in 1877 to the March 2009 low:
  • Secular bull gains totaled 2075% for an average of 415%.
  • Secular bear losses totaled -329% for an average of -65%.
  • Secular bull years total 80 versus 52 for the bears, a 60:40 ratio.
"This last bullet probably comes as a surprise to many people. The finance industry and media have conditioned us to view every dip as a buying opportunity. If we realize that bear markets have accounted for about 40% of the highlighted time frame, we can better understand the two massive selloffs of the 21st century."

Monday, September 23, 2013

Why Are Democrats So Hysterical?

Look at some of the headlines hysterically denouncing the "hard ball" tactics of the Republicans with regard to the debt ceiling discussion.  Mind you, all of the so-called threats are not going anywhere. The Republicans don't control the Senate or the White House.  All of this is just theater.  Here's reactions to that theater from the hysterical media:

Republicans Trying to Burn Down Government - Rep. Nancy Pelosi, CNN
Coldhearted GOP Threatens the Economy - E.J. Dionne, Washington Post
A Ghastly Ritual Repeats Itself - Charles Blow, New York Times
Republican Party Is Destroying America - Kirsten Powers, The Daily Beast
Obama Refusing to Negotiate Over Debt Ceiling, CBS News
Obama: Republicans Using Extortion - Alexis Simendinger, RealClearPolitics
The Republicans' March to Anarchy - New York Times
Republican Debt Ceiling Strategy Courts Doom - Julian Zelizer, CNN
The GOP's Debt Ceiling Insanity - Jonathan Capehart, Washington Post
From the Stupid Party to the Crazy Party - Paul Krugman, New York Times

Extortion, cold-hearted, destruction of America, doom, insanity, crazy, stupid, ghastly and anarchy!!  Oh my!  Lions, Tigers and Bears!! Do you think Democrats are hysterical???

So-called 'Cuts' in Food Stamps

The NYT reported hysterically that the Republicans "cut" $40 billion from the Food Stamps program!!  Oh my!!  First of all it's not a cut at all---just a reduction of a 10 year projection of spending to $700 billion (from $740 billion).    I'll bet $100 that the so-called "cut" is a reduction of an increase.  There's never a real cut in Washington, never!

All of these 10 year projections of spending are bullshit--a way to feed into the prevailing demagoguery in Washington.  With no budget for this year or for many years, nothing is based in fact and statistics are bandied about without any anchor or basis!  Afterall, facts are an anathema to the Democrats.  It gets in the way of the demagoguery.

Nancy Pelosi, noted propagandist, said that Republican's "cuts" would “take food out of the mouths of millions of American children...”

Whose the party of stupid?

There Are No Adults In Charge in Washington.

There are no adults in power in Washington.  There is no national budgeting (which means no targets, no allocation of resources and no management), no strategy for the economy (except to get a many people hooked on government assistance as possible---which explains why there can be no budgets), no coherent foreign policies (just ad hoc reactions),  free money forever from both the Fed Reserve and the Federal government.

There's a free-for-all party going on in Washington.

It's as if there are a bunch of children running the country.  Naturally, spoiled adolescent children throw a temper tantrum when an adult steps up to demand discipline and control of their spending. This is the hardest lesson of life itself.  The temper tantrum would include hysterics and hyperbole about how devastating the new discipline is!   It's just what happens when you discipline a spoiled child.  This is also what's happening with the "theater" going on regarding the debt ceiling extension.

Democrats are the spoiled children and Republicans are "dad."

The problem is that the Republicans have less credibility now than in the past in being the "adult" in this drama.  The liberal media has been effective in denigrating Republicans and painting Democrats as the responsible and "intelligent' party.  I wish it were true. 

Republicans have a good history of competent leadership in the administration of the national budget and economy even in conjunction with Democratic congresses. Even today, sixty percent of US states have Republican governors and are enjoying the benefit of competent leadership.  But look at Democratic party's performance in places like California, Illinois and Detroit and you can see the difference.

Had Mitt Romney been elected, there would already have been an improved economy in this country as Romney would have signaled a withdrawal of government intervention in the economy. Such a decline has historically meant improvement in business sentiment and in the economy.  The people of America had that option just a few months ago but they chose more out-of-control-spending and debt.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Everything Out of Washington and Obama is Phony

I'd like to ask Mr. Obama, what part of the phrase "debt limit" do you not understand?

Both parties are up to their eyeballs in guilt when it comes to the rising national debt.  But Obama is by far the worst.  The reality is that most of the American people, the ones who are literate and from Red States, are uncomfortable piling on more debt on the next generation.  Under Obama alone, the average American worker has been saddled with $50,000 of debt.  That's about $20,000 of debt for every man, women and child.

Debt is accumulating so quickly that the debt ceiling debates are coming up more frequently.  And whose fault is that?

The President is Irresponsible, Immature and Wrong

He's said that he won't negotiate with Republicans regarding the debt ceiling.  What?  Won't negotiate??   Everything in life is a negotiation!  Obama has to negotiate nearly everything in his life including with his own children!  Furthermore this President, to satisfy his egotistical narcissism, loves to be seen negotiating with America's enemies, but when it comes to handling the routine business of our country, the President is AWOL and not up to the task. 

In his typical phony way, Obama was flapping his lips yesterday saying "You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt."

Wrong, wrong, wrong.  This man always gets it wrong.  From Glenn Kessler at WaPo:
Going back decades, the debt ceiling bills have been linked to campaign-finance reform, Social Security, ending the bombing in Cambodia, voluntary school prayer, banning bussing to achieve integration, and proposing a nuclear freeze. Way back in 1982, then-Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker unleashed a free for all, allowing 1,400 non-germane amendments to the debt ceiling legislation.
Obama himself, when he was a Senator, voted against a debt limit increase for budgetary reasons.  From WP,  then-Senator Obama refused to approve a debt-limit increase in 2006 if there was not a plan to reduce the deficit.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Our Broken Social Contract?

The "social contract" in America is a two part agreement. The first part is where citizens agree to be governed and support a government for the enumerated Constitutional purposes of maintaining civil government, maintain the rule of law, level the playing field, maintain law and order, provide defense and postal service, etc.  This is the 'consent of the governed.'  The second part of the contract is that the government has an obligation to the citizens to promote and support the rule of law per the Constitution, keep the playing field level (no one above the law), to spend taxpayers resources wisely, and to function with a minimal corruption.

There are many valid arguments that this 'contract' is either broken or frayed.  Here's some of the valid complaints:
  • Worker's wages have barely grown in real terms since the 1980s or even before, 
  • Meanwhile corporate profits are at all time highs and outpacing the gains of labor 
  • The poverty level is back to levels seen in the 1960s
  • Top 1% income has soared for decades now, income inequality has increased; and is as high as the 1920s (see graph below)
  • Massive salary increases and golden handshakes are made in the executive suite while the average worker pay has stagnated
  • Overpaid bankers get bailed out in 2008 and no one gets fired: Wall street gets a bailout but Main street doesn't
  • Financial "engineering" seemingly has overtaken 'real' engineering, 
  • Individuals involved in fraud and corruption on Wall Street don't get prosecuted
  • Government built cartels in the military-industrial complex and the drug makers 
  • Corruption of Congress by money and lobbyists
  • Expansion of the "surveillance state"
  • Obama administration is no better than, or even worse than, the Nixon Administration when it comes to enemy lists, ad hominem attacks of specific individuals, vilification of the political opposition, vilification of opposition media outlets.
  • Everything in your life is under surveillance by your government--financial transactions, emails,telephone records.
It's true that income inequality has increased in recent years. But Smith says that it's not the inequality that is a problem per se but the feeling of the people that the income earned is done so unfairly with the help of loopholes in laws and tax codes, high level connections, etc

From the Charles Hughes Smith's blog
The Social Contract is broken not by wealth inequality per se but by the illegitimate process of wealth acquisition, i.e. the state has tipped the scales in favor of the few behind closed doors and routinely ignores or bypasses the intent of the law even as the state claims to be following the narrower letter of the law.

By this definition, the Social Contract in America has been completely smashed.One sector after another is dominated by cartel-state partnerships that are forged and enforced in obscure legislation written by lobbyists. Once the laws have been riddled with loopholes and the regulators have been corrupted, “no one is above the law” has lost all meaning.

Corporate Profits, Executive Compensation Soar; Average Joe's Wages Stagnant

More evidence that our economic life is rigged in favor of the "connected" is presented in some graphs below from Burning Platform Blog:

Meanwhile Labor is under pressure from the de-industrialization of the US over the past 2 decades and the competition from extremely low wages abroad.

Top 1% income share is as high as the roaring 1920s when bubbles blew-up in that decade too and ended in the great crash of 1929.

Here's how the top 1% has fared versus the bottom 99% in recent economic history

Causes and Discussion

Whenever there is a really big problem, you are correct to look for the involvement of your Government.  Some reasons for income inequality and breakdown of the fair relationship of labor to corporate wealth is as follows:
  • Decline of unionism, de-industrialization of US manufacturing, and competition from cheap labor abroad mainly from Asia
  • Long term trade deficits pressure wages as US workers face competition of extremely low wages abroad.  How can anyone making $12 per hour plus benefits compete with people making $1 per hour and no benefits?  
  • This de-industrialization of America has hurt the availability of lower skill jobs
  • Boom and bust cycles caused by the Federal Reserve and government programs have bought us to the brink of disaster in 2007 (inflated housing bubble and bust)
  • Inflation has hurt most people that don't have housing and stock market equities as a 'hedge'
  • Government programs, lack of budgeting and out-of-control spending is inadvertently driving up inflation in medical care and college tuition for example
  • Federal reserve policies allowing inflation of important assets like stocks, housing (re-inflating after a bust), oil, food and healthcare.
  • Federal reserve Quantitative Easing (QE) has put huge amount of money directly into the hands of the top 0.1% at the biggest banks and bankers.  Zero interest rates hurts mom and pop savers in a massive transfer of money to the biggest (and still too big to fail) banks.
  • Lack of democracy in boardrooms has allowed for inflated salaries at the management level
  • Government policies making cartels of big banks, drug companies raising prices
I've written extensively about solutions to problems where the government has either created the problem and/or could be the solution.  See my blog series starting at Solutions to Big Problems.  Also see my blog about the problems with booms and busts associated with the Federal Reserve.   None of the problems with the financial system have been fixed which means that more crises economic downturns are coming -- hurting the most vulnerable.  Also see the Real Reasons of Income Inequality.

I think that the 'breaking' of our country's social contract is mostly to blame for Romney's defeat in 2012 (and the Republican defeat in 2008).  Romney would have likely been better for the economic recovery but I don't think Romney really understood the "broken social contract" that we're discussing in this blog.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is focused on even more government intervention into the economy when it's results have proven not to work well---similar to the situation in the late 1970s in the Carter administration.  Expect no real improvement in the US economy as long as Obama is in the White House as all parties on both sides are stuck in ideological intransigence.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Man Who Predicted the Last Crisis Says Excesses Worse Now

The Bank of International Settlements, BIS, was the only major institution in the world to accurately predict the global financial crisis in 2007.  William White was one of the veteran economists sounding the alarm in 2006 and before.

He is back and he's saying that the global credit excesses are worse than before the last crisis.  From Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at the Telegraph:

“This looks like to me like 2007 all over again, but even worse,” said William White, the BIS’s former chief economist, famous for flagging the wild behaviour in the debt markets before the global storm hit in 2008.

“All the previous imbalances are still there. Total public and private debt levels are 30pc higher as a share of GDP in the advanced economies than they were then, and we have added a whole new problem with bubbles in emerging markets that are ending in a boom-bust cycle,” said Mr White, now chairman of the OECD’s Economic Development and Review Committee.

The BIS said in its quarterly review that the issuance of subordinated debt -- which leaves lenders exposed to bigger losses if things go wrong -- has jumped more than threefold over the last year to $52bn in Europe, and jumped tenfold to $22bn in the US.
The share of “leveraged loans” used by the weakest borrowers in the syndicated loan market has jumped to an all-time high of 45pc, ten percentage points higher than the pre-crisis peak in 2007-2008.

The BIS said investors are snapping up “covenant-lite” loans that offer little protection to creditors, as well as a form of hybrid capital for banks known as CoCos (contingent convertible capital instruments) that switch debt into equity if bank capital ratios fall too low. While CoCos help shield taxpayers from losses in a banking crisis by leaving private creditors with more of the risk, the recent appetite for such an instrument is also a warning sign.  See chart below:

The BIS said interbank credit to emerging markets has reached the “highest level on record” while the value of bonds issued in off-shore centres by private companies from China, Brazil and other developing nations exceeds total issuance by firms from rich economies for the first time, underscoring the sheer size of the debt build-up in Asia, Latin Africa, and the Mid-East.

Mr White said the five years since Lehman have largely been wasted, leaving a global system that is even more unbalanced, and may be running out of lifelines. “The ultimate driver for the whole world is the US interest rate and as this goes up there will be fall-out for everybody. The trigger could be Fed tapering but there are a lot of things that can go wrong. I very am worried that Abenomics could go awry in Japan, and Europe remains exceedingly vulnerable to outside shocks.”

Mr White said the world has become addicted to easy money, with rates falling ever lower with each cycle and each crisis. There is little ammunition left if the system buckles again. “I don’t know what they will do: Abenomics for the world I suppose, but this is the last refuge of the scoundrel,” he said.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Obama's 2nd Term: Chickens Coming Home to Roost

The Syria mess is the latest example of what happens when "chickens come home to roost" for this President.  Just when the President suddenly needed some Republican votes to support the strike in Syria, it became clear that Obama doesn't have any friends on the Republican side of the aisle.  And why would he?  When you treat the political opposition as if they were somehow enemies of the republic and vilify them repeatedly in rambling speeches, then don't be surprised that they won't support you just when you need them most.  This President not only has no supporters on the Republican side but apparently few real friends on the Democratic side either.

The vilification of the opposition party has been bearing  bitter fruit all year.  The first sign of this was when Obama was unable to get even a modest bipartisan support for his fairly benign gun control bill consisting of background checks.  The simple reason was that Republicans do not trust Obama, his administration or the Democrats.  Obama has proven to be a back stabber.  There is no trust in Washington.

The President doesn't have any friends abroad either.  He's alienated our traditional friends like Britain and tried to "make nice" with Russia and Iran.   So, lo and behold, British Parliament also didn't support the President's Syria action.  Conversely, Putin is now embarrassing Obama daily on the world stage.  More centrifuges are spinning in Iran as we stay distracted by the 'incompetent one.'  Soon Iran's nukes will be the biggest issue of the decade and maybe of this century.

Obama Has Failed Miserably in his 2nd Term

From Peter Wehner at Commentary Magazine, Obama hasn't succeeded in anything so far in 2012:

"How bad has 2013 been for Barack Obama?  Let us count the ways.  In the first year of his second term, the president has failed on virtually every front." 
  • He put his prestige on the line to pass federal gun-control legislation–and lost. 
  • He made climate change a central part of his inaugural address–and nothing has happened. 
  • The president went head-to-head with Republicans on sequestration–and he failed. 
  • He’s been forced to delay implementation of the employer mandate, a key feature of the Affordable Care Act. 
  • ObamaCare is more unpopular than ever, and it’s turning out to be a “train wreck” (to quote Democratic Senator Max Baucus) in practice. 
  • The most recent jobs report was the worst in a year, with the Obama recovery already qualifying as a historically weak one. 
  • Immigration reform is going nowhere. 
  • And then there’s Syria, which has turned out to be an epic disaster.

In Foreign Policy, It's Failure as Far as the Eye Can See

In the foreign policy arena, the president is also reaping the rewards of his first term and it's ongoing policy of 1) alienating our traditional allies, 2) cozy-ing up to revolutionaries like Morsi, 3) trying to forge alliances where there are no mutual interests, i.e., in Russia and Iran,  and 4) projecting weakness.  On the subject of foreign policy, this president has been wrong all along with failure in nearly every case:

  • The Russian "reset" is, now more than ever, a complete joke. Obama must be the favorite topic of jokes in the Kremlin. After Obama's stand down in Syria, Putin is suddenly acting like the leader of free world.  Isn't that the ultimate irony?  Remember in his first term when Obama unilaterally cancelled the defensive missiles negotiated by the Bush administration destined for Czech Republic and Poland?  Obama did it without any concessions from Russia.  We gave them away for free when Russia hated those missiles.  Snubs of Obama and America came from Putin came just days later when Putin declared that he wasn't going to support Obama on Iran sanctions.
  • The Iranian "reset" is an even more of a joke, with more uranium centrifuges spinning than ever while Obama suddenly obsesses about Syria.  In Iran, there wasn't a word of support from Obama for Pro-Western reformers in Iran that risked (and gave) their lives in 2009 to protest the Mullahs. 
  • The President remains an idiot about Islamist intentions around the world . Witness this administration's ongoing support for Morsi even when the brotherhood was dismantling the Constitution to turn Egypt into an Islamic state.  How stupid are these people? Very stupid is the answer.  Maybe Obama is really a Muslim?
  • In Egypt, leading from behind, we suddenly turned on Mubarak, leading to the collapsed state of Egypt that only avoids complete collapse (for now) only because of $12 billion in aid from Saudi and Kuwait.
  • In Libya, we turned on Gaddafi who was less than perfect but might have been reformed.  We turned on him with no real thought of what was to follow.  
  • We fled Iraq without leaving a trace of the US military force which nearly guarantees that the country will slide backward under the influence of both Iran and Al Qaeda.

The Obama Presidency is what America gets for their "white guilt" and our "affirmative action" policies gone wrong.  The result is incompetence and mediocrity and defeat. 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Obama the Narcissistic Personality

From Commentary Magazine, "Asked at his early August press conference why there has been so little progress in getting the perpetrators of the Benghazi massacre after eleven months, Obama replied, that these things can take time and added by way of example that “I didn’t get Bin Laden in eleven months.”  I find that a flippant and self-centered comment. He could have used 'we' but didn't.

First, it's sad that Obama gave short shrift to the real heroes of the hunt for Bin Laden: the special ops teams or even the decade long effort by the military.  No, he did it.  Second, the sad truth about Benghazi is that everything is a sham and a cover-up.  Obama was AWOL during the entire Benghazi gunfight, which was occurring during business hours in Washington.  According to Panetta in Congressional testimony, Obama did nothing further after being informed of attack and showed no interest in the event.  He said that he gave 'guidelines' but this is most likely a lie.  Sadly, he didn't and doesn't give a damn.  Nothing the President says is quite truthful--only meant for consumption or "spin." 

Think about the President's role in the Syria fiasco. After clearly setting a 'no-go' line, the President a few days later denied that he had set a "red line" in Syria.  He said, "I didn't set a red line, the world set a red line."  After clearly boxing himself into a corner by speaking of "red lines" and flip-floping on the need for Congressional approval, the President used his "gift" in twisting the truth to deflect his role in a real fiasco.

There's something pathological about all of this behavior.

Obama is a trickster.  His expertise in twisting the truth, but appearing to be sincere, was clearly evident in the re-election campaign of 2012.  Since the President didn't have a record to run on (again), his entire campaign was to mischaracterize (lie about) Romney.  Also sad is that many 'low information' voters, of which there are far too many, bought it.  Worse still is that the Liberal media aided and abetted this shameful behavior.

The carefully guarded secret is that Obama is a slacker who is supremely confident, not because of any special competence, but because he's skilled in manipulating, misleading, lying and twisting the truth to escape responsibility or the truth.  He's probably been able to fool nearly everyone all his life.   He's raised lying to an art form.  See my blog Liberal Media and the Myth of Obama's Competence.

'I, Me, Mine' Narcissism

Think about the pitch for the Olympics while he was in Europe in the crisis year of 2009---it was all about I, me, and mine.   From the Washington Post:
In the 41 sentences of her remarks, Michelle Obama used some form of the personal pronouns "I" or "me" 44 times. Her husband was, comparatively, a shrinking violet, using those pronouns only 26 times in 48 sentences. Still, 70 times in 89 sentences conveyed the message that somehow their fascinating selves were what made, or should have made, Chicago's case compelling.
Can't you see the narcissism?  He flew to Copenhagen thinking that he has special persuasive powers. His concern wasn't for anything substantive or important like dealing with the national economic crisis or the Afghanistan war.  He spent more time in Copenhagen lobbying for the Olympic games than meeting with Stanley McChrystal, the commander in Afghanistan---which purportedly was the purpose of the trip.   He spent 25 minutes with McChrystal in Air Force One on the tarmac. McChrystal's wife was there too, so it couldn't have been a meeting with any substance in just 25 minutes. It was all just a show. It was more important to put on a show in front of the Olympic committee and showcase himself. It must have been a bitter disappointed that the Olympic committee didn't see his special powers.

The President's entire handling of the Afghanistan war was incompetent. (Has he ever done anything competently?)

Here's some characteristics of Narcissists.  From
  • Expects to be recognized as superior and special, without superior accomplishments. Grandiosity. 
  • Requires excessive admiration.
  • Is arrogant in attitudes and behavior. Believes that he or she is unique. A sense of entitlement.
  • Expects constant attention, admiration and positive reinforcement from others (giving "campaign" speeches even when the campaign is over?? we continue to see campaign speeches that are about nothing--like Obama's recent speech on the 19th "pivot to jobs")
  • Envies others and believes others envy him/her 
  • Is preoccupied with thoughts and fantasies of great success, enormous attractiveness, power, intelligence and will react with rage when someone presents evidence to the contrary. 
  • Lacks the ability to empathize with the feelings or desires of others 
  • Has expectations of special treatment that are unrealistic
Doesn't this sound very familiar?  Think about other speeches where his use of "I" or "me" is so dominate.  Why do you think that he favorite thing to do is to give "campaign speeches" even in his 2nd and last term?  His recent speech on "jobs" had no new initiatives at all.  It was all about him, being in front of fawning admirers, and nothing about substance at all.  It's that need to be admired by sycophantic admirers that's a clue to the pathological narcissism.  Even Scott Pelley, of CBS Evening News, admitted that there was nothing new in the speech, puzzling why he had given the speech at all.  I know why and now you do too.

From Victor Hanson Davis' blog,
The president’s malignant narcissism explains a lot of this incompetence. His belief in his own transformational personality has blinded him to reality, and given him the delusions of omnipotence more typical of a child. You have to go back to Neville Chamberlain to find a major world leader so dangerously deluded by self-regard. Whenever Obama speaks to the world, I’m reminded of Chamberlain preening before his cabinet during the Munich crisis, telling his ministers that he was “satisfied Hitler was speaking the truth,” and that “he had established some degree of personal influence over Herr Hitler,” and that Hitler “would not deliberately deceive a man whom he respected.”

Narcissistic Personality Disorder Is a Disease

Is Obama's Narcissism a national security concern?  Maybe, when you consider that Obama's concern is Obama. Meanwhile, nothing is getting done. Deadlines for everything: budgets, his healthcare law implementation, responding to Congress, supposed follow-through in Benghazi are all missed.  From Timothy Daughtry at Breitbart:
The narcissistic personality is defined by characteristics such as an inflated sense of one’s importance, unrealistic fantasies of power and success, the need for constant approval and acceptance, and difficulty handling criticism from others. Narcissism is different from healthy self-esteem; people who simply have strong self-esteem can realistically evaluate their shortcomings as well as their strengths. Such people are not likely to describe their impact upon the world in messianic terms, as Obama did during the 2008 campaign when he prophesied that his election would be remembered by future generations as “the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal.”
A nation with $16 trillion in debt is in desperate need of a government that is firmly grounded in reality -- that more borrowing and spending will not cause our deficits to recede any more than electing Obama will change the level of the oceans. A nation with ever-growing healthcare costs needs a sober assessment of the causes and solutions, not takeover by a politician who presumptuously simplifies the practice of medicine to choosing between the “blue pill and the red pill,” and who imposes on the nation a plan that no one had read and that mainstream America did not want. And a nation with tragic levels of unemployment does not need to have its business leaders lectured by a politician who has never met a payroll. To the extent that his catastrophic policies are driven by his narcissistic exaggeration of his abilities and power, the nation is being pushed ever closer to economic Armageddon by the outsized ego of Barack Obama.

When Narcissists Confronted by a Conflicting Reality in the Mirror, they Smash the Mirror

How about the recent severe curtailment of journalistic freedom with the administration's unprecedented and unconstitutional surveillance of journalists and persecution of James Rosen and  the vilification of Fox News?  From Daily Caller, Thomas Drake, a former senior executive of the National Security Agency and the first whistle-blower on NSA who was prosecuted by the Obama administration said;

The Obama administration’s targeting of journalists and their sources is an assault on the First Amendment.  Reporters have shared with me privately that some of their most trusted sources within government are increasingly afraid to speak with them, even off-the-record, for fear that they will be monitored and surveilled,

The DOJ, invoked the Espionage Act to justify its investigation of Fox News reporter James Rosen. That law, signed by President Woodrow Wilson during World War I, was used against journalists only three times in all the presidential administrations since Wilson's.

By contrast, the Obama administration has used the Act six times in cases of information leaked to the media. Obama’s history of suppressing the media has also included ostracizing Fox News and conservative radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh, who have taken a critical stance of the administration.
Coverage that exposed government wrongdoing or embarrassed the government was either opposed or demeaned as untruthful in many cases during the first four years of the administration, Drake said.

This administration is evidencing what many would call very significant narcissistic tendencies,” Drake ventured, “meaning, when narcissists are confronted by themselves looking in the mirror, they want to smash the mirror.”
Narcissistic Personality Disorder used to be called "megalomania" which should be evocative. History is littered with the disastrous aftermaths of megalomaniacs.  When meglomaniacs are in power, they are dangerous if not restrained.  America is in danger right now.   Don't you think that America continues to pay a big price under this administration?   His biggest supporters, and all the people that can't see his pathology, will pay the biggest price.   

Monday, September 9, 2013

Guest Post: US Economy Has Tanked Under Obama

From Economic Collapse Blog with a hat tip to ZeroHedge:

Barack Obama has been running around the country taking credit for an "economic recovery", but the truth is that things have not gotten much better under Obama.  Compared to when he first took office, a smaller percentage of the working age population is employed, the quality of our jobs has declined substantially and the middle class has been absolutely shredded.  If we are really in the middle of an "economic recovery", why is the home ownership rate the lowest that it has been in 18 years?  Why has the number of Americans on food stamps increased by nearly 50 percent while Obama has been in the White House?  Why has the national debt gotten more than 6 trillion dollars larger during the Obama era?  Obama should not be "taking credit" for anything when it comes to the economy.  In fact, he should be deeply apologizing to the American people.

And of course Obama is being delusional if he thinks that he is actually "running the economy".  The Federal Reserve has far more power over the U.S. economy and the U.S. financial system than he does.  But the mainstream media loves to fixate on the presidency, so presidents always get far too much credit or far too much blame for economic conditions.

But if you do want to focus on "the change" that has taken place since Barack Obama entered the White House, there is no way in the world that you can claim that things have actually gotten better during that time frame.  The cold, hard reality of the matter is that the U.S. economy has been steadily declining for over a decade [including the Bush Administration], and this decline has continued while Obama has been living at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

It is getting very tiring listening to Obama supporters try to claim that Obama has improved the economy.  That is a false claim that is not even remotely close to reality.  The following are 33 shocking facts which show how badly the U.S. economy has tanked since Obama became president...
  1. When Barack Obama entered the White House, 60.6 percent of working age Americans had a job.  Today, only 58.7 percent of working age Americans have a job.
  2. Since Obama has been president, seven out of every eight jobs that have been "created" in the U.S. economy have been part-time jobs.
  3. The number of full-time workers in the United States is still nearly 6 million below the old record that was set back in 2007.
  4. It is hard to believe, but an astounding 53 percent of all American workers now make less than $30,000 a year.
  5. 40 percent of all workers in the United States actually make less than what a full-time minimum wage worker made back in 1968.
  6. When the Obama era began, the average duration of unemployment in this country was 19.8 weeks.  Today, it is 36.6 weeks.
  7. During the first four years of Obama, the number of Americans "not in the labor force" soared by an astounding 8,332,000.  That far exceeds any previous four year total.

Booms and Busts Due to Federal Reserve

The Federal Reserve Act, passed in 1913, created the Federal Reserve; a quasi-governmental entity whose chairman is appointed by the President and approved by the Congress.  They work with the US Treasury to regulate the banking industry and provide credit to the banking system.  The Federal Reserve was created, in part, to be a lender of last resort in an attempt to stabilize the banking system that had fairly frequent banking panics (bank runs) in the late 1800s and early in the 1900s.  The panics caused economic downturns.

A part of law creating the Federal Reserve gave them the duty or mandate to maintain price stability and maintain full employment.  But you probably can see right away that these are conflicting mandates.  This is called a 'dual mandate.'

As a result of this dual mandate, the "Fed" has erred on the side of inflation.  This body has been responsible for the 23 fold increase in prices in it's 100 years of existence.  That's 2,300% of price inflation!  It sounds astronomic but it amounts to an average 3.2% inflation per annum--which is not a huge number.  But the 2300% number is a good example of power (or curse) of compounding.  Once the Fed. Reserve was founded in 1913,  prices went up 110% from 1913 to 1921 alone!  Maybe Congress should have eliminated this body in 1921 since it was already failing miserably?

Now The 'Fed' Has Taken On a 3rd Mandate: Levitate Asset Prices

Chairman Bernanke has taken the Federal Reserve into a whole new regime compared to his predecessors.  He's taken the creation of excess credit to a whole new level with zero interest rates and monetizing of the Federal deficits through "money printing."  The process of 'money printing' puts large amounts of 'excess reserves' into the banking system.  Those reserves could be used by the banks to extend loans to customers. Since the excess reserve levels are so large, there is fear that this could dramatically increase credit outstanding.  And if that rate of credit creation exceeds the growth of the economy, then prices will rise.

But in the past few decades, we've seen that excess credit creation is more correlated with rising asset prices like housing, land, and equities (stock market) rather than being reflected in the official inflation indices such as the CPI.  I wrote a blog called Government Scrubs Away True Inflation Rate that talks about revising the official inflation indexes to reflect inflation in key assets.

Have a look at the effects of the highly experimental policies of the Fed in recent years. They have even taken pride that QE has lifted asset prices. This is nearly insane as there is inevitably a reversal of these policies and a reversal of the effects of that policy.


Bubbles and Busts Thanks to the Federal Reserve

Take a look at the recent 20 year history of bubbles and busts created by the Federal Reserve.  Yeah, it sounds academic to talk about bursting bubbles, but the aftermath of the housing bubble has led to 5 years of slow economic growth and massive underemployment that could have easily turned into the Great Depression II.  The housing bubble, a credit-fueled asset price inflation,  is also due to government incentives over many decades, ie., no capital gains on house sales, mortgage deductability and lower credit standards for mortgages.  Anything credit-fueled is due to your Federal Reserve.

It's Time to End the Dual Mandate For the Federal Reserve

Due to the evidence that the Federal Reserve has been causing more trouble than good, it's time to reorganize the Federal Reserve and remove the "dual mandate."  They should only be responsible for controlling inflation. 

Here's a summary of my recommendations regarding the Federal Reserve:
  • Go to a 'rule-based' system for increasing credit in the economy, target something like 3% growth of credit---which is the real growth rate of the economy.
  • Replace the vast bureaucracy with a panel that includes business leaders and ordinary citizens
  • Have the Federal Reserve declare publicly that any excess credit creation during a so-called "crisis" will be withdrawn as soon as possible
  • Remove the dual mandate and replace it with a single mandate of controlling inflation.
  • The Federal reserve should renounce support for any amount of inflation and target 0% inflation---or no inflation!   None of Bernanke's bullshit of targeting of 2% inflation which doubles prices every 36 years!!

The moral of the story is don't let PhDs run anything!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Leftism: Imposed By Lies and Tricks and Doesn't Work

In my blog Principled Conservatism Will Save This Country-not Liberalism, I recently tried to capture the essence of principled conservatism by trying to describe it and contrast it with "liberalism" or "progressivism.." Now is the time to focus on Liberalism. I've already written some blogs about Liberalism called Why the Left Is Wrong and the Angry Left.

I recently read a transcript of a Rush Limbaugh radio show talking about the nature of "Liberals." I'm drawing heavily on his words (his words are in quotation marks).

Liberals Want to Turn America Into Something Different
America is THE MOST SUCCESSFUL EXPERIMENT IN GOVERNMENT AND SOCIAL IDEAS IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. Don't forget that. But rather than draw on and return to the very things that led to this long lasting success, Liberals want to change America AWAY from many of those things. As if they have a better idea? Liberal's ideas have been tried in places like Eastern Europe, Russia, the UK, and "Old" Europe. The result is stagnation, inflation, human misery, environmental damage and even collapse.

More Government is Liberal's Tired and Failed Idea
Liberals want more and more government---which is something relatively new in American history. Historically and Constitutionally the Federal Government has been, and is supposed to be, small. The Federal government took less than 1% of the nation's GDP prior to 1913 (prior to the advent of Federal Income taxes) and less than 10% of GDP in 1940 even after FDR's administration. Gov't spending was in the 18 to 19% of GDP area as recently as year 2000. Under Obama (and Bush), it's rocketed to 25% of GDP due to an orgy of government spending. The Republicans in the House aren't helping either.

Big government brings corruption, cronyism, waste, inefficiency, over-reach, over-spending, power-grabs, infringements on our guaranteed individual rights, infringements on States Rights, slower growth/high taxation, less freedom, less economic freedom, inflation, income inequality, and ultimately financial crises. Socialism hasn't worked in 'old" Europe. In fact, in eastern European countries, after having endured suppressive communism during the post WW II era, they are embracing a purer capitalism and enjoying higher economic freedom than in the US. And correspondingly, they have higher economic and income growth. See my blog Economic Freedom Declining in the US.

We in the US have a long history of limited government. The Founding Fathers of the US were all about limiting Federal power. Now Obama wants to change all that? He's an idiot.

Liberalism Doesn't Work
Worse, big government doesn't even accomplish the very goals that Liberals say they want to achieve. The Liberal claims are actually lies then. Are blacks much wealthier than 40 years ago?  Yes, somewhat, but the gap between black and whites is the same as it was 53 years ago. Are black high school dropout rates any better in the past 40 years? Are housing projects any less "slum-like?" Has throwing more and more money at education worked? Is the black community any healthier now compared to 50 years ago? The answer is mostly 'no' to all of these questions.

Are black families more intact compared to 50 years ago?  Not if you consider the fact that 72% of black kids are born without a father in the house: compared to 25% in the 1960s.  But "helping" those at the lower end of the economic spectrum is Liberalism's big mantra! Politicians aren't helping, they're only helping themselves.  Do you think those 1000's of politicians in Detroit did any good except line their own pockets?

More examples of the failure of Big Gov't:  Medicare is rife with fraud and is in the middle of a demographic crisis that Democrats refuse to address or even acknowledge. Even Medicaid's results are suspect.  Recent articles looking at medical outcomes of the Medicaid program show that the outcomes of that program are the same as those uninsured, ie, it doesn't work. And ObamaCare builds on this failed program. I've stated that it might be cheaper to send vouchers to the uninsured to buy policies rather than implement the ObamaCare bureaucracy. See ObamaCare Doubles Down On a Broken System.

Liberals Advance Their Agenda By Tricks and Lies
Liberals must use tricks to fool the submissive, complacent and ill-informed into their big government "solutions," Look at ObamaCare. Nearly all of the promises that were used to pass it have been proved to be false. Those promises were lies all along. ObamaCare amounts a huge power grab by the Federal Government. It won't even work. But that's OK because then Obama can justify a more complete takeover of this portion of the economy when chaos ensues.

Obama is quite the "trickster." Nearly everything he says is the opposite of what his bureaucracy is doing. He's all lies and tricks! "That's why he's appearing to be opposed to everything that's happened and happening, and trying to fix it. He is trying to create jobs when his policies are destroying them, shrinking job opportunities for people, on purpose, to make government necessary in people's lives." Obama wants more crises so that government can come "help"----when it's the government itself that causes the problems. Wake up people!

The ultimate examples of liberals are the socialists and communists who turn their economies into basket cases, take away any freedoms from their citizens and cause human, economic and environmental crises. It will happen here too if we allow it. We are well on the way now.

The Constitution is Just Something "In the Way
The Constitution is about freedom (and responsibility), not about control and regulation! That's why the Left has problems with The Constitution and often pooh-pooh it's meaning (gun control for instance). Why do you think that the Obama Administration keeps getting slapped by Federal Courts and the Supreme Court? See my blog Federal Courts Uphold Constitution and Spank Obama. Also see here, here, here, and here.

"Liberals don't believe in the Constitution, as founded, the country as founded. They don't believe in the concept of individual liberty. They don't trust it. They don't trust that people will do what they want them to do if left alone. So they must control everything or as much of everyone's life as possible in order to create what they want. That leads to an all-out assault on individual liberty and freedom. And that's the battle that has been waging in this country since the day it was founded."