Big Brother, Can Ya Spare A Bonus?
In the realm of class warfare, it doesn't get any better than this. There's enough outrage for several news cycles.
For the record, I'd like to state that I find AIG's corporate actions to be some of the most reprehensible I've ever seen. I'm sure AIG will be to this decade what Enron was to the last one. I don't understand in the least sense the details behind equity trading and mortgage derivatives. Perhaps my lack of knowledge will disqualify me from making a seven figure annual salary. I can live with that.
What sticks in my craw, so to speak, is the audacity of the political chattering class to take it upon themselves to judge who is – and more importantly who is not – worthy of the elusive compensation known as a "bonus". Most of these politicians have found themselves worthy – year after year – of unwarranted pay raises and a host of fringe benefits the rest of us everyday Americans will never receive.
At least the $165 million was "earmarked" for multiple people. AIG executives are being pilloried for "running the company into the ground". Has there been any such outrage expressed at the likes of Mr. Raines, James Johnson, or Jamie Gorelick? Has Andy Cuomo subpoenaed the financials of the aforementioned individuals? Methinks not.
In a hypothetical scenario, think about this. If Freddie and Fannie hadn't imploded under the weight of sub-prime mortgages and the cooked books courtesy of Raines and Gorelick, would AIG have fallen off the cliff? I'm no economist, but it seems to me that without the first domino being shoved, the rest stand up pretty well.
Be that as it may, here's some other points to ponder: Do you really want people like Barack Obama and his inept band of politically motivated dim bulbs deciding – in their all to finite wisdom – who is worthy of a "bonus"? Should the companies be required to have their corporate rosters (from the CEO to the janitor) pass muster before the (less than) honorable Barney Frank?
If nothing happens in Vegas, do they still need an $8 billion train?
In yet another example of the Law of Consequences (unintended or otherwise), the pronouncements of the President of the United States have wrought havoc upon the very people who looked to said President as a beacon of hope and change. Well, they're getting change – just not the change they hoped for.
You can't take a trip to Las Vegas or down to the Super Bowl on the taxpayers' dime.
To be fair and somewhat balanced, some of these events may have been on the chopping block anyway simply because of the economy. Having said that, I submit that a majority of these events were simply moved to other – more acceptable – venues which would not draw the ire of the chattering class. Bear in mind, dear reader, that moving these events to other cities most likely increased the cost to the companies far and above the cost of doing business in Vegas – gambling losses notwithstanding.
So, here we find two major consequences of Obama's blackballing of Las Vegas. First off he's increased the cost of doing business to the very companies he just bailed out. Add that to the fact that blackballing the travel and tourism business from which Vegas draws its very life's blood will end up cratering an already depressed local economy and you pretty much have a perfect storm of economic disaster.
Here endeth the lesson.
Via Jim Geraghty at NRO, I came across an article which contains some behind the scenes information on Obama's disastrous visit with Gordon Brown. Geraghty had the following reaction to the article:
speaking out of school. But these are probably some of the most terrifying words to come from an unidentified source in some time.'Obama is overwhelmed.'Perhaps it's just some Obama ally
With due respect to Jim, I'm going to have to disagree with him – albeit just slightly. Personally I found this paragraph to be just as, if not more terrifying than the one he cited:
Allies of Mr. Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr. Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.
Think about this for just a minute. The President of the United States is "surprised" at the amount of work required by the job he spent over two years pursuing? The job of POTUS has to be one of, if not the most stressful job on the planet. The job follows the Oval Occupant wherever he (or she) might go. There are no vacations, respites, or any other chances to disconnect from the sheer volume of business that crosses the Resolute Desk.
The presidency has an aging effect on those who hold it. Take a look at before and after pictures of Bush (41), Clinton, and Bush (43) and the graying effect is rather obvious. Having said that, I'm not aware of any president complaining about the workload before the new carpet smell had worn out.
Most presidents, prior to sitting in the Big Chair, held some sort of executive office where they were never really "off-duty". The same cannot be said for Barack Obama. Prior to his ascension to the Oval Office, he served not-quite a full term in the US Senate. Take into account his part-time gigs as a state senator, college professor, and "community organizer" and you can pretty much sum up his professional resume in one word:
At least when compared with the Presidency. When it's all said and done, most people can't even name their US senator and even fewer give much thought to their state senator. If you can name your local community organizer, have a Vanilla Diet Pepsi on me.
Slow Joe Biden best contribution to the 2008 Race for the Oval was his statement that the presidency doesn't lend itself to "on the job training". The conventional wisdom about Team Obama was they would bring renewed "competence" to the art and science of governing.
Obama's Fuzzy Tax Math
I'm still recovering from having served a two-week sentence in Chicago – in February. After much consideration, I've decided I need a new booking agent.
I've read through many of the State of the Union that really wasn't the State of the Union reviews. Obama spent a good deal of time throwing numbers and figures around whilst engaging in a revision of automotive history for which W would have been laughed off the lectern. While Henry Ford may have invented the automobile assembly line, it was a German that actually invented the horseless carriage. His name escapes me at present.
The problem with playing fast, loose, and furious with figures is eventually somebody with a big brain comes along with a spreadsheet and starts checking your math. Well, the guys with the green eye shades over at the Wall Street Journal have gotten out their slide rules and taken Obama to task on some of his soaring and baseless rhetoric. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but I'll give you some of the best graphs with my emphasis added.
On Obama's "read my lips" pledge that anyone making $250 large or less will not see "one dime" in tax increases:
On soaking the richest 2% of Americans to fund his reckless expansion of an already bloated government:
This is going to be some trick. Even the most basic inspection of the IRS income tax statistics shows that raising taxes on the salaries, dividends and capital gains of those making more than $250,000 can't possibly raise enough revenue to fund Mr. Obama's new spending ambitions.
During the campaign, Obama's definition of "wealthy" slide from $300 large all the way down to $150 large. I don't think it's presumptuous of me to say there are those in Congress – The Pelosi, Barney Frank, Maxine Waters, etc. – who have a much lower "wealthy" threshold than does Obama. As we've already seen, Barry is more likely than not to acquiesce to them than they are to him. It's his way of voting "present".
Note that federal income taxes are already "progressive" with a 35% top marginal rate, and that Mr. Obama is (so far) proposing to raise it only to 39.6%, plus another two percentage points in hidden deduction phase-outs. He'd also raise capital gains and dividend rates, but those both yield far less revenue than the income tax. These combined increases won't come close to raising the hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue that Mr. Obama is going to need.
So, the WSJ guys ran some experimental numbers on what threshold would be necessary to meet the $4 trillion budget Team Obama plans to spend in Fiscal Year 2010 (which starts on October 1, 2009). Here's what they came up with:
Simply put, Obama's math doesn't add up. NRO's CampaignSpot blogger Jim Geraghty has coined the phrase that "all statements made by Barack Obama come with an expiration date. All of them."
Even taking every taxable "dime" of everyone earning more than $75,000 in 2006 would have barely yielded enough to cover that $4 trillion.
Fast forward to this year (and 2010) when the Wall Street meltdown and recession are going to mean far few taxpayers earning more than $500,000. Profits are plunging, businesses are cutting or eliminating dividends, hedge funds are rolling up, and, most of all, capital nationwide is on strike. Raising taxes now will thus yield far less revenue than it would have in 2006.
The bottom line is that Mr. Obama is selling the country on a 2% illusion. Unwinding the U.S. commitment in Iraq and allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire can't possibly pay for his agenda. Taxes on the not-so-rich will need to rise as well.
Check your wallet, dear reader. You've probably got milk in your refrigerator that will last longer than Obama's "not one dime" pledge will.
Check my math. Is $208,850 still less than $250 large?
Here endeth the lesson.
The Parable of Plan Porkulus
After having read much of the commentary surrounding Team Obama's full court press to pass the non-simulative, pork laden, sorry excuse for an economic recovery plan, I've only become more frustrated by what passes for solid economic action these days.
But I digress.
Therefore, on a more lighthearted note, I've decided to share with you the Parable of Plan Porkulus. It's not entirely an original work. Unlike our current Vice-President, I did not entirely plagiarize someone else's work – I only paraphrased it to make my point. Enjoy!
In the beginning was the Election. In the face of the Election, the MSM looked out upon the firmament and said "Let there be Obama!"
And there was Obama. And Obama lacked substance.
"Be ye not concerned," said the MSM, "for what he lacks of substance we will make up for with style".
And it came to pass that the nation's marketplace became troubled and there was much concern among the people. The people, therefore did look to Obama for further light and knowledge in the form of a Plan.
Therefore, Obama did sit in the Oval Office and thought to himself "I have not the economic sense that God gave the turtle. Let me go henceforth and seek out the counsel of the Treasury."
And Obama did walk across the street to the Treasury and, upon seeking counsel, heard this lament from those who dwelt therein: "Behold, the One, we have not a viable Plan for the SECTREAS knows not how to navigate TurboTax without being beguiled by the very tax code he seeks to enforce. Wherefore seek thou counsel elsewhere."
Being much perplexed, Obama did journey to Capitol Hill whereupon he met with The Pelosi and Harry of the Barren Desert. "Behold," he cried, "I am the One heretofore prophesized by Oprah! I won the Election! Create thee with thy minions, therefore, a Plan whereby our Party can beguile the Nation unto the convincing of the People that peace and prosperity can only be accomplished through the merciful actions of a kind and gentle government."
Thus did The Pelosi and Harry of the Barren Desert descend into the smoke filled caverns of Capitol Hill and did work mightily into the night to create Plan Porkulus. In the morning The Pelosi did stand before the MSM and the evil Republicans and did boldly declare the need to pass Plan Porkulus lest another 500 million jobs be sacrificed upon the economic alter.
And it came to pass that the Republicans did look upon Plan Porkulus in all its obesity and did offer their opinions unto the People and the MSM: "It is a crock of s**t and it stinketh for behold its simulative value is without form and it altogether lacks substance."
The MSM did speak unto the people, basking in the afterglow of the Election and also having been recently in the presence of The One and did say "It is a container of a vital growth promoting substance with an interesting odor. Nevertheless, as it has been blessed by The One we find it to be fascinating and of good report."
The Wall Street Journal did look upon Plan Porkulus, and being more polite than House Republicans, did say "It is a container of excrement with an odor that few can tolerate."
Wherefore did Harry of the Barren Desert take upon himself the mantle of Plan Porkulus, boldly declaring that "It contains that which aids plant growth and it is indeed strong."
SlowJoe Biden did also look upon Plan Porkulus and did say "It is a powerful promoter of growth, but there is still a 30% chance we'll be screwed."
Wherefore The One did extend his mighty hand and venture forth among the People and the assembled worshipping throngs of MSM reporters. He did suffer the poor and downtrodden to come unto him along with the disgruntled fast food workers all the while proclaiming "This plan will greatly stimulate the growth and efficiency of this country."
Thus did The Pelosi, Harry of the Barren Desert, and their minions declare in one voice "This is a good plan!"
And Plan Porkulus became law.
This is how s**t happens.
Thank you, Mr. Hanks
For the record, let me plainly state that I believe Tom Hanks to be one of, if not the finest actor of his and many other generations. He has been honored by a myriad of institutions for his work as an actor (two Academy Awards) as well as a producer – most recently of the exceptional docudrama chronicling the life of America's second President, John Adams.
For the record, I think Saving Private Ryan was robbed of its true status as Best Picture. But I digress.
So, when I heard that Mr. Hanks had called me, and all the other member of the religion I follow "un-American" for having supported California's Proposition 8, I was taken aback.
Today, I am heartened by Mr. Hanks' apology. It takes a big man to admit having crossed a line in acceptable public discourse. Its good to know there are still some people who can do that.
Tom Hanks and I don't see eye to eye on the issue of same sex "marriage". Somehow we can both be civil about this difference of opinion. I just wish the rest of the anti-Prop 8 crowd would get that memo.
Here endeth the lesson.
Why I Stand With W
In 1986, Sylvester Stallone starred in the cop/action movie “Cobra”. It was the quintessential Stallone hero flick which basically consists of Stallone delivering cheesy lines whilst firing several automatic weapons at the same time.
The movie’s opening scene consists of Stallone’s character Martin Cobretti pulling a John Wayne and waxing a dozen or so thugs who had taken over a Los Angeles supermarket. Having saved the day, he walks outside only to be accosted by a throng of media. A wimpy looking reporter sticks a microphone in Cobretti’s face and asks the question:
Did you use unnecessary deadly force?Cobretti’s response, delivered deadpan was:
I used everything I had.
The legacy of President George W. Bush (hereafter referred to as W) will be the subject of much debate for years to come. It will take a long time for the BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome) infested MSM will be able to get over itself and manage to produce something about W that doesn’t include the name “Hitler” or “tyrant”. With all the blame shoveling Team Obama will do in the next two years, I’m not optimistic as to how W will be treated by those whose view of history is shorter the attention span of a gnat.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I voted for W – twice. In 2000 he was the obvious choice over Bill Clinton’s designated tree hugger Algore – Florida’s confused electorate notwithstanding. In 2004, he was the even more obvious choice over Massachusetts’ junior senator, John “Lurch” Kerry – MSM exit polling data notwithstanding.
There is one major reason why I – to this day – stand with W. Faced with the first attack on the continental United States by a foreign aggressor since the War of 1812, W had to make a decision. He could – as his predecessor Bill Clinton had – choose to handle the latest terrorist attack as a criminal matter that could be “managed” and “dealt with” without the need of messy foreign military and political entanglements. He didn’t take that route.
Instead he chose to stand in the gap and fight back. He stood atop the ruins of lower Manhattan and declared that those responsible for “knocking these buildings down will hear from all of us real soon.” Even as W made this declaration, MSM luminaries like the LA Times’ Howard Rosenberg were lamenting how W’s image “fails to fill the screen”.
In taking America to war, W has ruffled a lot of feathers and irritated a lot of sensibilities in the way he has used the nation’s resources to fight a faceless and state-less foe. Instead of just rattling America’s saber, W saw fit to actually use it. After nearly a decade of mothballed disuse, W unleashed America’s intelligence gathering apparatus and ordered it to find, detain, and yes interrogate those individuals desiring to make September 11, 2001 a normal part of American life.
W did not, despite the maniacal rantings of the 9/11 “Truthers”, intend to be a wartime president. However, having been handed the responsibility of leading the nation during wartime, he has used every tool and resource at his disposal to preserve, protect, and defend the United States against a very determined foe. America had a lot of catching up to do as this enemy, in one form or another, had been waging war against her for over three decades.
War, by its very nature, is unpredictable. George Patton once quipped that “battle plans seldom survive first contact with the enemy”. W had to manage a new type of asymmetric warfare – one that transcended national boundaries – on a battlefield which ranged from the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan to the shifting sands of Iraq. Mistakes, of course, were made. W, like Abraham Lincoln, went through many generals until he found one who could deliver victory.
Throughout this conflict, W has endured the relentless drumbeat of partisan criticism amplified by the democratic party’s public relations arm – commonly known as the MSM. What would have been branded as treasonous in past wars was dressed up and called “loyal opposition”, “whistle blowing”, and “true patriotism”. Elected representatives, senators, and even presidential candidates declared the war on terror to be a lost cause. That America must come to an “accommodation” with the Islamofacist Murdering Thugs nearly became accepted conventional wisdom.
Through all of that, W remained stubbornly in the gap – refusing to acquiesce to the demands of an increasingly hostile Congress and a plummeting approval rating fueled by the MSM.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t agree with everything W has done while sitting in the Big Chair. I wish he’d done more to secure the border. I wish he’d listened less to Ted Kennedy on NCLB. I was not a fan of the attempt at immigration reform. I really wish he would’ve objected more strenuously to the sunset provisions which congressional liberals inserted into his tax cut package. In the end, however, those are details which we have the ability to haggle about because, though at war, the business of the nation still gets done.
In just under two weeks, W will step down from the watchtower he has faithfully manned for eight years. For a time there will be an ecstatic release from the BDS crowd – especially those afflicted with the Hot Molten Crazy strain of the disease. Eventually, however, I think his presence on that wall will be missed by the very people who have spent so much time and energy pillorying him and burning him in effigy. To paraphrase Aaron Sorkin’s fictional Colonel Nathan Jessup, they wanted him on that wall, they needed him on that wall. Now that wall will be manned by a president who has never before confronted any crisis of any type. Those same people who vilified W for doing his job now hold doubts about the man they elected in his stead.
“Domestic policy”, according to the elder Bush, “can get us thrown out office but foreign policy can get us killed.” In the final analysis – whenever it is written – I believe history will be much kinder to W than will the current BDS MSM crowd. I believe he will be seen as a president who defended his nation to the best of his ability. In short, he’ll be able to confidently say that he used everything he had.
Here endeth the lesson.