A more frequent publishing of Rich Galen's take on politics, culture and general modern annoyances. This is in addition to MULLINGS which is published Mondays, Wednesdays & Fridays at

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Nobel Prize for Economics

  • How much do Members of the U.S. House and Senate make? Are they suffering as are regular people? Do they feel the pain of tax increases and new regulations?

  • In reverse order: No. No. And $174,000 per year.

  • In addition Members of Congress get a tax break on their housing, have health care completely paid for by you and me, and have a pretty good retirement system although the other benefits are so good you can't get them to retire much before their 113th birthday, on average.

  • That $174,000 is for the rank-and-file, show-up-for-work four-days-a-week members of the House and Senate. You want to be really aggravated? The Speaker of the House, who happens to be Nancy Pelosi, and who happens to be one of the wealthiest members of Congress, makes $223,500.

  • And she gets to fly home on an Air Force jet which the rank-and-file, show-up-for-work four-days-a-week members of the House and Senate do not get to do.

  • I do not mention this because I am particularly angry with Members of the House and Senate - at least not any more than usual. I mention all this because of California.

  • The California fiscal year ended at midnight last night, June 30. They ain't got no money.

  • California - the state which is held in such high regard by the Obama Administration that they just shoved through a global warming bill which is largely based on California standards - is more than in fiscal distress. It is bankrupt. Bust. Broke. Penniless. Insolvent.

  • Starting this morning - July 1 - the State of California is, according to the Associated Press "talking about handing out $3 billion in IOUs to everyone from contractors to welfare recipients."

  • In spite of the fact that the State of California is about $24 billion in the hole, state legislators still get a $36,000 tax-free annual expense benefit plus a $4,200 annual reimbursement for the costs of their cars.

  • Who pays for your car? YOU? Bwaaaahhhhhahahahaha! Run for public office, Sparky. Let the little people pick up the tab!

  • I think is going to start issuing IOUs to its vendors.

  • You think Blue Cross will continue to cover me if I send an IOU instead of the ever-larger check they have been demanding? You think Safeway will allow me to continue to buy my favorite cheap red wine if I present a IOU instead of an American Express Card? Do you think my favorite Exxon station in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia will allow me to hand them an IOU for the $75 bucks it takes to fill the tank of the Mullmobile?

  • I. Don't. Think. So.

  • Since 1789, States have not been allowed to print their own money - unlike the Federal government which simply buys more green-tinted paper then runs the presses 24/7 until it has enough to stimulate every real and potential Obama voter in the land.

  • Article I, section 8 of the Constitution states the Congress has the power:
    To coin money, regulate the value thereof … and to provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States.

  • But think about this. If I were a store keeper in California and a state employee, or vendor, or whomever walked in with an official state IOU to buy something … what would stop me from taking that piece of paper in lieu of cash?

  • I mean, the only thing which makes a $10 bill worth $10 is if you and I agree it is worth $10.

  • So, if Californians decide that IOUs have the value of whatever it says on that paper, then the IOU becomes … currency.

  • What if, say, Ford Motor Company decides to accept California IOUs in payment for cars? And if Ford's vendors say they will, in turn, accept Ford IOUs (based on the California IOUs) in payment for brake pads and carburetors, then Ford IOUs become, for all intents and purposes, money.


    Everyone who thought - all the way through college - that the phrase "all intents and purposes" was really "all intensive purposes" raise hands.



  • This IOU thing is really important, especially in the face of Cap-and-Trade. Think about General Electric, or U.S. Steel, or 3-M issuing IOUs for their carbon production instead trying to buy carbon credits for cash.

  • Corporate and State IOUs could replace Dollars, Euros, Dinars, and Yuans.

  • If you think Ford is good for its IOUs you'll take them as payment. If you don't think GM's IOUs are worth a crap, you won't.

  • The free market will, in spite of Barack Obama, prevail. Get me John Galt on the phone.

  • What's the address of those Nobel Prize for Economics guys?

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: A link to the AP's summary of California's fiscal woes, a Mullfoto from my Miss West Virginia trip and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Sunday, June 28, 2009

    Penalize America First

  • The climate change legislation raced through the U.S. House on a seven-vote margin, 219-212. Eight Republicans voted for the bill, 44 Democrats voted against.

  • Those numbers do not bode well for any quick action in the U.S. Senate where getting anything approaching 60 votes for this anti-carbon energy bill looks dimmer than the inside of a West Virginia coal mine at during a lunar eclipse at midnight in December.

  • According to, the bill
    "will raise electricity prices for consumers by $175 a year per household by 2020, according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, significantly less than the $3,000 price hike predicted by Republicans who say the "energy tax" will increase energy bills and the cost of consumer goods."

  • I haven't seen either calculation, but if energy costs rise, then the cost of anything manufactured or grown that uses energy - which would be approximately everything - will rise, too. That increase will be passed along to consumers which has to be added to the $175 per year hike in everyone's electricity bill.

  • The ink hardly had time to dry on the 1,000+ page bill (which was finished at about three o'clock on Friday morning), when President Barack Obama made the astonishing pronouncement that he was opposed to one major provision.

  • According to the New York Times, the provision in question was
    "inserted in the middle of the night before the vote Friday, that requires the president, starting in 2020, to impose a "border adjustment" - or tariff - on certain goods from countries that do not act to limit their global warming emissions."

  • Democrat Sander Levin of Michigan said of the tariff against countries which do not embrace the whole lower-carbon-footprint deal,
    "We can and must ensure that the U.S. energy-intensive industries are not placed at a competitive disadvantage by nations that have not made a similar commitment to reduce greenhouse gases."

  • Sounds right to me. In fact, it sounded right to the entire United States Senate when it refused to take up the Kyoto treaty because it exempted countries like India and China from having to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

  • The Senate then believed it put U.S. businesses at a competitive disadvantage and my guess is the Senate now will come to the same conclusion.

  • Nevertheless, President Obama said in a Sunday interview which he deemed so important that, according to the NY Times, he "delayed the start of a Sunday golf game to speak to a small group of reporters in the Oval Office."

  • Whoa! Check please! This is bigger news than the results of Michael's tox-screen. The President delayed his golf game? I need a moment …

  • … Ok. I'm back.

  • Obama said, of that trade provision,
    "At a time when the economy worldwide is still deep in recession and we've seen a significant drop in global trade, I think we have to be very careful about sending any protectionist signals out there."

  • So, it's not only acceptable, but worthy of delaying a golf game, to celebrate the passage of a bill which will add costs to American companies trying to claw their way out of this recession, but we don't want to do anything which would level the playing field with our trading partners.

  • At the Republican National Convention in 1984, Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick coined two phrases which should be dusted off today. One was to identify the Democratic Party - which was virulently anti-Reagan - as "San Francisco Democrats."

  • Given the home district of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, this phrase has new currency.

  • The second was when she said that the hallmark of those San Francisco Democrats was their propensity to "Blame America first."

  • The provisions of this climate change bill will place great hardships on the very manufacturers we are spending hundreds of billions of dollars trying to prop up so they will begin rehiring American workers.

  • But President Obama seems to be more worried about hardships these same provisions would put on foreign manufactures. Wouldn't allowing them to ignore this cap-and-trade business lead to even more jobs moving off-shore?

  • Obama has taken the Kilpatrick criticism to a new level. He is the official leader of the "Penalize America First" crowd.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Politico and New York Times pieces as well as the entire line by Jeane Kirkpatrick. Also a Mullfoto of a pretty funny bumper strip and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

  • Thursday, June 25, 2009

    Pop Star, Pin Up ... Moron

  • I was never a big fan of Michael Jackson. I don't mean personally. Personally, I think he should have been institutionalized. I mean I was never a huge fan of his music. The last live concert I went to was a reunion of the Limeliters and the Kingston Trio which, I believe, was "Presented by Depends".

  • Which is another reason why I never get invited out much.

  • As for Farrah Fawcett, I never watched "Charlie's Angels" but any normally aspirated male couldn't help but take a second peek at that poster of her in that red one-piece swimsuit. She was an oddity in Hollywood: A pin-up girl, who worked on her art to become a real actor.

  • Ms. Fawcett was 62 when she died. Mr. Jackson was 50. In this day and age, both were too young.

  • We spend too much time and effort, and sacrifice way too many trees when celebrities die, or when celebrities split up. Or when … they run off to Argentina.

  • If he hasn't already done it by the time you read this, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford should resign. If not for infidelity, then for abject stupidity.

  • Here's a good rule: If you are elected Governor of a State within the United States of America, and you are married, you should take a personal vow of faithfulness during your term of office.

  • If you don't believe me, ask Elliot Spitzer.

  • I know MULLINGS readers think that Republicans are treated more harshly than Democrats when they get caught with women who are not related to them by marriage. But, Elliot Spitzer - a Democrat - lasted as Governor of New York for about 48 hours after he got caught with a hooker at the Mayflower Hotel in Your Nation's Capital.

  • Former Senator and Presidential hopeful John Edwards will never be elected to public office again.

  • South Carolina Govenor Mark Sanford disappeared last week. His staff said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail to clear his head after a grueling legislative session.

  • Yeah. Right.

  • Turns out he was clearing his head in Buenos Aires, Argentina with his honey of a number of years. Sanford's wife had already thrown him out of the house because she knew about the affair, and somehow or another Sanford's e-mails with the woman, who has been ID'd as Maria Belen Chapur, are now in the public domain.

  • Apparently "The State" newspaper in South Carolina has had these e-mails for about six months but the editors decided they couldn't decide whether they were legit or not until Sanford took his viaje secreto to Argentina.

  • The question you might be asking is: How do these morons think they are going to get away with this kind of behavior?

  • The answer is: We only know about the ones who get caught. We have no idea how many hundreds of Members of the House and Senate - of both genders - have strayed, as we like to say, outside the bounds of matrimony.

  • But, if you are an elected official and you do get caught you have to pay a penalty. Spitzer resigned. Sanford should. U.S. Sen. John Ensign of Nevada lost his leadership position in the Senate Republican Conference after he admitted, earlier this week, to boinking a staffer.

  • If anything good comes out of the Mark Sanford business maybe it will be this: It is well past time that the Republican Party needs to hold itself out as the nation's scold.

  • While it is perfectly within the realm of politics in American to do the "shame-shame" sign when someone in public office of either party gets caught playing out their fantasies, it is not the job of a political party to act like elders in a Puritan church wielding a birch rod when they catch anyone misbehaving - like nodding off during the sermon.

  • Missourian Scott Charton, sent me a Facebook message last night which said: Sanford's staff misunderstood the Governor. They thought he said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail. He had said he was tracking some Argentinean tail.

  • Once an AP bureau chief, always and AP bureau chief.

    New Topic:

  • I found a website named "" which was advertised as being a handy Blackberry site for those who travel a good deal and want to find a decent place to eat.

  • To test the theory, I went to the website and typed in the ZIP code for Alexandria, Virginia - 22314.

  • The first Good Food Near You entry was this:

    Healthiest Choice:
    Jelly Donut

    Fat 8g | Calories 210 | Carbs 33g

  • May want to rethink those search algorithms.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Bios of both Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett. A Mullfoto of one of those fish signs on the back of a truck in Alexandria; and the Catchy Caption which is the famous Farrah Fawcett poster.

  • Tuesday, June 23, 2009

    The President's Pulpit

  • After a week of golf and general dithering on Iran, President Barack Obama finally realized what most everyone else has known for the better part of a century: The world's bully pulpit belongs to the President of the United States. Not the President of France and not the German Chancellor.

  • POTUS. Period.

  • Obama appeared befuddled by events in Iran since the demonstrations began following a disputed ballot in which the Iranian government claimed that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had been re-elected.

  • Maybe he was, but the government pulled out all of its anti-freedom assets - the army, the police, and the militia - to brutalize the demonstrators.

  • Ultimately the situation was brought into HD focus by the cell-phone video showing a young woman shot and dying on a Tehran street.

  • All week long, Democratic strategists swarmed the cable news chat shows having to defend Obama's weak performance by saying the U.S. should not "meddle" in the internal affairs of Iran.

  • For his part, the best Obama could come up with as recently as last Tuesday (three days into the demonstrations was:
    "I do believe that something has happened in Iran where there is a questioning of the kinds of antagonistic postures towards the international community that have taken place in the past."

  • Go ahead. Read it again. Does that sound like a strong leader; confident in his abilities, comfortable in his choices, convinced of his course?

  • I. Don't. Think. So.

  • In fact, that sounded to me, in the words of Col. Sherman Tecumseh Potter, like horse hockey.

  • Then Obama went on to say,
    "When I see violence directed at peaceful protesters, when I see peaceful dissent being suppressed, wherever that takes place, it is of concern to me, and it's of concern to the American people."

  • That sounded to me like the Tom Joad speech at the end of "Grapes of Wrath," although not as well written.

  • All that to say that the President got a Jethro (not Robert) Gibbs slap in the back of the head and at his press conference yesterday got into his tough-talk mode:
    "The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, beatings and imprisonments of the last few days."

  • According to David Jackson, and Richard Wolf's reporting in USA Today,
    "Obama denied that he had taken too long to condemn the violence, as some Republicans in Congress have charged, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., his opponent in last year's election."

  • Deny though he might there is a pattern about Obama's lack of self-confidence in foreign policy which reaches back to last summer when, as Sen. Obama was vacationing in Hawaii, Russia made an incursion into Georgia. Sen. John McCain responded immediately denouncing the Russian move; Obama took a day-and-a-half to come up with a response.

  • All politics aside, this is a dangerous world and there are dangerous people in control dangerous weapons all over it. President Obama might be working on burnishing his "calm-in-the-face-of-turmoil" credentials, but the bad guys, not be as sophisticated as Obama might hope, might well read that as weakness.

  • I'm not suggesting we commit troops any time there's trouble abroad. I am suggesting that President Obama make better use of his bully pulpit.

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to all of the TV and movie references including the Tom Joad quote, plus to the Washington Post and USA Today articles. Also a Mullfoto which proves my theory about how to obtain higher gas mileage on new cars and a Catchy Caption of the Day.

    --END --

    Copyright © 2007 Barrington Worldwide, LLC

  • Sunday, June 21, 2009

    Obama's Bay of Pigs?

    Obama's Bay of Pigs?

    Monday June 22, 2009

    Click here for an Easy Print Version

  • President Barack Obama wanted to "reset" America's foreign policy following eight years of President George W. Bush pushing against the bad guys.

  • In March, President Obama released a video which was a greeting to the Iranian people on the occasion of the Persian new year. The Washington Post described the video as "offering a 'new beginning' in a tone that differed sharply from the anti-Iran rhetoric of his predecessor …"

  • The Post story went on to say that the Iranian government didn't think much of it because Obama didn't talk directly to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. An official was quoted as saying, "Statesmen address each other, instead of talking to the people."

  • It is just possible that the anti-Ahmadinejad forces in Iran misread the words they heard from Mr. Obama. It is just possible that they interpreted them as a signal to step up their public opposition to the government of Iran.

  • It is possible that the backers of opposition leader Mirhossein Mousavi talked themselves into believing that, because President Obama had spoken directly to them - and not to Ahmadinejad - that he was tacitly promising to support them.

  • Not happening.

  • President Obama does not have the background or experience to deal with the barrage of foreign policy problems which appear to be confusing the White House.

  • In April, when Obama met with Latin American leaders, Pulitzer Prize winning columnist Eugene Robinson - not known as a supporter of Conservative causes - wrote:
    Chávez can be charming. But when Obama shook the man's hand, he should have telegraphed clearly, through posture, expression and language, that he was not amused. Chávez's gift of the book was meant to affront, not to enlighten, and I would have advised Obama to reciprocate in kind.

  • The Voice of America, an arm of the State Department, published a piece last night saying:
    U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Iran's government to "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people." He called on Iran to "govern through consent, not coercion."

  • That's the good news. The bad new is that the VoA pointed out with pride that those words represented "his strongest response to Iran's post-election unrest."

  • The Iranian government is not likely to worry much about strong statements like that. In the Reuters report which hit the wires last night, this warning to readers was at the top:
    EDITORS' NOTE: Reuters and other foreign media are subject to Iranian restrictions on their ability to report, film or take pictures in Tehran.

  • Time Magazine reporter, Howard Chua-Eoan, wrote that the world is reduced to getting the Iranian story from snippets
    "Arriving over the internet transom, rough and insistent and bloody, were the tiny electronic dispatches from protesters forced off the streets of Tehran, shaky videos from a city screaming for help."

  • Rather than cowering in the face of Obama's "strongest response," Reuters reported that the Iranian government, instead, issued new warnings against the demonstrators whom it described as "terrorists" and warned that "police would confront all gatherings and unrest with all its strength."

  • We don't know how this is going to turn out. The most likely outcome will be that the protesters will realize there will be no help - other than "strong responses" coming from the West - and the protests will, like a hurricane after it has made landfall, run out of heat and dissipate into interesting but relatively harmless rainstorms.

  • If that is the case, the Obama new year's video may well come to be compared to President John F. Kennedy's Bay of Pigs - when promises of help were withdrawn and we have watched the half-century rule of the Castro brothers over the people of Cuba.

  • North Korea is testing Obama. Iran is testing Obama. The Taliban are testing Obama. Even Jimmy Carter is testing Obama.

  • Carter, while everything else is falling apart, visited Gaza and was shown a school which the ruling Hamas said had been damaged by the Israelis.

  • Carter said said "it's very distressing to me" that the school had been "deliberately destroyed by bombs from F-16s made in my country and delivered to the Israelis."

  • With friends like Carter, who needs …"

  • On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links upon links upon links to everything above. Also not one, not two but three Mullfotos from my adventure as a judge in the Miss West Virginia Pageant including one of me with the reigning Miss America. Also a topic-appropriate Catchy Caption of the Day.

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