Thursday, October 14, 2010

The GOP Con Game

Right now the Dow Industrial Average sits at 11,096; the day President Obama was elected the Dow closed at 7,552. According to the New York Times, corporate profits (I assume these are for public companies) have returned to pre-recession levels. And, U.S. corporations are sitting on about $3 trillion in cash. The new GOP buzzword to explain this anomaly is, "uncertainty". I received my MBA way back in 1989 but I'm pretty sure I was taught that running a business is risky (things are uncertain).

I'm not much of a conspiracy theorist but I'm imagining John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, the right wing talking heads and the Executive Director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce walking around brushing the sides of their noses with an index finger (remember the movie, "The Sting"?) and winking. The plan is to hold the economy captive by keeping all that cash idle. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce (and conservative columnists like the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer - is he a token conservative?) wails that no one knows how the following will affect corporate profits (i.e. "uncertainty") : (a) the health care bill; (b) finance reform; (c) income tax rates for 2011. If it weren't for the uncertainty about these three things cash would be flowing, people would have jobs and we'd all be buying Hummers and 6,000 square foot homes with interest only mortgages again.

So here's how the con will end up. The minute that the GOP takes control of Congress all "uncertainty" will disappear (because the GOP has been bought and paid for), cash will flow, people will be hired, etc., etc.. The GOP will proclaim that their policies brought about this new era of good fortune thereby guaranteeing Obama will be a one-term president. And all this before they have a chance to not fund the provisions of the health care bill and to gut financial reform.

How's that for crazy? We'll discuss this again come spring.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The New Conservative Put Down

Apparently accusing someone of being a socialist doesn't carry the same gravity as it once did. While watching videos of Bill O'Reilly's periodic lectures I noticed that he loves to describe President Obama as being secular. I suppose this is intended to scare his viewers (who may not even understand the term) by raising the spectre of a president who doesn't go to church every Sunday and doesn't recite his nightly prayers.
Frankly, this doesn't scare me much. After all, when was the last time an atheist or agnostic flew a plane into a building, decapitated someone, blew up a hotel or murdered a doctor to proclaim their beliefs (or lack thereof)? I'm much more concerned about politicians like Sarah Palin who believe that we're in Iraq on a mission from God and others who think that religious beliefs mitigate their violence.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The President & The Pope

I've got to wonder what the Catholic Community thinks about President Obama's upcoming visit with the Pope. Will those Catholics who were apoplectic over the President's commencement speech at Notre Dame (thinking that the invitation was a tacit approval by the University of Obama's stance on abortion) have the same reaction to his visit to the Vatican? Will the protestors pack up and head to Italy? Does this mean that the Pope is reconsidering the Church's opinion on this issue or is it simply a meeting between two world leaders?
I wonder if I should pick a fight with my mother-in-law who hasn't spoken to me since I told her that I supported Obama's visit to Notre Dame and to stop sending me inflammatory e-mails on the subject. Probably not but I'm really tempted.

Sarah Palin

My wife and I have agreed that if Sarah Palin ever ends up in the White House we'll leave the country and move to my family's ancestral home in Ireland. Scratching out a living in Ballymagibbon (County Mayo) is preferable to being governed by Sarah "Wingnut" Palin.
However, after discussing Sarah's resignation with my wife I've come to the conclusion that if Sarah does make a run for the White House in 2012 the Republican primaries will do her in. You've got to think that Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, Bobby Jindal and whoever else will go for the GOP nomination will take care of the Sarah problem once and for all. As the VP candidate she was somewhat insulated from the tough questions (with the exception of her disastrous TV interviews) but there's no way she'll be able to dodge them during a primary. Americans are too smart to elect an idiot like Palin but then I thought the same thing before Bush won a second term.
I'd love to pose the following question to Sarah, "So, if you were to get elected as president and half way through your first term you were to decide that you wouldn't run for re-election, would you resign so you wouldn't be a lame duck?"

Friday, June 26, 2009

The United States has Attention Deficit Disorder

I'm pretty certain that activists are still protesting (and dying) in the streets of Iran, North Korea is still planning to launch missiles toward Hawaii in less than one week, soldiers are dying in Afghanistan and Iraq, Congress is still arguing about health care reform, etc. but for some reason all of this is ignored because Michael Jackson died. So what? Aside from his success with the Jackson 5 (whose songs I remember listening to on my transistor radio while delivering the Washington Post) and his famously successful "Thriller" (from the early 80's) what did Michael Jackson ever do for the world? Nothing. I cannot believe that our media falling over themselves to give us minute-by-minute coverage of this story. Let's get back to what really impacts our lives.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

New Republican Party Motto . . .

"Do as I say, not as I do." (courtesy of Governor Sanford and Senator Ensign [among others]).

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

New Litmus Test for "Too Big to Fail"

In continuing to question the government's involvement in the General Motors bankruptcy, George Will and others are now using market capitalization in their arguments. In a recent column Will recently asked whether Harley Davidson is now too big to fail given the fact that its market capitalization is higher than that of General Motors. Will is being disingenuous. All you have to do is look at the first quarter Forms 10-Q filed by GM and Harley to see the impact GM has on this (and the world's) economy. Harley employs roughly 9,300 people while GM has about 54,000 employees. Neither employment number includes dealerships but since GM dealerships significantly outnumber Harley's the margin gets much larger if you consider them. GM also disclosed in its 10Q that it makes annual purchases from Delphi (which GM spun off in the late 90's) in the range of $6.5 to $10.2 billion. So, you have to wonder about the impact of GM being liquidated on an already weak Delphi.
Anyone who is not George Will can see that GM has a huge impact on the economy and much more than market cap needs to be considered when deciding whether it is worth saving. That said, I'm not arguing for or against the government's bailout (and now ownership); I'm just saying that the decision should not be oversimplified in order to make a point.