Thursday, April 30

Banks Learn - Refuse to Negotiate With Obama Administration

I was wondering when this was going to happen, given that corporate discussions with the Government have not turned out too well for corporate executives. And you can bet that banks were going to get royally screwed if they decided to 'play ball' with the Government concerning 'cram-down' legislation for mortgages.
Democrats had negotiated with JPMorgan Chase & Co., Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. on a compromise. Durbin said the lenders objected after months of talks, and “will not even participate in a negotiation,” although the banks are “surviving today because of taxpayers’ dollars.” The three banks Durbin identified received $95 billion in U.S. aid.

“It’s clear that part of the mortgage industry was never interested in meeting us half-way, as negotiations went forward, they moved the goal post back and back,” Senator Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat said. - Bloomberg
Not surprising is that the only bank to agree to the Government 'Cram-Down' legislation is CitiBank, which just so happens to be partly owned by the Government. Also nice how Senator Durbin took advantage of whacking the Industry over the head with TARP funds. Funds the Government is refusing to let banks repay.

Good for the banks for holding the line on this idiotic idea of rewarding mortgage deadbeats. Not for anything, but letting some people off on their mortgages because they bought too much house is not fair and will probably invite many more people to file for bankruptcy just to take advantage of this. Of course the banks will have to raise rates on the rest of us to pay for these bad loans.

If people can't pay their mortgage, it should be up to the bank whether to foreclose or not as well as whether or not to change the terms on the mortgage.

If the Government wants to bail out underwater homeowners, then how about offering up these houses to us at greatly reduced prices. This way, those who acted responsibly get a chance to buy a house at a good price, the underwater homeowners get rid of their houses, and the banks don't get stuck with more properties.

Just saying.

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Remember, the President promised no tax increases for 95% of working Americans. Too bad he forgot to tell his fellow Democrats in Congress.
WASHINGTON (AP) — A House committee chairman said Tuesday that he wants Congress to enact a mileage-based tax on cars and trucks to pay for highway programs now rather than wait years to test the idea.

Rep. James Oberstar, D-Minn., said he believes the technology exists to implement a mileage tax. He said he sees no point in waiting years for the results of pilot programs since such a tax system is inevitable as federal gasoline tax revenues decline.

"Why do we need a pilot program? Why don't we just phase it in?" said Oberstar, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman. Oberstar is drafting a six-year transportation bill to fund highway and transit programs that is expected to total around a half trillion dollars. - AP
Here is Democrat Wisdom for you: Can't Raise Taxes, Just Invent a New One!

Outfitting every car and truck in America with tracking devices just to collect more tax has to be one of the dumbest ideas, ever. Cars are already taxed in relation to how much they drive through a tax on gasoline. Sure, the rate is different for everyone, based on how much your car consumes as well as how much city/highway driving you do. However, everyone who drives pays and there is no need to make any changes to the cars (such as adding hundreds of dollars of GPS tracking and metering equipment) as the tax is collected at the pump. People who choose hybrid cars save money because their cars use gasoline efficiently and people who choose gas guzzlers pay more for their style choice. Keeping the car in the driveway costs nothing. One reason Democrats give for having a gasoline tax is to encourage drivers to conserve gasoline. Unfortunately for the rest of us, conserving gasoline means less tax money for Congress to waste. So our reward for being better citizens is more taxes. In this case a tax on every mile that you drive your car.

A mileage tax on cars is like putting a Government-controlled taxi meter in every vehicle in America.

The tax would entail equipping vehicles with GPS technology to determine how many miles a car has been driven and whether on interstate highways or secondary roads. The devices would also calculate the amount of tax owed. - AP
As a bonus, this taxi meter is going to also track where your car has been.

Clearly, the simple solution to generate more tax revenue with a declining demand is to just raise the gasoline tax. There is just one problem the Congressman has with that plan. He can't get anyone to agree to raise it because the idea of doing that is so unpopular with voters. So instead he proposes this idiotic solution to get around this obstacle.
"At this point there are a lot of things that are under consideration and there is also a strong need to find revenue," Oberstar spokesman Jim Berard said. "A vehicle miles-traveled tax is a logical complement, and perhaps a future replacement, for fuel taxes."

Gas tax revenues — the primary source of federal funding for highway programs — have dropped dramatically in the last two years, first because gas prices were high and later because of the economic downturn. They are forecast to continue going down as drivers switch to fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has ruled out raising gas taxes to make up for the funding shortfall, and the White House has rejected a mileage-based tax. They have not offered an alternative. - AP
Watch out when a Congressman does not get his fill of tax. Reasonable minds would look at where the money is going and try to cut out waste, but not this guy. And look where lots of (highway?) tax revenue is going.
The tax credit in question originated from a 2005 highway law and was intended as an incentive to mix alternative energy sources, such as ethanol, with fossil fuels. In 2007, the credit was expanded to include non-transportation fuels.

Some papermakers who generate electricity by burning a wood byproduct called "black liquor" saw an opportunity to capitalize. But to qualify for the credit, which only applies to mixed fuels, paper companies have had to start adding in small amounts of diesel, Mason said.

By doing this, Mason estimates that the windfall for 30 paper-producing companies in the United States may reach about $6.6 billion and could rise as high was $10 billion. - MinnPost
So companies that were already using a 'green' byproduct to power their factories, are now being paid a huge subsidy by the Government by twisting a law that was intended to promote the use of 'green fuels'. (Note: I do not blame the companies for doing this.)

Instead of being pissed off at the perversion of a Government program resulting in Billions in wasted tax revenue, this ass of a Congressman has no problem with it, because it subsidizes jobs in his district!
"I think the production of biomass is an important part of energy dependence and good tax policy," said Schadl (John Schadl, spokesman for Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn). "You are not going to see us apologizing for the fact that there aren't layoffs in Cloquet. That is a good use of the tax credit, to keep people in their jobs." - MinnPost
Face it. There is no way that the US will ever be able to provide our pork-addicted Congress with enough tax revenue to meet their agenda. Not only will they turn every car in America into a tax collecting machine, but they will have tracking collars around all our necks before long because you know, once we all get wired up, they are going to need more money and they will realize that this newest tax generation device does not tax us when we are out of our cars.

Hey, my car uses gasoline that contains 10% ethanol. Where do I apply for my tax credit?

One real screw in this tax meter plan of Congressman Oberstar is that we are already taxed on lots of roads that we drive on. Are they going to tax us for driving through Delaware on I-95 where the tolls per mile cost more than the cost of gasoline to drive through the state? Is this little machine going to tax us for driving on our own property and on local roads and 'unimproved' roadways? And if the answer is that they will not be taxing us on all roads, why should people who do not use them have these meters installed in their cars?

And how are they going to prevent massive fraud by users disabling these machines? That might be as simple as blocking the GPS signal. It would be impractical to integrate these machines to existing cars in a way that would defeat tampering. And if they ever did manage that feat, surely people will just start not registering vehicles because they can't afford the taxes that come with it. This would be a real possibility out west where the distances to be driven are large and the possibility of an encounter with law enforcement minimal. Then again, you register your car with your state, not the Federal government. So would they expect State Authorities to enforce Federal Tax-Meter regulations?

Surely there are many more issues out there that this Congressman is not interested in hearing about.

Top lawmaker wants mileage-based tax on vehicles - AP
Paper firms to reap billions from tax credit -- but should they? - MinnPost

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Tuesday, April 28

Senators Specter, Snowe, Collins - That Smell Your Complaining About is, You...

So, Senator Arlen Specter does all Conservatives a favor by jumping ship and freeing up the Republican part of the ticket for the next election for Senator Specter's seat. Of course he did this only because it became clear that he could not win a primary election against a Republican challenger. Get that, the voters who are members and supporters of Conservative Party Ideals, no longer saw him as a person who would fight for what they wanted. Fine fellow, Specter is, he was all fine with using Republicans to send him to Congress, but gets all pissed off at them when they don't like what he is doing there. Of course, the Senator and his two fellow turncoat, Republican-in-Name-Only, Senators from Maine, Snowe and Collins, are quick to place the blame on the very people who voted them into office.
Both Republican senators from Maine said Tuesday that the GOP must change its ways following Sen. Arlen Specter’s (Pa.) decision to switch parties. - The Hill
They are supposed to represent the people of their States. It was not the GOP that had turned on Specter and are pressuring Snowe and Collins. It is the voters. Voters who have, for better or worse, aligned with the Republican Party platform. At one time they must have supported these ideals to win the party's nomination. Now they are bitching because the voters actually are calling them to account. So instead of doing what the people want, they have decided to attack the ideals of the party itself.
“But I do think our party needs to make clear that centrists are welcome. Sometimes that message is not sent as clearly as it should be.”

Snowe said the day’s news should serve as a “wakeup call” to the party. She added that she has no intention of leaving the party.

“The blunt reality is that we’re losing another key moderate who has played a key role in the Republican Party ... If the Republican Party fully intends to become a majority party in the future, they will clearly have to move from the right toward the middle,” Snowe said.

“That was certainly indicative in the last election, and it’s certainly indicative in the polls that are being released. The leadership here understands that ... I haven’t abandoned those principles that have been the essence of the Republican Party. I think the Republican Party has abandoned those principles.”

Specter agreed, saying on Tuesday that the Republican Party has been pulled “far to the right.” - The Hill
Not for anything, but the GOP is already too far in the center. The complaints by these three that the Republican Party has pulled too far to the right is just pure bullshit, especially coming from Specter. However far right the Republican Party might be, the Democrat Party must be twice as far to the left. Sure there are a couple conservative 'Blue Dogs' Democrats in Congress, but they are not the ones in control. Instead you have Speaker Pelosi, Senate Leader Reid and President Obama running things. These are the people calling the shots and they are not interested in the issues of the 'Blue Dogs' let alone Arlen Specter's 'centrist' pet pork projects. Sure he will get consideration, but only when they need his vote.

Personally, I think the Democrats pulled a fast one on Specter, probably taking advantage of his senior age and his fear of losing his Senate seat. I suspect so, because there are already two full-fledged Democrats campaigning for his seat and his party switch turned the Democrat Primary into a three-way seat. However, they got his seat immediately by what appears to be a promise of future support. This is something that can easily be pulled in the future, especially if Specter does not vote as Harry Reid and President Obama want. And if Arlen Specter was so willing to change his party affiliation as a way to keep his butt warming a seat in Congress, then I bet that President Obama has just got himself a second puppy. And this one is already trained. But in the end it will do him no good, because a Democrat will vote for a real Democrat over a person who tries to be like a Democrat.

As for Snowe promising not to change party. She can stop doing us the favor and follow her fellow turncoat. After all, the three of them are little more than fake friends.

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President Roslin Buzzes New York/New Jersey with COLONIAL ONE

While AIR FORCE ONE was creating panic all across Manhattan and New Jersey,President of the Colonies, Laura Roslin, brought in COLONIAL ONE up the Hudson, looking for a spot to put her ship down so she could shop for a new wardrobe at Macy's.

Image composed by FX Guru DARTH MOJO for his post: 'note to military: we have CGI now'

Odd how the residents of New York and New Jersey, two states that solidly voted for President Obama, seem to have very little faith in his ability to keep them safe. Just think how jumpy they are going to get if the threat level for another terrorist attack/ 'Man-Caused Disaster' goes up. this should be reason enough to make sure that the security of Pakistan's nukes don't end up being compromised...

How fitting that 'Man-Caused Disaster' is a fitting description of yesterday's panic attack in NY/NJ.

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Monday, April 27

Mount Vernon Tree - Photo

We went to George Washington's Mount Vernon Home on Sunday to take the kids on a harbor cruise. While there, I also took a picture of this great tree on the estate. (Click to enlarge)

The tree was most grand. I am glad that I was able to get a picture that does the tree justice.

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Maritime Monday 159 Posted at gCaptain

This week's edition of Maritime Monday has been posted at gCaptain.

You can find last week’s edition here.

You can find Maritime Monday 109 here. (Published 5 May 2008).



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Sunday, April 26

Clinton: US never will 'sell out' Lebanon

Well, what appears to be some good news for non-Hezbollah controlled Lebanon:
BEIRUT, Lebanon, April 26 (UPI) -- U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says the United States will never "sell out" the Lebanese people by making any deals with neighboring Syria. -
Right, the US won't 'sell out' the Lebanese people, just like the Obama Administration has no plan to sell out the Polish, Georgian, British, Cuban or other non-socialist-loving people around the Globe.

Hell, they haven't promised not to 'sell out' the American people yet either.

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Friday, April 24

One Thing About those Government-Backed General Motors Warranties

General Motors seems to be pushing their great warranty in a recent TV ad campaign. Looking at their website, they sure do seem to have the best new car warranty around:

And why not. General Motors has nothing to lose at the moment. They probably know that there is nothing stopping a bankruptcy filing, and President Obama told the whole country that warranties on new GM cars will be good no matter what happens to the company, as they will be backed by the Government. So, they are kind of giving these warranties away at no cost to themselves.
In a bid to boost flagging auto sales, the federal government will pay for any warranty repairs on a General Motors or Chrysler vehicle if either company can't because of financial problems or a bankruptcy filing, President Barack Obama said on Monday.

Obama said in a speech. "Let me say this as plainly as I can. If you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired just like always,""Your warranty will be safe. In fact, it will be safer than it has ever been. Because starting today, the United States will stand behind your warranty." - Autoweek
Totally ignoring that simple fact that the Government was wrong to throw bailout money at the businesses certain to fail, the plan to have the Government back the cars in case the carmaker failed in order to keep up sales seems like a good idea on the surface.

Too bad that there is no way for the Government to convince me that they just won't change the terms of the deal at some point later on, just like they keep changing the rules on the banks that accepted the TARP money. So who knows if or when that wonderful US-backed warranty will turn into a huge anchor chained around your neck!

No thanks!

Bonus Issue: While this will cost GM nothing, it will cost the other car companies in better financial shape customers and added expense as they get forced to improve their warranties to meet the better deal that GM has offered. This of course now risks putting other car companies into worse financial shape as Government assistance has allowed GM to re-price the market below a profitable point. This in itself is a huge reason why the Government should have let GM fail, as a measure to protect the rest of the car industry.
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Thursday, April 23

Stupid Double-Standard for Minor Children - Abortion and Death Penalty

How is it possible that children are no longer eligible for the death penalty in cases of murder simply because they are under the age of 18 and therefore not completely responsible for their actions, and yet they are somehow responsible enough to purchase 'abortion pills', not only without permission of the parents, but even without having to see a doctor?
The Food and Drug Administration said Wednesday it would accept, not appeal, a federal judge's order that lifts Bush administration restrictions limiting over-the-counter sales of "Plan B" to women 18 and older. U.S. District Judge Edward Korman ruled last month in a lawsuit filed in New York that President George W. Bush's appointees let politics, not science, drive their decision to restrict over-the-counter access.

Women's groups said the FDA's action was long overdue, since the agency's own medical reviewers had initially recommended that the contraceptive be made available without any age restrictions.

Korman ordered the FDA to let 17-year-olds get the birth control pills. He also directed the agency to evaluate clinical data to determine whether all age restrictions should be lifted. - Breitbart
This is the height of Government, and dare I say Liberal, stupidity and irresponsibility.

This is part of a larger battle where liberals are fighting for the right of minors to get an abortion without parental permission. See my comments on this issue here: Minors, the Death Penalty and Abortion

If 17 year-old 'children' are so responsible, then let's change the law so that you are treated as an adult at age 17 and not 18. Then they can go get abortions without having to tell their parents and can also face the justice system as an adult when they end up on the wrong side of the law. These half-ass measures just makes being a parent more difficult and exposes children to much more dangerous and risky behavior. (Not for anything, but if this pill was available back in the 60's, we might not have the President that we have now, given that his mother got pregnant when she was 17...)

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Facebook Group - "World Leaders"

This is very funny. The only thing is that it appears that a couple 'World Leaders' like dictator Robert Mugabe have yet to accept their invitation to this group! (Click to enlarge to a readable size)

Here is the whole thread. Click to enlarge.

Found on Facebook here.

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Tuesday, April 21

Somali Pirate in NY - Crush Him

When dealing with pirates, remember fact number one:


I say this as it seems that we are going to be subjected to a flood of sympathy stories about this poor little pirate:
His mother said she was horrified when she saw a photo of him being brought handcuffed into 26 Federal Plaza on Monday, a smile on his face.

"The last time I saw him he was in his school uniform," the mother, Adar Abdirahman Hassan, 40, told the Associated Press from her home in Galkayo.

"He took all his books the day he disappeared, except one, I think, and did not come back."

She said her son should not be held responsible for the Maersk hijacking.

"He was brainwashed. People who are older than him outwitted him, people who are older than him duped him," she said.

"I cried when I saw the picture of him," Hassan said of the arrest photo. "Relatives brought a copy of the picture to me. Surely he is telling himself now, 'My mother's heart is broken.'" - NY Daily News
You know what. This kid has the very same sob story as all the other Somali pirates. It's just that many of the others have gotten ransom money to release the ships they captured and the sailors they terrorized. Now they are living the big live as heros at home. This guy just wasn't that lucky. He was however lucky enough not to be with his pirate buddies when they all got bullets in their heads. As far as I am concerned, this kid should get punished to the point where it is clear that the lucky ones were the pirates who dies at the hands of the snipers.

For starters, don't fall for the talk that these pirates really didn't hurt anyone. How would you like it if your wife/husband was kidnapped on their way home from work and you get a message that you'll never see them again unless you pony up a million dollar ransom. Ransoms are being paid because there is the threat that these sailors will never be seen again unless a ransom is paid. Many sailors have been held for months. Some have apparently been abandoned by the vessel owners and their own country. No telling what will happen to these sailors once the pirates get tired of holding them. As it is, they are slowly starving to death.

So let's treat this pirate right. Convict him of piracy in NY and then take him to the edge of lower Manhattan and hang him at the water's edge in Battery Park near the Merchant Marine Memorial. (Or hang him from a yardarm from one of the sailships at South Street Seaport.) If that is too horrific, how about taking him out to Execution Rocks in Long Island Sound.

There one other way to handle this pirate. How about holding him and demanding the release of all the merchant ships and seamen currently held by pirates off Somalia. If the Somalis are so concerned about this 'kid', they can show it by letting all their hostages go. They should have to do that just to keep him from the death penalty. As for getting him back. I do not think so.

Note: There is some dispute over whether this pirate is under 18 or not. I think it makes no difference. At least not since the point that he picked up a rifle.

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Democrats are the Least Informed...

Democrats Are the Least Informed according to the the survey comments below. I bet many of you knew that already. For one, it kind of fits with the responses you see Democrats give when others try to reason with them. Reason is not the response Democrats like to reply with. Instead they reply with insults, derision, charges of racism and whatever else they can come up with. It is this attitude why conservatives don't want to discuss most anything with liberals, simply because they don't want to deal with their immature response. This is also why conservative bumper stickers are rare items in Democrat strongholds. Not because there are no conservatives there, but because people don't want to make their cars targets of vandalism by liberals. (a.k.a.'Felony Debate')
You can forget, as you go about your daily work, the name of the Secretary of the Treasury, even while remembering significant things about him (he has Wall Street experience, he didn’t pay all of his taxes). But the Pew interviewers found that Americans do pretty well on quiz questions these days. A 53% majority said that national unemployment was around 8% and 40% said that the Dow Jones average was hovering around 8000. As you might expect, college grads were more knowledgeable than those less educated, high earners (and middle earners) more knowledgeable than low earners, older people more knowledgeable than young people. Republicans were also considerably more knowledgeable and Independents more knowledgeable than Democrats. And, to a greater extent than I had expected, men were much more knowledgeable than women. - Examiner
Unfortunately, it is not in the best interest of Democrat Politicians to educate their constituents. After all, they are counting on their voters to not ask questions like 'how are we going to pay for the trillions in new debt the Government plans to spend in the next couple years?'

This reminds me of the 'If your not angry then your not paying attention' meme. Seems that the ones pushing that message are the ones who need to pay more attention. Not the rest of us.

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Monday, April 20

Maritime Monday 158 Posted at gCaptain

This week's edition of Maritime Monday has been posted at gCaptain.

You can find last week’s edition here.

You can find Maritime Monday 108 here. (Published 28 April 2008).



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Sunday, April 19

Obama - Chavez - Ahmadinejad (Photo)

I'm sure you have all seen this photo of President Obama making good with the socialist President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez. They are probably smiling because they both want to see the US brought down. Note the brother-style handshake. I guess the press was too slow to catch the 'fist-bump'.

Venezuelan Presidency Press Office-issued photo shows US President Barack Obama (left) and his Venezuelan counterpart Hugo Chavez shaking hands before the opening of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on April 17. (AFP/HO/Prensa Miraflores) - Yahoo News
So how long is it before we see more photos of the world's worst criminal leaders hanging out with the President of the United States? How long will it be before we get a picture of President Obama hugging Iran's maniac President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? Who knows, we might be seeing this at the next annual meeting of the United Nations:

Guess who else hugs Mahmoud? That's right, his socialist buddy Hugo Chavez.

And what kind of dictator would these guys be without having good relations with Putin's Russia.

We are going to have a huge mess to clean up after four years of an Obama Administration.

The jackasses in Congress (Both Democrat and Republican) aren't helping things either. Keep in mind, these are leaders who are actively working against the United States.

Look who else was fighting for facetime with Venezuela's socialist President.

Maybe she is hoping to get some pointers on 'winning' a Presidential election.

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