Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Economic Melt Down?

It is funny how the media whipped up oil prices to $150 a barrel and no one has called them out on it. Nothing has changes since those heady days in July, but some how oil is now below $50 a barrel. Sure there were speculators and announcements but the reality is that no new sources have opened up and no new refineries have been built. So, it would seem that the only thing driving up world oil prices were the media inventing a crisis of speculation.

Why do I bring this up? I think the media is doing the same thing with the current economic crisis. They report so much gloom and doom that people are scared to spend any money and that leads to an economic slow down of mammoth proportions. But really, lets look at some hard numbers and see how we stand. I am going to compare the 1980-1982 recession with what we have now. Unemployment high of 10.8% then and 6.5% now, Bank loan interest rate 21.5% then and now 4.0%, and Inflation 10.3% then and 2.3% now. The numbers are not even close, so the doom and gloom is really unwarranted with the exception of the bailouts, which are driven by the gloom and doom. Bad companies need to fail and good ones will pick up the pieces and move on smartly.

The more that the government is lead by the media the deeper into trouble we get. Just think if we had not agreed to pay out a couple of Trillion dollars, what would have happened? House prices would have returned to reality in a lot of places and people would lose some 401K money, but in a year or two things would be chugging right along again. We should have crafted a well thought out oversight plan and reasonable regulations, so we didn't find ourselves in this kind of mess again. Instead, we are bleeding money left and right. We haven't solved a thing and the rich guys get year end bonuses with our money. The companies reaped all the profits, while we pay for all the loses.

We need to stop giving these companies money and let them go into bankruptcy just like everyone else and figure out where they went wrong. They need to figure out that the public is not a piggy bank to be constantly raided when they screw up. Free markets mean that the market rewards and the market punishes, it does not mean that the government allows the companies to rob us blind and then pays them for failure to plan.

As for the media, they need to a reality check and someone to take away their bullshit machine. I know that they have hours of time to fill and this is attention getting, but it isn't doing anyone any good for them to spew hours upon hours of doom and gloom when the skies are partly cloudy. If you don't agree lets hear it and your solution to the mess because we all know that nothing intelligent is coming out of Washington.

Friday, November 21, 2008

The Powder Keg and the Match

This one is a response to beebs,

It doesn't take much to make a simple nuke that could be transported in a shipping container. When we were working on our bomb we had two designs, only one of them did we bother to test before use (implosion version). The other is so simple almost any physics major today could build it if they had some enriched Uranium. The Iranians really don't need to make Plutonium they just need to enrich enough Uranium to make one of the simple type bombs. Then they just need to ship it to Israel or one of her neighbors via ship or truck. That is what makes the situation so very scary and the Israelis so damn nervous. We don’t have to worry about the Iranians making a bomb that will fit on the top of a missile (this is the type the NIE was talking about) because they have enough friends that hate Israel to sneak one or two close and we all know that close is good enough for nukes.

I don’t think that we are going to want to join in the fun and Obama will be tempted to let Israel swing, but lets be honest Iran is going to see a target rich environment in Iraq and the Gulf. We probably won’t have a lot of choice in whether we are caught up in the mess. This isn’t going to be pretty and I just don’t see how we are going to keep Israel from acting in its own best interest. What we can’t understand as Americans is that Israel really has nothing to lose in attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities. They are already under constant attack from Iranian proxies on all sides and they can’t just sit back and wait for a nuke to detonate in Tel Aviv before they act. Do I think that this is just saber rattling? No. Iran has nothing to lose by trying to nuke Israel and Israel has to protect themselves from that possibility. We said Iraq would never invade Kuwait because that would not make sense from a Western standpoint, but they did didn’t they.

I hope that I am wrong about this whole crazy thing, but more often than not we clearly do not have a handle on the Middle East. We don’t think people could be so stupid and wouldn’t do something that would clearly lead to their destruction, but that leads back to the First Gulf War. The whole situation is a powder keg and the only remaining question is who is going to light the match.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Enough for a Bomb

For those of you keeping score, Iran now has enough for a single nuclear weapon of the implosion type and will soon have enough for a crude old style weapon. This announcement comes on the heals of the Israelis saying that they are ready to take care of business if necessary. I don't know how much longer the Israelis are going to wait before taking matters into their own hands, but it probably won't be after 20 January because they know that Pres. Obama might not have their back. Things are going to keep escalating until the bombs start falling and then things are going to get real interesting. I will keep you up to date with the latest developments and an eye toward the skies.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Detroit

Here we go again with the whole bailout issue, but there is a twist on the issue with the Big 3 and that is that they are asking for the money to fund the pension and health care plans on their union workers. It is great that the rest of us can provide them with a nice retirement and top of the line medical care, while they clog the roads between Michigan and Florida. This really pisses me off because there is zero reason for this and the Big 3 could be competitive in the world market or at least here at home if they weren't required to provide health care for life to a bunch of early retirees. I have a big beef with unions that only serve the interests of their leaders and not the company or the nation as a whole.

Obama has some hard choices to make over this bailout because he either comes across with the goods to keep his union pals fat and happy or he can fix this nations health care system like he promised during the campaign. I have a suggestion for him that is sure to piss everyone off, but who cares because we either do it or stop making stuff here in the US. We take the bailout money and the money in the Big 3 Health Fund and fund a minimum national insurance standard. It would force insurance companies to provide a minimum amount of coverage at a set cost and have to compete across state lines (removing sweetheart state deals), while allowing every person a chance at affordable health care for routine procedures and preventative care. Of course Obama will provide money for all the poor people, which was his plan anyway. Sure it would cost billions and the care would suffer, but he was planning on it anyway and why not give back to the public by forcing everyone to the same shitting standard of care. The UAW will lose their collective minds because they will now have to pay extra for all the cool stuff they have now. I see this as a great way of spreading the wealth around, plus you could go after all those other health care funds to seed the new agency of pain.

The sad reality is that unless we do something to remove the burden of life long health care from the manufactures of this nation they will never be able to compete in the world market against companies from countries that provide socialized medicine. It is a crappy reality, but if you want American jobs then you have to make American products that people want and can afford to buy. As an example, a low end economic American car has $2000 worth of extra labor burden then a similar Japanese model then two things are going to be true. The Japanese car is either going to be $2000 better or $2000 cheaper. The second thing is that those jobs and dollars are not going to stay here in this country but head back to Japan. Am I saying buy the crappy American car just to keep GM or Ford afloat, no because that just keeps the problem going vice solving it.

You may not agree that we have to do something and that having a national health care standard is just too socialistic, but in reality if we want to be good capitalists and compete in the world market then we need to shift costs away from companies and someone has to pick up the tab or we become India. If we want to regain our competitive position in the world then our government needs to do its part and we have to start paying for the privilege of living in this country via taxes. Too long we have believed that we could have the world without having to pay, but the piper is at the door asking for payment. That isn't to say that we should allow the government to tax us wild and waste the money or line their pockets with it, but we need to start getting real about what it costs to have a great defense, robust economy, and unparalleled opportunity.

If you have a better idea I would love to hear it because you know Congress is going to find a way to bailout the Big 3, raise our taxes, set up a completely inefficient national health care system, and have more companies lining up for federal bailouts.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Next Time Around.

The post election wrangling is in full force with the Republicans licking their wounds and trying to figure out what went wrong. The answer is simple and the solution is even easier. They put an old guy up for President against a young slick smooth talking say whatever it takes to get elected guy. America has proven once again that elections are not about issues and facts, but are won on how looks better and tells the people what they want to hear. President-elect Obama had no resume and no hard policy to offer, but what he did have was good looks and the ever popular slogan of Hope and Change. There was never a time during the election that anymore meat was added to that bone and it didn't matter anyway because look at McCain. He gave a lot of people the willies and he was old, plus he is a straight shooter that never shot straight.

If you want to be President it is all about timing and having a pretty smile. Take a look back over the elections for the last say thirty years. Reagan/Carter was bad President verses the actor that promised to make this country strong, winner Reagan. Reagan/Mondale was a going strong President verses Fritz, landslide Reagan. Bush I/Dukakis solid VP verse the goofball riding around in a tank, winner Bush I. Bush I/Clinton weak President verses slick willie, winner Slick Willie. Clinton/Dole popular President verse old war hero, winner Clinton. Bush II/Gore man of the people verse the stiff ass (both reasonably good looking and young), close one Bush II. Bush II/Kerry somewhat popular President verse the old looking dunce, winner Bush II. Obama/McCain young aspirant with no resume verses old war hero, winner Obama.

The history lesson was important because that it points out that message is of little consequence and the really important thing is packaging. Do you really think that Bush and Gore has the same message or that Reagan's was almost perfect as compared to Mondale. If you believe that then I have some land in Florida for sale. The fact is that the American public learned to vote in high school and has never changed their habits. They want someone that looks good and gives them the warm fuzzy they crave. It doesn't matter if they know that the guy can't possibly deliver, but that he or she understands them and feels their pain. You ever wonder why Obama made it out of the primaries ahead of Clinton? The truth is Clinton was not electable because people are scared of her, think wicked witch scary. The Democrats understood that after Kerry they needed a winner and Clinton didn't fit the bill.

As for the Republican side of the house they forgot the sting of Dole and allowed McCain to come out on top. Thompson would have been their best bet to win the election, but for some reason he didn't come to play hard ball. The Republican primaries were all about who is more conservative, which amazes me that McCain actually won out, but that could have been them thinking that they needed a more middle leaning candidate. That would have worked if it would have been someone young and invigorating, but instead you got old and reserved. McCain never had what it took to be President this year and Palin only helped him by providing him conservative votes, but she could never put him over the top of all those high school mentality voters. If she would have ran on her own, it would have been a much closer race and far more legitimate because their records are not that different and it would have been a toss up on good looks. There is one problem with a good looking female candidate in that she alienates other females because she is not only hot, but is doing it all which causes the less so spectacular female to wish evil upon the prom queen.

So Republicans here is what you need to do in 2010 and 2012 if you want to start gaining some seats back. Find good looking people that are willing to say whatever it takes to get elected and then market the hell out of them. The message is the easiest part because all you have to say is lower taxes and smaller government after two years of Democrats running up the bills and taxes. I hate to be so blunt, but that is the world we live in and the dummies that elect our President. If you don't believe me check out the video at "Sleepy Eyed Whiners of the Deep" or check it out on Fox news.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

In Response

I decided to write a post vice just responding to a comment because the subject is part and parcel of the state of this nation. The question was raised whether we needed such a large modern military. This question is very loaded because you first have to decide what is important to this nation and then decide what type of military is needed to support that decision.

I truly believe that there are many paths, which we can follow in this area and some are better than others. First, we must step back and take a hard look at our place in the wide world and decide what we want our role to be. Should we be the world's policeman or should we be isolationist or maybe somewhere in the middle. Think that where we decide to fall in that spectrum truly dictates the level of military we are going to need (I will hold modernization for later).

As it stands right now we support (spend lots of money) on the UN, NATO, and our own military, this to me seems to be redundant. Why are we still supporting NATO, when the other countries seem to reap all the benefits and we pay all the costs? This doesn't make a huge amount of sense to me because we are footing the bill and providing the equipment to prevent Russian aggression, but as we have recently seen that NATO is not going to stand with us if the crap starts hitting the fan. They have their own self-interests to worry about like Russian oil and gas. So this leaves us with the question of why do we bother spending money and troops in their support? This is where things get more complex like that it is good to have lots of friends around the globe who will allow you put your toys in a time of need and supply needed support for your global objectives. This leads us back to the where on the spectrum we want to be.

As for the UN, this organization is not our friend and does very little in reality other than drain resources around the world. In a recent report they have billions of dollars that most countries don't realize they have, but lots of it is wasted on their self-licking ice cream cone of administration. The UN is helpful in organizing relief or other feel good things, but when it comes down to anything globally productive there is just too many fingers in the pie and nothing is ever accomplished because of national self interests. We need to stop supporting the parts that don't work. This once again leads us back to our decision on global strategy. Do we keep going through the motions at the UN, wasting our time and money just so that we have a legitimizing front man(which it no longer is) or do we gather our paid for friends around the globe and enforce our will.

The fact that we provide a service to the rest of the world on our dime and then take crap for it really chaps my butt, so maybe a little isolationism is not such a bad thing. I know that we can't really do that and expect positive results because evil isn't going to take a vacation. The real question is where is Pres. Obama going to place us on the spectrum, can we really afford to be there and for how long. Next we have to tackle modernization, which is a very tricky beast to tackle.

There are parts of our military that could do with some serious modernization or else they will start to fail in a big way and we might not be able to quickly fix them at a later date. The question about submarines came up as part of the discussion, so I will try to address it. We are losing submarines to decommissioning faster than we can build them at the moment, so in reality we are reducing this capability without any additional action needed. This may or may not be the right answer based on all the missions that keep getting laid on the submarine force. There are some bright spots in all of this, like the fact that we are building them faster and cheaper then we planned for and that we are re-utilizing the Tridents as they are no longer needed for the strategic mission. The submarine force is leading the way on doing more with less and maximizing the stuff they have, but a point will be reached where there is just no more blood that can come from that stone without serious loss in capability. That is the reason that we as a nation must decide what our role is going to be so we can prioritize the losses of capability.

As we look at other programs across the military there are things that are in need of replacement or there will be a complete loss of capability, like tankers. If we don't start building some new ones there will be a time when the ones we have will no longer be able to fly, so what do you do then? What about those dirty little nukes that have been around for ever and need to be replaced? Congress has spoken and there will be no new nukes, but at some point if we still want that capability then we are going to need new ones, so why not build safer and more reliable ones? Right now we are pretty solid on tanks and machine guns, but there are plenty of other stuff that we are going to need to replace and/or upgrade just to make sure that we don't end up fighting Panzers with Shermans.

That isn't to say that we need to maintain huge fleets of ships and aircraft, but it does mean that we have to set priorities and replace the stuff that truly needs replacement. Additionally, we need to seriously consider the level of craziness that we are adding to these new systems, such as F-22 verses F-35 or Seawolf verses Virginia. In both cases, we shot the moon, but soon realized that all the bells and whistles are really expensive and we needed to back down to good is good enough. It is great that we have built some of the very best fighting machines in the world, but they come at a cost. We need to take the parts we really need and incorporate them into actually cost effective mass produced machines (think concept car vs production car). We need a few super cool versions and then a whole bunch of mortal version, but then take the super cool versions to the next level to start the process all over again.

So you asked do we really need a military that costs $650 billion a year and I say it depends on what you want it to do. Do I think that we could cut some of the wasteful spending and shrink forces sizes and still get the job done, sure. Can we cut programs and eliminate modernization, not completely. Do I think that we run the risk of not being able to meet our global commitments, yes but it depends on what you want the commitment to be. We have to all sit down and look at what we want this country to be able to do and where we should spend our money, do we want affordable health care, do we want to keep people from being tossed out on the streets, do we want to keep our citizens safe here at home (or abroad), or do we want to pay down the national debt and strengthen our global financial position? Those are just few of the "priorities" the new President faces.

Let's hear how you feel about the "priorities" and what we can do to solve this nation's biggest problems.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Items of Interest

I have been scanning the news as usual and found some interesting reading. I found an article by Ollie North about what President-Elect Obama might do to the military on the advice of Barney Frank to cut 25% of the Defense Budget. It is some pretty scary stuff and I will let you read it there on Fox. I am truly scared about what and how much of the military is going to be cut to pay for the numerous new spending plans, which leads me to the other article of interest.

The automakers in Detroit have hat in hand and are looking for a hand out. This handout from the government is to pay for retooling to make fuel efficient cars because they already got $25 billion for that earlier, but this $25 billion is to fund the health care trust funds. It seems to me that instead of sending another $25 billion down the drain of Detroit, we should be looking at a whole new way of doing health care in this country. I am not for socialized medicine, but a new and better way of doing things. I think we should get a panel of smart people together and figure this thing out and it should include doctors, nurses, insurance people, drug companies, and regular people that will keep them all honest. I am not sure how it will all pan out, but I sure don't want the government telling me which doctor to go to, but I know that I don't want insurance companies telling I can't go to the doctor.

These two issues are typical of the things this country needs to solve in the next few years. We can not let Washington's crooked politicians and lobbyists solve for us. We need serious planning and oversight into these difficult issues. What we definitely don't need is business as usual for Washington. I am all for change if it protects this country and its people. I don't have the answers to this or the dozen other burning questions of our time, but I do know that letting the lobbyists decide isn't going to be good for anyone. Light up your Congressman and Senator about how you feel about doing things right and coming up with real solutions vice wasting our tax dollars on half-assed attempts. Plus, whatever they come up with needs to be monitored to ensure that it truly does what it was intended to do.

The American public understands that money is needed to tackle some of these tough issues, but they want it spent wisely and to get results. I have said it before and I will keep saying it, we need results from Washington and not just promises and criminal actions. I am willing to pay a federal sales tax if I thought it would be used to payoff the national debt and I know a lot of other people feel the same way. With that said, we are not willing to allow Congress to waste another dime and sure and the hell would not allow them to impose a tax then piss it all away lining their and the lobbyists pockets. We need to let Congress know that they are on a short leash and need to clean up their collective act.

We also need to let them know that certain issues need to wait until we solve the big ones first. We don't need to enact the Fairness Doctrine or the Freedom of Choice Act, while the economy is in tatters. Plus, we don't even need to start dicking with taxes until we figure out our spending and that means truly figure it out like health care, medicare, social security, defense and so on. This is the dawn of a new age and a great opportunity to turn this country around, but there is great risk as well because if we fail our economy fails, our military is gutted, and we become vulnerable not only on the battlefield but also economically. Stand up with me now and demand better from our government and let your representatives know how you feel. If you don't agree let me hear it or if you have a better way lets get it out here.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

New Direction

I had to take a long hard look at the future based on yesterday's events. As you might have noticed that there are some changes on the blog. The Palin banners and support have been removed, that doesn't mean that I personally dislike her or what she stands for, but I've come to realize she isn't what this country needs right now. We need people that are not out at the extremes, but more in the middle. How I feel personally is of no consequence because I am just a small part of a much bigger whole.


If America is going to survive and thrive in the next few years and beyond, we must come together in the middle and force the extremes of both parties back to the middle. In good conscience I cannot advocate such a position and support such a polarizing person, no matter how much I agree with her positions. We need the people in the newly elected Congress to push back to the middle and let go of the extreme left and right. We need people who will vote down the extremist stuff that they are likely to see in the near future (i.e. Freedom of Choice Act, Fairness Doctrine).


We the people must not take our eyes off of the American Dream of being the home of the free and land of the brave. We must not allow the military to be gutted to pay for additional social programs that end up leave us weak and unable to defend our interests. We must not become so isolationist that we allow our friends to suffer at the hands of crazed dictators around the globe. We need to care for all of our people, but be careful not create a welfare state that refuses to care for themselves. We must return to the pioneer spirit and throw off the shackles of government. We need to remind Washington who's money they are spending and that it isn't limitless.

If my taking down the Palin banners offends, I'm sorry. I really feel that this country and the Republican party need to do some serious soul searching and let the certain views go. I am not for a theocracy or Communism. I am for the land of the free and the home of the brave. I have proudly served this country and will continue to do so, but as in my oath I am to protect it from all enemies foreign and domestic. The extremism in the current system is a domestic enemy, so I am going to fight to protect my country. I am personally a strong conservative, but my personal views are not what is important for this country as a whole. We Americans do not all feel the same way on a lot of stuff, but we must come together under the new President and make this country better. I am not saying give up everything you believe in, but maybe just put more fight into the things that are really important for this country to survive and thrive for the next two hundred years.

If you don't agree with me that is okay because this country was built on many different ideas, but the one thing that has always been the same, we are all Americans first. That is what is truly important as we stand at the doorway of a new era in the American experiment. Let me hear how you feel and what you think we should do. I still think Gov. Palin is great and could have a great future, but we will leave that for another time.