Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 30, 2014
The New York Times reported that the recent breach of White House security was much more serious than initially reported. The armed intruder, 42-year-old Omar J. Gonzalez, jumped the White House fence. Initial Secret Service reports indicated that Gonzalez, who had a knife, did not enter the White House itself. This was false.
According to a recent report by The Washington Post, the intruder actually breached the White House running through the ceremonial East room, before being tackled by Secret Service agents. González incredibly ran past the staircase leading to the Obama family’s quarters.
This Secret Service failing is problematic on its face. However, it also plays into the broader narrative of governmental incompetence. Here is an agency with nearly unlimited budget whose main duty is to protect the President of the United States and his family, which they failed at with this low level attack. In addition, the Secret Service’s initial reports on the breach was false and meant to mislead those they serve, the People, in order to cover up their own incompetence.
Virginia Democratic representative, Gerald Connolly, said of this incompetence: “It’s an astounding set of facts. It just boggles the imagination and is deeply destabilizing in terms of public confidence in the Secret Service and how it is carrying out its mission.” Welcome to the real world Mr. Connolly. Washington’s incompetence no longer amazes those of us from the real world. As the saying goes, these guys would have trouble arranging a three car funeral.
Posted in Government Ineptness | Tagged: breach, Gonzalez, intruder, Secret Service, White House | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 29, 2014
Throughout much of his first six years in office criticism of President Obama has often been blamed on partisan politics. This is a red herring. Political opponents are always partisan and adversarial, no matter which party they belong to.
In recent months, Obama’s ineptness and overreach of executive power have drawn criticism from liberals. Last month, The Washington Post, known for its liberal bent, wrote an editorial highly critical of the President’s overreach stating:
“Obstinate, hopelessly partisan and incapable of problem-solving, Congress is a mess,” but that doesn’t grant the president license to tear up the Constitution.”
“… some of the same Democrats and pro-immigrant advocates urging would be outraged if a Republican president took a similarly selective approach to enforcing the laws.”
“Mr. Obama now seems to be jettisoning that stance in the name of rallying his political base. He is considering extending temporary protection from deportation to millions of illegal immigrants, including the parents of U.S.-born children and others who have lived in the United States for years. Conceivably, this would give Democrats a political boost in 2016. Just as conceivably, it would trigger a constitutional showdown with congressional Republicans, who could make a cogent argument that Mr. Obama had overstepped his authority.”
These strong words from the Post should be of concern to all Americans, both on the Left and Right. Obama has traveled further down a slippery slope of executive overreach that future presidents will likely take advantage of. This is a very dangerous path for our democracy.
Posted in President Obama | Tagged: Constitution, Obama, Overreach, power, Washington Post | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 27, 2014
USA Today reported on the growing number of subprime auto loans being made in the United States. Such loans are made to high-risk borrowers with poor credit scores. According to USA Today:
- Since 2009 the number of auto loans made to high risk borrowers with credit scores below 660 has doubled.
- In the past year the repossession rate for automobiles has increased by 70%.
- The amount of interest paid by consumers for auto loans is staggering. For those purchasing automobiles on credit in 2009, an aggregate interest of nearly $26 billion will be paid on those loans.
- In most states more than one half of the consumers have some form of subprime credit.
It is remarkable that only six years after the subprime mortgage fiasco caused a worldwide economic meltdown, similar high- risk loans practices are gaining momentum. In addition, subprime auto loans are being bundled by Wall Street into risky securities and sold to naïve investors.
While the size of the subprime auto loan market is significantly smaller than that of the subprime mortgage loans, a significant amount of failure amongst these loans will damage the overall economy to some extent.
The subprime mortgage market and the bubble it created were a result of governmental and Fed policies that included artificially low interest rates. The current subprime auto loan market is being created by similar policies. Once again, artificially low interest rate policies promoted by the Federal Reserve support predatory lending practices to those who should not be given loans. In addition, this low interest rate environment offers fertile ground for the sale of the securitized loan portfolios to investors seeking higher returns through risk.
In addition, the moral hazard has been damaged by the government’s bailouts that saved imprudent lenders and banks from disaster in 2008/2009. These lenders and their investors expect the government to cover their backs during the next meltdown, even if caused by their imprudent lending practices.
Both political parties avoid discussion of debt the damage it causes. This is by political necessity given the ever-expanding debt financing used by the US government. Debt is inappropriate if used to create wealth today at the expense of tomorrow’s economic growth potential. It becomes a tragedy when such debt is promoted by imprudent governmental policies.
Posted in Debt | Tagged: auto, Fed, Interest, loans, subprime | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 26, 2014
For the 30th anniversary of the Cosby Show’s airing, MSNBC’s Al Sharpton interviewed Harvard professor Alvin Poussaint, a consultant for the original shows. In typical Sharptonism, Al made it all about him saying: “This show really changed America and changed people like me growing up watching it.” While a great sound bite it doesn’t match reality since Sharpton was nearly 30 years old when the first Cosby Show aired. Facts and reality have never been significant for Al Sharpton.
Posted in Mainstream Media | Tagged: Cosby-show, Sharpton | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 23, 2014
Dr. Steven E. Koonin was undersecretary for science in the Department of Energy during Obama’s first term. His credentials include a PhD in physics and provost at Caltech. As chief scientist for BP his work focused on renewable and low-carbon energy sources. With such credentials one might expect Dr. Koonin to be a global warming zealot. Instead, he offers clear-thinking and open-mindedness, as indicated in his op-ed posted in the Wall Street Journal titled Climate Science Is Not Settled.
In the op-ed, Koonin uses the scientific method and logic to offer an open and unbiased discussion on climate change and the role that man-made carbon dioxide plays in its trajectory. His statements include:
- “The idea that ‘Climate science is settled’ runs through today’s popular and policy discussions. Unfortunately, that claim is misguided. …. it also has inhibited the scientific and policy discussions that we need to have about our climate future.”
- “The crucial scientific question for policy isn’t whether the climate is changing. That is a settled matter: The climate has always changed and always will. ….. Nor is the crucial question whether humans are influencing the climate. That is no hoax: There is little doubt in the scientific community that continually growing amounts of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, due largely to carbon-dioxide emissions from the conventional use of fossil fuels, are influencing the climate. There is also little doubt that the carbon dioxide will persist in the atmosphere for several centuries. ….. Rather, the crucial, unsettled scientific question for policy is, ‘How will the climate change over the next century under both natural and human influences?’ Answers to that question at the global and regional levels, as well as to equally complex questions of how ecosystems and human activities will be affected, should inform our choices about energy and infrastructure.”
- “Even though human influences could have serious consequences for the climate, they are physically small in relation to the climate system as a whole.”
- “We often hear that there is a ‘scientific consensus’ about climate change. But as far as the computer models go, there isn’t a useful consensus at the level of detail relevant to assessing human influences.”
- “For the latest IPCC report (September 2013), its Working Group I, which focuses on physical science, uses an ensemble of some 55 different models. Although most of these models are tuned to reproduce the gross features of the Earth’s climate, the marked differences in their details and projections reflect all of the limitations that I have described.”
- “Although the Earth’s average surface temperature rose sharply by 0.9 degree Fahrenheit during the last quarter of the 20th century, it has increased much more slowly for the past 16 years, even as the human contribution to atmospheric carbon dioxide has risen by some 25%. This surprising fact demonstrates directly that natural influences and variability are powerful enough to counteract the present warming influence exerted by human activity.” … “The models roughly describe the shrinking extent of Arctic sea ice observed over the past two decades, but they fail to describe the comparable growth of Antarctic sea ice, which is now at a record high.” … “Even though the human influence on climate was much smaller in the past, the models do not account for the fact that the rate of global sea-level rise 70 years ago was as large as what we observe today—about one foot per century.” …. This led Koonin to conclude: “These and many other open questions are in fact described in the IPCC research reports, although a detailed and knowledgeable reading is sometimes required to discern them. They are not “minor” issues to be “cleaned up” by further research. Rather, they are deficiencies that erode confidence in the computer projections.”
Dr. Koonin offers two key conclusions. First, calling the science “settled” chills unrestricted scientific discussion. In addition, while proponents of the man-made global warming theory are willing to discuss scientific “certainties”, they ignore the uncertainties, a disservice to climate science.
Dr. Koonin should be acclaimed for a willingness to bring back the discussion and study of global warming to the scientific method. Unfortunately, this subject has been so politicized by the Left to promote an agenda of wealth redistribution; it would not be surprising to see Koonin attacked by Progressives who fear a real scientific discussion on this important subject. After all, Koonin is a heretic when it comes to the new religion of global warming.
Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: Climate Change, Global Warming, Koonin, Science | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 21, 2014
Reason.com published some incredible and scary figures relating to student debt including:
- In-state tuition has increased in some states from about $3k annually in 1991 to over $10k last year.
- Private college tuition in 1983 cost about $18.5K, but by 2013 climbed to about $41K annually.
- Between 2008 and 2013 the average tuition/fees at public four-year colleges/universities increased by 19% above the rate of inflation during that five-year period. During the same period, private colleges/universities increased by 14%, which was larger than the 9% increase for the previous five years.
The trend is unsustainable and has led to significant damage to younger Americans. For example, between 2004 and 2013 there is been a 400% increase in student loan debts to $1 trillion. During this same period the New York Times reports that there has been an 8% decrease in home ownership among 25-34-year-olds.
The $1 trillion educational debt saddled on younger Americans will be a drain on overall economic growth for years to come. This demographic is generally a significant consumer, but will need to pay off debt rather than spend on other goods and services.
The educational debt bomb is a direct result of governmental intervention in higher education. The government subsidized and guaranteed student loans irrespective of ability or willingness of individuals to repay them. In addition, the easy loan policies removed incentive to students to study fields that would result in better paying jobs.
As for the educational industry, it has reaped significant benefit from governmental largess. In addition, this industry’s access to an ever increasing student base that was created by the governmental loan programs allowed the industry to become bloated and inefficient and has been a direct cause of the cost of education increasing more significantly than the inflation rate.
Irrespective of past policy failures, President Obama recommends doubling down on these programs. The President’s proposals include capping student debt repayment at 10% of their monthly income, yet another disincentive to earn more. Not only will this further increase borrowing by this demographic and result in still higher education costs, but it will also cost US taxpayers approximately $11 billion according to Politico. What a perfect calamity. When will they ever learn?
Posted in Education | Tagged: Debt, Education, Increase, Tuition | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 18, 2014
Comedy writer Michael Loftus has done a shtick on the global warming industry included in the video below. Not only does Loftus appropriately question the science behind global warming, climate change, or whatever it’s currently referred to, but also the motivations behind those promoting it. As he correctly points out, Al Gore and other global warming high priests have become wealthy promoting the scare and the industries they have invested that create goods and services to save the world from the suppose it calamity.
Posted in Global Warming | Tagged: global-warming industry, Gore, Loftus | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 17, 2014
The Wall Street Journal issued a disturbing report that President Barack Obama will “exert a high degree of personal control over the campaign” for any US air strike within Syrian territory. The Journal reported that this direct authority is attempt limit the expansion of United States involvement with the military campaign in Syria.
It is the height of gall and audacity for a president with no military experience to believe that he has the knowledge to properly determine targets for air strikes. The last president to exert such control was Lyndon Johnson during the Vietnam War who attempted to limit US involvement to certain thresholds. The results were disastrous with not only the war dragging on for years with many additional American deaths, but with the ultimate victory by the North Vietnamese.
Any military action on foreign soil is risky and costly. It should only be taken if America or Americans are directly at risk by inaction. However, once the decision is made to go to war it should first be approved by Congress, as required under the U.S. Constitution. In addition it should be executed with the utmost aggression to ensure victory as quickly as possible and the least amount of American casualties. It seems evident that this President is not up to the task.
Posted in President Obama, Syria | Tagged: airstrikes, Control, Obama, Syria | Leave a Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 15, 2014
The first decade of this new century brought pronounced problems, both internationally and domestically, for the United States. On the international front we had the 9/11 attacks, North Korean atomic bomb tests, Iran marching towards nuclear weapons, and more recently what started as the Arab Spring has evolved into civil wars in Syria and Iraq and still strengthening of radical Islam.
Domestically, the various bubbles of the 1990s turned into an economic meltdown of 2008. That has been followed by the most anemic recovery since the Great Depression. In both the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections, Liberals blamed Republicans and right of center policies for these difficulties. That dog no longer hunts.
At the end of six years of an ultra-Leftist agenda promoted by Barack Obama, the challenges facing the United States is even greater on the international front and remain challenging domestically. With these realities have the blame game no longer no longer works for President Obama. Instead, it has shown the fallacies of Progressive and interventionist policies of not only the current administration, but also similar policies of preceding presidents.
Some on the Left are beginning to question the policies of Barack Obama and the politically correct agenda promoted by Progressives. Bill Maher is unapologetic Leftist and atheist. During a recent interview with PBS’s Charlie Rose, Rose attempted to spew the politically correct proposition that Islam is currently no more violent than other religions. Maher would have none of this and took Rose to task , as included the video below.
Just as shocking, ultra-Leftist Michael Moore took Obama to task for his lack of accomplishments. While it is likely that Moore wants Obama to implement even more Leftist/socialist policies, it is apparent that he questions Obama’s executive skills.
The fact that Bill Maher and Michael Moore are dissing this liberal president and/or the political correctness mantra of today is an indicator that there is political change coming at the upcoming midterm elections. However, while the Republicans are likely to take control the Senate they have shown the inability to lead or create cohesive policies. The Country is devoid of true leadership in either political party.
Posted in President Obama | Tagged: Christianity, Islam, maher, Moore, Obama, Rose | 1 Comment »
Posted by Steve Markowitz on September 12, 2014
Winston Churchill once famously said: “If you’re not a liberal at twenty you have no heart, if you’re not a conservative at forty you have no brain.” It is not surprising that with age comes experience and with experience comes reality.
But age is not the only force at work in the morphing liberals into conservatives. At times the real world offers horrific human experiences that force the change irrespective of age. Such was 9/11, we attacks that left over 3,000 innocent Americans dead at the hands of Islamic militants. Since then the tide of radical Islam has spread throughout the Middle East, North Africa and even parts of Asia.
Comedian and author, Evan Savet, was one liberal whose conversion to conservatism was a direct result of the 9/11 attacks. His brief story included in the video below is compelling.
Posted in Liberals | Tagged: 9/11, Conservative, conversion, Evan-Savet, Liberal, Savet | Leave a Comment »