Friday, March 29, 2013

Eminent Domain

Eminent domain is becoming a hot topic in my community. The government has always had the right to confiscate lands under the Fifth Amendment, but in doing so they must provide “just” compensation. Per the constitution: “nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation”. Generally, the government seizes land to construct roads, railroads, utilities, etc. However, the U.S. Supreme Court case Kelo v. New London Connecticut in 2005 upheld the local government’s ruling that they could transfer ownership of a woman’s home to a privately owned pharmaceutical company which could potentially generate much more state tax revenue from the land. This ruling essentially made it easy for any local, state, or federal governments to seize land for any public issue.

In 2008, the “Telluride Land Grab” (Town of Telluride v. San Miguel Valley Corporation) case garnered a lot attention. This case upheld the exercise of eminent domain by the town of Telluride over property OUTSIDE the town limits – and thus, one would think, outside the jurisdiction of the town. … The upshot of the ruling is that ANY home rule entity (municipality) can exercise eminent domain ANYWHERE in the state (NOT bounded by geography). This ruling has further increased the power of local governments to seize property. The Colorado Supreme Court has negated the efforts of the legislature to impose at least some reasonable restrictions on the use of this power – which has destroyed many long-standing businesses and uprooted homeowners around the state.

In the past few months, the city of Thornton, Colorado approved a measure to allow the city to seize private property via eminent domain for transfer to private developers. They city hopes this measure would allow them to collect millions in more tax revenues. In Fort Collins, Colorado officials are threatening to use eminent domain to help a private developer acquire a Sears department store in the aging Foothills Mall. In Denver, the city council has authorized the use of eminent domain to seize homes and businesses for private development in the historic Five Points district. The vote puts 246 properties in the commercial corridor—including well-maintained Victorian homes dating back to the 1880s—under threat of condemnation for at least the next seven years.

In 2012, the Supreme Court ruled in Sackett v. EPA, that the EPA could not order the Sackett’s to stop building a home on their property to protect what the EPA determined to be on or around vital wetlands. In 2006, the town of Golden Colorado attempted to seize 65 acres of land outside its jurisdiction. The land was owned by a CBS new affiliate who wanted to build a transmitter on the land. Golden citizens objected because they feared it would ruin their views, home values, and yes they feared radiation poising. Would the town and its citizens object if the land was being used to build a wind farm? This is one problem with eminent domain is that there are conflicting cases. In some cases municipalities seize land to build infrastructure, but in other cases municipalities seize property to protect the environment. I do not think governments can have it both ways and the 2012 Supreme Court decision on Sackett v. EPA may have decided this hypocrisy.

A local town in our county wants to put a similar issue up for referendum. The town of Salida, Colorado wants the people to decide if the city has the right to do what the town of Telluride did in 2008 and what Golden attempted in 2006.

People affected by eminent domain have very few rights. They only have 30 days to petition the claim and in many cases, the government is only providing the land owners 80% of the assessed value of the property. Yes, the government is not giving people their “just” compensation, which incidentally are the values set by the local governments. Talk about hypocrisy.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Bureaucratic States of America (Part II)

If you think you are an expert on things outside of your expertise then you are a bureaucrat

If you borrow items and do not return them or return them in the same condition then you are a bureaucrat

If you do nothing to improve your profession then you are a bureaucrat

If you do not prioritize family above all else then you are a bureaucrat

If you hate instead of respect competition and adversaries then you are a bureaucrat

If you procrastinate then you are a bureaucrat

If you are inefficient then you are a bureaucrat

If you are a purposeful burden on any system then you are a bureaucrat

If you take more from a program then you put into it, then you are a bureaucrat

If you do not listen then you are bureaucrat

If you take credit for others successes then you are a bureaucrat

If you blame and find fault instead of taking responsibility or accountability then you are a bureaucrat

If you are not transparent about your actions then you are a bureaucrat

If you feel you must force your beliefs on others then you are a bureaucrat

If you cannot accept another person’s beliefs then you are a bureaucrat

If you use polarizing verbiage such as extremism, Nazism, or other inflammatory terminology then you are a bureaucrat

If you must use violence, slander, or disrespect to make a point then you are a bureaucrat

If you live solely by theory and assumptions and not practical applications then you are a bureaucrat

If you are two faced then you are a bureaucrat

If you think the best way to communicate to your next door neighbor is a text or email then you are a bureaucrat

If you are lazy then you are a bureaucrat

If you do not plan ahead then you are a bureaucrat

If you think quid pro quo or status quo are acceptable ways of conducting business then you are a bureaucrat

If you are a job creator then you are not a bureaucrat

If you find solutions that fair and applied equally then you are not a bureaucrat

If you work manufacturing jobs then you are not a bureaucrat

If you work multiple jobs then you are not a bureaucrat

If you own a business then you are not a bureaucrat

If you volunteer then you are not a bureaucrat

If you are a teacher, who teaches both sides of the story, then you are not a bureaucrat

If you are not a burden on society then you are not a bureaucrat

If you help others in need then you are not a bureaucrat

If you take risks and go outside the box then you are not a bureaucrat

As I point out, we are all guilty of being bureaucrats at some point in time. The question is, are we bureaucrats more than 50% of the time. Others will argue that many of my points have nothing to do with bureaucracy and maybe that is true. But things like procrastination leads to poor solutions which leads to bureaucracy. What does laziness or violence have to do with bureaucracy – if a person is lazy and refuses to work or resorts to violence then they are part of the problem and not part of the solution. Anything that can lead to bureaucracy is just as bad as being bureaucracy.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Bureaucratic States of America (Part I)

Most think my definition of bureaucracy is very broad and they may be right – but without question bureaucracy is what is killing this nation. I think everyone has or will act like a bureaucrat during their lives; it is a matter of to what degree. If you are a bureaucrat over 50% of the time then you are nothing more than a carbon emitting oxygen thieve.

If you are reactive and not proactive then you may be a bureaucrat – no strategic thinking

If you act differently once garnering a position of power then you may be a bureaucrat

If you are a lawyer than you may be a bureaucrat

If you create rules, mandates, legislation, laws, and regulations that are not applied equally amongst individuals, organizations, corporations, and the government than you are bureaucrat

If you create rules, mandates, legislation, laws, and regulations over areas that are not an expert then you are bureaucrat

If you create rules, mandates, legislation, laws, and regulations that complicate the issue then you are bureaucrat

If you are unable to compromise and think you are right 100% of the time then you are a bureaucrat

If you are middle management or work in areas such as quality control, auditing, and project management then you are a bureaucrat

If you add to the problem by creating barriers and are not part of the solution then you are a bureaucrat

If the product of your work is merely creating and overlooking documentation then you may be a bureaucrat

If you are politician then you are more than likely a bureaucrat

If you think you are entitled to something you have not earned then you think like a bureaucrat

If you make decisions that are best for you and not for the ALL then you are a bureaucrat

If you think it is your job to advocate for others then you are a bureaucrat

If you use abuse your position to spew your political beliefs then you are a bureaucrat

If you are the middle man in any process then you are a bureaucrat

If you live by thoughts and beliefs instead of data, science, and facts then you may be a bureaucrat

If you are not making a tangible product then you may be a bureaucrat

If you are responsible for spreading wealth from one place to another then you may be a bureaucrat

If you think gender, race, or religion is the answer to a political or business question then you may be a bureaucrat

If you discriminate against anyone for any reason then you are a bureaucrat

If you are doctor then you may be a bureaucrat

If you are not working to become a better person each day then you are a bureaucrat

If you cannot answer your own phone or make your own coffee then you are a bureaucrat

If you are narcissist then you are a bureaucrat

If you lack organization then you are a bureaucrat

If you think your time is more valuable than others then you are a bureaucrat

If you think you know the best way to spend other peoples’ wealth then you are a bureaucrat

If you live beyond your means then you are a bureaucrat

If you believe material objects are more important than life then you are a bureaucrat

If you lie, cheat, waste, or commit fraud then you a bureaucrat

If you are hypocritical then you are a bureaucrat

Friday, March 22, 2013

Too Small to Succeed

Congress and the President passed their version of financial reform in the Dodd-Frank bill. This bill, to the chagrin of many, does not fix “too big to fail”. Large financial institutions will continue to be bailed out if it is deemed they are too big and their failure will hurt the economy. However, one thing Dodd-Frank and other Obama policies do guarantee is that small businesses will have a tough time succeeding.

Small businesses do not have the funds to lobby Congress for waivers to bad laws such as ObamaCare or to get favorable representation in these bills. For instance, union employees are exempt to many provisions of ObamaCare such as the luxury health insurance tax.

Large companies that trade on the stock exchange are backed by the public and they are provided favorable tax exemptions. For instance, Whirlpool does not have to pay any income tax because they meet “green” tax incentives and exemptions. General Electric can claim massive profits from overseas units that are exempt from U.S. taxes. In other words, large companies can find loopholes to circumvent high U.S. taxes and they have less to risk because they are publically owned. On the other hand, small businesses are stuck with all the risk as well as high U.S. tax rates.

Large and global companies can also seek lower manufacturing prices and conduct businesses in countries where regulations are not as anti-business. In the U.S. for instance, environmental regulations are very anti-business because they drive up energy costs. Small businesses do not have the luxury of going global.

The Obama administration invests in some green companies but not others. They pick winners and losers and the winners are usually companies that invest in Obama’s campaign. Meaning, you must have money to get favorable treatment from the government.

Many small businesses claim their profits as ordinary income. And income does not mean wealth. This is a big misconception about taxes. A person that is considered living in poverty may actually be wealthy and a person with a high income may actually be poor. Income is how much money a person makes in a year. Income does not take into account how much savings or debt a person has. Hence, a person who created a small business and still has a huge student loan and business debt can be taxed at a very high rate. On the other hand, a retired person can live on a small income because they have no debt and can have millions in savings, but can be seen as living in poverty and pay no income tax. This is why taxing people on income and not wealth is very misleading. And this why it is hard for small businesses to succeed and overcome the debt and financial risk they must endure to start a business.

The bottom line is those companies that will succeed are big and have deep pockets. Small businesses that must overcome large debts are more than likely going to fail. In fact, the smaller the business (in terms of employees), the higher the chances that the business will fail. And new regulations, rules, mandates, and laws such as Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare will make small companies highly unlikely to succeed.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Lance Armstrong

Is anyone surprised Lance Armstrong used performance enhancement drugs to reach the pinnacle of the cycling world winning the Tour de France 7 times? Well you shouldn’t be. Armstrong is the prototypical narcissist and anyone who knows about his relationship with teammates and family understands Armstrong doesn’t care about anyone but himself. Besides, pro cycling, especially the Tour de France, have faced decades of cheating which has included other past champions and hundreds of others who have been banned from competition. Cheating in cycling is and was rampant. I am not condoning cheating, but if your competition is cheating then it is easy for many to conclude they too must cheat to remain competitive. Many cycling events, not just the Tour de France, are grueling events. In fact, pro cycling tour events may arguably be the toughest physical sport.

As an avid cyclist, I know too well how hard it is to do the 40 mile round trip from my home town to Cottonwood Pass (12,126 feet). I also know what it is like to endure a bad day. And this ride pales in comparison to what pro tour cyclists must endure for several days or weeks of competition. In fact, the U.S. Pro Cycling tour which features many of the top tour cyclists, not only goes over Cottonwood Pass, but they also go over Independence Pass on the same day (131 miles total)!

I am not going to berate Lance Armstrong because his personality is typical in our sports generation (especially cycling, track and field, and baseball). Floyd Landis, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Alex Rodriguez, Sammy Sosa, Marion Jones, Ben Johnson, and a host of other athletes are juiced up. These sport stars and Armstrong have one thing in common – narcissism.

Unfortunately, we live in a society that fosters narcissism. Many people, like me, route for these athletes and pay little attention to how they treat others. I was proud to see an American win the Tour de France even though Armstrong was a jerk. These athletes may not get elected to the Hall of Fame and have their titles stripped away, but they are laughing all the way to the bank.

Many of these athletes created their own charities. Maybe these charities have helped people in need, but Armstrong’s Livestrong charity is for the most part a scam. It does nothing to fund cancer research or cures. Millions of dollars are spent to help people cope with cancer. For most, money is not paramount in coping with an illness. And the only reason these big ego narcissists create charities is for their benefit – not the benefit of others. Charities are good publicity and it does not cost them a cent to create them. Armstrong was the perfect poster child for testicular cancer, but very little progress has been made with this type of cancer especially compared to breast cancer and the efforts of little known Susan G. Komen.

Most of us are complicit in the Armstrong fiasco. The media sensationalizes these sports stars and the public is enamored and idolizes these icons. By giving these athletes attention we build up their egos and they feed off it. If we want this cheating and narcissism to stop, we need to ignore those who violate these laws, take away their records, and take away their accolades. And until any of these stars are punished to the fullest extent of the law for violating drug laws and imprisoned they will continue to cheat because the potential reward outweighs the consequences.

The joke is on these former stars because they will face a sad ending to their lives. They will die lonely and they may die young. Many athletes who abuse drugs die young – Lyle Alzado, Marco Pantani, Korey Stringer, and Steve Bechler. And this does include sports figures who abused alcohol and drugs for personal use such as Darryl Strawberry, Len Bias, John Daley, Vin Baker, Dwight Gooden, Roy Tarpley and so on.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Euro and Dollar

The Euro is used by 17 nations that are part of the Eurozone and the currency went into effect on January 1st 1999. It is the second largest global currency behind the dollar. In addition, many African currencies are pegged to the Euro. In all, over 500 million people globally use the Euro. Originally, the Euro was used as an exchange system between member countries, but within three years most of the Eurozone countries adopted the currencies. The formation of the Euro made sense since there were dozens of independent European currencies. The Euro simplified travel, eliminated exchange fees, removed the currency risks involved with European trade, and is managed by the Central European Bank. It essence, the Euro was supposed to create continental unity. Several countries in the Eurozone took advantage of their new currency and spent lavishly over the course of several years running up debts higher than their national GDP. Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Italy, and Spain were the biggest culprits. France and Germany made these countries enforce massive austerity measures to qualify for bailouts. This has led to not only economic, but civil unrest. Today, the Eurozone has record unemployment levels and Greek riots are common. For the Euro to continue to exist, Germany and other stable Eurozone countries want a balanced budget agreement or some authority given to the Central Bank to oversee and control state budgets.

Does this sound familiar? It should, many Tea Party and fiscal conservatives want to amend the U.S. constitution to include a balanced budget agreement. The U.S., like several Eurozone countries is facing 16 trillion dollars of debt (near 100% of GDP), and another 87 trillion dollars of unfunded liabilities. However, this is only part of the story. The U.S. is made up of 50 independent states and each faces their own fiscal problems. The states face debt and unfunded liabilities equivalent to an additional 4 trillion dollars. Like the Eurozone, some states are in worse fiscal shape because of lavish spending. To complicate matters more, individual municipalities face even more debt and unfunded liabilities. Dozens of cities nationally have already filed for bankruptcy. Detroit councilwomen, JoAnn Watson, demanded Obama give Detroit a bailout because their constituents voted overwhelmingly for him in the 2012 election. States and municipalities expecting federal bailouts are becoming a common discussion these days.

Just like the Eurozone, it makes sense for the United States to have one currency, the dollar. The founding fathers understood this and gave the federal government sole power to create and maintain the United States currency. However, when a few states and municipalities lavishly overspend it is going to be up to fiscal responsible states and taxpayers to bailout these failing entities. This is not fair, nor is it right.

I am not saying each state should have its own currency, but I am saying that the federal government should demand each state have a balanced budget agreement and understand that they will never be allowed a federal bailout. Yes, the federal government can come to the rescue in some unforeseen circumstances such as a natural disaster – but that is it. States and municipalities should be responsible for their own fiscal matters.

People and corporations have choices in the U.S. If they do not like the tax rates in a certain state, then they can move. This can put added pressure on state governments that like to overspend and overtax. State competition is good, but not when the fiscal burden falls on responsible states to bailout failing states.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Naïve GOP

The GOP is living in some naïve fantasyland if they really believe they can win the 2016 election without making some big changes. Since Romney’s defeat I have not seen one admission from the GOP finding any fault with their platform or strategy – other than to blame Romney as being a flawed candidate. This is wishful thinking.

Romney was a squeaky clean candidate and that is hard to find in this day and age of technology. If the Democrats can paint him as a villain then they can paint any GOP candidate as a villain. Conservatives blame Romney for making some dumb statements such as the “47%” comment. This may be true, but Romney is right about what he said. At least 25% of Americans expect handouts and entitlements and at least another 25% want to give it to them. And there you have the Democrats 50% majority. This welfare and socialistic state of mind and culture has to be changed for Republicans to win another Presidential election. But keep in mind Obama will work hard over the next four years to expand entitlement use and spending to win more Democratic support.

I have heard the GOP say that Democrats will not win minorities by the same margins in 2016 as they did in 2012. Even if Romney garnered the same margins Bush enjoyed with minorities in 2004, he still would have lost the popular vote by around 1 million votes. This may have been enough to put Romney over the top in the Electoral College, but that is highly debatable. And if the current trends hold, minorities will make up 30% of the electorate in 2016 (this is an additional 2 million votes for the Democrats – this will be tough for the GOP to overcome in 2016), up from 28% in 2012. And Hispanic turnout may push this percentage higher if some sort of immigration policy is agreed upon before the next election. This could possibly make more Hispanics eligible to vote in 2016. Still, I hear the same thing from conservatives “We just are not doing a good job of resonating our message to minorities”. Really? I hear this comment or something similar time and time again over the past decade. I think the GOP message has been heard loud and clear – especially on immigration and on entitlements. People care more about money and handouts than they do about family values. After all family values mean nothing when the family struggles to exist.

The GOP is being naïve if they think the several minority candidates within their party will do anything to help garner more minority support in future elections. Nikki Haley, Bobby Jindal, Susana Martinez, Marco Rubio, and Ted Cruz are all good potential prospects for 2016. They could certainly sway a few minority votes in their direction, but not enough. Democrats are best at demonizing conservative minorities and women since they go against their claim that the GOP is only represented by old white men. We only need to look at the liberal media attacks leveled against Sarah Palin and Allen West and their families to verify this point. Any minority or female GOP candidate for the Presidency will be crucified by progressives far worse than Romney to make sure the minority vote does switch parties. Liberals see these candidates as a serious threat to their growing base and therefore they will be painted as disgraceful traitors to their gender and race.

The GOP is also naïve to think that liberals will let conservatives go further left then them on any political position, especially immigration. Even if the GOP granted amnesty to all illegal aliens in the U.S., the Democrats will go a step further and want to grant them some other handout such as education vouchers. You can rest assure that any move the GOP makes to appease to Hispanics will be countered by Democrats.

The GOP’s only chance is if liberals are forced to moved further right and implement austerity measures when the government can no longer support entitlement spending that has put the nation in 16 trillion dollars of debt. This is why I am okay with going off the fiscal cliff. Yes, this will work against Republicans at first, but in the long run a recession is never good for the Party in power. If the U.S. goes into another recession, it will be a very long and hard recovery since we are still trying to recover from the last recession. Liberal imposed entitlement cuts will force people to find work and maybe then they will decide to go with a conservative candidate.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oliver Stone: Russia Good, USA and England Bad

Oliver Stones “Untold History of the United States” on Showtime is some of the best pro socialism propaganda I have ever seen. It is “untold” history because this is Stone’s view, assumptions, and biases about what if FDR did not die or if Henry Wallace was president instead of Truman. Here are some of Stone’s “untold”, or should I say, personal views of U.S. history along with some information he conveniently fails to focus on.

  • Japan did not surrender in WWII because of the atomic bomb being dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, but because Russia had entered the war against Japan in China. Yes, we are to believe Russian forces advancing in Manchuria was viewed as more of threat to Japan than atomic bombs incinerating Tokyo or other major cities.
  • Stone also challenges historical claims that the dropping of the atomic bomb saved American lives. If the U.S. did not drop the bomb they would have had to invade Japan – Unless no U.S. soldiers died if such an invasion took place, Stone is wrong. Japan was fighting to the last man – thousands of Americans would have died.
  • Stone scolds Truman for killing innocent civilians by dropping the atomic bomb, but he conveniently fails to scold FDR for imprisoning Japanese Americans in internment camps which killed thousands and destroyed hundreds of thousands of lives.
  • The U.S. and allies would not have beaten Germany in World War II had it not been for Russia. There is no reason to think the U.S. and its allies would not have beaten the Germans without Russia, but it would have been much more costly.
  • The atomic bomb would not have been used had FDR or Wallace been president. Remember, the Manhattan Project (atomic bomb development) was started under the FDR / Wallace presidency, not Truman. Truman only used what FDR developed.
  • The Cold War and Iron Curtain would have never happened had FDR or Wallace been president and there would have been no global arms race. FDR and Wallace were socialist sympathizers and they would have done nothing to stop Russian expansion in Eastern Europe nor would they have stopped the Russians from obtaining the nuclear bomb. To think appeasement would have stopped Stalin’s ambitions is just being naïve.
  • Russia would have never taken control of Eastern European nations Albania, East Germany, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Yugoslavia, and Hungary if FDR or Wallace been President. FDR gave Poland to Russia and was also was willing to give Russia Manchuria in the Yalta Conference. Russia annexed Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia right under FDR’s nose. Now we are to assume FDR would grow a spine after the war ended.
  • It was the U.S. and England’s imperialism that were the Post World War II evils, and not the potential spread of communism. Stalin was the biggest genocidal leader in history responsible for the death of more than 8 million of his own people. How many people died because of English imperialism? Why is Russian expansion in Eastern Europe and Asia okay, but English imperialism is not okay? These are questions Stone conveniently fails to answer.

I am not defending imperialism, the dropping of the atomic bomb, or underestimating the role Russia had with the defeat of Germany in WWII. However, Stone makes a lot of assumptions, his biases are obvious, and he conveniently omits information. If Stone believes the appeasement foreign policy FDR conducted with Russia during WWII would have satisfied Stalin after the war is more than likely misguided. Wallace would have been just as weak with Russia. Stone is a big fan of Wallace because of his pro union views. Stone’s biases are revealed by how he compares Truman to Bush and how he mocks Truman’s childhood. No other personality – FDR, Wallace, or Stalin had their childhood scrutinized.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Can Republicans Win the Senate in 2014?

It is never too early to look ahead to 2014, especially after a disappointing 2012. But we all understand the political landscape can change on the drop of a dime. 2012 was a good example of that. Many projected that the Republicans could win 3 to 5 seats and win control of the senate. As we know that did not happen, in fact, Democrats gained two seats mainly due to Republican blunders. Todd Akin was a shoo-in in Missouri, but his dumb comments about rape bailed out a victory for the incompetent incumbent Claire McCaskill. The same thing happened in Indiana when Richard Mourdock made controversial comments and lost to Joe Donnelly. Meanwhile, Scott Brown lost in Massachusetts to Elizabeth Warren despite her lifetime lie about being a Native American. In 2012, the Democrats won 24 Senate races to only 8 for Republicans (two independents also won races and they caucus with Democrats). In all, only 4 states switched Party control in 2012 – Nebraska (Republicans), Maine (Independent), and Massachusetts and Indiana (Democrats). With the Maine independent caucusing with Democrats this yielded a net gain of 2 seats for Democrats who had to defend 23 of the 34 seats up for grabs.

The road in 2014 will be a steep one, the GOP will need to gain 6 seats to win control of the senate – this is a huge undertaken. There are a few things in the Republicans advantage; first Democrats are defending 21 of the 35 seats up for grabs making them more vulnerable. Secondly, the Party in power of the White House usually loses on average 6 seats during their 6th year in office. Third, turnout will more than likely favorite Republicans in 2014 – or at least will not be the 6 point advantage Democrats held in 2012.

Tom Harkin’s retirement announcement is the latest early break for Republicans in their long-shot bid to seize control of the Senate in 2014. The move puts Iowa in play and came on the heels of Democratic Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s retirement in West Virginia, which gave Republicans a likely pick-up. Another possible Democratic retirement in a red state looms in South Dakota, where Sen. Tim Johnson is expected to decide soon whether to pursue a third term. And a new poll shows Republican Scott Brown — who’s mulling whether to run for Senate this year or governor in 2014 — up by double digits in a potential race for Democrat John Kerry’s seat. However, even if Brown wins back a seat in Massachusetts, he will have to face reelection again in 2014. And it is no easy undertaking for a Republican to win in Massachusetts. One factor favoring Democrats in 2014 is that they have plenty of advanced warning of potential retirements. Over a year and a half should be plenty of time to plan a strategy to hold the Senate.

Democratic strategists highlight their incumbents who appear likely to run again in red states where retirements could have proved devastating, including Montana’s Max Baucus, Arkansas’ Mark Pryor, Louisiana’s Mary Landrieu, Alaska’s Mark Begich and North Carolina’s Kay Hagan. It is important to keep in mind; only three Democratic incumbent senators have lost re-election bids since the turn of the century. So even though these candidates would be vulnerable running in red states, they will probably be favorites to win re-election.

Hence, the Republicans will need the following to happen in 2014 to win the senate – First, they need to win the West Virginia, Iowa, and South Dakota (if Johnson retires) open seats. Then they will need to win 3 other seats while successfully defending the 14 seats they currently hold. Montana, Arkansas, Louisiana, Alaska, North Carolina, and Massachusetts are the best chances for Republicans to defeat a Democrat incumbent. Republicans may also try to target Colorado Senator, Mark Udall – but so far the Republicans are struggling to find a strong candidate to run against him.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Sky is Falling

Obama, the man who signed the sequestration cuts into law, has tried feverishly on the campaign trail to portray Republicans as the evil culprits behind the cuts. And what’s worse Obama is using these budget cuts to fear monger citizens into believing the cuts would cripple the economy. Obama’s antics remind me of the cartoon when Chicken Little screams the “The sky is falling, the sky is falling!” Obama has cried wolf on many occasions, but this may be liberal extremism at its worse. Even Democrats, especially those in red states, are trying to distance themselves from the President and his unfounded hysteria. This behavior only proves Obama, and most liberals, feel that the country cannot run without government intervention, interference, mandates, rules, regulations, and obstruction. Below is quote from an article on Townhall:

“President Barack Obama hopes to spark a pitchfork revolt against Republicans over sequester-induced budget cuts — but many Democrats fret that he’s undermined that effort with an early strategy marred by hype, poor planning and muddled messaging. The stakes in the sequester debate aren’t quite as high as they were during the debt ceiling battle of 2011, but Democratic veterans of the Obama-Republican wars of 2009 and 2010 are getting a creepy sense of déjà vu from a White House messaging shop they believe fumbled the rollouts of the stimulus and health care initiatives. Over the past few days, Obama and his team have pulled back from a kick-off strategy that portrayed the $84 billion in automatic cuts this year as a parade of instant horrors — hellish waits at airports, a quick cascade of private job losses resulting from voided federal contracts, teachers immediately sacked. That’s part of a “recalibration,” according to one Obama insider, intended to take the focus off the veracity of the administration’s claims — and back on congressional Republicans who have refused to give ground on new tax revenue demanded by Obama as a condition of any long-term budget deal.”

What has Obama’s undies tied in a knot is these cuts are forcing him to cut back on his campaigning and his ability to take his fear mongering, lies, hysteria, and misinformation to the public. No more multimillion dollar vacations to play golf with womanizer Tiger Woods, no more opportunities to raise money, no more opportunities to push for gun control, and no more opportunities to demonize and blame conservatives for his shortcomings. This is what has Obama mad; these cuts will affect his lifestyle.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

To Cut Spending there must be Consequences

Republicans recently voted to raise the debt ceiling limit for another three months. In return, the Republicans said the Democrats must propose and pass a budget or Congressional members will not be paid. After all, the Democrats have failed to do their duty and pass a budget in Obama’s first term. Even Democratic Senator, Michael Bennet, from Colorado proposed “Pay-Go” legislation that would require the government to cut spending to offset any new spending proposals. Some of these are good proposals because they tie consequences spending, but they are not harsh enough. After all, “Pay Go” was ignored and time will tell if the Republican debt ceiling proposal will also be ignored.

Why is there a double standard between individual and private sector spending compared to government spending? Individuals and companies who fail to meet financial obligations are forced into bankruptcy and or can be imprisoned and fined for failing to pay taxes. Whereas, the government faces absolutely no consequences for failing to pass a budget; or to meet the financial obligations of a budget; or to meet the financial obligations of any law, mandate, rule, regulation, or policy.

What else can be done to punish or place consequences on congressional leaders for not doing their jobs other than withholding pay? We can also penalize individual and Party campaign contributions for failing to meet financial obligations. Campaign contributions have totaled over 15 billion dollars in the Obama era for federal elections. Although this pales in comparison to our federal budget, it is still a lot of money, and without it, it would cost many politicians their jobs. It is certainly more money than congressional salaries. Hence, individual and Party campaign contributions should be fined for not passing a budget. Campaign contributions should be fined if they fail to meet a budget’s fiscal limits. Campaign contributions should be fined when legislation fails to meet CBO projections. And campaign contributions should be used to pay for ethical and congressional investigations into political wrongdoing.

Penalties could also be made much harsher such as suspending, banishing, firing, and imprisoning congressional members who have been fined for multiple spending violations. Some may argue that this is out of line and too harsh, but these are the same consequences individuals face for failing to meet financial obligations.

The onus should not be placed on corporations and individuals to pay for ObamaCare if it fails to meet its CBO projections after 10 years. The people who passed this awful legislation should face consequences such as pay and campaign contribution fines to help fund any budget shortfall. This will force legislators to be more prudent, to read the law the before passing it, and to adjust legislation on the fly to prevent budget shortfalls. This would force legislators to make unpopular decisions such as fixing budget shortfalls in Medicare and Social Security instead of kicking it down the road.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Are We Heading Towards Another Recession?

It is hard to tell, but I have believed all along that Obama’s “government trickle-down economics” would accomplish one thing – put us in another recession. The latest data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis indicates that the economy shrunk in the fourth quarter of 2012 by 0.1%. Whenever there are two consecutive quarters of negative GDP growth most economists agree this means the U.S. is in a recession. However, Democrats argue there are simple explanations for the negative GDP growth this past quarter.

First, they blame Hurricane Sandy for the slow growth. However, if the response to Sandy was so great then how could it also be partly to blame for slowing the economy? Democrats can’t have it both ways. Besides, destruction by a storm may close some businesses, but at the same time it expands other businesses. Secondly, Democrats blame cuts in defense spending. But this is exactly what Democrats want to do – cut defense spending. And Democrats use the argument that cutting entitlement spending would also slow economic growth. That may be true, but there is a big difference between 20% cuts to defense spending and 20% cuts to entitlement spending. Defense cuts would slow the economy further because military spending is used to make products and build businesses. Entitlement spending merely goes to individuals and money is not used to make products or build businesses to further grow the economy. And while entitlement cuts made across the country will nullify its effects on businesses, defense cuts are precise and devastate specific companies and its employees. Thirdly, as expected the White House blamed Republicans for the bad GDP numbers. But if the economy recovers we know Democrats will take all the credit. Once again Democrats want to have it both ways. Finally, there was slowdown in business inventories.

Yet, there are reasons to still be optimistic. First, consumer spending is up and that is critical. Many economists believe this trend will lead to better first and second quarter economic growth numbers this year. But there are reasons to cautious and skeptical about these numbers since consumer confidence plunged in January and it is important to see what effects the payroll tax increase of 2% (for Social Security) will have on consumer spending. Secondly, the economy continues to add jobs, but unfortunately the unemployment rate is already at recession levels because the job growth is slow and barely keeping up with population growth.

One could easily argue that with unemployment still at 7.8% and the economy growing at a pace much slower than 3% for four years means the economy still has not recovered or we are still in a recession. Think about it, over the past 4 years the government has poured 2 trillion dollars into the economy (stimulus and expanded entitlement spending including unemployment benefits) and another several trillion in FED quantitative easing measures (incidentally they are buying mortgage backed securities, which are the same financial investments that got us in this mess in the first place). Yes, the government is pouring an additional 6% of GDP spending into the economy each year, yet the economy remains stagnant at best. And with this massive amount of government spending the economy should not shrinking. Why borrow money we do not have to invest in our economy if it is not working? It makes little sense.