Rush Limbaugh offered something like the following perceptive observation on Friday last:
Scientists have become alarmed at the accelerating decrease in sunlight available each day in the Northern Hemisphere. Since the end of this past June, the minutes of daylight have steadily shrunk to the point of near panic. All U.N. scientists now agree that, if this decrease continues apace, our 24-hour day will be totally dark by the end of this coming June … not one glimmer of luminescence. And what is worse – it seems that this lost light has been leaking down below the equator. While we here would be forced to live without natural illumination, those in Africa, South America, and Australia would enjoy twenty-four hours of sunlight … obviously Nature’s reward for these peoples’ limited use of the world’s natural resources.
So everyone in the Northern Hemisphere is besought to stop driving their cars, heating their homes, and using electricity for any purpose. And moreover, everyone is also asked to purchase daylight offsets from the George Hamilton Daylight Offset Foundation. Each $1,000 donated will allow us to regain one more second of daylight over the next six months. Please, please, please don’t let George Hamilton fade to pastiness. Thank you all!
President Bush was interviewed on television today … of which snippets were replayed on MSNBC tonight. I happened to catch this exchange: Questioner: “What are you going to do about the auto industry bailout?” Pres. Bush: “You’re assuming I’ve made up my mind.” Switch to Keith [D]Oberman back in the MSNBC studio: “No, that’s assuming Bush has a mind!”
Also today I received the following link from my wife’s cousin in France: http://www.sockandawe.com/ At this site you get to throw shoes at President Bush. Over 44 million shoe hits have occurred (from around the world). Now, isn’t that special?
Both these instances above indicate a galloping lack of civility toward the United States and our current leadership. They display a degree of rabid disrespect and even hatred that I have seldom seen exhibited … except perhaps for our mortal enemies in time of war. This “Bush Derangement Syndrome” is freely displayed by TV commentators/talking heads, in many published venues, by most reporters, and very often in “polite” conversation. It seems that everyone is now vying with John Stewart of the “Daily Report” to out-snide him. As bad as Jimmy Carter was, I don’t recall him ever being excoriated like President Bush. We have now a wood-chipper main stream media which likes to pulverize public figures just for the sport of it. And, if Barack Obama thinks he will be forever immune from their blood lust, then he is more naïve than perspicacious.
- Many powerful liberal politicians believed that everyone in America should own a home regardless of their means or morals. (Some now believe that they were wrong ... how quaint.) - They coerced, with regulatory and oversight threats, banks and other institutions into offering such “sub-prime” mortgages. - Banks and these other institutions discovered that they could package these mortgages (collateralized debt obligations -- CDOs) and sell them to, among others, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. - Since the origination fees from this pass-through sub-prime mortgage process was very profitable to these banks and other institutions, they became willing co-conspirators. - Because of the implicit government guarantees of these packaged mortgages, credit rating agencies placed unrealistic high ratings on them and on the institutions that held them. - Fannie and Freddie were overly-populated with liberal ex-pols who were more than willing to participate in this fraud since their annual compensation was based on the volume of said transactions. The growth in the portfolios of sub-prime mortgage packages at Freddie and Fannie was exponential. - All efforts to monitor and/or regulate this sub-prime process at Fannie and Freddie were squelched by accusations of racism from liberals in Congress - At the start, the ease with which these sub-prime mortgages were off-loaded caused banks and others (such as Countrywide) to drop any semblance of checking the credit-worthiness of their mortgage borrowers. The writing of mortgages without suitable documentation became rife. Home-buyers couldn’t believe their luck and many went hog wild. - The volume of these sub-prime mortgages grew to such an extent that many remained at their originators because, for no other reason, the origination fees were so profitable. - Concurrent with this, because of accounting frauds at Enron and others, accounting rules were changed by the SEC to force companies to “mark to market” all balance sheet assets - Also concurrent with this, a financial instrument appeared called a Credit Default Swap (CDS) which allowed institutions to insure most any financial asset against credit default - Banks and other institutions sold CDS’s to protect themselves against losses that would occur if the collateralized mortgages on their books went into default. But they went much further; they (including many insurance companies and foreign institutions) bought and sold CDS’s far beyond the face value of the underlying assets (as much as ten times their value). CDS’s became, effectively, a gigantic, unregulated casino. - When sub-prime mortgages began to default in droves, asset packages including these mortgages became difficult to value (or mark to market). Many of these asset packages (even though producing a steady, albeit somewhat reduced, income flow) were forced to be drastically devalued on balance sheets. - Because of the sheer size of the CDS market ($60 trillion?) and its lack of regulation, many of the insurance policies on these defaulting sub-prime mortgage packages could not be honored which put the buyers and sellers of these CDS’s in great financial jeopardy (eg. AIG). This then began the world-wide freezing up of capital markets. - Because of the capital-ratio requirements at banks, many of such institutions were forced to raise more capital in a capital market that was rapidly freezing up. It was then either insolvency or a government bailout. - Enter Henry Paulson and the U.S. taxpayer.
My wife made a beautiful suggestion this AM regarding the automaker's bailout. Make Mitt Romney the "Car Czar" ... the one who oversees the bailout money and the reorganization plans of the automakers (since it now seems inevitable that they will get a ton of taxpayer money). He has all the qualifications and then some ... and seems to have the time. Nah!!! He would probably insist on the unions biting the bullet and it would also set him up as a political rival to the Democratic juggernaut. We can't have that!! It will probably be some doofus like Robert Kennedy Jr. Sigh ...
it’s the way that you say it. A comparison was drawn recently between Barack Obama’s interview on 60 Minutes … his talking in dulcet tones and in complete sentences … and George Bush’s grating, fractured English. However, it seems to me that we all need to pay more attention to what people say and not to the melodious nature of their rhetoric. For instance, shortly after his election to the most powerful political position in the world, I would still like to know if Obama: - Is going to raise taxes on the wealthy and lower taxes on 95% of Americans? - Is going to withdraw American troops from Iraq before the most recent Iraq-set target date of the end of 2011? - Is going to zero-out unproductive and non-effective government agencies? - Is going to reach across the aisle to Republicans or have Rahm Emanuel take out his Uzi? - Is going to bail out unconditionally the big three auto makers or make the United Auto Workers first bite the bullet? - Is going to install almost a trillion dollar stimulus package or pull in the U.S.’s fiscal horns? - Is going to create a civilian defense force bigger than our military? - Is going to renegotiate NAFTA and back away from other free-trade agreements? - Is going to eliminate workers’s secret union ballot? - And many more. Somehow, after cringing through one of GWB’s leaden presentations, still I always knew where he stood. Not so the case with our current President elect.
They said that saccharin was needed to stop the plague of diabetes. Then they said, “Oh no, stop. It causes cancer!” Six months ago, they said gasoline was going to $6.00 or more a gallon. I just filled up at $2.03. They told me butter was bad for me. Eat margarine instead (the original transfat). They were dead wrong. (Julia Child knew.) They told me I couldn’t use DDT. It made the egg shells of peregrine falcons thin. The result was that millions of people died of diseases carried by mosquitoes that DDT would have eliminated. They told me I couldn’t eat French fries cooked in lard (that tasted sooo good!) Now I eat them cooked in tasteless safflower oil while the French laugh at us. During the Carter administration when interest rates were 16%+, they said they would never again sink into single digits. They are now 1%. They told me that the thimerosal in vaccines causes autism. It now appears that they were wrong See this NY Times Article. They told me that to eat only organic foods while they stuffed their noses, stomachs, and veins full of non-organic, illicit designer drugs. Now, they say that carbon dioxide is the bane of mankind.
From the Dartblog: “According to data from Markit printed by WSJ, on August 1, it cost $15,000 to insure $10 million of US Treasuries against default but only $7,000 for German sovereign debt. That number has more than doubled to $32,000 for US debt but Germany’s has spiked to $33,000. The UK trails in at $58,000 and Italy at $109,000.”
From the above it is clear that the credit default swap (CDS) market is indeed existential. If one has to insure one’s purchase of an U.S. Treasury obligation against default, then what happens if such an event does occur. Clearly, since for each billion dollars of Treasury obligation, there is probably $10 billion of CDSs written against it, such writers of these CDSs will likely again be flocking to the U.S. Treasury for a bailout since most such insurers would be far too undercapitalized to make good on the bets they had made (like AIG). However, since it would have been the government itself that had defaulted, where are they (we) going to get the moolah then to perform such bailouts? And, if we stupidly print this money, wouldn’t this just snowball into more U.S. Treasury defaulting?
I know that the Kool-Ade drinkers don’t believe that Obama flipped off Hillary earlier this year (middle finger scratching his cheek whilst he referred to her.) Now, he’s at it again while congratulating McCain. See: Congrats John Please, you Obama supporters with those bright orange stains around your mouths, rationalize how this happens twice. Or perhaps you think that it is cute to be so thuggish?
I guess I am not surprised that Obama has been revealed as favoring a redistribution of wealth. But what fazes me is that my leftie friends believe that this just means “marginal redistribution” … that is, upping the tax rate on people earning over $250,000 per year (Obama’s original target) … er, $200,000 per year (ala Obama, more recently) … er, $150,000 per year (ala Biden, yesterday). But, true redistribution of wealth would go much further … into redistribution of our citizen’s assets (remember what happened in China, Cuba, etc.?) Don’t snigger, the radical left is perfectly capable of applying this precept, particularly if they have a super majority in the Senate. Don’t forget that Obama’s church, the Trinity United Church, has required all its members (and this includes Obama) sign its manifesto which eschews “middleclasscedness.” I know that this sounds like scaremongering (as per Dennis Kucinich Noonan) but are you confident enough in Obama to say that this is not part of our future as he sees it?
Why things currently seem so bleak: - Overleveraging (subprime mortgages, credit-default swaps, hedge funds, low interest rates) - Lack of oversight in credit markets - Commodity bubbles (oil, corn, natural gas, gold) - Interlocking world credit markets - Slowdown in Chinese infrastructure spending after the olympics - Lack of fiscal discipline in government spending - Competition for hegemony (Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, Syria, China) - Decline in statesmanship among U.S. politicians - U.S. Election (Democrats seeking advantage by talking down the economy) - U.S. Elections (growing fear about the consequences of an Democrat sweep) - Decline of objective media reporting
Yes, I am old and crotchety. But I still remember the can-do attitude that prevailed through most of the twentieth century. Then, the United States could do anything we put our minds to – build the Empire State building in one year; the Hoover dam in five years, the Golden Gate bridge in two years; win two World Wars; tame nuclear fission and fusion; make viewable movies; build the most massive engineering undertaking by man – our interstate highway system; put a man on the moon; and invent most of the technologies that are now manufactured in foreign lands. But this national spark seems to have faded as we limped into a new millennium. Today we are, unfortunately, a nation of can’t-dos:
- We can’t exploit our natural resources such as oil, coal and timber - We can’t build a strategic missile-defense shield - We can’t smoke tobacco (other herbs are OK) - We can’t win any war into which we are drawn - We can’t build nuclear power plants - We can’t wear fur or perfume - We can’t control government spending - We can’t exercise our national hegemony - We can’t keep unqualified people from having mortgages - We can’t control who immigrates into our country - We can’t execute serial or cop killers - We can’t discipline our children - We can’t preserve our time-honored traditions … such as marriage or Christmas - We can’t stop killing full-term fetuses - We can’t eat meat or animal fats - We can’t keep uneducated students from graduating - We can’t encourage our residents to learn English
And the sad irony is that those who mostly espouse the above taboos are the ones who are noisily chanting the mantra, “Yes, we can!”
Marriage is a social contract between two people of opposite genders who promise to procreate and raise the resultant children to the benefit of our future civilization. This contract is consequently rewarded by our society with certain social and financial benefits (including an ephemeral caste elevation). Now same-sex partners seek (and, in some states, have already received) these same benefits. May I suggest that same sex marriage brings with it the following problems:
- Male-male marriages cannot, by definition, procreate. Yes, they can raise adopted children but do not seem to be overly enthusiastic to do so. And those that do suffer the problem of imprinting a stigma on children of either sex that females are somehow flawed.
- Female-female marriages can, due to modern science, procreate. And they can also adopt children (those who make it past Planned Parenthood’s vacuum cleaner). However, I think that their issue (or adoptees) also suffer from the potential of making any male rug-crunchers feel that they are substandard and not deserving of intimacy.
- There is a bookshelf full of laws that have been written using the base-line assumption of male-female marriage. Changing this definition will throw many of these laws into a cocked hat ... which should take a generation to unwind. This will guarantee full-employment for lawyers for ages. (One reason why we might think about excluding lawyers from our governing bodies.)
When George Bush put restrictions on under what circumstances the federal government would fund stem-cell research, at least two states, California and Massachusetts, stepped up to announce that they would fund such research themselves, California put aside $3 billion and Massachusetts, $1.25 billion. Effectively, they thumbed their noses at Bush and played Mother Teresa to Bush’s Ebenezer Scrooge . Now California is running short of funds and has floated a trial balloon that it might have to ask the U.S. Treasury for a loan of $7 billion. See California Loan I predict that Massachusetts will probably be soon in the same predicament as its reputation for fiscal restraint under Deval Patrick is not stellar. See Budget Problems
May I posit that our Treasury Secretary, Hank Paulson, should respond to these hat-in-hand requests with the suggestion that these states first find the money in their stem-cell research kitties?
The following are, in my opinion, popular or looming practices that are corrosive of our society and would be better left on the cutting-room floor: - Sub-prime mortgages - World government - Government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) - Motor-voter registrations - Same-sex marriage - Black reparations - Credit default swaps (CDSs) - Goth culture - Mark-to-market accounting - Late-term abortions - Too-easy credit - Dark-pool securities trading - Government bail-outs - Hedge funds - Global warming hysteria - Single-payer healthcare - Off-balance-sheet accounting - Onerous gun registration laws - Islamic fundamentalism - Grunge, rap and heavy-metal music - Disproportionate executive pay - Same-day voter registration - Naked short selling
$700 billion is a boatload of bailout money (if it is eventually allocated by Congress). But, to fully understand our current economic paroxysm, one must add to this money the $200 billion bailout of Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac AND last week’s $300 billion Congressional bailout of Main-Street mortgage holders. This would total $1.2 trillion of taxpayer relief to ameliorate this financial predicament (tagged “The Sub-prime Mortgage Crisis”). Add to this the approximate $400 billion of write-downs that U.S. corporations have already taken against these bad assets brings this total to around $1.6 trillion. If the average mortgage in default is for $200,000 (probably high) that suggests that there are around 8 million houses that are foreclosed or in arrears. This seems to me like a very high number since the total number of U.S. homeowners’ mortgages is only about 44 million. To view it another way, as of this summer there were in the U.S. $3.6 trillion in real estate loans and the latest statistic is that 9% of them are foreclosed or in default. This totals $324 billion of problem mortgages or about ¼ of the government money that Frank/Pelosi/Paulson have or want to be thrown at this problem. And this is less than the toxic amount that has already been financially evaporated off corporate balance sheets!
So, it seems to me that there is a lot more to this economic crisis than they are telling us. I suspect I know what it is … and it is something called “credit-default-swaps” (CDSs). Basically these are unregulated (and therefore opaque) ad hoc insurance policies that have been created to offload risk from debt holders (such as banks) in case these debts (such as mortgages) are not paid back. These CDSs carry an insurance premium and have been traded worldwide back and forth like stocks and bonds … that is, they did until the credit markets recently froze up. (The worldwide nature of CDS trading, it seems to me, is why what should be an U.S.-only problem has spread around the globe.) Now, if the final holder of some of these CDSs goes belly-up (such as AIG), then this insurance also disappears and the backstop to mortgage holders becomes will-o-the-wisp. The most recent estimate of the total amount of CDSs circulating world-wide is $62 trillion … a staggering number … which effectively multiplies the size of the mortgage crisis by almost 39! Now note that, when AIG went south, the Federal Reserve also stepped in and fronted AIG with an $85 billion bailout. So, I conclude, that, no matter how this financial crisis is being painted as the failure of U.S. sub-prime mortgages, it is now really a collapse of the worldwide CDS market precipitated by the U.S. sub-prime mortgage crisis (which, as has been shown, should have more than enough committed funds to fix it).
Obvious Conclusion: The $700 billion bailout package REALLY IS A BAILOUT OF WALL STREET AND ALL THOSE INSTITUTIONS THAT HAVE CREATED CDSs. IT ONLY HAS A TANGENTIAL RELATIONSHIP TO MAIN STREET. IT SHOULD NOT, I REPEAT NOT, BE ENACTED UNLESS AND UNTIL IT CONTAINS RULES AND OVERSIGHT FOR THE CDS MARKETPLACE. (IMHO)
As used by Joe Malchow in the blog, Dartblog (definition from Websters)
semiotics def: a general philosophical theory of signs and symbols that deals especially with their function in both artificially constructed and natural languages and comprises syntactics, semantics, and pragmatics
As we approach our next national election, my misgivings about our election process are growing. No, I do not mean “hanging chads” or “paper trail” concerns; I mean I am worried about who gets to vote. When I am allowed to add my bit to the Constitution (why not, everyone else seems to want to), I would advance the following new requirements for voter eligibility:
- Must be able to read and laugh at a Dave Barry column - No more than one (inconspicuous) tattoo - No body piercings with rusty protuberances - No weirdly spelled first names, such as Jessye, Eriq, and Alisyn - Must be a taxpayer – “No representation without taxation” … this would eliminate most students in situ (unless they went home) - No members of PETA, NAMBLA, or the ACLU - Cannot be a regular MTV or “The Daily Show” viewer - No droolers - No TV talking heads or news anchors - No professional athletes or, for that matter, anyone earning over $1 million per
There are plenty of charlatans who are to blame for our current financial crisis – such as Barney Frank, Franklin Raines, Chris Dodd, Jamie Gorelick, and Jim Johnson. But there is one overweening reason that, combined with the loopy notion that the U.S. taxpayer should buy everyone (of whatever means and morality) a house. This naive idea has brought this country, like Monica Lewinsky, to its knees. This reason is poorly understood by most and, thus, needs to be explained further. This precipitating event was the FASB’s (Financial Accounting Standards Board) change of accounting rules a year ago (FASB 157) that decreed that companies must daily “mark to market” any balance-sheet assets. Mark to market means that any asset, such as a mortgage must be valued at what a willing buyer and a willing seller would agree to in order to affect a transfer.
Now, when financial panics occur, such transactions become very sticky and thus marking to market becomes degenerative. For instance, if a bank’s asset’s value (such as a mortgage) sinks by $50,000, this means that required capital rations cause a bank to reduce it’s lending by $500,000. This puts the pressure on the bank to raise additional capital to justify its current lending portfolio … and, if unsuccessful, further reduces the pool of willing buyers and the mark-to-market price of its mortgages. A vicious cycle is initiated which, as we have seen, can wipe out a financial institution in a matter of days.
Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Paulson, started his testimony to the Senate on Monday with an explanation of this toxic process. He suggested that we might consider changing this rule to permit a less onerous way of valuing such assets, basically a discounted stream of future income. Thus, if a mortgage is to return so much per month for the next 25 years, one could apply a discount cash flow rate of say 5%. If such a mortgage is in default, then the discount rate would be higher, say 10% and the resultant discounted value substantially lower. But, this is a lot less punishing than what is currently required by FASB 157 … yet far better than what Japan did years ago when banks kept mortgages on their books at full value and it took over a decade for Japan’s financial stability to return.
An interesting twist to this dilemma is that Chris Cox, the head of the SEC, could, with the stroke of a pen, change this “mark to market” accounting requirement … to a discounted cash flow calculation and, thus, possibly eliminate the need for the $700 billion bailout now being debated in Congress. Perhaps, McCain’s calling for Cox’s dismissal had some legs after all.
"WASHINGTON (AP) - Democrat Barack Obama studied and practiced privately with aides in a Florida hotel Tuesday in the first of three days of intense preparations for his upcoming foreign policy debate with GOP rival John McCain."
Barak Obama, if he is elected, has a Robin-Hood economic plan – tax the “rich” and reward the “poor.” Unfortunately for his election prospects, such wealth redistribution is now taking place in clubs (I can’t say that other word). Hedge funds, the piggy banks of the plutocrats, have, over the last few months, taken multiple financial hits:
- First, the bursting of the oil and other commodities bubbles
- Second, the freeze-up of financial liquidity brought about by the sub-prime mortgage fiasco
- Thirdly, the blood bath on Wall Street due to the failures of Bear Sterns and Lehman Brothers (and, to a lesser extent, Merrill Lynch) and the bailouts of Fannie Mae, AIG, and Freddie Mac
- Fourthly, the world-wide dramatic deflation of emerging-economy equity markets – particularly China and Russia
- Fifthly, the current run on the money market funds to the extent that they needed to be backstopped by the U.S. Treasury
- And possibly others to come
It is the lucky nabob who has navigated these treacherous times with his/her fortune intact. Therefore, Barak’s social-engineering economic promises have become somewhat moot. Come his prospective January inauguration, it is unlikely that there will be an extra penny in the U.S. Treasury for Obama to buy a populist’s vote for his second-term run. He will be lucky if we can pay for Michelle’s redecorating of the White House (as all First Ladies seem prone to do.)
Politicians (and unfortunately, voters) frequently set up quasi-governmental organizations to remove them from the corruption of political patronage and malfeasance. Massachusetts set up the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (MTA) in 1952 for these very reasons and Congress created Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 1968 for many identical rationales. Big mistakes! The MTA sired the “Big Dig” that has cost the taxpayers upwards of $17 billion dollars (about ten times the original estimate) for a series of leaky tunnels and contractor corruption that rival a third-world country.
And Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were created to buy mortgage securities with the “implicit” backing of the U.S. government. And these two have been, as described by Mort Zuckerman, “the honey pot of the Democratic Party for a number of years.” Now the Federal Reserve Bank has had to step in to save these venerable mortgage-backing institutions from themselves by changing “implicit” to “explicit”. This all done at an ultimate taxpayer cost of probably hundreds of billions of dollars!
What happens with these quasi-governmental organizations is that they are effectively removed from voter oversight but not from the greedy designs of politicians. Interested readers can, within a few minutes of Googling, find enough political patronage abuses in these “companies” to nauseate even the most iron-stomached. Now, the ovine taxpayer has again been fleeced by trusting the public-relations lie of “quasi” being akin to “safe”.
Bull-hockey! Let us, the public, never again believe that fronting the description of a governmental entity with “quasi” is a recipe for keeping our solons’ greasy paws out of the cookie jar.
Richard Lamm, the former Governor of Colorado, has warned that multiculturalism in our nation is very likely to bring about the failure of our future. See here. A friend, Axel Grabowsky, argues that the Roman Empire did not fall (as per Gibbon) solely because of the dilution of the Roman populus by the huge and continued influx of mongrel citizens from the Roman provinces and, therefore, Lamm’s argument is suspect. In fact, Grabowsky claims that there were as many as fifty reasons for the demise of this and other great empires. He adds, “I do not entirely agree with Toynbee. The empires of the world, ‘all the great civilizations,’ as Toynbee puts it, did have a hand in both their rise and fall, of course. But the outside reasons for both the rise and fall were at least as important as the internal ones.”
This avowal has gotten me to thinking about what does contribute to the rise and fall of empires? I have compiled below the following thoughts (roughly in order of importance):
- Geography – country’s absolute size, number/size of abutting nations, degree of geographic isolation, country’s shape (area relative to border length), number, size and dispersion of satellite territories, mean height above sea level
- Natural Resources – energy sources, mineral resources, amount and fecundity of arable land, timber resources, harvestable animal/fish populations, water resources, pestilence frequency
- Demographics – proportion of young vs. older people, gender balance, life expectancy rates, infant mortality rates, immigration/emigration rates
- Infrastructure – quality and number of roads, rails, airports, ports and other public and private buildings; communication systems; other public transportation systems; infrastructure maintenance rates, sanitation facilities; gas/electric utility build-outs
- Cultural Ethos – clear and reinforced national goals, work ethic, morality baseline, stability of institutions, family values, religious faith, innovativeness, a sense of history/traditions, a commitment to the arts, the degree of a population’s hybrid vigor, the degree of cultural integration (salad bowl vs. melting pot, ala Lamm)
- Civil Freedom/Democracy – government guarantees of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; a swift and effective justice system; freedom of movement, assembly, expression, and privacy, a non-confiscatory taxing system
- Common Cause/Hegemony – a national identity, a common language, a forward purpose/resolve, a sense of history, a general dearth of prejudice, quality of leadership
- Economic strength – stability of monetary system, size of middle class, trustworthiness in commercial transactions, strength of financial institutions, world-trade effectiveness, health-care quantity and quality, degree of entrepreneurship
- Educational System – breadth, depth and general affordability of educational opportunities, openness to new ideas, a quest for natural truths, scientific/logical rigor, innovativeness encouragement
- Terrain –ease of movement of citizens/merchandise, number of alternative commerce routes, barriers (mountains, lakes, rivers, oceans, etc.) to potential enemies (These factors were much more important a century ago, before the age of airplanes, steamships, and motorized surface travel).
Each of these bullet points could engender a whole paragraph of exposition (or perhaps even a book.) But note, that in my opinion (and I assume Axel’s), such mongrelization as Lamm describes is not at the top of the list. But … it is not insignificant either, particularly when it can (and often does) impact so many other of the above bullet points.
It is an interesting and enlightening exercise to grade our country on these metrics relative to other world powers … to judge for yourself how much longer we may be around.
As seen in a photo on the front page of the “Boston Globe” today, at the 9/11 memorial service at Ground Zero yesterday, Barak Obama tossed his rose on the existing pile of commemorative flowers while John McCain bent over and carefully placed his rose. I know it is a very small thing, but one’s temperament is made up of lots of tiny actions … and Mr. Obama has had his share of revealing slips.
I’ve coined a nickname for Sarah Palin – “The Smiling Cobra.” I’ve e-mailed this suggestion to Rush Limbaugh, Michael Graham, Howie Carr, and David Brooks. Soooo, if this is picked up on, you saw it here first!
In case you didn’t know, Sarah Palin has committed the following serious political peccadillos:
- She coerced he fellow office workers into buying Girl Scout cookies for her daughter - She has shot and dressed (with a dull knife) three caribou (and her family ate them!!) - She had her staff work overtime 27 times in the last 2 years - When she played basketball for Wasilla, she fouled out nine times (once in a tournament!) - Her cousin, Wilber, twice watched the Playboy Channel - She had a Brazil waxing back when she ran for Miss Alaska - When she worked in her husband’s fishing business, she claimed she didn’t like halibut - While in college in Idaho, she never joined a sorority - As a sports reporter for KTUU-TV, she often entered the men’s locker room without knocking - Over her life, she has removed twelve “Do Not Remove” tags from pillows and mattresses
What will happen if the presumptive President, Barak Obama, loses? I know that, given the theatrics of the Democratic convention and Obama’s éclat performance last night, this seems currently a remote possibility. If this were to happen, at least four groups will be extremely put out and this should engender various backlashes:
1) Blacks (obviously) -- I hate to predict nastiness but I would not be shocked to see racial disturbances, even riots, in Chicago, Detroit, South L.A., St. Louis, and Harlem. The black population in America is heavily invested in an Obama victory and his loss would be taken by most as a confirmation of insipient racism and a class ceiling in this country. With emotions running this high it would be a sore temptation to take things out on “typical white persons.”
2) Starry-eyed youths – many MTV graduates have cast their lot with Obama as though he were a rock or rap star. He represents to them a break with the old-fogey U.S. establishment. Just like the funeral of Dianne forced the royal elders in England to bend to the will of the British youth, so many American tater tots want to grab the flag of governance from their “know-better” elders. Denied this win, I suspect that many will turn to subterfuge and even sabotage … like many of their peacenik parents did in the late sixties (and many still do).
3) Moonbats (1960’s anarchist, Hollywood zombies, left-wing radicals, Jimmy Carter) – Not satisfied with causing the death of three million Vietnamese and Cambodian civilians, many “make-love-not-war” aging flower children now see their ultimate revenge as fully grabbing the reins of political power. They clearly wish to restore the Age of Aquarius through Obama. They see him as the Messiah who will dismantle our atomic weapons, tax the skin off the rich, halt our use of fossil fuels (except natural gas, ala Pelosi), provide free health care for all, open our borders to the world, and emasculate our armed forces. Thwarting this opportunity might cause them (many who hold august and powerful positions in corporations and the media) to continue (in spades) the dry-rot of our country’s moral infrastructure.
4) Europeans – as exemplified by the adoring Brandenburg throngs, many Europeans have presupposed Obama’s victory. If he loses, they will shake their heads at the continuing slope-headed stupidity of the American voting public. At least, they will do this unless Russia keeps exhibiting its renewed expansionistic tendencies. That being the case, they might secretly find comfort in the expectation that McCain’s America will once again save their sorry asses from the Big Bad Bear’s threat.
Bill Clinton has recently talked about the Constitution laying out the qualifications to be President. This may be a veiled threat to Barak Obama implying that the Clintons don't believe that he meets these qualifications. This coupled with Hillary's recent statement that she will hold onto her delegates and may indeed have her name placed in nomination suggests to me that the Clintons may challenge Obama's qualifications to be President.
This might be based upon the flap that has arisen over Obama's Hawaiian birth certificate. See: Obama Genesis AND Birth Certificate It is interesting to note that Barak is currently on his way to Hawaii for a week's "vacation". Therefore I make a somewhat loopy prediction that the Clinton's have the birth-certificate goods on Obama (they being the only ones who have legal standing to make such a challenge before the actual nomination ... afterwards any U.S. voter could make such a challenge) and will thus prevent Barak Obama from being nominated ... resulting in pandemonium in Denver.
This morning I had a Walter-Mitty moment … imagining that I was a reporter in a Barak Obama news conference. I realize that some of these questions would engender titters from the assembled main stream media hacks, but then most of you know that this would not censor me. I would love to be able to respectfully ask him from the following list of obvious questions:
- Are you still smoking cigarettes? - Would you seek to give health-care insurance to illegal aliens? - What foreign language(s) do you speak? - As Prsident would you encourage the building of more nuclear power plants? - Do you own a gun? - As an ACORN activist did you ever knowingly register a voter illegally? - Do you subscribe to the Black Liberation agenda? (You have attested that you do.) - Would you encourage more drilling for oil in the U.S.? - Do you believe in reparations for American blacks? - What holidays does your family celebrate (Thanksgiving, Kwanza, Christmas, Easter)? - Who are your personal heroes (Jesus Christ, Louis Farrakhan)? - Do you want to build more oil refineries in the U.S.? - Do you own a Koran or have you ever studied it? - Did you ever register for the American draft? - Are you in favor of native Hawaiian liberation? - What kind of Supreme Court justice would you nominate? - Your mother hated America … did you ever identify with her in this revulsion? - If Osama Bin Laden were captured, would you seek to have him executed?
"British tycoon Richard Branson on Monday unveiled a futuristic aircraft that will ferry tourists to the edge of heaven as part of Virgin Galactic's much-anticipated space program. The aircraft -- WhiteKnightTwo -- was rolled out for invited guests and media at an early morning ceremony in the Mojave desert, north of Los Angeles, at the headquarters of aerospace firm Scaled Composites. "
Given Branson's environmental sensitivity, I expect that it will be fueled by Wimpy Burgers.
Recently, a woman in London stabbed and killed an expectant mother then cut out the near-term baby from her womb. Then she went to a hospital claiming that she had just given birth to this infant. She did this to cover the fact that she had lied to her husband about being pregnant when they got married.
Also, witch doctors and their agents in Tanzania are killing albinos and harvesting their body parts for potions and amulets. More recently a male albino in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s capital was killed (beheaded with machetes) and his hands and testicles cut off for these mystical purposes. His wife, also an albino, was seriously injured by these same marauders, but was saved by neighbors. Two of their three children, also albinos, have been placed in protective custody.
Such atrocities make one realize how very close we all still are to being ruled by superstition and barbarism … and how very far the peoples of the world must travel to achieve the Eden that the many assume (and insist) is just around the corner.
Clearly, the patina of man’s civilization remains paper thin.
Barak Obama developed his strategy for Iraq and Afghanistan long before he talked to any of the commanders on the ground in these countries. He has also been the Chairman of a Senate European Affairs subcommittee for the last three years … and has held zero hearings on NATO’s role in Afghanistan. Two years ago he said we must be out of Iraq in fourteen months and then said the “surge” would never work. And he has yet to meet with General Petreus. He placed his stakes in the ground vis-à-vis these two countries before he started on his current fact-finding trip. Yet he still wants the U.S. out of Iraq in sixteen months come hell or high Tigris river water. Isn’t this Obama policy equivalent to “ready, fire, aim?”
Every week the "New Yorker" magazine runs a contest for subscribers to add a caption to a staff-created cartoon. This week's cover begs for the same treatment. I welcome each blog reader to add a comment containing a suggestion for a caption for this contraversial cartoon. The prize will be a U.S. flag button containing 57 stars.
My suggestion is: "Now we'll never be bothered by "Hips" or her mouthy husband again."
I’ve had it!! I am more than fugging tired of having these size 18-EEE carbon footprints telling me that I must cut back on my energy use. These petro-hogs (Barak Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain, John Edwards, Michael Moore, John Kerry, Richard Branson, Al Gore, Deval Patrick, George Soros, etc.) fly around in their private jets, live in mega-mansions with all their energy-consuming accoutrements, drive (or be driven in) huge gas guzzlers and much, much more … and still feel that they can lecture me on how I should live my life. They must have balls the size of coconuts to think that they can get away with such hypocrisy. But what’s even more frustrating? They DO get away with it. Bother!!
- would rather save a polar bear, a GITMO terrorist, or a serial killer than a late-term human fetus - uses guilt-laden emotion to trump logic - blithely destroys traditions without any thought to the consequences or replacements - slavishly endorses the current “group think” using focus-group-tested talking points - labels any thoughtful generalization as “prejudice” - would rather have “street creds” than be correct - does not believe in patriotism or displays of same - believes that all morality is relative and transitory - worships at the feet of bling-bling Hollywood and glitzy media idols - supports corrupt world government as being superior to our Constitution - often believes and endorses our enemy’s propaganda - would rather sacrifice an American city than insult a minority - always blames the vicissitudes of life on something or someone else (often George W. Bush) - frequently speculates without supporting facts - discourages the self-reliance of others - propagates half-truths, demagoguery and “spin” - fights terrorism with lawyers rather than soldiers - believes that all corporations are evil - thinks that entitlements trump responsibility - loves to give away other peoples money - believes that the government is the solution to all problems - hates or, at least, disrespects the U.S. military - would rather sequester natural resources than husband them - thinks all religion is evil (except possibly Islam) - supports every class-action suit ever filed
- measures success by results, not intentions - justifies actions with “I think” rather than “I feel” - is loath to throw out the old before providing a demonstrably better way - is always suspicious of the current “group think” - eschews prejudice and embraces fairness - does not benefit oneself by seeming to help others - tries to live a productive and moral life - cherishes and supports tried-and true traditions - prefers understatement over glitz - strives with a terrible vengeance to defeat those enemies who would defeat him/her - respects others at least to the degree that such respect is returned - tackles the vicissitudes of life with courage and humor - opts for reliable data over speculation - is fiercely loyal to deserving compatriots - encourages self-reliance in others - abhors half-truths, demagoguery and “spin” - understands that it is evil (and dangerous) to ignore evil - thinks that most often “less is more” - is adamant about not surrendering personal freedoms - helps the downtrodden with actions … not rhetoric - allows only minimal government and institutional intervention in one’s life - tolerates the benign beliefs and actions of others - husbands his/her resources and environment with a studied rationality
A friend recently defended his liberal bent by claiming that most of this country’s intelligensia were liberals. “Aren’t most professors, talking heads, and noted authors liberals,” he asked? Therefore, liberalism must be the correct and the best political course. See ad populum. Now, according to such lemming logic, we therefore must conclude that the consensus found among the illuminati set is never wrong. I started to muse on this warped conclusion and came up with this obvious list of justifying cases:
- Pope UrbanVIII and the priestly set that persecuted Galileo for his notion of heliocentrism
For you who have already drunk the Kool Aid, here are the ten reasons for this smirch: 1) His face really was itchy 2) It was clearly accidental 3) He was surprised at the audience's reaction, ergo the smirk 4) Hillary video-edited this YouTube snippet 5) He was auditioning for "Animal House II" 6) Hillary disserved it (I might even agree with this one) 7) He was practicing acting “presidential” 8) His other fingers are paralyzed (from bowling) 9) It was really directed at Bush 10) This was the patriotic salute he learned at Harvard Law School
My many liberal Massachusetts friends (it’s in the water) have convinced me that it is inevitable that Barak Obama will be elected our next President. So, to adjust myself to this rather unpleasant thought, I have made a list of things that I’m pretty certain will occur during his administration(s): - As a reward for his help in the election, Bill Clinton will be named our U.N. Ambassador - The U.S. will recognize Hamas - Bill Richardson will be named our Secretary of State - Taxes will be increased across the board - The budgets for the Defense Department and U.S intelligence activities will be slashed - President Obama will sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and bin Laden - Lani Guinier will be appointed to the Supreme Court (and confirmed this time) - The U.S. will withdraw from NATO - Sharia law will be made a local option throughout the U.S. - Jimmie Carter, George Soros, and Louis Farrakhan will be given the Medal of Freedom - All U.S. soldiers will be out of Iraq and Afghanistan by July 1, 2009 - John Murta will be named the U.S. Secretary of Defense - The U.S. will stop all foreign and military aid to Israel - All wire-taps will be stopped and those who have been tapped will be informed and any such evidence collected will be destroyed - Illegal immigrants will be granted amnesty and given Social Security benefits - Our new Attorney General will be John Edwards - Raila Odinga, Barack cousin, will be recognized by the U.S. as Kenya’s legitimate president - Presidential pardons – O.J. Simpson, Jose Padilla, Michael Vick, Lynne Stewart and all current and past Guantanamo prisoners - Oil will hit $200 per barrel - Bill Moyers will be (re)named Presidential Press Secretary - Deval Patrick will be named the Secretary of the Interior - A national carbon tax will be endorsed by the U.S. and implemented through the U.N.
“By Reuters 07 Apr 2008 03:16 PM ET Global coal supply will fall short by up to 35 million tons in 2008 and the deficit is set to grow going forward, ensuring that prices remain strong, the CEO of coal miner Arch Coal said on Monday.”
A few weeks ago another commentator (on CNBC) said that the “United States is the Saudi Arabia of coal.” (Montana, Illinois, Wyoming and other states basically sit on hundreds of square miles of easily strip-mined coal. See US Coal Sources.) Hmm, does this suggest to you what it suggests to me? I think that the United States should form a coal cartel (OCEC = Organization of Coal Exporting Countries) just like the world oil cartel, OPEC. Since China has recently gone from a coal exporter to a net coal importer, perhaps we can drive up the price of coal far enough so that we can pay for all our stupid imports and rebalance our balance of payments.
The Clintons have released their tax returns covering the years 2000 through 2007. During this time they earned $109 million and paid $33.8 million in federal taxes (31%). There are a few interesting twists to these disclosures:
- What about all the furniture and Presidential gifts that the Clintons trucked out of the White House in the fall of 2000. Was this largess declared on their disclosed tax forms? It has been estimated by some that this thievery was worth hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars. Also did the Clintons pay taxes on all the improvements that the U.S. taxpayers made to their home in Chappaqua, NY?
- Bill and Hillary gave $10.2 million to charity over this period. However, according to the NY Times, virtually all this money was donated to a Clinton-run family foundation. (Sourced from the NY Times via Drudge). Not only does this allow the Clintons to move tax-sheltered money from one pocket to another but it also draws a curtain between the Clintons and the ultimate receivers of these "gifts". According to the Times “the Clintons ha[ve] given away only about half of the money they put into it, and most of that was last year, after Mrs. Clinton declared her candidacy.” I wonder to whom?
- Does the income that the Clinton’s received from their book deals jibe with the number of books sold? According to the NY Times “Mr. Clinton has earned $29.6 million from two books, ‘My Life’ [$12 million advance, estimated 2.25 million sales @ $26 per book at Barnes & Noble] and ‘Giving,’ [@ $29.95 at B&N] while Mrs. Clinton has collected $10.5 million from two books, ‘Living History’ [$8 million advance, @ $14.40 at B&N ] and ‘It Takes a Village’ [@ $25 at B&N]. She donated $1.1 million from book proceeds to charity. Mr. Clinton last year earned $6.3 million from ‘Giving,’ a book on philanthropy, and reported giving $1 million of that to charity. [Assumedly both these charitable donations were also to the family foundation.]” From what I have been able to calculate, it doesn’t add up (assume a generous 15% royalty). Do the math yourself. (If the Clintons got $40.1 million from these 4 books with a 15% royalty, this means that $267.3 million of books had to have been sold. Assuming an average price of around $25 per book, this means that over 10 million books had to have been sold … or over 2.5 million copies per book. This is more than the biggest book, “My Life” sold. Are these book deals something more than arms-length transactions?)
Rush Limbaugh recently said the following: “When small men cast long shadows, it’s a sure sign that the sun is setting.” I’m not sure that this epigram is original to him, but it sure makes a lot of sense in the current context.
Barak Obama does not want to be known as a liberal. (Or should I say that Barak Obama’s very savvy handlers don’t want him to be tagged as a liberal.) They want him to be known as a “progressive” (in the mold of Robert LaFollett and Teddy Roosevelt??) [From Drudge] “Obama, in an interview, said that ‘a lot of these old labels don't apply anymore.’ He said he was a progressive and a pragmatist, eager to tackle the big issues like health care and convinced that the Democrats could rally independents and disaffected Republicans to their agenda.
Again a politician’s pronouncements don’t jibe with the facts. Here are a few things I have picked up on the internet about Barak's church. See http://www.tucc.org/about.htm
"The Pastor as well as the membership of Trinity United Church of Christ is committed to a 10-point Vision: [italics mine] 1) A congregation committed to ADORATION. 2) A congregation preaching SALVATION. 3) A congregation actively seeking RECONCILIATION. 4) A congregation with a non-negotiable COMMITMENT TO AFRICA. 5) A congregation committed to BIBLICAL EDUCATION. 6) A congregation committed to CULTURAL EDUCATION. 7) A congregation committed to the HISTORICAL EDUCATION OF AFRICAN PEOPLE IN DIASPORA. 8) A congregation committed to LIBERATION. 9) A congregation committed to RESTORATION. 10) A congregation working towards ECONOMIC PARITY."
Most of these points are fine, but the one that bothers me the most is #10. "Working toward economic parity" ... to me this means an adherence to Socialism. (I think this might be considered liberal.) And the word "liberation" also pops out because the Reverend Wright is an avowed proponent of the "Black Liberation Philosophy" … also liberal with a capital “L”. See Obama’s Mentors
Also, here are a list of the 12 precepts that each member of the Trinity United Church of Christ must sign when he/she joins the church (including Barak and Michelle.Obama.) [italics mine]
"Below are the church's 12-precepts and covenantal statements called the Black Value System. - Commitment to God - Commitment to the Black Community - Commitment to the Black Family - Dedication to the Pursuit of Education - Dedication to the Pursuit of Excellence - Adherence to the Black Work Ethic - Commitment to Self-Discipline and Self-Respect - Disavowal of the Pursuit of "Middleclassness [sic]" - Pledge to make the fruits of all developing and acquired skills available to the Black Community - Pledge to Allocate Regularly, a Portion of Personal Resources for Strengthening and Supporting Black Institutions - Pledge allegiance to all Black leadership who espouse and embrace the Black Value System - Personal commitment to embracement of the Black Value System."
Again, what does "disavowal of the pursuit of middleclassness" mean? Is this a referral to the middle class whom the Communists used to call the "bourgeoisie" and tried valiantly to destroy? I’m pretty certain that this falls under the precepts of a “liberal”. Don't forget that Barak aspires to preside over a country which derives much of its strength from its large and prosperous middle class.
Reverend Jeremiah Wright, in his sermon right after 9/11/2001 called what happened at the World Trade Towers and at the Pentagon fully justified considering what the U.S. had done to Japan with our atomic bombs and added that it was the “chickens coming home to roost.”
In his sermon on the Sunday following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, Wright suggested the United States had brought on the attacks. From: this source
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Interestingly and coincidently, Barak Obama also stopped wearing his American flag lapel pin shortly after 9/11. From: this source
Obama said. "Shortly after 9/11, particularly because as we're talking about the Iraq war, that became a substitute for I think true patriotism, which is speaking out on issues that are of importance to our national security.
"I decided I won't wear that pin on my chest," he said in the interview. "Instead, I'm going to try to tell the American people what I believe will make this country great, and hopefully that will be a testament to my patriotism." (italics mine)
Could Obama have taken his clue about not wearing his American flag pin from Reverend Wright’s polemics? Despite the message sent by that phalanx of American flags behind him in his speech today, this is a question Americans may well have to answer before they enter the voting booth this coming November.
I have been accused of being a racist because I don’t support Barak Obama for President. I, myself, have done some soul searching. I definitely like Obama’s style and his upbeat message … but I find little to like in his politics. I also question his management ability. Even though his campaign seems well run, our huge U.S. bureaucracy is something else again. Being from Massachusetts, I have seen first-hand how Deval Patrick’s starry-eyed message of “together we can” has turned into “together we can’t.” Part of my soul searching has involved making a list of those blacks that I like and those that I dislike. In my heart, I don’t believe that any of those blacks I dislike has anything to do with the amount of melanin in their skin. It usually has to do with their political bent, the lack of content in their character … or, that their reputation far exceeds their talents. Read the following taxonomy of my likes and dislikes … and you decide:
Blacks I like: Bill Cosby, Hank Aaron, Thomas Sowell, Condoleezza Rice, Walter E. Williams, James Golden (aka Bo Snerdly), Roy Innis, Tiger Woods, Clarence Thomas, Barbara Jordan, Sidney Poitier, Ward Connerly, Bill Russell, Charlayne Hunter-Gault, Joe Lewis, Nat King Cole, Alan Keyes, Dinesh D'Souza, Juan Williams
Blacks I don’t like: Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, O.J. Simpson, Louis Farrakhan, Kweisi Mfume, Cynthia A. McKinney, Carole Moseley-Braun, William J. Jefferson, Whoopi Goldberg, Harry Belafonte, Cornell West, Bill Clinton, Myah Angelou, Michelle Obama, Danny Glover, Dennis Rodman, Michael Jackson, Don King, Franklin Raines, Angela Davis, Naomi Campbell, Henry Lewis Gates, Johnnie Cochran
Blacks I am ambivalent about: Barak Obama, Colin Powell, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Oprah Winfrey, J.C. Watts
Eliot Spitzer, when he appeared in front of the press yesterday to apologize for his unspecified sexual peccadilloes, wore a crossed-flag pin on his suit lapel … one flag of which was Old Glory (unlike Barak Obama). The wire-transferred $4,300 question is – what was the other flag? It is not clear from the photo in the NY Times, but that doesn’t stop me from speculating. Could it be the New York state flag? Maybe it’s the Mexican flag … commemorating his trying to give illegal immigrants drivers licenses? Perhaps Richard Grasso gave him the New York Stock Exchange flag (but I doubt it)? Or, might it be the embroidered logo of the Emperors Club VIP?
It seems that Barak Obama first priority in selecting new federal justices would be how empathetic they would be to the downtrodden. This, in the mind of our would-be President, appears to be ahead of the rule of law, precedent, and Constitutional intent. Somehow I remember that the image of “Justice” is blindfolded and holding up a set of scales with nary a finger on either side. However, Hillary would probably outdo Barak in this department. She most likely would prefer her judicial nominees to take feelings and precedent into account … unfortunately, like Justice Stephen Breyer, it would be French precedent or Italian precedent or Indonesian precedent or…
The stock market is up three days in a row! This despite the fact that inflation is rearing its ugly head. The dollar is on life support. Each new quarter brings more huge write-offs in the financial sector. House prices are swooning and the U.S. auto industry is on the ropes, etc. etc. So why is the market going up? Could it be that inflation might be good for us (for a change)? The U.S. consumer has been on a spending binge and our savings rate is microscopic. Inflation would devalue the dollar and push up interest rates (eventually). This would make paying back debts (both national and personal) easier and encourage savings growth. And a cheaper dollar boosts exports and constrains imports. So perhaps the medicine (for now) is more inflation?
At the risk of being called a racist neocon (again) and based upon the fact that Barak almost certainly will be the Democrat candidate for President of the United States, I offer two internet links to info on the Obamas. The first is a video of him when he was President of his freshman class at Occidental College (THIS, IT TURNS OUT, IS A SPOOF AND I AM CERTAINLY CHAGRINED AT HAVING INCLUDED IT HERE ... BUT ALSO QUITE PUZZLED AS TO THE MOTIVATION OF ITS CREATOR. I LEAVE IT IN HERE SO THAT YOU MAY SEE IT AND NOT BE FOOLED BY IT IN THE FUTURE): Barak in College
The second is a link (in four parts) to Michelle Obama’s senior thesis at Princeton. This is unique in that Princeton has now shut down access to this document: Michelle in College
No smoking gun here, but this will give you a better idea of who might well be our first family.
“MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: More than three decades after the last Apollo astronauts roamed the lunar surface, disparate universities, open-source engineers and quixotic aerospace start-ups are planning to start their own robotic missions to the Earth's barren cousin. The return to the moon is part of the Google Lunar X Prize, a competition sponsored by Google with $30 million in prizes for the first two teams to land a robotic rover on the moon and send images and other data back home.”
I have a question that I would like asked of both Hillary and Barak in their next (and final) debate:
When you both say you want to have government-paid-for health insurance for all Americans (as good as that for those in Congress), does this include all 12 million illegal immigrants, all 6.6 million Americans living abroad, all 3.2 millionaires, all 2.3 million prisoners, all 40,000 multi-millionaires, and Bill Gates?
The NY Times championed John McCain's quest for the Republican nomination until such time as it looks like he has it sewn up. Then they do a U-turn and do a front-page hit piece on him implying that he was schtooffing a pretty blond lobbyist in exchange for legislative favors. I have no idea whether these charges are true or not … but I do know that these implications sound a lot like that old Italian phrase for pederasty -- innuendo
A tip of the hat to the Politico blog in its making this apt comparison between Deval Patrick’s rhetoric and Barak Obama’s (the NY Times also references it this AM) … as follows:
“Here's Patrick at a rally for his gubernatorial campaign on Oct. 15, 2006, during the final stretch of his successful campaign against then-Massachusetts Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey (R): “But her dismissive point, and I hear it a lot from her staff, is that all I have to offer is words — just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, [applause and cheers] that all men are created equal.’ [Sustained applause and cheers.] Just words – just words! ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words! ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.’ Just words! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words!”
Here’s Obama on Saturday night at the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Founders Day Gala in Milwaukee: “Don’t tell me words don’t matter! ‘I have a dream.’ Just words. ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ Just words! [Applause.] ‘We have nothing to fear but fear itself.’ Just words — just speeches!”An Obama official said: “They're friends who share similar views and talk and trade good lines all the time.””
(Remember that both Patrick and Obama have the same campaign strategist – David Axelrod.) Maybe this obvious similarity is why Hillary won both the New Hampshire and Massachusetts Democrat primaries. We here have had first-hand experiences on how hard it is to translate rhetoric into action. I expect that the rest of the country may still have to learn this lesson.
“Gore Warns Business Leaders To Dump 'Subprime Carbon Assets' Feb 14, 2008 17:56:47 (ET)
UNITED NATIONS (AP)--Nobel laureate Al Gore advised Wall Street leaders and institutional investors Thursday to ditch their "subprime carbon assets" - businesses too reliant on carbon-intensive energy - or prepare for huge losses down the road. "You need to really scrub your investment portfolios, because I guarantee you - as my longtime good redneck friends in Tennessee say, I guarandamntee you - that if you really take a fine-tooth comb and go through your portfolios, many of you are going to find them chock-full of subprime carbon assets," said the former U.S. vice president who won a Nobel Prize for his environmental work. Carbon dioxide from burning fossil fuels is the leading greenhouse gas, trapping the sun's heat in the atmosphere. Gore's remarks before a high-profile business crowd that collectively controls some $20 trillion in capital were intended to unleash a financial ripple effect that would force the entire world to start putting a price on carbon emissions and treating them as a scarce commodity.”
I frequently have thought that Al Gore is nuts. First, when he put this country through weeks of political and financial turmoil in 2000 over the vote recount in Florida. Then, when he propagandized global warming in his movie full of half truths. And now, with the above incendiary speech. In fact, now I am sure he is cocoa-pie. It is the height of irresponsibility to utter such inflammatory (and unproven) words to an audience of businessmen who, if panicked, could bring down financial markets around the world. This truly is like yelling “FIRE” in a crowded theater. Al baby, it’s time for the rubber room.
FROM THE POLITICO BLOG: "Grammy-winning Senator Obama is scheduled to meet in Chapel Hill tonight chez potential endorser Senator EDWARDS, the papers report. Wonder if they'll use the mansion's basketball court or squash court?"
Referring to Edwards' greenhouse gas producing mansion outside Chapel Hill, NC. To me this is stereotyping ... perhaps they could listen to Lester Lanin on the music center ... or would it be Ice T?
If you think that this is not a racist country then please explain why one never sees a picture of Barak Obama’s mother anywhere … or his father. The image of a white mother of a black child can do nothing but raise the specter of miscegenation and all the superficially suppressed bigotry that that engenders. Barak’s handlers must know this and have thus far tiptoed past this graveyard. Perhaps, if things get to0 dicey, Hillary’s opposition research team will come up with an old photo?
Last night some talking head made the astute observation that Juan McCain was gaining a lot of delegates in the Blue States ... whereas Mitt was strong in the Red States. If (when) Juan gets the Republican nomination, this doesn't bode well for his chances in November.
From the DRUDGE REPORT (check out the video): "Just as Mrs. Clinton touted the importance of good health and universal healthcare for America, a scary coughing fit forced the end of a live TV interview on Super Tuesday."
So, now Hillary is a cough sufferer ... I thought that it was Monica who was the Presidential cough sufferer.
If tears stop working ... try coughing (particulary if asked a question you don't want to answer).
I realize that it is a little late for Mitt Romney to spruce up his political message, but nevertheless I have a thought (stolen from a caller to a talk show yesterday). Romney should dub himself “Mr. Fixit” and cap it off with “the non-politician politician.” Both would mesh with his message that Washington is broken and that an insider won’t be the one to turn things around.
Went with Jeanette last night to hear John Irving (Hotel New Hampshire, Cider House Rules, and The World According to Garp) lecture and read a chapter from his new book in progress. He was at the Walnut Hill School here in Natick and he spoke to a full house (it was free.) A few observations:
- He said that he always writes the last sentence of any new book first. Then he works on Chapter One, then back to the last chapter, and then, finally, he fills in the middle. He said that the last chapter almost always writes itself. - In the intro to his reading he used and then explained the term “Kennedy father”. This referred to JFK’s executive order in 1963 that decreed that married fathers of children weren’t eligible to be drafted (and go to Vietnam.) The female protagonist of this chapter has taken it upon herself to marry as many “dumb boys” (and have their children) as she can to save them from the draft. However, Irving missed one major point – once separated or divorced, Kennedy fathers automatically became re-eligible for the draft. I know because this happened to me. - He said that his wrestling experiences, particularly his love of constant training and repetition, has helped him with his writing discipline. He is a constant reviser of his prose. He once told a student at Iowa State who said that he “loved to write but wasn’t into rewriting” to “go get hit by a car.” - Someone asked if he ever has a character that “gets away from him so that a book diverges from his last-chapter intent.” He responded that readers may have noticed that many (minor) characters in his books get killed off. This is how he deals with such issues. - He told us, before he read the new chapter, what the last sentence was going to be – “There he was lying dead in the road.” And then he read the chapter causing a good deal of anticipation as to how he would get to said conclusion. I won’t spoil it for you. - The chapter he read wasn’t particularly well written … but it was very well told. It was a typical John Irving narrative, full of bizarre drug and alcohol-induced twists, nudity, expletives and other “hippy” moments. Earlier, he had stated that his philosophy of novel writing was very traditional – the plot comes first. During the Q&A, I should have asked him if he was somehow related to Washington Irving who not only could tell a story but also could turn a phrase.
What do Enron and all of the companies currently taking huge write-offs in the sub-prime mortgage fiasco have in common? They all kept non-performing assets hidden off of their balance sheets. And what has the FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) done to remedy this fundamental flaw in accounting standards? Nothing … I repeat, nothing. Congress has held hundreds of days of hearings pontificating on these issues. Other than that notoriously poor piece of legislation called Sarbanes-Oxley, nothing has changed. Op Ed writers have written furlongs of column inches of suggestions on what to do to stop such fraud. And still nothing has changed. This practice of financial legerdemain continues, each year finding newer and cleverer ways to obscure the true financial health of corporations. (After all, balance sheets were created to indicate the well being of a company at a point in time.)
I have a suggestion … not mentioned anywhere in the Congressional hearings, in the Op-Eds, or at the FASB. Congress and the FASB should decree that the holding of any assets or liabilities off of the balance of a publicly-held corporation is verboten. Simple as that. All reserves, all contingency accounts, all the assets and liabilities of a corporation’s subsidiaries (or those created in non-arm’s-length transactions), anything and everything that relates to the financial health of a company should be disclosed on its balance sheet … not in an obscure footnote, not in the accompanying text, not anywhere else by implication … but ON THE BALANCE SHEET. Simple as that.
After seven years of a President whose loquacious stylings remind one of a sculptor welding a jack hammer, I think that Americans are craving a chief executive who can turn a pleasant phrase. Therefore it is no surprise that Barak Obama and Mike Huckabee appear to be currently in the lead in the race to the White House. Huckabee, a Baptist minister, has leaned on his pulpit experience to charm the primary voters and Obama seems to be a congenital orator. Most of the other candidates are wooden in comparison … notably Mitt Romney and Hillary Clinton (pre tears) …and, therefore, they have suffered at the polls. But Romney seemed to be much more communicative when he prepared and gave his talk on his Mormon religion. In fact, he was downright eloquent. But, on the stump or in a debate, he is far less spontaneous. Hillary, in most of her public speaking, seems rehearsed to the point of robotics. It was because of this perceived handler over-programming that her short lachrymose lament freshened her image enough for the women of the Granite State to change their intended votes.
The real problem is -- good word-smithing is not necessarily a prerequisite for good governing. In fact, it is a little Pollyannaish that we Americans still want to have both … witness our reverence of those presidents who did have both -- Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and FDR. Also, when there is a choice between good speechifying and managerial talents, we seem to opt for the former – witness Bill Clinton and Woodrow Wilson. And there were those presidents who were good managers without oratorical powers – witness Nixon and Eisenhower. The trick is – not to confuse the two. So my question is: if we can’t have both, why would we rather have someone who speaks well extemporaneously over one who, after consultation and deliberation, more often comes up with the right answer?
(Admittedly, George W. Bush isn’t a particularly good manager either. He has chosen and kept many mediocre acolytes around him. So why do I still support him and his party? Primarily, because he has taken and kept the offensive in the war against terrorism. He also eventually chose two very good Supreme Court justices. And he has (quixotically) attempted to fix the Social Security entitlement’s conundrum. And lastly, none of his appointees have been caught with their fingers in the cookie jar. I can’t see a current Democrat doing any of these things. I realize Bush will never be thought a great president, but then again he won’t be the worst by a country mile. Sorry, Madeline Albright.)