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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Social security not so secure anymore

For the second straight year there will be no cost of living increase for seniors on Social Security. These increases are tied directly to interest rates which have not gone up enough in the last two years to force an increase in payments.
There are a number of factors at play as to why the rates haven’t gone up, but they all boil down to “the economy sucks.”
President Barack Obama’s solution to this little problem about two weeks from an election?
Why, we need to send everyone on social security a check for $250.
While I’m sure this would be welcome, I must admit to being just a hair dubious about the motivations.
Leaving aside the $250 might pay for the average senior’s medications for, say, a week — maybe. When you’re just a few weeks out of a midterm election, in which nearly the entire country has said they hate your party, and well, they’re not horribly fond of YOU either, one questions if you’re attempting to buy votes.
There are those who will liken this to the tax rebates by the Bush administration. I suppose the comparison is inevitable. However, those were not proposed right before an election. They were proposed and passed as a stimulus to a flagging economy.
It could be argued, I suppose, that those rebates artificially propped up the economy, however it was certainly more effective than the $787 billion “stimulus” bill Obama passed. We’re nearly two years into his administration and despite all that spending (and would someone please explain to me how giving money to schools was supposed to cause job growth) unemployment continues to hover around 10 percent.
Had Obama wished to help seniors there are certainly more effective ways to go about it.
A good place to start would be realizing that social security is broke.
It would also help to take a look around and realize that the same percentage of income invested in the stock market has historically yielded far better long-term returns than giving it to the government.
Additionally, Social Security, as currently extant is a giant ponzi scheme. You pay money in now, the government takes said money, pays benefits to people who are currently retired, and you get to hope there are enough people paying in when you retire that you’ll get your benefits.
Bernie Madoff anyone?
The problem we have at the federal level, and its’ been true on both sides of the aisle, is that the inmates are running the asylum. Economists have been warning for decades Social Security, in it’s current form, is unsustainable — as is the current level of spending.
When you borrow from Peter to pay Paul, sooner or later Peter’s broke.
The November elections are a mere two weeks away. It’s time to bring some sanity back to Washington. Let us all vote for solid fiscal conservatives. Let us hold their feet to the fire and require them to rein in federal spending.
The future of this nation as the last remaining superpower and a beacon of hope to the rest of the world rests on us getting our financial house in order. Will it be easy? No. We’re all going to have to have our personal sacred cows gored before this is over. It’s merely necessary.
All IMHO, of course.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Can we have a little leadership please?

As the election nears things of course start to get a little, well, sillier. They don’t call it silly season for nothing.
The Democrats, most of them anyway, are in full on panic mode — and should be. That Republicans will retake the House is something of a given at this point. There is a good possibility they will pick up the Senate as well, but that is nowhere near as certain.
One would think, then that the president would have long ago read the tea leaves and done what Clinton did when faced with this particular situation — run to the center.
We were told that this president is the consummate politician. He’s a genius. Most accomplished leader of his time. To quote Jerry Senifeld, “yadda, yadda, yadda.”
I’ve seen precious little leadership from this man.
He’s been president for nearly two years now, yet he continues to blame the Republicans, and most notably George W. Bush for the mess the economy is in.
Now, I will grant that prior to Barack Obama, it sure looked like the Republicans were not much different than the Democrats where spending was concerned — and then Obama quadrupled the national debt in the first six months of his administration.
I have major issues with some of the things Bush did.
However, we’re now more than 18 months into Obama’s administration and he was recently quoted saying “this hole the Republicans dug for us is really deep,” or words to that effect. He keeps blaming others for problems it’s his job to fix.
This isn’t leadership.
I therefore have some advice for Mr. Obama.
Mr. President, leaders lead. They take responsibility. They make decisions and they do so decisively.
You’re nearly two years into your term. Time to stop blaming the Republicans for every problem the nation faces. You’ve forced a great many unpopular ideas down the American people’s throats. And those ideas haven’t worked. Leaders admit when they make mistakes and then they correct them.
Leaders do not blame others for their problems. They take responsibility. Even if the problems are not their fault they do not whine. Leaders buckle down to work.
Leaders also do not blame their followers for their problems. Leaders do not berate their followers, either. It’s time to stop telling the American people they are simply to stupid to understand what you’re trying to do. We understand fine, we don’t like it.
Leaders also do not have to remind people who’s in charge. It’s obvious.
Mr. President, the American people love decisiveness and a can-do attitude. What they see from you is a weak man who wishes to avoid taking responsibility. A man who blames others for his problems and who is either so arrogant or simply so inflexible he cannot admit being wrong.
Mr. President, the American People will follow you, but only out of curiosity.
All IMHO, of course.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bad week for the mainstream media

It really has not been a good week for the mainstream media.

First, CNN host Rick Sanchez got himself fired for calling Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart a bigot on a radio interview and then compounded the problem by then implying that CNN and the media in general were run by the Jews.

Possibly not the most intelligent thing to say live on the air, but then Sanchez has always been noted more for his looks than his brains.

Like a lot of the TV talking heads he has a tendency to say stupid stuff, but hey, he sure looks good doing it!

I’ve been in the media most of my adult life and I’m here to tell you, there is no great conspiracy by anyone to run things. I kinda wish there were — maybe things would run a bit smoother.

Then a little later last week, one of CBS Radio’s top reporters, Howard Arenstein, was arrested with possession of marijuana with the intent to sell. Arenstein is such a bright bulb that he and his wife had mature, eight-foot pot plants growing in their back yard in Washington D.C.

That might have something to do with why various outlets are trying to say the “One Nation” rally on the mall in Washington Saturday had twice the participants of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally back in August. I’ve seen the pictures. You’d have to be smoking something in order to come to that conclusion. A good friend of mine analyzed photos from both rallies and came to the conclusion the “One Nation” rally had about 10 or 15 percent of the participants Beck did. Maybe.

Overall, the MSM has been melting down for years. It has reached the point the National Enquirer has a better record of accuracy than the New York Times.

If you doubt me, consider this — it was the Enquirer which broke the John Edwards affair story, the Tiger Woods story and the Al Gore affair story.

I have some issues with the nature of the stories the Enquirer runs, but I have to give them credit for having a top-notch investigative staff.

You would think, given all this the MSM would wake up and look around.

They’re losing top staff left and right to two places — new media outlets like the blogs — and, well, papers like this one.

I like to nose around job boards from time to time, not because I'm looking for a job, but just to see what’s out there and to check trends.

What I find is the action these days is in new media and community papers. Rarely, if ever, do you see openings at major metro papers.

It’s sad, really, when I was a young reporter I dreamed of someday finding my way to one of the big city newsrooms.

Now? I wouldn’t take one of those jobs if it was offered to me on a silver platter. Those big papers are dying.

What’s interesting, is that while small community papers face challenges of their own, they remain fairly trusted outlets for news and information.

We are far from perfect, of course, but generally small papers at least try to get it right. The majors? Not so much.

The New York Times was once the “Paper of Record” with “All the News that’s Fit to Print.”

Now? More like “All the News that’s Printed to Fit.”

Journalism is a noble profession. One which reporters in other countries have found themselves jailed or murdered for. War correspondents like Daniel Pearl put their lives on the line for no better reason than it’s their job and go to combat zones armed only with pen and camera.

Unfortunately, too many of my colleagues have forgotten what it is they are supposed to do. They’ve forgotten why we are called to be objective. To try to leave personal bias at the door. To try to find all sides to a story. Worse, many of them think they are objective, even as they spout talking points and fail to even consider there may be another point of view.

We’ve lost credibility — and it’s going to be very difficult to get back.

Perhaps that’s why people are increasingly turning to the blogosphere for their national news. Bloggers on the left and right have their biases, and they are obvious. However, they generally make no bones about which side they are on — and you know that going in.

If you read the Huffington Post you know you’re going to get a liberal slant — Breitbart a conservative one.

And perhaps that’s OK.

There was a time when you knew exactly what you were going to get from various papers in a town.

Perhaps the national media should stop pretending to an objectivity which does not exist. If they came out and admitted they are in the tank for the left or the right at least we would be able to evaluate their stories from that angle.

All IMHO, of course.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Fighting gays in the military a useless distraction

Last week the Republicans in the Senate had themselves a bit of a pyrrhic victory when they managed to send a defense authorization bill down in flames. A bill which contained among other things several amnesty provisions and a repeal of Bill Clinton’s rather idiotic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” policy.
I say pyrrhic because, like King Phyrrus said after he beat the the Romans, “one more victory like that and we’re dog food!”
Of course, the real reason the Republicans opposed the bill had more to do with Harry Reid’s amnesty provisions than the Don't Ask, Don’t Tell stupidity. But now Lady Gaga has spoken, the media has fawned and it’s really all about gays don’tcha know?
The Republicans manged to get themselves in a rather cleft stick. The Democrats managed to insert some provisions their opponents simply couldn’t live with and the Republicans were left with little choice but to filibuster a bill which under most circumstances they would have been more than happy to support -- thereby handing the Democrats several convenient clubs with with to beat them about the political head and shoulders. Now the Dems have the opportunity, aided and abetted by the dinosaur media (of which, by the by I’m a member), to scream that the Republicans don’t support the troops and hate gays.
They’ll of course leave out the niggling little detail about immigration, mostly because that’s a loser and they know it.
Opposing gays in the military, in my opinion, is pointless. First, they’re already there, they’ve always been there and they’re always going to BE there.
The argument that it’s conduct “prejudicial to good order and discipline,” is stupid as well. I can tell you first hand that the guys in any given unit know who the homosexuals are, and mostly don’t care so long as they do their jobs and don’t hit on a straight guy. Given that I’ve rarely met a gay guy who will hit on someone he knows isn’t interested and that any homosexual in the military is already aware that grabbing a Marine’s butt is a good way to lose a few teeth, not real sure where the complaint so far as discipline is concerned. Moreover, to the generation currently serving in the military someone’s sexual orientation isn’t a matter of any more concern than the color of someone’s skin is to my generation.
As for the moral consideration, well, a politician expounding on morals is rather like Jesse Jackson complaining about rampant racism in the Department of Justice.
I therefore have a simple proposal. Senate and House Republicans should gather on the Capitol steps tomorrow. They should hold a press conference and state; “While we have objections to the homosexual lifestyle, we do not believe that anyone who wishes to serve their country and is qualified to do so, should be barred from serving on the grounds of sexual orientation. To that end we are simultaneously introducing a bill in both House and Senate to allow homosexuals to serve openly in the United States Military. We invite our colleagues in the Democratic party to join us in passing this historic legislation.”
Not only would this take away a club the Dems and the media have been using for years, but it would also be utterly amusing as they scrambled to try to find a way to oppose the bill because “darn it those Republicans are just evil.”
Barney Frank’s head exploding would be fun too.
All IMHO, of course

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Global Cooling? Climate changes again

Ahhh fall is here.
I’ve always loved the cool crisp days of fall, it reminds me of home and days spent hunting pheasants and dove and quail with friends.
Given that fall and winter are my favorite seasons I noted with interest a story in the London, England, Telegraph that on the agenda for the 58th annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group was, among other things, “Global Cooling.”
Now the Bilderbergers, for those who are not familiar are a group of high-level politicians, academics, business leaders and such who meet once a year to discuss various world problems.
Now these guys tend to set off the conspiracy-nut fringe because their meetings are never made public. But I digress.
It’s notable however that in the 1970s everyone was screaming about the new ice age which was supposed to be coming.
By the 90s of course, it was “global warming.” Then it was “climate change.”
Now the administration has rebranded again and the term is “global climate disruption.”
According to a story by FoxNews.com, the White House prefers this new term to “global warming,” because global warming “oversimplifies the problem and makes it sound less dangerous than it really is.”
Seriously? “Climate disruption” sounds more serious than global warming?
Frankly, it sounds more like a lower bowel problem. “I’m having a climate disruption today!”
Someone seriously needs to let the White House know that when you start having to rebrand every six months you’ve got a problem that goes beyond name recognition.
The reality is, the global warming, excuse me, climate change — er — climate disruption kooks have a larger problem. No one’s listening anymore. Worldwide, people are looking at things like the “Climategate” emails at East Anglia University, in England where it was found researchers deliberately falsified data and the inconvenient reality behind Al Gore’s movie “An Inconvenient Truth” — namely that the so-called documentary had serious factual errors.
Gore was apparently too busy having his chakra’s released by massage therapists in five star hotels to fact check.
The more convenient truth?
Well, Earth’s climate is changing. It does that.
Last winter was one of the coldest on record in the northern hemisphere, while they had one of the hottest summers on record in the southern. This winter according to the National Climate Institute, the National Weather Service’s climate forecasting arm, is supposed to be a bit warmer and dryer than normal.
Does this mean man is affecting the climate?
No.
Does this even mean that the Earth is undergoing a massive climate change which will disrupt all our lives and screw things up for fair?
Nope. Not that either.
The dirty little secret is that we’ve been keeping records for only about 150 years, and many of those records are unreliable at best.
In other words, the climate change — excuse me, “disruption” — chicken littles are relying on suspect and statistically insignificant data to base their models and then ask the entire world to disrupt their economies based on those flawed models.
Should we just dump raw sewage in the ocean? Of course not. Go back to the days of leaded gas and no catalytic converters?
Also stupid. No one likes smog. No one likes dioxin in their water.
But we really have got to start injecting some common sense into the debate instead of wild-eyed the sky is falling rhetoric.
All IMHO of course.