Barack Obama

Baseball adopts Obama policy towards financiers

Baseball Commissioner:  Last place teams must pay players only league minimum In response to fan outcry at the poor on-field performance and wasteful spending of such last place teams as the Baltimore Orioles and the Seattle Mariners, Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig has ordered all such teams to cap their player's salaries at the league minimum. 

Noting that such clubs receive payments from MLB's "luxury tax" Selig demanded   "some restraint in exchange for MLB aid -- so that when teams seek new MLB dollars, we won't find them up to the same old tricks,"

 One agent suggested that the new limit would guarantee future poor play by these clubs as more talented players signed with other clubs able to pay them more, or even took up more lucrative pro sports 

  'The unintended consequence is that it may be hard to recruit top players to sign for these teams, if you have to keep this limit in place."

 (warning/snark alert!)  


Preserve the F-22 to protect jobs, the economy and our national Security‏

I'm writing to alert you to an urgent issue that needs your support. The production of the nation's most advanced fighter aircraft, the F-22 Raptor, is in jeopardy--and along with it more than 95,000 American jobs and more than $12 billion in economic activity. I have signed an online petition urging the Obama Administration to release funds already authorized for ongoing Raptor production to preserve this important program. I hope you will join me in this effort!

By law, our new President must decide the fate of the Raptor program during his first weeks in office. Please join me in signing the online petition urging Congress and the Administration to continue F-22 Raptor production, protect American jobs and the economy, and strengthen our national security!


Obama's Cartoonanomics Part II: Deficits to Infinity and Beyond!

Another Walt Disney classic entered my mind when thinking about Barack Obama's reckless spending spree masquerading as an economic strategy.

It, in the words of Buzz Lightyear ----promises America budget deficits  "To Infinity... and Beyond"

Go to fullsize image

Before we embark on a raftload of new spending, let's look at where we are.  Four months into the present fiscal year, the US government is already $563 billion in the hole.   And don;t look for April 15 to slow down the torrent of red ink; CT's estimated tax receipts are dropping into the abyss. and there's no reason to think federal receipts are going to be any different.  So add in the rest of the TARP, a second installment of the auto bailout, and other stuff already in the works and we are going to be well into the world of trillion dollar deficits.

Now, a lot of this is simply automatic Keynesian stabliizers like lower tax receipts and higher transfer payments kicking in. But what the Obama plan, with its time delays does, is cause government spending to ramp up long after the present economic crisis is likely to have abated.   

Building roads in 2009 and 2010 is one thing; expanding social service bureaucracies in 2011, 2012 and 2013 is another thing entirely.

So let's assume Obama gets his trillion dollar wish list and we get a $2 trillion budget deficit in 2009 or 2010.   

Well, we are talking a percentage of budget deficit as compared to the size of the national economy unprecedented in American peacetime history.

Some Democrats will point out that Ronald Reagan put the nation heavily into debt. However, his deficits never exceeded 7% of GNP and were a downpayment on a) winning the Cold War and b) recharging the private sector economy.

The resulting peace dividend and more productive economy enabled the national debt load to shrink in the 1990's and to handle the decision to pay for the GW Bush War on Terror with borrowed funds. 

But , there's no point the Obama team can point to that would inflect the debt downward. There's no Cold War to win that will enable social spending to relent, now is there? Indeed, such of the Obama agenda promises to grow government and slow economic growth

So we are on a path to deficits running to "Infinity and beyond". For this, we need to consider compound interest.

In 2008 the nation paid $451 billion of interest on its federal debt.  (The total debt was about $10 Trillion). Let's assume that we increase our debt to $18 Trillion. Unless interest rates drop to an unsustainable amount, we are now going to pay $700 Billion in interest. (anyone really think the Chinese will lend us money @ 3% forever, c'mon)

And remember, interest runs on unpaid interest. So much as a borrower who pays the minimum on Visa gets deeper and deeper into debt, so will our nation. And what's $700 billion annually roughly?   It's more than the defense budget or social security costs these days.

So when we pay taxes, we'll be paying for our bankers, not for our services.  As a practical matter, the deficits will be self-sustaining; it's quite unlkely we will "grow our way out of them" ala the productivity boom post Reagan and no politician will survive the requisite tax hikes and budget cuts to balance the budget and retain office afterward.  Political Courage is always a greater deficit than finances, anyway.

Francis Cionfrocca is rather sanguine about what this all means. 

That means we're going to be borrowing trillions of dollars, possibly every year, for a very long time to come. Where's that going to come from?It's going to come from the surplus countries, those that produce more goods, services, and/or commodities than they need to meet domestic demand. (The key surplus countries today include China, Japan, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, and the oil-exporting countries in the Middle East. South Korea recently slipped into deficit. Russia's status is unclear, given the decline in the oil price.) 

He points out it took the UK close to a century to dig out of a similar debt load. I'm not so sure it won't take just as long for us.

I'm really not sanguine about letting the Chinese play banker. I've played banker before with indebted developers who had more debt obligations than free cash flow. Here's what happens to those poor souls.

a) They earn no profits. The bank lets them make just enough in management fees not to abandon the property.

b) The tenants are reeemed with as many rent hikes as we could get away with before tenants moved out.  

c) We permitted as little to be spent on building maintainance as we could get away with.

The bottom line is both the owner and tenants get hosed so the property can gin up as much revenue for the bank as possible. And yes, if contract debt service still exceeds net revenue, the debt piles up.

I'm sure there are tenements in this predicament on Chicago's South Side.  There's a very real possibility the whole country ends up that way, unless we are convinced Beijing will be the world's most benign banker.  Otherwise, welcome huge tax hikes and poor public services so we can service foreign debt.

As for myself, I prefer not to depend on the kindness of strangers.

Obama demands action now. without considering the consequences. Perhaps, because like Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story II. "he's always sure"

He just never bothers to explain why.


The Stimulus scam: In the long run our economy will be, not dead, but worse

Just caught this latest CBO critique of the "stimulus" bill. Problem is, after a decade passes, the U.S. economy is actually smaller than if we passed no bill at all.

Of course, if your sole concern is trying to maximise domestic employment in the first week of November 2012 at all costs, screwing up the economy for your successor probably isn't that big a deal.

Bet won't cite THIS in their astroturf letters.

FYI; The title here is a paraphrase of a famous Keynes quote


How the Obama Stimulus Plan is the Best Thing to Ever Happen to the GOP

Rasmussen Reports, one of the two most accurate polling firms in predicting the outcome of the 2008 Presidential Race, has come out with a series of new polling numbers the last couple of days that should come as welcome news for the Republican Party. It all has to do with one thing: the opposition to Barack Obama’s so-called “stimulus” package that has been described as a “piñata” and a “rotting corpse”.

In other words, the American people, who were once for the Obama stimulus plan, are now suddenly against it. For the first time, the support for the Obama plan has fallen below the number of those who oppose it (37% support it versus 43% opposing it). Why? There are 50% of Americans who believe that the plan will make the economy worse.

The end result is that this is becoming a huge shot in the arm for the Republicans who are in opposition to the Obama stimulus plan. For the first time since early December of last year, the Generic Congressional Ballot shows the Republicans within four points of the Democrats (42% to 38%) and more than half of all Americans (54%) think Congress is doing a “poor” job while only 12% think Congress is doing an “excellent” or “good” job (that’s beginning to rival Rod Blagojevich territory when Blago had a 7% approval rating back in December). 

If the Democrats, led by House Speaker Nancy “Margaret Hamilton” Pelosi want to become a minority party again by 2010 and 2012, all they need to do is to keep doing what they are currently doing. 

In the House vote, every Republican and 11 Democrats voted against the plan, but it was not enough to stop the plan from passing the House. In the Senate, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has tried to reassemble the “Gang of 14” to get any stimulus plan passed. It’s more a sign of desperation instead of bipartisanship. 

Before our eyes, the plan’s details, namely the pork-barrel projects, are being decried. There was money for contraception which has now been removed. There is money for a discus golf course in Austin, Texas. There is money for Shreveport, Louisiana to purchase eight Harley-Davidson motorcycles for the police department. There is money for a dog park in Chula Vista, California. And, of all places, Las Vegas is asking for $2 million for more neon signs. 

As the days go by, the American people are waking up to what is really going on in Washington and it flies in the face of the “change” that President Obama’s campaign was all about. Instead, Obama should have just cut out the Barbara Streisand (B.S.) and just campaigned on “Politics as usual”. 

Obama's Cartoonanomics, Part I. The Apprentice to FDR and LBJ's sorcerer

As the father of a young-ish boy, I have had some Disney videos permanently hardwired into my conciousness. Ironically, the more attention I pay to current events in Washington and Wall Street, the more applicable they become.

I noticed this little gem of spending tucked into the House "stimulus package"

Let's see :$88 million to build new schools in a city with 15 vacant schools and declining enrollment But this is what liberals do. They start programs that will never end, even after the initial problem they were meant to address has long since passed., or in the case of Milwaukee, simply assume from hundreds of miles away the city needs new schools even if the locals have no need for them. This classic cartoon explains what happens when liberals start spending money, and the Obama plan is just the latest and most monumental example.  Yes, long after the well is filled the liberal "brooms" keep filling it with water. And in our case, the "water" is paid for with borrowed money from Beijing which future taxpayers will need to pay back with interest.

A Tale of Two Metropolitan Areas: Part Two

The Pittsburgh Metro Area

Allegheny County: Population (2000): 1,281,666, McCain 2008 Percentage: 41.6%

Allegheny County is the most populous county in Western Pennsylvania, containing the City of Pittsburgh and the majority of its suburbs.  Pittsburgh has roughly one-fourth of the county's population and because of it, Allegheny County is almost always Democratic.  McCain did slightly worse than Bush in 2004, but only by about one percentage point.  Pittsburgh has been unthinkingly Democratic since the Great Depression and nothing in the future looks to change that.

The longest developed and most densely populated corridor of the county is the area to the east of the city, and is mostly a Democratic area.  Penn Hills, the second largest municipality in Southwestern Pennsylvania, is nearly 2 to 1 Democratic.  Monroeville is a middle-class suburb that Obama narrowly won.  The most Republican part of this area is Plum Township, a partly rural area that gave McCain 56 percent of the vote.

To the direct south is the Monongahela Valley, perhaps the embodiment of the Rust Belt.  There are river communities that have less than half the residents they had fifty years ago.  The Mon Valley went in two different directions in the past election.  The municipalities with large African-American populations were among the places that moved towards Obama.  Places like Duquesne, McKeesport, Clairton, and Braddock only increased their heavy Democratic tilt.  But other municipalities went the other way.  Some of the greatest Republican increases occured in the Mon Valley.  McCain ran nearly nine points better than Bush did in 2004 in Port Vue and eight points better in Glassport.  There has been a noticable change among some in the Mon Valley.

West of the Mon Valley is the South Hills, Pittsburgh's southern suburbs.  These suburbs are on balance Republican, but with definite variations.  The suburbs adjoining to Pittsburgh, like Mt. Lebanon and Baldwin, are narrowly Democratic.  Mt. Lebanon is a distressing case for Republicans, as it is one of the richest suburbs in the area.  To the south, middle-class Bethel Park gave McCain about 55 percent of the vote.  Upper St. Clair, which is very affluent, is still strongly Republican, but did experience a bit of a decline since last election.  One success story was in Jefferson Hills, a middle-class suburb that experienced a four percent bump for McCain.

Continuing clockwise, the western suburbs are the least developed part of the county, containing solid middle-class suburbs in the shadows of Pittsburgh International Airport.  Like most of Pittsburgh's suburbs, they are marginally Republican.  The story here is how static the vote was in the area.  The largest suburbs, like Moon, Findlay, and North Fayette Townships were within a point of 2004 voting patterns.  McCain did show slight improvement in Robinson Township and had a strong increase in Kennedy Township, a first-tier suburb.

Finally, there is the large swath of land north of the Allegheny and Ohio Rivers.  There is a northwest quadrant composed of river towns and the millionaire colony in Sewickley Heights.  Sewickley Heights gave McCain 66 percent of the vote, a great total until you realize that Bush received 71 percent four years ago.  The river towns are now swing territory, which is a Republican accomplishment in itself.  They showed no real trend as compared to 2004.  A similar northeast quadrant is based around the baronial estates of Fox Chapel and other smaller communities.  Fox Chapel, the wealthiest community in Pennsylvania west of the Main Line, was home to the biggest Republican decline over the past four years.  There was a near eight point drop-off in four years.  This is in line with the general Republican decline with the wealthy.

Most of the population north of the rivers is part of the North Hills.  The first-tier suburbs of Ross and Shaler are slightly Republican and showed no change over four years.  The farther out, upper-middle class suburbs are more Republican.  For example, Pine and Marshall Townships are over 60 percent Republican, but were about three percent less Republican than 2004.  Here, we do see some slippage among the affluent like everywhere else in the country, but not as dramatic as the Philadelphia area.

Close GITMO, Open Amchitka



by Lance Thompson


The new occupant of the cornerless office wants to close the terrorist detention center at Guantanamo Bay. At last, here is an issue I agree with him on.

Guantanamo Bay is a terrible place to imprison terrorists who want to kill Americans. It’s a tropical paradise with great food, comfortable accommodations and culturally sensitive religious services. It’s cleaner and more pleasant than the countries of origin of any of the inmates, and is far too good for them.

If we’re really looking for an appropriate place to house terrorists, I nominate Amchitka. This Aleutian island in the ice-dotted Bering Sea is United States territory, but less temperate than the Caribbean paradise that is Guantanamo. There are 100-mph winds called williwaws that blow from every direction and were strong enough to bend steel runway mats into pretzel-like modern art during World War II. When the wind dies down, the rocky, treeless volcanic island is shrouded in freezing fog or pelted by rain or hail. There are American military bases nearby, but escapees are not a concern. Even if an enterprising fence-hopper could swim ten miles through the frigid waters of the Bering Sea to the nearest land, it would simply reach aptly-named Rat Island where unchecked rodents have devoured the sea birds that once nested there. Amchitka has already served the United States as a military base and a location for underground nuclear tests, so it would be the perfect home away from home for unrepentant jihadists.

If the island of the midnight sun sounds too chilly for our sensitive prisoners of the terror war, sun-baked California and Nevada deserts also offer perfect locations for detention. Both states have large desolate regions designated as military test ranges, where our armed services practice firing their precision munitions. A sturdy dormitory in the center of one of these bombing ranges would offer a warmer climate, if somewhat noisier than Amchitka. Our military pilots and air controllers would be able to sharpen their skills by obliterating targets all around the facility, thus making escape a “you-bet-your-life” proposition. Of course, if the inmates’ housing facility were inadvertently leveled by a miscalculation, then obviously that soldier, sailor or Marine would require further training.

The tourist attraction of the abandoned federal prison on Alcatraz Island has also been mentioned as a possible Gitmo stand-in. It already has prison buildings and infrastructure, though it is cold and drafty, and I personally wouldn’t want to drink any water provided by the century-and-a-half-old plumbing. The facility is famously escape-proof, although I believe Clint Eastwood pulled it off once in the late 70's. A devout Islamic terrorist would never dare escape from the island to the city of San Francisco, lest that city’s well-known tolerance of sexual deviants precipitate an encounter that would disqualify him from his eternal reward.

I also understand that Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona volunteered to take the Gitmo homeless terrorists. But putting prisoners in tents, issuing them pink underwear, denying them cable television and internet connections, and forcing them to eat pbj sandwiches and apples for lunch like common criminals would probably be considered torture under the new rules, so I assume that possibility has been shelved.

Nonetheless, 250 terrorist prisoners, properly employed, could be a real boost to our economy. There are many worthwhile projects that have incredibly not been included in the stimulus bill that are awaiting manpower. For example, the Grand Canyon is inconveniently located in Arizona, favoring residents of the West. Gitmo grads could be put to work installing a new, man-made Grand Canyon at a more convenient site–perhaps in the featureless plains of the Midwest. With government-provided shovels and supervision, I’m sure the prisoners could make a good start long before their indefinite sentences expired.

Likewise, we are almost certain to experience another brutal hurricane season on the Gulf Coast. The Gitmo guys could be put to work building a levee from Texas to Florida, again with proper supervision. As an alternate, they could use their inherent familiarity with the desert to perform a related function–filling sand bags. Both of these projects would provide fresh air, exercise and also serve to make the prisoners too weary to escape.

So I join the President in looking forward to the closing of Guantanamo Bay. It is time we stopped coddling the enemies of this country, call off their government-subsidized vacations, and put them in facilities that properly reward their efforts. At least until their rooms are ready in the infernal regions.


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