Patrick's Rants


Throw Out Incompetent Jeff Flake

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 8:47 am

Jeff Flake wrote a letter to the President which he summarizes on his House web site.

Mesa, Arizona, Oct 28 – Republican Congressman Jeff Flake, who represents Arizona’s Sixth District, today sent a letter to President Bush regarding reports that the Treasury Department may use funds from the bank bailout to assist struggling automotive companies.

News reports have also indicated that General Motors and Chrysler would use bailout funds to complete a merger, with the federal government receiving an equity stake in the new company.

“Many of us feared that the nationalization of the financial sector would spread to other industries,” said Flake. “Today it’s the automakers asking for a bailout; tomorrow we can expect the airline industry and other struggling industries to be next in line.”

“If liquidity is the issue, measures such as cutting the corporate tax rate, suspending the tax on capital gains, and removing penalties for the repatriation of foreign assets are far better options than putting the federal government in the position of choosing winners and losers in the economy.”

First, let me say that I agree that government money should not be poured into failing companies. That’s where our agreement ends though. I am not familiar with the foreign asset repatriation penalties, I will instead focus on the other points.

“If liquidity is the issue, measures such as cutting the corporate tax rate, suspending the tax on capital gains,

Why is it that the answer to everything for Republicans is to cut taxes and reduce government oversight? If a corporation is losing money they are not paying taxes. Period. The tax rate on -$1million is $0. The government doesn’t send corporations a check if they don’t make any money this year. Corporations don’t get the “earned income credit” or the “per child tax credit”. Instead, they get to apply those losses to future earnings.

Suspending the tax rate of capital gains? That only makes Warren Buffet rich. Correction, Warren Buffet doesn’t sell things – he buys them to hold them. A suspension of the capital gains rate will set the stock market up to go to zero. Anyone holding onto gains for because they didn’t want the tax consequence will dump their remaining stocks and bonds. And they will do it now out of fear that the market is going lower and the prospect that the suspension is temporary. It will start a selling spree that would not be limited to the stock market, homes could start hitting the selling block driving prices down even further. Additionally, the middle class will again get the shaft on their 401(k), Traditional IRA and other tax deferred retirement plans. The lower capital gains rate doesn’t apply to capital gains held in your retirement plan – instead you pay the highest rate, just like you would if you were still working.

At first glance, this appears to be complete and utter disregard for the middle class (anyone who makes less than $5 million/yr according to McCain) perhaps, I should heed Hanlon’s Razor, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” Jeff, you are either an idiot or else you think we are, or you are maliciously attempting to cut the life out of the middle class. Jeff, if it weren’t for the middle class you would have to pay more taxes and clean your own toilet.


Obama’s Latest Endorsements

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 12:34 pm

This past week, Colin Powell endorsed Obama for President as well as granddaughter’s of conservative Barry Goldwater.


Life Without Walls

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Goofy Commercials — site admin @ 7:15 am

There is a joke that has been on the internet for quite a while. It goes something like this, “without walls and fences, who needs WindowsTM or Gates?” And now, Microsoft’s own advertising campaign is, “Life without walls.” That means we don’t need Windows.

Vista blog
More at Microsoft Watch

Fix Vista

Filed under: Geek News and Stuff,Goofy Commercials — site admin @ 6:53 am

The latest Mac commercial has “PC” sitting at a table with his accountant eye shade on. We hear him as he’s moving money from a smallish pile of money to two other piles,

“advertising, advertising, advertising. Fix Vista. Advertising, advertising, advertising. Fix Vista.”

The pile for advertising is huge while the pile to fix Vista is quite small. Mac asks him about the piles and PC tells him that he has to spend a lot of money on marketing Vista leaving little to fix the bugs that exist in Vista – which might make it a product that people actually would want to buy. PC looks at the stacks and begins to ask if the “fix” pile might not be enough to fix all the bugs in Vista and motions his hands as if moving the marketing money into the fix pile. PC looks at the piles and says, “you’re right” and moves all of the money to the marketing pile.


Car Pool

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 6:42 am

John McCain was just on TV calling Obama a liberal.

He’s in the left lane of politics, he always has been.

I don’t know where John has been driving, but around here the left lane is the fast lane and in some cases, it’s the car pool lane.


That’s My Vote

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 9:05 am

November 4, 2008 has the following items on the ballot in Arizona:
Prop 100 would amend the Arizona Constitution to prohibit a transfer tax on property.
No. There is no need to amend the constitution, adding more cruft for something that has not – to my knowledge – even been proposed. A yes vote would require any future consideration to be two-fold: repeal the amendment and approve a transfer tax. Vote no new amendments.

Prop 101. I’m going to stray from no new amendments for this proposition to amend the Arizona Constitution. It expands rights instead of removing them. Rightfully, this should be included in statute, but it’s apparently not. It’s related to health care and health care choice. A reluctant “yes” on 101.

Prop 102. Amend the Arizona Constitution to “provide that only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state”. This despite the fact that Arizonans voted against this two years ago; despite the fact that so-called “gay marriage” is already illegal in Arizona. Let me repeat that for the cheap seats, gay marriage is already illegal in Arizona. The bogey man here is that “activist judges” will change the law. Activist judges have done what judges do, interpret the law and when the law is wrong, they right that wrong. I won’t go into how much good is done when rights are expanded by “activist judges”. Something as simple as being read your rights when arrested, Miranda rights, come from an activist judge’s ruling. No, no, no on 102.

Prop 105. Amend the Arizona Constitution to “provide that an initiative measure that establishes, imposes or raises a tax, a fee or other revenue or mandates a spending obligation… shall not become law unless the initiative measure is approved at the election by a majority of qualified electors registered to vote in the state.” (emphasis added) No, No, NO! This amendment to the constitution would put all of the power in the hands of people who cannot be bothered to make it to the polls. All registered voters who don’t vote will have their votes cast as an automatic “no”. If a voter can’t be bothered to get off the couch and vote for or against something there is no way that they should get an automatic “no” overriding the wishes of people who actually do vote.

Prop 200. Modify and extend Pay Day Loan law. Yes.
Prop 201. Modify and expand homeowner/homebuyer rights. The commercials running against this are inaccurate and refer to sections of the proposition that do not exist using scare tactics and the “outside lobbyists” bogeyman. Yes.
Prop 202. I’m split on this one. Ostensibly this attempts to modify and correct the Arizona illegal worker law that was recently passed. The entire law needs to be thrown out. There are already federal laws in place to do exactly what the original law purported to do. Changing the law to “fit it” will do nothing to keep Arizonans or US Citizens (and legal residents) safer. The entire thing needs to be stricken from the books. This is in the same boat as my primary stand on amendments, no more cruft. Unfortunately, that option is not on the ballot – I would vote repeal if there were that option.

I would support an amendment to voting laws that would allow for a “Repeal original law” choice on the ballot.

Prop 300. Simple – raise the state legislator’s salaries from $24,000 to $30,000. They haven’t received a raise in ten years. Their jobs are part time and there should be no increase when the economy is flailing. No.

And now the floor is open for debate 🙂


$700 Billion?

Filed under: Money,Politics — site admin @ 7:31 am

It’s your turn. Help people instead of companies

We need to temporarily lock the interest rates that homeowners are paying – no upward ARM adjustments for the the next five years or more.

Housing prices need to adjust with the market. Prices are over inflated and need to cool. Step in to help homeowners keep their homes as opposed to supporting the ability of companies to make bad decisions without recourse. Yes, individuals need to take responsibility for their actions. The process of buying a home and obtaining a mortgage can be an overwhelming process; the banks have the primary responsibility of ensuring that purchasers properly understand their loans. If the banks have failed in this regard then they must be held responsible. Easing a homeowner into a better loan if possible or selling the home if needed should be the primary focus of this legislation, not enforcing poor or even criminal business practices.

No one wins in an environment where foreclosed homes sit vacant to be stripped of wiring and copper pipe. Occupied homes help to keep the crime rate down and the tax base intact.

If you are going to spend my money – and let’s face it, it is my money along with every other taxpayer out there – spend it helping people.


Deja Vu All Over Again

Filed under: Money,Politics — site admin @ 9:51 am

President Ronald Reagan stepped through the tall French doors of the White House Oval Office into the bright sunlight of a lovely fall morning…

The president stood at ease for a moment and looked out over the assembled guests, beaming with pride and satisfaction. He had promised the American people that he would get government off their backs, that he would deregulate the private sector.

I predicted more problems almost a year ago.

Twenty years ago, Ronald Reagan signed legislation that led to the end of the Savings & Loan industry. His administration allowed the S&Ls to slide ever closer to oblivion, turning a blind eye to the disaster shaping up across the country. Lack of regulation allowed the S&Ls to be pillaged and burned while Reagan, like Nero, fiddled happily away. Bush Sr was elected to office and started the takeover of the failing institutions through the Resolution Trust Corporation. RTC moved too fast, just as Reagan moved too slow – or not at all.

This is what’s wrong with the idea that there’s too much regulation. A little bit of regulation can go a long way, too much and the market begins to sink into oblivion. Not enough and you have RTC, Enron and Arther Anderson. Leaving the S&L industry alone in the late 80s and we might not be where we are today with our current mortgage meltdown.

Leaving a tiny piece of regulation in place that kept CPA firms from offering “consulting services”, a euphemism for “what else can we ‘sell’ to our clients?” might have saved Arther Anderson and even possibly prevented the implosion of Enron.

Leaving the regulation alone that controlled mortgages might have reduced or prevented the so-called housing bubble and the current pop that is beginning to affect banks worldwide. With his “what, me worry?” attitude Baby Bush encouraged companies to lend money to people who could neither afford their mortgage nor qualify if properly asked to.

Regulation attempts to reduce the greed factor; if it’s done properly. The whip-saw of Sarbanes-Oxely is a massively expensive choke hold on companies that will do little to prevent another Arther Anderson. A simple rule that prevented them from offering consulting services – in any way – to companies whose books they audit would have been sufficient.

We are seeing the extremist positions of Republicans over the last 35 years. Reagan stabbed the S&Ls in the back, Bush Sr grabbed the dagger and twisted. Dubya cut regulation on mortgages – arguably to allow those who are barely making their rent to own a home and it’s taking banks down around the world.

McCain has been along for this entire ride. We cannot afford to have his finger on the pulse of the country; the republican response to a slowing heart rate is to remove the oxygen mask and shut off the life support.


John McCain’s Biggest Asset

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 10:18 am

Listening to the RNC speeches over the last few days the thing that stands out the most is, John McCain can’t lift his hands above his shoulders. So what? Fred Thompson, whose acting I like but whose politics leave me sick, told the nation that John McCain cannot salute the flag of his country. As McCain would say, my friends… I can only shake my head. A man not in uniform is not allowed to salute the flag by raising his hand to the rim of his hat. It’s disrespectful. (Except a Google search turns up a 2007 law allowing non-uniformed military personnel to salute as if they were in uniform)

The speeches given last night were elitist. Guliani said,

“I learned as a trial lawyer a long time ago, if you don’t have the facts, you’ve got to change them.”

Well we know where he’s coming from then don’t we? Instead of long term results, he started the crowd chanting, “drill baby drill!”

I’ve written enough about about alternative energy on this blog. Nothing said last night changes my opinion and many, many others that we cannot drill our way out of this mess. 100 years of the automobile have sucked the oil out of the ground and put us under the thumb of the oil producing countries. Yes, we have to get away from oil. The steps are not, “drill baby drill.”



Gustav’s Political Impact

Filed under: Politics — site admin @ 7:47 pm

Both Presidential candidates claimed they were in touch with the potential landfall of hurricane Gustav on the Louisiana coast. John McCain scaled back the first day of the Republican National Convention and visited the state prior to landfall.

Let’s get real though. Neither of these guys, Obama nor McCain, could do anything for preparation or to assist. Obama was “in touch” with the head of FEMA. This storm – the preparation, the success or failure – fell onto the state of Louisiana, the preparedness of FEMA after its last embarrassing ass kicking when Dubya was off vacationing and Brownie couldn’t get things organized. Yes, the blame fell everywhere – and this time they were ready.

But “my friends” neither Obama or McCain had a damn thing to do with it.

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