Friday, March 11, 2011

Banks Fight Over 12 Cents


The title of this blog post which mirrors the title of the Cnn.com piece is definitely misleading.
The Federal Reserve is trying to limit the amount of money banks earn off of debit card transactions to 12 cents per swipe. Currently they earn about 1.14% or 44 cents per transaction.
Remember the “Credit Card Reform” that was signed into law a year or so ago was supposed to help all of us? Well many Americans saw their credit limits decreased or their accounts closed due to the added restrictions placed on their banks by the government. I doubt many Americans would now agree that this credit card legislation was all it was supposed to be.
We have seen articles in recent weeks where banks are ending free checking accounts and will be charging increased fees in other areas in an attempt to make up the difference in their revenue due to government legislation. Adding additional restrictions on banks will only further damage the economy and hurt consumers. JP Morgan is threatening to deny all debit transactions over $50-$100 if this is enacted.
So although Cnn.com may want the average liberal reader on its website to believe that “Wall Street” and bankers are throwing a fit over 12 cents it’s simply not the case. If the Fed gets its way this will result in billions of dollars of lost profits, and change the way the American consumer has become accustomed to shopping and banking.
Leave private industry alone and let consumers and businesses decide on their own whether they want to pay these fees.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Unemployment Claims


397,000 of our neighbors filed for unemployment benefits for the first time last week. That means that an average of 1.5-1.6 millions Americans are filing for benefits for the first time each month! These are not people that have been unemployed for any length of time these are newly jobless individuals.
So although President Obama may be touting a recovery, it doesn’t seem to being going very well. There are certainly businesses out there that have recently re-hired employees or added employee when maybe they should have waited a few more months. With rising fuel prices, rising commodity prices, and Obamacare uncertainty look for continued increasing unemployment claims.
The only way the unemployment rate has dropped below 9% is through a numbers game of unemployment benefits expiring (for those on unemployment for over 99 months for example) and decreasing the overall number of available job. Rush said it on his show last week that only one president in history has ever been re-elected with unemployment over 8.5%.
So look for more number games and “tweaking” of the statistics in the future.
Just a quick follow-up: Remember my post on how the administration consistently reports a lower number of jobless claims and then convieniently and quietly revises that number a couple weeks later? Its still happening week after week, and month after month. Link: http://notadriveby.com/?p=254

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Growing The IRS


According to this CnnMoney.com article:  http://money.cnn.com/2011/03/09/news/economy/irs_budget

The IRS collects between $3-$4 for every dollar it spends, and according to the Obama Administration the IRS should be expanded to further enforce the tax code and help shrink the deficit.

I think this is a big mistake.  A lot of the proposed hiring of new IRS Agents is 100% linked to Obamacare and enforcing the tax and reporting provisions contained in the law.  Since the law is almost guaranteed to be declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court this is just an end-run to get more government employees on the books before the law is thrown-out.

We all know what happens once government employees are hired:  they stay around until they retire or quit - regardless of if they are actually needed or they are actually performing a valuable function.

Rather than further increase the heavy hand of the government, why not revise and simplify the tax code so that all these IRS agents are not needed?  There is no reason to have a tax code that 90% of Americans are unable to interpret on their own without the help of a tax lawyer or accountant.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Why You Are Paying More For Groceries


The reason we are all paying more for our groceries is due to increasing worldwide demand for products and shortages of grains and other crops caused by bad weather all over the world. According to the author, increasing costs of basic agricultural production is leading to higher food costs across the board.
The government is predicting that food prices will rise 3-4% this year.
There is a passing mention, at the beginning of the article, of gas prices already stressing consumers – but no real in-depth analysis. Here is my in-depth analysis: We may be wishing we only had 3-4% increases when the year is over if gas prices continue to climb. Unfortunately there are a lot of people out there who believe food just appears at the grocery store for them to purchase. The reality of the situation is that food production/agricultural production requires a ton a heavy equipment – tractors, trucks, etc. This equipment requires a lot of fuel, and there is no replacing this fuel with solar or happy-tree-hugging-whatever. From trucks down to the fertilizers spread on crops – gas prices play a huge part in the cost of food.
Since we have decided that under the Obama Administration gas prices are not nearly as big a deal as under the Bush Administration we can look for steadily increasing costs. The dreaded “stagflation” is also looking more and more likely. But don’t sweat it – we are in a recovery . . . . . . . right.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Obama Taking Criticism From All Sides


Obama has finally seen the light and rescinded his January 2009 executive order regarding military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay. Of course many on the left now realize that in doing so he has destroyed an possibility that George W Bush will even be charged with war crimes as so many of them had hoped.
It seems this move is designed to gain favor from some moderates on terrorism and national security issues for the 2012 election. Its kind of strange for him because by continuing another Bush policy he is obviously going to further anger his far-left supporters.
Obama needs to stick to one side or the other – either he is a far left nutcase, or he believes in defending this country – he cant have it both ways.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Strategic Petroleum Reserve – Not a Democrat Oil Reserve


Remember when President Bush was adding to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve during his term? He was attacked by the left as idiotic for adding to the reserve when it could be done “later.” Luckily President bush and congress at the time stood their ground and continued to purchase oil to add to the reserve.
Now the left wants President Obama to tap oil reserves to bring additional supplies to the market before the summer driving season kicks-off. The thought is that by tapping the reserve we can avoid further increases in gas prices.
President Obama will certainly release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve because he must been seen as trying to help the American public in some way. In reality the added supply from the reserve will do little to decrease price – it is more of a symbolic move. In my opinion, now is precisely the time when the reserve should not be touched. The last time supplies were release from the reserve was after Hurricane Katrina, the world was (believe it or not) a much more stable place at the time. Now we are still fight two wars (yes we are, you don’t think we are completely out of Iraq yet do you?) there are hotspots flaring all over the globe and we have a leader who is thought of as a joke in the international community.
The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is there so we have wartime backup supplies and can, in an emergency, use the oil to compensate for temporary supply disruptions. The reserve is not intended to be used to compensate for the left refusing to allow domestic oil drilling or refusing to allow private industry to solve our energy problems. Remember the old saying that goes something like: “Lack of proper planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” This “emergency” is completely the fault of President Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and all the other obstructionists in the Democrat Party.
Leave the SPR alone. We may need it for its intended purpose in the near future!
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/06/obama-weighs-tapping-strategic-petroleum-reserve-counter-oil-price-spike/

Saturday, March 5, 2011

What to Do About High Oil Prices


Here is a link to an excellent article and research (with sources) from the Heritage Foundation. It is too large to reprint here but check it out, it’s worth reading.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Union Layoffs – Here They Come


Scott Walker is sticking to his guns! This man needs to run for higher office – we need more people like this willing to stand up for what they believe and not cave to drive-by media pressure or pressure from the Democrat Party.
Governor Walker today said that since the cowardly State Democrat Senators have failed to return, the necessary changes to wage and benefits packages for greedy unions cannot be signed into law. So pink slips will go out as early as next month, and by-law layoffs can begin within 30 days.
Its amazing that these public sector unions who are supposedly here for the “little guy” are willing to sacrifice the welfare of 1500 people rather than pay a tiny amount toward their own benefits like the rest of the private sector.
Not only are the Democrat Senators from Wisconsin a bunch of cowards, so are the union thugs that are failing not only their members but the citizens of Wisconsin. I say why stop at 1500? Why not fire every last one of them? Replace them with non-union workers and turn the deficit into a surplus. The state and this country would be much better off.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/04/wisconsin-state-workers-brace-layoffs-amid-standoff/

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Bad Time To Be An American


When most people around the world hear “The United States of America” they think of success, wealth, dreams, achievement, power, prestige, and charity. Now that we have a President who is more intent of apologizing for our actions and sacrificing our way of life, our reputation in the rest of the world has been rapidly changing.
We are willing to let pirates kill American citizens while the Navy sits idly by, we are willing to allow our military members to be killed in foreign countries, we allow CIA agents to be captured and then abandoned, and terrorism is brushed-off as a non-issue. There are countless more examples of our citizens and our interests being put at-risk around the world.
Even three years ago the United States was feared in the world community. While the left may believe that no one should fear us – fear is a good thing. Fear helps to keep rogue nations in line without having to resort to force. Its pretty obvious how well diplomacy has worked with nations like Iran, Venezuela, and North Korea.
We can not continue to sacrifice Americans around the world just so the left can assuage some sort of guilt. Sometimes we need to step up and say “enough.” Open a can of “whoop-ass” and show the rest of the world that we cannot be screwed with. If we won’t continue to fill this role as we have done so responsibly and carefully since our country was founded – someone else will. That someone will more than likely be China.
There is a point in time where we will lose all credibility in the world community. No one will take us seriously. What many fail to realize is that diplomacy only works because it is backed up by the possibility of military force. When all these dictators and other crazies learn that we are unwilling to use this force our bargaining ability not only diminishes – it disappears. How many more American lives will be lost before we get this incompetent poser out of office?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Funeral Picketing Case – Disgusting But a Good Ruling


Most probably have heard about the 8-1 Supreme Court Decision Today that ruled the Westboro Baptist Church’s picketing of military funerals is protected speech under the constitution.
In many ways I am torn between two viewpoints on this decision. As a combat veteran (multiple Afghanistan deployments) I think it is absolutely disgusting that these people choose to picket at the funerals of our fallen soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. Regardless of your thoughts on gays in the military, the war, or the military in general there is no reason to make a tragic and sad situation even worse for family members. Unfortunately I have been to several military funerals since 9/11 – I would never want to see these people anywhere near a cemetery on such a somber occasion.
On the other hand, I do believe that just about ALL speech should be protected under the constitution. I know that the left in this country is just waiting for the opportunity to start down the slippery-slope of banning certain types of speech. First to go would be talk radio, followed by the ability of organizations such as the TEA Party to assemble, followed by an all-out assault on the rest of our values and beliefs.
As disgusting as this type of speech is – and as nutty as these Westboro Baptists are – I believe that the Supreme Court made the right decision. Frankly I think that the fact these nutcases are still walking around with their ridiculous signs speaks volumes about military members and their families. I know that if I ever ran across these guys degrading a fallen soldier being put to rest I might not have taken the legal-system route to try to stop them.
Luckily these idiots are just a very small group and there are all sorts of respectable veterans organizations and charities that volunteer their time to disrupt the protesters and protect the dignity of those being laid to rest.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/03/02/westboro-funeral-pickets-protected-speech-high-court-rules/

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Quick Admin Update on Comments


I receive between 25-50 spam comments on past postings each day in addition to the usual spam emails. From now on I will close all postings for comments 15 days after they were initially posted. If you really would like your comment posted please send me an email and I will put it up.
Unfortunately this action is needed to keep some of the obscene spam comments off the site, so I will try this and see how it works. The comment window may need to be further reduced again in the future depending on the results of this experiment.
Thanks for your continued site visits!
DF

Uh-Oh. . .Obama’s War?


It looks like Obama may have a war of his own. We are moving troops in the the Mediterranean so that they can be closer to Libya. I seem to remember something about the rest of the world would love us and be a peaceful place if we would simply use diplomacy. Remember he claimed that 9/11 happened because we made them angry?
Well Mr. President, where is the diplomacy? A famous person once said that “the world is governed by the aggressive use of force.” That is even more true today than ever before. How will the Democrats explain a war to the REAL far-far leftists in the party? Does this mean that if we do enter peacekeeping or even combat operations in Libya the left will suddenly attack Obama as a war criminal, or claim he is in bed with the oil companies? I doubt it.
The left only hates the realities of the World when a Republican is in charge. If Obama believes we need to send troops to Libya I will support him 100% as long as he goes all-in and doesn’t try to half-ass it. That is the difference between Republican and Democrats – we are willing to support something when it is “right” or when it is in our best interests not just because a decision is made by our party.
We just need to understand that if we do enter another conflict in Libya that this will further add to the deficit. This means cuts will be needed elsewhere. I say spend as much as we need on the war as long as we cut spending elsewhere to balance it out.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Gas Prices Keep Climbing


Well, gas prices in my area are in the $3.39-$3.49 range. According to AAA Mid-Atlantic gas prices are almost certain to make it over $4.00 within the next month or so and $5.00 is not out of the question. I know that they are much higher than that in many areas of the country already. There is data to suggest the Saudi Arabia and some other OPEC members will begin pumping more oil to try to bring prices back in line with their target. Most of the price increase is being blamed on unrest in the Middle East and the “recovery” currently taking place around the world.
Regardless of the reasons for the recent spike in prices, our President has failed to address the issue. The problem is that by addressing the problem President Obama risks bringing the issue to the forefront. Rather than work on our continuing domestic energy problems and our fragile recovery the President is spending time meeting with Democrat Governors about the 2012 election, and defending public employee unions – claiming they are not the cause of huge state deficits (they are).
Obama needs to get his priorities in order. It’s pretty-much a done deal that he will not be re-elected. What’s silly is that he fails to see how he is risking all the other Democrat election chances as well. That’s fine with me of course – I just hope he doesn’t further destroy our country in the process.
I wil keep an eye on the issue for all of you out there. Who knows? Maybe a government takeover of the oil industry will be next. . .

Sunday, February 27, 2011

We Don’t Need Newt


Newt Gingrich is said to be getting ready to throw his hat in the ring for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
Two words: Big Mistake.
I like Newt on a personal level, I have had the pleasure of sitting next to him on several flights over the last few years. He is a great guy to talk to, and someone I would not mind sitting down with to have a beer or two. Unfortunately Newt is not what Conservatives, TEA Partiers, or Republicans in general need at this point.
Newt has several factors working against him: age, his ridiculous failure to support the tea party initially, lack of a recent conservative political record, and some of his RINO moves while he was Speaker of the House. Newt has also been removed from the political spotlight for some time. Although there is no doubt he has been working hard behind the scenes to prep for a presidential run – including writing books, and trying to stay in the media as much as possible, he has not held a position of power for a long time.
Normally I would say that outsiders are a good thing – of course we don’t want the same old Washington insiders – but Newt is not an outsider by any means. He has only recently become a public supporter of the TEA Party (probably due to the party’s success rather than his personal beliefs), and because he has been out of political power for so long we have no way of knowing whether he would actually govern as a conservative or fall back into the old and comfortable ways that worked while he was in the House in the past.
There are many candidates that are more conservative, younger, have a better recent voting record, and come with less baggage than a recycled candidate. I believe he could have been a successful candidate in 2000 if he had done things differently, but in 2012 we need something more.
Remember that worn-out line from the drive-by media in the 2008 election: “Optics matter.” Whether we like it or not things have changed – not only does appearance matter (really it always has) but age, and past political history play a huge factor. I would much rather see someone like Chris Christie or even Scott Walker announce their intention to run. We need a candidate with a recent record showing their ability to make difficult decisions.
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/27/sources-gingrich-make-formal-2012-bid-weeks/

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fire Every Last One of Them


With unemployment still hovering around 9% or above nationwide, the situation in Wisconsin is unacceptable. There is no possible way to compare the luxuries that the public-sector workforce enjoys compared to the private sector.
Think about any employee in the private sector; whether working at McDonald’s or Goldman Sachs, no work equals no pay. Sure, most employees are given some sort of sick time or vacation days, but not always – in Wisconsin these benefits are being blatantly abused. What happens when a rebellious cashier at McDonald’s disagrees with the manager’s decision not to allow employees to work overtime? That employee has three choices: work out the problem like an adult, suck it up and move-on, or quit. In the public-sector there is obviously a fourth option – stop doing any work and still get paid while bringing the education and state government to a halt.
Employees in both the public and private sector of course are free to make whatever decisions they see fit when it comes to striking or disagreements with management. These employees just need to understand that there are consequences for their actions.
I have a perfect solution for the teachers and public employees on strikes in Wisconsin: fire every single person who is on strike or even suspected of abusing sickleave for the purposes of participating in the strike. What do we do to fill all of those positions? Simply put out a nationwide job announcement. I am willing to bet there are a ton of people in Wisconsin with teacher credentials that could be dusted-off, and others around the country willing to move to find new jobs. Make it clear that these new-hires are not able to unionize and will be hired at “x” salary and “y” benefits.
This solves several problems: public schools are allowed to function, the wind is taken out of the sails of these union workers who would rather strike than perform the work they are paid to do, and it would help to find employment for people looking for new or better jobs. The replacement teachers and employees could be paid a much lower salary and have a benefits package more inline with the private sector, thus taking care of the budget problems the Governor has been trying to rectify.
These union thugs, and union slugs (there are really only two types of union members in this situation: the lazy and the power-hungry) are not serving the citizens of Wisconsin as they are being paid to do. Get rid of them and solve all of these problems at once.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Prostitution – A Local Decision

John Ensign said recently that Nevada should not ban prostitution and that local government should decide whether to allow prostitution in their counties or cities.
I agree 100%. It should be up to the local governments to make this decision. Harry Reid is calling on Nevada to ban prostitution – claiming that this is what prevents businesses from moving to Nevada and investing in Nevada. Yeah right, I hate to break it to Mr. Reid but it probably actually attracts people to Nevada to visit famed locations such as the “Bunny Ranch.” Reid fails to realize that his criticism of businesses and Obama’s criticism of people and businesses meeting in Las Vegas are what have helped to damage the states economy.
If we are allowing states to regulate and tax medical marijuana then why not prostitution? It seems the left is all for changing drug laws so they can grab more tax revenue but is unwilling to look at prostitution from the same perspective.
I know that this is a controversial subject. Although not something which I am interested in, there are a lot of people out there that see no moral or ethical problems with prostitution. Why not let local governments decide whether or not they wish to profit from this business? It is a sector that could easily be regulated, licensed, and taxed.
In the meantime Harry Reid should be more worried about the damage he has done to his state’s economy by jamming liberal agenda items through congress.
Article:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/24/ensign-nevada-ban-prostitution/

Thursday, February 24, 2011

US Considering Arming Law Enforcement Working In Mexico


Check out this article:
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/23/lawmakers-consider-proposal-arming-agents-mexico-ice-attack/
By now most people know of the sad story of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent killed a week or so ago in Mexico in a hit in broad daylight. I support law enforcement 100% and I blame his death not so much on Mexico and the cartels, but I blame his death on the total failure of Janet Napolitano and President Obama to secure the southern border of our country.
We need to face the fact that if we could secure the southern border of our own country – something the Federal Government is responsible for – it would not matter to us what is happening on the other side. There would have been no need for ICE agents to be working in a foreign country where they may or may not be armed.
Another example where this administration is all talk and no action. Two years into his presidency President Obama is wasting time cheering for unions in Wisconsin rather than working on issues critical to the future success and safety of our country.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Remind Me Again Why We Need Domestic Oil Production?


Here we go again: With the turmoil in Libya, continued unrest in Egypt, Iran causing problems in the Suez Canal, and numerous other hot spots around the world, we are again faced with rising oil prices.
When gas prices spiked in 2005-2006 there were calls from around the country to “Drill Here, Drill Now.” Unfortunately when prices dropped so did the will of the American people to push Congress and their state politicians to follow through on the promises of domestic oil production. Luckily, one “benefit” of the recession was a drop in demand for oil and oil products around the world. The poor economy, and lack of demand around the world are really the only reasons we have been paying relatively consistent and fairly reasonable gas prices over the past couple of years.
Now, as we wind our way through the delicate beginnings of a very timid economic recovery we are again faced with rising crude oil prices – at one of the worst possible times. As China and the rest of the developing world continue to grow their economies the demand for oil will certainly increase. Europe seems to be recovering in some ways and many areas of South America never stopped growing. Any of these factors alone contribute to the demand for oil and increasing prices at the pump. Instead of just one reason for increasing prices we have multiple factors all contributing to what may cause another huge economic dip.
Now, two years into this administration, at a time when we were supposed to be generating green power, driving electric vehicles, and generally fulfilling the environmentalists’ dreams, we are stuck. We have wasted almost four years that could have been put toward developing our own domestic energy supplies. Not only did we fail to increase domestic oil production but due to Obama Administration policies – we have been refusing to issue drilling permits and shutting down existing production in other areas.
A common argument from the left when it comes to domestic oil production is that no-matter what we do, we will not see any oil or gas for around five to ten years from new drilling projects. It has been almost five years and where are we? Back in the same old spot.
If the Obama Administration is concerned about creating jobs or helping the economy to recover it should be very worried about rising gas prices. Discretionary spending that may be helping any recovery will certainly disappear with rising prices. Small business that may have stopped laying off workers will have to consider further cuts when the cost of operating their vehicles or producing products doubles due to rising crude oil prices.
The new congress is off to a good start – cutting spending and following through on campaign promises. Hopefully we can convince them that there is room in the agenda to again bring domestic energy production back to its rightful place of importance. Not only should we be drilling anywhere and everywhere for every last drop of oil and gas but we should be mining coal as fast as we can use it and actively pursuing new nuclear power plants. Rising gas prices are never a good thing – but let’s at least learn from the experience, and take advantage of the political momentum. Remember the famous words of Rahm Emanual: “Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Wisconsin Protests

Here is a good video on Myth vs Fact on the Wisconsin Protests. The video was done by the Heritage Foundation and is another example of their great work.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcDnKQul_c8

Monday, February 21, 2011

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Left Disrespects a Hero


“It doesn’t matter how you feel about the war. It doesn’t matter how you feel about fighting,” said Maschek. “There are bad men out there plotting to kill you.”
Very innocent and very accurate if you ask me. But unfortunately this simple comment drew jeers, laughter, and calls of racism from audience members at Columbia University. Army Staff Sergeant Anthony Maschek was making a speech on whether ROTC should be allowed back on campus. He was wounded in Iraq – shot 11 times while in a firefight in Northern Iraq in 2008.
Sergeant Maschek spent about two year recovering from his wounds at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, and is currently studying economics at Columbia.
No mater what your feelings are on the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, there exists one inarguable truth: there are people in the world who hate the United States and would kill us at the first chance, simply because of our lifestyle and beliefs.
The left always fails to realize that THEIR lifestyle – protests, poor morals, lack of values, and generally unstructured way of life would lead to their imprisonment or death if they lived in one of these foreign countries they like to champion. In fact if there is something in common between the left in this country and the people elsewhere in the world that hate us it would probably be violence, lack of acceptance of differing viewpoints (not much sense debating an idea with a jihadist), and hate.
If the left wants to gain any sort of credibility for their side they need to at least learn to show respect to those who have sacrificed so much for their country. The actions of the students at Columbia are deplorable.
Article:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/20/wounded-iraq-vet-gets-heckled-columbia-university-speech/

Sharia Law In The United States?


Check out this article:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/20/muslim-cleric-plans-protest-outside-white-house-attempt-spread-sharia-law/
This nutcase is planing to protest in front of the White House. He calls Americans the “biggest criminals” in the world and wants muslims in the United States to bring Sharia Law to this country.
Yeah, that makes perfect sense. Lets all fight for the ability to beat our wives – as long as we don’t kill them of course. Lets start cutting off hands for stealing, and stoning women in public for minor offenses. This is insane. It goes to show you just how “peaceful” these guys really are. This cleric is calling for muslims to “rise-up” and establish a muslim state in the United States.
There may be peaceful muslims in the world but in recent history they seem to be far out-numbered by violent extremists. I don’t understand why – if islam is a religion of peace – followers will not stand up and denounce these extremists. Instead they sit in silence and allow a few crazies to embarrass a large part of the world and its religion.
I thought these problems were supposed to be a thing of the past. President Obama insisted that all we had to do was close Guantanamo Bay and talk to these guys . . . oh wait we never managed any of that – thankfully.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Problem With Unions


Look at what is happening in Wisconsin between union workers and a state trying to do what is best for its residents. As I have often said in my past posts – unions lead to higher costs, decreased flexibility, decreased productivity, and an overall mediocre work ethic.
If teachers were non-union, the school system could easily fire them for not showing up at work. Instead they have shut down public schools for days so they can protest and try to maintain their unions. There will be no disciplinary action, there will be no slap on the wrist. Eventually all these teachers and union workers will just return to work like nothing ever happened. Only the children and the people they are paid to serve will have suffered.
Sorry, but the reality of the world today is that cuts need to be made somewhere. We have been dumping billions of dollars into education with little to show for it. The only results we ever seem to get are teachers and unions asking for more money. The Governor of Wisconsin and Republican legislators are trying to do what is best for their state. By removing union from the place of power in the public sector they are more readily able to make changes to salaries and benefits, as well as tailor the workforce to what is needed – and what can be paid for.
These protests of anti-union legislation are similar to protests we have seen all over Europe. The protestors are whining and crying because they do not want to have to make any sacrifices in their lavish overly-paid salary and benefits packages. Instead they would rather see the sate (or country in the case of the E.U) go further into debt. It is amazing how so many people believe that “someone else should pay for it.”
Its too late, there is no “someone else” left in our country. The bills are coming due and we are all going to have to throw-in and get them paid. The public sector is simply going to have to face the facts that cuts will be made. If they are not we will have states going into bankruptcy just like Nassau County, NY and wondering why when police officers are only paid around $200,000 a year in salary and benefits. What could be the problem with that?
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/19/saturdays-protests-wisconsin-expected-biggest/

Friday, February 18, 2011

Baggage Thefts at Airports, TSA, and Airline Staff


There is another story in the news about TSA workers – who are supposed to protect us – stealing around $160,000 from baggage at New York airports going back to 2004.
Story:
http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/17/tsa-workers-allegedly-stole-thousands-dollars-luggage-nyc-airport/
Every few weeks there seems to be a story about items being stolen from checked baggage or the luggage itself being stolen. These instances are not happening just in big cities, but all over the country. Then we have regular stories about baggage handlers and other airport workers using their positions to bypass security and get drugs, weapons, or other contraband onto flights.
I do not in any way intend to imply that the majority of either TSA workers or airline personnel are breaking the rules/laws – I know that the majority of these people are honest and hard-working people. What I do not understand is why in a world of surveillance cameras, audio monitoring, and background checks have we failed to at least install cameras in some of these baggage handling areas. Even in the most secure facilities in the world – with employees that are vetted much more thoroughly than baggage handlers – cameras are everywhere. Not only do the cameras serve to protect from external threats (unauthorized access, violence, thefts, etc.) but they also protect against internal threats (employees violating security policies, internal theft, etc).
Certainly some of the baggage handling areas have security cameras, and I know very well that it would be impossible to cover the entire behind-the-scenes area of the airport, I also know that no system is foolproof. But in time where security should be a priority, if we cannot secure baggage, and facilities such as airports from internal threats how can we secure these areas from outside threats?
In this case these employees were removing items from baggage. What happens next time when someone wants to add something to baggage – like explosives?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

More Than Expected - Less Than Expected


Why is it that these "analyst" that the drive-by media relies on for so many of their stories, and for so much of their reporting are consistently wrong?  Today it was reported that jobless claims again rose "slightly more" than analysts had "expected."

I have looked back through numerous reports on unemployment figure between 2002 and 2010.  I was unable to find a single example of numbers that "analysts expected."  Each and every time there seems to be a huge surprise - usually these analysts significantly underestimate the number of people filing for unemployment.  Along with each "surprise" there is usually an associated excuse:  winter storms, summer heatwave, holidays, rain, locust, you get the idea.  If each and every release of unemployment data is associated with an excuse for why the analysts were so wrong, you would think these analysts would just factor in some type of event that skews the data, since it happens every time according to the media.

Its just another example of insanity - doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.  You would think that the drive-bys would get some new "analysts" or just give up on trying to guess when it comes to unemployment.

Keep these observations in mind when you see unemployment figures reported in the future and look for these elements:

If the news is bad for the Obama Administration:

1.  The data will be a surprise to analysts

2.  There will be some excuse used to justify the spike such as snow, heat, whatever.

3.  The figures will be increases even more a few weeks or months later with little public reporting.

4.  The figures will be presented as a outlier and we will be reassured there is an overall recovery in progress.

If the news is good for the Obama Administration:

1.  The data will still be a surprise to analysts.

2.  We are reminded that we are actively recovering.

3.  Obama Administration policies lead to the decrease in unemployment.

4.  Unemployment figures will be revised upward weeks or months later - again with little reporting.

Another thing I have noticed - especially since Obama took office - is that unemployment figures are consistently being revised upwards months or weeks after being reported in the national news.  These revisions are often buried on the back page of the newspaper if they even receive coverage at all.  Seems to me like a pretty sneaky way of making the economy not seem so bad.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics recently revised unemployment statistics for the entire year of 2009.  Turns out that there was actually another 617,000 jobs lost that were not initially reported.  That equals about 51,000 jobs each month that went unreported.

I almost forgot - about 410,000 first time unemployment claims were filed this past week, up about 25,000 from the previous week.  Included in the CNN story is the usual Obama Administration justification:  ". . . data [has] been distorted recently by severe winter snow storms, the numbers have been trending lower since August. The weekly figure is near its lowest levels since July 2008."  Oh good, so we can  just forget about these 400,000 new jobless and continue cheering for the "recovery."

Sources:

http://seekingalpha.com/article/186975-unemployment-revised-what-s-another-617-000-more-jobs-lost-among-friends

http://money.cnn.com/2011/02/17/news/economy/initial_claims/index.htm?hpt=T2

Arizona Sheriff Plans 19th Immigration Sweep


Sheriff Arpaio is planning his 19th illegal immigration sweep in Maricopa county.  Why is it that sheriffs all over the southern border are not conducting sweeps like this on a weekly or monthly basis?  Sheriff Arpaio's last sweep in January 2011 resulted in 83 arrests (68 illegals).  Through the end of 2010 his illegal immigration sweeps have resulted in about 1000 arrests.

There have been rumors circulating that Joe Arpaio may run for the Senate seat that is to be vacated by Jon Kyle - who has chosen not to seek reelection in 2012.  People like Sheriff Arpaio are what our party and our country need.  He has a proven track record of being tough on illegal immigration, tough on crime, and definitely tough on inmates in the county jail.  His policy of putting up military style tents on prison grounds to increase capacity and requiring that inmates wear bright pink undergarments are well known.  He has been famous for saying "why should convicted criminals have better living conditions than our soldiers serving in Iraq. . ."

Sheriff Arpaio has a proven track-record of fairness, toughness, fiscal responsibility, and common sense.  He easily wins reelection in Maricopa County.  If you have seen any interviews on TV with inmates from his jail - even the inmates respect him.  With the TEA Party gaining power in Congress and individuals like Sheriff Arpaio, the status-quo is in for a rude awakening in 2012.

Although not a resident of Maricopa County or even Arizona, if Sheriff Arpaio announces a Senate run in 2012 he can count on my financial support.

Sources:

http://politics.blogs.foxnews.com/2011/02/15/arizona-sheriff-joe-arpaio-may-be-bound-senate-race

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/02/17/arizona-sheriff-plans-1th-immigration-sweep/

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2011/01/29/immigration-sweep-nets-arrests-days/

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

We need to stop spending . . .but can't.


Check out this article:

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2011/02/15/obama-holds-press-conference-discuss-budget/

President Obama's budget proposal of $3.7 trillion is just 11% below the GDP of our entire country.  According to Obama, we can't take a machete to spending - even though we need to stop running up the credit cards.

That is where the President is completely wrong.  Not only do we need to take a machete to spending we need to take a stick of dynamite to this budget proposal.  Simply claiming that we will save money by cutting medicare and medicaid is unacceptable - especially since medicare and medicaid are intended to be replaced by Obamacare, which will cost taxpayers even more (if the Supreme Court fails to declare that disaster unconstitutional).

We can only hope that the Republicans in congress will not be fooled by bogus cuts and really force Obama to make some progress is saving our country from the the abyss.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Where to Dump the Money


Although I believe government has a very limited role to play - I realize that it's impossible to just simply slam on the brakes and stop all government spending at once.  The government will continue to "invest" our tax dollars as it sees fit.  If we have to dump money somewhere, here are a few sectors or areas that I believe could use some of that money:

1.  Airport Construction - The majority of our major airports were completed decades ago; today we have problems with physical airport capacity in several areas of the country.  There are larger and heavier aircraft using these airports than ever before, and airlines depend more than ever on efficiency in order to remain in business.  Construction of entire new airports, additional runways at existing airports, improvements to airport terminals, fuel systems, etc., via FAA grants could greatly improve overall efficiency and ease congestion.  The FAA is in the process of implementing the next generation of air traffic control which will allow for tighter spacing of aircraft and more direct routing.  Let's make sure the physical facilities do not become a choke-point.  Improved infrastructure which contributes to more on-times flights and better efficiency benefits everyone - from vacationers to business travels.

2.  Defense Spending - The Pentagon budget is already a huge part of our budget but we cannot afford to fall behind in cutting-edge military research and development.  China is hot on our heals and actively stealing our technology, and with emerging threats all over the globe, our national security now and in the future should be one of our highest priorities.  Heavily funding programs such as DARPA and others could give us a huge advantage in the future.  Lets make sure that our military wartime facilities are the best in the world.  Lets make sure we are not cutting programs or assets which may be needed in the future, just to satisfy a need for short-term cuts.  Programs such as missile-defense and space-based warfare will be critical in the years to come.

3.  Nuclear Waste - Yucca Mountain should be fully funded and opened as was originally intended.  This solves the security problem of nuclear waste being stored at sites scattered all over the country.  This also removes some of the regulatory and financial burden from the nuclear power industry.  A central storage site also helps eliminate the possibility of environmental disasters in other locations due to aging storage facilities which may be underfunded.  Not only does this make sense but it is a legal responsibility of the government according to agreements with nuclear power producers.

4.  Border/Immigration Enforcement - We don't need a new set of immigration laws we just need to enforce the ones already on the books.  Fully fund the Border Patrol to hire additional agents, and buy the needed equipment and vehicles to get the job done.  Finish building physical and virtual fences along the entire southern border.  Not only is it the government's responsibility to enforce immigration laws, but our national security and economic welfare depends on it.

5.  Intelligence Agencies - Invest in Human Intelligence (HUMINT) assets.  Give the CIA, DIA, NSA, and other major agencies the money they need to do their jobs - then get out of the way.  We need to not only rely on technology-based intelligence gathering, but also rebuild the human network that is irreplaceable as we have seen so many times in the past.

These are just a few areas I believe to be critical to the longterm success of our country and our people.  More to come in future months.

Monday, February 14, 2011

High-Speed Rail: A Total Waste


The Obama administration likes to tout high-speed rail as the cure for traffic jams, reliance on fossil fuels, pollution, unemployment and just about every other problem our country is currently experiencing.  What the high-speed rail proponents seem to conveniently forget is that these projects are NEVER profitable – in fact they never even break-even.
If you want an excellent example of a rail disaster look at the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority  (www.wmata.com) that runs the Metro train and bus service in the Washington DC area.  Each and every year the rail system runs at a loss and depending on government funds to pay for maintenance and further funding.  Metro freely admits that they are forced to defer nonessential maintenance tasks due to a lack of funding.  Despite millions of dollars from Congress, and the surrounding states, Metro continues to raise fares and decrease services.
A familiar story we hear all around the country on light-rail, commuter-rail, and really any other type of public transportation is the requirement to continue to raise fares.  It’s pretty basic economics that there exists a “tipping-point” for commuters – the price at which it no longer makes sense to take public transportation.  There really is no system in the country that is capable of profitably operating below this point – NY City may be the sole exception in the country but even that system is having issues.
Basically here is how the construction of a high-speed rail system would work:
-Millions of dollars spent on planning and endless environmental studies.
-Years of lawsuits from a variety of organizations.
-Millions in rail right-of-way acquisition costs.
-Billions (Trillions?) of dollars spent on actual construction.
-A few thousand temporary jobs created in the building phase.
-Years of delays getting the rail system fully ready to open.
-Millions of dollars of the usual government project cost overruns.
-The few thousand temporary workers get fired once the project is complete.
-After a few years maintenance and labor costs increase.
-Fares are raised to compensate for increased costs.
-Fewer riders due to increasing costs.
-Services cut to compensate for lack of revenue.
-Rail system falls further into the red, with snowballing costs, and continuously decreasing ridership.
-Taxpayer bailouts, more and more taxpayer funds needed to fill the budget gap.
Amtrak has been a money-pit for a long time.  With the exception of Joe Biden most people would rather drive their own cars than pay the high fares, endure the inconvenience, and deal with the frequent maintenance issues.  Any high-speed project by the government will turn into the same mess.  The entire concept of high-speed rail is just another example of throwing money at jobs and hoping something sticks.  If there really was any sort of demand for high-speed rail the private sector would be involved and there would not be a total reliance on government.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Fighting Illegal Immigration Close to Home


Many of you may be familiar with the Prince William County (VA) Police Department policy that has been in effect for several years to help fight illegal immigration on a local/county level. Police officers making an arrest or coming into contact with a person may ask their citizenship and check with federal databases whether the person is here legally or not. If they are illegal they are turned over to federal authorities for deportation.
Here is a link to the Prince William County Police Department website:
Http://police.pwcgov.org
As expected, when the program was initiated the “immigrant rights” groups raised all sorts of protests and lawsuits. Now after several years the program seems to be an effective and relatively cheap way to keep illegals out of a county. Officers are not allowed to simply walk up to a Hispanic looking individual and ask their status, but need to have reason to make contact with the person (traffic stop, complaint, etc). There have been very few complaints associated with the program and many opponents are beginning to see the wisdom of the idea.
I propose we take the program to the next level: Why not require all people seeking ANY county service (or city or state service for that matter) to prove their citizenship? Whether applying for a fishing license or requesting a building permit – people requesting government services are putting themselves in “voluntary” contact with the government. Theses individuals are not having their homes raided or being stopped on the street to have their legal status checked. The program will simply ensure only legal individuals are using public services and resources.
With local, county, and state government resources already short on funds, personnel, and other valuable taxpayer resources, any opportunity to cut costs and fight illegal immigration at the same time should be taken advantage of.
There will of course be cries of racism from pro-illegal immigration groups who will argue that immigrants are being targeted unfairly. Guess what? They are being targeted – but not unfairly. They are being targeted for willfully breaking the law by being here illegally, targeted for trying to take advantage of public funds or services they are not entitled to, and targeted because the federal government chooses not to do it’s job and stop them in the first place.
From my perspective if an illegal living here was able to survive all on his or her own – with no use of public services or public funds – other than breaking the law they are not really harming anyone or affecting others in any way. But the fact remains that in this day and age, it is nearly impossible to exist here for any length of time without some sort of contact with a local or county government. Illegals without healthcare are still able to use emergency rooms (free of charge since it is illegal to deny care based on insurance, or legal status), they still drive on our steets, send their kids to our schools, and rely on police, fire, and EMS to respond to their emergencies.
No matter what your opinion on illegal immigration, it is impossible to argue that illegals have no impact on spending, resources, and the taxes of legal residents. I am all for LEGAL immigration – especially immigration of highly skilled individuals who can contribute to our economy and our society. Unfortunately doing things the legal way may involve waiting in line for some people. Something most immigrants in this country have done for over 200 years.
It’s time to stop talking about acting and to start doing something. Let’s solve the problem of illegal immigration and budget issues at the same time. All states should begin to institue programs on the local and county level. It has become our responsibility since the federal government has failed in it’s responsibilities.