Saturday, August 30, 2008

What's Obama Hiding?

Obama Should Come Clean On Ayers, Rezko And the Iraqi Billionaire points to some of the unanswered questions surronding Senator Barack Obama.

On the William Ayres, Barack Obama relationship:
Team Obama has launched an offensive against WGN, the Chicago Tribune's radio station, for interviewing Stanley Kurtz. Mr. Kurtz is a conservative writer who this week forced the University of Illinois to finally open its records on Sen. Obama's association with William Ayers, the unrepentant 1970s Weather Underground terrorist.
Why doesn't Obama want the records of their relationship released. More inportantly Why is the Obama response to a request for information so HEAVY HANDED?
An Obama campaign email to supporters called Mr. Kurtz a "slimy character assassin" whose "divisive, destructive ranting" should be confronted. WGN producer Zack Christenson says the outpouring of negative calls and emails is "unprecedented." He also notes that it is curious -- because "we wanted the Obama campaign's take" on Mr. Kurtz's findings, but the campaign declined to put anyone on air. [Emphysis mine]
The e-mail presented "Talking Points" to be addressed by Obama supporters who were asked to flood WGN radio with phone calls and e-mails of complaint to the show, WGN radio's General Manager and the FCC. Here is a copy of the Obama Campaign e-mail Obama's e-mail about WGN-AM Here is a link to the MP3 file of the complete WGN radio program Extension 720 with Milt Rosenberg WGN radio

William Ayres, according to Barack Obama, is "Just some guy I knew from the neighborhood." If that's true, why take such draconian measures to supress any questioning of their relationship?

We return to this article again for further question. (Link again (Obama Should Come Clean On Ayers, Rezko And the Iraqi Billionaire).)

The Obama Campaign (and Democrats in particular) appear to believe that John Kerry lost in 2004 due to the accusations of the "Swift Boat Veterans for Truth" (commonly now called Swiftboating).

It is VERY IMPORTANT to note that NONE of the accusations of the Swift Boat Veterans was proved false. The Swift Boat Veterans had a part in insuring John Kerry's defeat because John Kerry refused to release his military records to the General Public. No one ever proved any of the Swift Boat Veterans accusations false. (Kerry admitted his Christmas in Cambodia Story was false.)

Obama and the Obama Campaign have not been as transparent as they claim to be.
Walking the rows of media outlets at the Denver convention, I had no trouble finding reporters who complained the campaign was secretive and evasive. Ben Smith of has written about Team Obama's "pattern of rarely volunteering information or documents, even when relatively innocuous."
How is or was Obama involved with Tony Rezko?
Then there's the house that Mr. Obama bought in 2005 in cooperation with Tony Rezko, his friend and campaign fund-raiser -- a move the candidate concedes was "boneheaded." Rezko was convicted in June of 16 counts of corruption. (Mr. Obama was not implicated in Rezko's crimes.)
The fact that Senator Obama was not implicated in Rezko's crimes is impotant, but still leaves questions unanswered.
Was Mr. Obama able to save $300,000 on the asking price of his house because Rezko's wife paid full price for the adjoining lot? How did Mrs. Rezko make a $125,000 down payment and obtain a $500,000 mortgage when financial records shown at the Rezko trial indicate she had a salary of only $37,000 and assets of $35,000? Records show her husband also had few assets at the time.
Because ties to a convicted felon and a relationship which Obama admits was "Boneheaded" require more details.
Last April, the London Times revealed that Nadhmi Auchi, an Iraqi-born billionaire living in London, had loaned Mr. Rezko $3.5 million three weeks before the day the sale of the house and lot closed in June 2005. Mr. Auchi's office notes he was a business partner of Rezko but says he had "no involvement in or knowledge of" the property sale. But in April 2004 he did attend a dinner party in his honor at Rezko's Chicago home. Mr. Obama also attended, and according to one guest, toasted Mr. Auchi. Later that year, Mr. Auchi came under criminal investigation as part of a U.S. probe of the corrupt issuance of cell-phone licenses in Iraq. [Emphasis mine]
Mr. Auchi has also been tied to corruption and criminal activities.
In May 2004, the Pentagon's inspector general's office cited "significant and credible evidence" of involvement by Mr. Auchi's companies in the Oil for Food scandal, and in illicit smuggling of weapons to Saddam Hussein's regime. Because of the criminal probe, Mr. Auchi's travel visa to the U.S. was revoked in August 2004, even as Mr. Auchi denied all the allegations. According to prosecutors, in November 2005 Rezko was able to get two government officials from Illinois to appeal to the State Department to get the visa restored. Asked if anyone in his office was involved in such an appeal, Mr. Obama told the Chicago Sun-Times last March, "not that I know of." FOIA requests to the State Department for any documents haven't been responded to for months.
Despite the "not that I know of" reply cited above and the reported toast by Senator Obama also cited, Senator Obama seems to have a rather foggy memory for events.
After long delays, Mr. Obama sat with the editorial boards of the Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune in March to answer their questions about his connection to Rezko. He had no recollection of ever meeting Mr. Auchi. He also said he didn't understand a lot about house buying, and gave vague answers to other questions. Since then, he has avoided any further discussion of the Rezko matter.
Like John Kerry in 2004, Barack Obama refuses to release documents which could make everything clear.
Some inquiries could be cleared up if the Obama campaign were forthcoming with key documents. Mr. Obama claims that in buying his house in 2005 he got a low mortgage rate from Northern Trust bank because another bank made a competitive bid for his business, but his campaign won't reveal from which bank. While he has released 94 pages of documents relating to the Rezko sale, they don't include the single most important one -- the settlement statement that shows the complete flow of funds that were part of the house sale. When asked why that last key document isn't being released, the Obama campaign issued a boilerplate statement saying, "we have released documents that reflect every one of the final terms of the senator's purchase of the home." But key data are still being withheld.
There is a right to a certain amount of privacy which should be guaranteed to all of us. But, our Public Elected Officials in whom we place our trust need to be more open than the general public. We, as voters, have a right to know enough about an individuals personal life to make judgemnts about the Politicians' judgement.
Reporters who decline to press Mr. Obama for more information now, whether it be on William Ayers or the Rezko-Auchi partnership, may be repeating an old mistake. Most reporters failed to dig deep enough into the Nixon White House's handling of Watergate before the 1972 election. The country was soon consumed with that scandal. Most reporters pooh-poohed questionable Whitewater real-estate dealings of the Clintons before Bill Clinton's 1992 election. Within months of his inauguration a tangled controversy led to the appointment of a special prosecutor and an endless source of distraction for the Clinton White House.
We all should ask What's Obama Hiding?

Friday, August 29, 2008

I Was Wrong - That's The Good News

Some time ago I made my predictions as to who the Democrats and Republicans would choose as their Presidential Ticket in 2008. (November Prediction)

I was right about the top of each ticket (Obama and McCain), but I thought Obama would pick Bill Richardson of New Mexico as his VP. And I also predicted Michael Steele of Maryland would be McCain's VP. One of the reasons I made this choice was both Richardson an Steele would add executive experience to the Ticket.

The Good News is the fact that the VP choices were wrong. Obama's choice was Joe Biden, another Senator with no executive experience, and McCain's choice is Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska.

As a Conservative, this is great news. It appears to me that Joe Biden is a weak addition (although long on Foreign Relations) and does not add anything to the Democratic Selection. In fact, Senator Biden probably is a lialibality or at the very least a neuteral choice.

At the same time, Governor Palin is an energy boost to the Republican Side. As a Female Executive, she is very likely to attract many Hillary supporters to the Republican column. In addition she supports "Right to Life", Gun owners, Catholics, Mothers and others who feel that the "Cracks in the Glass Ceiling" are now much wider.

Great choice. Two mavericks who are able to claim McCain/Palin are the better agents of change.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

It's All About Him

Consider Barack Obama's rhetoric. "Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country." Notice he did not say "No one should question..." Rather he said "I will let no one question..." Rather arrogant and elitist, don't you think?

There is a real difference in the attitude expressed in the phrasing of Senator Obama's statement. It is from a position of strength that one makes a statement about something over which he/she had control. It is a statement of arrogance that one makes a statement over which he/she has NO control.

When the Senator tells me he will control My actions, he is being unrealistic. Just how does he propose to keep me from doing something which is within my right? Has Senator Obama somehow enlisted the "thought Police"?

I for one will let no one abridge my right to express my thoughts despite what the Senator thinks. This is another place where I WILL QUESTION BARACK OBAMA'S JUDGEMENT.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Question for Senator Obama

Today, On-Line The Wall Street Journal Review and Outlook section asks an interesting question.
What Is a 'Windfall' Profit?

August 4, 2008

The "windfall profits" tax is back, with Barack Obama stumping again to apply it to a handful of big oil companies. Which raises a few questions: What is a "windfall" profit anyway? How does it differ from your everyday, run of the mill profit? Is it some absolute number, a matter of return on equity or sales -- or does it merely depend on who earns it?
In answering these questions, we must all look beyond the Emotionally charged Rhetoric to find the answer(s) to some very important issues. We as Voters, need to do more than listen if we are to fulfill our obligations as Citizens.
Enquiring entrepreneurs want to know. Unfortunately, Mr. Obama's "emergency" plan, announced on Friday, doesn't offer any clarity. To pay for "stimulus" checks of $1,000 for families and $500 for individuals, the Senator says government would take "a reasonable share" of oil company profits.
Is the government now going to decide the reasonableness of a private corporation's profit? If we descend to this level, we are no longer exercising the Democratic Principles of Capitalism. This is Socialistic Dogma.
Mr. Obama didn't bother to define "reasonable," and neither did Dick Durbin, the second-ranking Senate Democrat, when he recently declared that "The oil companies need to know that there is a limit on how much profit they can take in this economy." Really? This extraordinary redefinition of free-market success could use some parsing.
Obviously there are some abuses of pricing which should be addressed by our government - unfair competition and deception are legitimate areas for government regulation, but limiting the profit a company can make is not one of them.
Take Exxon Mobil, which on Thursday reported the highest quarterly profit ever and is the main target of any "windfall" tax surcharge. Yet if its profits are at record highs, its tax bills are already at record highs too. Between 2003 and 2007, Exxon paid $64.7 billion in U.S. taxes, exceeding its after-tax U.S. earnings by more than $19 billion. That sounds like a government windfall to us, but perhaps we're missing some Obama-Durbin business subtlety.
It appears the Democrats are taking advantage of Emotion to Increase their own Electability. The Democrats are definitely not acting in a Democratic Manner over this issue.
Maybe they have in mind profit margins as a percentage of sales. Yet by that standard Exxon's profits don't seem so large. Exxon's profit margin stood at 10% for 2007, which is hardly out of line with the oil and gas industry average of 8.3%, or the 8.9% for U.S. manufacturing (excluding the sputtering auto makers).
We have learned that Big Oil has paid more in Taxes than they have made in profits. Now the Obama-Democrat coalition wants to tax reasonable profits. Do you really believe the founding fathers of this country intended for this to happen? History shows that the "Boston Tea Party" was a revolt against unfair taxation. This so-called "Windfall Profits Tax" the Democrats and Obama are proposing, is the same type of unfair taxation.
If that's what constitutes windfall profits, most of corporate America would qualify. Take aerospace or machinery -- both 8.2% in 2007. Chemicals had an average margin of 12.7%. Computers: 13.7%. Electronics and appliances: 14.5%. Pharmaceuticals (18.4%) and beverages and tobacco (19.1%) round out the Census Bureau's industry rankings. The latter two double the returns of Big Oil, though of course government has already became a tacit shareholder in Big Tobacco through the various legal settlements that guarantee a revenue stream for years to come.
If we allow this to happen, can Socialism be far behind. Do we really want our Government dictating what a reasonable profit is going to be?
In a tax bill on oil earlier this summer, no fewer than 51 Senators voted to impose a 25% windfall tax on a U.S.-based oil company whose profits grew by more than 10% in a single year and wasn't investing enough in "renewable" energy. This suggests that a windfall is defined by profits growing too fast. No one knows where that 10% came from, besides political convenience. But if 10% is the new standard, the tech industry is going to have to rethink its growth arc. So will LG, the electronics company, which saw its profits grow by 505% in 2007. Abbott Laboratories hit 110%.
Lets face facts. The Democrats are calling for this ridiculous tax to garner votes and power. Power which will cost us all more in the long run. As one commentator pointed out - Obama has proposed a $1,000 rebate to compensate for $4 gas, but the problem is this will create $5 or $6 dollar gas.
If Senator Obama is as exercised about "outrageous" profits as he says he is, he might also have to turn on a few liberal darlings. Oh, say, Berkshire Hathaway. Warren Buffett's outfit pulled in $11 billion last year, up 29% from 2006. Its profit margin -- if that's the relevant figure -- was 11.47%, which beats out the American oil majors.
Could this also apply to you? Why not add a line, or another Form, to the 1040 Tax Return to calculate a Profit Margin Increase Limit for individuals? If your Income increased above what ever the Democrats feel is unreasonable, you pay a penalty "Windfall Profits Tax".
Or consider Google, which earned a mere $4.2 billion but at a whopping 25.3% margin. Google earns far more from each of its sales dollars than does Exxon, but why doesn't Mr. Obama consider its advertising-search windfall worthy of special taxation?
To be fair, our government should have the same rules for all.
The fun part about this game is anyone can play. Jim Johnson, formerly of Fannie Mae and formerly a political fixer for Mr. Obama, reaped a windfall before Fannie's multibillion-dollar accounting scandal. Bill Clinton took down as much as $15 million working as a rainmaker for billionaire financier Ron Burkle's Yucaipa Companies. This may be the very definition of "windfall."
For that matter, Senator Obama could also qualify for a "Windfall Profits Tax" based on his last few years Profit Margin.
General Electric profits by investing in the alternative energy technology that Mr. Obama says Congress should subsidize even more heavily than it already does. GE's profit margin in 2007 was 10.3%, about the same as profiteering Exxon's. Private-equity shops like Khosla Ventures and Kleiner Perkins, which recently hired Al Gore, also invest in alternative energy start-ups, though they keep their margins to themselves. We can safely assume their profits are lofty, much like those of George Soros's investment funds.
It is stupid and shameful that the Democrats waste time and money appealing to the Emotion and Fear of the Voters to accomplish questionable and harmful goals.
The point isn't that these folks (other than Mr. Clinton) have something to apologize for, or that these firms are somehow more "deserving" of windfall tax extortion than Big Oil. The point is that what constitutes an abnormal profit is entirely arbitrary. It is in the eye of the political beholder, who is usually looking to soak some unpopular business. In other words, a windfall is nothing more than a profit earned by a business that some politician dislikes. And a tax on that profit is merely a form of politically motivated expropriation.
The Democrats have come a long way from the Party that nominated FDR and JFK (Kennedy NOT Kerry). We now have Pelosi, Reed, Durbin, Obama etc. Hillary was correct when she claimed "I have a Million Ideas that you can't afford". This quote has become the Mission Statement of the Democrats.
It's what politicians do in Venezuela, not in a free country.
We do not need more Socialistic Restrictions. We need more Capitalism and Free Trade, Smaller not Larger Government.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Obama's Politics as Usual

Today I found this article from The Tax Foundation. It is so good that nothing I could add would improve it. Therefore I am posting it in its entirety.

Obama Rhetoric on Oil Sounds Nice, But Nonsense

Posted on July 31, 2008 by Gerald Prante

There isn't much honesty in this presidential campaign from two candidates who supposedly were of a new type of politics. Earlier this week, Sen. McCain distorted Obama's position on energy taxes in a recent advertisement (the one that featured Britney Spears and Paris Hilton). And today, Sen. Obama made misleading statements saying that McCain wants to cut taxes on oil companies by $4 billion. But what Obama didn't say is that McCain's corporate tax cut would apply to all corporations, whether they produce oil, wind energy, or cookies. (That's kind of like saying that Sen. Obama favors government paying for Warren Buffett's prescription drugs since he supports Medicare Part D. Of course, everybody gets it.)

What's also funny is that when the vote in the Senate came up for a specific piece of legislation that did give special tax favors to oil companies and other energy producers (green as well as "dirty"), Obama voted for it and McCain voted against it. It was the Energy Policy Act of 2005, [Emphasis mine] which was a pathetic piece of legislation. McCain, along with many environmentally-friendly Democrats, as well as a few fiscal conservatives, voted against the measure. (It passed 74-26 and was signed by Pres. Bush who of course never had the guts to veto anything on principle.). Obama likely voted for it merely because his home state's corn producers stood to benefit from the ethanol mandates and subsidies that were included in the bill.

In his speech on Thursday, Obama also criticized McCain's gas tax holiday (rightly so), and then implied to voters that the oil company profits are merely at the expense of consumers, which is baloney and shows of economic ignorance of the fact that the purpose of prices is to allocate resources. Even if oil companies gave every dollar of profit to charity (and investment in the firm remained the same), the price would still have to be high given the huge worldwide demand for oil, or else there would be a shortage. Obama said, "But while Big Oil is making record profits, you are paying record prices at the pump and our economy is leaving working people behind."

Speaking of oil company profits, there is also the nonsense in a letter written by Democrats in Congress telling the oil companies that they should invest in alternative energies instead of buy back their stock. Essentially, they are telling the oil company executives that they should diversify the portfolio of their shareholders (corporate diversification) for them. But that leads to the obvious question: why not let investors diversify themselves if they think alternative energy is such a great investment? There are plenty of firms in that business. Suppose, on the other hand that there exist economies of scale (or scope) and thereby benefits in having the existing oil companies diversify themselves into green alternatives. Wouldn't you expect them to be doing just that right now in order to maximize the return to shareholders? After all, you imply that by buying back their stock, all they care about is their shareholders. If it's such a great investment, then their shareholders shouldn't mind. In fact, their stock should rise.
Senator Obama is very good at speaking at great length without saying anything. If the voters would ask themselves after listening to anything he says "What did he say?" and "How is he going to do that?" maybe some would get the idea that The Emperor Has No Clothes.

Can you name one concrete plan he has put forth that has specifics instead of "Pie in the Sky" ideas. Anybody, Please!