Questions and Observations

Free Markets, Free People

Lard, Transfer Payments and Payoffs Make Up Bulk of Democratic “Stimulus” Bill

Where the "stimulus" money is going, in billions

Where the "stimulus" money is going, in billions

Show me, please, where any of that listed on the left is a ‘stimulus’ that will create jobs, other than government jobs?  We’re talking productive private sector jobs here.

Sure “refundable tax credits” – i.e. sending money from people who pay taxes to people who don’t – unemployment insurance and food stamps will certainly get money into the system.  But it’s not going to stimulate anything in particular.

So when you see over $265 billion of this so-called “stimulus” being spent thusly, you realize that over 30% is going to relief.  While relief may sound good, other than the government bureaucrats it takes to run the programs, it doesn’t provide much stimulus where it is most needed – creating jobs.

Transfer payments, then, consume 1/3 of the stimulus bill.  Great.  What else?

Well, consider these little goodies:

• $8 billion on “renewable energy” projects, which have a low or negative return
• $7 billion for “modernizing federal buildings and facilities”
• $6 billion on urban transit systems, dominated by unions and which, almost universally, lose money
• $2.4 billion for “carbon-capture demonstration projects”
• $2 billion for child-care subsidies
• $1 billion for Amtrak, the federal railroad that’s run in the red for 40 years
• $650 million for “digital TV conversion coupons” (on top of billions already spent)
• $600 million on new cars for government (added to the $3 billion already spent each year)
• $400 million for “global-warming research”
• $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts

Anyone – what will $50 million for the NEA do to “stimulate the economy?”  And the last thing we need is more “global warming research”.

Much of the rest of the billions and billions and billions of dollars being taxed, borrowed or printed will go toward projects which won’t spend their first dollar before late 2010 or early 2011.  And corporate income taxes?  Well, can’t cut those because we might actually see jobs created if that was done.

One area these dollars won’t be spent, and in fact is being cut while we’re engaged in 2 wars is Defense spending.

The Obama administration has asked the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to cut the Pentagon’s budget request for the fiscal year 2010 by more than 10 percent — about $55 billion — a senior U.S. defense official tells FOX News.

Last year’s defense budget was $512 billion. Service chiefs and planners will be spending the weekend “burning the midnight oil” looking at ways to cut the budget — looking especially at weapons programs, the defense official said.

Some overall budget figures are expected to be announced Monday.

Obama met Friday at the White House with a small group of military advisers, including Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. James Cartwright, vice chairman, and Gen. Jim Jones, National Security Council chairman.

All those promises about strengthening the military, taking care of our vets, etc. — just words.

Nope, your crisis is the left’s wet dream.  As Rahm Emanuel said, no reason to let a good crisis go to waste.  They’re going to pass things now they could never pass previously under normal circumstances.  That’s why House Democrats only allowed one hour of “debate” before voting.  Hell, you can’t even read the  whole name of the bill and all the sponsors in an hour.  However, had they actually allowed for debate, you might have heard about the pork and transfer payments and special favors (like those tax favors given to Hollywood) which make up such a large part of this bill.  Can’t have that in this most “transparent” of administrations, can we?

Hope and change.


Meanwhile In Iraq

Progress continues:

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has hailed a largely peaceful vote for new provincial councils across the country as a victory for all Iraqis.

Voting was extended by one hour due to a strong turnout, including among Sunni Muslims who boycotted the last polls.

The first nationwide vote in four years is being seen as a test of Iraq’s stability ahead of a general election due later this year.

Security, while tight, seems to have been effective:

Despite warnings from Iraqi and US military commanders that al-Qaeda posed a threat to the elections, there were relatively few incidents reported.

And the Sunni’s decided to participate this time:

The turnout was reported to be brisk even in Sunni areas.

The head of the Iraqi electoral commission in Anbar province – a centre of the Sunni resistance to the US occupation – said he was expecting a 60% turnout.

Their participation will, of course, change the representation in government, but it looks like the Sunni’s have decided that becoming a part of the solution is a much better strategy than being a part off the problem.

Real hope and change.


An “Honest” Mistake

I’ve come to understand that Democrats don’t like tax cuts, but even more importantly, they don’t like paying taxes.  This time its Obama’s HHS nominee, Tom Daschle.  Apparently Mr. Daschle was absolutely clueless that he should have been paying taxes on a car and driver which was provided at taxpayer expense:

After being defeated in his 2004 re-election campaign to the Senate, Daschle in 2005 became a consultant and chairman of the executive advisory board at InterMedia Advisors.

Based in New York City, InterMedia Advisors is a private equity firm founded in part by longtime Daschle friend and Democratic fundraiser Leo Hindery, the former president of the YES network (the New York Yankees’ and New Jersey Devils’ cable television channel).

That same year he began his professional relationship with InterMedia, Daschle began using the services of Hindery’s car and driver.

The Cadillac and driver were never part of Daschle’s official compensation package at InterMedia, but Mr. Daschle — who as Senate majority leader enjoyed the use of a car and driver at taxpayer expense — didn’t declare their services on his income taxes, as tax laws require.

During the vetting process to become HHS secretary, Daschle corrected the tax violation, voluntarily paying $101,943 in back taxes plus interest, working with his accountant to amend his tax returns for 2005 through 2007.

Now I’d expect to be told this is just an “honest” mistake, much like Tim Geithner’s. And of course, the same people who defended the tax cheat who is now Secretary of Treasury, are defending Daschle:

“The president has confidence that Sen. Daschle is the right person to lead the fight for health care reform,” White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. “In preparation for his nomination, Sen. Daschle and his accountant identified some tax issues and fixed them. They filed amended return with the IRS and made payments with interest. Sen. Daschle brought these issues to the Finance Committee’s attention when he submitted his nomination forms and we are confident the committee is going to schedule a hearing for him very soon and he will be confirmed.”

Jim Manley, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., added: “Sen. Daschle will be confirmed as secretary of health and human services. He has a long and distinguished career and record in public service and is the best person to help reform health care in this country.”

When did Daschle “identify” these tax problems? It appears only after the distinct probability that Obama would win and that he’d be serving in Obama’s administration. Suddenly he was concerned:

Daschle reimbursed the IRS $31,462 in taxes and interest for tax year 2005; $35,546 for 2006; and $34,935 for 2007, a Daschle spokesperson said, adding that Daschle had asked his accountant to look into the tax implications of the car and driver five months before Obama won the presidency.

It wasn’t important in 2005, 2006 or 2007. It only became important when not paying them stood in the way of a possible job in the administration.

The Daschle spokesperson told ABC News that the senator, facing questions from the committee, has said “he deeply regretted his mistake. When he realized it was a mistake he corrected it rapidly.”

Yup, some real ethical giants are going to be running the ship of state aren’t they?

Hope and change.


Cake: Have it. Eat it. Choose One.

Maggie Gallagher says it exactly right over at The Corner, where she addresses the Bailout.

Here’s my take: The ongoing bailout of banks and business executives is not only wrong, it is deeply, deeply unpopular.  By taking potshots at executives–their salaries, their corporate jets, their redecorated offices–Obama hopes to deflect the unpopularity of his actual policies onto his opponents. He wants to channel voters’ entirely justified anger at the executives’ naked appeal for our cash towards the people who appear to defend them (because they are actually defending capitalism).

This way Obama can turn business executives into another Democratic interest group–and make Republicans pay the political cost. Expect very big campaign dollars flowing into Democrat coffers by scared, scared executives. A little public ritual humiliation in exchange for billions? Yeah, quite a few will go for that. Riding a car to DC should not earn your failed corporation a taxpayer bailout. It’s still wrong.

Defending the right of the free market and the goodness of business as an enterpirse [sic] is all true, but right now it’s besides the real point, and so plays into Obama’s hand.

The point is that these are failed business executives seeking taxpayer dollars to bail them out.

Republicans should be the ones making Obama pay for bailing out wealthy business failures with OUR money.

She’s right.  It’s Obama, not the Republicans, who are trying to turn businesses into government clients with taxpayer money.  If people are angry about it, it’s the guy who’s pushing it who should get the blame.

An American Hero

Heroes are the uncommon breed, devoid of the frailties that steer normal humans away from potentially deadly situations. Possessed of the deepest sense of devotion to family, friends and comrades, these are the people who mortgage their own lives for the future of others. Heroes are the ones who make our lives better through their own vigilance, fortitude and strength of will. They are the guardian angels of our very hopes and dreams. This is the story of one the greatest among them [HT: The Whistler].

Special Friends Get Special Breaks (Repost)

All in the name of bread and circuses I suppose:

National Journal reported this week that the Senate’s economic stimulus bill includes a provision that would make Hollywood studios eligible for a special 50% write-off of equipment purchases. According to the report, “the provision is backed by firms like the Walt Disney Co., and the industry trade group the Motion Picture Association of America.”

About those “special interests” which “control Washington” and the promise of “no more!”

Uh, yeah.

So let’s see: Democrats object to cutting the U.S. 35% corporate tax rate — which is higher than in all of Europe, undermines economic growth and discourages job creation — for all companies on grounds that it favors the rich and powerful. But Democrats will carve out tax loopholes for businesses they like and that write them campaign checks.

Hope and change.


The Ayers Resurrection Tour (Repost)

Ed. note: This post was originally saved on the old template. I reposted it here simply to avoid readers having to click over to the prior site

William Ayers showing his love for his country

William Ayers showing his love for his country

If Obama is the messiah, does that make Bill Ayers Lazarus? By that I mean, is there any doubt Ayers would be wasting away in obscurity without Barack Obama? Instead, the unrepentant terrorist turned ill-qualified college professor has regained whatever notoriety he had lost:

Ayers, co-founder of the ’60s Weather Underground radical anti-war group, drew an angry and vocal group of protesters who condemned his appearance at St. Mary’s Soda Center, where he drew cheers and boos from the crowd of about 500.

The controversial author and education professor at the University of Illinois was repeatedly characterized as an “unrepentant terrorist” by GOP vice presidential candidate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during the presidential campaign.

“I was going to propose that Sarah Palin and I have a talk show called ‘Pallin’ Around,’ ” Ayers said in his opening comments, which got laughs. Then, looking around at the standing-room-only crowd, he added: “Had it not been for the recent presidential campaign, there would be 22 of you here.”

That may actually be a little high. Even in Berkeley I doubt he would have generated more interest beyond a few professors who remembered him from the glory days.

Ayers is in California on a tour to promote a new book on race relations that he wrote with his wife, Bernardine Dohrn, a fellow former leader in the underground movement who is now a Chicago lawyer and law professor. Ayers said he plans to return to the Bay Area with Dohrn later this month to speak before the Middle East Children’s Alliance in Berkeley.

His appearance at St. Mary’s “Against the Grain” lecture series to explore the topic of “Trudging Toward Freedom” drew sharp criticism from conservative and religious groups.

According to the report, some of those angered by Ayers’ appearance adopted the typical lefty tactic of disrupting his speech. It’s stupid when lefties do it and stupid here as well, regardless of how odious the speaker is.

Ayers delivered a wide-ranging address on social justice and education, but his effort outraged some 150 protesters – most marched outside, and others sat in the audience and occasionally disrupted his speech with yelling before they were escorted away.

“I don’t know what they’re protesting actually, but if the last few months are any indication, they’re protesting a cartoon character that shares my name and likeness, but it’s not me,” he told The Chronicle before his speech, adding that the McCain-Palin campaign had attempted to turn him into a “monster.”

Historical revisionism at its best. Whatever. Ayers will always be able to fool the useful idiots who simply want to believe the worst about America. Generally these are the ones who believe that capitalism is the literal incarnation of evil and hate America for being the nation most identified with it. To these people, Ayers is a hero for attacking the heart (as they see it) of the hated enemy.

To those who live in reality, however, Ayers is nothing more than a petty man of little worth and even less integrity. He is the egotistical embodiment of the Boomers’ worst aspects, and a failed terrorist to boot. He may enjoy some renewed interest amongst the useful idiots, but he’ll never have any political worth other than being a liability.

Certainly Bill Ayers should worship the ground that Obama treads upon. Absent his Presidency, Ayers would have no public life whatsoever.

And We’re Live

Bear with us the next few days as we get this beauty up to speed.

We’ll be doing comment moderation for a couple of days.  It’s obviously something I don’t want to do for more than that.  It slows and kills discussion.

We’ll also be trying different colors, themes,  etc. as we go along.  The one thing that you can count on is us fiddling with it until we get it just right.

Your comments, critiques and suggestions are welcomed and appreciated.

I’m excited about this and look forward to playing with it.

The old QandO blog is found at the sidebar under “previous version” if you’re still having a conversation there.


Style Evolves

Don’t panic.

I know that many of you are frightened and confused by change, or by The New.  But, the old software I wrote back in 2004 to run QandO has run its course.


Like this motorcyclist's stoppie, the old QandO software is about to come to a sudden end. Hopefully with less road rash.

I wouldn’t rate it a FAIL, like the poor lad’s stoppie FAIL picture here, but, while it may have been OK at the time, the world has moved along, and frankly, I’ve never had time to really keep the software up to date.  Oh, I had plans, but I never had the time to carry them out.

So, in honor of the Obama Era of Change, we’re implementing Change at QandO.  We’re switching over to WordPress as the platform for the Blog.

Now, I’m not sure it will look like this for long.  I basically stole the template I built for my motorcycle blog and transferred it over.  I’m fiddling around with Artisteer for a new template for QandO, but this should at least get us started.

Unlike me, WordPress has hundreds of people all over the world tweaking it, building plugins for it and whatnot, so it has some advanced features.

You won’t notice much of a difference, except that the incidence of comment spam will pretty much disappear.  You will need to have your first comment approved, after which you can comment all you want, but this is another anti-spam measure, to keep the riff-raff out.

You can also subscribe to the blog by creating a subscriber account on the comment pages, and get updated whenever the blog is updated.

I think the move to WordPress will have a lot of advantages for everyone, and I hope you enjoy the new features, such as a WYSIWYG comment editor, with spell checking.

Soon, you’ll forget about the old site.  Which, by the way, is still going to be here, so the old content will not disappear.  You can access the previous version via the link on the sidebar.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the new QandO.

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