Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas Charade


Pundits on the right are declaring “Boehner Blinks” and “House Republicans Cave”, while the left is gleefully touting “Obama Wins” and “Victory”.  Pardon me for not sharing in either the glee of the left or the shame of the right over the payroll tax charade.  Neither is justified.  To make my point I cite these three axioms of politics:  

  1. Pandering always trumps austerity when a single group is given a choice.   (The only way to lose a pander is to pander to a narrow group and impose austerity on a broader group, or blatantly pander to buy votes, and get caught.)  
  2. Presidents always have the upper hand against opposition in congress.   (Forget the bully pulpit, network face-time, press office, etc.  Presidents can outmaneuver congress the way a Porsche outmaneuvers a freight train, even before taking the bully pulpit into account.)
  3. No party can lead while controlling only half a branch of the legislature.  (When Newt Gingrich and the Republicans succeeded in working with  Bill Clinton to get all those landmark agenda items through, like a balanced budget, welfare reform, and capital gains tax cuts, they controlled both the Senate and the House.  Republicans today have only the House.)
What this means is that all the handwringing and celebrations going on are unwarranted. For one, this outcome was about as unpredictable as a sunrise.  Second, the principled but impolitic stand of the House Republicans will be forgotten in a matter of minutes.   And finally, aren’t House approval ratings already in single digits?   Does it matter if they go lower?

That’s not to say there weren’t winners and losers in all this.  Obama clearly has won a PR battle and will benefit in the polls.  On the losing end:  everyone who will inherit this mess.

Oh, and Merry Christmas!   

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Obamaball


Have you seen the movie “Moneyball” or read the Michael Lewis book by the same name?  To make a long story short, it is a true story about winning baseball games without superstars by taking a deeper look at the statistics and analyzing them in a better way.  Baseball and economics share a fondness for statistics so the question arises, could economic statistics reveal a similarly undiscovered strategy for the economy like what Oakland General Manager Billy Beane did in “Moneyball”?  Moreover, could the President's economic plan ,“Obamaball”, be that strategy?  

Baseball stats and economic stats are not all that comparable.  In baseball there have always been nine members on a team, ninety feet has always been the distance between bases, sixty feet six inches has always been the distance from the mound to the plate, the bat is always wood, there are three outs, three strikes, four balls, nine innings, and so forth.  Therefore, an ERA has always been an ERA, an AVG has always been an AVG, and R, H, and E have always been R, H, and E.   

If only things were as simple in economic statistics, especially since the big ones all come from the government.  Unlike baseball, the government is always changing how they measure and what they measure.  Sometimes the statistics change because of an unintended consequence from a change in a law.   Sometimes it is for practical reasons.  And sometimes it just seems political.   After all, government economic stats come from the very government they sit in judgment of!

Here are four key statistics which form the basis for much of the economic rhetoric heard today.  In all four cases these statistics fail the baseball test.   

       Inflation (CPI)– Not only has the Bureau of Labor Statistics changed the way it measures inflation over the years, notably in 1980 and 1990, but they cannot avoid relying on prices for manufactured imported goods which tell us more about foreign labor markets and regulations than they do about our own currency.  When these changes are backed-out, the actual inflation rate is about 2.5% higher than what is reported.  What makes inflation so problematic is that all other measures of economic performance are “inflation adjusted” and thus dependent on an accurate inflation number to start with.  Even corporate earnings must be weighed against an accurate inflation measure.

       Economic Growth and Recession  (GDP) – GDP numbers are all adjusted for inflation too and thus suffer the effect of any inflation inaccuracies.  That is why a 2.0% annual growth rate based on a “GDP Deflator” which is under-measured by 2.5% feels exactly like, well, a -.5% growth rate.  That is how GDP can be reportedly rising by 2% yet polls can show most people believe we are still in recession.  The people are probably right.

       Unemployment (U3) – You’d think that “unemployment” would be a cut-and-dried statistic:  “The number of people not employed as a percent of the labor force”.  But that’s not how the government does it.  In fact, if every single person in the US was collecting unemployment, disability, welfare, food stamps, or some other form of assistance but not actively seeking a job, the official unemployment rate in the US would be…0%!  The way we measure, we could have no one working and still have zero unemployment.  If we corrected for just this issue and undid the error back to Barack Obama’s inauguration, the real unemployment rate would be 11%.  If all the nonsense is removed, the actual number is close to 23%.    

       Income Inequality (1% vs. 99%) – Much of the recent rhetoric about the 1% vs. the 99% is based on a CBO report from October of this year, which has numerous issues.  In order to measure income inequality, the CBO used a government measure based on income tax returns from 1979 to 2007.  Not 2010, which should have been available, but 2007, right before the financial meltdown in the midst of a bubble!  Second, many returns in the top brackets include corporate pass-through income, which is a recent phenomenon and makes income tax returns meaningless for measuring changes in personal wealth.  Moreover, tax rates changed constantly from 1979 to 2007 making any trends difficult to discern.  These are just a few of the problems making this CBO report useless for analyzing trends.

And then there’s the economic analysis.  Here are four big economic issues and the current administrations analysis along with some questions.    

       Arguably the biggest economic issue of our time is the financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath.  According to President Obama’s analysis, greedy fat-cat bankers largely caused the whole thing.   Isn’t that like blaming a plane crash on gravity?  Aren’t gravity and greed constants?  Are bankers today greedier than they were, say, in the 1950s?  Were there any sub-prime loans back then?  Where did sub-prime loans come from?  Wasn’t the President part of the chorus demanding sub-prime mortgages in the 90’s and didn’t he then protect and subsidize the dangerous practice through his support of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as a US Senator?

       Once the analysis points to greedy bankers, it’s a short leap to blaming the continued malaise on the same class, which the President has made the theme of his re-election campaign.  So what has prevented Obama from stopping the greedy and the rich from continuing the malaise?  Didn’t he have two solid years of filibuster-proof control of the entire federal government?  Didn’t they pass Dodd-Frank?  How then can he explain MF Global and Jon Corzine (D-NJ), the newest example of greedy fat-cat banking failure?  Why did Obama and the Democrats keep the Bush tax cuts “for the rich” back in 2010 when they were set to expire?  How does this all add-up?  

       If greedy bankers caused a financial crisis, what better way to fix it than to go on a 5 Trillion dollar spending and borrowing binge, right?   Who will pay for the extra 5 trillion in borrowing? Does that even matter as long as the inevitable collapse is timed to occur after the Obama reign?  Can “the rich” possibly make-up the difference if the top 10% of the country earn 40% of the income and pay 70% of the income taxes already?

       If the financial crisis was due to greedy rich bankers, then the healthcare crisis must also be caused by greedy rich insurance companies and greedy rich doctors, right?   What better way to fix it all then to put the federal government in-charge of the whole thing?  Aren’t Medicare and Medicaid both disasters from a sustainability standpoint?  How can putting the same government in-charge of the entire industry be a good thing?  How can Obama claim the “free market” has failed in healthcare when it hasn’t been involved in healthcare since WWII when employers got to deduct premiums but individuals did not?      

So this is it in a nutshell:  President Obama, the General Manager of our team, has looked at the statistics, done his analysis, and believes he has saved us from a Great Depression, free markets don’t work, greedy rich people caused all the problems in the first place, the government’s job is to re-distribute wealth, and borrowing 5 trillion is OK as long as it blows-up on someone else’s watch.  

Welcome to “Obamaball” where all the stats are rigged and all the analysis is wrong.

Monday, December 12, 2011

The Tebow Test


Yesterday, Tim Tebow led the Denver Broncos to their 7th improbable win in 8 games as their starting quarterback.  During the post-game analysis I heard Jimmy Johnson, ex-coach, superbowl winner, and longtime football analyst opine that he’d never seen a quarterback get more out of his teammates and inspire them to play-up than Tim Tebow.  I was reminded of Harry Potter, the average wizard who manages to pull off amazing feats against all odds by having a loyal group of friends without whom he would not be nearly as magical.

I bring this up not to talk about football but rather as an allegory for choosing a President.  Being a chief executive is never a solitary endeavor despite what we’ve heard.    Good executives are team leaders. Sure, “the buck stops here” and “it’s lonely at the top”, but look at any effective leader and you will find a team inspired by his/her example.  The questions for voters are these: Are ideology and oratory everything?  What about effective leadership?  Who is likely to inspire by example?  Who is capable of turning adversaries into allies?   

Remember, all administrations are buffeted by events.  You don’t always get to plan on what challenges you face.  Given that, who will build a team and inspire them to play-up when the game is on the line?  Who has done that in the past?  Who has maintained good relations with their former teammates?  All questions worth asking before pulling a lever.     

Monday, November 21, 2011

"UC Davis" - a Song for the Occupy Movement


"UC Davis"   (sung to the tune of "Ohio" by Neil Young)
UPDATE - Now a Song and Video!

Tin cops and Obama's coming
We're finally off the bus
Zuccotti I heard the drumming
Pepper Spray at UC Davis

Gotta keep Occupying
Policeman are spraying us down
Like Kent State long ago
What if you knew her 
and she was allergic to ground
jalapeno, you know? 

Tin cops and Obama's coming
We're finally off the bus
Zuccotti I heard the drumming
Pepper Spray at UC Davis

Pepper Spray UC Davis

Pepper Spray UC Davis

Four sprayed at

Four sprayed at...

Friday, November 18, 2011

About that Shooting at the White House...

(THIS IS A RE-POST FROM 3/10 WHICH HAS NEW SIGNIFICANCE IN THE WAKE OF THE RECENT SHOTS FIRED AT THE WHITE HOUSE) 

MONDAY, MARCH 8, 2010


Anatomy of a Myth IV – Obama is in More Danger than Other Presidents!

Have you seen the many references to the mortal danger President Obama is in from potential assassins? The latest piece appeared today in the UK Guardian . I’m not surprised we are seeing these stories because racist whackos could be an additional threat for Obama, but make no mistake about it, Presidents face danger as all modern ones have found out.  That said, Barack Obama is statistically much safer than even George W Bush was!

The tragic fact is that virtually every modern president has been the subject of some kind of assassination attempt. Every one. That’s not to excuse it, but to highlight that danger is part of the office. The job is not for the faint-of-heart. Some nut is going to try and fly a plane into your house (Nixon, Clinton, Bush 43), or blow you up (Kennedy, Bush 41, Bush 43), or just try to shoot you (Truman, Kennedy, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 43). And that is all of them post-WWII!

But, going back all the way, your chances of actually taking a bullet are almost twice as bad if you are a Republican. Five have been Republicans, (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley, Ford, Reagan) and three have been Democrats (Jackson, Truman, Kennedy).

As far as actual assassinations, three were Republicans (Lincoln, Garfield, McKinley) and only one was a Democrat (Kennedy). In short, your chances of being killed are three times worse if you are a Republican! Moreover, Kennedy, the only Democrat was a tax-cutting supply-sider. If you look at it that way, Barack Obama will die in his bed as an old man. Now, if he could only quit smoking…

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Gingrich Paternity Bombshell!

Now that Newt Gingrich is surging in the polls, the media are gearing-up for the obligatory smear phase.  Now, most people already know about Newt’s marital issues, his religious conversions, his bouts of progressivism, and his tendency towards foot-in-mouth disease, but how many know that he is actually actor/comedian Jack Black’s father?   Just uncovered, the shocking proof:   



Newt Gingrich and son Jack Black share a laugh.




"She just has one of those asses you gotta grab!”













The Family Christmas Card




“Why can’t you f*%#ing idiots understand this?"
   


"Temper?  Who's got a temper?"                             


Me and Dad




Me and Dad when we used to drop acid together.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

2.5% Growth! Really?

Back during the housing bubble, counterintuitive momentum was artificially driven by a key piece of misleading information; "Triple A" ratings from government sanctioned rating agencies on mortgage securities.  We all know how that worked out.

Today the stock market is skyrocketing on, among other things, the latest GDP growth estimates that have the economy up 2.5% in the third quarter; far from a new recession.  But is this "real"?  Consider:  all government growth estimates are based on inflation adjusted dollars and the under-reporting of inflation is about...2.5%!  This figure comes from John Williams at Shadow Government Statistics who looks into these things with a particularly astute eye.  He's not alone, but you needn't listen to anyone.  Instead, look at the overall dollar-price-of-gold since 2005, the base year for these government numbers.



Also, ask yourself, is it possible government appointees might have an incentive to under-report inflation?  Or unemployment?  Jus' askin'.      

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Memo to Occupy Wall Street

Memo to Occupy Wall Street:  If you are wondering what happens when the 99% succeed in stopping the 1%, there's a really good book about that.  It's called "Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand and with each passing day it becomes more and more relevant.  Be careful what you wish for.

Related Post: Obama's Mob

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Gaddafi Bounce

Let me ask you a question:  What if a person lied, cheated, and stole a billion dollars but then used the money to help catch and kill a murderer; would that be a net contribution to society?  This is the question we face after the killing of Muammar Gaddafi.  Recall:  UN-1973, which was the basis for US and NATO intervention was a humanitarian effort to maintain a no-fly zone over Libya and protect civilians.  That was a lie.  UN-1973 was regime change.  We were also promised it was a mission of days not 8 months costing a billion dollars.  Regardless of what UN-1973 was or was not, no attempt was made to include congress or even congressional leaders in the decision.  Inexcusable.

Every day in American courts, police who capture criminals are punished for doing so if they employ extra-legal methods.  So too should Barack Obama be punished in the polls for doing a good thing the wrong way.  

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Nein! - Nein! - Nein!

I must say I was disheartened by the idiotic attacks on Herman Cain’s 9-9-9 tax plan last night in Las Vegas.  It’s one thing to find legitimate issues with Cain’s plan, (and they're there) but it’s another to invent fantasy issues in a lame attempt to ding a front-runner.
As for Herman Cain’s sales skills in defending his plan:  his responses showed he is no Mitt Romney!

I like 9-9-9.  It may be just a tax plan, but it’s a darn good one and it’s not what the naysayers made it out to be last night.  It’s bad enough Herman Cain’s got Barack Obama spewing misinformation about his plan, the last thing he needs is a GOP circular firing squad aiming at him.  

Once again:
9-9-9 is not a VAT.  A retail sales tax is not a VAT.  Many states have retail sales taxes but none has a VAT.  Herman Cain needs to be able to nail this charge in as many words and then stop talking.  This is what a VAT looks like.  See update below.

9-9-9 will not give New Hampshire a state sales tax.  This is just stupid.  Herman’s “apples and oranges” explanation was adequate but he needs to slay this ridiculous charge with a sniper bullet to the forehead:  Texas has no income tax and the federal income tax doesn’t change that.  The same logic applies to sales taxes in NH or any other state.  Period. 

9-9-9 will not increase tax rates on the poor.  Cain really needs to be able to nail this and I’ve heard him almost do it.  He knows pizza, right?  All he needs to say is this: 

“I know pizza.   A $10.00 pizza has about $1.00 of embedded stealth corporate taxes built-in.  The guy who grows the wheat pays a 35% corporate income tax, as does the tomato grower, all the processors, the delivery companies, and the restaurant.  75% of that goes away with a 9% flat business tax and in it’s place is a transparent 9% retail sales tax on a now $9.25 pizza.  Total price:  still about $10.00.”    

Cain calls the stealth taxes issue “sneak-a-tax” and I like that.  In fact, I think stealth taxes are at the root of all tax evils today.

The 9-9-9 sales tax will never result in an ever increasing rate.  Why?  Because it is not a stealth tax.  Only stealth taxes go up inexorably and quietly.  Transparent taxes that hit everyone cannot go up indefinitely lest voters fall asleep.  This one is a slam dunk.  

There are legit reasons to refute Cain’s plan and I think Newt Gingrich nailed it when Anderson Cooper asked him why it was such a hard sell:  “You just watched it” said Newt after watching the Republican field throw clueless flak in Cain’s face.  Revolutions are tricky to sell.  Even good ones take time, and time is in short supply. 

There is a huge industry built around our current tax code and it includes every elected officeholder in Washington.  Cain touched on this last night and it will make changing the tax code next-to impossible.  In today’s Wall Street Journal, Art Laffer, perhaps the most respected voice on tax policy today, writes a full-throated endorsement of Cain’s 9-9-9 plan and disputes the notion that it would be next-to impossible to pass.  As proof he cites Reagan’s success in getting Kemp-Roth passed in the senate with a 97-3 vote.  What he omits is the fact that Reagan had just been shot!  I seriously doubt that vote would have looked anything like that without the “Win One for the Gipper” vibe.  

There are great reasons to like Cain’s 9-9-9 plan:  It eliminates stealth taxes and puts everything right in front of voters for them to see.  The low marginal rates of 9-9-9 will generate huge growth in revenue as per the Laffer-Curve.  The 9% sales tax will finally tax the underground economy at the federal level.   It is exponentially simpler than what we have.  (Unfortunately, when discussing it relative to today’s monstrosity, the complexity of the current system makes comparisons…complex.  A frustrating Catch-22.)

The only thing 9-9-9 needs is a master salesman and 65 votes in the senate (for insurance!).  Short of that, some miracle boost like Kemp-Roth got.  That’s not too much to ask for, is it? 

Update:  Apparently, some are claiming the 9% business tax is akin to a VAT, not the sales tax part.  (see WSJ Letters 10/25/11) That is because it applies not just to profits but to payroll as well.  This is a good point and one I missed, however it still is not a VAT but rather a combined payroll tax and business income tax.   By the logic of those claiming it is a VAT, we already have a VAT in the payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security that total over thirteen percent of payroll currently!  This is nonsense.  


A business earning ten percent profits with a payroll running twenty percent will pay about  three percent under Cain's plan verses six percent under current tax law as a percent of gross receipts.  That is a fifty percent improvement versus current law!  Still a stealth tax, but a smaller one by half and certainly not a Value-Added-Tax.  I'd rather see all stealth taxes gone and every cent paid by voters, but no politician is currently recommending that.   





Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Mitt Romney - Birth of a Salesman

I watched the GOP debate in New Hampshire last night and thought something new happened:  Mitt Romney showed how talented he is as a salesman. Now, when I say “salesman” I don’t mean it in the pop-culture sense like “huckster” or “con-man”. No, I mean it as a huge mega-compliment.

I have the utmost regard for quality salespeople; the people of integrity who bring new products, services, and ideas to a reflexively skeptical audience. (Think Steve Jobs.) And boy are we skeptical when it comes to politicians!

The skills necessary to excel in sales are often misunderstood outside business circles. A good salesman does not trick you into buying something you don’t want. A good salesman does not convince you to act against your interests. No, a good salesman has the skills to understand what is important to you and then explain his product intelligently in those terms. Moreover, a good salesman must have a solid product, be knowledgeable, trustworthy, and likeable.

Selling is just a piece of making a good President, but selling is really important. What if a President had a truly decent product (agenda) but lacked the skills to implement it? Would that person make a good President? What if a President had a really bad product and managed to cynically convince us to buy it against our interests? Would that person make a good President?

Last night Mitt Romney passed the sales test for me in a way he hadn't before, but that doesn’t make him perfect. (No one’s perfect, except of course my wife!)

My problems with Mitt Romney are a bit different than the usual. You see, I’m actually OK with Romneycare. In fact, I’m OK with the individual mandate at the state level. The reason for this, as Mitt has explained, is that we’ve always had a mandate in health care, except it was one-sided. That mandate was always on the providers and it forced them to treat anyone who walked into an emergency room. That forced a reciprocal mandate on responsible, insured folks to cover the costs of those who refuse to pay. (Remember, those who are indigent are covered by Medicaid!)

The debate over Obamacare has been hijacked by the mandate controversy because the issue of constitutionality is seen by opponents as a way to kill it in the courts. That may or may not work, but I think it’s been a distraction. The real evil of Obamacare is that it nationalizes the remaining 50% of the health care market and that will kill innovation, access, quality, and life. I think Mitt Romney gets this and the Massachusetts plan was not a similar takeover.

I’m also OK with being pro-choice and pro-life, even though my views may differ from Romney’s at any given time. I’m OK with choice early in a pregnancy, but I define late-term abortion as taking a life. ‘Nuff said.

No, my problem with Mitt Romney is that he does not seem to understand Obama’s role in the financial meltdown. I’ve heard him say things like: “Obama did not cause this mess. He’s a nice enough guy. But he made it worse!” I find this a fundamental misreading of the biggest issue of the day. As much as any one man, Barack Obama did cause the meltdown in 2008 and has lied about it and blamed others ever since. He was known as the “Senator from Fannie Mae” for Pete’s sake! He worked with ACORN to force banks to make bad loans in the ‘90s. He voted for TARP. His fingerprints are all over this from the get-go. And yes, he did make it worse.

I realize the polls don’t agree with this assessment and Acade-Media-Wood have done a great job of covering Obama’s tracks, but I expect the Republican nominee to at least understand this. And once they understand it, I’d hope they can sell it in a general election.  Based on last night, Mitt Romney is half way there.

(I realize there were others at that debate and I thought Michelle Bachman was the other winner, but this post is limited in scope.) 

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Obama's Mob

Just in case you think this Occupy Wall Street protest is unique and spontaneous: Barack Obama has been involved in protesting banks since his early days as a community organizer.

 From Investors Business Daily:
Obama, who once represented ACORN in a lawsuit against the state of Illinois, was hired by the group to train its community organizers and staff in the methods and tactics of the late Saul Alinsky. ACORN would stage in-your-face protests in bank lobbies, drive-through lanes and even at bank managers’ homes to get them to issue risky loans in the inner city or face charges of racism.

In the early 1990s, reports Stanley Kurtz, senior fellow at the Ethics and Policy Center, Obama was personally recruited by Chicago’s ACORN to run training sessions in “direct action.” That’s the euphemism for the techniques used under the cover of the federal Community Reinvestment Act to intimidate financial institutions into giving what have been called “Ninja” loans — no income, no job, no assets — to people who couldn’t afford them.

CRA was designed to increase minority homeownership. Whenever a bank wanted to grow or expand, ACORN would file complaints that it was not sufficiently sensitive to the needs of minorities in providing home loans. Agitators would then be unleashed.

Chicago’s ACORN used Alinsky’s tactics against institutions such as Bell Federal Savings and Loan and Avondale Federal Savings. In September 1992, the Chicago Tribune described the group’s agenda as “affirmative action lending.”
How do you think we ended-up writing billions in sub-prime mortgages? Do you think bankers suddenly lost their collective minds in the mid-90s after thousands of years of prudent lending? Who could forget the sub-prime crisis of 1850? Or the sub-prime crisis of 1921? How about the sub-prime crisis of 1952? Of course, there was no such thing as a sub-prime mortgage ever in the history of banking until community organizers like Barack Obama and ACORN began protesting outside banks and accusing them of discriminatory lending. It was a bold attempt to redistribute money and credit to unqualified borrowers and it worked fabulously well. In stepped Bill Clinton in the mid 90’s and through regulation, arm-twisting, and executive orders, out popped a decade of run-away sub-prime, no-doc, and liar-loans, all underwritten by US taxpayers through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Now Obama and his community organizer friends are at it again protesting banks and twisting arms in the name of more redistribution. As a few have pointed out, the timing of these protests coincides exactly with a marked shift in Wall Street’s political donations. Whereas 70% of Wall Street money had been flowing into Democrat coffers and specifically Barack Obama’s war chest, that trend has reversed lately:

From YourBlackWorld.Com:
Wall Street Donors Stop Giving Money to President Obama   August 24, 2011
The soft economy, overbearing regulation, and class-warfare has finally out-bid the crony capitalism and bailout billions which attracted Wall Street to Obama in the first place. This Occupy Wall Street mob is actually Obama’s Useful Idiot Corps throwing a temper tantrum in an unwitting attempt to restart the Wall Street money pump for him. Don’t believe me? Watch the donations. How much you wanna bet, the protests end the moment Wall Street caves and sends a $10,000,000 check to Obama’s campaign? And if the check doesn’t materialize, watch for the protests to get violent.

This is Obama’s play-book and we’ve seen it all before. It never works out for anyone but him. Expect the same this time.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Obamanomics II


Have you taken a road trip lately?  If so, you’ve seen Obamanomics up close and if you have a basic understanding of economics, you should be horrified.  I just completed my third transcontinental drive in a year (Don’t ask.  Suffice it to say a woman and a dog were involved.) and I can attest that in many cases we are digging up thousands of miles of perfectly serviceable road and repaving them with almost no perceivable improvement.  This is not just wasteful.  It is madness.
   
Economists have forever posited that if full-employment is the goal, why not just dig holes and fill them in again?  Everyone in the country can be kept busy and no one would be unemployed, hallelujah!  But of course this policy is never proposed as a real solution to anything, only as a proof that “creating jobs” is not the goal and “creating value” is.  Unfortunately, Obama and his economic team were either golfing or protesting the bourgeoisie when that lesson was taught.

The supposed architect of Obamanomics, John Maynard Keynes, mentions the fallacy of digging holes and filling them in again in his writings but no one would mistake it for a serious remedy.  Then again Keynes never suggested borrowing trillions for stimulus while running huge structural deficits.  Never mind, that hasn’t stopped them from citing him as their guru for these policies.
 
All in all, Obamanomics has proven to be a tragic farce.  Whether we are being ruled by a confederacy of dunces or an evil cabal is open to debate.  But on the matter of measurable economic results, “the science is settled” as they say.   

Monday, September 12, 2011

Anatomy of a Myth V – Obama Deserves Kudos for “Ramping-Up” the Drone Attacks


Even the most ardent Obama detractors manage to offer the President kudos for “ramping-up” the drone attacks on terror targets. Then they usually throw in a nice word or two about him “getting bin Laden” and then it’s right back to berating him for just about everything else. Well, I’m not going to play that game. Nope. I give him no credit for bin Laden OR the increased drone attacks. In fact, I think both are emblematic of perhaps Obama’s biggest failure of all: losing the intelligence war. To understand why, let's go back in time to the very beginning.

The very first item on Obama’s to-do list was to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. This had nothing to do with making America stronger. It was a political promise motivated by a mistaken belief that the prison violated international norms and/or the Geneva Conventions. Some prominent Republicans, including John McCain, were also among those calling for closing the prison. But Obama went much further. He wanted to close the prison, move the prisoners onto US soil, try them in civilian courts, treat them like citizens, offer them defense attorneys, place them in witness protection programs, provide them with high-paying union “green jobs”, and get them all slots on American Idol.  (OK, I made those last ones up.)

Of course, Gitmo is still up and running but the administration has pledged to add no new prisoners there. No prisoners? What to do? The answer: kill them all. Rather than engaging in the hard work of capturing live terrorists and interrogating them, Obama prefers dropping bombs on them and their villages from un-manned drones at thirty thousand feet. To the left, indiscriminate death from above is morally just, but capture and interrogation, while perhaps saving hundreds of innocent lives, is unthinkable! The result of this kill-all policy has been a dearth of new first-person intelligence. Are we safer? Are we morally better-off executing suspects than we were holding and questioning them? Are we making more friends in Pakistan and Yemen this way?

Bin Laden’s assassination was part of that same pattern. By now everyone accepts that bin Laden would never have been found were it not for the policies of George W Bush which Obama universally opposed. Moreover, Obama had no way of dealing with a live terrorist, so his only option was execution. Had he been interested in learning as much as he could about al-Qaeda and preventing future attacks, he would have captured bin Laden and dealt with the political ramifications. But his interest was to make the headline and avoid the sticky politics. As for any intelligence gathered from that raid, its value was instantly undermined by the administration's leaks. Why tell the enemy what we found? Why not keep hush or say everything was destroyed?

No, on this 10th anniversary of 9/11 if I’m going to praise President Obama, it will have to be on the grounds that he seems to be a decent father. In fact, he’d make an excellent full-time father!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Obama Hates White People!

Remember when George W Bush was accused of not caring about black people after Katrina hit New Orleans, a city with a nearly 70% black population, and prominent blacks and Democrats rushed to his defense pointing out that the city and state, who are the first responders in a disaster were both run by Democrats? Yeah, me neither.  Pass it on.

Well, it turns out that Vermont, devastated by Irene, is the whitest state in America.  Has Obama been there yet? How many FEMA trailers are on the ground today? Has power been restored to everyone? Is everyone in a shelter? Has the US Army or Navy been mobilized? Does everyone have food and water?   Look, we had a whole week of dire warnings to prepare for this thing.  This was not a surprise!  Was Obama on vacation or something?   I think Obama doesn’t care about white people!

Of course, both the accusation against Bush and my parody against Obama are ridiculous. The difference being I understand the idiocy, but Democrats including Obama rode that ginned-up hatred to electoral victory. Shameful.  And dangerous.

Kanye West Accuses Bush of Not Caring About Black People
http://youtu.be/zIUzLpO1kxI

Vermont ranked as whitest state on Wikipedia
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_American

Spike Lee bashes Bush on Katrina response
http://www.bvnewswire.com/2011/05/24/spike-lee-calls-out-george-w-bush-for-katrina-response/

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Gibson Blues

First they came for Non-Union Toyota but I didn’t care because I drive a UAW pick-up.
Next they came for Non-Union Delta Airlines but I didn’t care because I don’t fly.
Then they came for the Non-Union Boeing Plant but I still didn’t care because I still don’t fly.
Now the Feds have raided Non-Union Gibson Guitars and I am really pissed-off because I’ve been saving my damn unemployment checks for a smokin’ Les Paul Custom which I could never afford if the price goes any higher!
These Reds are beginning to give me the Blues.   (Apologies to Martin Niemoller)

Yesterday Gibson Guitars in Nashville Tennessee was raided by federal agents.  At first, based on early reports, I thought this was a minor issue about exotic imported wood. NOT ON YER LIFE! This is friggin' serious and I believe it is about UNIONS and OBAMA'S JIHAD against non-union companies and right-to-work states.  Here is a comment clipped from my research on the subject:

“Companies don't move south for the weather.
Tennessee is a Right to Work state and the reason Gibson moved operations there (from Michigan) was to avoid unions. They picked Tenn. over all the other union-unfriendly Southern states because of tax incentives offered to them, but they moved because of labor.”*

This is ominous and Gibson may be fighting for its non-union life, just like Toyota, BoeingDelta, and others before it. Can you believe we live in a country where the full power of the federal government is blatantly used to selectively harass non-union businesses? I still can't believe it has come to this in our once "Free Country".

*Hat Tip: “Wyatt” on Harmony Central Forums
Update:  If you are unfamiliar with the Toyota/Union connection, please follow the above Toyota link.  Read it and weep.   

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Jobs Leaving!

The big news today was: "Jobs Leaving"!  Isn't that the same headline we've had ever since Obama got elected?  Jus askin'...

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holder Announces Investigation!

Attorney General Eric Holder has announced that the US Department of Justice will vigorously investigate any news outlet reporting on the downgrade of the structural integrity of the Washington Monument.  The Washington Monument was apparently cracked during the recent earthquake, which according to administration officials was caused by a tectonic anomaly inherited from George W. Bush, and could have been much worse.       

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It could have been much worse!

Barack Obama is claiming a major victory saying that were it not for him, the earthquake could have been much worse!       

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Hinckleynomics

One of Newt Gingrich’s answers at the Iowa debate on Thursday (8/11/2011) reminded me how lucky we’ve been for the last 30 years. When asked about his qualifications to be President, Newt touted his experiences in congress both as a member and leader during periods of divided government when pro-growth policies nevertheless emerged. The two periods he referred to were the Reagan era Kemp-Roth Tax cuts, and the Clinton era Welfare reforms and capital gains cuts. While both those were in fact accomplished with divided government, I maintain they were very different, and one of them actually qualifies as a miracle.

Not all divided governments are equal. In Clinton’s case the legislature after ’95 was united under Republican leadership. That gave two thirds of the government to the pro-growth Republicans. To Clinton’s credit he went along and reluctantly signed the pro-growth agenda into law, but he was the minority who went along with the majority.

In Reagan’s case, the house was under hostile Democrat leadership and the Democrats could stop the Senate any time they wanted.  How then did Reagan get to sign a sweeping pro-growth tax law?  Much of that had to do with Reagan’s ability to go directly to the people, but there was another factor; Reagan was shot early in his presidency and within about 4 months, Kemp-Roth made it through congress.

Had Reagan not taken a bullet and built-up such a reservoir of good will and respect, would Democrats have given him his wish? We’ll never know, but I’m skeptical.

In other words, John Hinckley’s deranged act and poor marksmanship may be the reason we had almost 30 years of full employment and economic growth in the US.  Sorry Newt, it wasn’t all you.

(Note: this piece was edited 4/2012 for inaccuracies.)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What is Gold?

Gold has been on a remarkable run lately. What is Gold and why is it worth so much more today? Gold is like idiot insurance. When you buy gold you are buying an insurance policy to protect you against the stupidity of idiots who may be interfering in monetary and economic matters. When idiots are in charge, and regularly doing stupid things, gold rises in value. ‘Nuff said.

So what is a stock and why are stocks struggling? Stocks are like genius coattails. When you buy a stock you are hitching a ride on the coattails of the geniuses who innovate and create value from nothing more than their own industry. Unfortunately, the same idiots who are driving up the value of gold are also interfering with the ability of geniuses to innovate and create value. When idiots are in charge, and regularly doing stupid things, stocks will eventually struggle. ‘Nuff said.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Inept, Immoral, and Insane.

Barack Obama elbowed his way into our living rooms the other day and stole a quarter hour of our time to lecture us with the most vacuous poll-tested drivel imaginable from a President of the United States. I’ll leave the political analysis for the experts in that area and instead focus on the economic logic of President Obama’s poll-tested “balanced approach” to raising the debt ceiling.

By “balanced approach”, President Obama is referring to a mix of new revenues from higher taxes combined with some unspecified spending cuts. Sounds reasonable right? After all, why not use every tool available, including revenue, to close this dire budget gap? Besides, isn’t it Democrat lore that Bill Clinton raised taxes AND balanced the budget? Unfortunately, none of that is plausible, despite making for potent political rhetoric. Let’s review:

First of all, there is a ceiling on the amount of total tax revenue that can be collected and sustained. That amount is 18% of GDP.  That’s not some number I’m making up. That number is proven by over 65 years of US tax collecting history and all the proclamations of politicians to the contrary cannot undo that reality. The top marginal rate fluctuated from as high as 92% to as low as 28% during that 65 year period, but the total take stayed rock solid OVER TIME at 18% of GDP. This is remarkable and irrefutable. Meanwhile, spending is at 25% of GDP and rising fast under the Obama spending blowout. Tax revenue cannot bridge the gap between 18% and 25%. Only lowering spending and growing GDP can do that, and tax hikes can only impede those goals.

Mention the above to any fan of higher taxes and they will immediately shoot back: “What about Clinton? Didn’t he raise taxes and balance the budget?” Ah yes, the Clinton “beer goggles” are potent indeed. Sure, Clinton did raise marginal tax rates on the very rich in 1993 from 31% to 39.6%, but he was also dragged into an across the board drop in the long-term capital gains rate by the Republicans who were swept into power in 1994. That drop, which eventually became law in 1997, was from an EFFECTIVE rate of 29.19% to 21.19%.*  Remember, the income tax hike was only on those earning more than $250,000 while the lower capital gains rate was available to any tax-payer. The cap-gains drop actually had a more marked impact on revenue and growth as evidenced by the proliferation of tech-boom stock options and a stock market rally which began on the day after the election of the Republican congress and which fueled both metrics. In other words, Clinton ended up being a net tax CUTTER, and that fueled short term revenue growth as well as GDP growth! Unfortunately, it was all based on two bubbles (tech and housing) which soon burst and resulted in a regression back to the mean over several years. As for the balanced budget which Clinton will always be credited with? He was dragged kicking and screaming to it by a combination of the net tax cut and an unusually thrifty Republican congress. Democrats know all this, but they’re hoping you don’t.

Again, the politics of this approach I'll leave to the experts, but the economics are pretty clear: Inept, Immoral, and Insane.

* Although the published rates are different, the tax code is thousands of pages long and the EFFECTIVE rates are what matters.  See link below:
http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/taxfacts/displayafact.cfm?Docid=161

Friday, July 22, 2011

Tax Axiom

Deficits = Spending – Current Taxes

Spending varies, but Current Taxes are virtually constant over time at 18% of GDP come hell or high water.


Source: White House OMB

That leaves only two variables in the deficit equation: Spending and GDP. The only way to lower deficits is to grow GDP and cut spending. Period. Tax hikes will do nothing but cause turbulence. That much is axiomatic.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Fat Kids Should Sue!

Perhaps you've seen this headline: "Fat Kids Should Be Taken From Their Parents - Harvard Expert Says!"

There's a tragic irony in this whole obesity "epidemic":  THE GOVERNMENT TOLD US TO EAT THE WRONG STUFF!


It turns out, by the time it hits the bloodstream, a bagel equals a can of Coke.  In other words, the government has been telling parents for years to feed their kids 6-11 servings of Coke a day!  (Plus the carbs in the other categories.)   And now experts want the government to punish the parents?  For what?  Following orders?   

I think fat kids should file a class action suit.  Where is the new Dickie Scruggs

Friday, July 8, 2011

A New Mission for NASA?

Today marks the final launch of a US Space Shuttle and that leaves NASA in search of a new mission.  Search no more!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Bathtubs, Bombers, and Basketballs

Here are some things to keep in mind during the unfolding Debt Ceiling Drama:

1. ALL TAXES ARE FLAT IN THE LONG RUN. You may have heard politicians say they want to raise taxes only on “The Rich”, or that 50% of Americans “Pay No Income Tax” at all. Those statements may be true in a political sense, but they are meaningless economically. Think of the total economy as a big bathtub: you can try to take water from only one end, but it will quickly even out after a period of turbulence. If your lawyer’s taxes go up, so will his rates. The same is true for corporations: If ExxonMobil’s taxes go up, you will pay more for gas. Any tax not levied on individuals at an equal rate will create turbulence and the further we get from flat taxes on individuals, the more turbulence we will create in the economic bathtub.

2. TAXES ARE EVEN HIGHER THAN YOU THINK. The rate for all taxes and regulations in the US - federal, state, and local - is currently 63.41%!* That’s right, you only get to keep about thirty seven cents of every dollar you earn! How could you not know this? The reason is Stealth Taxes. Stealth Taxes are everywhere. They are the B-2 Stealth Bombers in our tax code and are undetectable to a voter’s radar. Regulations, payroll taxes, corporate taxes, inflation, unfunded mandates, embedded taxes, and the cost of compliance are just some of the taxes stealthily bombing your economic freedom every day. Somehow though, you do sense this, but while 64% of voters think taxes are too high, only 13% of the political class agrees!**

3. THIS IS ALL POLITICS IN THE SHORT RUN, BUT IN THE LONG RUN ECONOMICS WILL RULE. Think of the laws of economics as you would the laws of physics. In this case, political maneuvers like bailouts, reckless spending, money printing, artificially low interest rates, and an unsustainable tax rate of 63% are like politicians trying to hold a basketball deeper and deeper underwater. These tactics may delay the inevitable for a time, but eventually that basketball will get loose and explode from the depths. When that happens, watch out!

*Source: Center for Fiscal Accountability
http://www.fiscalaccountability.org/?content=cogdteas10
**Source: Rasmussen Reports
http://www.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/business/taxes/april_2011/64_say_americans_are_overtaxed_political_class_disagrees

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Outsourced Presidency

Yesterday President Obama commented on Anthony Weiner’s 3 weeks of stunning moral depravity and offered this remarkable piece of leading-from-behind:  "if it was me, I'd resign".  But of course it’s not him, so he has effectively abdicated any leadership role and left it up to Mr. Weiner to decide his own fate.

So in Obama we have a president who has outsourced healthcare policy to Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. He has outsourced financial policy to Barney Frank and Chris Dodd. He has outsourced foreign policy to the UN and the Arab League. He has outsourced the deficit to Joe Biden. He has outsourced military intelligence to the Muslim countries. He has outsourced his economic policy to the Unions and the EPA. He has outsourced our jobs to the Chinese. He has outsourced our energy policy to OPEC. He has even tried to outsource his dismal record to his predecessor.

And now he has outsourced his moral standards to Rep. Anthony Weiner. This leaves plenty of time for golf, vacations, parties, and fund raising of course.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Obama is Right!

President Obama commented on the weak economy this week and said;  "We didn't get into this mess overnight."  He ought to know, he's been working on this for almost 20 years.

Obama's work began in earnest as a Community Organizer and affiliate of ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) when he was fighting alongside them and eventually helped win the Clinton era basket of reforms which led directly to the Subprime Crash and Financial Meltdown of 2008.  ACORN and their affiliates were in the forefront of the fight to force banks to make bad loans to politically favored constituents who were otherwise unqualified to obtain mortgages.  Obama was there in the 90s agitating with ACORN against these bank lending standards and then for the taxpayers to essentially assume all the risks under a huge fraud called "Fannie Mae".

But his work was not done, not by a longshot.   How many realize that as a US Senator, Barack Obama sucked up tainted Fannie Mae money at a staggering rate which dwarfed any other politician?  How many voters realize that Obama was referred to as the "Senator from Fannie Mae"?  How many realize that the fraud known as Fannie Mae was virtually a monsterous slush fund for the Democrat Party?

Yes, Obama is right, it took years to create this mess.  He ought to know, he's been there since the beginning working hard at it. 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Wall Street Should Read This!

"Wall Street Baffled by Slowing Economy" ?   Maybe they should read this: The Irony of Keynes!
*This headline should have read, "Sycophantic Media Blindsided by Bad Economic Policies Blames Wall Street Myopia"! 

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Proof that God Exists, and Loves Glenn Beck!

Up until now I’ve been devoutly agnostic and somewhat skeptical of Glenn Beck’s public displays of faith, but that just changed! God clearly exists and loves Glenn Beck, for he has given us WEINERGATE!

For those not familiar with the Beck/Weiner Connection, Rep. Weiner (D-NY) aggressively harrassed a major Beck sponsor, GoldLine, in a very public, disingenuous over-reach for an elected official which was likely coordinated along with a boycott of Beck sponsors being run by close Obama operatives in the White House. This couldn’t be more delicious!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Ryan Mistake

Paul Ryan’s mistake was in trying to have an adult conversation with children. It reminds me of what it would be like for Israel to negotiate with Hamas – ain’t gonna happen when one party seeks the annihilation of the other. The Alinsky Democrats don’t give a hoot about making good policy. They have one goal in mind and that is the destruction of their enemy, who is anyone to the right of them.

So what to do?  In Ryan’s case, there actually are adults in the room and they are the people.  The challenge is communicating directly with the adults in the face of overwhelming negativity from AcadeMediaWood.  These adults might just understand that a voucher to buy some insurance is preferable to an empty promise from a bankrupt country.  (edited 6/22)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Finally, a Leader in Washington

For the first time in almost two and a half years, I am proud of a national leader in Washington.   Today, he went before congress and spoke with clarity about liberty, peace, security, and founding principles.   He was forceful, graceful, and articulate.  His reason was sound and his positions well thought out.  Too bad President Obama was out of town and missed Netanyahu's excellent speech.   

Sunday, May 15, 2011

The Myth of Partisan Markets

Now that an election cycle is revving up you will no doubt be fed this nonsense by AcadeMediaWood - The Myth of Partisan Markets.  Bon appetit!

Unrelated update:  With NASA and the space shuttle in the news today, along with Obama's renewed outreach to the muslim world, I could not resist re-posting this Modest Proposal.   

Monday, May 2, 2011

Thank you "W"!

Today's good news is brought to you by the letter "W".   Waterboarding, Wiretapping, and War-on-Terror.   
The tip came from KSM who was famously Waterboarded, the courier he named was then Wiretapped, and the Seals brought the War to the Terrorist and killed him.  Thank you "W"! 

Comatose (w/ bin Laden update)

Hey, it's great that we finally got bin Laden!  I guess continuing Bush's War on Terror was not so bad after all!     

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Magic Bullets part VIII - The Oxygen Standard

We seem to have reached a stalemate in Washington trying to get a handle on our out-of-control deficits. Is it possible there is a simple way to deal with this and finally find out what our politicians are made of?

I propose we put our government on the “Oxygen Standard”. The Oxygen Standard is similar to the Gold Standard in that dollars are converted into a set quantity of oxygen, only in this case, the dollars are our government deficits or surpluses, and the oxygen is for our government officials to breathe.

Here’s how the Oxygen Standard would work: First, all three branches of government (yes, the court too!) would be housed in airtight chambers which would be locked-down during budget negotiations. If the resulting negotiations yielded a balanced budget, there would be exactly enough oxygen pumped in to balance the breathing needs of all the members. However, if there is a deficit, the same ratio will be reflected in an oxygen deficit being pumped in. Of course, if there is a surplus, extra oxygen will be supplied which would result in a “strategic oxygen reserve” which could be drawn down in times of war or natural disaster.

To make the Oxygen Standard even more real, there will be an additional way government can “tweak” the supply of oxygen during deficits. They could draw down the oxygen supply of future generations by allocating the needs of infants and the unborn for their own breathing consumption. Mass suffocations would eventually result, but government officials could at least spend away and breathe easier.

Any guesses as to how this would play out?

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Irony of Keynes

Welcome YouTubers!  Scroll down for more blogtoons and commentary.  But if you are inclined towards heavier fare, pls try this post:  The Irony of Keynes
Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

GE is Right!

You may have seen that GE, despite having a massively profitable year, will pay zero federal income taxes for 2010.  That’s right, less than you!  And this is the second year in a row.  I have no love for GE and its hearty embrace of crony capitalism, but they are doing the right thing by not paying any taxes. How can I say this? Because I believe no business entity should pay taxes, and that includes behemoth GE.

Let me ask you a question: How many people do you think would die of cancer each year if all cancer cells could be somehow trained to start growing on the tip of your nose? Every morning the first thing you would do is look in the mirror and see if you had any cancer. If you saw something, you would immediately have it removed. That would be the end of cancer, right?

The price of runaway government today is like cancer in that it hides undetected until the symptoms begin. By then, it’s often too late. If every citizen woke up every morning and could see the true cost of runaway government on the tips of their noses, they would never allow it to metastasize, and that would be its ultimate demise.

Business taxes are a good example of this disease. The fact is, businesses don’t actually pay taxes. Citizens do. Businesses merely collect taxes and pass the cost along to the next entity in the supply chain until an ultimate “end-user” buys the product and pays the cumulative tax. Economically literate politicians, (an oxymoron) know this full well, but will never end stealth taxes unless forced to because they are a perfect way to ensure that the cancer they caused stays undetected.

Right now in Washington there is an epic battle going on over budgets for this year and next and it makes for great drama on the nightly news.  But this tragic play will repeat ad infinitum as long as we allow the true cost of runaway government to stay undetected. Have you seen Paul Ryan and the few other responsible leaders working their tails off trying to treat this cancer? They remind me of lonely sentries on the deck of the Titanic yelling, “ICEBERG! ICEBERG!” to the sleeping passengers and crew. The masses are not listening and the ship is sinking. It’s a noble crusade Rep. Ryan is on, but there may be a more effective way.

Wouldn’t it be better if we just stopped hiding the cost of government and put it all in the open for everyone to see? Wouldn’t it be easier if the interests of voters and taxpayers were automatically aligned with the interests of the responsible members of government? Wouldn’t that be better than trying to convince an indifferent public to somehow care? Why not just pass a law to end stealth taxes once and for all? Why not put an end to business entity taxes, payroll matching taxes, mandates that force businesses to do the collecting, and any chance of a VAT ever getting passed?

All it would take is an itsy bitsy constitutional amendment with one sentence:  “All domestic revenues shall be collected directly from individuals.”

The effect of this would of course be higher tax rates on individuals, but the price of goods and services would go down by an equal amount. The net effect overall would be zero. This amendment would cost you nothing.

Would this cure the cancer? Let’s just say you’d be staring the true cost of the runaway government in the face everyday. Would you tolerate it metastasizing? Wouldn’t this amendment be worth working for, and at least campaiging on?  Pass this on to the candidate of your choice if you think so. 

Oh, and one other thing; small companies like maybe even yours, would have the exact same advantage that giant GE has today when filing taxes!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya vs. Iraq - Some Thoughts

Did you know that Chimpanzees and Humans share overwhelming similarities in their genetic makeup? Though the percent varies depending on how deep the data goes, the similarities range from the high 70s to the high 90s. In other words, the similarities greatly outweigh the differences on the genetic level, yet the two are so completely different that no rational person taking a holistic view could mistake a Chimp for a Human. Yet, a top scientist locked in a room with only the two genetic codes in front of him could toil through a majority of the genetic code before finding any significant differences!

The point of this is simply to repeat the ancient observation that little can be understood about the true nature of things by examining their similarities; only by understanding their differences do we really get to know them.

The cartoon I recently posted comparing Libya vs. Iraq is a good example of the futility of focusing on similarities, or for that matter, the petty differences. As many commenters have pointed out, the cartoon, and those who liked it, cannot make a strong enough case that the two conflicts are comparable. Of course, the cartoon is limited to being a caricature of hypocrisy, ignorance and irrational devotion. It is not meant to argue a case that the two conflicts are equivalent. However, the nature of caricature is that it only works through exaggeration and that has resulted in quite the debate among viewers which has shed much heat but little light. (Also some funny stuff and some really nasty stuff too!)

So what do I think? Are these two wars comparable and if not what are the salient differences? For me, they are not comparable actions in their essence. Iraq was about trying to save American lives by enforcing something which came to be known as “The Bush Doctrine”, and Libya is about trying to save non-American lives on one side of a civil war by enforcing something known as UN 1973.

You may agree or disagree with “The Bush Doctrine” and the threats posed by the Iraqi regime, but your representatives in Washington voted for it overwhelmingly and that is what Democracy in a Republic looks like. Deal with it.

As for UN 1973, you may agree or disagree with it, but your representatives in Washington have no say in it whatsoever. That is what Global Totalitarianism looks like. Deal with it.