Friday, February 19, 2010

Jobless Claims and Inflation Surge – Seniors Hit with 14% Increase in Medicare Supplement Plans.

Misery Index Under Carter - Denja Vu 2010 - image Cosnervative Post

New claims for unemployment rose sharply last week, while the rate of inflationrose to 2.7% (excluding “volatile” food and energy statistics) The data on unemployment claims is being prefaced by the word “unexpected” – which is a tad disingenuous, considering that nothing has been done to boost private sector jobs, which is the key to ending unemployment. While the administration touts “jobs saved through the “Stimulus”, those are jobs within state and federal governments, many of which are due to expire, leaving individual states and commonwealth’s with the burden of layoffs and/or increasing revenue with taxes.

The administration’s answer is a Job’s Bill, which stands about as much of a chance of doing exactly what the Stimulus accomplished. Harking back to the late 1970’s, Jimmy Carters first year in office was a mirror image of what is happening today, and the “Job’s Bill” created under the Carter administration, among other tactics to boost the economy, was categorized as “A Year of Failure” . The steps that Carter chose, and the Obama administration is following, led to an increase in the jobless rate, as well as a rise in inflation. That said it took the Carter Administration three years to tank the economy to the point where a “misery index” was created. This administration is one-upping the former one-term President, by moving at lightning speed.

The problem lies in an insistence on creating public sector jobs, and projects – while ignoring the public sector, which is what pushes the economy. Regardless of those who evoke the work Corporate and Satan in the same sentence, and believe that all Corporations “owe” the “masses”, one has to understand that when the corporation fails in a dismal economy, so go the jobs. One understands the President is a Progressive Democrat, and would be most likely to follow his Progressive predecessor Cater in like-minded think, but what one does not understand is how one in such a position cannot look back at recent history and understand that a second attempt at a failed policy will most likely end up a failure.

Those most hurt by the crunch are those most vulnerable or individuals on a fixed income. The rising costs of food, energy (heating oil) and, insurance premiums have just begun to squeeze the American populace. Should the current track continue without implementation of across the board tax cuts (utilized by both John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan), the economy will continue to decline. The premise of across the board tax cuts is simple. Those at the top of the food chain (corporations – and small business) will have the capital to invest in more workers (jobs!), in turn increasing the government’s revenue by an increased tax base. This is a proven system, taking money and putting it back into the private sector, rather than increasing the size of the federal government. The tax cuts don’t work overnight, but over time, while the job bills give immediate relief to those who work in state and local governments, they expire over time. Further, when criticized for the failed Stimulus, the Administration made an effort to appear fiscally conservative, by choosing to selectively cut costs. Cuts were made to Medicare reimbursements, which resulted in a whopping 14% increase in Medicare Supplement plans for seniors.

It bears repetition, History repeats itself, and when history includes hard data, or a virtual “how to” or “how not to” map on economics, one would think that ideology would take a back seat to saving one’s political hide, and ending the misery of the millions of American’s who are currently out of work.

As the pundits wonder when Obama will move to the middle, (that handwriting is on the wall) and the bickering in Congress continues (due to a continued use of 2006 to 2008 campaign rhetoric), the people caught in the middle, will continue to suffer. One has to prefer a Congress and Administration at total odds, which will result in nothing getting accomplished, over an Administration and Congress in concert that are using decades old failed economic policies.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Getting the Massachusetts Facts Straight – Washington Post profiles Charlie Baker’s Run for Govenor

Charle Baker, Repubican Candidate for Govenor, Massachusetts - images

In a recentWashington Post Article, written by Chris Cillizza and entitled “Charlie Baker: Scott Brown, part deux?”, the author uses the erroneous claim that the Massachusetts Electorate is heavily Democrat. Further, he cites the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s website as follows:

The central challenge for Baker is how to win a race -- not a special election -- in a state that still heavily favors Democrats. (At the end of 2008 -- the latest information available at the state's election division -- there were 4.2 million registered Democrats, 2.1 million "unenrolled" or independents and just 1.6 million Republicans.)

The actual statistics available here show that Massachusetts is a heavily “independent” or unenrolled state, with 1.5 million registered Democrats, 500,000 registered Republicans and 2.1 million registered “unenrolled”.
Erroneously quoting the statistics of the Massachusetts electorate is nothing new, and is the reason why analysis of races within the state are often dubbed as “Safe Democrat”, with few if any pollsters even glancing at Massachusetts.
Additionally, Scott Brown’s win, in this article is touted as being “one in a lifetime”, the author citing sources as “political operatives”. The piece appears to be designed to at once compare Scott Brown to Charlie Baker (the rising star in the GOP factor), and to outline why it will be most problematic for Baker to succeed in the Gubernatorial election.

Scott Brown is no Charlie Baker and Charlie Baker is no Scott Brown. It is that simple. What the two men have in common is that they are both running as Republican’s in what was previously considered a Blue State (that is within the Commonwealth, on the outside looking in it is still considered “Safe Democrat”).

Baker is his own man and has his own style, one which is at once confident and at the same time approachable. Further, he does not, as far as anyone is aware, drives a pickup truck. Baker does, however, know a thing or two about running a large corporation, specifically one that involves health care. Baker was responsible for turning that organization around, and given the fact that the Commonwealth’s government is nothing more than a large corporate body (granted dysfunctional from this perspective), it would appear that Baker’s background makes him most suited for the position, specifically when compared to the Democrat-turned Independent Tim Cahill (part of the Patrick ‘Administration) and the current Governor.

No article on any Massachustts race would be complete unless the author brought up something salacious or ridiculous about any Republican candidate. The Big Dig, in this wise concerning how far Callizza researched this article – he went straight to the Boston Globe, citing an article written by Joan Vennochi(not known for being particularly unbiased), going into a twelve year old connection to the Weld and Celluci administrations. The problem for those who would prefer to see Duval Patrick keep his seat (those are journalists, pundits, and DNC operatives within and outside the Commonwealth), is timing. Twelve years is a long time in voters’ minds, and regardless of Party, when comparing candidates, and there is a difference between say, a decision made in office or a serious problem such as a conviction for armed robbery or prostitution, - the people here, on the ground, get it. Another factor not being considered is the fact that the Democrat Brand is damaged. The evidence is everywhere, but no more so than in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts where almost every Congressional District is also in play and the Incumbents (all Democrats) are faced with the unusual burden of having to actually campaign against Republican(s), some incumbents doing so for the first time in decades and the outcome is looking grim. Therefore, Charlie Baker, who is, for all intents and purposes, squeaky clean (comparatively), also has the ability and background to run the Commonwealth. Additionally, Baker may find something past Republican Governors did not: a house that includes a few more Republican’s than in past years.

Finally, the war chest of candidates in the article bears some scrutiny. Although it is reasoned that the individual with the Cash wins, it is not always the case – one needs enough, obviously, to run the ads, and feed the ground troops who are knocking on doors, and making those calls, but one has to be realistic. It is not so much the money, but the individual who will win the race and the key will be the Brand and how well that brand, in Massachusetts, resonates with the Unenrolled. In the case of the Governor’s race, Baker, who also faces a challenger in a primary, is, from this perspective, better placed to best either Cahill or the current Occupant of the Governor’s office. It is numbers and those numbers are based on the make-up of the Commonwealth’s voters. Should one be inclined to make an early prediction, and why not: Patrick: 35% (based on Democrat Enrollment), Cahill, 7% (most independents end up in that bracket historically), and Baker takes the rest.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Obama Administration - Banks Forced to Take Risk on Short Sale to The Fed’s Hoenig Warnings of Impending Disaster – The Rocky Road to Inflation

The Obama administration’s plan to reduce the increasing number of foreclosures is a program to launch this April entitledMaking Home Affordable. Apparently the premise of the program is to offer "incentives" to both banks and consumers to significantly reduce their mortgage in order for the mortgagee to stay in their home. That said banks have not exactly jumped at the prospect. From the financial Times:

“The moves come as the Obama administration prepares to launch a programme in April that encourages homeowners, lenders and investors to complete short sales by providing up to $3,500 in incentives.
Banks had been hesitant to embrace short sales, which require agreement by all lien holders and are subject to higher rates of fraud.
Real-estate brokers said this was changing. “It used to take a year to get approval on a short sale,” said Leslie Carver, a real- estate agent in Las Vegas. “Now these deals are getting the green light from banks in a month and approval rates are way up.”
Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s, forecasts short sales and deed-in-lieu transactions will total 20 per cent of all distressed home sales this year, up from 15 per cent last year.”

Just what the struggling economy needs, a program which is funded by taxpayer dollars in continued bailouts that are prone to fraud. How is that fraud committed? Possible scenarios are given at

Meanwhile the Kansas City Fed’s Thomas Hoenig has been virtually shouting from the rooftops that the spending must stop or the U.S. will surely be facing high inflation. Sadly, most members of the Federal Reserve are politically correct, and prop up the insanity of the Administration and its monetary policies (or lack thereof). Hoenig, in breaking with “tradition” has balked against printing money that is clearly not there, in order to prop up an ever increasing government with falling revenues and no way to repay its debt. Suggested read:’s article by Mike Shedlock entitled “Three Paths Forward" - Kansas City Fed on Current U.S. Fiscal Imbalance, Hyperinflation, Printing”. It is an eye-opener, to say the least.

While the taxpayer base decreases due to sustained high levels of unemployment, the administration finds new methods of enlarging the behemoth that is the Federal Government through a variety of programs, some of which are subject to fraud. This is adding to the deficit in amounts no one could have imagined. Add a politically correct Federal Reserve, winking and nodding the fiscal shenanigans of the current administration, and the end result will be hyperinflation. There are solutions, most of them painful, as outlined by Hoenig however, and these should be seriously reviewed by his peers who should stand up to the excesses of this administration. In the past comparisons to the Carter administration have been made in reference to policies of the Obama administration, however, this current administration has dared to go where Carter would not.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

2010 Senate Members up For Reelection - Numbers and Brand do not Favor Dems in 2010

What are the odds of the Republican Party picking up enough Senate Seats to take control of the U.S. Senate? The pundits all agree that the current 59 Democrats that hold the Senate for the DNC represent and insurmountable lead of 18 seats, with only a third of the Senate up for reelection in 2010, it appears almost impossible.

\A basic civics lesson: Those whose terms expire in 2011 (running for office is 2010) are Class III Senators. The senate is split into “classes” by the Constitution. The definition from

class - Article I, section 3 of the Constitution requires the Senate to be divided into three classes for purposes of elections. Senators are elected to six-year terms, and every two years the members of one class—approximately one-third of the Senators—face election or reelection. Terms for Senators in Class I expire in 2013, Class II in 2015, and Class III in 2011.

Unless of course, there is a special election, someone retires, or a temporary replacement calls for an election. 2010 has a mix of all of the above scenarios.

The following democrats will be up for reelection in 2010: Bayh, Evan - (D - IN), Bennet, Michael F. - (D - CO), Boxer, Barbara - (D - CA), Burris, Roland W. - (D - IL), Dodd, Christopher J. - (D - CT), Dorgan, Byron L. - (D - ND), Feingold, Russell D. - (D - WI), Gillibrand, Kristin – (D-NY) (though appointment to the Senate she is defending her seat in off cycle) Inouye, Daniel K. - (D - HI), Leahy, Patrick J. - (D - VT), Lincoln, Blanche L. - (D - AR), Mikulski, Barbara A. - (D - MD), Murray, Patty - (D - WA), Reid, Harry - (D - NV), Schumer, Charles E. - (D - NY), Specter, Arlen - (D - PA) and Wyden, Ron - (D - OR) – the total Democrats up for re-election is 18 – out of those 1 Bayh, Dorgan, and Dodd have already announced they would not seek reelection.

Assuming polls coming in this early are indicative of the outcome (highly improbable), Real Clear Politics, which is a compilation of all available pollsters, regardless of political lean – the following seats are probable pick-ups for the Republican Party: Bennet, CO, Spector, PA, Reid, NV, (Boxer,noted as safe (for now), Gillibrand, NY (safe in primary, not safe in general election), Lincoln, AR, Delaware (special election) Biden (announced he will not run), Connecticut (currently considered “safe democrat”) – the balance having not been polled. This give a GOP advantage in 8 seats, add Bayh’s retirement in a GOP leaning state (#9) and Dorgan in a similar situation (#10). Last but not least, the Illinois Senate Race – (trending for now, Republican – but considered : Safe Democrat) total: 11.

Seats on the Republican side that are in question are retiree: Gregg Judd, NH, where Republican’s lead in poling, and Florida’s LeMieux, who was appointed to the seat by Govenor Christ, who is also running for the seat – it will remain Republican.
On the Republican Side: Bond, Christopher S. - (R - MO), Bennett, Robert F. - (R - UT), Brownback, Sam - (R - KS), Bunning, Jim - (R - KY), Burr, Richard - (R - NC), Coburn, Tom - (R - OK), Crapo, Mike - (R - ID), DeMint, Jim - (R - SC), Grassley, Chuck - (R - IA), Gregg, Judd - (R - NH), Isakson, Johnny - (R - GA), LeMieux, George S. - (R - FL), McCain, John - (R - AZ), Murkowski, Lisa - (R - AK), Shelby, Richard C. - (R - AL), Thune, John - (R - SD), Vitter, David - (R - LA) and Voinovich, George V. - (R - OH)

Therefore, as it stands now, the Republicans can conceivably (remember pundits say no) pick up 11 Senate Seats, which would give the senate a makeup of: 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. (This assumes no additional retirements, election year scandals)

It is extremely early in terms of 2010 polling, where the real numbers won’t begin to take shape until October, however, prior to that insight can be gained from consistent polls (Nevada), national trends, and a bit of guessing, thrown in for good measure.

In writing from Massachusetts, where a Boston Globe poll gave then Senate Candidate Martha Coakley a 15 point lead over Republican Challenger Scott Brown, less than week before the election (and this poll was added into the mix of polls at Real Clear Politics)- a state where every pundit, radio, television or otherwise, conservative or liberal was nay saying Brown’s ability to win, and hoping it was “close”, (yet continually denying the fact that Brown could win.) One has to be prepared for a few more upsets, specifically with the steady stream of retirements taking place on an almost daily basis, regardless of party (although more Democrats than Republicans in the scheme of things). No seat is “Safe Democrat” in a year where the brand has gone bad. Brown was only the first, of many who will emerge to stun pundits in 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Presidents Day – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln - a Brief History Lesson

President’s day has been celebrated since 1968, prior to that there were two holidays, George Washington’s Birthday on the 22th of the Month, and Abraham Lincoln’s on the 12th of February. Lincoln’s birthday was not celebrated in every state. In 1968, when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Bill, in order to facilities retail sales around certain holidays – in the legislature a debate ensued, suggested that Lincoln and Washington both be honored, as Lincolns birthday was not honored in several states. – it was accepted and “Presidents Day” became a day to celebrate both men. It was not to take effect until 1971, and became generally accepted through retailer’s use of the name in advertising.
Abraham Lincolns’ birthday was celebrated because he brought the nation through a civil war, and he had been known for persistence. In fact, Lincoln lost more elections that he had won, up to 8 local and congressional races, until reaching the presidency.

George Washington selection was obvious, as the first president, one who, many at that time, argued should be king. The glorification of Washington t the time, should be considered rather normal – the majority of the colonist came from England, the colony’s were under English rule and were used to having a monarch as head of state. Washington, of course, declined, accepting the presidency instead.

The Federalist Papers available in total on Books offers insight into exactly how the framers of the Constitution of the United States felt regarding Powers of offices and the establishment (or more to the point- no establishment) of a monarchy.

It goes without saying that neither man was perfect in any wise, however, in Lincolns’ case specifically (as Washington’s background was that of the more elite “class”), sometimes ordinary citizens will rise above all hardships and through temerity (as in multiple runs for public office), eventually succeed.
It is a lesson that all who are seeking office, for the love of country, should do well to remember – it is not that one has run once and lost, that matters, or that one may have run four or five times and lost, it is the fact that one perseveres in the belief that they are doing the right thing, not for personal gain, but for the nation at large. It is also a lesson for those who would disparage a candidate who has run for office and lost on multiple occasions, for two particular reasons – one it is a history lesson, two, that candidate has learned, not unlike Lincoln, from each loss, taking notes along the way and although that candidate may be deemed (in today’s jargon) a “loser” – that statement may lead to “eating crow” on the part of the pundit (or opposition for that matter).

Note Eating Crow: definition

Suggested Reading: ”1776” by David McCullough

”The Federalist Papers” by
Alexander Hamilton, Jon Jay and James Madison

“Abraham Lincoln, A Biography,” by Benjamin Thomas (1952), (Note: this may mean a trip to the library or online bookseller.

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