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US Congressman Alcee Hastings Asked for a Raise

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 22, 2015

Currently, United States Congressmen receive a salary of $174,000 per year.  In addition, their offices receive an expense budget of $1 million annually.  However, that’s not enough for at least one congressman, Alcee Hastings, Democrat from Illinois who earlier this week said:

“We are entering our seventh year without a pay raise.  Now I think we’ve proven to the American people that we are responsible.  And I know that it has impacted me personally.

Hastings takes delusional Washington behavior to the next level.  Forgetting for a moment that Congressmen, supposed servants of the people make nearly three times that of average Americans, does Hastings actually believe that the politicians have “proven to the American people that we are responsible”?

Posted in Politics | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

North Korean Nukes Demonstrate Fallacy of Obama’s Iran Strategy

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 21, 2015

The advancement of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities demonstrates the likely outcome of negotiations with any rogue nation determined to obtain nuclear weapons.

In December 1985 North Korea signed the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Treaty (NPT).  That treaty required signatories to submit to International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) by 1992 reports on their nuclear activity.  The IAEA found North Korea out of compliance, which resulted in it withdrawal from NPT the following year.

Korean NukeIn 1993 North Korea proposed direct negotiations with the United States on the nuclear issue, which the Clinton Administration accepted.  Negotiations led to the US accepting some North Korean demands with North Korea accepting limited IAEA inspections.  In 1994 North Korea and the United States signed the Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s RepublicThis agreement supposedly eliminated weapons grade fuel from North Korea’s power plant, replacing it with the harder to weaponize light water reactors.  This agreement remained in place for a few years during which North Korea did some sable rattling, which was quieted down by the United States offering financial and agricultural assistance.

By 2003 the Agreed Framework between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic broke down.  In 2006 North Korea tested its first nuclear bomb followed by other tests.

This week CNN reported that North Korea claimed significant advances in its nuclear weapons including the creation of miniaturized warheads, improved missile accuracy and firing a rocket capable of carrying nuclear warheads from a submarine.  These are ominous developments, especially the capability of producing smaller weapons that can be more easily sold to terrorists or other rogue nations.

The history of the negotiations and North Korea then becoming a nuclear nation after breaching the agreements made should surprise no one except the elitists in the State Department.  A country determined to obtain nuclear weapons cannot be stopped through negotiations.  The power and prestige these rouge nations gain by entering the nuclear club is perhaps the most valuable asset they can seek. Given this reality, negotiations are a charade.  Those who believe that the current negotiations with Iran can lead to any more successful results have a juvenile understanding of history and the drive for sovereign power.

Posted in Nuclear Weapons | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Government Again Pushing Mortgages to Those Who Cannot Afford Them

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 18, 2015

In 2008 the world economies encountered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.  In a supposedly effort to repair the economies, governments transformed them through huge stimulus spending, low interest rate policies and bailouts.  These interventions have contributed to the ongoing weakness in economic recovery since.

The main cause of the 2008 meltdown was the subprime mortgage lending practices that led to loans being hustled to millions who could not afford to pay them back.  When the housing market slowed leading to depreciated housing values, homeowners could no longer refinance, further eroding housing demand that led to many homeowners owing more on the homes than they were worth.  Many walked away from the loans leading to the meltdown, putting at risk nearly most of the world’s largest financial institutions.

Given 2008 is only eight years ago, logic would dictate that we learned a lesson about imprudent financial behavior, at least for a generation.  However, once governments intervene, logic and economic reality take a backseat.  In fact, we are currently traveling down the same road, again fermented by governmental policies.

News.investors.com reported that the US government is again cajoling financial institutions to give mortgages to those that cannot afford them.  Specifically, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau warned (threatened) lenders that they would be investigated for discriminatory practices if they do not count government assistance payments to lower income individuals as real income.  In announcing this policy, Bureau Director Richard Cordray used the following incredible logic:

The bureau has become aware of one or more institutions excluding or refusing to consider income derived from the Section 8 HCV Homeownership Program during mortgage loan application and underwriting processes.”  …. “Consumers should not be put at a disadvantage just because they receive public assistance.”

So, using the government’s logic, individuals who need governmental payment assistance are worthy of obtaining mortgages.

Once again politicians and bureaucrats are manipulating economic practices and reality in order to further social goals.  Prudent financial practices not only protect financial institutions, but also borrowers.  Instead, the government is placing people in mortgages they are unlikely to be able to repay.  In addition, this policy leads to bad investments decisions for some consumers when housing prices depreciated in the future.  If this occurs on a large enough scale, it will create another housing bubble and melt down mirroring that which occurred in 2008.

There is a flaw in the premise used by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Inherent in this policy is the view that lending institutions discriminate on people based on noneconomic factors, which is economic lunacy.  Those in the mortgage industry make money offering mortgages.  The more they write the higher the profits, assuming that the mortgages are prudent.  Forcing lenders to make imprudent mortgages will improve the short-term profitability of the mortgage industry, but ultimately hurt those that invest in buying these assets on the secondary market; i.e. pension funds, etc.   That is precisely what in the meltdown of 2008.

Posted in Debt, Mortgages | Tagged: , , , | 1 Comment »

Liberals Blaming the Victim

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 17, 2015

Liberals often use victimhood as a centerpiece for their philosophies and policies.  Whether it be based on one’s sex, skin color or sexual orientation, Liberals find victims.  There are exceptions to Liberals focus on victims if it relates to political correctness with the contemporary main benefactor of that anomaly being Radical Islam.

On Friday unabashed Liberal, Bill Maher, took Liberals to task for giving Radical Islam a pass during an interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a former follower of Islam who has become a champion of women’s rights.  When asked by Maher about the Left’s very on liberal approach to Radical Islam, Ali said: “I say to them that the cancer of Islamic extremism is an assault on liberalism, on liberal ideas.

The video below should be shown on every college campus.  However, that would open up the colleges to intellectual debate, which is no longer tolerated by the Left.

Posted in Radical Islam | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Sen. Chuck Schumer Falsely Blames Amtrak Crash on Funding

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 15, 2015

The Amtrak train crash earlier this week resulted in the death of eight and dozens of seriously injured.  The victims were not even buried before this tragedy became a political tool championed by Democrats to increase governmental spending.

The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) quickly concluded that the train crash occurred due to operator error.  The train was traveling over 100 mph, twice the safe speed at that point in the track.  While operator error was the cause, Democrats immediately began placing blame on Republicans who supposedly refused to supply funding to Amtrak to install the safety equipment that could have avoided the accident.

SchulmerSenator Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, stated:

“Speaker Boehner’s comments are patently false.  Experts have made clear that Positive Train Control could have prevented the tragedy in Philadelphia.  It is simply a fact that insufficient funding for Amtrak has delayed the installation of PTC, and to deny a connection between the accident and underfunding Amtrak is to deny reality.”

While this Blog is no fan of Republican Speaker of the House Boehner, in this case it is Schumer who is “patently false” and “denying reality”.  Here are the facts reported by the New York Times:

  • In 2008, seven years ago, Congress mandated installation of Positive Train Control system in trains, the system mentioned by Schumer.
  • The Amtrak train involved in the crashed was already equipped with Positive Train Control.
  • The main reasons Positive Train Control in the Amtrak train was not operational were due to technical hurdles and bureaucratic bungling.
  • Amtrak took four years to obtain the wireless frequencies needed for the Positive Train Control system, which were finally approved by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in March, 2015.

This tragedy and the way Democrats attempt to use it to further their political agenda is telling at various levels.  First, it demonstrates that Schumer is either ignorant, a liar or both.  It further demonstrates the incompetence of government to implement its own regulations.

Liberals offer a basic solution to any societal problem; throw money at it.  Since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal, and more specifically since Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society, the United States has gone through perhaps the most expensive social reengineering experiment in history.  The results are in and they show failure.  A prime example is the War on Poverty initiated by Lyndon Johnson.  After spending trillions on this “war”, the poverty rate remains nearly unchanged in 50 years.  Then there is Nixon’s War on Drugs that has failed in its efforts to stem the flow of drugs to the United States, has resulted in the growth of cartels south of the border, and led to too many inner-city “capitalists” being imprisoned.  Examples are nearly endless.  But still Progressives call for more spending and more government.  That is indeed insanity.

Posted in Government Ineptness, Government Spendning | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Meaningless Unemployment Rate Drops to 5.4%

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 12, 2015

Last week the US Department of Labor released April’s unemployment figures that indicated the US economy added 223,000 jobs, decreasing the unemployment rate a notch to 5.4%.  This would be good news if the Labor Department’s figures realistically represented the US employment situation.  Unfortunately, it does not.

The Labor Department’s unemployment figures only include Americans who indicate they are searching for employment.  Those that have dropped out of the workforce, for example due to an inability to find work, are not counted as unemployed.  This ludicrous accounting practice shows a low unemployment rate while at the same time the more meaningful labor market participation rate remains at multi-decade lows, according to the New York Times.

It is telling that while the Labor Department releases optimistic, yet unrealistic employment figures, the Federal Reserve leaves the benchmark interest rates at historic lows.  The Fed’s action indicates the irrelevance of the Labor Department’s figures.

Posted in Unemployment | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Former NAACP President Castigates Democrats on Poverty Issues

Posted by Steve Markowitz on May 4, 2015

Kweisi MfumeMSNBC commentator Chris Hayes interviewed former Maryland Congressman and past NAACP president Kweisi Mfume concerning recent events in Baltimore, Maryland.  As an unapologetic Leftist, Hayes proffered questions to Mfume in an veiled attempt to obtain the canned Progressive responses.  However, Mfume response also strongly condemned the Democrat Party for its past related inactions:

“I see where Harry Reid today, said he was directing his staff to come back with some ideas about what to do with this issue.  I’m trying to figure out where was that kind of thinking back, 7 years ago, when my party, the Democratic Party, controlled the White House, controlled the Senate, controlled the House of Representatives, and you could have gotten anything through because you controlled the vote. So Harry Reid?  Please, give me a break.”

While this Blog may differ as to problem resolution, we agree with Mfume as to a major source of the problem, poverty.  At the same time, it needs to be asked why with trillions spent on anti-poverty programs in the United States since the mid-1960s are the inner cities in the sad state they are today.  Also, since Democrats control nearly all major large cities’ governments, it is reasonable to ask why their policies have not improved the poverty situation in the cities.  Finally, it is reasonable to conclude that should we continue following the same failed policies, we should expect the same failed results.

Posted in Democrats | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Earth Day Highlights Environmentalists’ Flawed Logic

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 28, 2015

Last week’s Earth Day marked the 45th Anniversary of this high-holiest of days for environmentalists.  True-believers used the event to point to all of the damage that man’s existence has brought to Mother Erath.  To others, like this Blogger, it was also a time to reflect on the accuracy (or lack of) of the many dire claims made by Earth Dayers.

The federalist.com listed some grotesque examples of the failed alarmist predictions from environmentalists.  It shows a failed track record of the fear-mongers that included the following failed prophesies:

Global Cooling – In the mid 1970’s the fear was not Global Warming, but the imminent coming of the next Ice Age.  The environmental experts went further, blaming the global cooling on man-made pollution.  In their view, dust spewed into the atmosphere was blocking the sun and leading to the coming catastrophic cooling.  A 1970 Life Magazine bought into the alarmist stating: “by 1985 air pollution will have reduced the amount of sunlight reaching earth by one half.”  Alarmist mistake #1.

Overpopulation – Too many people has been the chant of many environmentalists.  To them the root cause of environmental havoc is the human race itself.  How narcissistic!  Throughout the 1970’s these folks claimed that the world’s population bomb would do us in.  The result; not only has worldwide population growth slowed, but in some countries populations are declining causing major problems for such countries as Japan and Russia.  Alarmist mistake #2.

Mass Starvation – It only follows that if too many people are the problem, mass starvation is soon to follow.  For this incorrect call, The Federalist referred to a claim made by Dr. Peter Gunter of North Texas State University in 1970 who stated in The Living Wilderness:

Demographers agree almost unanimously on the following grim timetable: by 1975 widespread famines will begin in India; these will spread by 1990 to include all of India, Pakistan, China and the Near East, Africa.  By the year 2000, or conceivably sooner, South and Central America will exist under famine conditions ….  By the year 2000, thirty years from now, the entire world, with the exception of Western Europe, North America, and Australia, will be in famine.”

Like so many followers of junk science, the biased scientists form conclusions based on too few variables.  In this case Gunter ignored the possibility (probability) that agricultural science would advance with the population.  In fact, in advance much quicker.  Alarmist mistake #3.

Resource Depletion – The depletion of natural resources has been a cry of environmentalists since long before the first oil crisis of the mid-1970s.  There is no better example of the fallacy of their predictions than that of energy resources.  President Jimmy Carter during the late 1970s predicted that the United States would run out of natural gas within a decade.  It is hard to imagine how he and other resource depletion alarmists could have gotten it so wrong.  In fact, the world is now awash in oil and natural gas with oversupply that is significantly depressed prices.  Alarmist mistake #4.

Mass Extinction – A major extinction event of lifeforms on the planet has been another of the environmental alarmists rallying calls.

The Smithsonian Institute’s Dr. S. Dillon Ripley predicted in 1970 that approximately 75% of all animal species then living on earth would be extinct in less than three decades.  That alarmist claim was not only fallacious, but as The Federalists points out, would have been an extinction event not seen since the dinosaurs died off over 65 million years ago.  In 45 years claims for mass extinctions have died off with instead, environmentalists now attempting to protect the Delta Smelt in California, instead of using the scarce water resources for states residents.  Alarmist mistake #5.

Renewable Energy – Since the oil crisis of the 1970s, environmentalists have taken advantage of the supposed shortage of energy resources to promote pet projects relating to alternative of dollars energy.  Tens of billions have been spent on governmental funding for research on all sorts of projects.  The result, a mere 12% of the Country’s electricity comes from alternative fuel sources and large corporations have made huge profits on the crony capitalism.  Alarmist mistake #6.

Global Warming – Man-made climate change is again the leading rallying cry of alarmists.  While the jury is still out on this one, the warming trend has not gone on at the rate predicted by all of the major models promoted by the alarmists.  In fact, it is generally agreed that the Earth’s temperature rise stopped in 1998.  Alarmist mistake #6.5.

There are other environmental-type calls made by the alarmists in the past 45 years that have proven way off base.  This includes acid rain, ozone depletion above the Arctic, Swine Flu, Bird Flu, SARs, etc.  If one opens up the list to other “scientific” miss-calls, such as the Missile Gap with the Soviet Union during the 1950s and the Y2K event, the rate of false prophecies becomes rather comical.  The sheer number of mistakes bring in the question their root cause.  Poor intellect might be comical.  However, it is just as likely that the search for profits and personal gain played a role in these botched predictions.  There is little comical about these motivations.

Posted in Environmentalists | Leave a Comment »

Gun Carrying Good Samaritan Saves Lives in Chicago

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 21, 2015

The news media cannot wait to publicize gun stories that fit their anti-Second Amendment narrative.  At the same time the media rarely publishes stories that might promote the benefits to society of gun rights.  Such was the case this week with an incident in Chicago, Illinois that had a happy ending.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Everardo Custodio began firing into a crowd of people in Logan Square.  Upon seeing this this, an Uber driver with a license and permit to carry a concealed weapon jumped into action, shooting and wounding Custodio.  The Good Samaritan will not be prosecuted, according to local authorities.  It is evident had the Good Samaritan not been armed, innocent people would have been wounded or killed.

Those who would impose strict gun controls on Americans will not discuss the benefits of honest citizens being armed.  In addition, they ignore the discussion of the significant drop in crime with increasing gun-carry permits.  The facts, however, are not arguable

Illinois started granting concealed carry permits in 2015 with over 68,000 issued.  Since then, robberies in Chicago have declined 20%, burglary and motor vehicle thefts are down over 20%, and homicide rates have declined to a 56 year low, according to The Washington Times.  Nationally, carry permits have increased from 4.5 million to 11.1 million in the past seven years.  During this same period, homicide and other violent crimes have decreased by 22%.

Those who are against gun ownership rights would argue that the cause and effect of the decreasing crime rates have not scientifically been correlated to the increased gun permits.  While technically correct, it is a thin argument.  Certainly the significant increase of gun carrying honest citizens has not resulted in increased gun violence, a cornerstone of the anti-gun ownership argument.

Posted in Gun Control | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Those Who can’t Speak English in Puerto Rico May Qualify for Social Security Disability

Posted by Steve Markowitz on April 14, 2015

We have to thank Liz for sending this grotesque example of government gone wild.

According to the washingtonpost.com the Social Security office may consider you disabled if you can’t speak English, which could make it more difficult to obtain a job.  Our grandparents who came to this Country from non-English speaking countries would be aghast and insulted by such a perverse use of the handout logic.

But it gets worse.  Can’t speak English in Puerto Rico, a territory that includes mainly Spanish speaking residence and you still might qualify for Social Security disability benefits.  According to the Post, between 2011 and 2014, 218 local Spanish speaking residents were granted Social Security disability benefits for their weakness in English.  Adding insult to injury, even skilled professionals in Puerto Rico can apply for the benefit.

This author wonders whether us short folks are deserving of some special assistance for our “disability”.  Think of all of professional sports opportunities we have been locked out of for this disability!

Posted in Government Handouts, Government Ineptness | Tagged: , , , , , , | 2 Comments »


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