Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Soaring National Debt Blame Game

The Congressional Budget Office has said that the federal debt will represent 62% of the nation's economy by the end of this year, the highest percentage since just after World War II. Both parties are to blame.

G. W. Bush, who should have known better, decided that spending billions and billions on foreign wars, growing the federal bureaucracy for security purposes, and providing an unfunded senior medication entitlement program, among others, were in the best interest of the country.

Obama decided that we need to spend and spend and spend our way out recession without addressing the fundamentals of economics (and failed Keynesian economics does not count). Add to that the realization or threat thereof of 50 years worth of liberal government programs from massive health care, financial and energy reforms to huge financial, auto and mortgage bailouts. What makes matters worse is that we are missing the foundations for real economic growth.

Without hope for a financial return after a monetary investment, there are not enough individuals or businesses willing to take the necessary business risks to actually build new product, drive new demand and create new jobs.

One can make the case that G. W. Bush was bad and Obama is worse. But the bottom line is that almost all our political leaders have let us down. We voters failed ourselves by continuing to nominate and elect economic dolts for the presidency and governorships and for the federal and state legislatures. These people are more concerned about their own images and power than doing what is in the best interests of the nation or states.

Why we still continue to tell ourselves that this nation's economy will rebound is beyond me. The fundamentals of sound fiscal and monetary policies are gone. Government has gotten too big and the debt too large. It is a house of cards. It cannot continue indefinitely. It is bound to all come crumbling down. I wish I were more optimistic. Just give me a reason, just a little one...

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Supreme Court Justices and the Political Agenda

Traditionalist or reformist? Originalism or judicial interpretation? Those that believe in the original intent of the Constitution as written by the Founding Fathers or those that see the Constitution as a living breathing document that needs to be interpreted for out time and culture?

There is little doubt that Elena Kagan will be confirmed the newest Supreme Court Justice. What is also obvious is that her political positions will play a role in her decisions. She is of the judicial interpretive camp.

The fact that we have so-called "conservative justices" and "liberal justices" is sad. We all interpret what this nation is all about in our own ways. Most do not care or have the slightest idea what that means, but those few that do, take it serious.

The nation needs politically unmotivated justices. But those with strong political opinions, especial liberal ones -- more often than not -- cannot tame their power and evolve to legislate from the bench.

One of the most significant things a president does is nominate justices. Those appointment last for decades. The #1 criterion for a president, IMO, is how he/she will nominate justices. Obama failed my litmus test from day one.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Second Amendment Survives Chicago Ruling

Just like the 2008 Supreme Court ruling in Washington, DC, today the Court struck down Chicago's handgun prohibition by a 5-4 vote.

Besides a narrow win for the U.S. Constitution, this shows how close we are to cities and states deciding which parts of the Constitution apply to them and which do not.

This ruling must really bug the liberals. They control the presidency and both houses of Congress, but came up one vote short on the Court.

The gun-haters have no fewer than 20,000 gun-control laws in force at federal, state and local levels. The right to bear arms is barely intact. Before long, if the chipping away of gun rights continues, only the government and criminals will have firearms.

If gun-haters should focus on anything, it should be on gun handling and proficiency, not on gun bans. Stricter guns laws are a sure path to greater government control. Most Americans do not want to live in a Russian or European society.

Every freedom-loving American should support the basic right to own guns.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Month Without TV Easy Compared to No Internet

In completing our move from Utah to Arizona, we had some problems with our Internet and cable TV provider of choice. It seems the local cable company, Comcast in this case, has never provided service to this property. I assume that the previous people used DSL for Internet and traditional antenna and satellite for TV service.

In order to get the cable to the property, they had to schedule a dig crew. The phone rep who took the initial order did not say that. We waited 10 days for a guy to come out to hook up the service only to discover that the nearest junction box was 100 or so yards down the street. He promised a crew would by in two weeks. They showed up about three weeks later. And that crew was just a dig crew; they could not actually hook up the service. The service-enabling guy is scheduled to be here tomorrow. What do you bet there are issues and we still do not have cable TV or Internet access?

Luckily I have a neighbor, who I don't know, running an unsecured access point. I am not overly concerned about security as most of the people in this area tend to be elderly. The process of securing WiFi might not be something they are too keen on. (I do not, however, conduct any financial services through this borrowed WiFi.)

This has meant that we have had no TV for over a month and rather slow internet access. The only pain this has caused is not being able to watch the World Cup or MLB. To compensate, I have listen to World Cup via streaming ESPN Radio or have been forced to go somewhere to watch. For MLB, I have an audio account that allows me to listen to any game live via the MLB Web site ($20/year).

One can survive without TV. But having no Internet would be much worse.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Obama's New America Leads in Mediocrity

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said the world "cannot depend as much on the US as it did in the past". In speaking ahead of this weekend's G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto, he said
-- Other major economies would have to grow more for the global economy to prosper.
-- Played down any differences in policy between the US and Europe regarding deficit reduction.
Now we have Vice President Biden telling an audience of supporters "there's no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession."

This pessimism is core to liberal policies. As the government takes a greater roll in controlling of our lives, the crippling nature of heavy taxes and entitlements make it harder for businesses to get established and to grow.

Entrepreneurs have a more difficult time raising capital. Investors affinity for modern risk is diminished.

What might work in China, will not work in America. As we become more European with our stifling policies, we end up becoming impotent.

Key faces of the Obama Administration are stating the true results of its socialistic policies: We can no longer lead; rather we will limp along excelling in mediocrity.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Financial Reform To Reach Every Aspect of Our Lives

Democrats and the White House have come to some final legislative conclusion about a massive (2,000 pages), new financial regulations bill.

According to Sen. Christopher Dodd (D, CN), "this is about as important as it gets, because it deals with every single aspect of our lives."

Obama said, "We are poised to pass the toughest financial reform since the ones we created in the aftermath of the Great Depression. The bill represents 90 percent of what I proposed when I took up this fight. We've all seen what happens when there is inadequate oversight and insufficient transparency on Wall Street."

There are some people that think this is a good thing -- more government control into our lives. There is another group that thinks it already has too much. That group would include me.

The legislation is redrawing how money flows through the U.S. economy, from the way people borrow money to the way banks structure complicated products like derivatives.
-- It intends to prohibit banks from making risky bets with their own funds
-- Limit the ability of federally insured banks to trade derivatives
-- Erect a new consumer-protection regulator within the Federal Reserve
-- Give the government new powers to break up failing companies
-- Create a council of regulators to monitor risks to the financial system
-- Set up strict new rules on big banks, limiting their risk and increasing the costs.

It could touch every person who has a bank account or uses a credit card
It implies a massive growth to the Federal Reserve, Commerce, etc -- more inefficient bureaucracy. The cost will be born by everyone as the federal fees imposed upon the large banks and hedge funds will be passed on. The proponents claim it is a temporary fee and will not be required after five years (right).

I tend to agree with Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R, TX): "My guess is there are three unintended consequences on every page of this bill."

There are no obvious limits on "too big to fail." They have left Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in tack. Yea, that's real reform.

With limits on the big guys for making investments, what's the start-up to do to raise capital?

At least the banks and investment firms know what the rules are. They will now begin the process of figuring out how to circumvent them.

This is another example of good intentions that will have more negative repercussions than positive. It will cost everyone more money. It will make credit harder to raise. It will make America weaker economically. That's the Democrat way. We can read you like a book.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Censorship and Broadcast "Equality"

I recently read Brian Jennings' 2009 book Censorship: The Threat to Silence Talk Radio. Embarrassingly, I was not aware that the so-called Fairness Doctrine has been in place since 1949 when the FCC began requiring "broadcasters to provide 'fair-and-balanced programming' on the public airwaves. The doctrine was repealed in 1987 during the Reagan Administration on the grounds that it was no longer necessary because of the diversity of voices heard in the media marketplace...and that such a regulation might well be unconstitutional".

Mandating broadcast equality to diverse opinions clearly violates the First Amendment.

It makes running a TV and radio business anything but financially rewarding. Making sure one covers opposing viewpoints for every 'hot topic' would drive a producer insane, considering how many opposing viewpoint would like to be shared. The result was little in the way on controversial topics being addressed publicly. Instead, radio and TV news was amazingly boring. When the ban was lifted, talk radio and TV news as we know it today began to take off.

Business personnel and investors could actually provide a product that specific target markets were interested in hearing or seeing. Ads could be sold. Money could be made in broadcasting. But because one aspect of broadcasting -- conservative talk radio -- was becoming big business, those that could not compete; i.e., the liberals, attempt to regulate it out of existence.

The Fairness Doctrine means boring radio and TV news. It means less jobs because the appeal of this class of media would diminish. It means less freedom for everyone.

Most media leans towards the liberal side of politics. In many cases, it survives because it is subsidized by the government.

The intent of "fairness" regulation is designed to control freedom of speech. The nation's minority of liberal-leading voices are trying to silence any opposing viewpoints. This has been tried to the detriment of many societies from the Soviet Union and Communist China to Chavez-lead Venezuela and similar-leaning Latin and African nations.

What we see going on here is the well-established liberal agenda: 1) get into power through any means possible and 2) protect that power based with stifling and enslaving regulation and legislation.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

FCC Regulation Is Part of the Fairness Doctrine

FCC agreed this past week to begin formal consideration to adopt new rules for high- speed internet companies. These forthcoming rules will attempt go after a business' right to do what it wishes with its services.

If for example, a service provider wants to raise it prices on the users base that uses a large portion of its bandwidth, it may not be able to do so. If a service providers wants to limit access to certain sites, throttle bandwidth, and create tiered pricing, it may not be able to do so. If a service provider elects not to give away free services to those unable or unwilling to pay, they may not have that right.

This Democrat-lead FCC is anti-business. They are part of the 'more government oversight is better' constituency.

There is no reason to assume that they cannot mandate balanced coverage or access, based on political stances. For example, if the bulk of talk radio streaming is for conservative talk radio, what's to say they will not force an equal amount of streaming from the opposing political side of the issue, however various and numerous those decenting positions might be.

We also have voices claiming they need to monitor all Internet traffic in hopes of sniffing some terrorist communications. This goes against the First Amendment. Radical opinion is everyone's right. Opinion being the operative word. In other words, everyone gets stripped searched because one in ten million might be planning an attach.

Let's just do better police work and leave the civil liberties alone.

Stick a dork like Janet Napolitano (aka Big Sis) into the position of Homeland Security Director, expect idiotic ideas.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Obama, Oil and the End of the Social Experiment

The golf oil leak is a disaster of epic proportions. The fault is all over the place. The biggest fault is with the businesses that were responsive for the drilling, the platform operations and the science and associated testing behind the deep water drilling efforts.

How the Obama administration has approached this will be his millstone. they have failed on the PR front (he still continues to vacation and golf at the drop of a hat). He claims to be fighting with everything he has. That consists of Hugo-Chavezing BP into mandatory payments for associated business economic losses.

He gave one of the all-time worse presidential speeches (his speech writing is probably out looking for work) last Tuesday. After him-hawing around for a few minutes, he got to the real Obama -- more government oversight and how evil we are for using oil.

Russia, Venezuela, Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Canada, Iran, etc. all continue to drill and operate deep water oil rigs. But not America. Will Obama leading the nation, his response is opportunistic and mandates we stop off-shore drilling and investigate the accident so this never happen again.

Obama, being the puppet that he is, will support the left's energy agenda: oil bad, renwable good; high price gasoline good, SUVs bad.

I am amazed at the poor planning done by BP and Deepwater Horizon. But every other firm in this business is just lucky it was not them.

I wonder what the situation would be like if Exxon Mobile had this happen in the Indian Ocean and oil was causing harm to other countries? Would America take the insults from those countries like it is dishing out to Britain?

This leak looks like it will go on for months. The forthcoming damage will continue to escalate. This millstone will continue to down Obama, perhaps killing off the social experiment that he has been as quick as possible.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why I Love the Beautiful Game

Every four year's the soccer critics come out of their closet. On the positive, they are taking an interest World Cup and learning something about the nations which are competing and something about the USA roster. On the negative, they share their opinions about why soccer has not caught on in America and make their annual rule change suggestions.

I love soccer despite it flaws, and there are some rather obvious ones. The casual observer complains about shirt tugging, diving, and offsides (assuming they understand it). They complain about the substitution rule, teams entering the field -- prior to the start of the contest -- holding the hands of little children, and the fact there is only one referee on the field. The biggest complaint deals with the lack of goals.

A soccer fan takes great joy in watching individual performances; goals are nice but not essential to game enjoyment. I can watch a player or team turn in a dominate performance controlling the midfield. I love watching a set of defenders work together as a team. I love seeing a well-defended corner kick.

I would consider a well-earned and delivered soccer goal, especially a World Cup goal, one of the greatest athletic achievements in sport. Consider goals by Brazil's Roberto Carlos, Argentina's Maxi Rodriguez, or BBC's Best 10 World Cup Goals. I get goosebumps on some of these. That feeling rarely rears itself in basketball, college or pro. Football? Some. Hockey? More. Baseball? Even more.

We all have our favorite sports. I love the NFL and NCAA Football. I love the NHL -- Stanley Cup is my second favorite sport tourney. The college basketball (March Madness) is fun. The NBA is pathetic. Baseball is my favorite sport and I like the world Series is my favorite annual tourney. UEFA Champions League final is a must-see annual event. Although there are other world cup events (rugby, cricket, baseball), nothing compares to the FIFA World Cup.

There are some things people will stay firm in their whole lives: politics, religion and sport. I could care less if my fellow American's like soccer. I do and will always consider it the beautiful game.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Iron Maiden - Final Frontier Tour - Phoenix

It has taken me years to finally see Iron Maiden. They are currently on their Final Frontier tour and they happened to stop in Phoenix, a 2 hour drive from Tucson. So I had to buy a couple of tickets. I also had to force my wife to go (she's not a fan).

I also went because Dream Theater, my favorite band, was opening. We were running a few minutes late as as luck would have it, they came on at 7:25 p.m., a few minutes before we could get through security and to our seats. DT only played for 50 minutes (that'd be 6 songs). That was the first time my wife had seen DT and she likes them, especially John Mgung, their awesome bassist. Their set list was:

-- As I Am
-- A Rite Of Passage
-- Home
-- Constant Motion
-- Panic Attack
-- Pull Me Under

Maiden, though getting up there in years, put on a good show. My only complaint is that they played too many songs from the past ten years. Now I appreciate their evolution as artists but most people like Maiden for their classics like Trooper, Number of the Beast, Two Minutes To Midnight, and Run to the Hills, not The Reincarnation of Benjamin Breeg, Wildest Dreams, or El Dorado (off their yet to be released new album).

Their set list at the Cricket Pavilion was:

-- The Wicker Man
-- Ghost Of The Navigator
-- Wrathchild
-- El Dorado
-- Dance Of Death
-- The Reincarnation Of Benjamin Breeg
-- These Colours Don't Run
-- Blood Brothers
-- Wildest Dreams
-- No More Lies
-- Brave New World
-- Fear Of The Dark
-- Iron Maiden
-- The Number of the Beast
-- Hallowed Be Thy Name
-- Running Free

They are performers. Dickinson and Harris were all over the stage, acting like 25 year olds. McBrain was hidden behind his drum kit all night. Smith is trying to dress like he did in the 80s; that doesn't work for him any longer. Gers is not an original but did not detract. Murry looks to be the one suffering the greatest from the aging process.

I am glad I went. I am going to have to spend some time with their newer recordings in order to better appreciate what they were after.

Utah to Pac-10

For nearly 30 years, there has been talk (albeit in Utah) about Utah and BYU joining the Pac 10. This began shortly after Arizona and Arizona State joined back in the late 70s. When Colorado left the Big 12 to join the Pac 10, I was thinking and hoping that Utah might get the node to accommodate them. It did not seem logic for Texas (especially Texas), Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to join forces with the major west coast teams. When Texas elected to stay put, the others followed suit. That meant Utah was the likely candidate to be the twelfth member of the Pac 10.

Ever since moving to Utah (20 years ago), I recognized the tie to the west coast. Utah is full of people from Washington, Oregon, California and Arizona. I-80, I-84 and I-15 are asphalt ribbons to home and entertainment along the coast. Utah (and BYU) do a great deal of their recruiting in CA and AZ. What I have wondered was why there was less tie to Colorado.

Utah and BYU play Colorado State and Air Force annually. Air Force always is a worth foe; CSU rarely. But there is no real rivalry.

We are 'forced' to watch Broncos games, as if that were our 'home' team. We get most of the Rockies games (which I actually appreciate). But the AAA Salt Lake Bees are affiliated with the Angels. We started getting Big 12 games when the Fox Sport network grew. But it has been a long time since the Ute played Colorado, though we have played them many times in the past (Utah is 24-30-3 against Colorado).

Having been a Ute fan since I went to grad school back in the 80s, Ute football was less than compelling. Rarely was there a sell-out. BYU had the more predominate team in the state. A series of events including Coach McBride, Coach Majerus, the 2002 Winter Olympics and a Rice-Eccles Stadium face-lift, the brief Urban Meyer era and the undefeated season, and the current reign of Coach Whittingham, have created greater ticket sales, donations and interest.

Utah is a fine university with great engineering, medical and law schools. I appreciate my business education from there. They have a great women's gymnastics team. But they have a long way to go in the other sports. A good skiing team does not buy them many points, just points to recruits and their families.

This is a great boon for Utah. BYU is feeling stiffed. (I can understand why the Pac-10 chose Utah and not BYU; and it is about religion and Sunday play.) BYU actually has better athletic programs overall and get more attendance at football games (64k vs. 45k for Rice Eccles) -- selling out more than Utah over the years. The Holy War rivalry will still exist, but will have less impact.

The Utes will be able to begin building a nice rivalry with the Bufs. Utah will be able to compete in the Pac-10. As I am a new resident of Tucson, I will welcome games at AZ and ASU.

I could not be happier as an alumnus. Go Utes!