Friday, April 29, 2011

Gas Prices, China, India, and The Failure To Plan Strategically

Are you ticked off about high gasoline prices? It is quite possible that you have not seen anything yet:

- The St. Petersburg Times recently published some gasoline information from the Energy Information Administration (from 2009, the last year data is available):
  • China consumed about 8.32 million barrels of oil a day in 2009.
  • To feed this demand, it produced 3.99 million barrels a day and imported 4.23 million barrels a day.
  • In 2011, 40% of the year over year demand growth for oil will be caused by China.
  • This translates into an additional 600,000 barrels a day in Chinese oil consumption vs. the U.S., whose consumption will rise only 130,000 barrels. In other words, the growth in oil usage in China will be almost five times the growth in U.S. usage.
  • At his rate, a rough estimate would say that within 20 years or so, Chinese demand for oil will be comparable to the United States demand.
In all likelihood this last point would never happen since the suppliers of oil would have trouble keeping up with the growing demand. When supply is constrained and demand keeps going up, the only lever left to change is price which could soar.

- China is not the only potential driver of sky high oil prices. The Indian car company, Tata, has big plans for its extremely low end, basic car, the Nano. Costing only $2,500, it is no where close to a luxury car. However, given the growing affluence of many Indians and the fact that auto ownership is only about 10 cars per 1,000 people (compared to the United States where auto ownership is about 750 cars per 1,000 people), the low penetration of ownership combined with wealth growth and the right price point all point to explosive growth in demand for oil in one of the world's most populated nations.

This should have the same effect as with China. Much higher demand, limited supplies means price pressure.

- Oil is not the only energy challenge. According to a Newsweek article from 2007, as reported by Fareed Zakara, and cited in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government":
  • China and India will build 800 new coal burning plants by 2012.
  • These new plants will burn nine hundred million tons of coal every year.
  • This burning will dump an additional 2.5 billion of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere on an annual basis.
  • According to the article, if all of the countries that signed the original Kyoto Global warming treaty lived up their commitments, which few if any did, the reduction from the treaty would reduce carbon dioxide production by only 483 tons, roughly on fifth of what China and India will dump into the atmosphere just from their incremental coal plants.
Since America gets a lot of its electricity from coal plants, if you dramatically increase demand elsewhere in the world, the likelihood of price increases in this country are very high.

Not good news. No matter how much we curtail demand here in the U.S., it is unlikely that the overall demand for energy or the environmental impact will be much reduced, given the powerful economic growth around the world. Unless something is done, $4.00 a gallon will seem like the good old days.

But nothing is being done:
  • The President wants to get one million all electric cars on the nation's roads by 2015. But that would represent less than one percent of all cars being used.
  • The President wants to end run Congress since he did not get his way on cap and trade, by using the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases. However, it makes no sense to damage the U.S. economy with onerous and expensive regulation when the real future energy and pollution hogs/culprits are India and China. Thus, not only would the EPA regulation increase energy costs for everyone but it would have no significant environment impact, given the growth in greenhouse gases elsewhere.
  • Congress keeps increasing the average auto fuel economy targets but ensures that the targets do not take effect for years and years to come in order to not endanger their re-election chances.
  • The President and others have this pipe dream of building out a high speed rail system for the country but that is all it is, a pipe dream. First, the vast majority of drivers in this country do not need high speed rail to get to work or play. Second, we have over 100 years invested in our auto infrastructure, it would take decades to replace it with any kind of rail system. Third, given the financial fiasco that is Amtrak, there is no reason to believe that a high speed rail system run by the Federal government would be anything but a financial loser.
We should be much further ahead, strategically, in this area. Lord knows we have had enough warning since the oil embargo shocks happened almost forty years ago. In that time, the political class has done nothing to prepare the country for this crises. Oil and coal are the major components of our energy mix and that energy mix has increasingly been dependent on foreign oil sources, sources that are now in higher demand from China and India. What makes us think that our politicians can do any better in the next forty years, we have had no indication that they know how to think strategically and as a result, we are that much more closer of coveting $4.00 a gallon of gas.

What is needed is a whole new paradigm of thinking in this area. We need breakthrough thinking, not the tiny incremental thinking our political class has delivered in this area, if at all. Rather than centralized energy sources, maybe we need to look at decentralized energy generation and storage. The Internet is a thing of beauty because it is so decentralized, maybe that is the model we should be looking at as opposed to massive, centralized coal power plants. Maybe we should be looking at local solar and wind, not massive solar or wind fields.

Maybe what we need is a massive emphasis, a Manhattan style focus, to find a way to make cars several times more efficient which would strategically utilize existing infrastructure. This would pre-empt the need for totally new infrastructure, e.g. high speed rail, that is unlikely to be cost efficient, utilized, and profitable.

Maybe what we need is a break through approach to burning coal since coal is not going away, given the demand for cheap electricity in China and India.

However, what we really need is to get the politicians and embedded industry lobbyists out of the equation. Their lack of success in this area precludes giving them many more chances.

Three steps in "Love My Country, Loathe My Government," Steps 23, 24, and 25 would be the processes needed to get started and would address the issues discussed above. We need to think entirely differently than we have ever as it relates to energy. Why? Because with the rise of China and India, the world is entirely different than it has ever been before. By not changing our approach and way of thinking, we are actually moving backwards vs. the rest of the world. However, our political class is entirely the same as it was in during the 1970s oil crises, ineffective, self serving, and unable to think strategically.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect

freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Thursday, April 28, 2011

An Oprah Presidency With a View

In the past week, at least 250 Americans have been killed (AP -April 28, 2011) from deadly tornadoes that ravaged the southeastern United States. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

In the past week, storms and tornados have left upwards of one million Americans in Alabama without power. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

In the past few days, untold numbers of homes, businesses, churches, and public buildings in the southeastern part of the country have been destroyed by tornadoes. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

In the past day, President Obama produced a copy of his birth certificate to prove he was a legally born American resident, stating that this should put an end to the silliness and distraction that this issue had become and which no longer needed to be talked about. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers where he continued to talk about his birth certificate.

In the past week in the Middle East, hundreds of Syrians have been killed by their government, dozens of Yemeni citizens have been killed by their government, a terrorist bombing killed 14 foreign visitors in Morocco, hundreds have been killed in renewed Sudan fighting, the Libyan fighting has become a stalemate, and a new poll reports a majority of Egyptians want to void their peace treaty with Israel. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

Earlier today, the government reported that first quarter GDP for the country was up only 1.8% and that first time weekly unemployment claims rose again, both the one week number and the four week moving average number. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic Party fundraisers in New York City.

This week, gasoline prices continued to hover around the four dollar mark, depending on where you lived in the country. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

In the past week, the Federal government spent $31 billion more than it collected in revenue, incurring a one week debt of about $271 for every U.S. household. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic party fundraisers in New York City.

Today, we are one more day closer to the mid-May date for defaulting on our national debt unless the political class reaches an agreement that would raise the government's debt ceiling, an agreement that is nowhere in sight. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple Democratic Party fundraisers in New York City.

In the past week, many public schools continued to not educate America's kids, our borders are still not secure, we still have no national energy policy, we continued to lose the war on drugs, food prices in many categories continue to rise, health care costs continue to rise, Social Security and Medicare continue marching towards financial insolvency, and millions and millions of Americans are unemployed. Yesterday, President Obama went on the Oprah Winfrey show and attended multiple fundraisers in New York City.

You get the point. The country and its citizens are suffering, and the President seems to be in perpetual campaign mode, not perpetual President mode. Now, some might say that he is being Presidential by connecting with the nation in new ways. That he is exploring new media to connect with the country and its citizens. I say that he is wasting valuable time and stroking his own ego.

I would rather he connect with the nation by addressing and solving issues and not going on the View in the midst of the Gulf oil spill disaster last July, when Americans on the Gulf are suffering environmentally and economically as a result of the spill. I would rather he at least give the appearance of working on issues rather than filming a television commercial for the George Lopez show.  I would rather he show some concern for the unemployed rather than taking time to develop his March Madness basketball brackets and picks and then sharing them via ESPN telecasts multiple times.  I would rather he at least fake some empathy for the killed and hurt citizens in the states hit by the bad weather and tornados rather than going on Oprah and collecting campaign funds.

 But that is just me. If someone thinks that the President is helping the country by answering softball lob questions from Oprah and the women on The View, that is their right. As I view his performance on these shows, it seems more like he his just selling himself and not even trying to sell his policies. I would rather see him get hardball, fastball, issue-related pitches under his chin from real, veteran journalists or concerned Americans who might not stroke his ego or allow him to get away with generic, self-gratifying non-specific answers.

For once, I wish he would stop being a politician and start being a President and a leader. Until he does that, I have to assume that he does not know how. If that is the case, then he will end up with an Oprah Presidential legacy, all fluff and very little substance but very popular with the midday television crowd.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect
freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

So You Want To Be My Latex Salesman - Continued

Last year we did a well received post entitled: "So You Want To be My Latex Salesman." For those that are Seinfeld fans, you probably immediately understood the reference to a Seinfeld TV show episode where Jerry says the line to George Costanza. I will not explain the set up here but the line is said in a very sarcastic tone, implying that given George's incompetence, Jerry would never hire George to do anything for him.

As an update to that post, consider some of the latest insanity, madness, and wastefulness from all of levels of the American political class:

- In an article from the April 29, 2011 issue of the The Week magazine, it reported that the U.S. Postal Service has admitted that a special stamp to honor the 125th anniversary of the Statue of Liberty used not an image from the real Statue of Liberty in New York but mistakenly used an image from the Statue of Liberty replica in the New York-New York casino in Las Vegas. The mistake was noticed after untold millions of stamps, with the wrong image, had already been printed.

All right, it is not a big deal by itself. Incompetence maybe, but no big deal. But after the sleeping air traffic controllers scandal, SEC employees you searched for Internet porn all day while the economy crashed, and a bunch of other government mishaps, it makes you wonder:  if the Federal government cannot even get the picture of the Statue of Liberty right on a Statue of Liberty commemorative stamp, do you really want these types of people and politicians in charge of your retirement, your medical coverage, national defense and your latex sales? It is not as if we are talking about a picture of a long dead historical figure that nobody knows, we are talking about an icon of the United States.

Even worse, a spokesperson for the Post Office is quoted as saying: "We still love the stamp design and would have selected this photograph anyway."  Sure, talk about a lame excuse, you screwed up, man up and take the blame.

- In this time of high unemployment, failing public schools, and tight government budgets, you would hope that those in office would be working hard on addressing and remedying these serious problems. Apparently, the folks in Thornton, Colorado have already solved these major problems and have moved on. An article from the April 29, 2011 issue of The Week magazine reported that their city council had approved a ban on spinning barbershop poles outside of barbershops, You know the iconic poles with red, white and blue stripes that revolve around a light.

The article states that these symbols have been around since medieval times. However, the town of Thornton believes that they are now a traffic hazard to motorists. For hundreds of years they were not a traffic hazard, all of a sudden they are? Glad Thornton is taking the lead on this issue while their citizens continue to suffer from high unemployment, bad schools, and tight budgets.

- At the state level, the state of New York has gone one better than Thornton. New York is one of the worst states from a fiscal perspective, having to cut billions and billions of dollars from the state government budget to stay solvent. They also are facing the same issues facing the rest of America including high unemployment, failing public schools, lower budgets, etc.

However, their state legislature has been busy passing a new law that designates such games as Wiffle ball, tag, and horseshoes as "nonpassive recreational activities with significant risk of injury." The passage of this law allows local New York health officials to regulate these activities in their respective communities.

Can you imagine? Politicians and government workers out and about regulating games of tag and Wiffle ball?  If they are actually out performing these regulation tasks they certainly can be fired to save budget money and if they are fired, I am not going to hire them to be my latex salesmen.

- A New York Times article from the St. Petersburg Times from several months ago reported on a computer programmer named Dennis Montgomery. Mr Montgomery claimed he had developed a piece of software that would help the government catch terrorists. In the aftermath and paranoia of 9-11, he actually made some inroads and sales to the CIA.

However, by 2003 the CIA came to believe that the software program that Montgomery was peddling was a fake. However, they never passed that information on to any other branch of the government. As a result, Montgomery continued to sell the technology/software to other parts of the Federal government including the Air Force that paid $3 million to Montgomery six years later in 2009. They paid out this sum even though one of their own purchasing officers rang the alarm bell that other parts of the government were at least skeptical about the product.

This is bad enough, a government that has gotten so large that even when it identifies fraud it cannot communicate the danger to other wings of the government. But even worse, the article concludes with a reference to a recent study that determined the Pentagon had paid out $285 BILLION to more than 120 contractors accused of fraud or wrongdoing in just three years. The President lamely wants to reduce Pentagon spending by $400 billion over 12 years. Heck, just fixing this one problem would get him 71% of the way there without harming national security at all.

- A Miami Herald article from the April 15, 2011 issue of the St. Petersburg Times reported that a Miami couple pleaded guilty to bilking Medicare out of $200 million. They owned and operated a sham mental health care company that provided unnecessary, illegal or no health care services to patients, many of whom were in on the scam via kickbacks. The Feds had already confiscated the couple's assets, worth about $7 million. These assets included luxury cars, real estate, and jewelry.

I think it is great these folks got caught and will possibly go to jail for 20 years along with some of their accomplices. However, two questions. First, why did it take so long to identify these people as crooks? Shouldn't the sheer volume of Medicare charges they were collecting have triggered an audit long before the taxpayer was out $200 million? Second, how many other scams like this are going on and are the George Costanzas of the Federal political class capable enough to find these fraud also?

- With high unemployment, one would have thought that the political class and the government it runs would be doing everything it can to help private business create or keep jobs on our shores for our citizens. However, the Briefing section of the March 25, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, reported that this is not the case.

The title of the Briefing was "Where America's Jobs Went." The distressing part of the report was the assertion that the Internal Revenue Service allows companies that move their U.S. manufacturing capability overseas to deduct the cost of closing their domestic factories on their U.S. income taxes.

Adding insult  to injury, if a U.S. company earns profits overseas, it does not have to pay U.S. taxes on those profits to the American taxpayer as long as the company keeps those profits off shore. This, in turn, encourages companies to invest overseas, not domestically, in order to avoid the tax burden. Thus, the political class not only pays for factories to close and move off shore but we also encourages them to continue to invest offshore. Insanity.

If you combine these latest Costanza examples with the myriad of others including a failed war on drugs, failing public schools, no national energy policy, leaky borders, skyrocketing health care costs, no nuclear waste storage plan, crumbling infrastructure, an aimless NASA, and a whole host of other failures, you start to realize: how much worse could George Costanza do relative to what our political class has done or not done over the past five decades? He might not make a good latex salesman but he might make a pretty good politician, it appears to be a pretty low bar. 

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect

freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Taxes, Fairness, and Utopia

Hardly a day goes by lately without President Obama or some leader in the Democratic Party claiming that the Bush tax cuts for those Americans making more than $250,000 a year need to be restored in order to make our income tax system "fairer." They seem to think that they know best how to measure what "fair" is and that involves making the wealthier pay more than they have paid over the past eight years or so.

Now, you may think that those making more than $250,000 a year need to pay more in taxes and that's fine, it is your opinion. However, there is another aspect to "fair" that Obama and many politicians seem to overlook:

  • According to the Tax Foundation, in 2006, before the recession hit, a whopping 41% of American Federal tax filers paid nothing in Federal income taxes or actually got a check from the Federal government in addition to paying nothing in income taxes.
  • According to the Tax Policy Center of the Brookings Institute in cooperation with the Urban Institute, in 2009, after the recession, 45% of American tax filers paid no Federal income taxes.
  • According to an April, 2010 Associated Press report, in 2009, 10% of American tax filers accounted for about 73% of all Federal income taxes.
  • According to the National Taxpayer Union, in 2008, 1% of Americans paid for 38% of all Federal income taxes, 5% paid for 59% of all Federal income taxes, and 10% paid for 70%.
  • During the Bush administration years, the number of American tax filers not paying anything in Federal income taxes rose dramatically from the long term average of about 25% to the current levels of about 45%, indicating that not only did the wealthier benefit from the Bush tax cuts but about 20% of the U.S. population went from paying income taxes to getting money for filing taxes.
Some people would say that although almost half of the households and tax filers did not pay Federal income taxes, they did have to pay a myriad of other taxes including Medicare, Social Security, sales taxes, and state and local income taxes. This is true, but so did those that actually paid Federal income taxes, they also had to pay all of these other taxes. 

If Obama and his crowd want to talk fairness, I find it a little hypocritical that almost half of the adults in this country can get a free ride on Federal tax expenditures on such things as education, defense, infrastructure, FEMA, government agencies such as the SEC, FAA, FCC, etc. and other Federal government services. They paid no taxes to fund these services yet get all of the advantages of using them. In most logical and fair thinking people's minds, that is not fair, it is called freeloading.

Again, if you think that the wealthier in this country need to pay more in income taxes, that is your right and your opinion. However, it is also my right to believe that if you are receiving something of value, you should be paying for that value. The bigger issue has to do with the suicidal path we are on as it applies to our fiscal solvency as a nation. If half of the country is not feeling the pain of deficit spending, why should they get excited about fixing the problem? Life is good the way it is from their perspective. This is not conducive to solving our national debt problem.

This is where the utopia reference comes in. In a a fair and just world, everyone pays their fair share. However, we do not live in utopia and fair is a very subjective measure. Republicans would look at the above numbers and say that those paying the load of Federal income taxes are already paying too much. The Democrats would say that the wealthy are not paying enough in spite of the above numbers. As a result, there is never any meaningful and fair tax reformation undertaken and the country hurdles towards a financial disaster.

In the absence of utopia, how about the following solution for the current income tax chaos:

- The Bush tax cuts are restored for those Americans making more than $250,000 a year as Obama desperately and irrationally fixates on. Remember, that doing this will increase income taxes received by the Federal government by about $70 billion and reduce a typical annual Obama budget deficit by only about 5%, not a big impact on our debt.

- However, as a condition for this tax increase, that extra $70 billion would never get into the hands of the political class. It would go directly to a Treasury Department virtual "lock box" which is untouchable by any politician. The Treasury Department would use the funds solely to pay down our nation's debt.

- For all Americans, both individuals and businesses, that receive money for filing their taxes and pay nothing in income taxes because of the current tax code, they would have to rebate back, via their tax forms, half of what they would have received from the Federal government. For example, if you were to net $1,000 from the Federal income tax code (i.e. you would be paying no Federal income taxes and getting $1,000 anyway due to tax breaks), you would have to pay back half of that $1,000 or $500. That $500 would go into the same Treasury account created above and the $500 used to pay down the debt.

How much would this generate? Finding the right numbers has proven impossible so let's try an estimate by a "what if" approach. What if we assume there are about 135 million tax returns filed every year (that number can be estimated by online sources), what if we assume that 45% pay no Federal income taxes and many receive money anyway from the Federal government, and if we assume that the average amount of money received is $1,000, then putting these assumptions together would generate about $30 billion a year. If the amount of money received is only $500, then this approach would generate about $15 billion a year. Not earth shattering relative to our national debt but it would certainly get the message across that everyone has to contribute to solving the debt problem.

- Both tax actions would self destruct once either a balanced budget amendment was passed  by the Federal political class or spending was reduced to such a level as generally viewed to be sustainable relative to GDP.

There are a number of advantages to such an approach. First, it would bypass all of the political posturing and inaction that we are cursed with from our politicians. Second, it would put every American's financial situation into the pot, no more of the rich paying under the lower Bush tax cut rates and no more of any American tax filer not feeling some pain of paying income taxes. Third, it would encourage taxpayers to put leveraged pressure on those in power to finally fix our out of control spending since until that happens, everyone in America would be paying more in taxes.

This approach would also apply to corporations and businesses.  A few weeks ago (source: The Week magazine, April 8, 2011), it became known that in collusion with the political class, General Electric had $14.2 billion in worldwide profits in 2010 but because of various tax breaks, it not only paid no Federal income tax but it received a $3.2 billion tax refund from the Federal government.

Under this proposed scenario, that $3.2 billion refund would immediately be reduced by $1.6 billion and that $1.6 billion would be used to pay down the debt. This approach would obviously encourage General Electric and other such businesses and companies to also pressure Washington to get its fiscal house in order quickly in order to eliminate this charge. $1.6 billion from just one company is more than 5% of the $30 billion discussed above. Thus, very quickly, once you add in those not paying any income taxes at all, personal and business, and those earning over $250,000 a year, you start to generate some significant revenue to pay down the debt.

A great plan. Politicians do not get more of our money to wastefully spend, there is an accounting fail safe process to actually pay down some debt, all Americans and all Americans businesses now have skin in the national debt game, and this skin in the game leverages everyone to pressure Washington to finally act to fix the budget process and address our debt problems. It is not utopia but at least it has a chance of working. Waiting for our political class to enact overarching fair tax reform is utopian thinking and thus, unlikely to ever happen.

[Full disclosure note: I am not anywhere close to earning over $250,000 a year in case you think I am only looking out for my own best interest. For our latest tax return we fell into the 15% bracket and paid money to the Federal government for Federal income taxes for year 2010.]

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect
freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Another Leadership Opportunity...Missed

Leadership is like good advertising - tough to describe but you know it when you see it. However, examples of leadership usually include a few common characteristics like courage, sacrifice, inspiration, and boldness. We would hope the politicians running the country would display some type of leadership in these troubled times to give us at least a slim sliver of hope that they know what they are doing. However, that rarely happens and, unfortunately, with the filing of his taxes, President Obama missed a golden opportunity to act in a leadership mode for once.

But first, a little background. the President has shown this unhealthy obsession with revoking the so-called Bush tax cuts for those American families earning over $250,000 a year, claiming that they make too much money and they should pay more in taxes to help reduce the deficit. There are a number of troubling problems with his stance:

1) First, no one in any position of power in this country should say an American makes "too much" money if that American worked for it in a hard and honest way. This is the land of opportunity, if you can earn more than the average worker by being smarter or working harder, some politician should not be the arbiter of telling you that you make too much.

2) Second, the President never says that these increased taxes will be directly set aside to pay down the debt and the deficit. The increased taxes will just go to the government and the political class that operates it, which will undoubtedly spend it it on wasteful projects. He would have had a lot more credibility if he set up a virtual lock box for the increased taxes, forcing those increased revenues directly into a Treasury account whose sole purpose is to immediately pay down the debt. Giving it to the political class is no better than flushing it away.

3) Third, even if you raised taxes on those earning over $250,000 in 2011, it would hardly make a dent in the deficit. This year's deficit and the wasteful spending that goes into it will be about $1.5 TRILLION. If those American families earning more than $250,000 in 2011 were taxed at the pre-Bush tax cut level, which is only a few percentage points higher, only about $70 billion would be generated in tax revenue. Thus, if the President got his way, this year's deficit would be reduced by less than 5%, assuming that the politicians in Washington did not spend it.

Obama's obsession with this idea is nothing more than his typical class warfare, trying to energize his base, demonize a set of other Americans, for an end purpose that is trivial in the big picture. Denigrating high earners, giving politicians more money to waste, and ignoring bigger spending and waste issues that would reduce the deficit by far more than 5% is not operating from a leadership position. His obsession is not courageous, sacrificing, inspiring, or bold, it is Chicago style politics. However, wherever he goes, he continues to harp on this relatively minor issue.

Which brings us to his 2010 tax returns, the details of which come from an April 18, 2011 Associated Press article:
  • The President reported income of $1.73 million in 2010, down from $5.5 million in 2009.
  • He paid $453,770 in Federal income taxes, about 25% of his income.
  • He made more than $245,075 in charitable donations, about 14.25 of his income, quite a healthy level of charity.
  • His family had a $49,945 home mortgage interest deduction for their home in Chicago, indicating that they are not house poor by any stretch of the imagination.
  • Not only are they not house poor, for four years they have no utility bills, no car insurance payments, no homeowners insurance bills, and no food bills. They are living the good life for sure.
However, the President missed a golden opportunity at leadership: what if he had overpaid his taxes to the tune of the pre-Bush tax cuts levels? Now that would have been bold and inspiring, he would have been walking the walk of his obsession, paying more in taxes since he obviously earns more than $250,000. He could have gone to the country and said: "Look, I am doing my part, paying more than I have to pay, paying more to the level of what I told the country they need to do."

But, alas, likely many other blown leadership opportunities, the President blew this one also. If my math is right the President and his family would have paid another $65,000 or so in Federal income taxes if he had operated from a position of leadership. And the U.S. Treasury would have accepted his gift of extra taxes and would have directed it to paying down the national debt. According to the Treasury's website,, they have had a program for many years that allows Americans to contribute more than they legally owe to pay down the national debt.

The other interesting side note to this whole obsession is the assertion that the President has made more than once that the rich in this country "want" to pay more in taxes. He never provides a source for this data and conclusion, just asserts it as if it is a fact. His creditability takes another hit in this area if you look at the Treasury website cited above. In 2010, Americans intentionally overpaid their Federal income taxes, to help pay down the debt, by about $2.8 million. This comes out to less than $.01 per American. 

I find it hard to believe that rich Americans are dying to pay more in taxes, like the President claims, when less than $3 million a year is ponied up for that purpose. Heck, if only the President had paid to the pre Bush tax cut levels, he himself would have increased the annual size of this pot of money by more than 2%. Thus, I must conclude that even if the rich "want" to pay more in taxes, they certainly have not backed up that "want" with real money and neither has the President.

He filed his taxes just like every other American: not courageously, not with great sacrifice, not inspirationally, and not boldly. A missed opportunity at real leadership. But that should not surprise us. I cannot think of any instance in the past two plus years where he has acted any differently than how he acted on his taxes this year. Not one time where he stood up and faced down the hard choices that would make the country better, more unified, and got it moving in a positive direction. It is just his same old style, typical politics time after time.

Unfortunately, given these trying times, being timid, selfish, not inspirational, and leading from the rear is not what we need today. I will know leadership when I see it and everywhere on our political class horizon I am coming up empty.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Excuse Mr. President, But No Kids With Autism Are Affected by These Spending Cuts

Mr. President:

I was quite disappointed by your speech recently regarding the out-of-control government spending levels and our skyrocketing national debt. In what should have been a call for unity and action across all Americans, you took the opportunity to make some crass political points. You belittled Republicans in the audience, that your staff invited, in an ambush attack that was loathsome, mean-spirited and based on no sense of reality.

Rather than debating issues and providing an alternative to their detailed plans, you came up way short, acting only like a politician. Your speech did not nothing to improve the country's financial situation.

However, the worst part of your speech was your statement that American kids with autism and Down Syndrome would suffer tremendously if the Republican plan was adopted. This is the lowest of the low, using disadvantaged Americans as props for your political gain. You provided no proof that the Republican spending cuts would affect these kids so directly and if this statement is in fact true, you provided no budget alternatives that would reduce the budget in other areas while protecting these kids. Despicable behavior in my view.

And behavior that is not true. If protecting kids with autism and Down Syndrome is so important to you, I suggest you consider the following spending cuts that will have absolutely no impact on these kids, or most ordinary Americans:

1) Your sparse budget reduction ideas in your speech said that you would reduce the Pentagon budget by $400 billion over twelve years (why you went to twelve years is a mystery to me when everything else you have talked about is in ten year increments). This comes out to about $33 billion a year or about 5% of the overall Pentagon budget. Such a low level is unacceptable, especially when you consider the following, approximate foreign U.S. troop deployment:

Iraq: 50,000
Germany: 54,000
South Korea: 30,000
Japan: 30,000
Total: 164,000

Your administration has stated that it costs a million dollars a year per soldier to deploy one soldier to a combat zone. Since the above 164,000 troops are not in a combat zone, let's assume it costs half of that $1 million to deploy them overseas in a non-combat zone.

Thus, if agree that we do not need 54,000 troops in Germany to protect western Europe any more, if we agree that we do not need to support South Korea's defense any more since they have one of the strongest economies in the world along with mandatory armed forces service, if we agree that Japan is unlikely to attack us anytime soon, and you finally fulfill your campaign promise to withdrawal ALL U.S. troops from Iraq, then the Federal government and the Pentagon could save $82 billion a year or $984 billion over twelve years. Just these four troop movements would more than double your feeble Pentagon reduction plan of $400 billion, without harming our national defense, and not one kid with autism or Down Syndrome would be affected.

2) But wait, there are more Pentagon savings to be had. Consider a recent in-depth analysis by the U.S. Public Interest Group and the National Taxpayer Union, two organizations somewhat removed from each other on the political spectrum but united in the knowledge that our government  spending is out of control. They did an extensive analysis of the Federal budget and came up with even more Pentagon savings:

- Cancel the production of the V-22 Osprey aircraft that is over budget, likely to under perform, and has been designated as not critical by the Sustainable Defense Task Force. Cutting this program, according to their analysis, would save $6.2 billion over the next five years.

- Cancel the production of the F-35 jet fighter which, according to the Sustainable Defense Task Force, "may represent all that is wrong with our acquisition process." It "would provide a capability that is not warranted considering emerging threats." Cutting this other unnecessary weapons program would save $22.5 billion over the next five years.

- Cancel the Space Tracking and Surveillance System which can be replaced with lower cost and more reliable options. This would save the Pentagon $5 billion over the next five years.

- Cancel the outdated, unreliable, and unneeded Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. The General Accountability Office cited the program's history of cost growth, schedule misses (14 years late), and performance failures as reasons for terminating the program. Defense Secretary Gates also chimed in by acknowledging that the vehicle was no longer a big need. Canceling this program would save $16.3 billion over the next five years.

These four simple moves would save the country $50 billion over the next five years and no kid with autism or Down Syndrome would be affected.

- Cancelling weapons systems and bringing troops home from non-critical areas is only the start. The General Accountability Office found that the Army, Navy and Air Force are wasting billions of dollars a year by purchasing items that were either never used or were never required. The GAO identified purchasing reform processes that could save $36.9 billion a year or about $443 billion over twelve years.

national defense. And best of all, no kid with autism and Down Syndrome would be affected.

3) However, the analysis by the U.S. Public Interest Group and the National Taxpayer Union did not stop with defense spending:

- The findings recommended that many forms of corporate welfare be terminated and the costs be picked up by the corporations that were getting the  welfare payments courtesy of American taxpayers. These programs include the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the Market Access Program, trade association subsidies for foreign marketing, subsidies to large agriculture business and wealthy farmers, tax credits for the blending of ethanol, the ultra-deepwater natural gas and petroleum research program, public timber sales subsidies, and Southeastern Power Administration. Just ending these corporate welfare programs would save about $12 billion a year or about $146 billion over twelve years.

- The Federal government owns more than 55,500 buildings that are either not used or are underused. The analysis suggests that if 50% of these buildings were eliminated over the next five years, not an unrealistic target, savings in the area of $48 billion would be realized.

- According to government audits of Housing and Urban development, the Federal government wastes about $4.5 billion a year due to bad accounting and billing processes. Fix this problem and save about $54 billion over twelve years.

Thus, just these three non-defense changes would save us $248 billion over twelve years. Best news of all? You guessed it, no kid with autism or Down Syndrome would be affected.

4) Conservatively, annual earmarks, which are usually nothing more than thinly disguised ways for incumbent politicians to fund their re-election campaign with taxpayer money, cost the Federal government about $16 billion a year in unneeded expenses. Eliminating earmarks would save $192 billion over twelve years.

5) A March 1, 2011 Wall Street Journal article reporting on the following government insanity, as quantified by the General Accountability Office:
  • The Federal government has 15 different agencies overseeing food safety laws.
  • It has more than 20 programs helping the homeless.
  • It has 80 programs to help economic development.
  • It has 82 agencies working on improving teacher quality, few of which are working if you see how poorly American kids are being educated vs. the rest of the world.
  • It has 47 agencies working on job training.
  • It has 18 programs working on food and nutrition assistance.
This type of redundancy results in tremendous waste and unneeded overhead, duplicative responsibilities, and inefficient service. Senator Tom Coburn, who pushed for the report and analysis, estimates that $100 billion and $200 billion a year could be saved by consolidating and downsizing these functions. If we take the midrange of his estimates, we end up with $1.8 TRILLION in savings without affecting any kid with autism or Down Syndrome.

6) An Associated Press article and analysis last year reported that the Federal government admitted it loses anywhere from $60 to $90 billion a year in fraud and incompetency in its Medicare type programs. If we were to take the midrange of this range, $75 billion, and cut the amount of fraud and waste in half to $37.5 billion, we would recoup $450 billion over twelve years without affecting any kid with autism or Down Syndrome.

I could go on and on, Mr. President, but I hope you get the idea. These are just a sampling of ideas that smart Americans are coming up with to get spending under control. Just this small handful of ideas would save the country $5.2 TRILLION over your twelve year window.

This does not even get into some of the more drastic recommendations like eliminating the Department of Education and the Department of Energy, two Federal functions that have failed miserably over their decades of existence. They need to be put out to pasture and the billions of dollars of their budgets saved. "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" has other ideas for savings including going after the hundreds of billions of dollars lost every year through income tax fraud.

The ideas are out there to save big without sacrificing kids with autism and Down Syndrome and sacrificing national defense, while making government services more efficient and effective for less money. You just need to start working like a President and stop politicking like a typical Chicago politician. Your vindictive speech was not becoming of the office you hold, as was using the kids as props to further your political aims and not the addressing the needs of the nation.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Thursday, April 21, 2011

America's Financials Burned While The President Facebooked

Watching the news this  morning was not for the faint of heart when it comes to America's financial situation:

- The value of the dollar vs. other currencies hit a three year low.

- Gas prices continue to climb with multiple states, including the District of Columbia, now averaging over $4.00 a gallon for regular gas. One news report this morning did not stop at $5.00 per gallon but was contemplating $6.00 per gallon by mid-summer.

- Standard and Poors is threatening to downgrade the U.S. States' credit rating, meaning if we do not get our out of control Federal government pending under control, the cost of borrowing money to finance our debt will increase as a result of an S&P downgrade. As the cost of borrowing increases, we will dedicate more and more tax money to borrowing more money and to service the interest on our borrowing, resulting in a death spiral of higher interest rates meaning we need to borrow more, etc.

- While the weekly first time unemployment claims numbers today were down slightly over last week, this news comes with two bad components. First, we still have about 400,000 Americans a week filing for first time unemployment benefits, a relatively constant weekly number over the past few years, indicating that while the economy may not be getting worse according to this measure, it is not getting much better.

The second piece of bad news is that the four week moving average of this statistic, a much better indication of the longer term trend, rose this week. This is not a good sign since it indicates that when you take out the weekly volatility of this statistic, the underlying trend points to more, not less, Americans becoming unemployed.

- We have no one from the political class leading any kind of detailed, coherent deficit reduction process. The President just appointed a six member politician committee, four Democrats and two Republicans, to come up with a deficit reduction plan, under the direction of "Sleepy" Joe Biden. This is not to be confused with the so-called "Gang Of Six" Senators that are working feverishly to develop their version of a deficit reduction plan in just a matter of weeks. This is not to be confused with the President's Deficit Reduction Commission which worked for the better part of a year putting a comprehensive plan together which was totally ignored by Obama, Reid, and Pelosi.

It has taken the political class decades to get us to this precarious position, the financial and economic fate of the United States. Rather than anticipate this huge and ominous event years ago, our political class is futilely scrambling to solve the problem in a haphazard way in weeks.

- Not on television this morning, but discussed elsewhere in the news, is the fact that the sale of existing homes in March was down about 6% vs. March, 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis and the average selling price of existing homes was also down about 6%. Both of these statistics indicate that the housing market is not about to turnaround anytime soon, creating a further drag on the economy. Additionally, a very high percentage of the March sales were made to investors who are trying to time the housing market's turnaround and not to actual homeowners.

Not a pretty picture. And while America's financial picture is burning up in just about every way, international value of the dollar, unemployment, housing, and deficit spending, where is the President? He was continuing his campaign for President in 2012 by hosting a Facebook event. 400,000 more Americans out of work in the past week and he is hosting a Facebook event. Still rising gas prices with more dire predictions of the endpoint, and he is hosting a Facebook event. The housing market still in critical condition and he is hosting a Facebook event. Deficit spending out of control with no coherent strategy for attacking the government debt issue and he is hosting a Facebook event.

Sounds a lot like ancient Rome, Rome burned while Nero fiddled. America burned while Obama Facebooked. I have never seen a politician who put his own political career and ego so far ahead of the people and nation he should be serving. You get the impression that the President is so much more comfortable campaigning vs. governing that any excuse to pontificate is better than the hard work of fixing and operating the government.

He really should be Prince Of The United States, not President Of The United States. A prince can go around and make speeches, shake hands, talk about sports, visit foreign countries, act like they care about high profile events (remember the President's attendance at an "anti-bullying seminar" during opening days of the Japanese nuclear and earthquake disaster), etc. A prince does  not have to lead, they just have to look good and speak eloquently. Seems like a better job for this President who loves to take vacations, play golf, make out his March Madness brackets, and make speeches.

However, the country does not need a Prince, especially one who is perpetually in campaign mode. We need a real leader who will take real risks, make the hard, unpleasant choices, and really unite, rather than divide, the country. Nothing matters if the financial health of the country turns terminal. Facebook does not matter, NPR and Planned Parenthood do not matter, national defense does not matter, freedom and liberty do not matter, Social Security and Medicare do not matter. Nothing matters because the United States as it currently exists will be gone and with it all of the promises of the entitlement programs, the protection from danger, and the freedoms that this country was built on. Let the Prince do his Facebook gig, let's find a fireman who will put out the fires that are burning up America's financial futures.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Here's Another Fine Mess, Or Messes, You've Gotten Us Into

It is pretty obvious that our political class has not resolved many large issues facing the American public over the past four or five decades. Nixon declared war on drugs in the late 1960s but the illegal drug problem is bigger and more violent than ever. We suffered through the oil shocks in the 1970s but the political class has yet to implement a comprehensive and effective national energy policy. The Reagan administration identified the many problems and threats due to our failing public schools in 1983 but today our kids are getting a vastly inferior education compared to the rest of the world despite the highest expenditure on public schools in the world. Our borders leak, our national debt is sky high, and Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid are rushing towards insolvency.

Great, what a downer. But it gets worse. There are plenty of other fine messes all levels of our political class have gotten us into that sometimes get crowded off of the front pages due to the above listed issues and unfortunately, the next election:

- The government has been involved in trying to make our skies safe for all of those that fly for decades. One would have thought that they would be pretty good at it by now. Not the case. In just the past few weeks, government employed air traffic controllers have been found asleep on duty several times when they should have been working to keep the flying public safe. A few days ago, a jet carrying the First Lady had to abort a landing when it came too close to another plane in the area. In the April 22, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, there was a short article describing an incident where a commuter jet clipped the wing of an Airbus 380. This happened at NYC's Kennedy airport, imagine the destruction on the ground if this was not just a clipping of a wing.

What a mess. Employees falling asleep, planes almost colliding, and these are the incidents that we know about. Last year an Associated Press article reported that the FAA did  not know the owners or the physical locations of thousands of airplanes, airplanes that could have potential terrorist applications. After decades of involvement in air regulation, we should not be dealing with this mess today. The political class and the government it runs should know how to avoid these types of messes.

- The attention of the world relative to nuclear energy has rightfully been focused on the disaster in Japan. However, we have a nuclear mess brewing right here in the United States. The government has been involved in regulating the nuclear power industry since its birth decades ago. Unfortunately, much like mismanaging the air traffic above us, the government is having a serious time trying to manage the nuclear waste around us.

According to a detailed article in the April 15, 2011 issue of The Week magazine, the country really has no plan in place or one being contemplated on how to safely dispense with and store spent nuclear fuel rods from our stateside nuclear reactors. When uranium in the fuel rods is used up, the rods are usually placed in deep water pools, on the same site where the nuclear reactors are located. There water is circulated around them to cool them down. This cooling process usually takes about 10 years. However, they remain radioactive for about 10,000 years.

In the U.S., we have no plan to manage the increasingly large pile of spent fuel rods. The ponds where they current reside were built and designed to hold about one fourth of what they currently hold. The total volume of spent rods is about 72,000 tons. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission predicts that by 2015, there will be no more storage space on site for the rods and there is no plan to move them to a safe place and there is little space to dig more cooling ponds.

At one point, the nation was supposed send its spent rods to Yucca Mountain in Nevada. In fact, the political class has already forced utility users to finance $20 billion worth of construction at Yucca to hold the rods. However, politics intervened and Nevada Senator Harry Reid was able to block the use of Yucca for storage. The President has appointed a blue ribbon commission to develop alternative storage plans.

In the meantime, the terrorism concern is high including the threat that a suicide bomber could crash a plan into the pools, possibly damaging the cooling processes and exposing the rods. By spreading the spent rods around the country, the defense against such a terrorist attack is that much more difficult to prevent.

What a mess. Inviting terrorism targets, no plan for alleviating the tight storage, politics playing a major role, and no plan in sight. Even if the commission comes up with a plan, do we think that the political class has the know how and courage to execute the plan, given their general failings everywhere else?

- And you thought the Federal deficit was a mess? In a fine article by Veronique de Rugy in the April, 2011 issue of Reason magazine, the state government pension mess is a doozy also. Ms. de Rugy does an excellent job comparing the rigor and rules that private pension funds have to adhere to in order to guarantee solvency vs. the lax and silly assumptions that state government pension plans live by.

Rather than going into the details here, the essence of the analysis states that private pension funds conservatively estimate that their funds will grow about 3.5% a year while state government pension funds wildly estimate that their funds will grow 8% a year. When the economy tanks, like it has the past few years, the government pension funds get nowhere close to an 8% return. This puts them perilously close to default.

The added complication they have is that there is no law that requires state politicians to make regular, actuarially sound contributions to the plans. Thus, they can short change the plans for their other wasteful spending programs and hope that the plans can attain unattainable returns to make up the shortfall in contributions.

As a result of bad assumptions and political robbery, the pensions funds are going broke. The article points to an analysis that shows the state government pension funds in at least ten states will run out of money within the next nine years, with five of them running out of money within six years. When that happens, the state either has to cut back or eliminate pension payments or raise taxes in order to retain the promised payouts. And these tax increases would be a fine mess since according to an analysis done by the American Enterprise Institute, the unfunded liabilities of all state government pension systems is about $3 TRILLION. This comes out to about $60 billion per state.

In a state like New Jersey, which is forecasted to run out of pension money in 2018, this means every household in the state will have to pay the state pension plans about $20,000 each in order to keep them solvent and the benefits at promised levels. What a disaster, imagine what a hit those state economies will take as the government continues to suck more and more disposable income out of the local state economy to pay for a pension mess they helped to create. Imagine the resentment that will build up as state government retirees are blamed for the increasingly heavy tax burden for pensions and the lack of money for schools, roads, and other government functions.

It has to be obvious now that our election processes and the candidates and victors they produce are not working. Nothing ever gets solved, it just gets pushed out until panic sets in and ill advised and inefficient solutions, if that, are thrown against the wall. Several steps from "Love my Country, Loathe My Government" would help to change these broken election processes:
  • Step 6 would allow only individual Americans to contribute to election campaigns, taking the evil of corporate, union, PAC and other organizational money out of the equation. Once those funding sources are removed, politicians might start acting for the good of the country and not the good of their campaign coffers.
  • Step 34 would remove politicians from Congressional committees if those committees make a mess out of their responsibilities. For example, if the spent fuel issue is not resolved shortly, those members of Congress sitting on the respective nuclear committees need to be replaced.
  • Step 39 would institute term limits for all Federal politicians. If you have been in Congress for over 20 years, a period of which no major issue was resolved, then you are part of the problem since the solution does not exist yet. 
Sorry for the downer of a post but thought you should know that our issues extend well beyond the front page headlines and the 2012 election. Again, after hundreds of years, we should be able to rely on our government to do some basic things efficiently and safely. Unfortunately, that assumption does not extend to nuclear material safety, airline safety, and fiscal sanity and safety.

While this is all going on, the President is in California to do some campaigning and fund raising for his 2012 Presidential campaign. Congress is in recess for the next few weeks. And a short blurb in The Week from April 22, 2011 cited a Harvard University study that found that 27% of all Congressional press releases are solely intended to make members of the other party look bad, not to address any important problem.

No need to solve problems as long as we make our political competitors look worse than us, we will eventually get around to those spent fuel rods, those bad air traffic control problems, and imploding pensions plans. Unless, of course, it messes up our re-election campaign.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

President Obama: Presidential Timber or Political Balsa Wood?

It has become quite obvious over these past few weeks that President Obama is already running his 2012 re-election from the White House. It seems, at least to me, that everything he does is to position himself for the most votes in 2012, even if his behavior is not always in the best interest of the country. Rather than go with this gut feel, I decided to look at some pressing issues, both current and past, and see if I could put some kind of quantifiable measurement together to see if 1) he was truly made of solid Presidential timber, timber that was strong and upright despite any winds or dire events, or 2) was nothing much more than lightweight balsa wood, a type of wood that can be blown around by a gentle wind and does not stand up to the rigors of the job or strong principles.

Given these two decision options, see if you agree with my assessment of his past and likely future behavior:

1) To be strong Presidential timber, a person needs to be a leader of and a representative of all Americans, not just those that voted for him. Given that the President has refused to step up and try to unite the country, allowing his Democratic Party associates to call others un-American, Neanderthals, gerbils, a__h____s, cuckoos, racists, Klan members, and other derogatory names just for having contrary opinions, I rate him as balsa wood on this important leadership principle. A President should respect diversity and welcome contrary opinions in order to make the best decisions for the country. He should not sit back and have fellow Americans degraded for simply having an opposing opinion by his political allies.

2) An Associated Press report yesterday described how the President was going to have an all afternoon meeting in the near future to discuss our lack of an immigration strategy and plan. He was going to invite a wide range of organizations including law enforcement and immigration rights groups. Nice try, but still balsa. This would have been a good start two years ago if it lead to anything concrete and actionable.

However, I believe that this is just political balsa, a showy meeting to present the President as a caring and action oriented leader. If something comes out of it, that leads to a true and sane immigration policy, I will change my rating. However, I believe that this is just 2012 election posturing and nothing will be done as a result of the meeting.

3) Standard & Poors came out with a dire warning yesterday, stating that it is about to downgrade the quality of U.S. bonds unless the political class gets government spending under control. The President's proposed budget from just a few months ago set forth a structure that would add more than $9 TRILLION to the national debt of the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. This is hardly the kind of behavior that S&P is looking for. However, once the President looked at the proposed Republican budget from Paul Ryan, he then came out with his revised budget that supposedly will reduce spending by $4 TRILLION over ten years.

Not the mark of a leader, the President is trying to lead from behind. If this was such a big deal, his original budget should have reduced spending by $4 TRILLION. Instead, he put in a business as usual budget, buying time to see which way the political winds were blowing and then making his move. As a real leader, he should have told the country the truth with his original budget, our government spends too much and cuts need to be made. He waited for the wind to be right form the rear, another mark of a lightweight politician.

4) In foreign affairs, I would give him a weak timber vote for his speech in Cairo at the beginning of his administration. He gave a well received and inspired speech that spoke to freedom and dignity of everyone. It was a good start.

However, it is a weak timber vote in that there was no effective follow up. The actions fell short of his words and as a result, Arab world opinions of him and the United States fell steadily after the speech as his words went unfilled. Nice try, effectively delivered with little or no back up actions.

5) The BP oil spill is definitely a lightweight balsa response. While oil gushed into the Gulf, causing environmental and economic havoc, the President played golf six or seven times, took three vacations (none of which were in the states most adversely affected by the spill), and made two cross country trips to campaign for Democratic candidates. 

Someone of Presidential timber would have at least looked like he cared about what was going on and was working hard on solutions as opposed to leaving the impression that his administration and the government it ran had no clue how to fix the problem. There was no reassuring that the government could solve the problem.

6) Someone of Presidential timber would respect the traditions and guidelines laid out in the Constitution and the laws of the land, having enough maturity and respect to understand there are things that even the President of the United States is not allowed to do.

That is not the case with this President. When a Federal judge ruled his Gulf drilling moratorium as illegal, the President rescinded the moratorium and just issued another one that was basically a clone of the first. This drew the ire of the judge in the case along with a formal reprimand from that judge.

Since the President did not agree with the Defense Of Marriage Act (DOMA), even though it is the law of the land, he unilaterally decided that it was unconstitutional and decided his administration would not enforce it. Our system of government is based on a series of checks and balances and clearly delineated responsbilities, he had no right or power to decide if DOMA, or any law, was unconstitutional.

When the President could not get Congressional authorization to regulate green house gases from Congress, he decide he did not need their approval and decided he could do anything he wanted in this area by stretching the formal, legal duties of the Environmental Protection Agency to get his wishes decided. Very immature, balsa behavior; if I cannot get my way the right, legal way, I will unilaterally decide to get my way another way. Presidential timber people lead by developing consensus and unity, not by bypassing our laws to satisfy our egos and desires.

This is obviously a political move, not a Presidential move, since if this law was unconstitutional in 2011, it certainly was unconstitutional in 2009 when he came into office. The only difference is that the 2012 election is fast approaching and he needs the votes. This is political balsa, not Presidential timber, reacting to votes not the Constitution.

7) People of Presidential timber lead by example, lead by being honest and forthright, lead by blazing new ideas and trail, breaking from past behavior while respecting our traditions and customs of freedom and compassion. President Obama has shown none of these traits.

In fact, I have made the case several times that we are living through the third term of George W. Bush. Obama is withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq under the Bush time table, the war on rugs is the same as under Bush, the stalemate in Afghanistan is the same as under Bush just with more U.S. troops deployed, there has been no change in our approach to our failing public schools in this country and the Federal government's inability to change the status, Obama rubber stamped the renewal of Bush's Patriot Act, both President ran up record deficits with Obama besting Bush by orders of magnitude in this area, the prisons at Guantanamo is still open, Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid continued to plunge towards insolvency under both Presidents, etc. Obama has presented no coherent or different path that would lead to a better America.

8) A month of so ago, Japan was facing a nuclear disaster, unemployment numbers were still high, the President unilaterally committed us to military action in Libya, the Middle East was ablaze in freedom protests and government repression and violence, and the Federal government was about to be shut down since the political class was six months late developing and delivering a basic one year budget, What was the President spending a lot of time on during these trying and dangerous times? He was busy creating and explaining on national television his NCAA basketball picks and brackets for March Madness for BOTH the men and women's tournaments. Presidential timber people lead during times of crises, they do not waste time on pontificating about their college basketball knowledge.

My bottom line assessment: President Obama is not Presidential timber, much like many of his predecessors were not Presidential timber. No new ways of doing things, no pressing desire to resolve issues, no improvement in government processes of efficiency, no regard to deficits and bad budgeting, just the maintenance of the status quo for the benefit of the political class and there perpetual reelection. Much like most others in politics, President Obama has shown himself to be just another Chicago politician, ruthless against his opponents even if they have legitimate contrary positions,  bending or breaking laws to get his way, and posturing for votes as opposed to taking the hard leadership positions for the good of the country.

Bottom line: Massive balsa without much timber mixed in. And you cannot build anything of lasting endurance and performance with balsa wood. Thomas Jefferson once said something to the effect: "A statesman worries about the next generation, a politician worries about the next election." Unfortunately, when it comes to Presidential timber, President Obama is just a balsa politician.

Our book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom And Destroying The American Political Class" is now available at It is also available online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. Please pass our message of freedom onward. Let your friends and family know about our websites and blogs, ask your library to carry the book, and respect freedom for both yourselves and others everyday.

Please visit the following sites for freedom:

Monday, April 18, 2011

Another Lost Week In The Failed "War On Drugs"

More bad news this week in our failed "war on drugs" and with it, increasing danger to our safety and stability as a nation. Today's reports come from both Mexico, the scene of horrific violence and killings over the past few years, and across the ocean to Afghanistan:

- An April 12, 2011 Associated Press report described how 116 bodies were found in a pit in northern Mexico.  All of the dead are believed to have been kidnapped off of buses while traveling on a main highway by drug cartels, murdered and dumped in this mass pit or grave.

A number of distressing things about this incident besides the unnecessary killing of  116 human beings. First, this highway is regularly patrolled by Mexican military forces, just another indication of how brazen the major drug cartels have become in Mexico. Second, one of the captured suspects in this mass killing confessed to witnessing or participating in the killings of over 200 other human beings. Third, Mexican authorities believe that this is a new way for the cartels to forcibly recruit young men into their ranks. Those that refuse to join up are murdered. Finally, this incident took place only 90 miles from the border with Texas.

- An article in the March 18, 2011 issue of The Week magazine reported that Mexican citizen  Marisol Valles Garcia is seeking asylum in the United States. Why is this important? At 20 years old, Ms. Garcia had become the youngest police chief in Mexico when she accepted the post in a border town. This police chief position that had been vacant for over a year since no one was willing to confront the drug cartels that were battling each other and the Mexican authorities for control of the town. After receiving death threats for months after her appointment, she took a five day leave of absence to care for her baby son but rather than return to her job, she crossed the border into the U.S. at El Paso.

- An Associated Press article from April 18, 2011 reported that Afghanistan poppy production was likely to be down slightly this year because of the fighting between NATO and Afghan government forces against the Taliban in the southern part of the country. Poppy production, the basis for heroin, was up in the northern part of the country to partially offset the loss from the south.

As a result of reading this article, I checked some reliable sources on the Web to see if Afghanistan was still the world leader in poppy production, which it apparently is. I was also surprised and a little shocked to find out that about a year ago, according to a Reuters news article, the country was also the top producer of marijuana in the world.

Unfortunately, a great deal of the profit from trafficking in these illicit drugs is used to fund the resources of the Taliban and other terrorists, the very people that are attacking and killing our armed forces personnel. And Afghanistan has attained this leadership position in poppy, heroin, and marijuana in the midst of a raging war. Imagine how much more production be done if the war was not going on and how much more money would go to fund terrorists?

Nasty, nasty stuff. The human toll on this issue is horrific, Murders, kidnappings, intimidation of law enforcement, forced conscription of young Mexican men, addiction, etc. But by not having a sane, compassionate, and effective strategy to dealing with this problem since Nixon declared "war" in the late 1960s, we have now endangered our national security. Well armed and well financed gangs roaming well within range of our borders. Law enforcement officers from Mexico fleeing for their lives. Our armed forces killed with weapons purchased as a result of selling marijuana and heroin to our own citizens.

These disparate events are all tightly related to each other: the thirst for illegal drugs in this country, the source of those drugs in Mexico, Afghanistan, and elsewhere, the profits that are used to destabilize Central and South American countries besides Mexico and the profits that are used to kill our soldiers. And the latest wrinkle comes from an article in the March 18, 2011, "Triple Frontier, Brazil - Hotbed of Islamic Militancy."

According to the article, Islamic al-Qaida extremists and other terror groups have set up camp in a remote part of the Brazilian jungle. The article cited Brazilian and U.S. intelligence sources and Wikileaks documents as the basis for the reporting. The article detailed how there were at least 20 high ranking members of al Qaida, Hamas, and Hezbollah at the camp where they are busy raising money and planning attacks on high profile Western targets. The article named the leader of the group, who is originally from Lebanon, is currently a Brazilian citizen, and who is responsible for terror activities in more than twelve countries.

The immediate concerns in Brazil are the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, both of which will be hosted by Brazil. However, the larger, more strategic concern should be our safety here in the United States. Foreign terrorists are no longer separated by the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans from our shores. They now have a foothold in South America and a land bridge from their foothold up through Central America and Mexico to our borders, which we know are still very porous. The sad part is that the drug profits that are funding the weapons that kill our soldiers may eventually fund the weapons that kill our civilians.

And we are supposed to believe that our political class will be able to protect us from this multi-faceted threat? The same political class that could not even develop an one year budget on time? The same political class that allowed SEC employees to search for porn all day on their government job and government computers? The same political class that cannot keep its air traffic controllers awake during an eight hour shift of duty? The same political class that would rather posture and campaign for their re-election than solve any issue facing America? The same political class whose second in command, Vice President Biden, cannot even stay awake during a critical budget summit?

We are in trouble. Doing things they way we always have done them in this area is not going to work, the threats and danger keep growing. That is why Step 26 from "Love My Country, Loathe My Government" is so critical to implement. Step 26 would establish a blue ribbon panel of smart Americans, exclusive of the political class and their lobbyist friends, to once and for all accurately address this issue of illegal drugs and put together a strategic plan to address the underlying root causes before it is too late.

Members of this panel would include law enforcement experts from many different agencies, both local, and Federal, military personnel, economists, sociologists, drug treatment experts, medical experts, and others. Others would include experts form other countries who may have tried other approaches to their nation's drug addiction problem. For example, apparently Portugal decriminalized illegal drugs a little while ago which actually resulted in lower illegal drug usage.

One option that must be on the table, an option that the political class would never consider, is the complete legalization or decriminalization of illegal drugs. Americans have proven over the past forty or so years, since Nixon's time, that they will indulge in illegal drug usage. The illegality of this usage has resulted in record profits for drug cartels and foreign terrorists as the "war on drugs" drove up the price of delivering illegal drugs that Americans and others continue to use.

I am not endorsing legalization or decriminalization, I am not an expert in this area, the panel would be. However, the results are clear. Usage of illegal drugs, both in this country and around the world, is unrelenting. The production of the illegal drugs is unrelenting. The distribution of the illegal drugs is unrelenting. Unfortunately, the ever rising record profits from illegal drugs is now a national security issue.

Somebody needs to step up and develop a coherent plan before lost weeks become lost years which eventually become lost freedom from this farce known as the "war on drugs."

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