Thursday, October 30, 2008
In grad school, if you plagiarise, you are expelled from the program with absolutely no hope of ever getting into another college to continue your pursuit. It's that serious. Unfortunately, in politics, you just throw out some rhetoric about how you want to be get back to doing the business of the people and stand up for the hard working middle classes folks.
I hear so much crap about the middle class that it almost makes you think that they don't give a flying poop about the poor. And they imply that they're damning the rich, when in fact, most politicians are rich themselves, their friends are rich, and their donors are rich.
"Pssst. Hey, Bob. I know you're rich, but in my speech tonight I'm going to talk about how you need to pay more taxes and how I'm really looking out for the middle class. Just wanted to let you know ahead of time that I don't really mean that. You and me are buddies. I've got your back!"
This is the conversation that politicians are having with rich people.
So anyway, back to my point. I was watching CNN at the gym yesterday and Joe Biden was giving that aforementioned speech. He said that the failed economic policies of Bush and McCain have hurt over 100 million middle class American families. 100 MILLION middle class American families. That's a lot!
Wait a minute! If the average family has 3.5 people in it, that's 350 million people. And considering that there are 300 million people in the United States, that's quite an accomplishment! Bush hurt more people in one category than there are people in the whole. So, according to Joe Biden's math skills, there are no poor or rich people in America. We are all middle class.
Perhaps Garrison Keillor is a speech writer for the Democratic Party now. Who knows. But Joe, we're not ALL that stupid. Some are. But not all.
Assuming Joe the Plumber works alone or works for someone else, yes, this may be the case. However, let's think about this realistically. I will use my brother-in-law's business as an example. So instead of Joe the Plumber, we have Joe the Tree Trimmer.
My BIL makes over $1 million per year. Sounds awesome, doesn't it? Oh, wait. He has 12 employees. Let's say they average about $45,000 per year. That's $540,000 per year in salary. Half of his money is gone!
Let's not forget about unemployment compensation that he has to pay for each employee. And payroll taxes. And then there's the gas for the 6 trucks that runs about $6000 per month. And when he takes down a big tree he has to rent a crane. You can't exactly go out and buy a million dollar crane when you're Joe the Tree Trimmer. And disposing the debris, yes, he has to pay for that, too.
By the time all is said and done, he's way under $250,000. And because Obama refuses to provide any details about any of his plans, we are not really sure how his taxes would affect small businesses. Therefore, if you are a small business owner, be scared. Be very scared. Obama plans to run you out of business. He wants to stick it to you so that you pay your fair share.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
If you have never read a Sinclair Lewis book, you are in a good situation. When I informed a coworker that I was reading the book he told me to put it down and just go watch the movie. This is one of the few cases where the movie is WAY better than the book. I haven't seen the movie, but I already agree.
Sinclair Lewis' style of writing is not very literary. It's more sequential and matter of fact. And the sequence is not fluid. In one chapter I read about Gantry in college in great detail. The next thing you know he's hob-nobbing with important people. Then a couple chapters go by that elapse many years of his life. Then all of a sudden we have several chapters dealing with the same era. It's like only 5 different years of Gantry's life were important and there is no need for much transition between the years.
So if you are wondering who Elmer Gantry is, he is a arrogant religious zealot with dreams of running the world in his ultra-conservative style, yet he is ultimately flawed with the characteristics that he condemns, especially his sexual appetite for young ladies. That's really all you need to know. Now you can tell all your less-educated friends that you know all about Elmer Gantry.
To use him in context, if you hear about Obama endorsing abortion or liberal social agendas, you can say, "Boy, Elmer Gantry would not have agreed with that." All of your friends will will turn to look at you with awe and respect you for your well-rounded educated opinion.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sure, attack ads are just part of the political process. You say that you're awesome and your opponent sucks and then you make exaggerated outrageous claims against him that are entirely out of context and everyone thinks the other person is a jerk. Then the opponent plays the same ad, but changes roles, and the game continues.
For example, Frank Kratovil said that Andy Harris likes Big Utilities. Harris voted in favor of Big Utilities and got campaign contributions. Then Big Utilities raised our rates. Hello! Pretty much everyone in the Maryland General Assembly voted in favor of Big Utilities. And nearly all politicians, Republican and Democrat, including our humble Governor, Martin O'Malley, received campaign contributions from Big Utilities (e.g. Constellation Energy, aka BGE).
So, Mr. Frank Kratovil the hard-left leaning Liberal lawyer: when you get elected, which I unfortunately predict you will, let's see how much money you don't accept from Big Everything and stay true to yourself. I'll bet it lasts 2.3 seconds. As soon as you're in office, you'll be accepting money and voting in favor of your biggest contributors, not the voters in your district. Be honest - you know you're a dishonest crook just like the rest of them. That's oxymoronic, isn't it???
And here's a message for the Republican Party of Maryland. Maryland is full of Democrats. You are not going to win seats by running ultra conservatives like Andy Harris. The only Republicans outside of Western Maryland that can get elected are moderates. If Andy Harris loses this seat for Maryland Republicans, we will be left with 1 Republican in Congress - Roscoe Bartlett. And guess what? The district map will be redrawn in 2010 and you better believe that the uber-liberal O'Malley will redraw that district to go down into Montgomery County with the ultimate plan of permanently eliminating Republican Congressmen from Maryland.
We're outnumbered. Stop playing the game arrogantly and start playing it intelligently.
Monday, October 27, 2008
HOUSE REPUBLICAN CAUCUS MEDIA RELEASE
For Immediate Release
Contact: Shannon Oxley (410) 841-3401
Carrie Simons-Sparrow (410) 841-3401
Maryland House Republicans Respond to O’Malley Budget Cuts
Maryland House Republicans today responded to Governor O’Malley’s announcement of his planned budget cuts with skepticism.
“ Last year at this time we were told that the state was in a fiscal crisis, and the only way to deal with the situation was to increase taxes, while still continuing to increase spending” said Minority Leader Anthony O’Donnell. “Both during the special session and the 2008 regular legislative session, we continued to remind the administration and the Democratic leadership that increasing taxes and spending at a time when the economy was headed into a downturn was irresponsible and reckless. By disregarding our advice, they have created the situation that makes these cuts necessary. They cannot simply blame the national economic downturn.”
The actions taken during the special session of 2007 raised taxes in Maryland by $1.3 billion, the largest increase in State history, while total spending increased from fiscal year 2008 to 2009 by 4.2%, an increase of $1.3 billion. The Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan tax research group based in Washington, D.C., announced on Oct 15th that, according to their annual review of “business friendliness” of each state’s tax systems, Maryland dropped from 24th in the nation to 45th. This was the largest decline of any state in the nation, a direct result of the O’Malley tax increases.
“This administration has increased taxes and spending in an already gloomy economic environment. Raising taxes right before a national recession has worsened this crisis, dampening consumer spending and creating a climate that will discourage job creation” said Minority Whip Christopher Shank. “Yet Governor O’Malley refuses to acknowledge his own part in the current situation, and continues to ignore our calls for responsible fiscal leadership.”
“The House Republican Caucus has offered an alternative budget proposal for the past two years, and we have been soundly ignored and even flippantly dismissed for entirely partisan political reasons” continued Delegate O’Donnell. “Are the administration and the legislative leadership going to continue setting unrealistic budgets and coming back with doomsday scenarios as an annual event? Or will we finally recognize that significant, honest, ongoing reductions and a fundamental change in attitude is the only way to prevent exactly that?”
“We will continue to offer alternative budget solutions that are thought-out, honest, and reflect core priorities” said Delegate Shank. “Cutting core state priorities like public safety and services to vulnerable populations would not be necessary if the Administration and Democratic leadership had restrained the rate of growth and reigned in spending like we proposed for the past two sessions. Now is the time to seriously consider all of the options available in order to ensure that Maryland citizens are served by their government rather than being encumbered by it.”
Martin O'Malley, who opposed slots under Ehrlich, but favors him now that he is the governor, is pushing for the slots referendum. I am not against having slots in Maryland. However, I have been to Atlantic City and if this is what slots brings, no thank you. Leave that trash in New Jersey. Sounds like a contradiction, but I think I may have fallen into the old, "well if it's done correctly, then it may work" philosophy.
Rather than voting on the slots issue themselves and looking like total hypocrites, the Maryland Democrats voted to have a referendum. Referendums are questions that are put on the ballot for the voters to decide when politicians don't want to get in trouble for attaching their name to a law. Imagine if someone like Maryland Delegate Kumar Barve, who was arrested for drunk driving, but managed to have it expunged from his record (meaning it didn't really happen), voted in favor of slots and his constituents didn't like it. They would vote him out of office.
The problem with this referendum is that it puts the slots bill in the MARYLAND CONSTITUTION! This isn't like passing a law that says that the speed limit can't be above 65 mph. This is like the Big Time Law. It's nearly irrevocable. If voters pass this referendum, and it turns out to be horrible, then will have to convince their unresponsive politicians to put it back on referendum to have it removed from the Constitution.
In the newsletter that I subscribe to from State Comptroller Peter Franchot, he says:
This slots referendum doesn't just legalize slots - it writes gambling into our state Constitution. And, it is very specific. Not only are we enshrining slot machine gambling into the Constitution with Question 2 - we're going to make it nearly impossible to change the law. Once it's in our Constitution - we have to pass another Constitutional amendment to protect Maryland families.
This law does not belong in our Constitution. It needs to be passed by our legislatures in the General Assembly. There is a difference.
Additionally, O'Malley is airing misleading advertisements about what the slots will do. He says that it will generate $600 million for schools. I read that this may be over-inflated by as much as 150%. That's a HUGE over-inflation.
Additionally, as Blair Lee has pointed out, the slots referendum says that much of the money will go to schools. However, there is no "back-door" provision in the law. This means that O'Malley can divert the current funding sources to education and use that for something else, like mirrors in his office to see his pretty smile. Therefore, the slots will not mean additional funding for education, it would be THE funding source for education.
And everyone's assuming that this will bring in a lot of money. If Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, and West Virginia already have slots, are we really bringing that much more money into the state? How much gambling money is there to spend? No one should expect new gambling money to be pumped into the system. We're just going to spread existing gambling money around.
Furthermore, if the slots referendum passes, this money will start pouring in immediately, right? Or do you suppose the state will have to order the machines, sign contracts with gambling companies, and build facilities first? Does this mean that the slots could be several years away from fruition? But O'Malley said that in these tough economic times, slots are needed now. perhaps they have already been brokering dark alley deals and everything's is ready to go. Wouldn't that be nice? Politicians doing things behind our backs. That's never happened before.
Anyone who's over 25 knows that tough economic times usually do not last several years. O'Malley is just looking for a phantom boost to our economy. he's pretending that he's "making the tough decisions to invest in our future." He's so full of crap. He's making scape-goat decisions to help lengthen his political career. Martin O'Malley is so vain that he probably thinks Carly Simon's song is about him. Hey, Martin O'Malley, have you been to Nova Scotia lately?
If Marylanders were smarter than we are, we'd reject the slots referendum and start working on removing this bone-head from office. We want a governor that's interested in Maryland, not a governor that's interested in Martin O'Malley.
Friday, October 24, 2008
Anyway, I have about 400 blog posts that I've written in my head, but am sure that I will only capture a few of them on paper…or more accurately, digital print media.
Lately I have been thinking about how the government is buying stock in all of these banks with the hope of propping them up. They have even considered buying stock in GM and Ford with the hopes of helping them, too. Though I don't really agree with this, I understand their logic. If the United States Government is a shareholder, especially a large shareholder, then the company has to listen to them. And with the confidence of a large shareholder to restart the dolling out of credit, this will help get the economy going again.
Now, my problem is several-fold. The first - will the government plan on permanent ownership in stock of these companies? This I am totally against. The government does not belong in our bedrooms, our checkbooks, and we should not be competing with them in the stock market.
Secondly, WHEN the government gets out of direct ownership in the stock market, will it be subject to capital gains taxes? If so, what rate will they pay? I can imagine the tax form now: If you make between $5 trillion and $10 trillion, your rate is Capital Gains tax rate is 39%. And if the government sells the stock at a loss, where does the loss go? Will they deduct that from what they need to pay for Social Security?
And speaking of Social Security. Remember when George Bush floated the idea of allowing Americans to invest a portion (a PORTION) of their social security payments in the stock market? Every Lib in town went berserk. You would have thought that he wanted Aunt Mildred to put her life savings in a dot-com company that specializes in currency arbitrage. I heard from the CFO of the finance department of the Plastic Bubble Wrap Department here at American Amalgamated Conglomerates of America, that what GW really had in mind was investing a small portion, like 1-10%, of their SSI into mutual fund-based investments where risk is diminished. Because, as you know, the stock market has averaged 10% a year since I don't know when. It's not always up, but it is usually up over any 10 year period. Uncle Jesse would not be flipping option straddles under the buttonwood tree on Wall and Broad streets.
Now, no one really flinches at the idea that the government is buying stock in companies. Perhaps now that we are experiencing it, society will be less against it. And imagine if we could invest our money now while many stocks are down 50-70%. Here at AACA, our stock is down 65% in 36 days. Yikes! If there's a quick rebound, that's lots of money!
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Barbara Mikulski is mad. She's madder 'en hell. She told me so. She wants to protect Bal'mer and Mer'lin. You see, in order to know what our far-left leaning liberal leaders are doing I signed up for their email newsletters. One of my friends phrased it as "spying on the enemy". I wouldn't call it spying. Senator Mikulski never asked me if I was a clear-thinking educated voter, commonly referred to a Republican. So it's not really spying. It's more like eavesdropping.
I recently sent Senator Mikulski a message letting her know that I did not agree with the terms of the economic bailout package that she and her cronies in Congress devised. For example, did you know that some of the bailout money, which is funded by you the taxpayers, loans from the Chinese and the Middle East, and by printing more money, making our money less valuable, included tons of pork?
Sure, there were some good things. FDIC insurance was raised from $100,000 to $250,000. That actually makes sense. However, a toy arrow manufacturer in Oregon received tax credits to continue producing these arrows, though Oregon's leaders in Congress deny inserting the provision. This seems to be the epitome of ridiculousness.
Other pork includes changes in tax laws for depreciating racetrack construction, a revenue sharing program for the rural schools and community self-determination program, costing taxpayers $3.3 Billion, tax credits to movie producers for producing their movies in the United States, an economic development package to American Samoa, and a program to provide benefits to people who ride their bicycles to work.
As you can clearly see, the need to maintain the integrity of our credit system hinged on toy arrows and bicycle commuters. Who knew that Oregon and American Samoa were the tipping point between world-wide economic collapse and a rosy future of economic prosperity?
So back to my letter from Bab's. Bab's writes that the taxpayers…"watched Wall Street executives pay themselves lavish salaries. They've watched irresponsible lending practices. They've watched Wall Street gamble on risky investment mechanisms. Now those very same Americans who've worked hard and played by the rules are being asked to pay the bill for those who didn't." Okay, Bab's, enough of the drama.
Wall Street Executives do not pay themselves. You know that. Only Congress pays themselves. Oh, snap! That's right. You vote on your own pay. Doesn't this make you a hypocrite? Sure does! In fact, executive pay by publicly traded companies is determined by the Board of Directors of the company which they work for. Millions of Americans are right when they say that "Barbara Mikulski doesn't know what she's talking about."
Irresponsible lending practices. Yes, kind of like the practices mandated by the Community Reinvestment Act that the Congress passed in 1977 requiring lending companies to give loans to low-income applicants - applicants who normally not qualify for loans. Low interest rates during the early 2000's exacerbated the problem. Is Wall Street to blame? Or the head-hunting loan scalpers?
Bab's goes on to say that the bill "protects tax payers". Protects tax payers? By requiring us to repay the first installment of what could be a $3 trillion bailout? If you call that protecting me, get the cuss out of Dodge, Miss Senator!
And let's not forget her attack of "Wall Street", you know those greedy irresponsible bastards who operate on loose regulations. What Bab's conveniently ignores is that "Wall Street" is a euphemism for the financial industry, a financial industry that extends across the country and right down Pratt Street. I know she doesn't give a shit, but there are a few decent sized "Wall Street" companies in Baltimore that are money managers that are getting their ass kicked by the market, some deservedly, others without cause.
Punish them all, Babs. They all deserve a hard and swift kick in the ankles. Because we all know that the upper management people will be the ones punished, not the rank and file employees that get laid off by the thousands, right? Oh, maybe not!
So, Babs Mikulski, before you go around with your miniature vicious attacks on the companies that manage our 401(k)'s, employ thousands of people, and provide the means to live in a house and raise a family, be cautious of what you vote for. It may come back to cause huge repercussions for thousands of your constituents. You know the ones - the ones that work and that are not on welfare and provide the tax dollars that keep this country moving.
We're mad as hell, too. And we vote. At least I hope so.
Thank you for getting in touch with me about the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (P.L. 110-343). It's good to hear from you.
I know that taxpayers are mad as hell, and so am I. They've watched Wall Street executives pay themselves lavish salaries. They've watched irresponsible lending practices. They've watched Wall Street gamble on risky investment mechanisms. Now those very same Americans who've worked hard and played by the rules are being asked to pay the bill for those who didn't.
Time and time again we have seen the consequences of loose regulations and wimpy enforcement. Time and time again I voted for more teeth and better regulation. I voted to get the lead paint out of toys and the lead out of the bureaucracy at the Consumer Product Safety Commission. I voted to strengthen Federal Drug and Administration (FDA) to make sure it didn't approve dangerous drugs. I also worked to stop predatory lending and flipping in the mortgage market.
I remember back in 1999 when this banking mess got started. I was one of the nine Senators who voted against the bill that got rid of the division between investment banks and commercial banks. It lowered the bar on regulation and allowed for casino economics.
Now, we are facing a credit crisis that affects everyone - from people getting loans for college, to the small business owner who depends on credit to buy inventory. If we do not deal with this credit crisis, I believe that the Main Street economy will have to pay the bill for the bailout and pay the bill again in lost jobs, and in shrinking retirement and pensions.
Regrettably, this rescue is necessary to restore confidence and stability in our economy. The final version that passed is vastly improved from the three page bill that President Bush and Secretary Paulson originally sent to Congress. It protects tax payers, provides oversight and transparency, and rejects using tax payer dollars to finance golden parachutes for Wall Street CEOs. That's why I voted for it. This legislation was necessary to protect our economy, our middle class, and our way of life. But I heard the taxpayers loud and clear. Much more needs to be done to provide for rigorous reform and retribution against those who broke the law.
The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act was passed by both the House and Senate, and was recently signed into law by the President. Knowing of your views was very helpful to me, and I will keep them in mind. If you'd like to read more, I encourage you to visit the "News Room" page of my website at http://mikulski.senate.gov/Newsroom/PressReleases/index.cfm where you can read the transcripts of my three floor statements on this issue.
Again, thanks for contacting me. Please let me know if I can be of help to you in the future.
Barbara A. Mikulski
United States Senator
Friday, October 10, 2008
Now, from a historical perspective, you'll agree that Def Leppard is the 2nd or 3rd best band of all time -after Van Halen, of course, and perhaps a statistical tie with Led Zeppelin. Now, I'm talking rock bands here. This does not include those boy-bands, like that 1960's version of Nsync. What was it called, the Beatles?
So anyway, I heard them sing Let's Get Rocked (Adrenalizer), Animal and Pour Some Sugar on Me (Hysteria), and Foolin' (Pyromania). Now, there's no doubt that they were singing live. Let's face it - they're in their late 40's. At this point, I'd make a good frontman for the band. Overall, though, I think they did a good job. Though the singing was not up to their vintage 80's peak, their guitar and drum playing was probably even better than it was 25 years ago.
I do want to point out that those Limeys did make one HUGE faux pas. They brought out the Cup. Joe Elliott (lead singer) grabbed the Cup and carried over to the podium and placed it upside-down. Dolt!!! I think it was Darren McCarty who ran over to the podium and flipped it around to which Elliot replied, "What do we know? We're just a bunch of soccer guys."
Oh, well. At least hockey season has started.
On a funny note - there was an article on Fox Sports about Alexander Ovechkin and the importance of hockey mom's. The article pointed out that like Sarah Palin, Ovechkin's mom made many sacrifices for her son.
A friend of mine emailed me and asked why they didn't mention Sidney Crosby in the article. I told him that the article was about mothers and I think that Crosby was raised by a same-sex couple in San Francisco.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Another reason I haven't blogged much recently is that I'm spending most of my free time stuffing my mattress with what little money I have left. At least it makes my mattress more comfortable. Jim Cramer, THE most irresponsible financial prick on television, told me and all Americans to sell everything and help intensify the panic. He performed magically as he delivered his advice. He even pretended to choke up. Unfortunately, it was not because Ann Curry was choking him.
One thing that's kept me busy this week, as I've mentioned, is work. Now I should be more productive than I am. However, my company, Conglomerated Association of Industrial and Financial Conglomerates, like other industrial and financial conglomerates, has farmed out work to India for the cheaper labour. However, in doing so, we are now forced to take a class in interpretation and logic.
To illustrate, here are some of the endearing emails that I have received from some of our friends in India:
Dear Eludius, I Review the issues sent by you earlier all the report Case issues and wrongs names are based on the data loaded to XML. If there is no issues with the Layout (Ignore Cases and names) it will the Data needs to be tested.
Dear Eludius, I update the templates and ran the test again. The data in the XML matches the requirement. I would test the report publishing side and let you know if there is any issue.
Would test it? But what? Are you taunting me? Are we missing a conjunction here? I have a sweet School House Rock video that this guy needs to watch.
And this one - very enthusiastic, I think, or are we in trouble?:
Dear Eludius, Thanks to all in supporting this till now and will continue to expect you overwhelmed support in this matter for the next few days when it crucial to get this completed.
Can you help me with this one?
Dear Eludius, Till now I am not able to get a confirmation what that is DEV has the last piece of development.
Dear, India, Till now I have no idea what you're asking me. Or should I say, 'Till now askings what you confirmation not to the able?'
Finally, what is this sentence missing? Oh, yes. A verb.
Dear Eludius, This the new plan as indicated in our weekly meeting with the business.
Now, don't get me wrong. Each person that I deal with is very friendly and never shows any signs of frustration. And this can make for some great entertainment. But be forewarned. If you outsource to another country, this is the kind of communication you will need to learn to understand. And never forget, I as expects you overwhelmed the mostly to be if you when work the outsourced.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I'm in physical therapy right now for my neck problem that I had mentioned previously. Today the therapist had me sit in a chair to do my neck exercises. Luckily for me a really nice looking girl was on the table in front of me doing her exercises. Apparently I was doing mine incorrectly because the therapist came over and corrected me. "Keep your head up and focus your eyes on something over there." "Oh, but I am!" I couldn't stop laughing!
Retirement vs. Fantasy Football
With all the market turmoil and yesterday being the last day of the third quarter, I decided to take a look at my retirement statement online. Boy I wish I hadn't. I'm down quite a bit. Now I'm not sure what's doing worse - my fantasy football team or my 401(k).
Did you hear this one? The Washington Post announced they were not going to cover Ralph Nader's campaign for President because he has no chance of winning. When informed of this, Nader responded, "Then why are they covering the Nationals?"
How about this one? When asked if she was looking forward to the Vice-Presidential debate on Thursday, Republican Sarah Palin responded about Joe Biden, "I'm looking forward to meeting him. I've never met him," she said at a rally here. "I've been hearing about his Senate speeches since I was in, like, the second grade."
And the VPILF acronym? Yes, I lifted that from another blog, but I like it. I'm sure you can figure it out.