Monday, October 31, 2011

Blowing Stuff Up

It's Monday morning again, which means it's time to hit the grind of work and school again.  On a completely unrelated note, here is a fun little video of scientists blowing stuff up for your Monday morning enjoyment:

Friday, October 28, 2011

Leno Explains Obama's New Mortgage Program

Obama's Loan Lie

In case you hadn't heard, Barack Obama has saved the college experience for millions of Americans.  Or something like that.  The New York Times provides the lapdog version:
President Obama will announce new programs Wednesday to lower monthly loan payments for some students graduating next year and thereafter and to let borrowers who have a mix of direct federal loans and loans under the old Federal Family Education Loan Program consolidate them at a slightly lower interest rate.

... the president would use his executive authority to expand the existing income-based repayment program with a “Pay as You Earn” option that would allow graduates to pay 10 percent of their discretionary income for 20 years and have the rest of their federal student loan debt forgiven. That plan would start next year. 
Seems pretty heroic, doesn't it?  As with everything from liberals, though, it's not exactly what it seems:
His most recent politically calculated gambit is to win back the youth vote by issuing an executive order that mandates “student loan relief.” That the proposal happens to cater to one of the anti-Wall Street protesters’ demands is purely coincidental.

In actuality, the plan is nothing new. The order merely fast-tracks an income-based student loan repayment program passed by Congress last year.

Here is how Obama introduced the plan to an audience of students at the University of Colorado this week:
When a big chunk of every paycheck goes toward student loans instead of being spent on other things, that’s not just tough for middle class families; it’s painful for the economy and it’s harmful to our recovery.
Sounds good. So how does the plan work? Basically, it envisions two fundamental changes to federally backed student loans. Neither of the changes will apply to private student loans that are not government-guaranteed.

The first change ... mainly affects loan holders who have already left school. ...

What do the savings translate to? Suppose hypothetically, that a qualifying borrower has $25,000 in student loan debt to be paid back over 120 months at an interest rate of 6.8%. Currently, that individual’s monthly payment is $287.70. Once the quarter percent is subtracted from the rate, which becomes 6.55%, the monthly payment shrinks to $284.50. The savings works out to $3.20 a month. Multiplied times the 6 million students estimated to qualify for loan consolidation and extrapolated over a year, those will savings return just over $23 million to the economy annually—not quite enough to rescue the recovery or register as even a dimple in the nation’s towering debt.
The second change is irrelevant because no one's ever heard of it.  Here's another take on the first 'big' change:
So how much will this consolidation save former students?  Two Starbucks lattes at best (via Instapundit):
 How much would an interest rate reduction of up to 0.5% affect payments?
For the average borrower, the impact would be small. In 2011, Bachelor’s degree recipients graduating with debt had an average balance of $27,204, according to an analysis done, based on Department of Education data. That average has ballooned from just $17,646 over the past decade.
Using these values as the high and low bounds of average student debt over the last ten years, the monthly savings for the average student loan borrower would be between $4.50 and $7.75 per month. Clearly, this isn’t going to save the economy. While borrowers with bigger balances would save more, this is the average. And even someone with $100,000 in loans would only cut their monthly payments by $28.50.
Obama’s biggest change will, on average, put $8 in the pockets of student-loan debtors.  In contrast, Obama’s Making Work Pay tax cut added about $8 per week to the paychecks of all workers in the US for more than two and a half years.  Did this lead to an economic renaissance?  Not exactly.
And here's the long-term danger:
The biggest problem we face in student loans is their escalating cost to US taxpayers and borrowers alike, especially now that Obama and the Democrats in the previous Congress nationalized the industry.  But the loan program itself has created that escalation by artificially producing demand that pushes prices up for tuition, which then increases the amounts needed for loans.  It’s a bubble with some similarities to the housing markets prior to 2008, where government intervention for a presumed social good (every child should go to college/every family should own a home) transforms into massive market distortion and unsupportable credit burdens relative to value.

We should focus ... on finding ways to move away from this unsustainable model rather than put taxpayers even more at risk for the credit crisis that will shortly arrive on our doorsteps.
It's yet another short-term fraud that will inevitably result in a long-term crisis.  Unfortunately for America, Obama's track record on stuff like that is abysmal.  Take, for example, the whole notion of his big stimulus to get the economy going.  It's a lie, they knew it was a lie, and now even Obama's people are admitting it.  This whole video clip is interesting, but the money part is the first half minute:


Thursday, October 27, 2011

More OWS Lunacy

The people conducting the Occupy Wall Street protest (as well as all the other offshoots in major cities around the country) are nuts.  Not only are they causing problems with increased crime -- including rape, sexual assault, theft, vandalism and wierd things -- but they're they're also defiling the American flag while they practice their Marxist brainwashingNazis and Communists are loving it.  So is our President***CONNECT-THE-DOTS-WARNING!!!***

But don't forget they're the patriotic ones, mm-kay?

As these morons continue to cause trouble and get bolder by the day, we're learning more and more about who they are.  For example, many of these loons are former ACORN people.  That's right, they're the very same folks who stole defrauded campaigned for Barack Obama back in 2008, and the same organization in which the President himself planted his community organizing roots.

Barack Obama, Democrats, and the media (sorry for the redundancy) are trying desperately to paint OWS with the same brush as the Tea Party, but beyond being large groups of people gathering to protest, they're really nothing alike.  Come to think of it, the OWS protests really aren't that big, so I guess it's a total strike out in terms of similarities after all.

Perhaps the most disturbing reality about these people is that they're getting violent.  In city after city after city around the country, they're not only causing problems by remaining gathered in public areas for weeks, but they're actively perpetrating violent crimes and forcing police crackdowns and mass arrests.  This is no surprise, really, because some of the leaders have actually publicly called for violence (and socialism).  It's also come to light that there are links to terrorism among the OWS leadership (I guess that explains the flag defiling).

In reality, what is being portrayed as 'the 99%' rising up against The Man is really little more than an excuse to cause mindless mayhem by the angry political Left.  Whereas the Tea Party has a simple theme in every gathering (smaller government, fiscal responsibility), the OWS nutcases can't even decide on any particular set of demands.  They do seem pretty much agreed on wanting everything to be handed to them for free simply because they want it, though:

As humorous as this idiot may be, the problem we face is that these people genuinely believe they're entitled to your money for their pleasure.  They're just protesting because they feel like you're not giving them what they should have.  They don't have any logical reason for the platitudes they're spouting, and once someone bothers to ask them some pointed questions, that becomes clear in a hurry.  Here's another terrific example, this time by an actual CEO:

Wow.  It would be hilarious if these people weren't dead serious.

For a great roundup on just a handful of the more common demands, check out this Heritage blog post

All of this is a great example of a purely politically generated, artificial fringe movement with no real leg to stand on, but if you really stop to think about what kind of massive disconnect these people have with reality to be doing and saying these things, you start to get a feel for the monumental task of restoring sanity to this nation.

We'd better get started... 

PS -'s spreading throughout the galaxy...!  Noooooooooo....!!!!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The End Is Near! (Too Bad...)

Heritage explains this monumental news:
To hear President Barack Obama describe the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, you’d think it was a long-anticipated political victory, the fruition of a promise he made when campaigning for the White House. But his announcement last week that American troops in Iraq will return by the end of the year is a result of a serious Obama Administration failure that will undermine U.S. security interests in the Middle East.
Speaking on Friday from the West Wing, President Obama wasted no time in reminding the American people that, “As a candidate for President, I pledged to bring the war in Iraq to a responsible end,” and that as commander in chief, he was making good on that promise in time for the holidays. What the President didn’t mention, though, was the story behind the headline–that the Administration tried and failed to negotiate with the Iraqi government to extend the U.S. troop presence there in order to ensure the country’s security and stability. The sticking point for the negotiations was immunity for U.S. troops in Iraq. Heritage’s James Phillips explains:
Up until Friday, the Obama Administration had insisted that negotiations were on track for extending the presence of a small residual force that U.S. and Iraqi military leaders agreed were necessary to support Iraqi operations in key areas such as counterterrorism, air support, intelligence gathering, logistics, and training. But Friday, in a hard-hitting article posted on The Cable blog, Josh Rogin reported that the Administration had bungled the negotiations.
Those negotiations stalled, Phillips writes, because Iraqi political leaders didn’t want to risk the political consequences of extending immunity for U.S. troops. And given the Obama Administration’s eagerness to withdraw from Iraq and unwillingness to confront Iran they didn’t want to put their political necks on the line. Now, as a result, U.S. security interests will suffer–bilateral U.S.–Iraqi cooperation in fighting al-Qaeda in Iraq and radical pro-Iranian Shia militias will be limited, and the ability to contain Iran will be weakened. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) criticized the Administration on Sunday, calling the withdrawal decisions “a serious mistake,” and faulted the White House for its failure to negotiate with the Iraqi government:
There was never really serious negotiations between the administration and the Iraqis. I believe we could have negotiated an agreement. And I’m very, very concerned about increased Iranian influence in Iraq.
In the wake of its decision, the Obama Administration is already anticipating the consequences of the power vacuum it has created. In a series of interviews on Sunday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Iran that even though troops will be withdrawn, the U.S. will still maintain a presence in the region. “Iran would be badly miscalculating if they did not look at the entire region and all of our presence in many countries in the region, both in bases, in training, with NATO allies, like Turkey.”
The reality, though, is that the United States has weakened its presence at a time when the region can least afford it. And withdrawing U.S. troops is a stronger statement than any words that can be broadcast on Sunday morning talk shows. Heritage’s James Carafano explains that the White House’s decision is the mark of an Administration in retreat–and why this retreat is incredibly dangerous:
With Syria in turmoil, Iran on the march, a more isolated Israel, and Turkey’s ever-more ambivalent policies, now is the worst time to see a diminished U.S. influence in ensuring continued progress in Iraq. A total troop pullout will leave Iraqi security forces much more vulnerable to terrorism, sectarian conflict, and Iranian meddling, and it will leave them much less capable of battling al-Qaeda in Iraq and pro-Iranian Shia militias.
No American wants to see U.S. troops stationed in the Middle East and placed in harm’s way longer than they have to be. But unfortunately, their premature withdrawal from Iraq could jeopardize the progress that so many American men and women fought and died for. While the President now has a new talking point for the campaign trail, it comes at the expense of national security interests. And it is the Obama Administration’s policies and bungled negotiations that are to blame.
As an experiment, just try to name one genuinely successful foreign policy maneuver or effort by the Obama administration.  One that actually advanced America's agenda, that is.  Bowing to dictators and misspelled reset buttons don't exactly count as successful.

Yes, it's great that troops are coming home, but wouldn't it be better to come home at the right time and for the right reasons?

Monday, October 24, 2011

So True It Hurts

Anyone who works in corporate America knows that Dilbert is the story of their life.  Pretty much every day is a good strip, but here are some of my absolute favorites from recent weeks.  Enjoy (and just try not to think about how damned real they are)...





Friday, October 21, 2011

Big O's Right Choices

There's no shortage of confidence in the White House these days:

In an exclusive interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper, Obama essentially said that, if he could redo the first few years of his presidency, he wouldn’t have made a single decision differently.

“I guarantee it’s going to be a close election [in 2012] because the economy is not where it wants to be and, even though I believe all the choices we’ve made have been the right ones, we’re still going through difficult circumstances,” the president said.
Wow.  Really?  You want to go there?

Guy Benson makes it a personal mission to illuminate a great number of those 'right' choices:

All the choices, Mr. President?  All of them?  What about...

The choice to appoint
multiple tax cheats to your cabinet, including your current Treasury Secretary?

The choice to keep insisting on closing the Guantanamo Bay detention facility, even though the public opposes this prospect -- which was repeatedly blocked by a Democratic Congress?

The choice to throw a lavish birthday party for yourself, replete with a barefoot Conga line through the White House, as the threat of a national credit downgrade cast a shadow over the country.

The choice to file a lawsuit against Arizona's law that authorizes state and local officials to help the federal government fulfill its woefully unfulfilled responsibilities -- and that your Attorney General admitted he'd never read, even as he publicly denounced it.

The choice to include two provisions -- 1099 reform and the CLASS Act -- in your unpopular healthcare bill that are so unaffordable and unworkable that your own administration has since abandoned them.

The choice of your Justice Department to file a lawsuit to overturn a small North Carolina town's democratically-enacted decision to eliminate party identifications from municipal election ballots, arguing that African-Americans need "D" and "R" labels to determine whom to support.

The choice to sell your failed $800 Billion "stimulus" package as a means to spur "shovel ready" projects -- projects you later joked weren't quite so shovel ready after all.

The choice to appoint a self-described "Communist" who signed a 9/11 Truther petition as your "Green Jobs Czar."

The choice to bow to union demands and cancel a successful inner-city school choice program, despite its soaring graduation rates, improved reading scores, cost effectiveness, and overwhelming parental satisfaction.

The choice to alienate our greatest ally -- Great Britain -- by rudely disposing of a Winston Churchill bust, bestowing the Queen with an iPod filled with your own speeches, giving the former Prime Minister a gift that literally did not work on his own soil, and signaling neutrality over the Falkland Islands.

The choice to authorize, or at least ignore, a federal program that permitted 2,000 guns to "walk" into the hands of Mexican drug cartels, by design, resulting in countless murders -- including a US border patrol agent.

The choice to violate multiple self-aggrandizing "transparency" pledges.

The choice to attempt to freeze out a legitimate news organization you viewed as inconveniently adversarial, a ploy that enraged the entire press corps.

The choice of your Justice Department to not pursue civil rights cases involving alleged minority offenders, and to drop an already-won, open-and-shut voter intimidation case against the New Black Panther party.

The choice to insist on granting mega-terrorists like Khalid Sheik Muhammad with civilian trials in New York City, over loud objections from Congress, city officials, and the public.

The choice to offend our greatest Middle Eastern ally -- Israel -- by extending shoddy treatment to its Prime Minister, and making provocative statements about preconditions for basic Israeli security.

The choice to revisit redundant and political investigations into the US intelligence community, over public objections from a bipartisan group of former CIA director, and despite low morale at the agencies that keep Americans safe.

The choice to introduce Stimulus 2.0 in a politically-timed Joint Session speech, knowing full well it would never pass either chamber of Congress.

The choice to travel the countryside, supposedly selling a plan to create US jobs, in foreign-made buses.

The choice to foist an expensive, failed mortgage bailout program upon the public -- which exacerbated moral hazard issues and actually "added to housing woes," according to the New York Times.

The choice to fast-track a half-billion dollar federal loan to a now-bankrupt solar energy company, a move even your own advisors repeatedly warned against.

The choice to demagogue and reject two separate pieces of legislation that would have placed the country on a path to solvency, and that would have averted the first US credit downgrade in history.

The choice to offer US support to the illegitimate, far-Left leader of Honduras, even as his small country struggled to retain its democracy.

The choice to produce a 2012 budget that increased the national debt by nearly $10 Trillion over a decade, ignored virtually all your own commission's recommendations for entitlement reform, raised taxes by $2 trillion, and was generally viewed as so surreally irresponsible that it was defeated unanimously in the Democrat-held Senate.

The choice to sit idly by while anti-American dictators ranted against our country, later expressing gratitude that they didn't blame you, specifically, for events that occurred when you were very young.

The choice to compare AIG executives to suicide bombers for receiving bonuses that your own administration wrote into the 2009 stimulus bill.

The choice to golf, golf, golf as federal efforts languished throughout the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The choice to lie about what scientific experts said, in order to pursue your anti-offshore drilling agenda.

The choice to introduce a litany of sanitized descriptors into our national security lexicon, from "man-caused disasters" to "overseas contingency operations."

The choice of your Vice President to kowtow to Communist China, flatly stating that he understood, and "wouldn't question," that country's hideous one-child policy.

The choice to schedule troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan along a transparently political timeline, in the face of strenuous opposition from top military commanders.

The choice to ignore the legal analysis of Pentagon attorneys and your own Office of Legal Counsel in order to maintain the US intervention in Libya, which was not approved by Congress.

The choice to offer an apology to Japan for the use of overwhelming, devastating US force to finally end World War II in the Pacific theater, a plan so groveling and unnecessary that Japanese aborted the idea.

The choice of your State Department to extend "condolences" to the family of a terrorist killed in a US strike.
I'm pretty sure this list will be significantly longer by the time you're reading this, too.  I think I speak for a large majority of the political Right when I say yes, by all means, let's examine these 'right' choices very carefully from now right up until the election in 2012.  Let's throw them up on every TV screen in America on a daily basis, and chat about them around the water cooler.  Let's find out just how many Americans think you were 'right' about these things.

The point is that this administration is rife with a supremely dangerous combination of arrogance and dismissiveness of basic economics, the American people, and the Constitution they supposedly represent.  In that same interview, Obama said this about the Occupy Wall Street madness:
You asked earlier about “Occupy Wall Street” and what I’ve said is that I understand the frustrations that are being expressed in those protests. In some ways, they’re not that different from some of the protests that we saw coming from the Tea Party, both on the left and the right. 

I think people feel separated from their government, that the institutions aren’t looking out for them and that the most important thing we can do right now is those of us in leadership, letting people know that we understand their struggles, we are on their side and that we want to set up a system in which hard work, responsibility, doing what you’re supposed to do, is rewarded, and that people who are irresponsible, who are reckless, who don’t feel a sense of obligation to their communities and to their companies and to their workers, that those folks aren’t rewarded.
 Keith Koffler explains why this is just about as far from the truth as one can possibly get:
There is a fundamental difference between the two groups which allows no comparison.

The members of the Tea Party want to work within the system to change policies they find repugnant and think are ruining the country. The Occupy Wall Street protestors think the system itself – political and economic – is repugnant and want to overturn it. Fully a third told a Democratic pollster they would use violence to achieve their ends.

Many of those protesting are veteran malcontents who are outraged in general, not in response to the current misery of their fellow citizens.

The Tea Party is made up of people unhappy with specific policies. The OWS protestors are using people outraged by specific policies to advance long-held beliefs.

The Tea Party and the OWS extremists have absolutely nothing in common.
Personally, I think Obama and radical Leftists like him fully understand this, and they're just playing political games to acquire and retain as much power as possible by suckering as many people as possible into voting for them.  Still, even if he didn't get it, I'm not sure it matters.  Either he does and deliberately chooses to ignore or leverage it, or he is the most destructively oblivious person on the face of the planet.

Either way, he is unfit to lead this nation.