Friday, October 23, 2009


I constantly hear stories about how well cellular phones work in other parts of the world versus the typical dropped calls and spotty broadband here in the US.  Part of the reason, I’m told, is the phenomenon of leapfrogging technology and that our ubiquitous copper-wire phone network slowed our jump to wireless. I think something like that is happening to our democracy, or more accurately, our democratic republic.

I live in NJ where we now have a competitive three way gubernatorial race winding down and it is extremely likely that our next governor will win with a narrow plurality, much less than a majority. Such is potentially the case with 3 way races in most elections in the US. But many parts of the world have learned this lesson and provide for a runoff in the case of a plurality. After all, if you were designing a democracy from scratch, wouldn’t a runoff law make perfect sense?

Under our system, the actual election is designed to be the “runoff” and the primary is how we narrow it down to a dichotomy. Unfortunately, we never fully accounted for the fact that not all candidates would want to slog it out in the primaries, and some would just keep their powder dry to run on third party tickets. (Remember Ross Perot and Ralph Nader?) I don’t have a problem with 3rd parties at all, provided we have a good runoff provision of some kind.

Another area where we may have been leapfrogged is in voter fraud. How is it that we know for certain there were fraudulent votes in Afghanistan but we have no idea what’s happening in, say, Chicago graveyards? We can’t even get a voter ID law passed in any state without endless court challenges. On what planet does this make sense? Has no one ever heard of ACORN or Mickey Mouse the Voter?  Why is it that we trust Diebold with our money at ATMs everywhere but not our electronic vote?  Why is it that absentee paper votes have mushroomed wherever electronic voting has taken hold?   

So I ask, without strong runoff laws and trustworthy fraud-free elections, are we not setting ourselves up for a very messy democratic future? Stay tuned…

BTW: Wikipedia has a very good explanation of the various “Two-Round” voting systems used around the world:

Thursday, October 22, 2009

All Hail The Mighty Pay Czar!!!

I know many people have bought into the Obama/McCain/Pop-Media explanation of the "Community Credit Crisis" and can see the logic of limiting the pay of reckless and greedy executives who got billions in government bailouts.  Problem is, that's not what happened!  In my upcoming best-selling book and companion Oscar-winning documentary, "The Community Organizer, The Community Organization, The Community Re-Investment Act, and The Community Credit Crisis" I carefully document that it was in fact Washington's policy of making home ownership an entitlement, through tax policy (mortgage deduction, etc.) legislation (Community Reinvestment Act, ACORN, etc), GSEs (Government Sponsored Enterprises like Fannie and Freddie), and monetary policy (FED easy money and then too tight) that caused the crisis and not greedy bankers.  Limiting the bankers pay is populist TYRANNY plain and simple.

Besides, what if hypothetically it was the bankers fault?  Shouldn't Obama just fire all the old greedy ones and hire a bunch of new "smart" ones and let them earn whatever the market will bear?  After all, they just inherited the mess!  Don't hold your breath...

Farewell to Divisive Politics!

I'm so glad Obama has ended the shallow divisive politics of the past...

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Advice from Dad...

(Hayden leaves for Army Basic Training in 2 Weeks.  This letter was written last April long before the Obama Justice Department elicited an even more strident and spontaneous protest by every living former CIA director from both parties.)

Dear Hayden,                       4/20/09

This is a very difficult letter for me to write. Ever since you announced your intent to become a Marine your Mom and I have been supportive of your decision despite our protective instincts. After all, how could any parent be anything but proud of a son (or daughter) who volunteers to defend our nation? That said, I must tell you that I have new concerns about your decision and while I will continue to support you regardless of what you do, I must advise you to not enter the military at this time.

Last week, President Obama ignored the advice of four former CIA Directors and the current Director (his own appointee) and de-classified top-secret material pertaining to the interrogations of terrorists in captivity. It is my belief that President Obama has willfully made this country less safe by providing top-secret intelligence to our enemies and apparently five CIA directors agree. I can not and will not try to explain the President’s motivation, and it is certainly within his power to determine the classified status of any information. All I can do is warn you that our country and its military are now in greater danger as a result of these actions.

I’ll never forget going mountain biking with you on 9/12/2001 when we thought the fresh air would do us good only to find that the dark plume of smoke from ground zero was clearly visible whenever we looked up. One of the big lessons we learned from 9/11 was that our failure to prevent those attacks was in large part due to self-imposed restrictions on the sharing of intelligence between federal agencies. Will we look back on the exposure of top-secret interrogation information with the same regrets? Five CIA Directors think the risk was not worth taking and I am not qualified to disagree with them.

I consider the military’s relationship with our civilian government one of the founders great achievements. Throughout our history, the military has kept up its end of the bargain and honorably served the Commander in Chief regardless of political considerations. Likewise, most Presidents have gotten high marks for keeping up their end of the bargain. In my judgment, President Obama’s actions show that his interests lie elsewhere and I don’t want you entering the Marines with a Commander who is not looking out for you. Once you put on that uniform you will be defending us against deadly enemies and the last thing you need is a Commander aiding them!

Hayden, you are an adult and can make your own decisions about whether to volunteer or not. But I know you are busy graduating from college and don’t always have the time to keep up with the constant flood of information today. All I can do is what parents always do; inform their sons and daughters, and equip them to make good decisions.

My advice? Stay out of the Military until we have a Commander in Chief who will protect and defend this country and do everything in his power to not dull the “point-of-the-spear” that defends us all.

Love, Dad

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

First They Came For...

First they came for the capitalists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a capitalist;

Then they came for the conservatives, and I did not speak out—because I was not conservative;

Then they came for the critics, and I did not speak out—because I was not a critic;

Then they came for Fox News, and I did not speak out—because I watched MSNBC;

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak out for me.

(Apologies to Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892–1984))

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dow 10,000!!!

Yipee!  The economy is fixed and the Dow is back at 10,000!  We sure dodged that bullet.  All hail the fabulous geniuses in Washington.  They cleaned up Bush's mess in only nine months!  All those bad mortgages have magically gone away!  The banks that wrote the mortgages are in great shape since they gave all the downside to the government!  The people who bought those homes have all refinanced and been "modified" with government guarantees!  Home values are shooting up thanks to free government money flooding the banks!  Goldman Sachs is paying bonuses again with Fed money!  The car companies are back and guaranteed by Uncle Sam!  Even gold is up showing, of course, that there is huge demand for bling!  So big deal, some people can't find work, not to worry, the government is paying unemployment benefits forever!  Isn't this great!  Yipee!  Aren't we great?  What's that, you say, there's a big bulge under that rug?  I'm sure it's nothing and I wouldn't worry about it for a few years anyway...

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Food Reform Now!

Are you not sick and tired of the food industry making obscene profits and denying people the very food they need for survival?  Think about it; in order for greedy food companies to make the outrageous profits they do, they must constantly deny hard working Americans the very food they want and need.  How many times have you heard someone complain that they wanted a big steak, salad, potato, and an apple pie only to be told that their "plan" only included a burger and fries.  That's fine for the average person but what about a 300 pound person who needs more calories just to stay alive?  Should they be punished just because their genetic make-up makes them big? 

Now,  I'm not one of those people who think the government should do everything for everyone, but I think our government needs to take a close look at how the food industry denies food all the time to hard working Americans just to make obscene profits.  Just think how much better it would be if we all had a single-payer non-profit government option to bring efficiency to the food business.  And make no mistake about it, food is big business in America.  Food dwarfs healthcare in terms of numbers of people who profit from it and the numbers of people who must pay for those profits by paying more than they should to do something that is necessary for everyday survival! 

Experts estimate that some sellers of food are profiting by up to 20% on the sale of food which would indicate that if we eliminated the greed in food with a public option, we would have enough money left over to fund healthcare for all American citizens, documented and undocumented alike!  Chew on that...


A is A

Ayn Rand's masterpiece philosophical novel "Atlas Shrugged" was ostensibly a dissertation on the simple axiom  that "A is A".   Following the news in October 2009 I question how long we can pretend that "A is not A" before something gives a la Atlas Shrugged.  Can the government do something it has never done before; take-over huge parts of the economy, increase access, lower cost, increase quality, and make huge advances in technology?   Can the government make us safer by alienating our allies and appeasing our enemies?  Can we break every law of economics and build a stronger economy?  Can we criminalize intelligence and become more intelligent?  Can we fill our government with Marxists and not end up with a Marxist government?    Can we print money without restraint and not debase our currency?  Can we force the redistribution of wealth without destroying the engine that creates wealth?  Can the government make the sun cooler by taxing energy? Can we burn food to run our cars and not end up with less food?  Can "A not be A"?  Somethings gotta give and all I know is it's just a matter of time.  But timing is everything...

Monday, October 5, 2009

Magic Bullets - Part II - New Constitutional Ammendments

Again, in response to The Lovin' Spoonful, I do believe in magic!  Magic Bullets that is.  Today's magic bullets are a trio of constitutional ammendments that would do an end-run around the run-away government that has slipped through the cracks of the Commerce Clause and other overly broad parts of our founding documents which clearly were not intended by the authors as curently construed.   Read on if this kind of thing interests you and please comment: 

28th ammendment -  All domestic federal revenue must be collected directly from the people. 

This ammendment would eliminate all stealth taxes and fees and reveal the true cost of our government to the people.  One big change would be the elimination of all corporate and payroll taxes.  So, you say, corporations get a free ride???  Not at all.  Corporations don't actually pay taxes!   But they do collect and remit taxes which are stealthily taken from their employees and customers.  Stealth taxes are how the government is able to fool the populace into thinking they are getting good value from their tax dollar.  This is a magic bullet which would quickly lead to honest, right-sized government.

29th ammendment - Federal Representatives, Senators, and Judges including SCOTUS, may serve no longer than 12 years.

Don't really need to explain this one 'cause the logic is exactly the same as term limits for the President.  A no-brainer magic bullet.

30th ammendment -  Any activity (legislation, regulation, financing, goods, services, etc) of the federal government must meet three tests:  1. the activity must be of direct and equal benefit  for potentially all US citizens, 2.  the activity must not be obtainable from the private sector, 3.  and the cost of the activity must be borne by all citizens in like proportion, after an exemption for poverty.   

This would drive a stake through the heart of pork spending and earmarks while making sure everyone had "skin-in-the-game".   Could we socialize medicine after this?  No, because it would fail the second test.  Could we even have Medicaid or Medicare?  Sure, as long as it was strictly a financing activity which all citizens could obtain if they qualify.  Could we have a space program?  Sure, as it would meet all 3.  Could we have National Parks?  Sure.  Could we have a bridge to nowhere?  No.  Could we have wealth re-distribution?  Sure, as long as it passed the third test (which would limit it severely).  Could we go to a national sales tax or keep the income tax?  Sure, but the income tax would be flat after poverty and the sales tax would have a pre-bate.

How would our country look after these 3 ammendments?  Think about it....              

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Magic Bullets - Part I - Healthcare

What if there really are Magic Bullets?  "Experts" always say, with thoughtful pauses, "Well, of course this is a complex problem we have with (insert problem here) and there are of course no Magic Bullets, but I think with the right mix of policy changes...blah, blah, blah, etc. etc. etc."  You get the idea.  I reject that notion in many areas because I do believe in magic bullets and I can see them working throughout history.  Unfortunately, they can work both good magic and bad. 

Let's take for example the "black-magic" bullet that first caused our Healthcare mess; a freeze on wages during WWII which led companies to provide health insurance as a dodge around the wage freeze.  From that point on, there was an imbalance in the tax treatment between employer provided (tax deductable) and individually owned (fully taxed) health insurance.  In other words, that wage freeze caused a cascade of unintended consequences which has tragically led us to our current mess.  Today only about 5% of the population pays for their own health insurance leaving almost everyone in the US in a situation where someone else foots the bill.  No wonder healthcare is considered an entitlement! 

So what is the magic bullet fix?  Writing in the Wall  Street Journal a couple of  weeks ago, noted economist Martin Feldstein said  that (and I'm paraphrasing), virtually every economist he knows believes that tax changes are the key to bringing down costs.  After all, isn't this ultimately about cost?  If catastrophic insurance was affordable to everyone, everyone would buy it, right?  So the magic bullet is to make the tax changes which would re-establish an individual market for health insurance and once established, that would obviate a government takeover.  This could easily be done by giving individuals the same tax savings as employers and that would mean re-fundable tax credits for those who pay no income tax or are in low brackets.  The effect would be revenue neutral to the government and a true market would emerge for health insurance. 

So why not do it?  The answer is simple; this is not about fixing the problem but rather about political power and permanent electoral majorities forever for the entitlement class, which just happens to be another "black-magic" bullet.