November 26, 2014
SEE MORE IN ARCHIVES
ANOTHER REAL NEWS EDITION:
NEW REAL NEWS EDITION:
(A DAY AT THE RACES)
NEW MARCH REAL NEWS EDITION
SEE ALSO, NEW WINTER
PLAYING CATCH UP
The Republicans have a problem with the election results. Winning the House and Senate was an important goal that was achieved against an increasingly unpopular President at the midterm mark. But calls that it is a mandate is extreme. For the first time in numbers, many traditional Democrats voted for a third party candidate instead of their own incumbent. Usually, it it the GOP is hurt by Libertarian candidates on the ballot, which takes away two to five percent of the gross vote. It shows that mainstream members of both parties are now seeking another choice, and a third party may that future choice. In addition, many traditional Democratic strongholds such as the Black vote stayed at home. The images from election night showed more minority gains by Blacks, Hispanics and Women on Republican podiums. Perhaps incumbency and Pavlovian voting habits began to really change this year.
ARE YOU READY?
The professional football season has begun, and also the NFL will start shortly.
College football may be in its swansong if unionization and employment status is afforded to student athletes. By all calcuations, universities despite large television deals, can not afford to pay the staggering new costs, benefits, insurance and worker's compensation expenses for all its players. Colleges would lose their amateur status; they would be professional leagues in all sense of the word.
The NFL cannot be happy. It enjoyed a free minor league system in the college game. Now, if colleges have to abandon their programs, the NFL might have to set up their own minor leagues like in baseball. NFL owners don't like to spend more on players than they have to under collective bargaining. And the 32 NFL teams would not field very many minor league clubs as compared to the 260 major college programs. The irony is that the athlete who wants to be paid may not have any opportunities if the college system falters and fails.
THE WORLD IS ON FIRE
Many seniors during their last semester of high school check out of school. They may show up for class, but academics is the last thing on their minds. Their time is up. No more responsibilities. Endless summer is coming soon.
Well, when several political commentators chorus the opinion that President Obama has checked out of his presidency that is a bad sign for everyone. Afghanistan is still a political mess. Iraq is blowing up with a three party civil war. Iran is still messing with nuclear devices. The Gaza has turned into a bloody war zone. Ukraine just got global with the missile taking down a commercial airliner, with the international blame pointing to new imperialist, Vlad Putin in Russia.
In the midst of the world stage chaos, the President goes to Texas to fundraise, but not address the massive illegal alien border rush of children; he goes shoots some pool with regular folk; he cuts to the front of the line at a BBQ joint; he fundraises some more; he barely talks to a college student whose parents have been out of work for years; and then he plans his summer vacation.
The sad truth is what did you really expect. His foreign policy has been not to get involved; let other people handle the situation; and make a speech stating that the problem is solved. Fringe movements have been energized by the U.S. lack of interest in international affairs. There is a bloody rise of zealot nationalism. And with the global economy weak and teetering on another financial crisis, people will continue to fight in their streets because they have nothing better to do. Even some of the President's supporters have noticed that Obama has not been very presidential the last few weeks. He does not care if he is an early lame duck president.
FOURTH OF JULY
In the cycle of long weekends, July 4th hits on a Friday which is perfect summer retreat for most Americans. It gives them the chance to be free from their daily routines such as work, daily family driving, etc. But on this weekend, people should at least pause once to reflect on the liberties we have today, their cost, and their future. Everyone needs to salute Miss Liberty, or her modern equivalent.
May 26, 2014
In a hissy-fit, Cubs ownership laid down the gauntlet to go to war. Tom Ricketts, citing his inability to get the rooftop owners to change their revenue sharing deal which runs through 2023, has decided to abandon last year's controversial Wrigley development plans and re-submit a new one with everything he wants.
Objective observers remarked last year that Ricketts got everything he wanted from the city. He got two large signs in the bleachers; he got an overzoned development to be built across the street approved without any real review; and he got a Times Square ugly advertising plaza and more commercial (sports bar) space.
Now, Ricketts wants to expand the stadium even more . . . than taking parts of public streets for free. He wants more seats and now seven (7) outfield signs. He is in the middle of promoting Wrigley Field an iconic landmark in order to sell birthday tickets in 2014 while at the same time proposing to destroy the baseball cathedral charm of the ball park. The only reason people still come to Wrigley Field is that is a throw back in baseball history, a Field of Dreams from past generations. Instead of restoring the facility, Ricketts wants to impose his revenue vision for his property. READ MORE
SPRING IS RISING
As the temperatures outside the frozen Midwest begin to rise in the micro-spring, the focus of the week is on various religious holidays. America was colonized on the basis of freedom of religion. The Protestants, Quakers, Catholics and other Christians fled Europe to untamed North America in order to practice their beliefs and rituals. That fundamental principle of the New World has been eroded away by secular commercial exploitation and political social engineers who want to regulate how you can practice your religion. The Supreme Court will decide this year the Hobby Lobby Obamacare case, where a company owned by a religious family, objects to the mandate that it provide insurance coverage for contraception and abortions, which is against their religious principles. Our founding fathers would have never imagined that their federal government would even have a position on individual religious beliefs, let alone the courts ruling on a person's religious practices. It is another example to many of the snowballing effect of micro-managing bureaucrats in the new era of government dependence for one's basic needs.
The Easter Bunny died for your chocolates.
WINTER IS A BEAR
It was more than 30 degrees warmer in Sochi, Russia than in Chicago. Sochi, the Olympic venue, hit nearly 60 degrees which allowed spectators and athletes to shed their parkas.
The Olympics started off badly for the host country. After spending an alleged $8 to $51 billion (there is no accounting for the final figures), the media arrived to find unbuilt hotels, debris fields and packs of wild dogs. The place would have been a tourist mecca in a war zone. The water was undrinkable to untouchable, there were no light bulbs, and hollow doors would collapse if leaned on. For the amount of money spent to get the games up to speed, it seems most of it was corruptly wasted by crony politics and mismanagement. But the Russian people do not complain because it was not their direct tax dollars being funneled down the drain (if the Sochi toilets actually worked), but from the government's oil revenues and royalities which gives Putin a massive slush fund for his pet projects like these Olympics. As universal are the games, so is the global disfunction of governments in large public projects.
KERRY ON WAYWARD SONS
As bad as President Obama's nationalized health care is going, historians may come to see that his foreign policy was much worse.
On a late Saturday night, so there can be little reaction on the Sunday talk shows, the United States and Iran came to terms on a nuclear disarmament agreement. The problem is that it does the exact opposite of what the American diplomats are telling the public.
Iran has been pushing forward to create nuclear material to make weapons of mass destruction. The current nuclear superpowers have decided amongst themselves to stop the technology from falling into any other country's hands. Especially, those countries run by insane political or religious idealists.
Iran's leadership is content on finding a villain for their country's economic, social and world view. Throughout history, Arabs have chosen the Jewish people as that target of their bile. The history of the Middle East is one, long, continuous conquest and revenge war that permeates cultures and generations. Some believe many of these Middle Eastern countries have nothing better to do than kill each other.
It is ironic that Western nations have educated workers and sold the critical parts to these would be nuclear powers. It is these same nations, including the United States, that want to put the atomic genie back into the bottle. It is too late for that. Iran will take this pact and rush to complete its nuclear program.
Obama's foreign policy has been a mess since his first term. His entire policy for all situations is this: he wants everyone to like him. That is not a foreign policy but a personality flaw. But as a result, the U.S. has no standing or power to convince anyone to do anything. He gives a speech, then tells someone else to go fix the problem. This wishy-washy approach to the Middle East has left Israel isolated on a politicial island, as Obama continually placated Libya, Syria, Egypt, and now Iran.
We are now closer to nuclear conflict than ever in the past decade. This new agreement with Iran does nothing to stop Iran from building nuclear weapons. In pure Congressional b.s., Secretary of State Kerry has agreed to reduce the growth of Iran's nuclear program. This is the lie that U.S. politicians tell their voters when tell them they voted to cut spending, but the actual bill only cuts the growth of federal spending. This word spin will have no effect on Israel, who is now almost baited by the world to go it alone to disarm Iran by force. Isreal becomes the bad guy, the fall guy, the guy to get his hands dirty cleaning up the mess while Obama and his cronies go off to write their glowing autobiographies.
HOOKED ON ILLUSION
The house of cards that is the nationalized health insurance exchanges is collapsing under its own weight of government incompetency. It was only a matter of time. The entire program, illogically endorsed by being a taxation scheme, was never intended to solve the issue of high costs of American medical services or the cost of private insurance premiums. It was all about federalization of a purely state regulated industry: insurance. All Obamacare did was put unlicensed, untrained and unprepared navigators in place of state licensed independent insurance agents whose business is to find the best plan for their customers. The illusion about health care is that if one does not have insurance, one cannot get medical attention. That is false. The illusion also was that 11 million people could not afford health insurance premiums. That is also a misstatement based upon the fact that vast majority of the people without health care insurance, especially the young, don't want it - - - and they don't care to pay for it. The promise that current plans would not be affected was a total lie. More than 10 million currently enrolled insureds have been notified that they will lose coverage by the end of the year. Others have found their current plan premiums will increase 50 to 150 percent. Employers have been firing full time workers to get under the level where they must offer expensive insurance plans or pay a penalty. The average small businessman now finds that the cost of paying for a group plan is equivalent of having a full time ghost partner sucking out a huge salary for no productive work. The ranks of the part time work force has skyrocketed as a result; and those newly displaced workers are mad that they lost full time wages because of sorry, failed government entitlement program gone amuck.
Both Republicans and Democrats are scrambling to find blame and scapegoats for the disaster that is Obamacare. They blame the White House, the HEW Secretary, the contractors and consultants who were paid more than $600 million for a crashed web site, but not themselves for creating the problem in the first place. The small bump in the road is a nuclear bomb crate across the American economic landscape. People are losing their jobs, they are losing their current insurance, they are losing money to pay for existing coverages and they are mad that their elected officials continue to refuse to listen to their concerns. The deaf ears in Washington were so plugged up with stupidity that many Congressmen asked how much it would cost to fix the problem - - - which makes no sense if the nation has already paid in advance for a functioning system. That is how things operate in the vacuum of politics: officials merely throw money at issues thinking that will solve all ills. The crime is all that money is the American people's, and it is in very short supply. Deficit spending has put the cost of basic food, clothing and shelter accelerating up while the government statistics continue to tout there is no inflation. Washington's days of denial may be coming to an end. With the gross mistreatment of the individual worker, who still is not getting a mandate waiver that officials have given to friends, corporate cronies, unions and themselves, is at the personal financial breaking point. The illusion can only be shattered at the ballot box.
Congress' approval rating dipped to a new low of five (5) percent during the final stages of the current debt-spending-budget crisis. Obama's popularity has also taken a big hit for his lack of leadership or understanding of the situation. The American public is fed up with their elected officials, who instead of solving problems, punt them down the road.
The financial trickery that kept a technical default happening was that the Treasury stopped paying more than $300 billion worth of federal bills. States, like Illinois, having been doing this for years once the government runs out of cash. It stops paying its vendors. In some Medicaid strapped states, vendors like doctors and health care suppliers don't get paid for years. The government solution is to borrow more money to pay the interest of on previously borrowed money used to pay daily operating expenses. That is no sane way to run a business or a household budget. But government officials have convinced themselves (stupidly) that debt is an asset and not an obligation that needs to be paid back.
The obstinant fools that are running this sad circus are political freaks like Pumpkin Face Boehner and Diaper Face Harry Reid.
The President truly thinks that the Republicans got what was coming to them, a bitter political defeat that Democrats hope will get them back the House of Representatives. The President refused to compromise on anything; he wanted compromise to be the Republicans caving in to his position. It took two moderate Senators, one who got a $3 billion earmark for his state, to find a compromise. In the middle of a budget and debt crisis, opportunists took time to enrich their home states. It is a wonderful litmus test of the out-of-whack institutionalized corruption of the American political system. No one wants to take the high road because pigs like to wallow in their urine soaked mud ditches.
The United States federal debt is now 107 percent of its annual gross domestic product. It now raced past $17 trillion. For those who continue to compare the U.S. debt spiral to Greece, the Greeks defaulted when their debt ratio hit 135 percent of its GDP. Portugal hit the skids when its debt ratio hit 120 percent of GDP. Spain crapped out at only 110 percent of GDP. On a balance sheet, the U.S. is no better off than Italy.
What the last crisis showed us is that the machinery of government is broken. Non-essential services were cut, which was only 17 percent of the total federal work force. The cuts that were made during the shutdown oddly only affected services that taxpayers had a direct personal connection with: the national parks, or FHA or VA loan processing. It was a bitch slap to the taxpayers who were inconvenienced by the shutdown to get them mad and yell at their Congressmen to pass more spending to re-open everything. Discretionary spending is the vast majority of government spending. We learned on a piece meal basis that states can run and fund federal national parks, so why don't we just let that happen? We learned that the federal government cannot fund, implement, beta test or launch the health insurance exchanges without wasting $600 million of taxpayer money it did not have on October 1st. The administrators of this failed program punted down their own accountability to the end of the year when the alleged bugs will be worked out.
The sad fact is that nothing will change. Washington is a bad vaudeville side show that is out of touch with the times. It's actors only crave the limelight. They don't realize they are bumbling keystone cops in a melodrama that can ruin many peoples' lives.
THE TOM-FOOLERY OF THE SHUTDOWN
The president has been the Lecturer in Chief for the past two weeks. He berates the House for not doing what he is telling them to do. He will not negotiate a spending bill or change any element of the floundering Obamacare program. The government shutdown hurts the Democrats more than the Republicans, even though the approval rating of Congress is only at 10 per cent. All sides in Washington are sel-centered egotists who get more pleasure of creating political crisis after political crisis so people have to come to them to kiss their procedural rings.
Both sides of the political aisle view the Shutdown as a intoxicating siren. It puts more perceived power over the average citizen.
The United States government is in serious trouble but it is run by insincere showmen and show women. As the U.S. runs toward having 50 per cent of the population being unemployed, on public assistance and on social security/pensions, with a nation that has a national debt more than a full year's gross domestic product, America is turning into the fiscally bankrupt nation of Greece. An editorial cartoon this week by Michael Ramirez showed a housewife sitting at her kitchen table. The table is filled with stacks of unpaid bills. She laments that they have been living beyond their income, they have household debts more than their annual income, and that they have run out of money. Across from the housewife is Obama, who remarks the solution is that their credit card limit needs to be increased (more debt). More government debt to pay operating expenses is financial insanity, but both federal and state governments have become addicted to the bond market to bury the hard budget decisions. Elected officials are given a public trust to safeguard the nation and its treasury. But the free spending, unaccountable and debt addicted officials have corrupted the system so badly that everyone seeks devine intervention (i.e. money) from Washington D.C. in order to survive. This is not a republic, but a monetary dictatorship ruled by a ruling class of dunce kings. If the government's business model was done in the private sector, a financial trustee would be put in jail and his assets liquidated to pay damages for his breach of fiduciary duties. But those private sector duties have no place in public policy, according to elected officials.
THE PAGEANTRY OF THE FOLLIES OF FOREIGN POLICY
In the worst mumbling mish-mash in modern foreign policy, the President of the United States and his Secretary of State jumped into a positional compost heap to beam that was their goal from the very beginning. Obama wanted to punish the Syrian government for using chemical weapons. Obama's plan was to do isolated missle strikes, but then tempered his rhetoric that the U.S. would not commit troops. It became a more academic exercise to pat his hawkish shoulder on the back. Secretary of State Kerry marched the missiles as the only option. He said he needed Congressional approval. But when the House would not vote for the plan, Kerry switched to say the president had authority to do without any approvals. This administration has little regard to the Constitution when it comes to administration policy, both foreign or domestic. Without a clear message or mandate from the public, the U.S. appears an old toothless man moaning about world affairs.
Obama ran as a pacifist liberal. Once in office, he kept most of Bush's military policies in Afghanistan, Iraq and Gitmo. It raised the ire of his hard line peers. Once Bin Laden was eliminated, Obama must have believed he was a commander - - - and as such, in his pre-written legacy, had to continue his world view of personal militarism. Obama's call to arms fell on deaf ears with American allies. It was contradictory messages from Libya, Egypt to Syria.
Most Americans do not realize that the U.S. is currently exporting a growing surplus of refined gasoline. The U.S. does not import Syrian oil. There is no pressing or vital U.S. interest in the Syrian civil war, except for the stability of the region. But the Obama foreign policy of appeasement and not taking sides has emboldened radical Islamists to create more instability in the region.
It has been further compromised by Putin's power play. The Russian leader out-flanked Obama and Kerry by quickly creating a non-military solution to the chemical weapons issue. Putin's solution was to have Assad give up his chem weapons for U.N. destruction. Syria quickly agreed (which should have raised red flags to the general media, but it did not.)
Obama accepted the Putin solution, but Obama failed to realize the ramifications of this plan. Russia continues to sell military weapons to various factions in the Middle East. Putin was protecting his interests arming anyone in these conflict zones. The more conflict in the Middle East also pumps up his Russian oil reserves as a safer and more stable source for petroleum for Europe. This plan also does not push any regime change in Syria. The bloody civil war is actually preserved by the Putin Plan. Assad will remain in control of his large Army. He will continue to wipe out his enemies. The Putin Plan also puts Iran's influence in the region to a higher level because those radicals who want to destroy the status quo (in Israel or Saudi Arabia) believe the U.S. will not take any action against them.
THE START OF FALL
Baseball season officially ended for most sports fans today with the first kick-off of the NFL season. America is really, really, really into football (not the foreign soccer kind). In Chicago, the shopping centers are quiet, the roads nearly empty of weekend traffic and the people are huddled in front of the their television sets with their bucket of fried food, chips and beer.
Even though the temperature was a hot 80 degrees on a nice Indian summer day, most people would be indoors for the start of couch potato season. The fortunes of four television networks are at stake. The fortunes and moods of tens of millions of men are at stake with their home team loyalty augmented by their intense fantasy league addictions. The pulse of the nation would slow to the cholesterol induced halftime reports. The only exercise will be leaping off the sofa on a touchdown, or sprinting to the restroom during a time out.
America will be pre-occupied with its version of the Roman gladiators for entire winter. The Middle East could be set on fire but most people will only ask what is the point spread on Monday night's game.
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