Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ship Saved. Huckabee Sunk

The Tea Party literally saved the ship of state yesterday.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he had at least 9 Republican Senators who were ready to vote for the Omnibus porker as he prepared to bring the bill to the Senate floor.  Then the Tea Party patriots roared into action, melting down the phone lines to DC and the 9 votes evaporated in the heat.

The good news is that the will of the people won the day.  The bad news is that there are still 9 RINOs blowing in the Senate wind who were prepared to vote for a bill that only a handful of guys wrote, nobody had time to read, and that would grow the national debt pile by a cool trillion or so.  Any fool could see that this was a bad idea for the nation, but there are still two handfuls of Republican uberfools who think the electorate is still sleeping through the financial apocalypse.  Fortunately, the anger of the American people is aroused and it doesn't look like anybody is going back to sleep until at least 2013 (if then).

The only good to come out of this Lame Duck session so far is that it is exposing the soft RINO underbelly of the Republican Presidential wannabes.  Governor Mike Huckabee, a guy the Watchman thought would make a reasonable conservative President, fell on his sword as he announced that all the Congressional Republican's who opposed the so-called Obama tax cut compromise were wrong to do so.  He basically said, this is the best deal we can get.

Oh really?  When?  Maybe its the best deal we can get in December, but it's surely not the best deal we can get in January.

Huckabee must never become the Commander-in-Chief of the American Armed Forces.  His strategy on the tax cut legislation is akin to saying, "Charge that hill, boys.  We've got 2 divisions coming up as reinforcements next month, but the enemy will give us half the ground between here and the top of the hill if we charge now."

That's insane.  No commander makes a charge at half strength if he can help it.  And the low part of the hill is always the easiest part to charge against. It's the top, where the hill is the steepest, that is the most difficult to take.

So Huckabee, Gingrich, and some other presidential contenders have shown that they love the art of the compromise more than they love standing for bedrock conservative principles.  It's politics as usual with solutions that no American likes (expect the "peace in our time" Republican appeasers).

Say what you will about Obama's inexperience as President, but he's won every political battle so far.  He charged when he had the troops and got health care passed.  His troops were decimated in the process and on the eve of being overrun in a counter-attack, he brilliantly negotiates a cease-fire which the rube Republicans accept.  By the time hostilities commence again, he will have reinforced his position having created an image of 'reasonableness' in the minds of voters while at the same time wielding a veto pen that will hold that hill for the next two years.

Way to go RINOs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Scuttling the Ship

We have to be clear on this.  The left wing of the Democrat party wishes to "create systemic failure, economic crisis and social chaos".  In short, their goal is to destroy our economic system so that they can usher in their vision of a socialist utopia.  Cloward and Piven, two professors from Columbia University, laid out this plan in their 1966 article in The Nation.

Fast forward to December 2010.

This week the Senate threatens to pass another massive trillion dollar spending bill.  It's a 2,000 page bill that almost nobody has read.  Sound familiar?  Despite the clear message of fiscal restraint sent by the voters in the last election, this bill is chock full of pork.  It's like the November election never happened.

Is this just the usual nest feathering of Congressmen and Senators on their way out the door?  To an extent, I'm sure that's true.  But we have to keep in mind that the liberal Democrats don't care if the ship goes down.  In fact, they want it to go down and the sooner the better.  Adding another trillion in deficit spending might just be the torpedo to do it.
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Naperville's Dumb and Dumber

Fraternal Order of Police
In the role of 'dumb' we have the Naperville Fraternal Order of Police Local 42. With the economy in full retreat and the city of Naperville facing ten million dollar deficits for as far as the eye can see, our cop shop thought they were entitled to a raise.

Wah! I want a Pony!!

In the face of these large deficits, did the city insist on a salary reduction from the Police union? No. Did they seek at least a salary freeze? No. Instead, on the eve of arbitration, the city offered the boys in blue a 3.3% salary increase for FY 2009/2010 and a 3.0% increase each year for the next two years.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Say No to Naperville Lobbyist

English: Entrance of City Hall, 400 South Eagl...
Dear Naperville City Council Members,

While the Watchman is sure the path of least resistance would be to simply approve the $60,000 Springfield lobbyist fee for next year, please consider these factors.

Do we really know what kind of bang for the buck we have received from this lobbyist?  Yes, we know about the Rt 59 widening and some other state funds coming our way.  But can the lobbyist really claim credit for those?  I think the legislators from districts that encompass Naperville had a much bigger impact.  Do we even know how many hours we get each year for our $60,000?  How many hours with staff?  How many hours in Springfield?  Without some better metrics, the value of a lobbyist is dubious.

The State of Illinois is bankrupt.  Lobbyists will be unsuccessful in pulling down any more money for the city for years to come.  Massive across-the-board cuts are coming and no lobbyist will be able to ameliorate them.

The dome on the Illinois State Capitol in Spri... Tomorrow a very large portion of the general assembly will be kicked out of office.  Our lobbyist admits that but what they don't say is that a substantial amount of their influence goes out the door with those departing relationships.  It takes years to build new relationships, so the value of our lobbyist is certainly less than what it was last year.

Taken together, and in light of the city's own fiscal crisis, I think these are good reasons not to retain a lobbyist for next year.  The city can always pick up the service again in a subsequent year if conditions change.

If you decide to retain a lobbyist, at a very minimum this contract should be put out for bids.  It's nice that they have held their fees constant over several years, but the present economic conditions call for reducing that fee.  I would bet money somebody would do the job for $50,000 per year.  You might say, "So what's $10,000 in a $100,000,000 budget?"  It's freakin' $10,000 -- that's what it is.

And finally, if for no other reason than the fact we face $10 million dollar deficits as far as the eye can see, NO CITY CONTRACTS SHOULD BE NO-BID.

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Friday, October 29, 2010

The Soulless Democrat Party

Official White House photo of President Bill C...Image via Wikipedia
Today it was revealed that former President Clinton tried to persuade the Democrat candidate for the US Senate in Florida, Kendrick B. Meek, to drop out of the race and throw his support behind Republican-turned-independent, Charlie Crist.  Crist himself confirmed this story and added that the White House was aware of the plan.  According to Crist, Meek had agreed to withdraw from the race, but has since changed his mind.  Meek denied that he ever intended to resign his candidacy.

TAMPA, FL - OCTOBER 24:  (R-L) Florida Gov. Ch...Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Rent is Too *&$#@ High

Perhaps the funniest candidate in this silly season is Jimmy McMillan, a candidate for Governor of New York from the "The rent is too damn high" party.

Jimmy is the only member of the TRITDH party, but in a year when voter anger is at it's zenith, this guy might actually grab some votes.  If cadence counts, McMillan will be the next Governor of New York.

But should he?

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

$3 Million to Keep Wonkaland Open

Residents of Dupage County, Illinois might be surprised to learn that the city of Naperville is planning to buy the Dupage Children's Museum property.  Your surprise might exist on several levels.
First, you might be surprised that a municipal government -- you know, them of stop signs, streets & sewers -- would be in the business of buying a financially troubled Kiddieland park.  Oh sure, I know they call it a 'Children's Museum', but that's about like calling tilt-a-whirl a centrifugal force museum.  Let's face it.  It's a Six Flags amusement park for small children.

Or maybe you're surprised to discover that this deal has been in the works for two years.  Perhaps you're startled to learn that the city council has been working on it in strict secrecy for all that time, floored that details of the deal just came to light October 1, and down right hacked off at the realization that the city council's first and final public vote on the purchase is scheduled for tomorrow, October 5th.  Five fabulous days to force feed a $3 million expenditure down the public gullet before they know what they have swallowed.

At least one Naperville councilman agrees, “I think the public deserves more than six days to make this decision,” said Councilman Grant Wehrli. “Just because the council members have been giving this mind-share for two years, we should not remove public input from the process.”

Perhaps the single most surprising fact is that the Naperville City Council will make this $3 million purchase of WillyWonka's place while floating over next years $10 million dollar budget deficit, presumably in their Wonkavator.  I can hear the soothing sounds of 'Pure Imagination' now.

Grooving to that tune, one councilman, Robert Fieseler, engaged in that most sublime of political talents: double speak.   “The whole idea here is to try to assure that the museum is self sufficient,” said Councilman Robert Fieseler. “We think it’s important that this not become a user of city resources at this time.”

Please forgive the Watchman for breaking in on the councilman's alternate reality, but 'at this time' is now and those $3 million dollars are certainly city resources.  If the goal is to help the Chocolate Factory attain self sufficiency, why is the city subsidizing their rent for the next 20 years?  For 5 years the rent will be zero and for the next 15 years, rent will be only about 10% of market value.  That's an interesting way to define self sufficient!

But politicians do that, don't they?  They take the most common sense understandings and turn them on their ear.  Just as the city plans to subsidizes it's way to Wonkan self sufficiency, it considers two of the three million dollars to be essentially found money.
"Hey look!  I just found $2 million dollars in this year's budget that we didn't spend!  Oh we tried to spend it, let me tell you we tried hard!  We allocated every last penny, but some dopey contractor didn't spend all the money we gave him.  What a mope!  So this is like found money.  Finder's keepers but we hate keepers.  They're boring, responsible people.  Use it or lose it, baby!
What's that you say?  Look, please stop nagging me about next year's deficit.  Don't you realize that next year never gets here when it comes to fiscal responsibility?  We don't have to worry about next year because we've got a Wonkavator!"
At least one councilman is showing a little hard-headed Republican sense.  In an email sent out on Monday, councilman Furstenau admits he's not in this to Free Willy.
“I (Councilman Dick Furstenau) immediately supported the deal in executive session meetings as soon as the price hit $3 million because that’s cheap money for that piece of property.” “But if for any reason, the museum can’t hack it after a few years, we own the property and can force them out, level the building and give the people of Naperville the parking solution they’ve desperately needed for years.” ~ Quote from the Daily Herald, September 29, 2010
Sentiment like that brings a tear to the eye... of Alex P. Keaton.

While the Watchman admires Councilman Furstenau's  city-first approach, this lease agreement with the Wonkans doesn't get the job done.  If the city wants the property for cheap, just yank the $250,000 annual SECA funding and the DCM will fold like a lawn chair.  That property will never be cheaper than it would be in bankruptcy court.  It's not a prime commercial property.  It sat vacant for a long time after the hardware store couldn't make a go of it there.  Whatever realtor gave it a valuation of $6 million is living in the Wonkavator.

In fact, by signing this agreement tomorrow, the city will ensure that for at least 20 years the city will not get more than 57 parking places from the Wonkans for train station parking.  The lease contract is rock solid for 20 years with automatic renewal for 50 more years.  Willy can bail with 12 months notice, but the city cannot get out of the deal for a minimum of 20 years.  I assure you that none of the present council members will still be serving the city when this lease ends.  So if you want to build a parking deck on that property, you'll have to leave it to your successors.

Once this deal is signed, the Wonkans will never fold.  With a $500,000 - $800,000 annual rent subsidy from the city, they have no reason to fold.  Ever.  Even if they can't continue to operate the Chocolate Factory, there is nothing to force them to give up the lease.  There should be a clause in the lease agreement terminating it if Willy ceases to operate a Children's Museum on the site, but there is no such clause.  As long as they  make the $62,000 annual rent payment to the city (a pittance, really),  there will be no parking deck built.  Even a moribund non-profit can keep hope alive by making that small annual payment.

The council likes to trumpet the fact that the $250,000 per year in SECA funding for the Wonkans will be ended with this purchase.  But what the city takes away with one hand, it gives back with two hands in the form of the $3 million cash and the massive rent subsidy.  Even the $250,000 SECA cut is likely not to be permanent.  The lease agreement clearly states that the Wonkans can apply for additional SECA funds for 'capital expenses and other projects.'  This is a shell game, folks.  There will be continued SECA funding for Willy but it just won't be called 'operating budget'.

The only thing the city will accomplish by signing this lease is to ensure the property cannot be taken over by the city for 20 years.  Even the 57 parking spaces for the train station are not guaranteed.  The lease calls for phasing in those 57 spaces "in such a manner that it will not negatively affect the Tenant's business operations."  since 57 spaces represents a quarter to a third of all parking at the facility, the Wonkans could easily argue (and prove) that giving away that many spaces is in fact detrimental to their business.

This lease agreement is terribly one sided in favor of the Wonkans.  The city makes all the iron-clad promises and Willy makes none.  The city thinks it has control of Willy by virtue of budgets and two board seats, but two board seats don't equal control of the board.  Willy will still be able to oppose the city when he wants to.

And now, here at the end of a long article, the Watchman buries what probably should have been the lead to this story.  It should be pretty clear to all by now that this is yet another government bailout of the private sector.  What is not so clear, and which you will see reported nowhere else, is who is the largest beneficiary of this bailout.  It is not the Wonkans as many would suspect.

The largest beneficiary of this bailout is Chase bank.  Naperville's $3 million payment goes not to Willy, but to Chase bank to pay down Willy's real estate loan.  In total, Chase will receive payments of approximately $6 million dollars from state, local, and private sources and and only write off $3.2 million in bad debt.  The bank is presently on the hook for the whole $9 million, but we, dear taxpayers, are bailing the bank out.

Who says state and local government can't play the bailout game as well as the feds.
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Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The End Is Near

Are you tired of the Watchman's doom and gloom?  So is he.  But the sky really is falling and without immediate fiscal adjustments, the sky is going to kill us.

It's absolutely imperative you understand that the world as you know it will soon cease to exist.  A global financial panic like none the world has ever seen is warming up in the bull pen.  When panic takes the mound, he will be an effective closer for he game we call prosperity.

His first strike was thrown in 1929 and it lead to the Great Depression.  As bad as that was, it was just strike one.  Worldwide debt levels were still relatively low so we were able to bounce back.

His second fast ball came in the fall of 2008.  The world came perilously close to a total financial collapse at that time.  The only things that saved us was 'Helicopter' Ben Bernanke.  True to his earlier promise to 'drop bundles of cash from a helicopter' if that's what it takes to avoid deflation, that's just what he did.  And it worked -- at least temporarily.

Strike three will come when the central banks of the world, having already blown their collective wads in 2008/2009, are unable to prevent the domino failure of one currency after another.  The same 'print money' approach to the 2008 crisis, will only make the next crisis worse.

When will this chain reaction start? Nobody knows for sure, but the US Treasury Department marked the trail Friday when we estimated that the total US debt would reach $19.6 Trillion by 2015.  At that point our national debt to GDP ratio will be at or above 100%.

Tthe US won't start the dominoes falling.  The chain reaction will likely start in Europe and spread around the world.  Banks (central and otherwise) hold debt from other banks.  When the debtor nations start defaulting on their debts, there will be nothing to stop the whole thing from spiraling out of control.   We'll probably be the last man standing, but who cares if you're the last one standing when everyone else is already dead.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pick 3

Which of the following will do the most damage to the Obama presidency?

Mull it over and see what you think.  Then scroll down to read what the Watchman thinks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Have We Gone Over The Cliff?

Everyone knows the US is in terrible fiscal shape.  We're broke.  We're bleeding red ink at what virtually all economists agree is an unsustainable rate.

But what if that unsustainable rate is even higher than we've been told?  What if instead of a total bar tab of $1.5 trillion for 2010, the total is going to be $2 trillion or maybe even $3 trillion?

Yesterday's data from the Treasury Department couldn't be more grim.  For the month of April, the feds ran a deficit of $82.69 billion.  Compare that to the 'modest' $20.91 billion deficit a year earlier in 2009 -- when things were supposedly worse than they are now during 'recovery'.  How can we have 4 times the deficit during a recovery month than we did during the deepest part of the recession?

Consider that April is a special month.  Money is supposed to pour in during April because personal income taxes are due.  But this April the government took in $20 billion less in income taxes than last April.  Why?  Because so many people are unemployed and many of those still employed are earning less.  Even the government can't tax money we don't make.

Consider too that April is supposed to be a surplus month.  In 43 of the last 56 years, the government took in more money in April than it spent.  This year, the government had the highest April deficit ever.  Ever.

If April is this bad, what will the rest of the year look like?  A $1.5 trillion deficit for 2010?  Don't you believe it, gentle reader.  Even Obama's own budget director, Peter Orszag, said "the United States must tackle its deficits quickly to avoid the kind of debt crisis that hit Greece."

Ya think?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Enemies of the People

Enemies of America are loose in our land. I'm not talking about Timothy McVeigh or Nidal Malik Hasan.  I'm not talking about Oklahoma City or Fort Hood.  I'm talking about Washington DC and the enemies named Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and Barack Obama.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Fear the Boom and the Bust

As a young watchman I heard the name Keynes often in school.  Hayek not so much.  Here are the two in an amusing rap video.  Who knew economics could be entertaining?

Rather than have political debates across America this summer, we should have Hayek/Keynes debates!

Monday, February 8, 2010

If You Are Going to Destroy My Country...

...could you please refrain from applause?  

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to increase the national debt limit by $1.9 trillion.  After the final gavel fell, house democrats applauded.  Let me say that again.  After increasing the national debt limit to $14.2 trillion  -- a burden your children and their children for generations to come will suffer under -- the democrats gave a thundering round of applause.

We know that the ones applauding were Democrats because not a single Republican voted for the increase.  C-Span cut the sound right after the applause started.  Whether that was in collusion with congress (C-Span bellies up the the public trough of course) or in sympathy with a public whose ears could not stand the zen of even one congressional hand clapping, the Watchman cannot say.  How long did they applaud the downfall of a nation?  We may never know.

But of one thing we can be sure.  There was no evidence of reluctance, no sign of remorse, no sackcloth and ashes, nor any wailing or gnashing of teeth.  That will come in November when these dishonorable representatives of the people, these  corrupt liars, deceitful cheats, unrepentant child molesters, and enslavers of free men will be turned out into the cold streets with a swift kick in their bare ballot box.

Yes, yes.  I know they had to pass the increase or the 'full faith and credit' of the nation would be at risk.  Horror!  But they better never again applaud when they should be hanging their heads in shame and slinking down the steps of the capitol with their tails between their legs for the moral  felony just committed.  The righteous anger of the electorate has been aroused.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Big Bad Barack Blasts Bench

Barak Obama is a genius, that's for sure.  Have you ever seen a sitting President dis the Supreme Court like that?  Did he ever take a psych 101 class?  If he didn't like their last ruling, wait 'till he sees the next few.

You see, those folks in the black robes are sitting in the front row for a reason.  They are a co-equal branch of the federal government.  Barry doesn't understand that concept because he figures nobody is his equal.  Well, surprise Mr President!  The SCOTUS figures nobody is their equal either.  And with lifetime appointments, maybe they have a point.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Missionaries Bring Water to Port-au-Prince

Yesterday the Watchman shared with you a first person account of a missionary friend who was in Port-au-Prince on the day of the earthquake and who went back to help with search and rescue the next day.  Tonight we share a post from his wife Leslie Rollings.  She reports that large numbers of people are fleeing from Port-au-Prince, no doubt in search of water, food, and shelter.  Today she and some co-workers took what aid supplies they could into Port-au-Prince.  This is their story.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Pray for Haiti

Chris Rollings is a missionary friend of the Watchman who serves with Clean Water for Haiti.  He was in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit.  Thankfully he was outside at the time and was not injured.

What follows is his heart rendering blog post describing his attempt to rescue teenage girls from a collapsed three story school building today.  It's an emotional read, but an important one for all of us in the US to absorb I think.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Crotch Bomber Will Walk

*** Liberty Watchman Exclusive ***

In a White House press briefing this week, spokesman Robert Gibbs made this amazing yet little reported admission (at 20:10 in the clip above).

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

To Forgive Is Devine

Brit Hume's suggestion on Sunday that Tiger Woods should turn toward Christianity to find forgiveness and redemption has some observers objecting.  But what did Hume really say?