"There is no limit to what a man can do or where he can go if he doesn't mind who gets the credit." - President Ronald Reagan.

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition

Buy The Amazon Kindle Store Ebook Edition
Get the ebook edition here! (Click image.)

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Paul Harvey: 1918 - 2009

Paul Harvey: 1918 - 2009

by Armand Vaquer

There are some things in life one takes for granted. The sunrise, the sunset, the tides. Paul Harvey, with his "Hello Americans! This is Paul Harvey. Stand by for news!" greeting, seemed to be one of those things.

Ever since I can remember, Paul Harvey News & Comment was a routine thing that one can look forward to each day along with his "The Rest of the Story" program. At twelve noon in Los Angeles on KABC-AM, Harvey's news and comments would be aired. Hard news along with humorous stories were a regular staple to listeners.

Paul Harvey died in Phoenix, Arizona today at age 90. Now that voice has been stilled and the day won't seem the same anymore.

It was wonderful that he lived and was actively broadcasting at such an advanced age. But it also makes one take for granted that he'd always be there to inform and entertain.

One day back in June 1980, I was in Estes Park, Colorado wandering around the town's tourist shops. The thing I remember most of that day was that each shop had Paul Harvey on the radio!

He was the voice of middle America. He was born Paul Harvey Aurandt in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Sept. 4, 1918. He also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2005 from President Bush.

ABC Radio Networks told the Associated Press that Harvey died at his winter home in Phoenix, surrounded by family. No cause of death was immediately available.

He will be sorely missed. But I am grateful that we had him as long as we did.

Limbaugh Electrified CPAC

Talk show king Rush Limbaugh wowed the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) today. The event is sponsored by the Conservative Union.

Limbaugh, originally scheduled to address the convention for about 20 minutes, spoke for nearly a hour and a half before a crowd estimated at over 9,000. Two other ballrooms were filled with attendees watching on big screen monitors.

"Ladies and gentleman, this is my first ever address to the nation," Limbaugh kidded, observing that FOX News and C-SPAN were broadcasting the speech live. Unlike Obama, Rush observed, he didn't need to use a telepromptor.

He noted that although the Democrats won the last election, conservatives are not the minority. He said, "We can take this country back. All we need is to nominate the right candidate."

He also poked fun at Vice President Joe Biden for some recent gaffes and he also noted that Sen. Christopher Dodd and Rep. Barney Frank were instrumental in the failure of the sub-prime mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddy Mac. While the Democrats are praised for "good intentions," they aren't judged on their results, Limbaugh said. He called those results "cruel."

He attacked the Democrats on several issues and skewered Obama's stimulus package and budget plan.

"It's not new. It's not change. And it's not hope," Limbaugh said.

He also told conservative to stand by their principles and fight the "bastardization of the Constitution that the Obama plans are."

Here's a Libertarian's review of Limbaugh's speech: Limbaugh Defines Conservatives

Friday, February 27, 2009

The Death of Newspapers

by Robert McArthur and Armand Vaquer

The recession aside, it appears that the death knell of newspapers is either nearing or already upon us.

The latest newspaper that may bite the dust is the venerable (founded in 1865) San Francisco Chronicle. Its owners announced that they are cutting jobs to meet cost-cutting targets, and that if those targets aren't reached, the paper would be sold or closed down. (They lost more than $50 million in 2008, and 2009 is looking even worse.)

Denver's Rocky Mountain News will publish its final edition today (Friday, Feb. 27 - that issue should be a collector's item).

Other newspapers who have one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel include:

The New York Times. It is saddled with service debts of some $400 million. They have dwindling cash reserves and plunging revenue.

The Tribune Company: (owners of the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, the Baltimore Sun and several others) filed for bankruptcy last December. It doesn't look good for them in 2009.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, New Haven Register, Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia Daily News all filed for bankruptcy.

The Tucson Citizen is preparing to cease publication. It has been around for 138 years.

Newspapers generally get their income from two sources: their readers (who either paid by subscription or at the newsstand) and advertisers. As more and more newspapers started making their content available on the Internet free of charge, the first source of income dried up, and readers stopped paying for articles that they could get free on the web.

The rise of classified advertising web sites such as Craig's List also cut deeply into newspapers' revenue stream.

The manner in which newspapers (and, also, the electronic media) covered the 2008 presidential campaign didn't help matters any. Many people reacted to the biased reporting in Barack Obama's favor and led them to cancel their newspaper subscriptions. Why should someone support a newspaper whose reporting is so biased that they can no longer trust it for hard news? People no longer have faith in newspapers as the news articles are laden with biased opinions. Advertisers may have decided that their advertising money could be better spent elsewhere.

If the newspapers do die out, the only remaining sources for news will be television and through the Internet. As was mentioned, the biased reporting during last year's campaign has also further reduced the network news divisions' credibility. The networks' news divisions have also felt the pinch of the current rough economy and have also reduced staff.

Even if they also die out, people adapt and new means of obtaining news will develop and will fill the void. It is bound to get interesting in the years ahead.

JUST IN: An annual newspaper industry convention has been cancelled due to industry woes: Breitbart.com

UPDATE (2/28/09): Since this blog was posted Hugh Hewitt posted an interesting article on the subject: Newspapers and the Party of Big Government

Thursday, February 26, 2009

$1 Trillion in New Taxes

Jake Tapper with ABC News has an interesting article that everyone should read:

Obama's Budget: Almost $1 Trillion in New Taxes Over Next 10 yrs, Starting 2011

Some of the tax hikes hit people earning over $250,000.

President Obama's budget proposes $989 billion in new taxes over the course of the next 10 years, starting fiscal year 2011, most of which are tax increases on individuals.

1) On people making more than $250,000.

$338 billion - Bush tax cuts expire
$179 billlion - eliminate itemized deduction
$118 billion - capital gains tax hike

Total: $636 billion/10 years

What 'til you see what he has planned for businesses! To read the full article, go here.

Dick Morris notes that Obama has been doom & gloom's biggest spokesman. He claimed that unless something is done (i.e., raise taxes and spend like crazy), there will be a catastrophe. Morris knows why:

Why does Obama preach gloom and doom? Because he is so anxious to cram through every last spending bill, tax increase on the so-called rich, new government regulation, and expansion of healthcare entitlement that he must preserve the atmosphere of crisis as a political necessity. Only by keeping us in a state of panic can he induce us to vote for trillion-dollar deficits and spending packages that send our national debt soaring.

And then there is the matter of blame. The deeper the mess goes — and the further down his rhetoric drives it — the more imperative it becomes to lay off the blame on Bush. He must perpetually “discover” — to his shock — how deep the crisis that he inherited runs, stoking global fears in the process.

So, having inherited a recession, his words are creating a depression. He entered office amid a disaster and he is transforming it into a catastrophe, all to pass every last bit of government spending and move us a bit further to the left before his political capital dwindles.

Fortuately, there are some of us who can see through Obama's bullplop. Unfortunately, there's not really enough to stop him, Pelosi and Reed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

GOP Response: Next Time, Let Rush Do It!

GOP Response: Next Time, Let Rush Do It!

Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana gave the Republican response to President Obama's speech before a joint session of Congress Tuesday night. The reviews have been mixed, albeit on the negative side.

Naturally, one can expect the Democrats to pan Jindal's speech with Republicans praising it.

On substance, Jindal was just fine. It was his delivery that was not what the occasion called for.

I listened to his response on the radio and it sounded to me like he was imitating "Mr. Rogers." He sounded as if he were talking to children, not as a political leader speaking before adults. He may have been over-coached and may have done better had he spoken before a live audience in the same room.

If you really want fireworks and something memorable, I would suggest tapping talk-show king Rush Limbaugh to give the GOP response. Yes, Limbaugh considers himself more of a conservative instead of a Republican, but he would be able to get right to the point and fire off some juicy zingers at Obama and the Democrats.

Also, he would come right out and lay before the American people the cause of this recession and the mortgage meltdown that caused it.

Another annoying thing, I was listening to Governor Jindal's speech and the station I was listening to, KFI-AM in Los Angeles, cut in for a station break right in the middle of Jindal's speech. Ridiculous! Bad call KFI!

In a nutshell, Jindal gets an "A-" (more could have been said) on substance, and a "C-" on style and delivery. And KFI gets an "F" for cutting in Jindal's speech.


This is an oldie but goodie:


NOTE - This application will be Incomplete and rejected unless accompanied by a complete financial statement, job history, lineage, and current medical report from your doctor.
1. NAME:_____________________ DATE OF BIRTH: _______________
2. HEIGHT:___________ WEIGHT: ______IQ: ________GPA: ______
3. SOCIAL SECURITY #: ___________DRIVERS LICENSE #: _________
4. BOY SCOUT RANK:_______________________________________
5. HOME ADDRESS: ________________CITY: _________ ZIP ______
6. Do you have one MALE and one FEMALE parent? Yes____ No_______ If NO, explain: ________________________________________________
7. Number of years parents married: ___________

9. In 50 words or less, what does "Late" mean to you? _________________________________________________________
10. In 50 words or less, what does "DO NOT TOUCH MY DAUGHTER" mean to you? _________________________________________________________
11. In 50 words or less, what does "ABSTINENCE" mean to you? _________________________________________________________
12. What church do you attend? ________________ How often do you attend? ____/ week
13. When would be the best time to interview your father, mother, priest or pastor? ____________
14. Fill in the blanks: Please answer freely - all answers are confidential (That means I won't tell anyone - I promise):
A. If I were shot, the last place on my body I would want to be wounded is in the _____________
B. If I were beaten, the last bone I would want broken is my _____________
C. A women's place is in the __________________
D. The one thing I hope this application does not ask me about is ____________________
E. When I first meet a girl, the first thing I notice is _____________________ (NOTE: If the answer to "E" begins with a B, T, or A, discontinue and leave the premises immediately with your head hung low.)
15. What do you want to be IF you grow up? _________________________
16. Do you plan to attend a Catholic or Christian College? _________ Which one? ____________

_____________________ Signature (That means sign your name)

Thank you for your interest. Please allow four to six years for processing. You will be contacted in writing if you are approved. Please do not try to call or write (this action will void this application). If your application is rejected you will be notified by two angels wearing red suits and carrying pitch forks. (You might want to start praying now).

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Kenji Sahara To Guest At G-FEST XVI

Kenji Sahara To Guest At G-FEST XVI

Actor Kenji Sahara, who appeared in many Godzilla movies for Toho Co., Ltd., will be this year's special guest at G-FEST XVI on Independence Day weekend in Rosemont, Illinois (outside of Chicago).

Sahara appeared in several Godzilla movies including Godzilla (1954), King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) and Destroy All Monsters (1968). His most recent Godzilla appearance was in Godzilla Final Wars (2004). He also appeared in Rodan (1956).

From IMDB:

Kenji Sahara (佐原 健二 Sahara Kenji) (born May 14, 1932) is a Japanese actor. He was born in Kawasaki City, Kanagawa. His real name is Masayoshi Kato (加藤 正好 Katō Masayoshi). Initially he used the name Tadashi Ishihara before changing it when he secured the lead role in Rodan (1956).

Above, Kenji Sahara in his memorable role in "Rodan."

For additional information on G-FEST XVI, go to www.g-fan.com.

Obama's Speech: Long On Platitudes, Short On Substance

Obama's Speech: Long On Platitudes, Short On Substance

Listening to President Obama tonight, I came away not surprised that he made another campaign speech (a 55 minute long one). It was full of his usual platitudes, very short on substance, blame to the last administration and totally inappropriate.

It was a "State of the Union" speech, not a discussion on how his administration plans to remedy the country's ills, as many hoped for.

He chided business CEOs on bonuses. He wants to provide health care. He says he wants to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, even though he spent more in one month (three trillion dollars) than the Bush Administration did in eight years. I get the feeling that the Obama Administration doesn't know what it's

He talks about expanding education, but says nothing on how he proposes to pay for it.

He tried to be inspirational, saying "We are not quitters!" But this came after we endured weeks of "doom & gloom" messages from his administration.

He said he's not a fan of big government, yet he is growing the government more than FDR and LBJ did combined.

He made no case for his stimulus package, how it was supposed to work and made no attempt to do so.

It was a disappointment, but not a surprise.

Monday, February 23, 2009

AIG Wants More Money!

AIG Wants More Money!

The insurer American International Group (A.I.G.) is seeking more government (i.e., taxpayers) money.

They are now claiming that they are out of money.

According to the New York Times:

Among the plans being discussed include swapping some or all of the $40 billion in preferred shares held by the government into a form of capital A.I.G. can use to ward off collateral calls from its trading partners. The government has already lent A.I.G. $150 billion.

A.I.G. is already effectively majority-owned by the federal government.

From FoxNews.com:

American International Group Inc. is seeking an overhaul of its $150 billion government bailout package that would substantially reduce the insurer's financial burden, while further exposing U.S. taxpayers to its fortunes, people familiar with the matter say.

Under the plan, the government loan of up to $60 billion at the heart of the bailout would be repaid with a combination of debt, equity, cash and operating businesses, such as stakes in AIG's lucrative Asian life-insurance arms. AIG and the government have been discussing the changes since December and plan to announce them by Monday when the insurer is expected to report fourth-quarter results, the people said.

The earnings report is expected to underscore AIG's worsening condition with its total loss for the quarter likely to top $60 billion, these people said.

This time the government should "just say no" to AIG.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Heath Ledger Wins Best Supporting Actor Oscar

The only Oscar category I was interested in tonight was the one for Best Supporting Actor.

From Moviefone News:

Heath Ledger wins the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role [as the Joker] in The Dark Knight. His parents and sister accepted the award on his behalf, calling the win "ever-so humbling." After thanking several people, Heath's father Kim said the Oscar "humbly validated Heath's quiet determination to be truly accepted by you all here, his peers." Ledger's sister said they "proudly accept the award on behalf of your beautiful Matilda."

I thought Ledger's performance was brilliant. His Joker was believably psychotic. The scene that stood out for me was the hospital explosion as the Joker was walking away in a nurse's uniform.

The Dark Knight was the hit sequel to Batman Begins.

Unless I am mistaken (I doubt I am), this is the first acting Academy Award for a super-hero movie.

Kelsey's Law Passes; Amber Leeann Dubois Missing In San Diego County

Kelsey's Law Passes House

The Kansas House passed a bill calling for cooperation between cell phone provider companies with law enforcement in cases of missing persons.

The bill, known as "Kelsey's Law" was inspired by the 2007 kidnapping and murder in Johnson County, Kansas of 18-year-old Kelsey Smith.

It passed with a 118-1 vote Friday and went to the Senate.

The bill requires that cell phone companies must release caller location information promptly to police when requested. Cell phone signals, known as pings, can be used to track a phone's location.

From the Kansas City Star:

Greg and Missey Smith spent three agonizing days searching for their daughter Kelsey before their cell-phone company agreed to provide data showing where her phone had traveled.

The next day, 45 minutes after getting precise information from Verizon Wireless, police used it to find Kelsey Smith’s body near Longview Lake where her killer, Edwin R. Hall, left her body after he abducted, raped and strangled the 18-year-old Overland Park woman in June 2007.

“To have her lay out there for four days and for us to not know where she was, it’s just inexcusable,” Greg Smith told Kansas lawmakers Monday. “It’s time to change that so other families don’t have to go through this.”

The Smiths don’t blame Verizon for their daughter’s death, but they do hold the company responsible for the delay in finding her body. Now they want lawmakers to pass legislation requiring cell-phone companies to provide any information they have to law enforcement in an emergency.

The Smiths say the change could help police find kidnapping victims, runaways or lost and injured people before it’s too late.


Amber Leeann Dubois Missing In San Diego County

There is currently a case of missing Amber Leeann Dubois in San Diego County, Calfornia who became missing on February 13 while walking to school. She was using her cell phone just prior to her disappearance. Hopefully, law enforcement has obtained the records of Amber's cell phone pings and are using them to try to pinpoint her whereabouts.

If you have any information on Amber Leeann Dubois, please go to the website that has been set up: Amber Leeann Dubois

Please help if you know anything by calling the Escondido Police Department (Detective Estrada, 760 839-4758) Thank you.

Here's the description of Amber Leeann Dubois:

Ht: 5'5"
Wt: 130
Short medium brown hair - bright blue eyes.
Date of Birth: 10/25/1994
Last seen wearing black pants, black hoodie and black sneakers
Last seen 7:10am Feb. 13, 2009 on North Broadway in Escondido, CA - walking toward Escondido HS (believed to have been on west side of street)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Villaraigosa Endorsement: L.A. Times Will Always Be The L.A. Times

Villaraigosa Endorsement: L.A. Times Will Always Be The L.A. Times

The Los Angeles Times endorsed Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for re-election today. That's really no surprise. The Times has always (at least since it became a liberal newspaper after the stewardship of the Otises) tried to ally itself with the power elites in the city. They really have never bucked them.

The Los Angeles Times endorsement editorial starts off saying that Villaraigosa beat James K. Hahn due to his "lackluster performance" but goes on to say that Villaraigosa "in some sense" is where Hahn was then. It is more than "some sense," Villaraigosa has only been an 11% mayor (from a study conducted by another newspaper).

The Times also states that Villaraigosa "squandered his goodwill with his less than straightforward handling of his extramarital affair." Well, for goodness sake, if his wife couldn't trust him, why should the voters trust him?

Villaraigosa is lauded for his skills as a "power broker" and "deal maker." I don't see any results except for tax and fee hikes and capitulations to union boss demands. Maybe that's why Villaraigosa is refusing to debate Walter Moore. He is afraid to defend his record in a debate. El Pollo Antonio (The Chicken Antonio)!

The endorsement says, "We still hold out hope that Villaraigosa can become a great mayor." In other words, we're still waiting after four years! Seems hardly a ringing endorsement (more like a back-handed slap). That is sure to instill confidence with the voters.

The Times shows its idiocy by saying (in answering the Mayor's critics), "The Times rejects the naive calls for Villaraigosa to spend more time in the city, at his desk." They appear to think it's okay for the Mayor to run around with presidential candidates and grandstanding for the press. He's never met a camera he didn't like.

If that's what the Los Angeles Times calls being a mayor deserving of re-election, I'm glad that I am supporting Walter Moore instead.

The Times blew a great opportunity to restore some (what little they had) professional credibility. Instead, they fell back to their old ways of kissing the the asses of the city's liberal power elites.

Big Hollywood Added To Blog List

If you take a gander at my blog list, you will note that Big Hollywood, the latest online venture from Andrew Breitbart, has been added. Breitbart was a co-creator of the Huffington Post (I wouldn't brag about that), and he had a long-term editorial relationship with the Drudge Report, one of the most visited websites on the Internet.

Mr. Breitbart will try to redress Hollywood’s liberal bias. His site uses the “group blog” model and has already attracted plenty of offerings from conservative Hollywood thinkers. Mr. Breitbart feels conservatives in Hollywood are unfairly marginalised because of their views.

“There are people out there who have been ignored by Hollywood. The mainstream media – and Hollywood is complicit in this – has created an intellectual status quo,” says Breitbart.

Pay a visit to Big Hollywood, I think you'll enjoy reading it.

An Alternative for California

An Alternative for California

by Armand Vaquer

The nightmarish budget compromise signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger can be overturned by the voters.

The compromise, as it is written, calls for several ballot measures to be placed on the ballot for a May 19 special election.

From the Washington Post.com:

The budget compromise requires voter approval of five ballot measures during a May 19 special election. Those measures would set a cap on state spending and institute a rainy-day fund, authorize the state to sell bonds based on future lottery revenue, shift money from certain social programs and guarantee billions more for schools.

A sixth measure, placed on the ballot as part of last-minute deal-making to pass the budget package, would be a constitutional amendment to freeze lawmakers' pay when the state runs a deficit.

Another constitutional amendment, planned to go before voters next year, would create an open-primary election system.

The compromise deal, which is intended to cover the state's spending needs through the rest of this fiscal year and next, cuts $15.1 billion from programs, primarily education, and raises $12.8 billion in revenue, mostly through increases in the sales tax, personal income tax and vehicle license fee.

If the voters approve these measures, the tax increases will supposedly be only "temporary" for two years. If they fail, then the tax hikes will be for three years. Some deal, eh? To me, this is a lose-lose situation for Californians.

But we can fight back!

However, as we have a system in which voters an get their own ballot propositions placed on the ballot, we have an escape hatch.

Why not have the voters put a budget proposition on the ballot that would have it based on the 2005 California budget and then adjusted for inflation up to 2009? Spending in California shot up around 40% since 2005.

This way, the people will dictate to the loons in Sacramento on what we are willing to pay for and taxed. It's time to fight back!

CHFB's The Magazine Rack

CHFB's Classic Horror Magazine Rack

The Classic Horror Film Board forum, the folks that bring you the annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, have started a new forum section, Classic Horror Magazine Rack.

Whenever new classic horror magazines are published, the Rack will be updated to feature each new issue's cover along with the URL link to each magazine's website.

To see The Magazine Rack, click here.

Robert Quarry, 1925 - 2009

Robert Quarry, 1925 - 2009

It has been reported that actor Robert Quarry, of Count Yorga, Vampire fame, passed away at the Motion Picture Country Home & Hospital in Woodland Hills, California.

He had been in poor health for the past several years.

From IMDB:

Quarry made his film debut with a small role in Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. He acted alongside 'Paul Newman' in both Winning (1969) and WUSA (1970). Robert worked steadily throughout the 50s and 60s in both movies and TV shows alike. Quarry achieved his greatest enduring cult popularity with his splendidly sardonic portrayal of suavely sinister bloodsucker Count Yorga in the excellent drive-in hit Count Yorga, Vampire (1970) and its solid sequel The Return of Count Yorga (1971) Robert capitalized on his newfound fright feature fame by appearing in several hugely enjoyable horror pictures: at his commanding best as vampire hippie guru Khorda in the offbeat Deathmaster (1972), (Quarry was also an associate producer on this film), driven scientist Darius Biederbeck in Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), evil mob boss Morgan in the groovy blaxploitation zombie opus Sugar Hill (1974), and quite amusing as slimy producer Oliver Quayle in Madhouse (1974). Quarry popped up in the disaster outing Rollercoaster (1977) as the Mayor of Los Angeles. Alas, Robert's career was abruptly curtailed by a serious car accident, but he thankfully recovered and made a welcome comeback in the mid 80s. He's appeared in a slew of entertainingly trashy low-budget movies for prolific exploitation flick director 'Fred Olen Ray'. Moreover, Quarry has done guest spots on such TV shows as "Studio 57," "The Lone Ranger," "Hallmark Hall of Fame," "Mike Hammer," "The Fugitive," "Perry Mason," "Ironside," "Cannon," "The Rockford Files," and "Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Market Is Shorting Obama's 'Stimulus'

An acquaintance of mine co-wrote this piece for Real Clear Markets.com.

The Market Is Shorting Obama's 'Stimulus'
By George Bittlingmayer & Thomas W. Hazlett
February 20, 2009

President Barack Obama's "stimulus" plan invokes the 1930s fiscal strategy put forward by British economist John Maynard Keynes, who saw capitalism as pretty much spent. Having exhausted their store of innovative ideas, investors curled up. Workers lost jobs, spent less, and sent still other workers walking. Budget deficits – government spending without taxes to "pay as you go" - would pull unemployed workers off the street and arrest the downward spiral. Investors' "animal spirits" would be calmed, new capital risked, and economic vitality restored.

So the Obama theory – government spending is stimulus. If so, financial markets should feel the love. The U.S. budget is awash in red ink, and $800 billion more of it should easily move the needle on our economic prospects. Indeed it has – in the wrong direction. Financial markets don't want more government debt or a scramble for "shovel-ready" spending projects. They want the skeletons in the banking sector's closet exposed and expunged.

The Bush Economy went up in smoke in September-October 2008. The financial meltdown hit Wall Street, devastating bank equities and laying waste to America's 401-Ks. The Republican ticket, McCain-Palin, was a 50-50 bet on Sept. 15; by Oct. 15 it was a 5-1 long-shot. Voters saw the carnage: the Dow Jones Index lost 17% of its value from Sept. 2 through Nov. 3. In a flash, Americans lost years of toil, and Republicans the election. Decisively.

The election marked a turning point. Investors looked forward to the economic policies crafted by Democrats in Congress and the White House. More pointedly, they wanted decisive, well-crafted action on the banking crisis. Hence the Dow soared 6.5% Nov. 21 on news that Timothy Geithner, the highly-respected head of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, was Obama's pick for Treasury Secretary.

Yet, from Nov. 4, 2008 through Feb. 12, 2009, the DJI overall fell 18% -- a larger drop than during the Sept-Oct plunge. In January, when the Obama plan, promising far greater deficits than the two much smaller "emergency stimulus" plans signed by Pres. George W. Bush in 2008, was unveiled, the market tanked – the worst January performance in 113 years.

More pointedly, key political victories for the Team Obama spending plan have not been viewed as buying opportunities on Wall Street. A string of negative market reactions began with the December 18 announcement of a stimulus bill of $700 billion (Dow down 2.5%), continued with the January 7 announcement that the actual plan would be "on the high side" (-2.7%) and continued with last week's 61-36 Senate vote supporting the Administration's fiscal plan. The White House victory and the new bank bail-out plan announced the following day by Treasury Secretary Geithner were met with a 5% wipe-out in the DJI, and a decline in Treasury bond yields, indicating a "flight to quality."

There are many problems with Keynes' "stagnationist thesis," as Joseph Schumpeter called it, not the least of which is that it didn't test so well when applied by New Dealers. U.S. unemployment was perniciously high throughout the 1930s, peaking at 25% in 1933 but still over 17% in 1939.

Many claim that World War II brought us out of the Great Depression, but the lesson to be learned is still being debated. Federal budget deficits soared (reaching 26.5 % of GDP in 1942 as calculated by Harvard economist Robert Barro), providing Keynesians an argument for spending as stimulus. But WWII also brought a profound shift in the New Deal's regulatory policies. Attorney General Thurman Arnold's vigorous campaign to break-up "the bottlenecks of business" in major industries like steel, chemicals and electrical equipment was shuttered, and America's largest corporations enjoyed a respite from threats of dismemberment (Arnold was kicked upstairs to a judgeship). As Thomas K. McCraw writes in his superlative Schumpeter biography, "Under the life-and-death pressure of war mobilization… the Roosevelt Administration, which had been hostile toward alleged monopolies, now decided that big business must lead in the job that had to be done."

The only thing guaranteed by the spending stimulus is more national debt. One stroke of the presidential pen has now increased it by $800 billion. Democrats recently screamed about W-era profligacy. On July 28, 2008, Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND), Chair of the Senate Budget Committee declared, "If they gave out Olympic medals for fiscal irresponsibility, President Bush would take the gold, silver and bronze. With his eight years in office, he will have had the five highest deficits ever recorded. And the highest of those deficits is now projected to come in 2009, as he leaves office."

Kent Conrad was right. The projected 2009 deficit then stood at $482 billion. In January it was forecast by the Congressional Budget Office at $1.2 trillion. Pres. Obama's new plan now ups that to $1.7 trillion. If W got the gold, the new Administration has landed the Platinum in just its qualifying heat.

If historic U.S. budget deficits are any indication, the economy is already "stimulated." The predicted 2009 federal deficit stood at 8.3% of GDP before Obama's package sent it to about 12%. This is a stunning level of debt, double the previous post WWII high when Reagan's 1983 budget deficit amounted to 6% of GDP. That time around, the 10.8% unemployment rate, the worst since the Great Depression, was soon reversed.

Keynesians claim that the Reagan boom was an outcome of just this deficit strategy; for sake of argument, let us assume the Keynesian position. Reagan's budget deficit, half the size of Obama's as a fraction of GDP, was able to pull the economy out of an unemployment trough deeper than the 7.6% hole we're in today.

How do economists know that, while a deficit amounting to 6% of GDP budget was sufficient to spur the economy back to health in 1983, it will take more than twice that federal borrowing to do the same now? They don't. Economic models are all over the place in their projections. Indeed, Prof. Barro's cutting edge analysis of fiscal policy finds no historical stimulus from peacetime deficits. Of course, we've never seen so massive a deficit – one that would bar the U.S. from membership in the European Union, on grounds that our government finances are a mess -- and so we lack empirical evidence to inform the precise experiment we're running today.

We do, however, know the accounting trends: our government faces massive new spending increases as Baby Boomers retire and their Social Security and Medicare bills come due. Market investors are wary of new spending, guaranteeing either future tax increases or inflation, as a run-up to the demographically guaranteed spending spiral. The quest for "shovel-ready" projects makes one think, Where's Senator Ted Stevens when we need him? In any event, this fiscal bridge to nowhere is not spurring markets.

Government deficits are nonetheless being sold as doctor's orders, an elixir that – while it looks ugly and tastes bitter – will propel us back to economic health. Yet the best forecast currently on the table is the one made by investors risking their own money. They are shorting the "stimulus."

George Bittlingmayer is the Wagnon Professor of Finance at the University of Kansas. Thomas Hazlett is Professor of Law & Economics at George Mason University.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Borneo Monster Snake Real?

Borneo Monster Snake Real?

A 100-foot monster has allegedly been sighted by helicopter in Borneo and photographs have surfaced.

The Telegraph reports:

An aerial photograph that appears to show a gigantic snake swimming along the remote waterway has emerged, sparking great concern among local communities.

But it is not clear whether the photograph is genuine, or a clever piece of photo-editing. Some suggested the 'snake' was in fact a log or a speed boat and others complained the colour of the river in the photo was too dark.

The most common theory is that the photo has been manipulated on a computer.

The image has even stumped the New Straits Times newspaper in Kuala Lumpur, which suggested readers decide for themselves.

However, on the banks of the river, villagers are convinced of the massive serpent's existence and have even given it a name, Nabau, after an ancient sea serpent which can transform itself into the shapes of different animals.

It would be interesting if it turned out to be real. What do you think?

We're Abel Maldonado's Sharecroppers

What a difference a few months make!

California State Senator Abel "Benedict" Maldonado was chosen last summer by Sen. John McCain to speak before the delegates of the Republican National Convention.

During his speech, Maldonado spoke of his family's humble beginnings as sharecroppers. He likened Barack Obama's tax plans to making the American people sharecroppers to the government.

Maldonado said:

"We should never become sharecroppers for the government."

"When you try to soak the rich, the poor and the middle class will get wet."

By casting his vote for the California budget compromise February 19, Sen. Abel Maldonado just made California taxpayers sharecroppers for the state government.

When Gov. Bill Richardson endorsed Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton last year, he was called “Judas” by James Carville. It appears that term can be equally applied to Sen. Maldonado.

Chimp Cartoon Racist?

A little flap has erupted over a political cartoon (above) referencing Travis the chimp, who was shot to death by police after seriously mauling a woman.

CNN.com reports:

A New York Post cartoon Wednesday drew fire from civil rights activist Al Sharpton and others who say the drawing invokes historically racist images in suggesting an ape wrote President Barack Obama's economic stimulus package.

Al Sharpton says he wonders whether the cartoon "is making a less-than-casual inference" to a form of racism.

The artist, Sean Delonas, called Sharpton's reaction "ridiculous," and the newspaper defended its decision to run his cartoon. But other African-American leaders joined Sharpton, who has been the butt of previous Delonas panels, in attacking what they called the cartoon's racial overtones.

"Sean Delonas' cartoon in today's New York Post is insensitive and offensive," National Urban League President Marc Morial said in a statement issued Wednesday afternoon. "Comparing President Obama and his effort to revive the economy in a manner that depicts violence and racist inferences is unacceptable."

The cartoon showed two police officers standing over the body of a chimpanzee they just shot, a reference to this week's mauling of a Connecticut woman by a pet chimp, which police killed after the attack.

I don't find the cartoon racist, but I do find it an insult to chimpanzees by inferring they wrote the stimulus bill. I think they are smarter than the idiots who did.

Homesick for American food in Japan?

Above, familiar golden arches can be found in the Shibuya section of Tokyo.

Homesick for American food in Japan?

by Armand Vaquer

Many have asked around in different message boards and newsgroups on the Internet about food in Japan. Some G-fans like Japanese food and some don't. If you are planning a trip to Japan, whether it is with a tour or on your own, your fears can be put to rest as there are many American restaurants available in Japan if you want to confine your diet to familiar gastric delights or just take a break from Japanese dishes.

There are several American chains in the Tokyo area. McDonald's is located almost everywhere (no, it doesn't cost ten bucks for a Big Mac). In fact, one McDonald's used to be a mere few feet away from the Godzilla statue in Hibiya Park. There are Denny's restaurants in the Shibuya and Asakusa sections of Tokyo (there's more). There is also a Burger King in Shibuya. For you coffee addicts, there are many Starbuck's coffee shops all over Tokyo and in other cities in Japan (they like their java too). To go along with your coffee, there are many donut shops around as well.

Colonel Harland Sanders is prominent in Japan. There are Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) outlets everywhere. The Japanese usually refer to KFC as "Kentucky." I saw one at the train station in Kumamoto, Japan on Kyushu in 2007. They also generally have a life-size statue of Col. Sanders (sometimes even wearing a kimono) in front of the store.

One favorite place is Becker's under the train tracks separating Hibiya and Ginza. They serve excellent hamburgers and have good coffee.

There's also a Subway sandwich store in the underground Aoyama-Ichome subway station.

Checking around in Japan travel websites, there are other cuisines that can be found, including French, Chinese, Mexican and Italian food. There's even AM-PM and Seven-Eleven mini-marts here and there.

So, if you are reluctant about making a trip to Japan due to dietary concerns, don't fret! You can still consume a Whopper or a Big Mac in Japan.

"Benedict" Maldonado Caves In on California Budget

California State Senator Abel "Benedict" Maldonado just kissed his political future goodbye this morning.

From WSJ.com:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- California's legislature approved a plan Thursday morning to close the state's $42 billion budget deficit through steep cuts and new taxes, after state leaders corralled the last Republican vote needed to end a 15-week partisan impasse that has battered an already-crippled state economy.

State Sen. Abel Maldonado provided the required "aye" vote after senate leaders met his demands that certain state-government reforms be added to the budget proposal and that the plan be stripped of a gas-tax increase.

On Wednesday night, Mr. Schwarzenegger and Democratic lawmakers finally persuaded the 41-year-old Mr. Maldonado, a broccoli-and-cauliflower farmer from Santa Maria, to become the 27th and final 'aye' vote needed to pass the proposal in exchange for the concessions.

The changes made after negotiations with Mr. Maldonado include measures calling for the state to hold open primary elections and to stop pay raises for lawmakers in years the state faces a budget shortfall. Both reforms would have to be approved by voters, however. Legislative leaders also agreed to strip out the gas-tax increase.

Sen. Maldonado has made no secret of his ambitions to run for state controller. By caving in to Schwarzenegger and the Democrats, he won't have a ghost of a chance to win the GOP primary for state controller in 2010. Maybe that's why he wanted open primaries.

But Republicans and irate California taxpayers won't forget. Open primaries or not, Maldonado will have a lot of opposition against him.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

President Barack Obama Opposes Return of "Fairness Doctrine"

President Barack Obama Opposes Return of "Fairness Doctrine"

A spokesman for President Obama indicated today that the President opposes re-instituting the fairness doctrine.

FoxNews.com reports:

President Obama opposes any move to bring back the so-called Fairness Doctrine, a spokesman told FOXNews.com Wednesday.

The statement is the first definitive stance the administration has taken since an aide told an industry publication last summer that Obama opposes the doctrine -- a long-abolished policy that would require broadcasters to provide opposing viewpoints on controversial issues.

"As the president stated during the campaign, he does not believe the Fairness Doctrine should be reinstated," White House spokesman Ben LaBolt told FOXNews.com.

Some Democrats have been discussing bringing back the Fairness Doctrine in order to stifle conservative talk shows. Some are considering doing so "through the back door" by instituting "local programming" rules. Most of the major talk shows are syndicated to local stations around the country.

We'll see if Obama sticks to this position or not. Many of his statements on policy positions seem to have "expiration dates" according to Rush Limbaugh.

Long-Haired Giant Monster: Gehara

A new made-for-television daikaiju parody mini-movie 「長髪大怪獣ゲハラ」 (Chohatsu Daikaiju Gehara) or Long-Haired Giant Monster: Gehara is set for broadcast on February 24 as part of a 50-minute special. The mini-movie has a 15-minute running time.

Cult writer/Artist/Painter Master Jun Miura teamed up with spfx master Shinji Higuchi (the 1990s Gamera trilogy) to create this feature.

August Ragone's blog, The Good, The Bad and Godzilla has the full story on this feature. To read it, go here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

G-FAN Travel Guide To Kaiju Japan

Above, Yokohama, Japan's waterfront.

During my discussions with J. D. Lees last night I asked about progress on the G-FAN Travel Guide To Kaiju Japan project.

Family considerations, other obligations and getting G-FAN out has left him with scarce time to work on it. But, he also said:

I work best with a deadline. You need to tell me you'll kill me if I don't get it done.

Well, I can't kill him (maybe some water-boarding, perhaps), so I gave him a deadline of late-May. But to humor him, I told him he'd be "dead meat" if he doesn't get it done.

Why late-May?

Late-May would be enough time to get it to the printer and have copies available for G-FEST XVI and to promote it at travel shows, travel agents, etc. (Many travel shows occur in the Fall.) This also seemed to be a reasonable enough time for him to squeeze work in on it during the preceeding months.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Diamond Distribution Screwing Small Press?

Above, Little Shoppe of Horrors had their legs cut off by Diamond Distribution.

Diamond Distribution Screwing Small Press?

by Armand Vaquer

Diamond Distribution, the biggest and who also practically monopolizes the distribution of large & small press comic books and periodicals has announced a new policy, one that could spell the end to small press publications.

According to Publishers Weekly.com:

Diamond Distribution, the largest and practically only North America distributor of periodical comics, is in the process of rolling out a few new business processes, and the results could be a very different landscape for comics publishing.

In a change that will have a far greater impact, according to numerous reports, Diamond is raising its benchmark for products it will carry from $1500 to $2500. (Simon) Jones (of Icarus Comics) has the clearest explanation of this change, (although he later amends perhaps the most key point of all) but the short version is that unless orders to Diamond on a product are consistently greater than $2500 at wholesale, Diamond will no longer carry the product.

From the New York Times:

Is this the end of independent comic books?

That was the fear around the comics blogosphere last week when word spread of a policy change from Diamond Comic Distributors, the world’s dominant distributor of English-language comic books. The company has decided to raise the minimum advance order it needs from comic-book stores before it will agree to distribute a title. The figure, called the purchase order benchmark, has increased to $2,500 from $1,500.

It may seem like a minor matter, but this is life or death for many small, struggling comic book companies.

Diamond is the distributor of G-FAN magazine, the magazine I contribute to, and it was noticed by David, one of the owners of Classic Horror Film Board, that G-FAN wasn't listed in Diamond's current Previews magazine (of upcoming new product). He is concerned that G-FAN, like Little Shoppe of Horrors magazine, may fall victim of this new policy. G-FAN publisher J. D. Lees says, "I'm nowhere close to being under their profitability cut-off."

Above, G-FAN is in 'safe' territory.

Unless Diamond relents (and goes back to its $1,500 former threshold) or another distributor steps in to pick up the small press publications, it appears that the "little guy" is getting screwed.

Go here to read the full article.

ADDENDUM: Tom Spurgeon at The Comics Reporter has this to say about the policy change at Diamond:

I think Diamond's decision was wrong.

I think there are a lot of complications.

I agree with many of you that Diamond has the right to make the best business decisions they can. I remain unconvinced, however, that this is a good decision. The numbers are too vague, the policy implications are too vast and undependable. I hate to say it, but I'm not even sure the logic presented as the basis for the necessity of these actions holds up. A four percent loss following years with significant gains doesn't particularly sound to me like it's totally freaking time to cut staff and change policy. I assume there are other factors involved. I mean, does anyone out there really believe that we're in a recession that somehow forces industry behemoths like Diamond and DC to fire people and change policies while mid-sized publishers pick up projects and tiny boutique publishing houses hold pat? That's one remarkably capricious, Robin Hood-like recession. It's also difficult to argue convincingly, as I think Diamond has been if I'm understanding what's out there, that you're losing money per a certain kind of item and yet you've somehow lost more money recently during a time of selling fewer items. When I was a teenager, that was the kind of two-pronged logic that got me grounded a lot.

J. D. Lees, editor and publisher of G-FAN sent me this message concerning this blog:

I really object to the characterization of Diamond "screwing" small press publishers. Last time I checked, Diamond was a profit-oriented business as opposed to a charitable organization. If they need to raise their limit to cover their costs, it's no one's concern but theirs. Publishers don't have a right to have their work distributed, it has to attract a large enough readership. According to the cover price, Little Shoppe of Horrors must be selling fewer than 500 copies through Diamond. If and when G-FAN drops to that level, I'd have to question whether there was enough interest to keep putting it out. But I certainly wouldn't accuse Diamond of "screwing me" because they refuse to keep me on even though I'm a money loser for them. - J.

I don't necessarily disagree with Mr. Lees's views, but it seems to me that the timing for this change is totally off. For one thing, we're in the midst of a horrendous recession (maybe things aren't so bad in Canada where Mr. Lees operates). No doubt small press publications are hurting. To saddle them with this new policy at this time seems to be a case of adding insult to injury.
This is akin to the wacko legislature in Sacramento wanting to add more taxation to an already overburdened and overtaxed taxpayer as they currently want to do. Raising taxes during a recession is insanity.

In normal times, I don't think the objections would be quite so strong. In the long run, it would also benefit the small press publishers by motivating them to increase their readership to meet the new threshold. They would benefit as would Diamond by increased sales.

The increase from $1,500 to $2,500 seems to be too much too soon in these economic conditions. It would be better if they made the increase in increments. They could raise the threshold by $500 to $2,000 in, say, three months from now. This would be a reachable goal for the small press as they would have some time to work to increase their numbers. Then, Diamond can announce they will increase the threshold to $2,500 six months from there. Again, it would give the small press publishers time to further increase their numbers to meet that second goal.

If the small press publishers still cannot attain those goals, that would fall into the last item in Mr. Lees's comments. Namely, they would have to question whether or not there's real interest "out there" to justify publishing that particular publication.

California budget impasse goes on!

The California budget impasse goes on! Gov. Schwarzenegger and the Democrats need one more Republican vote and the Republican legislators are budging.

From the Wall Street Journal.com:

The impasse has revolved around a bill, out of the nearly 30 in the budget proposal, that would generate $14 billion in revenue by temporarily raising the sales tax by one percentage point, by increasing the gasoline tax by 12 cents a gallon and by adding a surcharge of up to 5% on income taxes, among other steps. Republican legislators have contended that Californians can't afford new taxes during the recession, while Democrats countered that it would be impossible to close such a massive deficit without revenue increases.

Many economists agree, raising taxes during a recession is insane and the California taxpayer is already overtaxed. They will need to do more spending cuts.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Clunk! 2 Nuclear Subs Collide In Mid-Atlantic

Above, HMS Vanguard.

Clunk! 2 Nuclear Subs Collide In Mid-Atlantic

Source: The Sun

Two nuclear submarines, one British, the other French, collided out in the mid-Atlantic on February 3 or 4.

The British sub was the HMS Vanguard, part of the nuclear Trident fleet, and the French sub was the Le Triomphant. Both are nuclear-powered and both carried nuclear missiles.

Above, Le Triomphant.

According to The Sun:

As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves.

But modern anti-sonar technology is so good it is possible neither boat “saw” the other.

A senior military source said: “The lines between London and Paris have been hot.”

A senior Navy source said: “The potential consequences are unthinkable. It’s very unlikely there would have been a nuclear explosion.

HMS Vanguard was towed into Faslane in Scotland, with dents and scrapes on her hull. Triomphant limped to Brest with extensive damage to her sonar dome.

California Tax Revolt Starting?

According to Hugh Hewitt over at Townhall.com, there appears to be the beginnings of a tax revolt going on in Sacramento.

According to the Los Angeles Times:

But several hours after voting on the package of 27 bills began Saturday night, the momentum stalled. Sen. Dave Cox (R-Fair Oaks), who Democrats say indicated in private talks he was prepared to vote for the budget plan put together by the governor and legislative leaders, announced he would not support it. A spokeswoman for Cox said the senator was never on board with the budget plan.

See Beginnings of A Tax Revolt?

Hewitt: "It has become clear over the past 96 hours that any GOP legislator voting for the tax hikes is finished forever in state politics. That may be enough to stop the economic suicide that is a massive tax hike in the middle of a recession, but watch that space."

As Ronald Reagan used to say, "The government spends too much!" Maybe the GOP is finally realizing this in California.

Cross your fingers!

UPDATE: (7:47 PM) There are not enough votes to pass the budget! Three Republican 'yes' votes are needed and Schwarzenegger and the Democrats aren't getting them. One target is Sen. Abel Maldonado (R-Santa Maria). So far, he isn't voting for the budget proposal.

DeVore Resigns As Chief GOP Whip

DeVore Resigns As Chief GOP Whip

"The St. Valentine's Day deal to raise taxes on hard-working Californians will neither close the budget deficit nor control spending."

From BusinessWire.com:

SACRAMENTO, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--California State Assemblyman Chuck DeVore resigned today as Chief Republican Whip due to his opposition to a massive tax increase deal brokered by Republican legislative leaders. DeVore said, “The St. Valentine’s Day deal to raise taxes on hardworking Californians will neither close the budget deficit nor control spending. I believe leadership thinks they are doing the right thing – but I cannot be a party to this agreement as I believe it will harm California.”

Excerpts of DeVore’s letter to Assembly Republican Leader Mike Villines follow:

“…the recent agreement you negotiated to increase taxes in exchange for a spending limit will not likely accomplish the twin aims of deficit reduction and budget control that you seek.

“This proposed agreement also strikes at the heart of our longtime opposition to tax increases. Excessive taxation both harms the economy and robs hardworking Californians of a portion of their liberty. Placing our Caucus squarely in line with tax increases also demoralizes our supporters – people who were counting on us to hold the line.

“For these reasons, I believe it is appropriate for me to resign as Chief Republican Whip, effective immediately. I can no longer participate as a leader on a team that is preparing to make a fundamental mistake of colossal proportions. For the sake of California I hope I am wrong – however, I fear I am right and that this tax increase and budget deal will result in more harm to the Golden State than good.”

It is nice to see some Republicans ready to stand on principle! It is insanity to raise taxes in a recession where people are already struggling.

Assemblyman DeVore's website is www.ChuckDeVore.com

Saturday, February 14, 2009

2008 Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards

Source: Rondo Awards.com

The Seventh Annual Rondo Hatton Classic Horror Awards, recognizing the best in classic horror, science fiction and fantasy are about to begin. This year's ballot, listing outstanding work from 2008, will be posted on Sunday, Feb. 15, 2009 at 11 p.m. ET.

Online voting will continue through Saturday, March 22, 2009, with winners announced
Sunday evening, March 23.

The Rondo Award Committee plan lots of surprises this time around, all culminating in an awards ceremony at WonderFest in Louisville during the May 15-16 weekend.

Welcome To The United Socialist States of America!

The Congress passed the porkulus spending bill (no surprise there).

From Bloomberg.com:

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Congress gave final approval to President Barack Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus package in hopes of wresting the economy out of recession through a mix of tax cuts and federal spending.

The Senate approved the package 60 to 38 with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting “yes.” Earlier today, the House passed the measure 246 to 183 with no Republicans in favor and seven Democrats opposed. The bill, Obama’s first major victory on Capitol Hill, now heads to his desk to be signed into law.

Could Start Trade War

From FoxNews.com:

Major partners, including the European Union and Canada, say the legislation favoring U.S. steel, iron and manufactured goods for government projects could undermine pledges by the leaders of major economies not to resort to perfectionism during the world economic downturn.

Requirements known as "Buy American" were softened as the bill progressed through Congress and after strong criticism from abroad. Senate and House negotiators agreed to a version that would require the government not to violate trade agreements when implementing the law.

The bill also allows the Obama administration and state governments to waive requirements to favor U.S. companies if they deem it in the U.S. public interest and if they publish a justification.

The dispute has put Obama in a difficult position. While campaigning last year, he raised questions whether U.S. trade agreements contained sufficient protection for labor and environmental standards. He has warned recently, however, about antagonizing trading partners and has made clear that passage of the overall stimulus bill is needed urgently to mend the U.S. economy.

Who Gets What?

For a complete listing, go to Who Gets What?

From FoxNews.com:

One thing about the president's $790 billion stimulus package is certain: It will jack up the federal debt.

Whether or not it succeeds in producing jobs and taming the recession, tomorrow's taxpayers will end up footing the bill.

Forecasters expect the 2009 deficit -- for the budget year that began last Oct 1 -- to hit $1.6 trillion including new stimulus and bank-bailout spending. That's about three times last year's shortfall.

The torrents of red ink are being fed by rising federal spending and falling tax revenues from hard-hit businesses and individuals.

The national debt -- the sum of all annual budget deficits -- stands at $10.7 trillion. Or about $36,000 for every man, woman and child in the U.S.

Interest payments alone on the national debt will near $500 billion this year. It's already the fourth-largest federal expenditure, after Medicare-Medicaid, Social Security and defense.

This will affect us all directly for years, as well as our children and possibly grandchildren, in higher taxes and probably reduced government services. It will also force continued government borrowing, increasingly from China, Japan, Britain, Saudi Arabia and other foreign creditors.

Besides that, ACORN and other leftist groups will receive billions of your tax dollars and the bill guts the Clinton-era welfare reforms.

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Stop Porkulus: Contact Your Representatives Now!

Stop Porkulus: Contact Your Representatives Now!

Congress is about to vote on the porkulus/stimulus bill today. Very few, if any, members of Congress have read the final bill that came out of the Conference Committee (the one Republicans were blocked from participating in). The Democrats kept the bill from being posted online for people to read under the promised 48 hours, and it is a PDF file, which means that it can't be searched and it is essentially a picture of a document.

Don't rely upon the media, they aren't asking any probing questions (how can they since their tongues are on the floor?).

With interest and future spending, this monstrosity will end up costing taxpayers $1.5 trillion (that's trillion with a 'T').

Heritage.com reports:

The United States Congress is about to pass the largest single-year increase in domestic federal spending since World War II. Despite the fact that neither the Republicans in Congress, the media, nor the American people have been allowed to read the bill, the House plans to vote on the plan today. The Senate will quickly follow suit so that the bill will hit President Barack Obama’s desk by Monday. Even without the full benefit of digesting what is in this trillion dollar debt bill, over 200 economists have expressed their belief that this plan is destined to fail. And conservative economists that once supported the idea of a stimulus are now calling the current plan “An $800 Billion Mistake.” Even center left economists like President Bill Clinton’s budget director, Alice Rivlin have told Congress that the long-term spending items in the plan “should not be put together hastily and lumped in with the anti-recession package.”

This comes down to two Republican senators (Susan Collins is a lost cause): Arlen Specter and Olympia Snow. Senator Edward Kennedy is too ill to come to Washington from Florida to vote. If this bill is kept from getting 60 senate votes, it fails. Then something much better can be proposed.

Contact your congress member and senator today and tell them to vote against this rape of the taxpayer. Also, contact the offices of Senators Specter and Snow.

Contact Elected Officials at USA.Gov

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Sen. Gregg Withdraws Due To Policy Conflicts

Republican U.S. Senator Judd Gregg withdrew his nomination for Commerce Secretary today. This caught President Obama completely off-guard.

Gregg is the second Obama Commerce Secretary nominee to withdraw. Governor Bill Richardson, D-NM withdrew after some legal issues surfaced.

Sen. Gregg, in his statement, said:

“However, it has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census there are irresolvable conflicts for me. Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy."

The stimulus issue is self-explanatory, as many Americans are aware of. But the Census issue is one that not too many people are familiar with.

The Obama Administration, under Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel, is planning to take the administration of the Census Bureau away from Commerce and transfer it to White House direction.

The Wall Street Journal wrote:

Anything that threatens the integrity of the Census has profound implications. Not only is it the basis for congressional redistricting, it provides the raw data by which government spending is allocated on everything from roads to schools. The Bureau of Labor Statistics also uses the Census to prepare the economic data that so much of business relies upon.

There's only one reason for this power grab by the Obama Administration: politics! This would enable them to monkey with Census data to their political advantage.

I am pleased to see Sen. Gregg withdraw for reasons of principle. He made the correct decision.

Rush Limbaugh: Brad Sherman "A Dolt!"

Rush Limbaugh: Brad Sherman "A Dolt!"

Talk show host Rush Limbaugh referred to my congressman, Brad Sherman, as "a dolt" for harping on private jet use by bailed-out bank CEOs by asking if their companies still “own or lease” private planes. Only one (Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankenfein) out of eight did not raise his hand.

SHERMAN: I’d like you to raise your hand if your company currently owns or leases a private plane. Let the record reflect that all the hands went up except the gentleman from Goldman Sachs. Gentleman, we know that it’s extremely expensive to operate the planes. You could sell them and generate capital for your company, and that capital could be used to repay taxpayers immediately.

Limbaugh pointed out that achievers are being singled out and that capitalism in general is under assault by liberals. He also pointed out that jobs are created by companies who manufacture private jets, their engines, their maintenance and come up with new technologies for improving private jets. Sherman doesn't seem to understand the basic fact that the "little guy" is gainfully employed for these services.

Sherman seems to think that he and fellow congress members can dictate to banks what they can or cannot do because they accepted bailout money. Well, they can easily point out that it was Democrats in Congress who forced them to extend mortgage loans to people who had no realistic means to pay off the loans. Congress put these financial institutions into this position.

Sherman is worse than a "dolt," he's a grandstanding imbecile.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Growing Insanity of Liberalism

The Growing Insanity of Liberalism.

You can't drill for oil
You can't drill for natural gas
You can't build power plants
You can't build a dam for water to grow food

Now they're planning on releasing terrorists involved in the U.S.S. Cole attack!

And, they are planning to have our soldiers read enemy combatants "Miranda" rights!*

*Remember the howls after Gov. Sarah Palin mentioned this during her GOP National Convention speech?

Californians: Hold on to your wallets!

Californians: Hold on to your wallets!

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Democrat legislative leaders have come to an agreement on the budget. It involves deep "cuts", borrowing and tax hikes.

The Los Angeles Times reports:

Legislative leaders are scurrying to round up votes for the plan; whether they will get enough by Friday is unclear. Republican lawmakers, in particular, are under tremendous pressure from anti-tax activists to reject the plan.

A copy of the fiscal blueprint obtained by The Times shows that the deficit would be wiped out with $15 billion in cuts; $14.4 billion in new and increased taxes on sales, vehicles, gasoline and personal income; $12 billion in borrowing against future profits from the lottery; short-term loans; and various accounting maneuvers. Some of the cuts and borrowing could ultimately be offset by billions of dollars in federal aid that California would receive in the economic stimulus package that passed the U.S. Senate this week and is awaiting final approval in Congress.

Californians would also take a substantial hit in their wallets.

Vehicle license fees would nearly double, going from the current rate of 0.65% to 1.15% of the value of a car or truck. The sales tax would increase by 1 cent, raising the rate in Los Angeles County to 9.75%. Gasoline taxes would increase by 12 cents a gallon. And Californians would pay a new surcharge on their personal income taxes, amounting to 2.5% of their total tax bills.

It is absolute insanity to increase taxes during any recession. But this recession isn't an ordinary one. If any Republican votes for this, they are good as dead politically.

Talk show host Hugh Hewitt, after hearing the details of this agreement, wrote:

Watch the line form at the door for productive people to pull up stakes. This is nuts. California doesn't deserve government this dim.

UPDATE: States like Colorado, Arizona, Nevada and Utah are now campaigning to get Californians to uproot and move to their states.

From Wall Street Journal.com:

Colorado is the first out of the box with a Valentine-themed banner that will trail behind an airplane circling rush-hour traffic in Los Angeles on Friday morning, urging Californians to give Colorado a try. Ads in newspapers from San Diego to San Jose will feature a Cupid in ski boots over a bold-faced tease: "California, can you feel Colorado's love?"

Right behind Colorado are Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Utah -- all planning to make similar runs at luring corporate executives, venture capitalists and manufacturers who might be fed up with California's political gridlock or anxious about potential tax hikes and deep cuts to schools, parks and other services.

This is looking more appealing every day!

Democrats Shut Out GOP From Stimulus Conference

Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid are shutting out any Republican representative from participating in the conference committees negotiating the differences between the Senate and House stimulus bills.

HumanEvents.com reports:

Republicans have caught the Democrats in a midnight “stimulus” power play that seeks to cut Republican conferees out of the House-Senate negotiations to resolve a final version of the Obama “stimulus” package. Staff members from the offices of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) met last night to put together the “stimulus” conference report.

They intend to attempt to shove this $1.3 trillion spending bill through in the dead of the night without Republican input so floor action can take place in both chambers on Thursday.

So much for Obama's pledges of "bi-partisanship" and "cooperation." How many Senate R.I.N.O.s plan to go along with this scheme?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Rendezvous With Destiny"

A new movie is now available on DVD, "Rendezvous With Destiny," a movie about Ronald Reagan. It is the story of the Reagan Presidency and hosted by Newt & Callista Gingrich.

It is available for $19.95 plus $4.00 shipping.

Go to "Rendezvous With Destiny" to find out more about it, view a trailer and to order.

Obama's Stock Market Begins

Obama's Stock Market Begins

The Stock Market tumbled sharply after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner unveiled the Obama administration's latest bailout plan.

From CNBC.com:

US stocks fell sharply Tuesday in a broad-based decline as the government announced details of its latest bailout plan.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down more than 300 points after Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner revealed details of the bank-bailout plan. Earlier, the blue-chip index was down less than 100 points.

Gee, thanks Tim!

G-FAN Scribes As Obamicons

G-FAN Scribes As Obamicons

I thought I'd have some fun with photos of some of the main players of G-FAN magazine.

The first, obviously, is J. D. Lees. He's the founder, publisher and editor of G-FAN. He is also the founder and head of the annual G-FEST conventions held in Chicago, Illinois. He also led 60 G-fans to Japan in 2004 during G-TOUR. G-FAN was named in the Chicago Tribune's "Our Fifty Favorite Magazines" list last year.

Next is Peter H. Brothers. Pete has completed his biography on Toho Co. director Ishiro Honda. He is currently in discussions with several interested book publishers.

Next, we have Brett Homenick. He currently supplies G-FAN with many interviews with actors, directors, writers and others connected with kaiju movies over the last 55 years. He also organizes the programming for the annual G-FEST conventions and leads the convention interview panels. Due to his interview activities, that's why I called him "The Griller."

Here we have David McRobie. His contribution is "The Globe Meter" column. His online handle is "Xenorama."

Hailing from the San Francisco Bay Area, August Ragone's encyclopedia mind greatly added to the G-FEST XV sessions with Haruo Nakajima and on Eiji Tsuburaya. Last year, he penned a moving tribute to the late Jerry Ito in G-FAN. His recent book, "Eiji Tsuburaya, Master of Monsters" was a hit with the fans and critics.

Pork In Stimulus/Porkulus Bill

Pork In Stimulus/Porkulus Bill

Source: Carl Glass, GHP News Services

President Barack Obama said yesterday at his press conference that there's no earmarks in the stimulus bill.

Well, here's what the bill contains:

HR 1 is the largest pork barrel bill in the history of our great country. President Obama claims that we can spend our way out of debt! It's never worked before, and it won't work this time!

Here's what your taxes will be paying for if this bill passes:

There's billions for the radical environmentalists' agenda:

$20 million "for the removal of small- to medium-sized fish passage barriers"
$70 million to "Support Supercomputing Activities" for climate research
$10 million for biking and walking trails
$200 million for plug-in car stations
$400 million for NASA to conduct research on climate change
$600 million for diesel emission reduction
$650 million for "alternative energy technologies, energy efficiency enhancements and deferred maintenance at Federal facilities"
$1.5 billion to build "green schools"
$2.4 billion for "carbon capture demonstration projects"— WHATEVER THAT MEANS!

There's billions for federal bureaucrats:

$150 billion to more than double the budget of the U. S. Department of Education— THIS MEANS MORE FEDERAL CONTROL OF OUR CHILDREN AND OUR LOCAL SCHOOL DISTRICTS
$34 million to remodel the Department of Commerce HQ
$54 million for federal programs that our government has criticized as "ineffective" or that cannot pass basic financial audits—PAYING TO CONTINUE PROGRAMS THAT DON'T WORK!
$462 million for equipment, construction, and renovation of facilities at the Center for Disease Control
$1 billion for follow-up to the 2010 Census
$1 billion for AMTRAK

There's billions in political payoffs:

$83 billion for tax credits for people who don't pay taxes

The Stimulus Will Ruin Your Health!

The Democrats snuck in a little item involving health care into the stimulus bill.

They've added provisions to electronically track every patient's health care, supposedly to eliminate errors, duplication, etc. While that all sounds good, the bill goes too far.

Over at Bloomberg.com, Betsy McCaughey, writes:

But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). These provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.” According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

Hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system will face penalties. “Meaningful user” isn’t defined in the bill. That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose “more stringent measures of meaningful use over time” (511, 518, 540-541)

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? The vagueness is intentional. In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the “tough” decisions elected politicians won’t make.

If you are in your 60s or 70s, and if it is statistically shown that saving your life is not "cost-effective," they'll deny your doctor-recommended treatment and expect you to just suck it up and die.

If people have a problem with insurance companies dictating their treatment already, just think how much they'll like some Washington bureaucrat dictating their treatment on top of that!

Rush Limbaugh discussed this yesterday on his show.

Useful idiots like Arlen Specter, Olympia Snow and Susan Collins are willing to vote for this legislation, which is the first step into socialized medicine.

To see the full article, go here.

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