Honduras votes today

Today is the day that Hugo Chavez and some of the other left-wing leaders in Latin America didn’t want to see: Honduras going through with the regularly scheduled elections after having deposed President manuel Zelaya last summer. The symbol of today’s elections in Honduras borrowed from La Gringa!

La Gringa reported on Friday:

On his knees and other candidate news

Adán Fúnez, Mayor of Tocoa, Colon

On his knees (literally!), the mayor of Tocoa and candidate for reelection, Adán Fúnez, renounced the resistance and asked forgiveness of the Liberals who he offended. He pledged his support of Liberal party candidate Elvin Santos and urged everyone to vote on Sunday.

UD and zelayista presidential candidate César Ham decided not to withdraw from the elections last week and is no longer promoting boycott of the elections. His platform includes a constitutional assembly. This was a serious blow to Zelaya who hoped to be able to point to the withdrawal of both opposition candidates as “proof” that the elections were not fair. Ham’s action may be the most patriotic of all of the candidates as it will show that the opposition/resistance/zelayistas do have a choice in the elections and will prove once and for all whether or not they represent a majority of the population.

Approximately 40 Zelaya-supporting candidates officially withdrew from the elections, representing around 1% of the total candidates. Most were immediately replaced with other candidates by their political parties, as is allowed under Honduran election law.

According to La Gringa, Canada, Panama, Peru, Costa Rica and, most importantly, the United States will recognize the elections, while Columbia may do so as well. Mr Zelaya reportedly responded to a supporter trying to boost his flagging spirits that more countries than not would decline to recognmize the election, “Yeah, but the US is worth more than all those pendejos put together.”

The good news is that, after initially giving in to his leftist impulses, President Obama has realized that the free elections, proceeding as scheduled, are the best solution to the problems of Honduras, and we’ll see a return to normalcy soon enough.

More hypocrisy: another politician who urged higher taxes didn’t pay all of his own

Well, how ’bout this? It seems that Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) hasn’t been paying all of his taxes!  From DRJ of Patterico’s Pontifications:

IRS Files Tax Lien Against Schwarzenegger

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 1:19 pm

The LA Times reports TMZ.com has obtained a copy of an IRS tax lien filed for $79,064 against Schwarzenegger for unpaid 2004-2005 tax penalties:

“Public records show the lien was filed May 11 at the Los Angeles County recorder’s office for $79,064, according to a record in an electronic database that includes lien filings. The record lists the debtor as Arnold Schwarzenegger and the address as the governor’s home address in Brentwood.

The lien was reported Friday by TMZ.com, which posted a copy of a lien document that says it is from the county recorder’s office. That document shows that Schwarzenegger owes $39,047.20 from 2004 and $40,016.80 from 2005.

The document also lists a section of the IRS code that suggests the debt may be penalties for a failure to report certain business transactions.”

The Governor’s spokesman says it’s a “a minor paperwork tracking discrepancy” that will be quickly cleared up with no penalty. He also claimed it is “completely unrelated to the payment of taxes, which the governor has paid in full and on time.”

Really? The tax lien was reportedly filed in May 2009, so that’s not quick in my book. It appears to cover unpaid 2004-2005 penalties levied pursuant to IRS Code Section 6721 (”a payor may be subject to a penalty for failure to file a complete and correct information return with the Internal Revenue Service”). The last time I looked, tax penalties were still part of the tax system.

Granted, this may not be a big deal to the Governor but it would be to most people.

I don’t live in the Pyrite State, but it’s a big deal to me, certainly enough. The Governator has just joined the ever-lengthening list of politicians who advocate higher taxes, but haven’t even paid all of their own:

California Gov. Schwarzenegger urges budget changes coming on May ballot

San Francisco Business Times – by Eric Young, Thursday, March 12, 2009

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger started a campaign Thursday to drum up voter support for a series of budget-related propositions he wants to pass in May.

Speaking in San Francisco to the Commonwealth Club, the Republican governor said the six propositions on the May 19 ballot will help bring an end to drawn-out budget battles and the state’s history of boom-and-bust revenue cycles.

“A ‘yes’ vote gives more stability to schools and law enforcement and health care,” he said to an audience of more than 100 people. “A ‘yes’ vote puts our great state back on the path to prosperity.”

Voters will be asked to approve six propositions designed to put the state’s budget — which was passed by lawmakers last month after a weeks-long impasse — into action. The six measures include a cap on spending, creating a “rainy day” fund and diverting some money meant for mental health services to other programs.

If voters don’t approve the six separate propositions, the state’s budget could fall short by as much as $6 billion, creating another budget mess.

Remember former Senator Tom Daschle, once the Senate Majority Leader? President Obama nominated him to become Secretary of Health and Human Services, but he was forced to withdraw when it was discovered that he had failed to report and pay taxes on corporate-provided driver and limousine services, on $83,333 that he earned as a consultant to InterMedia Partners in 2007, and that he had improperly taken some $14,963 in charitable deductions for gifts to organizations which did not meet IRS criteria for deductability. In Congress, Mr Daschle made a career out of supporting higher taxes, and opposing proposed tax cuts.

Well, at least Mr Daschle withdrew, which was more than Tim Geithner did. Mr Geithner had a host of tax problems, which he knew about, yet accepted President Obama’s nomination to become Secretary of the Treasury.

Barack Obama promised tax cuts for the vast majority of Americans when he was running for president, but, come last August, Secretary Geithner was one of the officials the President sent out to say, wait a minute, maybe my tax cut promises were no good:

2 officials won’t rule out tax hike

Obama’s treasury chief and top economic adviser address budget and health-care funding.
By Philip Elliott, Associated Press

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s treasury secretary said yesterday that he cannot rule out higher taxes to help tame an exploding budget deficit, and his chief economic adviser would not dismiss raising them on middle-class Americans as part of a health-care overhaul.

As the White House sought to balance campaign rhetoric with governing, officials appeared willing to extend unemployment benefits. With former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan saying he is “pretty sure we’ve already seen the bottom” of the recession, Obama aides sought to defend the economic stimulus and calm a jittery public.

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and National Economic Council director Larry Summers both sidestepped questions on Obama’s intentions about taxes. Geithner said the White House was not ready to rule out a tax hike to lower the federal deficit; Summers said Obama’s proposed health-care overhaul needs funding from somewhere.

“There is a lot that can happen over time,” Summers said, adding that the administration believes “it is never a good idea to absolutely rule things out, no matter what.”

During his presidential campaign, Obama repeatedly vowed “you will not see any of your taxes increase one single dime.” But the simple reality remains that his ambitious overhaul of how Americans receive health care – promised without increasing the federal deficit – must be paid for.

“If we want an economy that’s going to grow in the future, people have to understand we have to bring those deficits down. And it’s going to be difficult, hard for us to do. And the path to that is through health-care reform,” Geithner said. “We’re not at the point yet where we’re going to make a judgment about what it’s going to take.”

There’s just something tiring, and depressing, about all of the elites who tell us that, sorry, but you’re going to have to pay more in taxes, who have advocated higher taxes, and then we find out that they haven’t paid all of the taxes that they owe.

The Governator lists himself as a Republican, though he certainly hasn’t governed like one. But being a Republican doesn’t make his hypocrisy on taxes any better. Really, it makes it even worse.

Be strong and be brave, muqarrabin, for your reward awaits you!

It’s still pretty early in the process, so we don’t really know what will happen, but the early indications are that the Guantanamo defendants, as well as Major Nidal Hasan, may be using insanity or mental incompetence defenses.

Mental State Cited in 9/11 Case

By Jess Bravin, The Wall Street Journal

WASHINGTON — When five defendants are brought before a New York federal judge to face charges for the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the first question may be whether some of them are competent to stand trial at all.

Military lawyers for Ramzi Binalshibh, an accused organizer of the 9/11 plot, and Mustafa al-Hawsawi, the conspiracy’s alleged paymaster, say their clients have mental disorders that make them unfit for trial, likely caused or exacerbated by years of harsh confinement in Central Intelligence Agency custody.

The issue already has arisen in military-commission proceedings at the military’s detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. According to an August ruling by a military judge, prosecutors have made an “apparent concession” that Mr. Binalshibh “suffers from a delusional disorder-persecutory type” disorder. Mr. Binalshibh has been prescribed “a variety of psychotropic medications used to treat schizophrenia and/or bipolar disorder, including Haldol, Abilify, risperidone and Ativan,” according to commission records.

More at the link; hat tip to Donald Douglas.

Now, this seems kind of strange to me: if the defendants really are mentally incompetent to stand trial, they we still wind up holding them as prisoners until they are mentally competent to stand trial; we don’t just let them go. They still wind up in jail!

The only thing that gets them out of jail is being acquitted, something that can’t happen unless they actually stand trial. Who knows, it may be that some of them really are nuts, but as long as they are nuts in jail, I really don’t care.

There is virtually no chance that we will ever let these guys go free; the President is already planning to hold about 75 of them whom we know to be really bad guys but can’t prove so in court, without trials, either civilian or military. So, the jihadists are at the point, really, of proudly proclaiming their intentions and actions, and making themselves heroes to their like-minded compatriots, or slinking away from the light as much as they possibly can; the 72 houris :) await only the brave, not the cowards.

The Q’ran speaks of the rewards, and divides the believers into two groups, those on the right hand (ashab al-yamin) or the ordinary believers, and the foremost, the muqarrabin, in Chapter 56, al-Waqi’ah, beginning with verse 7:

56:7 And you shall be three sorts.
56:8 Then (as to) the companions of the right hand; how happy are the companions of the right hand!
56:9 And (as to) the companions of the left hand; how wretched are the companions of the left hand!
56:10 And the foremost are the foremost,
56:11 These are they who are drawn nigh (to Allah),
56:12 In the gardens of bliss.
56:13 A numerous company from among the first,
56:14 And a few from among the latter.
56:15 On thrones decorated,
56:16 Reclining on them, facing one another.
56:17 Round about them shall go youths never altering in age,
56:18 With goblets and ewers and a cup of pure drink;
56:19 They shall not be affected with headache thereby, nor shall they get exhausted,
56:20 And fruits such as they choose,
56:21 And the flesh of fowl such as they desire.
56:22 And pure, beautiful ones,
56:23 The like of the hidden pearls:
56:24 A reward for what they used to do.
56:25 They shall not hear therein vain or sinful discourse,
56:26 Except the word peace, peace.
56:27 And the companions of the right hand; how happy are the companions of the right hand!
56:28 Amid thornless lote-trees,
56:29 And banana-trees (with fruits), one above another.
56:30 And extended shade,
56:31 And water flowing constantly,
56:32 And abundant fruit,
56:33 Neither intercepted nor forbidden,

Will those who bow down before their infidel captors, who quail that they were mistreated, who whine that they didn’t do it or weren’t really responsible for their actions, earn the title of muqarrabin, or will they be lucky to just be ashab al-yamin? Will the brave men who persuaded nineteen of their compatriots to commit suicide in a bold attack on the Great Satan America show as much courage themselves, and proudly admit what they have done and proclaim that they’d do it all over again, or will they try every legal trick in the book to save their own skins?

Once again, the neoconservatives are right

The Democrats in the Senate were just appalled when President Bush appointed John Bolton to be our Ambassador to the United Nations.  Mr Bolton was rude, Mr Bolton was undiplomatic, Mr Bolton was a hard-liner, they complained.  One thing the Democrats didn’t complain about, one thing they never mentioned, was that Mr Bolton was most often right! Sharon had this story:

John Bolton Was Right

I really hate when conservatives are right about these things, since it just means we’re in that much greater danger of dangerous stuff…like a nuclear armed Iran.

When the Obama Administration proclaimed victory on October 1st by announcing that a break-through had been reached in Geneva and that Iran had committed to shipping 2,600 pounds of fuel to Russia, expert Iran watchers were appropriately cynical. Bolton cautioned, yet again, that the Iranians had used some of the same diplomatic nuances they had been using for years to successfully buy more time to continue enriching uranium and fake cooperation with the international community.

Usually, the Europeans were the first to take the bait but this time the Obama Administration got hooked first. Bolton, however, was the first to stand up and call the Iranian pronouncement a sham – and he did it within hours of the announcement.

But as Obama officials were rushing to pat themselves on the back and the New York Times was proclaiming atop the paper “Iran Agrees to Send Enriched Uranium to Russia,” Iranian officials were telling reporters that they had not committed to anything. The Iranians called it “an agreement in principle” – code words for “we’d like to but…”

The Times’ reporter in Geneva, however, was taking what the Obama officials were saying and running wildly with the incredible news. Surprisingly, or maybe not, the Times had either not checked with Iranian officials or ignored their warnings in favor of the Obama Administration’s good news. Roughly a month later, the Iranian official statements confirmed the fact that the Obama Administration had been duped. The Times subsequently inched its way back to reality through multiple follow-up stories that increasingly showed skepticism in the Victory claims culminating with October 30th’s headline “Tehran Rejects Nuclear Accord.”

Today, while the Iranians reprocess more fuel, the Obama team continues to compromise and offer even more incentives to them. No wonder Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is waiting – the deal keeps getting sweeter. President Obama has offered the Iranians more time, more sites to place their illegal fuel, more personal correspondence with the Ayatollah, more excuses as to what happened to the original deal they announced and no Chinese and Russian arm-twisting. The Obama team also keeps claiming that if Iran ships 2600 pounds of fuel out to Russia for re-processing then Iran will be unable to pose a nuclear threat for at least a year.

It’s tough to keep giving Democrats the benefit of the doubt on these issues. The evidence keeps mounting that they either (a) don’t mind Iranian mullahs having nuclear weapons cuz, geez, America is the only country to ever use nukes, or (b) they are so stupid that they actually think the Iranian government won’t lie about their nuclear ambitions. Either way, the threat is great.

Well, I’d point out here that I was right as well, when I noted that:

Well, we’ll see. I admit that I don’t trust the Iranian government at all, but if the agreement is finalized, and it is verifiable, it will be a positive step.

At any rate, it didn’t take long before the supposed deal began to unravel. I was willing to give some credit to the Obama Administration, if the agreement actually panned out, while John Bolton just went straight negative. Thing is, while I put caveats on my giving credit to the Obama Administration, Mr Bolton was solidly, completely, 100% right. He gave no praise to the President for an agreement he was sure would never be finalized or honored, and he was dead on target.

Our own Americaneocon didn’t really write much on the subject himself, but he did post this cartoon by Theo Spark, which kind of explains it all:

The label “neoconservative” has ben bandied about with such looseness that a lot of people don’t really know what they are saying when they use the word. Without trying to get into definitions of the word, I’d like to posit three underlying principles of neoconservatism in foreign policy:

  1. Democracy and Western civilization are inherently superior, morally, ethically and economically, to any other cultures known to man, and ought to be held as superior publicly and in our dealings with other nations;
  2. Countries ruled by despots and dictators are inherently both capricious and untrustworthy, and agreements or alliances made with them must be constantly monitored for compliance; and
  3. Unwarranted expressions of good faith and hope shown to dictators and despots will not be returned with good faith, but with the assumption that such are signs of weakness and will be exploited wherever possible.

In his campaign, Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) made some promises concerning how he would conduct American foreign policy:

  • Secure loose nuclear materials from terrorists:

    Obama and Biden will secure all loose nuclear materials in the world within four years, and will negotiate a verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material to curb the spread of nuclear weapons.

  • Barack Obama will pursue tough, direct diplomacy without preconditions to end the threat from Iran:

    Obama and Biden will present the Iranian regime with a clear choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, they would offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, Obama and Biden will step up our economic pressure and political isolation.

  • Renew American diplomacy:

    Obama and Biden will renew American diplomacy to meet the challenges of the 21st century. They will rebuild our alliances. And they would be willing to meet with all nations, friend and foe, to advance American interests.

  • In his campaign, Mr Obama was promising a foreign policy which was supposedly firm, but which wouldn’t upset other people, would treat them with respect. President Bush’s statement about the “Axis of Evil,” and President Reagan’s long-ago description of the Soviet Union as an “Evil Empire” would be things that would have to go under the Obama Administration.

    But, one thing about the neoconservatives: they were blunt, and they were forthright, and they often made few friends, but they were absotively, posilutely right in how they viewed the world. When President Reagan described the Soviet Union as an Evil Empire, he was telling the unvarnished truth, and if the Soviets — and some of our own liberals — reacted with a bellow of indignation, it was because they recognized it as true, but didn’t want the truth spoken. When the younger President Bush labeled Iraq, Iran and North Korea as an Axis of Evil, our friends on the left tried to pick that apart, trying to make points on a lack of cooperation between them meaning that the three nations weren’t a real “axis,” but the fact remained that all three were governed by thoroughly evil regimes.

    Of course, to call a foreign regime evil requires acceptance of the neoconservative principles I mentioned: “Democracy and Western civilization are inherently superior, morally, ethically and economically, to any other cultures known to man, and ought to be held as superior publicly and in our dealings with other nations.” The so-called multiculturalist approach, which holds that no particular culture is inherently superior, that all are equally “valid,” doesn’t have room for declaring other countries to be evil, and, despite the fact that our friends on the left certainly decry many of the parts of some foreign cultures and nations they find abhorrent — female circumcision, oppression of the individual, lack of real human rights — they can’t bring themselves to put these things together and call them what they are: evil. Instead, we find some of our own Western liberals making excuses for these oppressive regimes, making excuses for North Korea building atomic weapons, because the United States has them, even though, despite an open, shooting war with North Korea, we never used them against the Communists, and ignoring the fact that the oppressive communist Korean regime is starving its own people by its policies. We have seen excuses for Iran seeking to build nuclear weapons, despite the fact that no one has threatened them, despite the fact that Iran’s supposed greatest enemy, Israel, is believed to have had nuclear weapons for over thirty years and never used them, and despite the fact that the United States deposed the dictator who ordered the last invasion of Iran.

    Our friends on the left have been too consumed with the notion of equality, to the extent that they seem to hold that every nation is and ought to be equally sovereign with every other nation, that Myanmar ought somehow to be considered as equal to France, that Pakistan ought to be just as honored and respected as Germany, that Iran should be thought of and treated the same as the United States. The neoconservatives recognize reality, that just because those nations have certain, equal legal rights does not mean that they are truly equal, that just because they are sovereign does not mean they deserve respect.

    President Obama is in the process of getting a hard lesson in life from the Islamic Republic of Iran. Like President Carter before him, the Iranians are teaching him that their government cannot be trusted. Mr Carter learned that lesson too late, to the humiliation of the United States and the American people decided to allow our 39th President to take early retirement. Whether Mr Obama learns the lessons that President Ahmadinejad is trying to teach him, well, that’s anybody’s guess, but those lessons seem to go completely against our 44th President’s grain.

    But it’s really simple: if he’d simply listen to the neoconservatives, those brisk, rude people who might not be well liked but who have an unerring capacity to see the actual truth, he’d start to get it right.

    I told you so: now the Democrats want another budget-busting stimulus jobs creation bill!

    I asked, on October the oneth, if we would see the “son of stimulus” bill.

    President Obama has argued that without the 2009 economic stimulus bill, our economy would have been in even worse shape. Well, there’s no way to know that or prove that, but he’s the President, so his opinion counts for something. But the article I linked cited increasing job losses, and the Department of Labor is scheduled to release the September unemployment figures; odds are that they’ll be no better than August’s 9.7%, and possibly worse.

    Yeah, worse was what it was, 9.8% for September, and 10.2% for October; November’s unemployment statistics are scheduled for release just a few days after the President explains his new Afghanistan strategy, so those numbers might get drowned out of the news if they are worse than 10.2%. (If they’re better, then you can count on the Administration trumpeting their great success, and that will dominate the news.)

    Obama eyes jobs package for 2010¹

    Lawmakers conceded the stimulus was insufficient. Job creation is needed to attack surging unemployment.

    By Peter Nicholas, The Los Angeles Times

    WASHINGTON – Troubled by the rising jobless rate, President Obama and the Democratic majority in Congress are assembling a jobs package that would devote billions of dollars to projects meant to put people back on payrolls in 2010 and keep them working.

    Discussions over the scale of the bill were fluid, but lawmakers said the intent was to move swiftly and get a jobs bill to Obama’s desk as early as January.

    The renewed push to create jobs is driven by a recognition that the $787 billion stimulus program enacted in February is not a sufficient remedy for an unemployment rate that stands at 10.2 percent.

    Nearly 16 million people were unemployed as of October, and 3.49 million jobs have been lost since January, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

    The stimulus boosted employment but “did it in a way that was not as highly visible as a lot of people would like,” said Rep. Betty Sutton (D., Ohio), one of the House members devising the jobs bill. “It did so in somewhat of a scattershot approach – a job here and a job there, trickled out over time. . . . Far too many Americans are without a job, and far too many more are worried about what tomorrow is going to bring.”

    Oh, so the Porkulus Plan did create jobs, but just didn’t do it in a way that was highly visible? What explains, then, the President’s initial assertion that passage of the Porkulus Plan would hold unemployment to 8%, and that we’d see a whopping 9% unemployment if we didn’t pass that huge budget-buster?

    This was what the President promised us, compared to what was actually achieved:

    I wrote on the third of last month:

    President Obama claimed that he was going to fix our economy, and that his plans for massive government spending would work. He told us what tragedies would come to pass if we didn’t pass the Porkulus Planm, and how some of them would be alleviated if we passed this massive, liberal-friendly spending plan. yet now the unemployment numbers are significantly worse than what the President claimed they’d be if we didn’t pass that bill.

    That leaves us with two possibilities:

    1. Either the President and his economic team knew what would happen if the bill wasn’t passed, projected it correctly, and the passage of the bill acually made things worse; or
    2. The President and his economic team had no flaming idea what would happen with the economy, which means that we can’t trust them and their statements and projections, because they have no idea what they are doing.

    So, what do we have here? We have a President who either knew what the economy was doing, and whose policies actually made things worse, or who had no flaming idea at all about what the economy was doing and had no idea how to fix it, and now, after transferring hundreds of billions of dollars of future taxpayer productivity into the hands of the Chinese, wants to pass yet another multiple tens of billion dollar stimulus plan — though, this time, they’ll call it a “jobs creation” bill — because the last time the Congress went along with the President’s plan, it didn’t work at all well enough.

    Congressional aides said the new program could cost tens of billions of dollars. Democratic House members who were disappointed that the stimulus was not larger said they would press for a substantial spending plan this time.

    “I hope we don’t play around the edges with this and we do what will work. Invest the money now,” said Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), who is chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus. “We have to create jobs, and we have to create them right away.”

    Now, from that I have absolutely no idea what the Democrats want to borrow and spend. Is it “tens of billions of dollars,” or something even larger than the last, $787 billion bill? The language of the article is way, way too vague. Then again, it may be the Democrats’ ideas which are way, way too vague.

    And, of course, if passed this will be on top of a God-only-knows how expensive health care destruction bill.

    Our friends on the left will say, “You can’t complain about deficits, because you weren’t complaining about them when George Bush was president.” It’s true that we weren’t vociferous enough, but part of that was due to the fact we knew that, no matter how bad the Republicans were at overspending, they weren’t anywhere near as bad as the Democrats would be. And shazamm! look what has happened to the deficit since the Democrats took control of the Congress following the 2006 elections:

    Remember, though deficits were too high, they were coming down again when the Republican-controlled Congress passed its last spending bills (FY2007). The Democrats took control of the Congress in time for the FY2008 budget — if you can call it a budget — and up went the deficit. Regrettably, it was President Bush who signed the FY2008 and some of the FY2009 spending bills, but he couldn’t spend a dime that wasn’t appropriated by the Democrat-controlled Congress. Republican fears that the Democrats would be far, far worse on spending have been proven with a vengeance.

    And we are already seeing the downside of the out-of-control spending:

    Wave of Debt Payments Facing U.S. Government

    By Edmund L Andrews, The New York Times
    Published: November 22, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The United States government is financing its more than trillion-dollar-a-year borrowing with i.o.u.’s on terms that seem too good to be true.

    But that happy situation, aided by ultralow interest rates, may not last much longer.

    Treasury officials now face a trifecta of headaches: a mountain of new debt, a balloon of short-term borrowings that come due in the months ahead, and interest rates that are sure to climb back to normal as soon as the Federal Reserve decides that the emergency has passed.

    Even as Treasury officials are racing to lock in today’s low rates by exchanging short-term borrowings for long-term bonds, the government faces a payment shock similar to those that sent legions of overstretched homeowners into default on their mortgages.

    With the national debt now topping $12 trillion, the White House estimates that the government’s tab for servicing the debt will exceed $700 billion a year in 2019, up from $202 billion this year, even if annual budget deficits shrink drastically. Other forecasters say the figure could be much higher.

    More at the link; hat tip to DRJ. The Times article continued to note that an additional $500 billion per year for debt service would exceed the combined budgets for the Departments of Education, Energy, Homeland Security and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Remember the financial system collapse that triggered the unfortunate 2008 bailout, the one brought about by irresponsible mortgages? Well, the federal government is about to do the very same thing to itself:

    “The government is on teaser rates,” said Robert Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, a nonpartisan group that advocates lower deficits. “We’re taking out a huge mortgage right now, but we won’t feel the pain until later.”

    Due to the weakness in the stock market, the Treasury has been able to sell T-bills at very low interest rates. But if investors start to see decent stability and returns in stocks, they won’t be satisfied with 1% returns in T-bills, and the prices will drop.² In effect, the government is dealing in its own version of the adjustable rate mortgage: as shorter-term T-bills were sold, to take advantage of much lower interest costs, the government will have to issue T-bills again, sooner, to pay off the short-term notes as they come due. I wish that I still had the picture that Ken once sent me, of a cute blonde girl wearing a t-shirt which said, “Can I pay my Visa with my MasterCard?”

    I understand the motivations of the Democrats as far as this jobs bill is concerned: they want to ease the pain people are feeling — as well as enhance their chances in the 2010 congressional elections. But even if it worked — which seems unlikely, given that the first stimulus bill didn’t — it would simply postpone the pain: we would have to have much higher taxes in the near future, to pay these huge debts, and te American people would be, in effect, sending more of their money to help the Chinese economy, and taking their own hard work out of the United States.

    Remember the 1971 Fram Oil Filter campaign with the auto mechanic telling you that, “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later?” where car owners were advised to get regular oil changes and service, to avoid major repair expenses in the future? It’s time to try and pay now, because we already have way, way, way too much that we have to pay later.
    ¹ – The Philadelphia Inquirer, Friday, 27 November 2009, p. A-1
    ² – Treasury Bills are sold at discounts of their face value at maturity. When the price drops, the effective interest rate increases. This means that the Treasury has to sell more delayed face-value to raise the same amount of immediate cash, meaning that the amount added to the national debt is greater than the amount of deficit financed.

    Conversations With My Brother

    My brother made a visit to my mother’s house this Thanksgiving. And he and I had some conversations regarding mutual interests and other such material. I doubt anyone else was all that interested in what we were discussing: running, cycling, students, and suchlike. For some reason, people are not interested in that sort of stuff.

    But my brother (born 76 months after me) and I share a lot of personal experiences and stuff.

    He and I were both distance runners in High School.
    — I honestly don’t know his times but he was one of the top Cross Country runners on the team before his shin splints.
    — I ran the 5k Cross Country courses in 17 flat. In track, I ran 2:03 800, 4:40 1600, 10:20 3200, and was part of the 4X800 relay (all in the same meet).
    He and I both spent big money on bicycles. (“You paid over $1k and it didn’t even have a motor?”)
    — He got a half-scholarship to college for mountain-biking and was involved in mountain-bike races aired on ESPN2.
    — I told him years ago about my 3-hour, 52-mile circuit and he asked if I had a picnic lunch in the middle of my circuit.
    He and I both have experience as educators.
    — He is a tenured professor of English, teaching first-year composition to “English as Second Language (ESL)” students.
    — I was a math education major in college. I spent time teaching 5th grade students and 7th grade students during my college course work. I spent 20+ hours a week tutoring high school and college students in their math courses while a student in college. I spent 3 years home-schooling my daughter 4 grades.

    There are other similarities, but those are pertinent here.

    He said he went out running after he had his knee surgery. “You know that pain you feel that you have to fight through and that pain you feel that says ‘this was a bad idea’? Well, this was a bad idea. So I did it again and decided this is a bad idea after the second time.” That’s him. Don’t take the body’s first screaming NO for an answer but listen to the second screaming NO.

    But he is more a cyclist than a runner. (Running stoves up your knees something fierce, especially if you have his and my trait of a super-long gait.) And he went on to talk about his recent experience cycling.

    He mentioned he and I both have another commonality: to overdo things (or take them to extremes). He talked about how he hadn’t been out cycling for a couple months so, naturally, he decided to take a 40-mile trip. Now, when you’re training, you have various different plans for the day. One of those that all top athletes use is what I call “count the leaves on the trees” day, where you just go out and take it very easy, so you have time to take in every aspect of the scenery as you go by. Absolutely nothing hard at all about it. Well, he described his 40-mile circuit as one of those days.

    He didn’t work hard at all during his 40-mile circuit, but he said at 75 minutes into his circuit he hit a brick wall. His body decided it was quitting time, it didn’t matter that he wasn’t home yet. And he was still a few miles short of home. Once he got home, he was toast. And the frustrating part was that he didn’t push himself on the circuit, instead taking it easy, and he still was toast.

    I recounted my running experience. 5 years ago, I went out for a run for the first (and last) time in many years. Understand, I never in my life went out for a jog, always for a run (and there is a huge difference there). I reminded him of my 17-flat 5k in HS and then reported that I had to take a “walking break” during my 1-mile run, which took a total time of 15 minutes. It was grotesque and embarrassing.

    He had some very interesting insight. Since I had previously been a quality distance runner, I could more readily approach that sort of quality again. My body would “remember” my past. “Oh, this is where I need to conserve energy, I remember this. Oh, this is something I can do. Nothing new here.” I just need to get back into it and it’ll come back to me. And much, much faster than for someone who has never had my experience.

    He also recounted, in a general way, his experience teaching first-year composition in college. He said there were so many things wrong with papers that he had to ignore a lot of it and focus in on the 5 most important issues in the papers. “How can I make them write better without crushing them (or something to that effect).” I said something about how people need to use a dictionary and he had a retort I didn’t expect. He said he thought part of his students’ (He teaches first-year ESL students, remember.) problem was an over-reliance on the dictionary.

    I was definitely surprised by this statement. But he explained his statement. Last year, he had a Japanese student who was very proficient in spoken English. That student’s paper had multiple nested sentences within multiple nested sentences of sentences. And those sentences used very large words. And my brother was thinking “I should know what this person is trying to say but I can’t make heads or tails of this.” (He said, as an aside, that his students this year are Chinese and isn’t it interesting first year students from Communist China are buying top-of-the-line Mercedes-Benz cars for their 4-year US University time?) That wasn’t quite what I expected, but it’s understandable. As he said, people try to sound more intelligent when they write than they do when they just talk. And, as he sees it, that is a pronounced problem with ESL students. That strong desire to show a higher ability (in this case, in a foreign language) than possessed.

    Overall, it was a very enjoyable discussion.

    But, thinking back on it, I definitely brought a few things home. And one thing I definitely want to point out (which was not his intent at all) is that there is a place where you are judged by your ability and not your “degree of tanness”. And that is in the athletic arena.

    I don’t care what your background is. Once you get into your sphere of athletics, you will be dependent on your ability and not a hand-up for your success or failure. It’s all on you. There is no head-start for people of the “wrong race” and there is no lowered standard for people of the “wrong race” in athletics. There’s only your ability and training vs their ability and training. And that’s how it should be in every aspect of everyone’s life.
    Cross Posted on Truth Before Dishonor

    Why we’re thankful

    At first, the table was bare.

    Then the table was set, but still no dinner.

    OK, the turkey is finally done, and it’s food, and food and more food!

    And still more food!

    Pluto was playing innocent, not as though she’s try to actually steal anything from the table!

    Until she did!

    The debris.

    The operative word is booof! a word used at the Pico household to indicate that one is full. The table was a waste case.

    We actually live pretty simply; things just aren’t very elaborate here. But we are blessed with two strong, intelligent, healthy daughters, a roof over our heads, a life in reasonable, simple comfort, and jobs which seem pretty secure at the moment. There are a lot of people who don’t enjoy those things. Elaine is at work today because germs and accidents and cancer don’t look at the calendar, don’t take time off for holidays. Where our kids are healthy, there are plenty of families who aren’t so fortunate, families with really sick kids, families whose children seemingly have little future.

    If you have a few minutes, and if you have the money, I’d like to suggest a donation to the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging. CFCA is an American Institute of Philanthropy Charity Watch A+ rated charity, with 94.6% of funds raised actually going to charitable work. You can make a donation online at their secure server, either directly from your bank account or by using your credit/debit card. I just donated $100 to CFCA, specifically for their food support program; there is a drop-down menu from which you can select a targeted donation, or just contribute to their general fund. After the meal I just ate, knowing that not everybody is that fortunate, it seemed appropriate.

    If you can help someone else right now, the CFCA is a good place to do it. I maintain the CFCA logo and link to their site near the bottom of the sidebar, for anyone who is interested in donating, but who needs to wait a week or so.