Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Washington Post Fact Checker Exposes Obama State of the Union Whoppers

Once again, the President descended into such an alternate universe during his 24 Jan State of the Union speech that even the Washington Post Fact Checker had to call him out on his exaggerations. Although the liberal WaPo is want to ever criticize a Democrat, even they couldn't let some of these whoppers slide.

Here are some of the passages they took exception to and why but for their entire article, blow up the graphic below and read it for yourself:

“In the six months before I took office, we lost nearly four million jobs. And we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect. Those are the facts. But so are these. In the last 22 months, businesses have created more than three million jobs. Last year, they created the most jobs since 2005. American manufacturers are hiring again, creating jobs for the first time since the late 1990s. Together, we’ve agreed to cut the deficit by more than $2 trillion. And we’ve put in place new rules to hold Wall Street accountable, so a crisis like that never happens again.”

The GOP will point out that Obama has the worst job-creation record of any president since World War II. Although about 4 million jobs were lost at the start of his administration, the nearly $1 trillion stimulus was passed into law in February so the claim of “we lost another four million before our policies were in full effect” is a stretch as it took a full nine months to run up that other 4 million lost jobs, some 8 months after the stimulus was passed into law and 4 months after the official end of the recession (the 4 million lost before Obama took office occurred in the previous 9, not 6 months. Also, note he describes 8 million jobs lost but he only gained 3 million back.

Then Obama took credit for $2 Trillion in deficit reduction without mentioning that Republicans forced him to accept that $2 trillion in budget cuts during the debt-ceiling impasse. Then he brags “we’ve put in place” new rules on Wall Street, glossing over the fact that it had little Republican support and the GOP candidates have all vowed to repeal the Dodd-Frank law.

“We will not go back to an economy weakened by outsourcing, bad debt, and phony financial profits… It’s time to apply the same rules from top to bottom: No bailouts, no handouts, and no copouts.”

Few economists would blame “outsourcing” for the economic crisis; it is also unclear how Obama has eliminated outsourcing during his presidency. “Bad debts” presumably would refer to irresponsible mortgage loans. “Phony financial profits” is also a bit puzzling. Perhaps it was not supposed to make sense.

The same goes for the other catch-phrase, uttered a bit later in the speech. The president, of course, supported massive bailouts before and after he took office, as will be demonstrated by the next quote.

“On the day I took office, our auto industry was on the verge of collapse. Some even said we should let it die. With a million jobs at stake, I refused to let that happen. In exchange for help, we demanded responsibility. We got workers and automakers to settle their differences. We got the industry to retool and restructure. Today, General Motors is back on top as the world’s number one automaker. Chrysler has grown faster in the U.S. than any major car company. Ford is investing billions in U.S. plants and factories. And together, the entire industry added nearly 160,000 jobs.”

Here the president appears to celebrate a bailout, which actually was started under his predecessor George W. Bush. The claim that “some” wanted the auto industry to die is patently false but Romney did advocate a “pre-packaged bankruptcy” that would have produced the same results without massive taxpayer funding, incidentally, Ford did not accept a bailout. About 200,000 auto workers were laid off during the recession, bringing the industry to a low of 550,000 workers.

“Right now, American oil production is the highest that it’s been in eight years. That’s right — eight years. Not only that — last year, we relied less on foreign oil than in any of the past sixteen years.”

The first statement is a great statistic but not especially noteworthy because there has not been much change in the annual barrels produced in the United States since 2003; it essentially has been steady though it may be slightly higher now. As for the second claim, foreign oil imports have declined because of the poor economy and changes in efficiency that began “two years before the 2008 crisis” — long before Obama took office.

“Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”

This is fanciful budget math. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were funded with borrowed money so the US is still running huge deficits, so none of Obama’s “imagined savings” would “pay down the debt” unless we began running a surpluse. Instead, his proposal would continue to add to the debt.

“Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households.”

This earned the President 3 Pinocchios in a previous speech but he is still making this bogus claim on a narrow set of facts. Most wealthy people pay a higher tax rate than most less-wealthy Americans, but there are always going to be some exceptions. The CBO found that the average millionaire’s Federal tax rate is about 30%. But about one quarter do pay a rate lower than 10.4 million moderate-income tax payers. Don’t forget 46% of Americans pay NO Federal Income Tax at all!

“That’s why our health care law relies on a reformed private market, not a government program.”

WRONG - half of the 34 million people who will receive Obama-care coverage through Medicaid, a federal-state government program for low-income Americans. The rest of the newly insured might get coverage through private markets.

“Through the power of our diplomacy, a world that was once divided about how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program now stands as one.”

This is a more wishful thinking than reality. The U.N. approved new sanctions and just this week the European Union joined in an Iranian oil embargo but there are other key nations like China have resisted a crackdown on trade with Tehran. There is little evidence that the sanctions have had much effect on Iranian nuclear ambitions.

“Our iron-clad commitment to Israel’s security has meant the closest military cooperation between our two countries in history.”

Obama has had tense relations with Israel’s Prime Minister and the president did not even mention peace with the Palestinians which suggests how much his dream of achieving a peace deal has faded.

“Anyone who tells you otherwise, anyone who tells you that America is in decline or that our influence has waned, doesn’t know what they’re talking about. That’s not the message we get from leaders around the world, all of whom are eager to work with us.”

Both favorability rating and confidence in Obama had fallen sharply since 2009. For example, in Turkey, a NATO ally, for instance, the confidence in Obama fell from 33 percent in 2009 to 11 percent in 2011; in Jordan, another key ally, the favorability rating for the United States fell from 25 percent in 2009 to 13 percent in 2011.

….and now you know the rest of the story!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Worst Commander-in-Chief, Obama or Santorum?

Now that Santorum might become a real contender, I’m not sure what is worse for the Military, the hatchet job Obama is doing to unquestionably the BEST Armed Forces on the planet or what I fear Santorum would do to us based on his past performance. Remember, Santorum was one of only two Senators to vote against Robert Gates to be the Secretary of Defense – arguably the finest SECDEF we’ve ever had. Regardless, there are other Republican candidates that would be much better on National Defense than Rick.

Not withstanding his campaign trail protestations that he is best qualified to be Commander-in-Chief, I see nothing in his Congressional record to support his claim or any Military expertise except being a “backbencher” on the SASC and he certainly never wore a uniform other than boy scouts! As an Old Soldier, I always look behind the scenes to see what people do that affects the Military rather than their “public pronouncements” when I want to know their true feelings about us.

Although Rick has never donned a uniform in defense of his nation, while in both the House and Senate he supported every military intervention that came down the pike which clearly marks him as a consummate “chicken hawk.” Always ready to send your kids into harms way but not himself or anyone related to him.

Probably the best example of Rick looking out for Soldiers happened back in 1998 when he (and Ted Kennedy) tried to screw disabled and disadvantaged retired enlisted service members by trying to sneak a little-noticed amendment into an unrelated bill requiring the Old Soldiers' and Airmen's Home to sell some of its property to the Catholic University of America and only to Catholic University. In other words, there would be no free market bidding.

The Old Soldiers' Home, as it is called, is where enlisted members can retire and get care if they have no other options and it is funded by a small monthly deduction from enlisted pay. The Department of Defense and Congress have refused to raise the deduction amount but the demand has remained steady thus resulting in a large budget deficit.

The Home rests on many undeveloped acres in Washington, DC, so it was decided that it ought to sell some of its property to the highest bidder, in order to raise funds to continue its worthy work. Its Catholic University neighbor had its own designs on the property but did not feel like paying market price so they approached Santorum and Kennedy who eagerly slipped in the amendment forcing the Home to sell to the university at a price about one-third of the appraised value.

Retired soldiers were outraged when they learned what had happened so held a press conference. Once “outted,” neither Santorum nor Kennedy could defended their attempt to screw Old Soldiers to get Catholic University a steal so they were forced to amend the law.

The right result would have been to open the bidding to everyone and to let the Home take the best offer. Instead, Rick forced a bidding process where Catholic University was given the right of first refusal on any "high" bid which seriously depressed the bidding. In the end, Rick, Ted and Catholic University still screwed the Old Soldiers but not nearly as badly as they wanted to!

If Rick were to ever be elected President, which I must admit is highly unlikely; I expect the Military could look forward to this same type of questionable treatment. This is one Old Soldier that hopes that never happens.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Homicides in the District of Columbia, Virginia & Maryland Inversely Related to Ease of Gun Ownership

The 1 January 2012 Washington Post article: As homicides fall in D.C., rise in Prince George’s, numbers meet in the middle by Allison Klein & Matt Zapotosky ( ) proudly noted that DC Homicides dropped to 109 in 2011 from the previous year total of 132 which was consistent with a similar national trend. The article also noted the homicide statistics for the surrounding Maryland and Virginia DC suburbs but curiously made no attempt to compare the rates among the various jurisdictions.

A cursory analysis of the stats in this article might reveal why the Liberal WaPo didn’t attempt their own analysis --- could it be because it would have clearly demonstrate a dramatically inverse relationship between homicide rates and restrictions on gun ownership. The detailed math is contained in the graphic below but here is the Readers Digest version, using the 2010 population figures from the US Census Bureau and the Stats in this article, DC has 601,723 people and had 109 homicides in 2011 for a rate of 18.1 per 100,000 people. The two Maryland DC-suburbs of Montgomery County and Prince George’s County have 1,835,197 with 113 homicides for the same period for a rate of 6.2 per 100,000. The three Virginia suburbs of Alexandria City, Arlington County and Fairfax County have 1,429,319 people with 9 homicides for a .63 per 100,000 rate.

This reveals that a person would be fortunate to live in Virginia where gun ownership is almost unrestricted because a DC resident, where guns are still almost impossible to own, is almost 29 times more likely to be a homicide victim. Even a Marylander, with moderately strict gun laws, was 3 times less likely to be a homicide victim than a DC resident. Much better than DC but a Marylander is still almost 10 times more likely to be a homicide victim than one of us “gun tottin” Virginians.

Now I’m not opposed to registration and some reasonable limits on ownership such as terrorists, ex-cons and the mentally unstable but there should be no restrictions on ownership by average citizens – anywhere in the US. There is a “God-given” right of self protection, especially in one’s own home, and a gun is the only way to exercise that right. One has to go no further than right here in our own DC-area backyard to clearly demonstrate that contrary to liberal rhetoric, it is an “inconvenient truth” that “guns actually do make us safer.” Case in point, Virginia has by far the laxest gun laws and the least gun violence of any of the surrounding jurisdictions. Additionally, the DC homicide rate has been declining ever since the Supreme Court ordered the loosing of DC gun ownership laws. Is the fact that this dramatic drop coincided with this landmark decision coincidence or might there be a cause-effect relationship? Could it be criminals are not so anxious to murder law abiding citizens if they might be "packing heat?"

The obvious message in these statistics - guns make us more and not less safe!.

While we’re at it, a couple of other interesting (and maybe) inconvenient FACTS:

In any given year in this country there is one child drowning death for every 11,000 residential swimming pools or 550 children under the age of 10 drown every year in our 6 million pools. Meanwhile there is one child killed by a gun for every one million (plus) guns in this country or with about 200 million guns, approximately 175 children under 10 die. This means a child is over 100 times more likely to drown in a pool than be killed by a gun. Hence, banning residential pools is a much more effective way of protecting children than banning fire arms.

In Switzerland, every male adult is issued an assault weapon for militia duty and required to keep it in his home. As a result, Switzerland has the highest per capita rate of guns in homes in the entire World yet is one of the safest places to live. Fire arm deaths in Switzerland is .56/100,000. Compare that to the United States where Assault Weapons are heavily regulated and automatic ones are outlawed and our rate of fire arm deaths is 2.97/100,000 per year. That means an American is 5.3 times more likely to be killed by a gun in the United States than someone in Switzerland where everyone and their brother has an automatic assault weapon. Go figure!