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Well, wasn’t that special? November 21, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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We all might wonder exactly what all went on behind those closed doors down in the swamp while the Reds and the Blues wasted everybody’s time before coming out today to cry “uncle” and head home for the drumsticks and the pie.

Could have been Jacks or Better. Maybe Charades. Maybe they all just put their feet up once the cameras left and watched Beavis and Butthead reruns. Not something I’m real curious about, come to think of it.

You really didn’t expect anything else would come of it. You kind of had a sense when they set the whole thing up that it wasn’t going to work. But if you’re like me, you’re kind of glad that they did it all because the whole crowd down there ended up as just mildly annoying background noise for a few months, leaving us with a remnant of summer and a decent fall without worrying about stuff falling out of the sky and crushing … well something.

Maybe your 401(k).

Maybe another slice of your equity.

Maybe your hopes that the factory down the road would see brighter days ahead and make more refrigerators and need an extra hand.

Maybe your notion that the last dance to the brink, and the “collateral damage” to millions of people, businesses and hopes, was enough to convince these people that the goal was a solution, not a stalemate until a winner-take-all cage match a year from now.

No, that wasn’t just a goal.

That was their job.

So how come this all ends up with the Hatfields and the McCoys shlumping to the microphones to bleat the Alma Maters and do so with such … satisfaction?

They failed. And since when is that OK?

Make them go back in. In the same suits, the same dresses, the same damned underwear. Make Harry and Nancy and John and Mitch go in too. Make them sleep there. Wheel in a PortaPotty.  Send In Chinese. Pipe in some BeeGees.

Tell them the heat goes down 1 degree each day.

And while they are in there, stop all the checks. To senators, to representatives, to staff.

Just don’t let them come back out. Not without an agreement.

We’re the boss.

Tell them to get back in that room and do their job — to be a Congress, not a collection of banner-waving fools doing their level best, it seems, to crush any chance we all have of rebuilding this nation.

It’s their job.


‘Let them eat peanut butter’ November 20, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Justice, Musings, Politics, Wall Street.
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… is the word from the Wall Street Journal, arguably the tippie-top of  the “mainstream” media voices considering our world from the perspective of the people running it.

And I am struck by the absolute contrast in two pieces the fine folks at RealClearPolitics led me to this morning. One is Peggy Noonan, and this thoughtful and deeply constructive piece from an adviser to the last president before the current president. The other is today’s sampling from one James Taranto, a commentary that is more a straight play to the cheap seats and a cry into the storm with toes as deeply sunken into the pre-K sand as those he mocks from within a Bank of America branch in San Francisco. (more…)

I do know how to fix this … November 9, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Politics.
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…you know, that nationwide test of the Emergency Warning System today that was supposed to get the word out about … something or other .. through every broadcast station.

Well, according to this report, it didn’t work — exactly. Some radio stations and some TV stations didn’t get the  memo, it seems.

Easy to fix, really.

Hire Sarah Palin and have her tweet it or shoot it out through her e-mail list.

Every TV and radio outlet in the nation is sure to not only see it, but go right into Breaking News mode with it.

Not a problem.

Bah, humbug! ‘Xmas tree tax’ is what’s wrong, people November 9, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings, Politics.
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First of all, the Obama Administration is not proposing a 15-cent tax on your Christmas Tree, as the marketers of political claptrap would have you believe.

As this straight-arrow Associated Press account will tell you, it’s all part of an Ag Dept standing operation. The National Christmas Tree Association  has been asking for three years for authority to require of its members who grow trees a 15-cent-per-tree assessment to pay for a national campaign promoting the purchase of natural, piney smelling, needle-shedding things to hang your ornaments from. It reeks a little of using Uncle Sam to strong-arm the farmers who don’t want the campaign, but that’s another issue.

The standing program was used for the “Got Milk’ campaign the dairy industry mounted, the ‘Other White Meat’ program’ the pig industry got going and 16 others. The growers want an ad campaign to battle the people like WalMart who sell imported aritificial Christmas trees they make from oil. These latter folks also sell little aerosol cans made in Mexico that let you spray scent to make these things smell like “real” trees.

But the Heritage Foundation, which I guess has annointed itself the protector of stuff made outside of this country for people to buy to celebrate an American tradition, got all hot and bothered that the poor consumer would have to fork over $35.15 this year for a tree — if they were buying a real one — from the tree stand that bought the trees from the farmer who grew the trees whose trade organization wants to collect 15 cents a tree from the farmer to try to save his dying business. If you follow.

The Heritage Foundation, all in the spirit of Christmas and stuff, sees this as a readymade missile to file at President Obama — you remember him — that (really a Muslim) guy in the White House who has nothing better to do than dream up a “tax” on Christmas, he being all hellbent on stamping out that little annoyance along with Chevrolet (oh, sorry. He saved Chevy), Apple Pie and, well, freedom itself.

So this fine defender of all our freedoms — this Heritage Foundation — gets everyone all lathered up against the plan the thousands of U.S. farmers came up with to impose a fee upon themselves to pay for advertising to try to talk us all back into buying real trees grown on American soil, instead of  phony ones that look crappier every year made in Thailand by machines that pour plastic refined from oil bought maybe from Malaysia into molds and so forth.

In this Christmasy spirit,  this Heritage Foundation slips up our chimney with — the Big Lie. Just what we all wanted in our holiday stocking — a big, stinky, rotting fish of a campaign that probably is going to overwhelm all that piney spray the kids are sure to have gotten ahold of by now.

And the paid repeaters of partisan crapola blog this to living death until the USDA puts the whole thing on hold. But not before the Houston Chronicle concludes:

Obama backs off on plan to destroy Christmas

Oh Mama! My favorite part of this whole dog-chases-tail pile of baloney?

These two guys in the AP story, after all the facts in the matter were laid out:

Conservative critics were unbowed. David Addington, a former chief of staff to Vice President Dick Cheney and now a vice president at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said in a post on the think tank’s website that the money coming into the federal government constitutes a tax.

“The American Christmas tree has a great image that doesn’t need any help from the government,” Addington said.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., piled on.

“This new tax is a smack in the face to each and every American who celebrates Christmas, and may be the best example to date of President Obama’s obsession with taxing and regulating hard-working American families,” he said.

Now Addington is substituting his opinion about the current state of the Christmas tree’s image — he thinks it needs no help — with that of the farmers who are growing the things, selling fewer and fewer each year and want to ante up 15 cents a tree for advertising they dream up to try to talk us back out into the freezing cold every December instead of picking a tree in a heated store while sucking down some giveaway cider.

I’m dumb, but I’m guessing the tree farmer guys were going to take the 15 cents a tree out of their end, if for no other reason than to not have to lug around a big sack of quarters and nickels and dimes  to make change, a process that surely would require them to take off their gloves a hundred times a night in the 20 degree cold. Not having to do that would be worth 15 cents a tree out of my end.  I’m guessing Addington never had to make change in the freezing figgging cold.

Then there’s this Scalise guy from some district down in Louisiana that’s probably pumping the oil that’s going to Thailand to make the phony trees, and he’s taking the whole argument up to a presidential “obsession” with taxing everything up to and including the tinsel, the tinker toys and the toy soldiers.

They both know what they are pushing out is a pile of that same ingredient the reindeer leave in the gutter while they’re waiting for the Fat Guy to glom down another couple of cookies and milk.

They know its crapola. Yet they still cling to the line, no matter how absolutely ridiculous they sound.

Hey nimrods — here’s my thought for the day. We all have a choice, given the current deck out there. And for the sake of argument, I’m going to give you the Obama Christmas Tree tax hoax for a moment.

So here’s the choice:

1 — I pay the 15 cent tax Obama wants to foist on us all to help out a couple thousand struggling farmers and my tree costs $35.15 forever.

2 — Or I get to pay the 9% NATIONAL SALES TAX your front-running alternative Herman Cain is proposing and my tree  costs me  $38.15.

I’m gonna go with the Christmas-hating Obama plan and use the money I save on a Pez dispenser.

And maybe wonder just how big an idiot you think I am when I roll into the voting booth in 11 months, because this kind of conniving, con jobbery is what’s wrong dudes.

Try addressing a real problem, honestly, with a solution where the math would get by Miss Ponder in Grade 3 . I don’t think you’ve got the tools, sport.

And I’m tired of your lies — and your ham-handed manipulations.

Worse yet, I’m telling Santa!

Time to get a really big washer … November 8, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Economy, Justice, Politics.
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… and fix this stupid faucet that keeps dribbling out this same corrosive “trickle” of failed, counterproductive policy.

Trickle-down won’t work because those who already have way, way more than they need won’t do it. They’ll take the tax break — and sit on it. Or invest it where growth looks good and steady over the next five years — in companies and enterprises in markets growing rapidly and consistently.

Which isn’t here.

Because the mass of the population is deleveraging out from under the debris left by the Crash of 2008. And real wages are down and have been for a decade and will be for another decade.

Why? Because even though GDP is back to the level last seen before the crash of 2008, and even though corporate profits are headed for a record this year, none of that has been shared with labor — that means the mass of workers who somehow held onto their jobs and threw their shoulders into the wheel to produce the GDP bounceback and profit bounceback.

Just about all of the recovery went to stock buybacks, restored and bolstered dividends, mergers (that cost jobs) and richer executive compensation, immediate and deferred.

None of that recovery largesse trickled down much past the executive washroom. And I’m not talking unions. I’m talking white-collar wimpos who tell themselves are getting somewhere and that their hard work and sacrifice in the last three years will be rewarded. When?

And the people upstairs who made the decisions about how to divide the corporate gains from the recovery are the very same people the GOP expects to rekindle the domestic economy with a rush to — do exactly what? Invest in exactly what? The next Wall Street bubble maybe. If Goldman or Citi or John Paulson can suck them into the next doomed CDO.

It hasn’t happened in the years since the Bush tax cuts. But still the GOP heads in the Super-Committee offer up a “revenue plan” that includes (if you trust this sourced account from Reuters):

—  Limiting the mortgage tax deduction for second homes, and some other upper-income perks, which would bring in about $250 billion over 10 years.

— In return for not only keeping the Bush tax cuts, but taking the whole upper end rate — which would rise to 39.5 percent if the cuts expire — down to 28 percent, which is what the bulk of the rapidly vanishing middle class pays. No price tag on that baby, but it surely swamps the vacation home deduction.

Not only does the math in that “deal” not produce progress toward whacking a deficit, it further enriches the top end in an era where simply every analysis shows the middle is the group that took the relative haymaker in the recession, benefitted the least from the market and economy rebound fueled by the government stimulus that largely caused the deficit to explode,  and which has absolutely no discretionary spending room left to rekindle the economy with any sort of robust DEMAND FOR GOODS AND SERVICES from our underutilized factories and worker pool.

And why, I ask, must I go to Reuters to learn of this proposal? I guess the Americn media was pretty full up today with Joe Paterno, Michael Jackson’s doctor, Lindsey Lohan in Playboy and whatever other gossip passed for news.


OK, Ms. Palin. Peek out your window at global warming November 8, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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She’s among the deniers, you see, and her state is about to be hit with a storm described as being of “epic” dimensions.

Mainly because the sea ice that normally softens the blow isn’t there because. Well, because it melted. Here’s Rueters:

The storm, moving inland from the Aleutian Islands, was expected to bring hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, heavy snowfall, widespread coastal flooding and severe erosion to most of Alaska’s west coast, the National Weather Service warned. 

“History tells that the sea ice helps subdue the storm surge,” said Andy Brown, lead forecaster for the National Weather Service in Anchorage. “With no sea ice there, we could see the full brunt of that 6- to 9-foot storm surge.”

Arctic sea ice this year reached the second-lowest coverage since satellite records began in 1979, according to the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado.

So when the predicted hurricane-force winds with gusts up to 100 miles per hour, heavy snowfall, widespread coastal flooding and severe erosion rolls in with the 6-9-foot storm surge, hang tight baby!

I hope you and every one of your neighbors makes it through unscathed with a great story to tell.  Because the rest of us could really use your energy and faith to help save this great creation from the wrath of future storms such as this.

 Truly. Be safe. 

Pay attention to this, because it’s your retirement money … November 7, 2011

Posted by WillardWhyte in Musings.
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… that these one-percenters are all about to hunker down and argue about protecting — or not.

This is the opening salvo in what will be a long battle over how much capital backup money market mutual funds need to have to protect ALL shareholders equally in the event of a bad market swing — and possible panic.

And that means what capital “buffer” must be there to cushion against a loss that causes some shareholders to demand their money back — and get it ahead of the folks like you and me who learn of the problem a day or so after it is a problem and way, way after the big money gets up and runs for safety.

Which leaves US with the dirty end of the stick — again — and potentially helps jeopardize the whole sytem, in theory.

It’s a problem that needs addressing — and not with a government bailout fund or “insurance” that does nothing more than send a blaring signal for fund managers to get all risky and Type A on us, knowing taxpayers will be there with the Super Glue when Humtpy falls off the wall. As he will some day.

But its YOUR JOB and mine to listen, to read and to watch these cats at each and every turn. Because while some safeguards are necessary in the view of just about all, there is money to be made by spinning the deal to one’s advantage.

Don’t want to smother the money market mutual fund market with needless red tape and cludgy rules that toss the baby with the bad bathwater.

But the Captains of Industry will try to work their lobbying magic. And they will win if we’re all too damned busy worrying about Lindsey Lohan and who’s on top in our Fantasy Football leagues.

And the needed “buffer” will come out our our end — not theirs.