Friday, June 26, 2009


The Alternative Math of Lori Montgomery

Previously, I’ve taken note of some sloppy, biased reporting by Washington Post reporter, Lori Montgomery. So when I set out to read an article with her byline, I know additional research is probably in order

CBO Calls Long-Term Revenue, Spending Outlook Dire

According to Ms. Montgomery, here’s why it's so dire:

“The nation's long-term budget outlook has darkened considerably over the past six months, and President Obama's plan to extend an array of tax cuts and other policies adopted during the Bush administration has the potential to "create an explosive fiscal situation," congressional budget analysts reported yesterday.

In a new report, the Congressional Budget Office found that extending the Bush administration tax cuts, reining in the alternative minimum tax and canceling a scheduled reduction in payments to Medicare doctors would dramatically slash tax collections at a time when federal spending would be "sharply rising."

(Ed. Note. Not sure why Ms. Montgomery believes not-reducing payments to doctors will contribute to reduced tax revenue. If anything, it will increase the revenue side by adding more taxable income.)

Ms. Montgomery doesn’t actually tell us which CBO report she is describing but I believe it is this one: The Long-Term Budget Outlook.

I’m also guessing Ms. Montgomery never got around to reading it. For instance, whereas Ms. Montgomery says the proposed plan “would dramatically slash tax collections”, the CBO notes:

“Federal revenues totaled 17.7 percent of GDP in fiscal year 2008. Because of the recession and the tax reductions provided in stimulus legislation, CBO expects revenues to decline sharply in fiscal year 2009, to 15.5 percent of GDP… Under the alternative fiscal scenario, the [Bush tax cuts] would be extended, and the parameters of the AMT would be indexed to inflation after 2009. Consequently, revenues would grow more slowly over the long term than in the other scenario, but they would still increase gradually relative to GDP because of the effects of real income growth. The effective marginal tax rate on labor income would rise to about 30 percent in 2035 and to 33 percent in 2080. Tax receipts would reach only 18 percent of GDP in 2012 and then gradually rise to 22 percent of GDP by 2080, 4 percentage points lower than in the extended-baseline scenario.” (Pg.11 of the report, Pg. 25 of the pdf.)

In what math universe does 18-22% of a larger number represent a drop in tax collections over 15-17.7% of a smaller number?

Is Ms. Montgomery so obtuse she doesn't understand her own reporting?

The news is not particularly good even if the government were to collect the extra money, primarily because of the rapidly rising cost of Social Security and federal health programs for the elderly and the poor.”

...which should tell her something. She notes the effects of Social Security and federal health programs spending without noting that a large chunk of these programs (Social Security and Medicare) are financed by FICA taxes – not income taxes. So the Bush tax cuts aren’t completely on point here. And her reference to the AMT is completely without context. As the report also spells out, left unchanged, “…the cumulative effects of inflation would make almost half of all households subject to the AMT by 2035 and nearly three-quarters subject to it by 2080. Currently, only 3 percent of households are subject to the AMT.”

But hey – she managed to get in some negative Bush references so maybe she got a going away fist bump from Dan Froomkin.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


Great Moments in Timing

On Tuesday morning I found two emails in my inbox: the first was confirmation that the renewal of my CLEAR Card had gone through. The second reads thusly:

Clear to Cease Operations,

At 11:00 p.m. PST today, Clear will cease operations. Clear's parent company, Verified Identity Pass, Inc. has been unable to negotiate an agreement with its senior creditor to continue operations.

After today, Clear lanes will be unavailable.

Sincerely,Clear Customer Support

More info: Clear's Quick Airport Screening Service Shut Down

Sigh -that’s $179 bucks I’ll probably never see again.

Monday, June 22, 2009


For the record

Why do so many people say they voted for Obama when they didn't?

“Then there's the group of McCain voters that either regrets their pick or would rather not admit it to a pollster. They might feign forgetfulness, which would account for the 7 percent of respondents who say they voted for "someone else" or won't say for whom.”

For the record: I voted for Senator McCain; nothing has happened in the last 6 months that’s caused me to rethink or regret my vote and it would require quite the dramatic shift of political ideology by either Mr. Obama or myself for me to even fathom voting for his re-election. In short - my atheistic status towards the change I can believe in has caused me not a moment of embarrassment.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


U.S. or World Leader?

Does Barack Obama want to be the President of the United States or did he seek the job because it happens to provide the world’s biggest stage to act on?

I am happy to read that he is becoming more vocal about the obvious atrocities being visited on Iranian citizens. But, if I may borrow from some of his previous eloquence, “I'm very concerned, based on some of the tenor and tone of the statements that have been made, that” President Obama is too focusing his comments on himself and his “citizen of the world” shtick and not enough as speaking for the United States.

Here is the latest statement:

“The Iranian government must understand that the world is watching. We mourn each and every innocent life that is lost. We call on the Iranian government to stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people. The universal rights to assembly and free speech must be respected, and the United States stands with all who seek to exercise those rights.

"As I said in Cairo, suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. The Iranian people will ultimately judge the actions of their own government. If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion. "“Martin Luther King once said -

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." I believe that. The international community believes that. And right now, we are bearing witness to the Iranian peoples’ belief in that truth, and we will continue to bear witness.”

In every instance where he uses the word “we”, it is as a more global reference. But surely someone has told him that much of the world has already sought its own counsel on this matter: France (!!), Germany and the UK have spoken earlier and more forcefully, Russia just doesn’t care and China is no doubt enjoying that anyone but them is feeling this kind of heat.

Please Mr. President, don’t let this devolve into an instance of trying to discern where the world is going so you can then lead it.

Side Note: The President’s statement also includes another example of a verbal tic of his – his constant references to his own past statements (i.e. “As I said in Cairo….”). It shouldn’t be long before we have a sufficient database from which anyone could quickly generate an Obama speech for any occasion simply by rehashing quotes from earlier speeches. Bye Bye Jon Favreau.

If you’re one of those people who feel duty bound to watch Presidential news conferences, why not liven it up by developing a drinking game around each time he says a variation of “As I’ve said before…” Here’s a link to an earlier press conference you can practice with. But caution – do this at home or have a designated driver with you; you will be in no shape to drive afterwards.

Saturday, June 20, 2009


Who Will Be Iran's Poet?

Soccer Dad previously commented on a particular Roger Cohen piece but I wanted to follow up with an additional observation:

“Quoting Ferdowsi, the epic poet, he said, “If there is no Iran, let me be not.” Poets are the refuge of every wounded nation — just ask the Poles — and nowhere more so than here in this hour.” Roger Cohen: Iran’s Day of Anguish

Well, as it happens, I am in Poland so I did just as he said and asked some Poles this very question.

And he is right…if one considers the eloquence of Ronald Reagan as poetic:

“The Polish nation, speaking through Solidarity, has provided one of the brightest, bravest moments of modern history. The people of Poland are giving us an imperishable example of courage and devotion to the values of freedom in the face of relentless opposition. Left to themselves, the Polish people would enjoy a new birth of freedom. But there are those who oppose the idea of freedom, who are intolerant of national independence, and hostile to the European values of democracy and the rule of law.” Reagan didn’t remain silent on Poland

Side Note: To be fair, Iran has also felt the fury of a Barack Obama smackdown. Here's one I'm sure they'll be quoting for years:

"I'm very concerned, based on some of the tenor and tone of the statements that have been made, that the government of Iran recognise that the world is watching. And how they approach and deal with people who are, through peaceful means, trying to be heard will, I think, send a pretty clear signal to the international community about what Iran is and is not." BBC NEWS Middle East Obama says world is watching Iran

Just wait until Rahm Emanuel let's him watch the videos.


Another Distraction for the President

Tough China trade decision for Obama

“A U.S. trade body ruled Thursday that imports of Chinese tires are hurting U.S. manufacturers, teeing up a difficult decision for President Obama...

“We're hopeful the Obama administration will enforce the ITC's wise ruling,” said Scott Paul, executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which includes steelworkers.”

…and remarkably one made with no apparent Latina help.

Here’s hoping President Obama yet again takes his cue from President Bush:

“President Bush rejected every petition for relief under the law that reached his desk. No petition for relief has ever been granted.”


Another Multiple Choice Quiz Question

You’re at a neighbor’s party and talking to two pregnant women: one of them is smoking a cigarette and the other is discussing her plans to have a late-term abortion the following Monday on account of “the world already has too many white males”. At whom are you most appalled?

1. The woman smoking a cigarette because, you know, “smoking’s bad,mkay”,
2. The host of the party for allowing smoking,
3. Your local government for allowing people to make their own decisions about smoking at home or
4. George W. Bush because you’re a liberal Democrat and an eight year habit is tough to break.

Friday, June 19, 2009


Ignorance on The Apology

Senate Unanimously Approves Resolution Apologizing for Slavery

“Even among proponents of a congressional apology, reaction to yesterday's vote was mixed. Carol M. Swain, a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt University who had pushed for the Bush administration to issue an apology, called the Democratic-controlled Senate's resolution "meaningless" since the party and federal government are led by a black president and black voters are closely aligned with the Democratic party.

"The Republican Party needed to do it," Swain said. "It would have shed that racist scab on the party."

Well, obviously, being a professor of political science and law at Vanderbilt carries no requirements for an even passing knowledge of American history. For Professor Swain and anyone who might think her resume equates to being knowledgeable about any subject she opines on, I remind all that the Republican Party was founded as an anti-slavery party. Its first nominee (1856), John Fremont, ran under the slogan “Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Speech, Free Men, and Fremont”. Abraham Lincoln, its second presidential nominee, oversaw the fighting of a Civil War by a Republican-led Union against a predominantly Democratic Confederacy. There is arguably no group or organization – neither the slaves themselves nor the African tribes from which they were taken (and certainly not the Democratic Party!) – that had more to do with the end of slavery here in the U.S. than the Republican Party.

Ms. Swain has apparently made quite a career for herself as a race-baiter but an impressive list of degrees garnered by such a provocateur is no excuse for the Post to include her ignorance in their reporting.


Multiple Choice

Over at Soccer Dad, SD has a couple of interesting excerpts up. Without checking his title, can you guess the origin?

“The reality requires more urgently than ever before to frustrate the U.S. moves for interference in the internal affairs of other countries…and guarantee the sound and smooth development of the international relations…The said move of the U.S. is not limited to the elections only. It is being persistently perpetrated in various fabrics of social life including politics, economy, culture and military affairs.”

Is it from?

a) A Jimmy Carter speech during the Bush years,
b) A North Korean press release,
c) A Noam Chomsky piece at Huffington Post or
d) A posting by filmmaker Michael Moore

Not so easy, huh? Try this bit:

“It is his creed that the revolution is needed for the people, one should pluck stars in the sky and bring flowers in bloom on a stone and should not stint even fabulous wealth if it is for the interests of the people…since the historic day when he started his work…respect and love for man have turned into reality itself, not remaining mere idea or theory…He has covered centuries and decades, months and days for the happiness of the people…”

Is it from?

a) An Evan Thomas interview talking about President Obama,
b) A North Korean press release,
c) John Edwards talking about John Edwards,
d) Jimmy Carter’s eulogy at Yasser Arafat’s funeral.

Answers in the comments.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


The New and Reluctantly Proposed Federal Regulatory Reforms

The Administration released its proposed new financial regulations yesterday and today they begin the hard sell for it on Capitol Hill. This is about hundred pages of why we need more federal government in our everyday lives. I’ve done a quick read of it and am quickly unimpressed. My initial focus is on their proposed new Consumer Federal Protection Agency (CFPA) because in this Administration, it’s all about helping the little guy (Indiana pensioners not included). Reluctantly they inform us:

“We do not propose a new regulatory agency because we seek more regulation, but because we seek better regulation.” (p.58)

Among the reasons they give for such a pressing need for more FEDERAL regulatory oversight is this:

“State and federal bank supervisory agencies’ primary mission is to ensure that financial institutions act prudently, a mission that, in appearance if not always in practice, often conflicts with their consumer protection responsibilities.” (p.57)

Of course, a big part of our current day problems was the prior LACK of prudence among financial institutions – lending too much money to too many people to buy too many homes that proved too unaffordable. The Feds know this:

“For example, under the current fragmented structure, the federal banking agencies took until December 2005 to propose, and then until June 2007 to finalize, supervisory guidance on consumer protection concerns about subprime and nontraditional mortgages; the worst of these mortgages were originated in 2005 and 2006. A single agency, such as the CFPA, could have acted much more quickly and potentially saved many more consumers, communities, and institutions from significant losses.” (p.58)

I’m sure we all remember those dark days when the streets were lined with consumers complaining about the lack of regulations that would allow them to turn down a loan they had requested.

Well, I don’t…but I do remember banks being pressured to make loans under that quintessential piece of Leftist legislation: the Community Reinvestment Act:

“The CFPA should have sole authority to promulgate and interpret regulations under existing consumer financial services and fair lending statutes, such as the …Community Reinvestment Act (CRA)…The Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) is unique among the panoply of consumer protection and fair lending laws. The CFPA should maintain a group of examiners specially trained and certified in community development to conduct CRA examinations of larger institutions.” (p.59-60)

It goes on to discount - by mere assertion - any impact of the CRA on the meltdown. I would discount their discounting and simply ask if anyone can make a straight-faced argument that an even more rigorous application of CRA would have been beneficial to the afflicted banks?

There was obviously a lot of thought put into this proposal. I can easily picture this brain trust of an Administration sitting around a conference table with the implicit threat of a presidential smackdown should there be any conceivable financial transaction not proposed to be covered by federal oversight. But even these wunderkinds couldn’t do it all at this time:

Treasury and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, together with other government agencies, will engage in a wide-ranging process and seek public input to explore options regarding the future of the GSEs, and will report to the Congress and the American public at the time of the President’s 2011 budget.” (p.42)

The GSEs referenced are Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (and I’m pretty sure “public input” is Federal-Governmentspeak for “Barney Frank”). These are two fairly prominent entities that have to be on anyone’s list of Top 5 Organizations-To-Blame for the ongoing mess. And if we can only hurry and implement this “New Foundation” of Federal Regulatory Reform, we can all enjoy the benefits of the kind of Federal oversight these two Governmental Sponsored Entities were subject to.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Obama to CA: Drop Dead

…or something like that. The right decision, though – let’s just hope he can stick to it.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Dog Bites Man: It's Still Bush's Fault

I know that Washington Post reporters are pretty much duty-bound to shill for this President but still…

In an article written by Lori Montgomery and Scott Wilson, they casually throw out this little factoid:

“Obama's offer of new spending cuts comes against a backdrop of public concern over the nation's fiscal health and long-term spending plans that even he has acknowledged would lead to "unsustainable" deficits. His 10-year budget would shrink the $1.3 trillion annual deficit left by the Bush administration before allowing it to widen again in its final years.”

While President Bush wins no plaudits from me for his budgetary record, let’s remember that Congress initiates spending bills and the last two years of the Bush Administration were accompanied by a strongly Democratic Congress…which included one Senator Obama.

The spending resolution leading to the current budget was passed last June:

“The Senate by a 48-45 vote approved a compromise fiscal 2009 budget resolution Wednesday that would cap discretionary spending at $1.013 trillion, $21 billion more than President Bush requested.” Senate passes fiscal 2009 budget resolution along party lines (6/4/08) --

Included among those 48 votes: Barack Obama.

In September 2008, the Congressional Budget Office estimated the FY 2009 deficit to be $438 billion – an at-the-time outlandish number that now, just a few months later, looks to be a model of frugality. The ensuing increase to beyond a trillion dollars came from the governmental responses of TARP and more stimulus packages. What part of those did Mr. Obama oppose? (If you’ll recall, he spent the days leading up to his inauguration cajoling his fellow Democrats to allow the second half of the TARP funds to be released to his administration).

Besides, that $1.3 trillion number is so pre-Obama

The director of the Congressional Budget Office today updated his projections for the budget and economic outlook and is now anticipating a $1.8 trillion deficit this year, and $1.4 trillion in 2010.” Deficit Now Projected at $1.8 Trillion for 2009 - Political Punch

Fearless prediction: We will never see an Obama budget that even sniffs “only” a $438 billion deficit.

For some more helpful talking points: Bush Deficit vs. Obama Deficit in Pictures » The Foundry

Thursday, June 11, 2009


Why Did He Do It?

As a follow-up to my previous post, let me try to add to the reasoned discourse we’ve already been subjected to as we try to make sense out of something that probably just defies our efforts.

The obvious question is why the Holocaust Museum.

Well perhaps Von Brunn was so upset with President Obama’s refusal to immediately shut down Gitmo and stop torturing (because that’s apparently all we do there) some of Von Brunn’s fellow anti-Semites that he just decided he had to do something.


Distraught because the Jews won’t let President Obama talk with former Obama confidant and well-known anti-Semite, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Von Brunn took it upon himself (although perhaps after consultation with like-minded members of Hamas – we can’t rule anything out just yet) to make a dramatic statement.


Reflecting on the respectability now afforded Obama fundraisers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn - despite their previous participation in acts of violence at iconic locations – perhaps Von Brunn saw his acts as a way to ingratiate himself with a selectively forgiving Left.

Hey, this is easier than I thought….

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


They're still working to tie it to Bush...

In the wake of today’s shootings at the Holocaust Museum, it’s good to see CBS News not overreact:

Shooting Highlights Growth Of Hate Groups - CBS News

“The Holocaust Museum shootings came 11 days after another hate crime, the murder of Kansas abortion doctor George Tiller.”

…as opposed to the one 9 days ago? Military Recruiter Killed In Ark Shooting - CBS News

Here’s how all of this highlights the Hate Groups’ growth:

“Sources say Von Brunn apparently acted alone and police know of no other targets. But, they're keenly aware that the hatred he spewed is at the base of a wider on-going threat.”

That’s some fine reporting – not many would have picked up that the police aren’t just aware; they’re “keenly” aware.

CBS is also there with some instant analysis:

Right Wing Extremism: Alive And Well Political Hotsheet - CBS News

Here they nod to Secretary Napolitano and how she “turned out to be more prescient about domestic extremism than many of her critics.”

Towards this, they quote a particularly damning portion of a DHS report:

“Returning veterans possess combat skills and experience that are attractive to rightwing extremists. DHS/I&A (Office of Intelligence and Analysis) is concerned that rightwing extremists will attempt to recruit and radicalize returning veterans in order to boost their violent capabilities."

…and this is significant because the 88-year old shooter was reportedly a Navy veteran from WWII. (I’m serious, that’s their point – follow the link.)

Then again, CBS News did make Katie Couric the face of their operation...


This Sucks!!!

Sources: Holy Cross coach will join Pitino's staff

More (unhappy) reactions: CROSSPORTS

I cannot over emphasize just how much this sucks.

Thursday, June 04, 2009


More distractions for the President

A quick hit on today’s David Ignatius piece: Obama's Hard Choice: Settlements

“He has a rare gift for seeking the middle ground -- on race, on national security, even on abortion. But it will be hard to stay in the middle on this one. Obama will have to articulate U.S. policy more clearly and emphatically than have any of his predecessors, and he will have to demonstrate that he means what he says. To make peace, he will first have to make some enemies.”

If there is one thing we’ve learned about the governing style of this President, it is that the number one factor in any decision Barack Obama makes is the impact such a decision will have on Barack Obama. I believe he would order in the Seabees to raze every settlement if he thought that would inevitably lead to a successful Two-State Solution for him to claim ownership of. However, even the foreign policy newbies making up this group surely recognize that nothing will happen in that region until the Palestinians stop beating up on themselves. Accordingly, there is no reason for this President to press much more against Israel than he already has and take a needless political hit …although how much of a hit is, I guess, debatable.

Side Note: He gushes that the President “has a rare gift for seeking middle ground”? He thinks that’s rare among politicians? This President – like just about every politician with their eye on a future election – seeks a middle ground (however defined) when he is unable to force his position by other means. What’s rare is the number of politicians for which this trait of political survival is so fawningly described.

And what exactly does Mr. Ignatius think Mr. Obama’s so-called middle ground on abortion entails? His not pushing to make the procedure mandatory?

Wednesday, June 03, 2009


...while we've got you here Judge

Attila, formerly of Pillage Idiot, has a collection of questions he’d liked asked of Judge Sotomayor:

“The President's nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, said in a speech in 2002 that "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

I would offer a few questions for the judge to answer.

1. Does this apply to Latinos, too? That is, would a wise Latino man with the richness of his experiences also reach a better conclusion than a white man?

2. If so, would a wise Latina reach a better conclusion than a wise Latino, or would they reach equally good conclusions? Who has richer experiences?

3. Does it matter which background the wise Latina comes from? Would Latinas of Puerto Rican descent with the richness of their experiences reach equally good conclusions with Latinas of Mexican or Cuban descent with the richness of their experiences?

4. Would a wise African-American judge, with the richness of his (or her) experiences, also reach a better conclusion than a white man? Better than a white woman? Better or worse than a Latina?

5. Please rank wise judges from the following ethnic or racial groups of men and women in order of the quality of conclusions they would reach, given the relative richness or poverty of their experiences, starting from the highest and ending at the lowest:
(a) White men.
(b) White women.
(c) Latinas.
(d) Latinos.
(e) African-American men.
(f) African-American women.
(g) Chinese-Americans.
(h) Hawaiian/Asian-Pacific Islanders.
(i) Native Americans.
(j) Arab-Americans.
(k) Jewish women.
(l) Jewish men.

6. On a scale of 1 to 100, where 1 is a person with terminally impoverished experiences and 100 is a person with experiences that are rich beyond imagination, please assign a number to each of the racial and ethnic groups you have ranked in answer to question 4.

7. All three of Obama's nominees to the courts of appeals have been men. Will the one African-American man with the richness of his experiences reach better conclusions than the two white men? If so, couldn't the President have nominated men or women with richer experiences than theirs?

Tuesday, June 02, 2009


Is This President Just Afraid of Commitment?

Over at Soccer Dad, Daled Amos explores a good question: How Much Does Bush's Commitment To Israel's Settlements Count For Now?

“Based on the Constitution, it appears that the only obligation Obama has to honor the Bush letter is a 'moral' one--not a legal one.Based on the history of the fulfillment of US commitments to Israel, we have a problem.”

This caught my attention because of something the President said at his sit-down with Abbas:

“And so what I told Prime Minister Netanyahu was is that each party has obligations under the road map. On the Israeli side those obligations include stopping settlements. They include making sure that there is a viable potential Palestinian state.”Video and Full Transcript of Obama-Abbas Meeting (28 May) Enduring America

Clearly, this President thinks the Israelis are still bound by past commitments with previous presidents. In fact, as noted Israeli friend (at least when she's running for office) Secretary Clinton recently commented:

“With respect to settlements, the President was very clear when Prime Minister Netanyahu was here. He wants to see a stop to settlements – not some settlements, not outposts, not natural growth exceptions. We think it is in the best interests of the effort that we are engaged in that settlement expansion cease. That is our position. That is what we have communicated very clearly, not only to the Israelis but to the Palestinians and others. And we intend to press that point.” Press Availability With Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Ali Aboul Gheit

But under what agreement or understanding is this Administration thinking the Israeli’s have to adopt such a restrictive policy? I do not believe the previous Administration – you know, the one that actually developed the road map Mr. Obama referenced - ever held such a narrow interpretation. Is this a new Obama Mideast Doctrine or does this reflect, as would befit a Harvard Law grad, his finding, within a writing, of a new meaning that even the original author wasn’t aware of? Maybe we should start to refer to it as a “living" roadmap.

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