Sunday, September 21, 2014

Year Two is Fast Approaching for Obamacare and Glitches Abound, says AMAC

Enrollees can expect new obstacles; many will need to go back to square one’

WASHINGTON, DC, Sep 19 – Documentation woes plague Obamacare as the Affordable Care Act prepares to begin its second year.

“More than 100,000 enrollees will lose coverage this month because the government claims they have failed to prove they are eligible for coverage.  And, more than 300,000 others may lose subsidies because they allegedly haven’t provided income verification.  But many of these individuals may be victims of the system,” according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.

A full year after the “botched” roll out of Obamacare, the systems that were put in place are still not working properly.  Thus, says Weber, eligibility and income verification documentation may have been lost or misfiled in the back-end of the healthcare.gov Web site.

“In fact, officials of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have admitted to Congress that Web site is still loaded with bugs, despite a price tag for installation and repairs that is approaching the Billion Dollar mark.”

The government is well aware of the new problems those who opted for Obamacare will face this year.  That’s why the administration is “strongly” suggesting that individuals enrolled in Obamacare plans should re-visit the healthcare.gov Web site to check out their policies, which were supposed to be automatically renewed.

Officials say that the great majority of those who signed up last year will, indeed, be automatically renewed.  But, Andrew M. Slavitt, Deputy Administrator at CMM, has cautioned those who enrolled last year that it is in their best interests to go back to the Web site to find out what kind of coverage they will have in the coming year.

In other words, renewal of coverage is automatic but your policies, premiums and subsidies may not be the same as they were last year.

Meanwhile, the CATO Institute warns that “thousands, possibly millions, of insurance policies will be cancelled over the next several months for not including all of Obamacare’s mandates which will increase the confusion for individuals.”

“The Affordable Care Act is not so affordable, after all, as many who signed up have already found out.  Adding insult to injury, the promise that you could “keep your doctor” turned out to be a ‘four Pinocchio” lie, as the Washington Post reported, and now, it turns out, you may not be able to keep your Obamacare plan.  You may need to go back to square one,” Weber said.

This year’s enrollment period will not be extended as it was last year.  It will start on November 15 and end on February 15.

“Glitches abound.  So, those who were forced to sign up last year had better do their homework.  And, while you’re at it, tell those candidates seeking your vote this November that the greatest health care system on the planet has been undermined by the law.  Tell them to go back to the drawing boards and devise a new plan, one that makes sense,” the AMAC chief suggested.

ABOUT AMAC

The Association of Mature American Citizens [http://www.amac.us] is a vibrant, vital and conservative alternative to those organizations, such as AARP, that dominate the choices for mature Americans who want a say in the future of the nation.  Where those other organizations may boast of their power to set the agendas for their memberships, AMAC takes its marching orders from its members.  We act and speak on their behalf, protecting their interests, and offering a conservative insight on how to best solve the problems they face today.  Live long and make a difference by joining us today at http://amac.us/join-amac.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Retirement Crisis - Are You Ready?

Let’s face it, we all know this country is facing a retirement crisis. The first of the Baby Boomers turned 65 and started retiring in 2011. The number of Boomers retiring each year will rise rapidly over the next decade or more. Before the end of this decade, Boomers will be turning age 65 at the rate of 8,000 per day.
This massive retirement of Baby Boomers will stretch our health care and health delivery systems to the max and beyond. Our public safety net – entitlements – has long been poorly managed, ill-thought-out and threadbare. Imagine what will happen as tens of millions of Boomers retire.

Yet the worst part of all is that so few people or families have saved anywhere near enough for retirement. According to a survey conducted earlier this year, 60% of workers have saved less than $25,000 for their retirement. And 36% have saved less than $1,000. This is appalling!

Another new study found that 43% of Baby Boomers are at risk of running out of money in retirement. And this number is almost certainly understated because, as I will discuss below, many Boomers are untruthful about their assets when responding to retirement surveys. The point is, most Boomers are far, far behind in saving for their retirement.

Given the magnitude of the coming retirement crisis, it will be a continuing theme I will be writing about periodically in the months and years ahead. I hope to present you with some ideas for saving more for retirement and, of course, making more on your investments.

Baby Boomer Retirement – Massive Savings Deficit

Remember how many of us worried in 2006 and 2007 that the housing market was in a bubble, and how it could end badly? Yet we were told by market analysts that it was different this time around, and that soaring home prices were here to stay. We all know how that turned out.
Yet here we go again. Just about everyone knows we are facing a looming retirement crisis. Tens of millions of “Baby Boomers” are starting to retire. They are going to live far longer than any previous generation. And they are going to need medical care and nursing care well beyond the needs of previous generations.

The so-called Baby Boomer generation are those roughly 77 million Americans born between 1946 and 1964. It was the largest generation ever created at that time. The first Baby Boomers turned 65 in 2011 and started retiring. That number will continue to rise rapidly over the next decade and longer. By the end of this decade, Boomers will be turning 65 at a rate of about 8,000 a day. As this unique cohort grows older, it will transform the institutions of aging – our entitlement systems – and threatens to bankrupt our nation.   

Yet so few people or families have saved anywhere near enough for retirement, and our public safety net is poorly managed, ill-thought-out and threadbare. But even though we know the overall picture doesn’t add up, somehow everyone keeps on hoping for the best. Our politicians on both sides of the aisle refuse to touch our massive, unfunded entitlement programs.

Three new reports paint a bleak picture of what the future may look like for Americans when they retire. Most Americans haven’t saved nearly enough for their retirement, but there are even more things to be concerned about.

For example, many Americans may enjoy an overall standard of living well below that enjoyed by retirees in many other developed countries, according to a new analysis by money management giant Natixis (which owns bond firm Loomis Sayles, among others). Natixis looked at a broad array of measures, from economic factors to health care, and found that the US ranked 19th in the world for retirees’ quality of life. That is far below countries such as Switzerland and Norway, which (apparently) have sorted out their retirement systems, and we are behind most of the other leading developed nations.

“The United States narrowly holds its spot among the top 20 nations globally in its capacity to meet retirement security needs and expectations,” report Natixis researchers. They looked at 20 key performance indicators across five areas: health care, material well-being, finances in retirement, and broader areas like “quality of life” and the environment.

As an illustration, Natixis notes that we rank number-one in the world – by a longshot – in health spending per capita, but we are only 33rd in life expectancy, 52nd in the number of doctors per capita and 58th in hospital beds per person. Yet most Americans have no idea. We have long been told that the US healthcare system is the best in the world. So much for that!

How does this happen in the wealthiest country in the world? Consider these facts:
·         46% of Americans have less than $10,000 saved for retirement. (Employment
Benefit Research Institute)
·         40% of baby boomers now plan to work until they die. (AARP)
·         36% of Americans say they don’t contribute anything at all to their savings. (CNBC)
·         87% of adults say they are not confident about having money for a comfortable retirement. (Lifehappens.org)
·         Expected retirement age is up to 67 from age 63. (AARP)

Those who took the surveys pointed to the rising cost of living and day-to-day expenses as the reasons they are unable to save enough for retirement. And many also noted that rising healthcare and long-term care costs will have a major impact on their ability to afford a comfortable retirement.
60% of Americans Have Saved Less Than $25,000

Most Americans are in terrible financial shape for their retirement. The Boston College Center for Retirement Research has just updated its “National Retirement Risk Index,” a measure of just how many people can expect to be financially comfortable in retirement.

It doesn’t make for happy reading. According to Boston College, based on current projections, about half the country is at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Among low-income workers, that rises to 60%. But it’s 40% even among the higher-income workers.
One of the stark issues that comes out of the report is how little the stock market boom has helped. As the Boston College researchers note, citing data from the Federal Reserve’s 2010 Survey of Consumer Finances, most people don’t own many stocks or mutual funds. Stocks and equity mutual funds accounted for just 17% of the wealth of high earners, 6% of middle earners and 2% of low earners. I would suspect that the numbers are somewhat higher today, but the point is still the same.
Far more important is the value of housing – which has recovered much less dramatically than the stock market. A large portion of Americans’ net worth is from the value of their home. Meanwhile, by suppressing short-term interest rates for the last five-plus years, the Fed has effectively levied a harsh tax on savers who need income from short-term deposits – including retirees.

The picture is similar in a new study by the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI), a Washington, D.C.-based think-tank. Their “Retirement Readiness Rating” says that at least 43% of Boomers and “Generation Xers” are at risk of running out of money in retirement. Among the poorest half of the country, that number rises sharply. Among those in the poorest 25%, EBRI estimates a stunning 83% are at risk of running out of money in retirement.

Most stunning of all, the EBRI survey found that 60% of workers have saved less than $25,000 for their retirement. And 36% have saved less than $1,000. This is appalling!

The most alarming news, though, is in the fine print. These bleak numbers are based on very rosy financial scenarios. EBRI assumed no changes in Social Security or Medicare in the future. It also assumed outsized financial returns: It estimated people would earn about 8% above inflation each year on their stocks and over 2% above inflation on their bonds — net of fees. Good luck with that! They may be lucky to earn half that.
John Hailer, CEO of Natixis, calls the picture worrying: “Individuals need to be concerned about their own retirement needs, and not just be dependent on government and corporations.” He notes that most people don’t even understand the problem.

But get this: 89% of those surveyed told Natixis researchers that they were “on track” to reach their retirement goals – but 54% of them didn’t even have a plan and 45% of them couldn’t even define their retirement goals. As noted above, Boomers tend to lie in these surveys because they know they have spent way too much and saved far too little.

Boston College’s Alicia Munnell, Anthony Webb, and Rebecca Cannon Fraenkel, authors of the risk-index report, warn: “The only way out of this box is for people to save more and/or work longer.” No kidding!

How Much Money Do You Think You Need to Retire?

Being in the financial industry, we often help clients plan for retirement and we are happy to do so. However, since our clients tend to be higher net worth individuals, most already have a retirement savings plan in place, and still others are already in retirement. The facts above and below will be most helpful for those of you who are still saving and planning for retirement.

To maintain living standards into old age, the Financial Analysts Journal and others estimate that you should have roughly 22 times your desired annual retirement income in financial wealth when you retire, especially if you expect to live until your late 80s or 90s.

So for example, if you want to spend $50,000 a year in retirement, you need about $1.1 million beyond what you will receive from Social Security – assuming both partners retire and they have a home mortgage. If your home is paid off, you’ll need that much less.

This number above is startling in light of the stone-cold fact that most people aged 50 to 64 have nothing or next to nothing in savings and retirement accounts, and thus will rely mainly or solely on Social Security.
If we manage to accept that our savings and investments will likely not be enough, we usually enter another fantasy world – that of working longer. After all, people hear that 70 is the new 50, and a recent report from Boston College says that if people work until age 70, they will most likely have enough to retire on.
Unfortunately, this ignores the reality that unemployment rates for those over 50 are increasing faster than for any other group, and that displaced older workers face a higher risk of long-term unemployment than their younger counterparts. If those workers ever do get re-hired, it’s usually not without taking at least a 25% wage cut in many cases.

But the idea is tempting; many people say they don’t want to retire and feel useless. Professionals say they can keep going, “maybe do some consulting” or find some other way to generate income well into their late 60s or early 70s. Others say they can always be Walmart greeters. They rarely admit that many people retire earlier than they want to because they are laid off or their spouse becomes sick.

The point is, working into your later years is not always possible and therefore, isn’t necessarily a viable plan.

Baby Boomers Now Have to Play “Catch-Up”

Figures vary but it is widely believed that over half of Baby Boomers do not have a formal plan for retirement in place. Yet I believe most Boomers know that they haven’t saved nearly enough to provide the lifestyle they hope for. As a result, I expect that millions of Boomers will increasingly resort to ways to save more and generate more cash to be used for retirement.

As noted above, many will have to work longer than they’d wished. Many will have to sell homes they had hoped to keep – to tap the equity, such as it is, or consider a reverse mortgage. Household budgets will be squeezed and squeezed again. This will be bad for the economy.
In addition to these cost-cutting fiscal exercises, Boomers will be increasingly searching for ways to earn more on their investments – playing “catch-up.” This means that many will be looking for investments with outsized returns – strategies that can be extremely volatile, and in some cases are not even legitimate.

Above all, investors must be able to determine if they can live with the volatility and risks. It is very common for strategies that produce high returns to have big losses along the way.


Sunday, February 9, 2014

A family's financial security should not depend on a savings or investment plan alone. The success of savings or investment plans depends on continued earned income, and they are therefore just as vulnerable to the uncertainties of death and disability as the family's lifestyle.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Tomorrow?

I shared the good news, and the bad news...

The good news is, we could have an incredible asset boom – reaching bubble proportions through 2015. It could keep going into 2016, but by that point we will be tightening our trailing stops.

The bad news is, our government's finances are a ticking time bomb. The day we (the people) have to pay the piper is years down the road – 2016 at the earliest.

The only way out for the government is inflation. Our signal to get out of stocks will be when inflation hits 5%.

At that point, you will want to make sure that you own real assets that beat inflation. I believe income-producing real estate will be an excellent place to be, as the rents will keep up with inflation. The "big table" of how assets performed in the 1970s is also a great guide, starting in 2016.

One last thing... everything I've told you in the last two days is my best guess about will happen in the future. I don't have a crystal ball. I'm sure I will be wrong about some of these points.

But this is my working script. Importantly, it is subject to change. If you're reading this in 2015, it might not be worth much. But so far, things have gone according to the script. Asset prices – like stocks and real estate – have already soared, as the Fed has "juiced" the economy. Mom and Pop America are just now starting to get interested in stocks.

My basic prediction is that will go on for longer than people can imagine, and prices will go higher than people can imagine. I think the peak could be sometime around the end of 2015.

This is the script I'm working from. It's been pretty darn accurate so far. And I expect it to continue.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Good News

Before the "crisis of confidence" arrives, conditions are in place for the greatest asset bubble in history, thanks to the Federal Reserve.

Good News No. 1: The Fed can't raise interest rates, and that will fuel soaring asset prices.
To put it simply, the Federal Reserve will not raise interest rates through the year 2015. The central bank actually told us so..
.
In December, it said it won't raise interest rates "as long as inflation isn't forecast to rise more than 2.5% in the future and as long as unemployment remains above 6.5%."

Fed Vice Chairman Janet Yellen followed up the statement by saying those numbers are just "thresholds for possible action, not triggers... When one of these thresholds is crossed, action is possible but not assured."

The consensus from economists is that inflation will stay tame, unemployment will stay high, and the economy will slowly start to grow:

Inflation (Core-PCE)
Unemployment
Real GDP
2013
1.3%
7.4%
1.7%
2014
1.6%
6.8%
2.6%
2015
1.9%
6.2%
3%
Data Source: Bloomberg consensus forecasts

This means low interest rates for a long time – through at least 2015. That will fuel the great asset bubble that I see coming – the Bernanke Asset Bubble.

The Bernanke Asset Bubble is the simple idea that assets (like stocks and real estate) should soar to unimaginable heights, as Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has promised to keep interest rates at zero for longer than necessary.

Right now, I believe real estate, stocks, and precious metals are very cheap. I expect these assets will soar in price over the next three years.

Good News No. 2: The bizarre election-cycle indicator that says stocks could soar through 2015.
Over the last 80 years, stocks have not had a losing year during the third year of the election cycle. It's hard to believe, but the typical stock market gain during the third year of an election cycle is 29% (including dividends). Take a look...


The next third year of the election cycle starts next September. And the tailwind it will create will fuel real estate and stock prices through at least 2015.

When I first heard of a presidential cycle for stock market returns, I thought it sounded absolutely ridiculous... But then I crunched the numbers – and it turned out to be way more accurate than I ever imagined. Take a look:

Year
Return*
%of losing years
1
-0.7%
50%
2
-2.9%
50%
3
26.2%
5%
4
6.9%
20%
* Not including dividends

The first two years have no return. Then the numbers get silly...

All of the return from the presidential cycle really happens in the massive third-year gains, with a decent fourth-year gain. It sounds crazy. But it is true.

It turns out, since 1932, the return during the third year of a presidential term was negative only once... and it was a loss of less than 1%. If you add in dividends, we haven't had a single negative Year Three since The Great Depression in 1932!

I credit Jeremy Grantham (www.gmo.com) with figuring this out... Grantham starts his number-crunching at the end of the third quarter of the election year.

Could stocks soar from during the next Year Three of an election cycle? Absolutely!

Good News No. 3: Stocks are an incredible value... And they could lead us to a 2000-style stock market boom

Even though stock prices are moving higher today, we still have great value – especially on a "relative" basis...

A key reason why stocks are so cheap today is the "earnings yield." Going forward, I expect the earnings yield will explain why stocks today are cheap relative to other investments – and could easily double from current levels.

The term might sound fancy – but it's just the price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio flipped over. Instead of the P/E ratio, earnings yield is the E/P ratio. And right now, the gap between the earnings yield on stocks and the return on everything else is too wide. It has to close...

On an absolute basis, stocks are fairly valued at a P/E of about 17 today. That means the earnings yield on stocks is around 5.9%... But government bonds pay less than 3% today. Safe corporate bonds pay around 4%.

So on a relative basis, stocks are dirt-cheap relative to bonds and just about everything else.
I believe we'll hear about all these factors in the coming years to explain why the market can soar through 2015.

The Federal Reserve has already promised plenty of times that it won't raise interest rates until it is too late. It will purposely wait for the economy to overheat to make sure the recovery is in place before it starts hiking rates.

In the meantime, the Bernanke Asset Bubble will continue… and stocks and real estate should be good places for your money through 2015.

I believe the stock market will reach "bubble territory," and it will feel like the 2000-Internet boom all over again.

By 2016, it may be time to tighten your trailing stops and batten down the hatches.

What Happens Next?

When will the great boom of 2015 end?

My guess is that it will a peak in late 2015/early 2016. But where do we go from there?

One simple yardstick to follow is when inflation hits 5%...

History shows that once inflation hits 5%, central bankers get worried it could spiral out of control. So they finally act.

Take a look at what happened in the 1960s and 1970s: Each time inflation ticked above 5%, stocks dropped…


I believe that day is long way away... years away, actually.

Bernanke's goal is to save the economy. Higher stock prices and higher housing prices are a part of the prescription. The Fed has repeatedly said the goal of its actions is to create a wealth effect by pushing up the prices of risky assets.


But what happens when inflation hits 5% and the Fed is forced to act?

Thursday, January 16, 2014

The Very Bad News

The Very Bad News...
Looking ahead, my friends, I have some very bad news...

The situation in the U.S. is worse than you can even imagine. A crisis is certain. Here's why:
By 2025, two things alone will eat up ALL government revenues: entitlements and the interest on the national debt.

This is not my estimate... It comes from the government – the Congressional Budget Office – based on what it sees as the likely scenario. And the crisis in these two things alone escalates indefinitely.


Again, this includes no actual "governing" expenses – no bills, no lawmaking, no military, no repairs to roads and bridges, no education... It includes nothing. Add those in, and the U.S. quickly looks worse than the banana republics that have defaulted on debts in the past.


But you already know we have a government spending problem... So how do we get out of it?
When you break it down, there are only three ways out of this situation...
  • Dramatically reduce government spending.
  • Dramatically increase taxes.
  • Inflation.
Think about these for a minute...

Do you really believe our government will dramatically reduce spending? What about dramatically increase taxes? The brutal fact is, you can't raise taxes enough to offset the upward sloping curve you see in the chart... Besides, voters won't go for higher taxes anyway.

So that leaves inflation... It's the only possible way out politically. The U.S. won't default on its debts. It will "inflate" them away through money printing.

Americans are in denial... They don't believe this will happen. But the other two alternatives either won't happen or can't change enough to make a difference.

In the book This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly, authors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff study how governments end up in this mess over and over again. And every time, they think their situation will be different. They call it the "'This Time is Different' syndrome." The book explains it well...
[It's] the belief that financial crises are things that happen to other people, in other countries, at other times. Crises do not happen to us, here and now. We are doing things better. We are smarter. We have learned from past mistakes.
Unfortunately, a highly-leveraged economy can be sitting with its back at the edge of a financial cliff for many years before chance and circumstance provoke a crisis of confidence that pushes it off the cliff.
The U.S. is on that cliff now. It's simply waiting for this "crisis of confidence" to happen – it's waiting for the day when Americans realize the jig is up...
When will that day come? After studying eight centuries of government crises, Reinhart and Rogoff can only say:
Economists do not have a terribly good idea of what kinds of events shift confidence... [In short,] in the history of financial crises, when an accident is waiting to happen, it eventually does. When countries become too deeply indebted, they are headed for trouble. When debt-fueled asset price explosions seem too good to be true, they probably are. But the exact timing can be very difficult to guess.
A U.S. crisis appears inevitable. We can't know when it'll happen. My best estimate is "not today" – but more likely, sometime after the year 2015...

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Some Tax Provisions normally extended are no longer ... Is it Real this time?

In one of the most visible expressions of confusion in tax policy out of Washington D.C. is the treatment of a short list of tax laws that have been repeatedly extended only to expire only to be extended once again. A list of the more common expired tax code provisions is listed here for your reference. These laws expire on midnight December 31st, 2013 unless...once again... the laws are extended.

  • Teacher $250 deduction for qualified classroom expenses.
  • Deduction for state and local general sales taxes (in place of state income tax deduction)
  • Deductibility of home mortgage insurance premiums
  • Tuition and fees deduction
  • 50% additional first year depreciation deduction
  • Tax-free distributions from retirement plans for charitable contributions
Action to take

  • Don't count on it. Please do not plan on receiving any of these tax benefits in 2014. Review your 2013 tax return and adjust your withholdings to account for the additional income you will expose to tax without these deductions.
  • Be prepared for anything. While none of these popular deductions may be available to you in 2014, if the past is any indication these laws may be extended once again. Lack of planned implementation of tax laws make it necessary for us to anticipate (guess) what might happen. So save those receipts!
  • Review your options. The elimination of some of these tax laws does not mean there are not similar benefits in the other areas of the tax code. Here are some examples:
    1. Depreciation. Review Section 179 accelerated depreciation and alternative accelerated recovery methods.
    2. Tuition and fees deduction. Review other educational based tax benefits such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
    3. Charitable contributions from retirement plans. Look at donating investments that have appreciated in value. Review the possibility of matching donations from your employer.

Will we ever return to a time when tax laws are predictable? Who knows for sure. But in the meantime the best you can do is to be as prepared as possible.

Watch Out for Mr. Obama's Military

Change is coming, be prepared!

On October 12, 2013, ABC’s Dianne Sawyer brought us a video of a 9th, yes 9th, General fired from the military this week. It’s even reaching some of the more liberal stations and begging them to ask the question, “What is going on?” It seems President Obama is preparing what he calls “my military” for his version of the final solution. With all the documentation we have, it looks as though he is purging the military for the next step.

We have now seen this official President Obama Temper-tantrum in action this week. But is it a temper-tantrum or is there a method to his madness? We have been warned by  a Pentagon Official to expect radical changes. You heard of our dire warnings of Chinese Economists planning to foreclose and forming the TPP Treaty that could set a global economy in motion. We have the very real possibility of 16 U.S. States being shutdown and handed over due to debt in this mess. We even have a CIA whistle blower warning us that President Obama wants to radically  take over power. People are crying out, Where is our military in this mess?

Well, there seems to be some very credible evidence that since last year and through this year that there has been a “litmus test” given to American Military Officers. The Main point of that test, “Would you fire on an American Citizen?” If you say no, then as Donald Trump would say, “Your fired!” Since the beginning of the year these retired officer’s have came forward with ““President Obama is preparing for war against the U.S.”.  We even know Dr. Garrow and others confirmed this litmus test. Then we have heard President Obama himself talk about “My Military”.


And this isn’t all. This strange chain of firings from the Military is so bizarre and so unheard of that even Dianne Sawyer of ABC news reached out to cover it when the 9th, yes 9th, Military Commanding Officer was relieved of duty in less than a year. This doesn’t include the long list last year (2012), this is just the nine individuals in 2013 alone.

General Carter Hamm, United States Army-Served as head of the United States African Command. Was in charge of the US African command during the fateful night of September 11, 2012 when the lives of four American citizens was taken in the Embassy in Benghazi. Hamm was extremely critical  of our Commander and Chief and stated he lied about not having reinforcements in the area on that night. Hamm “resigned and retired” on April of 2013.

Rear Admiral Charles Gaouette/United States Navy-Commander of Carrier Strike Group Three. His most recent activity served as Deputy Commander of the US Naval Forces, US Central Command. He was in charge of Air Craft Carriers in the Mediterranean Sea the night of September 11, 2012. He testified before the hearing committee and said that there may not have been time to get the flight crews there but left the door open on if told when the events took place if that he could have had the aircraft launched upon cross-examination by Rep. Tray Gowdey. Recently fired from the Administrative post and relieved of Duty by the Obama Administration for “utterance of a racial slur”.

Major General Ralph Baker, United States Army- Major General Baker served as the Commander of the Joint Task Force-Horn at Camp Lamar, Djibouti, Africa. Was also involved in some aspect with the incident September 11, 2012, being under the African Command. Had said he believed attack helicopters could have made it in time. Relieved of command and fired for groping a civilian (no assault charges or sexual misconduct charges filed with JAG). 

Brigadier General Bryan Roberts, United States Army-General Roberts took command of  Fort Jackson in 2011. Was considered a rising star in his field. He served in Iraq during his service as the Commanding Officer of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, and was the Deputy Commanding General of the United States Army Recruiting Command, Fort Knox, KY. Relieved of Duty and Fired for Adultery. While this is still on the books in the United States Code of Military Justice, it has rarely been used since President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions.

Major General Gregg A. Sturdevant, United States Marine Corps-Director of Strategic Planning and Policy of  for the United States Pacific Command and Commander of the aviation wing at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Highly decorated soldier with two Naval and Marine Commendations and two Naval and Marine Good Conduct medals. He also has an Air Medal with a gold star. He served honorably and distinctively. He had asked about supplies to his command. He was one of two commanding officers suddenly relieved of command and fired from the military for failure of proper force protection.

Major General Charles M.M. Gurganus, United States Marine Corps- Regional Commander in the Southwest and I Marine Expeditionary Force (a forward or frontal division) in Afghanistan. Also Highly decorated with a Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legion of Merritt w/Valor, and three Meritorious Service Commendations. Major General C.M.M.Gurganus had questioned the use of Afghanistan patrols along side American patrols after two officers were executed at their desk and a platoon was lead into an ambush on the front lines. Was the other commander relieved of duty for failure of proper force protection.

Lieutenant General David Holmes Huntoon Jr, United States Army-Served as the 58th Superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY.   He had graduated from the same academy in 1973 and had served in Senior Planning and Education Services through the majority of his career. He was “censored” for “an investigation” into an “improper relationship” according to The Department of Defense. Nothing was released to the nature of the improper relationship. Nothing was even mentioned if an actual investigation even took place.

Vice Admiral Tim Giardina, United States Navy-Deputy Commander of the United States Strategic Command. Commander of the Submarine Group Trident, Submarine Group 9 and Submarine Group 10, where every single one of the 18 Nuclear Submarines with Nuclear Trident Missiles of those three groups were in his command. This commander earned six Legions of Merit, Two Meritorious Service Medals, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, and several other medals, ribbons and decorations in his illustrious career. He was removed from service and fired from the military for the charge of using counterfeit poker chips (not making that up).

Last on the list, Major General Michael Carry, United States Air Force-Commander 20th Air Force in charge of 9,600 people and 450 Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) at three operational wings and served in both Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. He was Fired October 11, 2013, for “Personal Misbehavior” is what was told to ABC News. He and Giardina were both the two top Commanders over the United States Nuclear Arsenal before their dismissal within 48 hours of each other.

As ABC News reports, this is an extremely alarming rate and one of the biggest and fastest purges of military personnel ever recorded.  It apparently is such a shock at the rate even for a long time veteran of reporting the news as Dianne Sawyer, because at one point she gets heated saying two Commanders of the Nuclear Command.

You don’t put people who are not very intelligent and without a squeaky clean record over that area of the Military.  It is enough to make the hardest and staunchest of supporters as the ABC news crew to pause and ask themselves, “what step is he planning?”

Firearms are second only to the Constitution in importance: They are the peoples' liberty's teeth. ~ George Washington ~

"We the people are the rightful masters of both Congress and the Courts, not to overthrow the Constitution, but overthrow the men who pervert
the Constitution." ~Abe Lincoln~


"Life is tough.  It's even tougher if you are stupid." ~John Wayne~

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

We Are Not 'Subjects,' We Are People

The President, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid (with no small help from Justice John Roberts) take away our health care, and we allow it. They take away our insurance, and we allow it. They take away our doctors, and we allow it. They charge us thousands of dollars more a year, and we allow it. They make legal products illegal, and we allow it. They cripple our businesses, and we allow it. They announce by fiat that we must ignore our most deeply held beliefs – and we allow it.

Where is your spine, America ?

Yes, I know people are complaining. I read the news on the internet. I read blogs. I have a Twitter feed. So what? People in the Soviet Union complained. People in Cuba complain. People in China complain (quietly). Complaining isn't the same thing as doing anything about it. In fact, much of the complaining that we hear sounds like resignation: Wow. This sucks. Oh well, this is the way things are. Too bad.

Perhaps you need reminding of a few important facts. 
Here goes:

1. The President is not a king. Barack Obama does not behave like a President, an elected official, someone who realizes that he works for us. He behaves like a king, a dictator – someone who believes that his own pronouncements have the force of law, and who thinks he can dispense with the law's enforcement when he deigns to do so. And those of us who object? How dare we? Racists!

And while he moves steadily "forward" with his plans to "fundamentally transform" the greatest country in human history, he distracts people with cheap, meaningless trivialities, like "free birth control pills"! (In fact, let's face it: this administration's odd obsession with sex in general - Birth control! Abortion! Sterilization! Gay guys who play basketball! -- is just plain weird. Since when did the leader of the free world care so much about how people have sex, who they have it with, and what meds they use when they have it? Does he have nothing more important to concern himself with?)

2. It isn't just a failed software program; it is a failed philosophy. People are marveling thatHealthcare.gov was such a spectacular failure. Well, if one is only interested in it as a product launch, I've explained some of the reasons for that here. But the larger point is that it isn't a software failure, or even a product failure; it is a philosophy failure.

I have said this before: Obama is not a centrist; he is a central planner. And this – all of it: the disastrous computer program, the hundreds of millions of dollars wasted, the lies, the manipulation of public opinion, the theft of the public's money and property, and freedom (read insurance, and premiums, and doctors) -- IS what central planning looks like.

The central premise of central planning is that a handful of wunderkinds with your best interests at heart (yeah, right) know better than you what's good for you. The failure of such a premise and the misery it causes have been clear from the dawn of humanity. Kings and congressmen, dictators and Dear Leaders, potentates, princes and presidents can all fall prey to the same imperial impulses: "we know what is good the 'the people.'

And they are always wrong.

There is a reason that the only times communism has really been tried have been after wars, revolutions, or coups d'├ętat. You have to have complete chaos for people to be willing to accept the garbage that centralized planning produces. Take the Soviet Union , for example. After two wars, famine, and the collapse of the Romanov dynasty, why wouldn't people wait in line for hours to buy size 10 shoes? Or settle for the gray matter that passed for meat in the grocery stores?

But communism's watered-down cousin, socialism, isn't much better. Ask the Venezuelans who cannot get toilet paper. Toilet paper. ¡Viva la Revoluci├│n!

Contrary to what so many who believe in a "living Constitution" say, the Founding Fathers absolutely understood this. That is why the Constitution was set up to limit government power. (Memo to the President: the drafters of the Constitution deliberately didn't say "what government had to do on your behalf.") They understood that that was the path to folly, fear, and famine.)

3. Obama is deceitful. Just as the collapse of the computer program should not surprise anyone, neither should we be shocked that the President lied about his healthcare plan. Have any of you been paying attention over the past few years? Obama has made no secret of his motivations or his methods. The philosophies which inspire him espouse deceit and other vicious tactics. (Don't take my word for it: read Saul Alinsky.) Obama infamously told reporter Richard Wolffe, "You know, I actually believe my own bullshit." He has refused to be forthcoming about his past (where are his academic records?). His own pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, told author Ed Klein, that Obama said to him, "You know what your problem is? You have to tell the truth."

Did Obama lie when he said dozens of times, "If you like you plan, you can keep it. Period!"? Of course he did. That's what he does.

4. The media is responsible. And had the media been doing their jobs, we would have known a lot of this much, much earlier.

The press is charged with the sacred responsibility of protecting the people from the excesses of government. Our press has been complicit, incompetent, or corrupt. Had they vetted this man in 2008, as they would have a Republican candidate, we would have known far more about him than we do, even now. Had they pressed for more details about Obamacare, Congress' feet would have been held to the fire. Had they done their jobs about Eric Holder, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS scandal, NSA spying - or any of the other myriad betrayals of the public trust that this administration has committed, Obama would likely have lost his 2012 reelection campaign. (A fact that even The Washington Post has tacitly acknowledged. Well done, fellas! Happy now?)

Instead, they turned a blind eye, even when they knew he was lying, abusing power, disregarding the limits of the Constitution. It was only when he began to spy on them, and when the lies were so blatant that the lowest of low-information voters could figure it out that they realized they had to report on it. (Even in the face of blatant, deliberate and repeated lies,The New York Times has the audacity to tell us that the President "misspoke.") They have betrayed us, abandoned us, and deceived us.

5. Ted Cruz was right. So was Sarah Palin. The computer program is a disaster. The insurance exchanges are a disaster. What's left? The healthcare system itself. And this, of necessity, will be a disaster, too.

Millions of people have lost their individual insurance plans. In 2015, millions more will lose their employer-provided coverage (a fact which the Obama administration also knew, and admitted elsewhere).

The exorbitant additional costs that Obamacare has foisted on unsuspecting Americans are all part of a plan of wealth confiscation and redistribution. That is bad enough. But it will not end there.

When the numbers of people into the system and the corresponding demand for care vastly exceed the cost projections (and they will, make no mistake), then the rationing will start. Not only choice at that point, but quality and care itself will go down the tubes. And then will come the decisions made by the Independent Payment Advisory Board about what care will be covered (read "paid for") and what will not.

That's just a death panel, put politely. In fact, progressives are already greasing the wheels for acceptance of that miserable reality as well. They're spreading the lie that it will be about the ability of the dying to refuse unwanted or unhelpful care. Don't fall for that one, either. It will be about the deaths that inevitably result from decisions made by people other than the patients, their families, and their physicians. (Perhaps it's helpful to think of their assurances this way: "If you like your end-of-life care, you can keep your end-of-life-care.")

6. We are not SUBJECTS. (or, Nice Try, the Tea Party Isn't Going Away). We have tolerated these incursions into our lives and livelihoods too long already. There is no end to the insatiable demand "progressives" have to remake us in their image. Today it is our insurance, our businesses, our doctors, our health care. Tomorrow some new crusade will be announced that enables them to take over other aspects of our formerly free lives.

I will say it again: WE ARE NOT SUBJECTS. Not only is the Tea Party right on the fiscal issues, but it appears that they are more relevant than ever. We fought a war once to prove we did not want to be the subjects of a king, and the Boston Tea Party was just a taste of the larger conflict to come. If some people missed that lesson in history class, we can give them a refresher.


The 2014 elections are a good place to start. Call your representative, your senator, your candidate and tell them: "We are not subjects. You work for us. And if the word "REPEAL" isn't front and center in your campaign, we won't vote for you. Period."

This post is excerpted from an opinion of Professor Laura Hollis at the University of Notre Dame where she teaches entrepreneurship and business law.

Freedom of Choice and the Light Bulb Ban

The federal government has prohibited the manufacture of incandescent light bulbs and import starting January 1, 2014. The nanny state is showing its ugly head again.

The latest ban covers 40-watt and 60-watt bulbs. The 100-watt and 75-watt varieties had already been phased out. The bans were signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2007 as part of the Energy Independence and Security Act.

Opponents of the law protest that the government is making decisions for consumers rather than letting the marketplace determine the products people want.

When we make a purchase, it's about quality, price, how much money we have now, can I use that money for a better investment? I don't need the government to say that I am making the incorrect decision and therefore I should buy energy-efficient products, said Daren Bakst, research fellow in agricultural policy at the Heritage Foundation. 
The light-bulb issue is about a complete ban of a product. It's overkill. Now you have something you can no longer buy. That's really indefensible.

Forget about choice. It's basically saying not only can you not make smart choices, we have so little faith in you that we will make sure you can't buy those goods anymore.

Here you have a central-planning bureaucrat that knows everything, saying we're going to make sure you do the right thing. Granted, Congress passed the law, but this looks like the state knows better than the public does.

Because of the ban, General Electric closed a factory with 200 employees in Winchester, Va., that was the last major incandescent manufacturing facility in the United States. Now the work is going to places such as China, where some of the new compact fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are made.

Consumers can still purchase the incandescent bulbs as long as supplies last, and they remain in stock at many home-product retailers around the country. Once those are gone, however, the newer bulbs will be the only ones available.

The light bulb issue marks a continued pattern of what some say is the federal government's overextending its power in recent years, including spying on news reporters' sources, forcing menu labeling laws in an attempt to change what people eat, and intimidating certain groups, including conservatives, through IRS intrusion.

We certainly have seen far more government intrusion in the last few years than we have before. It has become the expectation that the government has the proper role in the free choices that we make.