Monday, December 10, 2012

Small Business Owners face Tax increase with Obama Tax Plan

The new Obama Tax Plan is not friendly to the small business owner.  While President Obama and the Democrats rant about raising taxes on the rich in the United States they are not talking about how they plan to also raise taxes on the true lifeblood of our country.  The small business owner.  The real Americans going after the American Dream.  These will be the true sufferers with the new Obama Tax Plan.

These small business owners earn 53% of all business income in the country so they are no small segment who will be dramatically hurt by the President's plan.  It is clear that the President has absolutely zero understanding of business as shown by his ideas and performance.  Paying higher taxes will reduce the amount of profits business owners would otherwise re-invest in their companies, making them less likely to expand and hire more workers. Economists agree that tax increases in general limit economic growth.

Under Obama's plan, the 33% tax rate would rise to 36% on taxable income above $231,000 for a married couple filing jointly. The top tax rate would increase from 35% to 39.6% on taxable income above $397,000. Obama's plan also would phase out the personal exemption and gradually reduce itemized deductions for individuals making more than $200,000 and married couples making more than $250,000.

The top capital gains tax rate would rise from 15% to 20%. Qualified dividends, which are now taxed at a top rate of 15%, would be taxed as ordinary income for top earners, or at a top rate of 39.6%. That, some business owners complain, would leave them with less money to hire new workers or keep the ones they have.

"Raising taxes on small businesses instead of taking a balanced approach that also cuts spending is wrong," Boehner, said recently. "It's only going to make it harder for our economy to grow. And if our economy doesn't grow, Americans don't get new jobs and the debt problem that we have will continue to threaten our children's future."

Monday, November 19, 2012

Ken Burns on the spot again with The Dust Bowl

If you missed the PBS broadcast of The Dust Bowl you need to make plans to catch the reruns.  The two part series by Ken Burns was simply fantastic.

I know some of the previous work from Ken Burns can be a bit slow at times.  Not The Dust Bowl.  It takes a few minutes to get going as Burns sets the stage by introducing the people and how the region was populated.  But after the initial development, the show is fascinating.

I must admit it is an era that is not thought of much.  The 1930s have been pretty much "swept under the rug" as it was not the best of times in the United States.  The Great Depression dominated the times.  I remember from my schooling that the Dust Bowl was barely touched upon at all. Thus it was an almost entirely new subject for me.

Two things make The Dust Bowl so good you simply cannot turn it off.  Firstly, Ken Burns has assembled a plethora of outstanding photographs.  They are mesmerizing.  I never imagined the epic drama of the time and the extent of the sand and utter devastation will leave you in awe.  Photo after photo had my mouth gaping.

Secondly, Ken Burns found the people who actually lived it.  He established the homesteads and the plights of the familes.  The interviews and first hand accounts made the show and tug at your heart.

Over a decade, farmers tore up grasslands to plant more and more wheat, which soon was worth less and less. Next, winds blew away good soil and then more winds brought bad soil to the surface. In towns called Follett and Enid, the filmmaker has found important things to discuss about ecosystems and economies and how they collapse. More important, Burns also presents novel-worthy characters against an apocalyptic backdrop.

In the end, The Dust Bowl is typical Ken Burns.  The man does his research and can flat out tell a story.  He is in his element with The Dust Bowl.  The show can be unsettling at times, but is four hours of great documentary television.  A must watch!

Friday, November 9, 2012

World War Z - Fighting the Zombie Apocalypse

The next big zombie movie hits theaters early summer 2013.  World War Z Starring Brad Pitt the movie is based on a wonderful book of the same name by Max Brooks.  If you have not read the book, grab it before seeing the movie.  It is an entertaining read for sure.  With an impressive movie budget of $125 million expect nothing but a huge hit. 

With the breakout of the fabulous AMC series The Walking Dead, interest in World War Z will be high.  I have read the book and have monster expectations.  I love The Walking Dead and cannot wait to check this new movie out.

It will be interesting to see how director Marc Forster ties everything together in the film version as the book is a series of accounts of the Zombie War from several characters all over the world.  The interviews chart a decade long war against the zombies. The personal accounts also describe the changing religious, geo-political, and environmental aftermath of the Zombie War.  It looks like the movie will primarily follow Brad Pitt and his family.

Truthfully, I am not sure if the movie will follow the book much at all.  World War Z author Max Brooks stated he had zero influence in the script, but he did say he read the script and thought is was very good.  The IMDb introduction states that the movie follows a UN employee (surely Brad Pitt) as he travels around the world trying to stop the spread of a zombie pandemic.  We will just have to wait and see which path is taken.

I am also waiting to see what kind of zombies we will see in the movie.  Will they be the slower style flesh eaters in The Walking Dead style or will we get the "get after you" zombie from something like Dawn of the Dead?  In the book we had fairly athletic zombies that came in waves and were on the characters pretty quickly.  Hesitate and you are in big trouble!

**Update - We are definitely going to get "full-speed" zombies in World War Z!  I just watched the first trailer for the movie.

No mater what type of zombie we get.  There is just no way around it.  This movie should be BIG.  Brad Pitt.  A zombie world war.  The entertainment options are limitless.  Hopefully Forster does the story justice and produces a classic zombie movie we can love for years and years!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

President Obama - Forward We Go

Barack Obama's campaign pledge for re-election has been one single word. Forward.

Forward to what exactly? Forward towards more socialist programs? More welfare. More food stamps. Unemployment benefits that last for up to two years that do nothing but encourage the worker to not seek a job as they get free $$ from the taxpayer. More rewards to people who do very little to lend a hand in the productivity of our country.

Forward towards utter bankruptcy? A national debt that is going up over $1 trillion per year. The time is going to come when we have to own up to these excesses. Just look at Europe and the disasters in Greece, Spain, Italy and Ireland. Our day of reckoning will be much, much worse unfortunately.

Forward with a healthcare plan that a majority of Americans did not want? A healthcare plan that will force employers across our nation to fire productive employees because the fine is cheaper than the actual healthcare premiums. Wait. Watch. See the results of Obamacare.

He will have no mandate. He will be re-elected and not even win 50% of the popular vote. It's just like the famous Obamacare. A majority did not want it, but still we got it. Tonight a majority did not want President Obama yet we got him for four more years. Can we expect this President to actually sit down and try to get anything productive done with Congress? He spent the previous four years not working with anyone at all.

So here we go.
Forward towards more socialist policies.
Forward towards a bankrupt nation.
Forward towards gridlock.
Forward towards the fiscal cliff.

Really? Forward?

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Vice Presidential Debate - What an Independent Witnessed

I understand that the Democrats were a little hurt after the first Presidential Debate between Romney and Obama. The President showed little emotion or little enthusiasm at all while Romney clearly delivered an intelligence response to all the questions.

 Last night it was like night and day. Vice President Biden was the wild man. He reminded me of the crazy old man at the Dairy Queen, drinking his coffee at 6am and debating the issues of the day with his farmer friends. He was rude. He was loud. He was borderline nuts. If laughing while your opponent is speaking means winning a debate then so be it. If yelling and ranting when it is your turn to speak means winning a debate then so be it.

 Last week Romney won the debate with class. Delivering solid answers in an intelligent way. If you think Biden won last night then he won in the exact opposite way. It was the crazy old man approach. He was even yelling at the poor moderator sometimes. A clear lack of class. I guess that is why Obama has kept Biden under wraps the last four years and not let him run around making alot of statements in the media. It was obvious the Democrats were desperate. The display last night clearly energized the left. The right were turned off for sure for the poor display from Biden.

The issue is not the left or right voters. They already have their mind made up. The issue is the independents who may not be leaning one direction or the other. What did they see last night? A young, intelligent Paul Ryan against a ranting, laughing old man. That should be what is taken away from the Vice Presidential Debate. What did an independent see?

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Arab Spring turns dark

The Arab Spring.  What was hoped to be a time of enlightenment and progress has turned out to be nothing other than a plunge into deeper darkness.  From Khadafi to this?

A poor, backwards part of the world is devolving into further chaos.  Over 20 countries are in deep states of protest and rioting.  The time is coming that this will have to be dealt with.  Unfortunately, our President is too busy fundraising to do much on the subject.  He has not even been in Washington DC for days.

Another attack on American property or embassy will have to be answered.  It must be dealt with in force.  The question is does President Obama have the guts to act?  I am not so sure.  So far we have done absolutely nothing.

These people are crazy.  They are full of hate towards the United States and everything we stand for.  We should not stand by and allow these scum-of-the-earth act as such.  The crowds are chanting "Death to America".

At the very least we should stop sending foreign aid to the Middle East.  We send $1.5 billion to Egypt alone every single year.  What an absolute waste.  Especially when we have $16 trillion in debt ourselves.  Afghanistan gets $3.9 billion!  Pakistan hates us, yet we will send $3.1 billion their way this year. 

One of the stated purposes of our foreign aid is "to promote democracy".  How is that working out?  These people hate us.  The Islamic radicals are in charge.  The Muslim Brotherhood is in control.  These people are whackos.

The Middle East is a ticking time bomb.  It will eventually explode.  One of our closest allies Israel will need to be defended and we will rise to help them without doubt. 

Could we be on the verge of another World War?  Possibly so.  The Middle East radicals will stand together .  We will stand with Israel and Western Europe will stand with us as well. 

Is this where we are headed?  Possibly not in the very near future, but I fear this lies within our time horizon.  Let's hear your thoughts in the comments!

How will Obamacare impact small businesses?

Just how will Obamacare impact small businesses? We have heard all kinds of stories from both sides of the table. Republicans and Democrats all have their own take on Obamacare.

At the recent International Franchise Association convention held in Washington this week we got some ideas from the small business owners that will be directly impacted. That's where Atlanta Taco Bell and Kentucky Fried Chicken franchiser David Barr pulled out his powerpoint showing how funding Obamacare will cut his profits in half overnight.

With simple math the small business folks understood, he spelled out that their only choice is to slash employee hours so they aren't eligible for company-paid health care or stop offering insurance and pay the $2,000 per employee fine. Barr has 23 stores with 421 employees, 109 of whom are full-time. Of those, he provides 30 with health insurance.

Barr said he pays 81% of their Blue Cross Blue Shield policy, or $4,073 of $5,028 for individuals, more for families, for a total bill of $129,000 a year. Employees pay $995. Under Obamacare, however, he will have to provide health insurance for all 109 full-time workers, a cost of $444,000, or two and half times more than his current costs. That $315,000 increase is equal to just over half his annual profit, after expenses, or 1.5% of sales.

As a result, he said, "I'm not paying $444,000." Providing no insurance would result in a federal fine of $158,000, $29,000 more than he now spends but the lowest cost possible under the Obamacare law. So he now views that as his cap and he'll either cut worker hours or replace them with machines to get his costs down or dump them on the public health exchange and pay the fine.

"Every business has a way to eliminate jobs," he said, "but that's not good for them or me." But that's not all. His experience tells him that most low-wage workers he would have to cover under Obamacare won't take it because their $995 share is too high, meaning those the program was set up for won't see any benefit. And those who do will because they have major health issues, likely resulting in higher premiums to him.

This will be the norm throughout the United States. Every business owner will have to deal with the same issues. The result will not be pretty at all.

Check out the latest from the Investor Business Daily Obamacare List

Monday, September 3, 2012

Obama - The numbers don't lie on the first four years

One month after taking office in 2009 President Obama stood in the elegant East Room of the White House gave a finger-waving talk on fiscal responsibility and boldly pledged to halve the deficit in his four years. He would bring the deficit down from $10 trillion to $5 trillion.

Fail. Instead of reducing our national debt by 50% as he promised, President Obama has actually increased our national debt by 50% to almost $16 trillion.

Here is another Obama quote from an appearance on the Today show just after he took office in February 2009. “I will be held accountable. You know, I’ve got four years. … A year from now, I think people are gonna see that we’re starting to make some progress, but there’s still gonna be some pain out there. If I don’t this done in three years, then there’s gonna be a one-term proposition.”

Just take a look at these numbers and see if America is better off after four years of the current Presidency.

Unemployment - from 7.8% to 8.3%
Median Income - from $55,000 to $51,000
National Debt - from $10.6 to $15.9 trillion
Price of Gas - from $1.84 to $3.82

How can anyone decide to vote for such failure? I guess all the people who get their handouts from the government will surely vote Democrat, but otherwise??? Any hard working American cannot allow us to continue down this path to bankruptcy and failure. Just look at the failing countries of Greece, Spain and Italy in Europe. That's where we are headed unless we change.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Obama negative ads aren't telling the truth

President Barack Obama is at it again. This time he has launched a new set of negative ads directed at Republican candidate Mitt Romney. Even though the point of the ads have been depicted as untrue by the independent research firm

The 30-second spot — titled "The Problem" — claims Romney condoned the Chinese "taking our jobs and taking a lot of our future." It's the latest in a steady drumbeat of negative attacks on Romney's record as a corporate buyout specialist, alleging he profited off of deliberately bankrupting companies and sending jobs overseas.

Obama is undeterred by independent fact-checkers that have debunked the thrust of his claims. "We have found no evidence to support the claim that Romney — while he was still running Bain Capital — shipped American jobs overseas," concluded in a report last month.

Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler also concluded that while Bain-owned companies may have engaged in outsourcing, Romney's ties to the practice are tenuous.

Unfortunately it is the only way Obama can win re-election as he cannot stand on any of his policies. The economy is a total disaster and a majority of Americans are against his health care plan. Hopefully the public can see through his false claims.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Obama spending more time fundraising than running the country

Maybe if President Obama spent as much time actually running the country as he did fundraising our economy might be in a better place.  Instead, Obama has been hopping on Air Force One and running all over the United States to fundraisers.

Just in June alone he attended 33 different fundraisers!  That's over one a day.  How about actually staying in Washington and working on fixing our ailing economy and rampant unemployment.

Oh, and just who pays for all these Air Force One trips around the country so he can raise money?  Of course we do.  The American taxpayers.  So we are taking a double whammy on this one.  A President not doing anything in Washington and taking 33 trips last month on the taxpayers bill.

Friday, June 29, 2012

President Obama needs to read some Abraham Lincoln

President Obama needs to read this very profound passage from our great President Abraham Lincoln.  It seems we have lost sight of what made our country great and are embracing socialist ideals.  Americans are becoming an entitlement society.  Expecting handouts and freebies from our government and the current leadership is more than willing to reward the lack of initiative.  We are a great country because we earned it!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Hedging against the European Union collapse with Gold

The European Union's problems just keep growing. First, it was Greece, which could still implode at any moment. Now it's Spain, which needed a $100 billion loan to prop up its economy. And the pundits say Italy and Portugal are not too healthy, either.
When investors think about hedging, one thing that comes to mind is Gold. Investing in gold is a great way to hedge against Europe's economic collapse and its ripple effects on the rest of the world. Any intelligent investor will want exposure in this market over the next few years.
The European Union has deep subterranean problems. The European Council's Van Rompuy has come up with an all-encompassing Grand Plan. This magical plan will provide for a European Treasury that has budgetary power over every nation in the EU; protect Eurobonds; provide a banking union that guarantees deposits; and of course, implement a bailout of all the banks. Enabling the Grand Plan requires a unified taxation policy, and regulated employment. And that sounds just like Orwell's Big Brother. The plan behind the Grand Plan is the mutualization of debt. Translation: Germany gets to pay for everything, because Spain, Italy, Greece and even the U.K. are in financial meltdown.
There's not enough money in the world to prop up the EU's failing economies. And when the EU finally succumbs to the Humpty Dumpty syndrome, the resulting splash, a veritable tsunami wave, will carry all the way to the US.  So what does a smart investor do? He protects his money. He looks around for a way to hedge. Gold mines are a good way to hedge. At the same time, investors that hedge by investing in gold mines like Yamana Gold (AUY) or Newmark Mining will protect themselves against currency depreciation. Some experts believe that the US is in a commodities  at the present juncture. Others maintain the bull market has ended. Nevertheless, despite the varying opinions and market fluctuations, the price of gold is still phenomenally high.
Bottom line is this: speculation in resource exploration stocks (gold mines) is the best way to hedge against what's going on in Europe.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Scarlett Johansson - One of Hollywood's best onscreen Smokers

There are very few more accomplished smokers in Hollywood than Scarlett Johansson.  She has a style that is rivaled by very few and is truly a throwback to the "good old days."  In a time where most shy away from smoking in movies, Scarlett truly stands out.

Her first time on screen was as a teen in An American Rhapsody.  She was only 16 during filming but it is pretty obvious she was not new to smoking at the time of filming.   Either that or she was a very quick learner!

Scarlett Johansson smoking

She was so good in Lost in Translation.  Not only a good smoking performance, but also a good movie in itself.  Very well acted.  Set in Japan, Scarlett and Bill Murray have a true chemistry and Scarlett’s smoking style is a definite attraction.

A Love Song for Bobby Long with John Travolta is what most consider her best smoking performance to date.  This movie best showcases her true smoking talents, including a couple of great nose exhales.  The movie is absolutely packed with her Scartlett Johansson smoking in fine fashion.

Scarlett Johansson nose exhale

Unfortunately, for someone who smokes so much onscreen and is such an open smoker, there are not a ton of candid photographs of Scarlett Johansson smoking.  Unlike most actresses who best smoking stuff are candids, Scarlett Johansson has her best work in film so far.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Hatfields and McCoys on History Channel

Well if you missed last night's opening episode of The Hatfields and McCoys on The History Channel you should make sure to get the DVR set up to catch the reruns.  Luckily, it won't be hard to find the three episodes.  The History Channel is bombarding us with them this week.  Rightfully so though, as the the first episode was wonderful.

It is a three part mini-series featuring Kevin Costner and Bill Paxton as the heads of their respective families.  Paxton leads the more religious McCoy family while Costner leads the financially savvy Hatfields.  Both have huge families all living in the area on either side of the river.  The McCoys live across the river in Kentucky and the Hatfields are in West Virginia.

The two families are at odds from the very beginning and the little tussles begin to escalate into legal battles, fist fights and  murders.  All the physical drama is overshadowed though when the Hatfield boy and the McCoy girl fall in love to the horror of both fathers.  The battle ensues and I will leave it for you to discover the entertainment that is the Hatfields and McCoys.  Check it out on The History Channel this week.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Obama, Promises Promises unfulfilled

Remember these?
All these are promises from Barack Obama:
“I promise 100% transparency in my administration.”.
“I promise NO NEW TAXES on a family making less than $250K a year.”.
“I will allow 5 days of public comment before I sign any bills.”.
“I will remove earmarks from PORK projects before I sign any bill.”.
“I will end Income Tax for seniors making less than $50K a year.”.
"I will bring ALL of our troops home within ONE year."
“I’ll put the Health Care negotiations on CSPAN so everyone can see who is at the table!”.
“I’ll have no lobbyists in my administration."
"I'll close Guantanamo."
"I'll resign if I don't cut the deficit in half by the end of four years."
"I'll unite the people of this great country."
Fool me once shame on YOU!
Fool me twice shame on ME!

Oh and in case you haven't noticed, out national debt has almost doubled since he has been in charge.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Michelle Obama Spain trip cost US taxpayers almost $500,000

Wow. Just Wow. In these times. With this economy.

A personal vacation for First Lady Michelle Obama and her daughter Sasha ended up costing the United States taxpayer almost $500,000. Me thinks this is a bit extravagant and a waste of your's and mine's hard earned money.

The total cost was $467,585, according to Judicial Watch, who says it took “two years and a lawsuit” to get the information. The American people can ill afford to keep sending the First Family on vacations around the globe. There needs to be greater sensitivity to the costs borne by taxpayers for these personal trips.

Obama and her then-nine-year-old younger daughter, Sasha, went on the trip to Andalusia and Majorca “with two friends and four of their daughters, as well as a couple of aides and a couple of advance staff members,” the New York Times reported at the time. The vacation included a meeting with King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia. Obama and the other family paid for their own hotel bills, but Judicial Watch said the flight costs came to $199,323.75.

“The 15-member flight crew stayed at Tryp Guadalmar, a nearby motel. Lodging cost was $10,290 and car rental cost was $2,633. Food cost was $876. “Secret Service records meanwhile, show that the costs to the agency for the vacation were $254,461. This total includes $26,670 for a chauffeur tour of Costa del Sol and $50,078 for a travel planning company. Taxpayers also paid the bill for separate lodging for a dog and its handler.”

Saturday, February 25, 2012

US National Debt surpasses 100% of GDP

Last month America's national debt increased to 101% of our gross domestic product. The dubious threshold was crossed with the latest issuance of $32 billion in 2year US Treasury bonds. Unfortunately, the event passed without much fanfare or media headline.

Tyler Durden reports for ZeroHedge that it was just three weeks ago, on January 30, that our debt-to-GDP ratio went from double to triple digits. It has taken the federal government a mere twenty one days to add a full percentage point to this most critical of debt sustainability ratios.

And the reaction from useless Congress, the two useless political parties, the GOP candidates, and of course Obama is one of indifference and bickering. With just under $1 trillion in new debt issuance on deck in the next nine months, the US national debt will be at 110% of GDP in no time! Where will we be with four more years of Obama and another $10 trillion in national debt.........

Into the abyss we go.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Research showing Mars extreme drought for millions of years

Mars may have been extremely dry for more as much as the last 600 million years, making it too hostile for any life to survive on the planet's surface. This finding comes from researchers who have been carrying out the painstaking task of analysing individual particles of Martian soil. Dr Tom Pike, from Imperial College London, will discuss the team's analysis at a European Space Agency (ESA) meeting on February 7th, 2012.

The researchers have spent three years analysing data on Martian soil that was collected during the 2008 NASA Phoenix mission to Mars. Phoenix touched down in the northern arctic region of the planet to search for signs that it was habitable and to analyse ice and soil on the surface.

The results of the soil analysis at the Phoenix site suggest the surface of Mars has been arid for hundreds of millions of years, despite the presence of ice and the fact that previous research has shown that Mars may have had a warmer and wetter period in its earlier history more than three billion years ago. The team also estimated that the soil on Mars had been exposed to liquid water for at most 5,000 years since its formation billions of years ago. They also found that Martian and Moon soil is being formed under the same extremely dry conditions.

Satellite images and previous studies have proven that the soil on Mars is uniform across the planet, which suggests that the results from the team's analysis could be applied to all of Mars. This implies that liquid water has been on the surface of Mars for far too short a time for life to maintain a foothold on the surface.
Dr Pike, from the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Imperial, who is lead author on the study published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, explains:
"We found that even though there is an abundance of ice, Mars has been experiencing a super-drought that may well have lasted hundreds of millions of years. We think the Mars we know today contrasts sharply with its earlier history, which had warmer and wetter periods and which may have been more suited to life. Future NASA and ESA missions that are planned for Mars will have to dig deeper to search for evidence of life, which may still be taking refuge underground."

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Haiti still in ruins two years after earthquake

It has been two years since the catastrophic earthquake that destroyed Haiti and yet even after all the humanitarian efforts that have gone on, the country is still basically in ruins. The presidential palace is nothing more than a pile of rubble still. Port-au-Prince's cathedral also offers a striking symbol of the failure of an international aid effort.

"I've been here for the past two years," Wilbert told AFP, admitting he found it hard emotionally to move on from the disaster. "I cannot detach myself from this place where I lost my two legs," he said.

UN fact sheets highlighted the hundreds of thousands of people relocated from tent cities in 2011 but the pace of reconstruction has been painfully slow. That is partly explained by the cataclysmic scale of the January 12, 2010 disaster, which killed, injured or displaced one in six of the Caribbean nation's entire population, razing some 250,000 homes in the capital alone. But Haiti was also already the economic basket case of the Western Hemisphere, a dysfunctional country often ruled by a corrupt elite while 80% of the population lived below the poverty line, most in stinking slums.

Despite considerable achievements, including in the areas of rubble removal and the resettlement of displaced persons, many Haitians remain in need of international assistance," Ban said.