Thursday, January 29, 2009

The true Democrat definition of rich

I just figured out a secret that I don’t think most people in America have noticed. The fact is it’s not much of a secret, it’s more like the elephant in the room. And Democrats have successfully avoided mentioning it for a while now.

Looking at the supposed “stimulus” package that is trying to be shoved through Congress before the public realizes what’s in the package I noticed something. Now we have to step into the way back machine called facts for a moment. Democrats be prepared.

“So, if you make $31,850 or more you may not feel like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett but you are going to get taxed like them.”

Remember that? It was March of 2008 when all the Democratic candidates (including then-Senator Obama) voted to increase taxes on anyone making more than $31,850. It was at that time that Democrats started to insist with high order of polispeak that only the rich would suffer under their leadership.

Of course that leadership also was asleep as the mortgage crisis grew and then spawned the credit crisis. Both of which are still evolving into bigger problems. But I digress.

As then-Senator Obama won the Primaries, he began to discuss, vaguely, his economic and tax plans. It was a central point that he envisioned the rich as the sole point of higher taxes. This of course raised the question, what is rich?

The Obama campaign started to almost answer that question with anyone making around $250,000. That later went down to $200,000. Shortly after that it became $150,000. Then the nation got distracted, as financial institutions fell left and right. The only question at that point was who else Rep. Barney Frank might blame the collapse on other than himself.

Now we can move up to the present.

The House Democrats (minus 11 bi-partisan Democrats who joined the entire Republican membership) voted to pass the bloated, non-immediate, useless, stimulus package that also seeks to fund Honey bees, fix NASA, and study ‘global warming’ among other useless actions. But in this current version of the non-‘stimulus package’ there is a provision for tax rebates.

The money is to be provided to the public, as a savings each month for 4 months of about $120. But here is the catch. It’s only good for up to the first $8150 you earn, so if you exceed that amount before the 4 months are up you lose out.

Worse yet is who will get that money. And this is the elephant. You must make less than $75,000 (or $150,000 jointly). And there is the new definition of rich. The answer that has been over 6 months in the waiting has presented itself.

So if you thought Obama would only tax the rich, hello you very likely are now part of that group. Honestly I never considered making $75,000 as rich. It isn’t poor but its just as far from Bill Gates.

Think about that. Middle class income is a cut-off point for Democrats in Congress, and President Obama who is all in favor of the stimulus package as is. Can anyone tell me this is what they expected when they voted for President Obama?

If this is the threshold for who gets help, and who pays for that help, it seems more lopsided than even during the Primaries where Democrats were leapfrogging each other to sound more moderate and friendly to the public. But Congress is not partisan, nor are the current batch of polispeak promise socialisic – according to the self-admitted major news media.

Let’s be honest. If President Obama told the American public the truth, that he considered $75,000 rich, he never would have been elected. No wonder he never gave a firm answer. And why Democrats have avoided the issue entirely, because the public backlash would sink the approval ratings faster than Nancy Pelosi can waste money. And that is very fast indeed.

Well you may not hear the truth in many other place, but you have heard it from me. If you doubt this, just look up the provisions of the stimulus plan. It’s right there for you to see.

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House Democrats are scamming your money

I had a friend ask me why the Republicans are causing trouble. The reference was to why all the House Republicans (and 11 Democrats) voted against the Stimulus Package. And when I mentioned some of the things I have long written, I was asked for more details.

Now I imagine others are wondering about details as well. How can I claim this is a horrible plan that will bankrupt America if there are no specifics. How can I be sure that this won’t stimulate the economy. Perhaps this is just a giant plot of Republicans to make President Obama look bad.

Well back in the land of reality, I decided to see if I could find a few more details on the stimulus package. And here are some of the things your money is being spent on. Remember that this is your money, and you will have to pay for this out of your pocket sometime soon.

    $245 million for maintaining and modernizing the IT system of the Farm Service Agency
    $175 million to buy and restore floodplain easements for flood prevention
    $2.7 billion for rural water and waste disposal direct loans
    $150 million for emergency food assistance
    $50 million for regional economic development commissions
    $1 billion for "Periodic Censuses and Programs"
    $650 million for Digital-to-Analog Converter Box Program
    $100 million for "Scientific and Technical Research and Services" at the National Institute of Standards And Technology
    $30 million for necessary expenses of the "Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership"
    $300 million for a competitive construction grant program for research science buildings
    $400 million for "habitat restoration and mitigation activities" at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
    $600 million for "accelerating satellite development and acquisition"
    $140 million for "climate data modeling"
    $3 billion for state and local law enforcement grants
    $1 billion for "Community Oriented Policing Services"
    $250 million for "accelerating the development of the tier 1 set of Earth science climate research missions recommended by the National Academies Decadal Survey."
    $50 million for repairs to NASA facilities from storm damage
    $200 million for "academic research facilities modernization"
    $100 million for "Education and Human Resources
    $4.5 billion to make military facilities more energy efficient
    $18.5 billion for "Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy" research in the Department of Energy
    $2.4 billion to demonstrate "carbon capture and sequestration technologies"
    $6 billion for energy efficiency projects on government buildings
    $600 million to buy and lease government plug-in and alternative fuel vehicles
    $150 million for deferred maintenance at the Smithsonian museums
    $700 million for "comparative effectiveness research" on prescription drugs
    $1 billion for Low-Income Home Energy Assistance
    $1 billion for Amtrack

Again this is only part of the list of things that are needed “immediately”, and will “improve the economy”. Please do correct me and explain how Food assistance, research, or climate data modeling are going to improve the economy and help the guy/gal down the block keep their job at the local Macy’s or Office Depot. Please explain how those ex-employees of Home Depot are going to feed their family and pay the bills for the next 2 or 3 years because of repairs to NASA or Earth science research.

I dare you.

Do I think funding for education is important? Definitely. Is it part of a stimulus package meant to help people stay employed tomorrow? No. Thus anything that does not help the NATION create jobs or maintain employment is a waste of time and money in this package.

If Democrats really wanted to improve things, why not take the billions of dollars that are being wasted, roughly $36 billion just from the examples I cited above, and give it directly to the public. That would be about $123 for ever man, woman, and child in the United States right now. Take out children and those not paying taxes (since they can’t repay they don’t get the benefits) and you get around $250 each.

There is still another $790 billion more to look at. Think that there might be just a bit more waste in the 25% of the package that won’t even be spent for 2 or 3 more years. How abut just giving us the money today and not wait 3 years. That would be almost $2,500 each. That would stimulate the economy.

But that isn’t going to happen. Which means the entire package is nothing more than polispeak, and a way for the Government to gain more control of your life. The Republicans that voted against this aren’t bad guys, they are actually helping you. But don’t expect the major media to explain it.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Obama Stimulus Package: an urgent need to do nothing

The more I hear about the Obama stimulus package, the less I like it. Yet it is the most “urgent” piece of legislation that his Administration is working on passing, immediately. Just as the $800 billion for the credit crisis had to be immediate.

And just as with the mortgage/credit bailout quick action without forethought provides for mistakes, waste and a few political amendments that no one will notice until after the fact.

As of right now, the Obama stimulus package is being referred to by President Obama as

“All we can do, those of us in Washington, is help create a favorable climate in which workers can prosper, businesses can thrive, and our economy can grow," Obama said. "And that's exactly what I intend to achieve - soon.”

Now think about this for a moment. The stimulus package is intended to avert a depression and reverse the recessionary trend currently happening. This is important to remember as I continue.

25% of the Obama stimulus package will not take effect until after 2 years have passed. That’s not my opinion, that’s from the White House itself. Thus the package is not immediate.

The package includes several hundred billion dollars for environmental studies. That also takes an extended amount of time, and provides nothing to the economy. But it does make the global warming crowd feel all warm and fuzzy.

The package requires that:

“Much of the spending would be for items such as health care, jobless benefits, food stamps and other such programs.”

Jobless benefits do not create jobs, and therefore does not help the economy. Food stamps do not create jobs and therefore does not help the economy. Healthcare could create jobs, except that the money allocated for that is to supplement the coverage and cost for those that have lost a job. Again it does not create anything.

And a huge portion of the stimulus package is targeted to give the public money. But that’s not exactly true. First you have to make less than $75,000 (or $150,000 for those filing joint). Second you must receive a paycheck. Third you will receive a discount on the federal taxes you pay – up to the first $8150 of your annual salary.

That last one is important. It means that if you get paid once a month (as an example), and in month 2 or 3 your income exceeds $8150 you will no longer get the benefit. Of course the entire benefit only amounts to about $120 a month anyway. Which should be plenty of money to go out and buy hoards of new items. Which would create new jobs.

Except that $120 a month isn’t much at all. For most major purchases, like a new TV that will work with the HD changeover, cost far more than a mere $500 (which would take 4 months to save up to and is not immediate). Add to that equation the fact that the average American has $6000 in debt, and with tens of thousands of jobs being lost so far in this month alone most are more concerned with lowering debt as opposed to buying a new shiny something to compete with the Jones’ next door.

So again this is not creating jobs.

But there is some portion of the funds that will go to small businesses. Roughly $2.7 billion dollars. Or in other words, next to nothing. And larger businesses will get money as well, if they can prove they can create jobs through Government approved calculations that have been proven to be next to impossible to qualify for.

But do not fear. The Government will be funding jobs via public works. Like in the time of FDR. Except that just like then, if nothing is being done to create private sector jobs, which the above proves it is not, when the Government stops the funding there are no jobs for people to apply for.

In essence, this is a political polispeak attempt to look good. The long term effects are negligible at best. The quiet side provisions are definitely not popular. In virtually every aspect it fails to create jobs, or spur consumer confidence. It fails at its immediate and definitive purpose, stimulus.

If this passes, Democrats in Congress and President Obama will look good. For a while. And Republicans will have yet another thing that will be blamed on them. And when the built in failure of the plan becomes apparent, Republicans will be the first people selected to blame for their disagreement.

What is needed is a stimulus plan. Not the word stimulus, not the projection of sending the public checks that will need to be paid back at some point in the future. Least of all is the need for the Government to take care of everyone as if they were children, which this package does in abundance.

I don’t want the Government to give me what it thinks I need. I want the ability to earn enough to make my own choice about what I actually need, and if I do well what I want.

All politicians should reject the Obama stimulus package. Democrats won’t. Most Republicans will. And it will get passed because there are more than enough Democrats who seek political gain over their constituents well being.

Not the definition of change most voters expected, but it is change indeed.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

America is failing the children of the world

It’s a real shame that American politics is so filled with polispeak and soundbites that most don’t know how ineffective our Government can be. One of the most glaring failures of our Government can be seen in the Child Soldier Prevention Act.

This was introduced to Congress in 2006, then again in 2007, and again in 2008. It has never become law. In fact it has yet to make it out of committee. Imagine that. It has yet to make it out of committee.

In the 109th Congress, under the title H.R. 5966 this Act was meant

“To end the use of child soldiers in hostilities around the world, and for other purposes.”

In the 110th Congress under the titles of H.R. 2620, H.R. 3028, and S. 1175 (covering 2007 and 2008) this Act never made it into committee.

But at least it was in Congress. Before 2005 it wasn’t even an issue. Even though more than 30,000 children were used as soldiers in just the Congo region from 1998 – 2003. And even with this fact being known, and the Congolese militia leader Thomas Lubanga currently under trial at the International Criminal Court for what he has done, the current 111th Congress has failed to even do its usual half-hearted act of introducing the Act.

I’m not so foolish as to believe that if America’s Congress got off its collective fat ass and passed this Act all the slime of the world would stop using children as soldiers. But it would be a statement. It would be an action. And perhaps the fear of losing American dollars and Government support might decrease the number and desire for child soldiers. Children are the innocents of the world, and they deserve at least that much.

Yet not a single Congress has been able to do anything about this. And I have to wonder why. I would love to know what objection ANY member of Congress has to this Act. What part of ending the use of children in war makes them reluctant to have their name on this Act?

Now some might say this is not a big deal. That if this were important it would be on the news. Except the news media is not in the business of telling the public what is going on in the world. Their job is to distract and emphasize stereotypes, and they do that well. And anything that causes the death of any child that is easily and responsibly preventable should always be done.

Perhaps, just maybe, if House Speaker Nancy Pelosi could stop trying to pump up her wind power stock investment, or searching for something to blame on the past Administration, she could actually lead lead Congress and pass this Act. I can’t see how this could be held up if anyone in Congress actually gave a damn and moved on it.

These aren’t American children. But does that really matter? For Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and the Democrat-led Congress it seems that it does. And I take that as an insult to America.

If you agree, get in touch with your Congressman or Congresswoman. Contact your Senators. Demand that Congress act. It’s a little thing, but it is something. And we can hardly stand in front of the world, professing our belief in freedom and democracy, while we allow the one group in society that cannot act in their own defense to be abused and killed.

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The Democratic Party: entertaining with polispeak

Democrats are really something. I don't say this because I favor Democrats. Nor because they are special in any way. And let me clarify this - I am speaking about politicians and not people.

Democrats are just as prone to polispeak. They break campaign promises just as often. They have scandals, ignore constituents, and promote special interests as much as any other political group. But the thing that really gets me is the style they have in doing all this.

Democrats don't just get caught stealing money, they have it sitting in their refrigerator. They don't just nominate (or appoint) officials that no one has heard of or lacking experience, they go out and get people that are particularly unqualified.

Just look at recent events. In New York State we had a Democratic Governor that was actively looking to appoint Caroline Kennedy. She has no experience, has no defined political positions, and her best argument for the position is her last name. Why did she not get the position as Senator? Because she has a massive number of skeletons in her closet; and even with that information Gov. Patterson was still courting her at the last minute.

Then there is Illinois. Gov. Rod Blagojevich was caught trying to sell the Senate seat. Rather than resign, he turned the tables and made an appointment to the position. Thus making the story about the lack of Black Senators, the question of the validity of the appointment, the credibility of the appointee, and the division in the Democratic Party.

In fact the Governor of Illinois is still causing an uproar. because instead of defending himself he is talking about how he wanted Oprah Winfrey for the job. Talk about unqualified.

Yes, Winfrey is intelligent, and popular. Yes she does good deeds, and has a ton of cash. In fact she is the exact equal of Caroline Kennedy. Including the fact that she has no qualification for public office. The closest she has ever come to anything political is her lavish support of President Obama during the Primaries and election. And that puts her on the list of possibles.

Democrats don't just have balls, they are crazy. They seem willing to substitute qualifications for publicity. They seem to promote opinion polls versus positions. And they do so in a hoard of media cameras as if they were entertainers or celebrities. And then they expect us to blame EVERYONE else when things go wrong - like Barney Frank insists.

Other political parties have at least an equal number of foul-ups in their ranks. They all have prima donnas and power-hungry opportunists. But in the Democratic Party it seems that this is the best features in their top ranks.

I just can't wait to see what will happen next. Las Vegas should be running betting pools over what will happen first. Barney Frank blaming the extension of bank failures on someone else (likely the Bush Administration for another 18 months), Secretary of State Clinton being questioned about receiving tens of millions from foreign Governments while in discussions with those nations on behalf of America, Vice President Biden saying something racist and/or stupid, or House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Majority Leader Harry Reid insisting the time of the Congress is best spent combing thru every document and comment ever made in the prior 8 years.

And all the while bulbs will be flashing, and news media will be gushing as President Obama tells the nation that he will change things while they stay exactly the same.

Yet its other political parties that are bad for the nation, filled with malcontents, and ineffective. Only Democrats would have the balls to look the nation in the eyes and spew that polispeak.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Compassion for ex-cons? I disagree

January 2nd of this year Jacqueline Caron made a comment to my post about rapper TI and his charity on Thanksgiving. It was not directly related to TI, or charity, but to the plight of ex-convicts.

The comment went verbatim as follows:

It is wonderful to hear possitve for a change. Lets not forget about people who have made mistakes but turned their lide around. They are a forgotten population until this past election. Let’s not forget:

For any man or woman convicted of a crime, successfully completing their
sentence, along with any assigned parole or probation, is just the
beginning. After their release from confinement, they are faced with re-
integrating themselves back into their community – often in the same area
and with the same influences that provided them opportunity to break the law
in the first place.

Their search for employment is often stonewalled by the fact that they now
have a conviction on their record. Employers performing a routine search
find the negative information, and unless they are part of a progressive
federal or state program, or willing to give the applicant a second chance,
the applicant is put at the bottom of the list of candidates – if they
remain on the list at all.

The goal of improving their own economic status and fighting the impulse to
return to their former ways is complicated further by the fact that even
advanced education – like a master’s degree – is often not enough to
convince a potential employer to give them another chance.

Apartment leases, home mortgages, opening a bank account or a credit card,
and many other processes that non-offenders take for granted are often
closed to these individuals. This situation continues for as long as the
conviction stays on their record, and with the advent of computers, the
information is even easier to find.

How long is long enough for a person convicted of a crime, who has
successfully completed their parole and / or probation, to continue to pay
for that crime? Support this and lets work to make a nationwide effort to give someone who has turned their life around a 2nd chance. Without it some who has a record and tries to move forward can’t because their record is like paying for their crime in life time installments

Jacqueline Caron, Founder / Chairwoman
Connecticut Pardon Team, Inc.
P.O. Box 807 ~ 307 Main Street
Norwich, Connecticut 06360
Toll-free: 1-866-251-3810
Local (Norwich): 1-860-823-1571

Now I will first note that I commend the efforts of Ms. Caron. Few speak out about the difficulty that ex-cons have. And it is quite true that they are punished long after having served their time in prison.

But I must say that I have no sympathy, empathy, or care. Specifically for those involved in crimes that contained violence and/or drugs. Yet even to a major degree for any criminal.

There is an old saying

“If you cannot do the time, do not do the crime.”

Simple and easy enough to understand. Even criminals understand this concept.

I honestly don’t care that an ex-con has a more difficult life than the average person. They made a choice and will have to suffer the consequences of that choice. No one made them become criminals, and they knew full well what repercussions would come from the choice they made.

It is not the burden of society to take care of those that have abandoned societies rules. Yes they have paid their debt to society, but they deserve the marking they receive in their communities. Because it is within those communities that they did the most damage, in general. And contrition cannot be assumed, nor considered done when an individual has been forced into penance.

Can criminals turn around their lives? Definitely. One of the greatest examples of this is Malcolm X. But what is the difference?

Malcolm X educated himself. That is the first requirement. He dedicated himself to self-improvement, thus negating his need or belief that crime was all he had before him. And few criminals follow in this footstep, though while incarcerated they have more than enough time to do so. I don’t feel bad that they do not seek out the means to release themselves from the ultimate prison, their own minds.

Malcolm X also took another great step. Once released from prison he went out and helped the community. He went about correcting the damage he caused. He tried to help others become educated so that they would not fall into the internal trap he himself had done. He committed acts of penance.

Was it difficult in the 1960’s to do the things that Malcolm X did? Absolutely. Drugs abounded, with virtually no intervention by law enforcement in Black neighborhoods. There were few legal opportunities with the weight of segregation and racial prejudice rampant in the nation. And there was as much, if not far more, distrust in the Black community of ex-cons – which at the time was a far more close-knit community than exists today.

Add to that the religious aspects of his life after prison, which was far less accepted than today, and you have a highly troubling path to follow. Ex-cons of today have exponentially more avenues to success and redemption than existed 40 years ago. The difficulty of reforming today is scarcely the difficulty of then, and it was more common (in my opinion) than today.

If you look at all those that had criminal pasts and today are reformed and successful, I would bet that the majority followed similar steps as those of Malcolm X. They struggled and strived for a better life. In doing so they proved their convictions and were rewarded. Nothing less should be expected.

I don’t want to make the life of an ex-con more difficult. At the same time I will not make it more comfortable. I sleep well at night in full knowledge that ex-cons are troubled. I would not if my taxes, or any involuntary help from myself, were given en masse.

I realize I am throwing a wide blanket. But sometimes that is what is needed. At this moment in America, when our youth are being given every reason to become “ganstas”, reinforcing that thought with the notion that the consequences of their actions will be cushioned by some who have a belief of giving without circumstance is a horrible concept. It does not improve the lives of the community, nor would that help the society at large.

Many may find my view harsh. I fully admit it is. But it is that harsh reality that I believe in that reminds all those around me that criminal acts are not simple, meaningless, nor fun. It is that enforcement of punishment and difficulty that may help keep an individual from straying. And I believe that this view was one more deeply held in decades past.

Our enlightened view of the world today causes more problems than our less technological, less sophisticated past. Vices are more common, and defended, than ever before. Criminals are treated with more compassion than they deserve. And we have more excuses for every individual act against society than justifiable.

So if you ask me how long should an ex-con be punished for their conscious actions, especially but not exclusively those that commit violent or drug related crimes, my only answer is until they have proven beyond doubt they are worthy of trust on any level. If that takes a lifetime, so be it. That is the consequence of the choice they made freely.

But if you believe there is a counter to this, I am open to hear it.

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The 100 day countdown has as many questions

Well I read something that was quite interesting the other day. It dealt with the questions of what we can expect from an Obama Administration. The article by Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris titled What we don't know about Obama points to some interesting thoughts.

So far we know that President Obama has ordered the detainee prison in Guantanamo Bay closed. He expects this to take one year, though the Bush Administration has spent at least 2 years seeking to move some 60 of the worst prisoners to any nation that will not just release them to Al Quida. This is part of his promised acts as a peace maker. That is in conflict with his plans for Afghanistan.

President Obama believes we can win in Afghanistan. He has stated that is the center of the war on terror. And that is where he wants to focus, then end our fight. But to do so is anything but being a peacemaker.

“Most military experts think a decisive win in Afghanistan — as opposed to a muddle-through strategy leading to a gradual withdrawal —will involve a major surge in troops and a willingness to tolerate high costs and high casualties.“

And speaking of war, there is Iraq. Which President Obama continues to move towards running from. The country is finally in some semblance of stability after our prolonged presence and several gaffs of the Bush Administration.

“But this remains an extremely volatile region that could erupt in new bloodshed. Will Obama still cling to a speedy pull-out if it means the country could implode?”

With anti-war hawks like Hillary Clinton in his Cabinet, and a majority of the Democratic Party looking for nothing less than absolute withdrawl what would President Obama do in that situation? Especially as he focuses our troops in Afghanistan thus escalating that conflict? Especially as military history states that a war involving multiple fronts usually end up with loss.

Also along these lines is the question of torture and interrogation. The first part of which is what to do with the detainees in Gitmo as I stated above. But moving forward is what to do about any future suspects we might encounter. They will not be able to be detained. Thus we must presume they will be interrogated in the field. But under what rules?

No matter what some may feel about the use of questionable techniques or outright torture there is one absolute truth. America gained needed information that has led to no more attacks on American soil. With many of the prior interrogation techniques now banned will we still be able to gain that information? Since we will not have detention areas to hold these suspects will we have an opportunity to learn the information that would prevent another major attack?

Then there is the question of the economy. An issue I have long has major problems with. The proposals made by the Obama Administration demand and create multi-trillion dollar deficits, which President Obama has said cannot be maintained long-term. But there is nothing in the proposals that would indicate that the deficits would be paid off in the next 4 years, or even 10.

The public is now becoming used to, and insistent on stimulus checks. If you ask the average American right now they believe that another stimulus check will be in the mail – which has been directly refuted by President Obama. And the poorer the person the more they are anxious for that check.

But that is a mere $850 billion dollars. If President Obama also goes forward with his healthcare plans, his expanded Government, and the declared spending (bailouts) for the economy the imbalance will be at least $1.6 – $2.1 trillion dollars when it’s all said and done (this year alone).

If President Obama plans to keep his budget in massive record deficit only for the short term then he must raise taxes sharply - for ALL Americans, cut entitlements drastically – including the new healthcare and social security, and reduce the military’s budget even as we have soldiers fighting in Afghanistan. And a major deficit will still exist, with no guarantee that the economy will have improved.

And then there is a hot-button issue for me. Darfur. A subject that most politicians have avoided on all levels. America has yet to pass the laws sitting in Congress for 4 years that would prevent corporate or individual investment in the Sudan (Darfur Accountability and Divestment Act). This is similar to the laws passed that prevented funding Apartheid in the 1980’s. Yet even in the Democrat-led 110th Congress nothing has been done.

Will President Obama step up and use his extreme approval ratings to draw national attention to this genocide that has been ongoing for some 7 yeas now? Will he place financial bans, or even use military force to help save millions of non-American lives? Does his role as peacemaker end at the shores of America or does it include other parts of the world that have dire need and no strategic benefit to our nation?

What will President Obama do? No matter what he chooses he will piss off some part of America. But is he strong enough to piss off his main support – far-left liberals? They gave him the money to win. They rallied him over Clinton. They want some of the most extreme (I believe socialistic) changes to the Government. And if President Obama is to be an effective President for all of America, the far-left must be pissed off often and on major issues at times.

But that would bode poorly for his approval rating and chances at re-election. And virtually all the plans of the Obama Administration seem to require 2 terms to come to the proposed fruition. Is President Obama willing to risk that second term for a more balanced Government?

All serious issues, all serious repercussions. And all without any assurance of what will happen. Many wanted change, and in some form or another they are about to get it whether they like the outcome or not.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Caroline Kennedy is out, thank goodness

In the best news since President Obama was elected, Caroline Kennedy has removed herself from consideration for the Senate seat of now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. The people of New York State should rejoice.

The news now ends the highly probable appointment that Kennedy was expected to receive.

“Kennedy discussed withdrawing from the race with Gov. David Paterson on Wednesday, and Paterson asked her to reconsider for 24 hours, the person said.”

Had she been appointed it would have been a mockery. Because of her inexperience, her questionable finances, and her inability to answer direct relevant questions about her intentions is appointed to the position. It is the combination of all these factors that led me to state that she has no place in Government politics.

But I am drawn to another question. If Caroline Kennedy is unqualified to become a Senator for New York State, in part due to questions of her financial background, how can Hillary Clinton be qualified for Secretary of State?

The Congress has severely mishandled this confirmation. Hillary Clinton is now the target of alleged and potentially true conflicts of interest. The very second that the Clinton Foundation receives another donation from a foreign Government, in the millions of dollars, every action she makes after that moment is suspect. And since the Clinton Foundation, as well as the Clinton’s themselves are remiss about disclosing those donations and the donors, it may well have happened already.

But a Democrat-led Congress, newly invigorated and hoping for a boost in approval ratings from the lowest ever recorded, is hardly the place to reprimand or delay the second most powerful member of the DNC. Much to the detriment of the public.

So I will have to enjoy this small victory for my home State. While it in no way will make up for the indiscrection that Hillary Clinton brings to the Secretary of State, it is something to savor before the political and economic absurdities of the Obama Administration take hold. Oh wait, President Obama has already authorized the closing of the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility. That was short.

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Media, President Obama, and questions from Logan Calder

This is a response I made to a comment recieved from Logan Calder on my post America is still America. I felt this deserved to be heard on it own as well.


I love involved comments that reflect when someone has read what I have written. Thank you. I will try to respond as clearly as I can.

The question of why so many, including myself, have said “I never thought I would see a black president” is pretty easy. It comes from the fact that for some 400 years African Americans have been in fact or in effect second class citizens. For those that are old enough, basically my mothers generation or older, to have lived in segregation the thought of a Black President is hard to conceive of when you can recall water fountains being segregated. For those in my generation, roughly 45 – 30, the memory of blatant discrimination provides the same disconnect. Perhaps the only generation that is oblivious to blatant daily discrimination would be those 20 and under now, though it does happen via television and movies everyday as I have often mentioned.

“Does this suggest that the country is not as racist as they believe??, or do you think that it is simply dramatic behavior?? or something else??.”

No the country is definitely as racist as it has always been in my life. The means by which that racism is enacted or portrayed has changed though.

The 200 incidents of nooses reported in 2007, an act that was unreported prior or since the Jena 6 issue hit the major news media – after 6 months of having been on-going, is one example. The singular consistency of police across the nation to overkill unarmed African American men, ONLY, and the fact that national news media avoids reporting this while relatively trivial news (Anna Nicole Smith's death, the Casey Anthony case, ect.) is followed every day for a year is another example.

But it must be said that President Obama was elected by a majority of all Americans. So there is a change in acceptance. I know of many people that voted for Obama because of retribution against President Bush (which is stupid since he wasn’t running). Others voted against the Republican ticket and the ridiculous adage that Democrats used to great effect – “a third term of President Bush”. And more than a few people were swept away with the thoughts of “change” (which is unspecific and dumb), an end to the Iraq and possibly Afghanistan wars, and/or receiving another stimulus check (which will not happen according to comments on the next stimulus package which I believe will fail miserably).

But for all the reasons Obama was elected there was a clear and steady voice of about 10% of the nation that vocally stated they would not vote for a Black President. If that is an extreme, which I think it is, then on the sliding scale to those that would vote for a Black President we must cross a percentage of Americans that might vote for a Black President under certain circumstances only, and those that would vote for a Black man because they felt peer and/or media pressure to do so, as well as those that did not vote for President Obama but were unwilling to be vocal about it. Put together that is a scary but illustrative number of Americans.

Still there is no question that the media made this election incredibly dramatic. The news media swooned over President Obama back in October of 2007 and never stopped to this point. It was so bad that the media had no choice but to admit their partisan manipulation of information about the election – though they waited until after the election to admit it.

So there are a number of factors that came together to get President Obama elected. Blind Democratic voting blocks, historical passion, a mood of change in the public attitude on key issues, an unpopular war, economic disappointments, a less eloquent and less attractive opponent, the age and health factors, news media bias, and the introduction of the internet as a new medium of great power. All of this combined led to President Obama’s win.

“1. Most white people that I talk to voted for Obama and felt, purely from a political standpoint that he was the best candidate.”

Most people in America right now expect another stimulus check from the Government, though it has been directly and repeatedly stated that it won’t happen. Most people hear and believe what they want to based on 30 second soundbites they watch on television. They infer policy from polispeak, and invariably get it wrong.

There are dozens of reasons to question President Obama’s politics and economic views. One of the most unrecognized is the fact that every economic policy President Obama advocates has been proven to not work in the past. These are not new economic plans, and they have never worked in the past – why do so many believe it will work in the future?

One great indicator of what business believes is the stock market. It is a forward indicator of the economy. While moved dramatically by emotion it is always based in the expectations of success or failure of economic plans.

Thus a positive expectation will cause a factual 10 point move to be a 100 point move, and conversely for negative indicators. The market has lost some 12% as President Obama has been revealing more of his economic intentions. That does not indicate the best political standpoint to me.

“2. I heard several times that “they would never let him win”…”they” obviously refers to white people. And since he won, and received massive support by whites, does this play into the original thought of racial paranoia??.”

Yes the “they” refers to Whites. And yes that is based on the legal, social, and media disparities that exist in America at this moment as well as the last several hundred years.

But again I refer back to what I have said before. The win by President Obama is a culmination of multiple factors. While race was one of those factors, the economy, the wars, and other immediate policies were of far more concern than race. Which is a positive in some respects, and very sad in others. Still there is a bit of paranoia in that as well, just as the scale reflects the racism of some in this nation.

“3. Is there a silent feeling of “wow, I didnt expect that…now what do we do” among blacks that are most likely to use race as an excuse for failure?”

Failure for a President has nothing to do with race. Which is an unfair statement because we have never before had the option to prove that point. But I believe that if President Obama is successful his race has nothing to do with that. Yet considering the nature of the media to emphasize negative racial stereotypes (when the media bothers to cover non-Whites at all) a failure of President Obama will likely be framed in Black and White. That is just an honest observation.

But I believe the nation as a whole is just now starting to ask the question that Democrats avoided throughout the Presidential campaign, ‘what does change mean?’

From a Black perspective, speaking for myself based on my views and those I have heard, there is no expectation of failure for President Obama in the Black community. And were he to fail, that is not about his race but his politics. Yet I again state, the media is more likely to create an issue of race motivating blame than any American. And once the media does so, the nation will likely be engulfed by the issue. Which ultimately helps the media make more money.

“4. Last, do you think that a large portion of blacks are silent about, but resent, the fact that Obama is half white. And could be just as easily (and fairly) called white…if the thought of calling him white is offensive, then you would be a racist, in my opinion.”

I personally could care less. There are millions of African Americans that are mixed with some other race or nationality. In fact most Americans whose family goes back to 1865 or earlier (as mine does) have a mixture of White and Black blood. It may not be spoken about, since much of that mixture from that time was the direct result of White slave owners committing rape – but not always as seems the case with Thomas Jeffesron, a rarity indeed. So President Obama’s heritage is about as important as that of President Bill Clinton, President Bush, President Roosevelt, President Lincoln, President Washington, and so on.

At the same time I must correct a thought you have. Race has always been a factor of what people see in this country. If you have dark skin you are presumed to be Black. You could be Hispanic, African, Arabic, Indian, and so on but you will be seen as Black at least initially. Just as every person from any Southeast Asian nation is considered generally from the same nation. It is an attitude that America has maintained since the days of slavery.

Any non-White is generally regarded as a lump of people of the same color. And because there is a visible difference there is a discrimination placed upon them, historically. Thus President Obama would and will never be called White, though he is a 50/50 mix. Because when those that care about such things look at him they see a Black man.

But I doubt many in the Black community care about his mixture. Because most African Americans can trace a fair amount of White ancestors to their family. There are always extreme views of course, but that is the exception and not the rule. But again the key here is the media.

The media has the unique ability to focus on the issues they wish, in a manner that emphasizes what they wish to convey. Right now the Casey Anthony case in Florida has been on national news programs for about a year. To my knowledge only Bill O’Reilly (for 4 minutes) and ABC News (for 30 seconds) have covered the Oscar Grant case. Exponentially less time has been focused on the 2 other Black men killed by police on New Year’s Day, while unarmed, one also on the ground and the other shot in the back 12 times.

Of just these 4 items of news, which do you believe has a greater impact on the society, and make a more clear statement about law enforcement? What is more worthy of coverage; the abuse of power by police on a seemingly national level or the question of what one deranged mother might have done to her own child that has no effect on anyone else in the nation?

Thus I expect that if the question of how African Americans feel about President Obama’s lineage comes up, it will be due to the media. The answer will reflect what they wish to promote. It will likely have nothing to do with what the majority of African Americans believe. Though it will be promoted as if the Black community was speaking in a consensus. Something that I have not seen since the Civil Rights Movement, other than the election of President Obama.

I hope I have covered all your questions. If not please do let me know.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Who has bigger balls, Congress or Clinton? Clinton it seems.

Sometimes you almost feel like Congress can get something right. Then you realize it’s Congress – the worst Congress ever, that has accomplished the least ever – and then you know how bad you’re screwed.

Case in point. Senator Hillary Clinton is about to become the Secretary of State. Such an abomination should never happen outside of a nightmare. But the reality is that the wicked witch of pure ambition has made it virtually through the confirmation process.

Then you notice that Senator Lugar has a problem with the conflict of interest Senator Clinton has with the Clinton Foundation. Hurray someone is paying attention. Until he says he won’t hold up her approval.

Then you get another burst of intelligence out of the collectively dim, this time from Sen. John Cornyn. He too has the inspiration to notice that the Clinton Foundation is a conflict if it continues to receive tens of millions from foreign governments while Hillary is Secretary of State.

“Transparency transcends partisan politics and the American people deserve to know more."

Then he goes on to say he won’t block the confirmation either. On top of which the true genius of the Senate, Harry Reid proclaims that he will push Clinton thru either with a voice vote or a roll call vote – which Democrats know can’t be defeated.

So all we have to provide the nation with the assurance that our Secretary of State is unquestionably looking out for the nation is her unyielding ambition for power (which got her this job in the first place) and her assurance that there will be no conflict. Because we all know that the word of a Clinton is unimpeachable.

Except when it comes to commodity trades, adultery, pardons, political backstabbing, talking to the media, establishing a position on illegal immigration, actual political influence, historical fact of work done, or promises to constituents. How could anyone doubt them?

Where are all the balls in Congress? Surely there is a Congressman or woman that is willing to say that based on the past history of the Clintons, and their campaigns, and their top aides, just taking their word is not enough to become Secretary of State. You would think someone would want to hold her up, or attempt to block her. Yet none of the Representatives and Senators of Congress has a backbone it seems. And they are the people that are strong enough to help President Obama lead the nation out of this near depression?

If this is the kind of response we can expect from the 111th Congress, I might wish for the time wasting, money spending, pork barrel loving, ineffective 110th Congress. The days of Congressional hearings seeking to find out known facts and investigate legal actions for months seems like a pleasure cruise to a Congress that is unwilling to question and halt the image of corruption.

What can we expect from them if we find that there actually becomes corruption in fact? Maybe Barney Frank looking dumb in the camera as he watches video of himself spout utter nonsense some more. This time maybe Pelosi and Reid will join him. What a tea party.

The question of the honesty of the Secretary of State, the incorruptibility of the office, is at stake here. This is massively serious. And it is being handled as if this were about parking tickets from the U.N.

If this is what an Obama Administration portends, it’s a dark 4 years coming.

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you

I have been talking about the economy and what would happen if a Democrat would win since late 2007. When it became clear that President Obama was the Democratic nominee I discussed how the stock market would react to his win. And after the election I forecasted what would likely happen to the Dow Jones Index on inauguration day.

I hit the nail on the head. Well close enough to that anyway. I called for a 7600 Dow on or shortly after the inauguration. I called for a 500 point drop on inauguration day. And I detailed how the economy would continue to tailspin to levels last seen in the Carter Administration.

The Dow Jones Index closed down 332 points. The Dow currently sits at 7949. That’s down 4% from Friday and 12% since the start of the year.

Some will want to blame this all on President Bush, but the reality from Wall Street is that a Liberal Democratic President is a negative for the economy. If only ½ the economic promises made on the campaign trail come true the national debt will tower over any level seen before, and none of the plans are good for private business. And that is bad for investing.

Still crude oil is at lows, and the inflation hitting food has not increased in a while. So maybe Joe Public doesn’t realize how bad things will get, yet. But Wall Street is preparing. And they are looking at the long haul.

I still target the low of the first half at about 7600. I still believe that the money wasted on the mortgage/ credit bailouts will increase drastically. I say again that the 2nd stimulus plan will be a worse waste of money than the first under President Bush. And I insist that the Democrat-led Congress under Pelosi and Reid are the worst Congress in at least my lifetime.

I really hope to be wrong. But so far I am 4% or 349 points from being exactly on target. Any spike in oil prices, a run on gold, a blip in the value of the dollar, continued fighting in Israel, or any of a number of anti-American nations - and terrorist groups - beating their chests (as Vice President Biden promised will happen) and my targets will be exceeded. And all the feel-good talk prior to the inauguration will evaporate.

Yes the stimulus plan will be a great political boost for our new President. And public opinion will soar, until everyone realizes that the extra $60 a week (or less) will not prevent them from losing jobs. Or that at some point soon you will be paying taxes for a house you don’t own. Or paying for a healthcare system that is substandard and as convoluted as any department of the Government. Stock will lead the way down.

But there is time to avoid all this. Congress can reel back all the new additional spending. President Obama can give up on the 2nd stimulus plan. Taxes could be cut, at both the corporate and personal levels. And departments of the Government could be trimmed of wasteful spending.

In a pig’s eye.

Congress is going to spend more than what has been used to bailout the financial industry as the first shot in the bow. Additional money will soon be needed to balance the financials already continuing to flounder, not counting those that will follow like dominoes. And the auto industry that stated flatly that a penny less than $50 billion in a bailout would mean Chapter 11, will become bankrupt as they did not get their money.

Increased regulation will increase cost, and fail to increase good business decisions. And companies will fail. The stock market will lead it all down. Lines will form for Government corporate handouts. The national debt will soar.

Sounds bleak doesn’t it. It should. It is happening before your eyes. By the end of the 1st quarter Joe Public will feel it, badly. Just in time for taxes.

And if I am only as correct as I was about my prediction for the inauguration, well you can see what that will mean. I hope, honestly hope, that I will be wrong.

I really want to be wrong. But what I see in the marketplace tells me that I am right. That double digit inflation and unemployment are mere months away. And that it will last at least as long as the Obama Administration, if not longer.

So since putting your money in a bank will gain you nothing, the taxes on investments make that plan dumb for anything with a return in the next 2 years, and gold is already moving just wait. Wait and take small bites all the way down. Because America will rebound at some point. Because I hope to be wrong soon. The reward from that will be better than me eating crow, it will be a stronger economy.

I can’t wait.

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America is still America

Well it has to be said by someone. I know the hate mail will flow.

I understand, and am gleeful, about the history being made as President Obama becomes the first Black man that is President of the United States. It is a moment that I never expected in my lifetime.

That said, I have to wonder and comment on the way the media and many people are treating this as if the world has instantly changed. It is as if suddenly every wrong in America has been wiped away. Or so the media would like many to believe.

I recall a recent television commercial on BET that I caught as I was flipping channels. It had a little girl trying to watch the inauguration, but was far too short to see over the crowd. Then Dr. Martin Luther King comes and lifts up the girl so she can watch the Oath of Office. The commercial ends with the words, The Dream Achieved.

Hogwash. The television commercial is inspirational, but the message is false. President Obama is not the fulfillment of the dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, and to suggest as such belittles what he strived for. The Civil Rights Movement was not about just gaining political stature, or a title. It was about the understanding of the fundamental rights of equality that Government and society needs to recognize.

Yes, President Obama is one aspect of that realization. But that does not mean America has reached a point of equality. Oscar Grant was murdered after Obama was elected. Millions of African Americans are drop-outs, and single parents. The pay rates of African Americans still lags that of White peers. The stereotypes of African Americans being criminals and/or violent still permeates music, television and movies (when we have the chance to be seen) by and large. Drugs are still allowed to enter Black and poor communities. The dream is not achieved.

President Obama is just one man. He has entered one position, powerful as it is. And it is worthy of acclaim and celebration. But we should not distract ourselves from the reality that exists before, during and after this moment.

Racism and prejudice still exists in America. It is part of the legal system at every level. It still unbalances the opportunities African Americans (and all other 'minorities') experience in this nation.

10% of this nation vocally stated that they would not accept a non-White president. That is huge. Who knows how many were unwilling to make that same statement publicly. Obviously not enough to prevent President Obama's election, but far more than enough to put me at unease.

There is still only 1 African American in the Senate, a mere handful in the House of Representatives. There are few Governors and Mayors that are African American, or just non-White. There are far less than 1% of major CEO's that are 'minorities'. Even in the far-left, politically highly liberal, halls and studios of Hollywood there is barely more than a scattering of non-Whites in front of or behind the cameras.

It took 14 days for the ex-cop who murdered Oscar Grant in cold blood to be arrested. Protestors of the inaction of police in Oakland were arrested the day of protests. National news media coverage of the murder spoke only to the riots and lawsuit the murder provoked. And virtually nothing was said of other acts of police abuse in the nation at the start of the new year.

The dream has not been achieved, yet.

I am exuberant about President Obama's accomplishment. But the world has not changed this second. Racism has not died. Prejudice has not faded away. The ills and wrongs of this nation have not been wiped clean. The slate is still filled.

Rejoice today because it is a day worthy of celebration. But let us not be distracted from the truth that is daily life. President Obama may change many things, but it won't be tomorrow. He has become a symbol, but action still needs to be taken. Millions will remember this day, but it is only one day.

President Obama is not THE answer. He is not THE only change. He is one part of a huge goal that was hoped for by millions of Americans, including Dr. Martin Luther King. But he is not the end of the road nor the ultimate answer to the challenges before us. The dream is still a dream. And we must still strive to make it a reality.

But thankfully we are one step and one day closer to that reality. Let's just not lose focus.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Billions for foreclosure, billions wasted

So now President Obama seems to be interested in providing up to $100 billion for those in foreclosure or about to be. It's a really great gesture. It will surely help his approval rating. And it will help guarantee that he receives the full $850 billion he has wanted for the Democrat proposed stimulus plan.

But I am opposed to this. Not because I don't want people to keep their homes. But because this is a terrible idea.

First there are the homeowners who are not in foreclosure. Those of us that are doing everything we can to maintain our homes are at a disadvantage. We get nothing from the proposed stimulus except the $120 a month that has been stated. Which is little to nothing compared to the cost of a mortgage, and raising a family, while trying to save enough money to ensure that if we lose our jobs we have something as a cushion.

In fact, it seems almost beneficial to allow your home to go into foreclosure these days. The Government is so busy trying to ensure you cannot lose your home that they are basically encouraging people to do so. You can negotiate a lower interest rate, defer payments, extend the life of a mortgage, remove interest, and soon there will be payments from the Government to subsidize your home. Given all that, why the hell is it worth struggling to stay out of foreclosure?

Second, in spending money on the foreclosures it is that much less money spent on the economy. Given I think the stimulus plan is as much of a waste as the Bush stimulus plan, basically a political look good tool or polispeak for the masses. But if spending money is the plan to turn the economy around, why dilute that plan?

In effect the average American will be paying back, at some point in the future via taxes, the money they receive + the money given to homes that are not their own + money given to businesses that made bad business decisions. And that is just the looking forward money (and does not include his new spending for new Government programs). The Government has already obligated us to pay back previous money received + several bank bailouts (which did nothing to improve the stock market and retirement accounts) + auto industry money + bailing out an insurance giant. All while inflation is creeping higher.

And none of the money going to any business or institution has any guarantee of repayment. Nor if there were repayment, any way planned of how that money would be assessed. The money could be used to fund pet politician projects (like ACORN was initially set to receive) or some other Government inspired spending spree. We don't know.

Which says nothing of the fact that the Government has no idea how the money will be spent, or where it is spent. Billions are unaccounted for at this moment, and the Obama Adminsitration has stated it intends to add tens of billions more into the pot with little better knowledge than before. Unless you believe that Congress got a lot smarter since the elections in November. The majority of politicians that were there before are still there. Like Barney Frank and Chris Dodd, who couldn't figure out what was happening in the economy until after the problems hit the news. And they head financial oversight committees, still. Think they are any smarter or more adept than 3 months ago?

But again on the foreclosures. I have enough trouble paying my mortgage, my household expenses, taxes, and preparing for higher corporate taxes. It's hard enough to do all that in an economy that is just flat, and this is anything but. Now the Obama Administration believes I should add on someone else's house? Which I will never get a benefit from.

That's a hard sell to me. Probably why I did not vote for President Obama. These are no surprises. But they are as bad a set of decisions as I expected them to be. This is not going to help the economy, though I expect it to temporarily help the approval ratings of Congress (which needs it badly).

I don't entirely blame President Obama though. This entire stimulus plan was the idea of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She has been fighting for this for months, increasing the amount each month as she went along. Pelosi has had the distinction of being the worst Speaker of the House, with a Congress of the lowest approval rating, that accomplished the least things, at a higher cost, than I believe any other Congress has done in 111 sessions. That's like betting on the horse that went lame and was pulled from the race. Obama made the bet so he gets that blame, but Pelosi made the horse lame and that's on her all the way.

Spending tens of billions on foreclosures sounds nice, but that's all it is. Polispeak. It is almost entirely probable that it will have no effect except a long-term negative. In fact it may speed up the downward trend President Obama was elected to fix. But it's going to happen, so be prepared.

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Politics - the ultimate career

Ah the joy of politics. There is nothing like it. Only in politics can a person give a promise to millions of people, publicly, and then get a promotion when they fail miserably to follow thru. Only in politics can promises on the campaign trail be reversed 180 degrees once elected. Only in politics can a politician accept money that most would call influencing and still become one of the most powerful people in the free world.

It's called polispeak, at least by me. The act of saying and doing anything necessary to bolster a politicians power base and rise in the ranks while deluding the public. And there are plenty of politicians in office right now that are masters of this.

Barney Frank is one such politician. He adeptly changed his position on the mortgage crisis several times, matching the prevailing wind of public sentiment well enough to be untouched politically. How else could a politician say on tape that real problems don't exist and that he is on top of all the factors involved, then have all those problems explode in his face, and yet still maintain his elected position. Polispeak. Just blame everyone else and ignore what you have said before.

And another favorite is Senator Clinton. She has now become Secretary of State. Which is a joke. She has fought and won the ability to receive, via the William J. Clinton Foundation, tens of millions in donations from foreign Governments while she holds this post. She previously failed on promises to her Upstate New York constituents, promising to bring in 200,000 jobs and losing over 30,000 instead. She has reversed her position on illegal immigration so fast that only video of her conversation makes it possible to see how fast she polispoke (3 positions in 2 minutes at the same Primary debate, and in the same question). And she negotiated herself out of millions in debt (from her presidency run) and into a promotion while maintaining her bid for a future run at the Presidency and ignoring the racial comments she made in the campaign.

But let us not forget the polispeak of President Obama. He successful convinced the nation that he is not a far-left liberal, though his voting record is explicit in making that clear. He reversed his position on gay marriage. He avoided the weight of his political past, particularly his direct and close association with an admitted unrepentant terrorist, with a mere sentence. He has altered his positions somewhat on Iraq, the economy, and several other issues - even before getting sworn in. And his initial approval rating looks to be through the roof.

Politics is a unique field. And for those adept at polispeak it is the only place to be. It's even better than being a lawyer. Amazing.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Senator Hillary Clinton should not be Secretary of State

Perhaps one of the most telling things about why Senator Hillary Clinton should not be Secretary of State, or any other position in the Executive Office, has been raised by Senator Lugar during the confimation hearings the other day. It is simple and direct.

Senator Lugar clearly expressed the problem. Senator Clinton is directly tied to the Clinton Foundation. The Foundation is known for having recieved tens of millions of dollars in donations from overseas Governments and individuals that have lead to questionable (at the least) deals. It can be said that influence was bought via these donations. And as Secretary of State such a conflict of interest weakens and corrupts the Obama Administration.

So Senator lugar made a simple and easy request. He asked Senator Clinton to have the Clinton Foundation not receive foriegn donations while she holds the position in the Cabinet. This is not being focused on in the news media. Then again the media has been overwhelmingly propagandist for every Democrat that ran for President in 2008.

The response by Senator Clinton was terse and unconvincing. She says there is no conflict, which many disagree on. And past action/reactions from donations made to the Foundation show that. She wants to boast how this information about the Foundation was submitted to Congress, but does not mention that it took over 1 year for the Clintons to allow any information to be revealed, and it is still not fully disclosed even now. Which gives the impression that there is something to be hidden.

And her biggest point is that neither she nor Bill Clinton receive a salary from the Foundation. While true, they do have the power to direct where the funds in the Foundation is spent. Which to me is the same as a salary. Even better because it is a tax sheild (which they have used to protect at least $10 million).

She goes on to express why foreign governments gave donations, excluding every single Middle Eastern nation which gave more money than several of the nations she did mention combined. And if you listen carefully she states that she has worked to maintain the Foundation exactly as it is. Thus she is inflexible on a Foundation she claims to have no financial interest in, that can operate without the donations of foreign Governments, especially those nations questionable.

But the question not asked of her is why this Foundation cannot be treated like the brokerage accounts of many elected officials. A blind trust, or appointed trustees that would have sole control over the Foundation. Why can't Bill and Hillary Clinton forgo any control over the Foundation while she holds a position of influence in out Government??

Perhaps there is a portion of the "overhead" and "transparency" that is not quite as clear cut as she claims. And it seems that this is something that the Clintons will not give up. Even with the good and integrity of the nation on the line. Yet the Democrat-led Congress has no issue with this.

It's this simple. Would this same Congress have allowed a similarly qualified Republican with a similar foundation to be confirmed making the same statements? I believe not. Thus this is all polispeak to the detriment of the nation.

Secretary of State Clinton was a bad idea. It's a political backdoor deal that weakens the nation. She is a manipulative power hungry viper - in my opinion - who will damage the reputation and influence of the nation for no reason beyond her own ambitions.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Smoking today, your life tomorrow

Smoking is a bad habit. I can say that because I am a smoker. To be completely honest I am addicted to smoking. And have been for nearly 2 decades now.

That said, I am also an American citizen. Cigarettes are legal and available for purchase across the nation, if you are of legal age. Which I am. I pay corporate taxes, state, local, and extra taxes on my cigarettes that goes to who knows where the politicians use it.

What's the big deal? California. Specifically their obsession, seemingly, with trying to mandate how every citizen will live. It seems like the entire state is trying to force a diet and lifestyle a vastly smaller portion of the population lives.

California lead the rally-cry to ban smoking. In effect they removed the ability for adults to make a choice about their lifestyle. Then they used that rally to spread their ideals across the nation. Now we have multiple states that have banned smoking in most public places.

I can understand restaurants, the subway, and probably the workplace. Not everyone smokes. Some are allergic. Fine. But I still disagree with it.

Financially I know of dozens of businesses, in fact every bar or restaurant that had a bar and smoking area, that have NEVER recovered from the smoking ban. The initial hit was a 30% drop, or more, from the ban in New York State. Add in the loss in revenue from the additional tax placed on cigarettes forcing people to buy from out of state and its a huge revenue hit. And then there is the social aspect.

The problem is that the Government decided that it knew what was socially best for the citizens. The Government NEVER knows what's socially best for anyone. Every social experiment I can recall has failed and wrought worse problems than existed before. Especially in California, a state that leads in social experimentation.

So what has happened? After a failed attempt in some California towns to regulate what people do in their own homes - a ban on smoking in your home - L.A. is now considering banning smoking outdoors.

What is wrong with these people.

"When you get into the government telling you what to do outdoors, I worry about that," said Montes, a 43-year-old computer systems technician. "I understand the health reasons for it. . . . But for me it's about Big Brother. How far is it going to go?"

This in a city where the very air is toxic and more of a health hazard to the populace than all the crime combined. If they really wanted to help the people, why not install (actually re-install) a massive, effective, mass transit system. That would make the lives of people far better there. But this is an easy target, and it asserts the control they want.

'Don't worry about the smog, don't think about the massive carbon footprint made everyday. We will ban smoking outdoors and you will live better. And next week we will decide what color clothes you can wear, what clothes you can buy, the home you can live in and what shows to watch on television. Because we are the Government and we are smarter than you.'

Tell me how we don't get to that point. That the Government isn't slowly saying these things. I mentioned years ago that an outdoor ban was coming. That soon cigarettes will be illegal, like prohibition. That Government never gets smaller and once it interferes with your daily life it only wants more control. And mark my words, in at least parts of California they will start banning various types of food en masse.

Hell, in New York State the Government is considering a tax on the foods we eat. Tell me how that is not an attempt to exert control over our private daily lives? What happens when they start to tax or otherwise influence the lives of those overweight, or with an illness, or that they just don't like.

Yes, children should not smoke. It's a horrible habit, with questionable health ramifications. But it is legal and adults make choices. Just like with food, or sex, or driving, or parenting. Until the day the Government says you don't have a choice in that too.

L.A. cannot stand up and make a case in how they are protecting anyone. They are just being bullies. And other states will follow as they always do. But it's not just smokers that are getting screwed. We may be the first on the list, but we won't be alone.

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Friday, January 09, 2009

Surprise! We are still in a bear market.

Let me see if I understand this correctly.

"A jump in unemployment sent stocks sharply lower Friday as investors feared that Americans won't soon deviate from their tightened budgets."

That means that someone thought consumers would go back to spending money, or realistically increasing debt, because the new year started? Or they thought that the $120 a month less in taxes (for only 4 months) President Obama has proposed was going to spur new home purchases? At the same time that nearly every industry in the nation is slashing jobs?

It must be great in the world that some of these economists live in.

We have lost the most jobs in this nation since 1945. That's at the end of WWII, when we scaled back from the massive military supply we needed for the war. And I believe more people had more savings and less debt than today - even adjusting for inflation. And the Government had none of the debt we have today, or will soon have even more of if Congress and President Obama get to spend as they plan on doing.

How could anyone look at the 2nd half of 2008 and not expect consumer spending to continue downwards. To expect the stock market to continue in the bear market that it's been in for months now. I mean what did they expect, President Obama would smile and the world would just step up and buy stocks?

President Obama is a Liberal Democrat. He has said from day one that he will increase the deficit, spending more money than ever before. He has made it explicitly clear that he intends to get even more money from fewer sources, business and the higher incomes. What exactly counts as higher income keeps changing, and getting smaller. And business really loves to have to pay more money as sales shrink.

Let's not forget that with the mismanagement of the Fed and the Treasury (neither of which is President Obama's fault - given) we have wasted billions of bailout dollars, have a line of industries waiting for their turn at the free money ATM called Government, and inflation is the one word no one wants to talk about. And inflation will be the one thing that really kicks everyone's ass.

Of course President Obama will say that the sky is falling tomorrow if he doesn't get to give away all our money. That's polispeak, meaning that he wants to look good at trying something that can't work so he has some political clout before it all falls apart. Then he can point backwards in time and blame everything that fails in his plan on President Bush. Politics as usual.

Of course these "old politics", that President Obama promised to banish, are very good at keeping political clout but horrendous for low wage earners and small business. The stock market knows this. That's why its a bear market. And as we approach the inauguration, I expect even more selling. I mean why have an investment when the taxes on it will cost more than you expect to make in the next 2 or 5 years.

As a stockbroker I learned to look for capitulation in the market. That emotional point when people just give up. That's when smart money jumps in and buys. Except that the emotional selling all happened in September and October. Since the election smart money is selling. And that means things are really going to get worse.

Until there is a reason to buy stocks, the market will continue to slowly slide down. Never in just a straight line, but trend down it will. The Democrat-led Congress will authorize spending in new programs that will not help any one get a job or start a business. The President will come up with plans on how the Government can take care of everyone, while being in every pocket deeper than before. And $1.2 trillion dollars in debt will look like a target to strive for in coming years.

I've said it before and I will again, a Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid Congress with the most Liberal Democratic President in decades equates to double digit inflation, double digit unemployment, rock bottom consumer confidence, and business bankruptcies all not seen since the Carter Adminsitration - if we are lucky to have it that good.

So who is surprised? Not me.

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Open letter to Sharpton, Jackson, NAACP, Sen. Boxer, Sen. Feinstein, and the media

This is letter to those mentioned in my post What can you do to prevent another Grant, Bell, Diallo, or other police murder?

This letter will be sent to all those named in that post. If you know of other organizations that should receive this, let me know. If you wish to copy and modify this letter for your own use to these individuals, please do.

    To whom it may concern,

    I am Michael Vass, President of M V Consulting, Inc. and author of Black Entertainment USA. Recently I became aware of the death of Oscar Grant at a BART station in California. This death came at the hands of police - while he laid face down on the ground defenseless, possibly handcuffed, with an officer holding him in place as he was shot in the back - and was video taped and witnesses by a large group of individuals on New Year's Day of 2009.

    This news story has been seemingly dismissed by the major news media. I was lucky to notice a 30 second news video by ABC News, that I have not seen since, on January 5th. The national news media has not covered this story beyond that to my knowledge.

    The lack of coverage has angered me greatly. I wrote about this tragic event on my blog, and several others that I write for. And I am constantly being made aware that my blog posts of this news event is the first that many people are hearing of this event. Yet in watching the national news coverage I have seen no end to the coverage of the Caylee Anthony case for a almost a year now, discussion on the death of Heath Ledger for a year, and other stories of similar nature. In fact I believe it is easier to know the clothes that Beyonce wore yesterday, how Jennifer Aniston feels about Angelina Jolie, and the new address of Michael Jackson than details in this case.

    This is an outrage. The news media has failed America, and the Black community. It is their responsibility to make all law enforcement responsible to the public and to make the public aware of such events. Their job is to represent us when it is not possible for us to be aware of facts across the nation and the world. Their job is to help shed light on events that violate our rights and prevent the abuse of the system. That is not happening.

    It is a fact that some news media have made factual errors in their reporting of the case. One such instance is the fact that reports say that only 2 videos of the incident exist. I found in 15 seconds multiple videos of the event from several angles and of lengths from 1 minute to nearly 5 minutes. I have provided some of that additional video on my site. Another fact was the initial statement of the BART police stating that video from the station itself was unavailable, which turns out to be erroneous.

    Already we can see that facts are being occluded. Add to this that the internal investigation by police has run into a roadblock. Officer Johannes Mehserle, who fatally shot Oscar Grant while he laid face down, possibly handcuffed, with at least one officer holding him down with a knee on his neck, in his back, resigned. As such I believe that the internal investigation cannot go forward as Mehserle is no longer a police officer. Thus the Oakland D.A. must be motivated to investigate and bring up charges for any justice to go forward.

    At the same time Police Chief Gary Gee and others have begun to postulate excuses on how or why this event happened. The most popular excuse is that Johannes Mehserle meant to reach for his taser. A taser is not the same weight, shape, or trigger as a police issue 9mm gun. The time, as seen in several video angles of the event, he took to draw and fire reveal he had ample time to recognize and visually sight the gun in his hands. And beyond all that, there was no imminent life-threatening need to draw any weapon. And that is proven by the 5 or 6 other officers on the scene never drawing or motioning towards any of their weapons at any point in this event.

    And I believe that this is a pattern that needs to end. We have seen that more often each year tragic events like this are happening across the nation. Black men killed in a hail of dozens of bullets, beaten by hordes of police officers, abused in police stations, and on and on. More often than not, virtually in each case, the officer responsible never served a day in jail, rarely was fined or disciplined in any manner.

    I believe these are connected. If we say nothing, do nothing, then we say to all police officers across the nation that the - in my opinion - outright cold-blooded murder of African Americans is socially acceptable and will not be punished.

    Thus I ask you to provide your political and media strength to this issue. The nation needs to be aware of what happened. This should never have happened. This should not go unpunished.

    I look forward to your support and the media attention you can bring to this tragic event.


    Michael Vass
    President - M V Consulting, Inc.

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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Illegal immigration: the problem and a potential solution

From time to time I have discussed the question of immigration in America. To be direct, I do not like any illegal immigrant being in the nation, and absolutely believe that they deserve nothing from the Government if they are here. That being said, if you want to give up your home for immigrants to stay at and your income for them to live reading further will only anger you.

Again I will start with a clarification. They are not undocumented workers. That is polispeak for Illegal alien or more accurately illegal immigrant. The document they are missing is a green card - which would give them legal purpose to be in this nation. Thus every single illegal alien is a willful criminal first and foremost.

This is an issue that will definitely come to fore during the Obama Administration. With a Democrat-led Congress and the most liberal President in decades, I have no doubt that legislation will be attempted to give these criminals citizenship. I am completely against this idea.

Right now tens of millions if not more is being spent on illegal immigrants. Prosecuting illegal criminals, removing them from the work force, closing down sweatshops, medical aide, education and housing are but a few sources of the costs. While these individually are not major factors, combined they do help to affect the American economy. They add a burden that need not be there.

I have no problem with my taxes going to help those in need, when they are citizens. I have no problem helping people throughout the world. I endorse several humanitarian causes in Africa (Darfur among the top) and elsewhere. But those endorsements and donations are my choice. Illegal aliens are a burden I cannot choose to bear.

Think of it like this. I know of no one that would suggest that a crack dealing armed robber should receive federal housing, unless that housing were a jail. But if that same individual was illegal some believe that criminal deserves - and some may have - federal housing. That is not to say that all illegal aliens are hardened criminals, but the fact is some are. And one dollar for that is a dollar too much.

There are those that believe illegal immigrant children deserve higher education. This is not elementary school or high school. They state that college is a right of these people, specifically the right to receive federal aid and in-state tuition, the same as American citizens. Which first ignores the willful act of being an active criminal in this nation. Second it grants rights we do not give to those that legally enter this nation for a higher education. And third it adds a burden that is not compensated for as these young adults (18 - 22) and their parents do not pay taxes which the financial aid comes from.

In the same vein of thought is everything that illegal immigrants demand and ask for. They want to have rights of citizens, but are unwilling to accept the first responsibility of every citizen, following the law of the nation. That is a bit backwards in logic.

Even more people wish to give these criminals a right to become citizens. To my knowledge America does not give criminals - especially those that have or would likely commit felonies - citizenship from any country. Every adult illegal alien has actively chosen to commit a felony and they want to be rewarded?

I do understand the difficulty in removing every illegal immigrant from the nation. Given the size and wealth of our nation (even in times of recession and depression, like now) it is unrealistic to believe we will ever remove or prevent all illegals. But that is not an excuse to place a value and commoditize our citizenship. Which any plan of path to citizenship that involves a fine creates.

So what is the answer? Many will not like my answer. In fact to a degree I do not. Because it creates a de facto system of abuse. But the current system is basically no better in terms of abuse and/or discrimination.

But an idea is one that has worked in the Ancient past. Secondary class citizens. We create a legal class of citizenship that is not entitled to every right just as a full citizen would receive.

All illegals that accept this would be entitled to continue to live and work in the nation.

  • They do not have a right to vote.
  • They do not have a right to federally funded housing.
  • They do have a right to receive federally funded food and medical aide.
  • Their illegal children have the same right to receive an education as any other citizen, but they cannot receive in-state college status.
  • They can only receive half the federally funded financial aid of a citizen.
  • They are protected by all the laws of a citizen, and must receive the pay of a citizen.
  • They will pay 50% more in federal taxes which they must file for every year or have their status rescinded.
  • Every illegal alien age 18 - 26 must sign up for a draft if the nation ever deems the need to call on them.
  • And if they are convicted of any felony, ever, they will be deported immediately no matter if they have children that are citizens.

  • Those that would flaunt this choice, and try to avoid this, would be deported after losing all possessions and 1 year of hard labor (think chain gang fixing roads across the nation).

Why might an illegal immigrant family or individual accept this? Because their children born on U.S. soil retain the rights of a full citizen. Because they will not be deported (so long as they do not violate the felony statute). Because even under these conditions they will live a quality of life greater than that in their home nations.

This plan is not completely fleshed out, so don't just tell me their are loopholes. I know there are, but I am not a politician and this is not a law I am presenting to Congress. This is an idea for others to iron out more completely. But it is comprehensive. And it addresses all illegal aliens currently in the nation and those to come. It is a path to citizenship, albeit to the children of the illegals. It removes the commoditization of U.S. citizenship, and addresses the willful violation of our laws.

It's not nice, but life is not about nice. It's relatively fair, and far better than the lives they led in their homelands. And they always have the choice before them. They can leave or suffer the consequences of further violating our laws.

Now let the debate begin.

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Monday, January 05, 2009

New stimulus package is 60% waste

Now that we have entered 2009, the time for details has begun. President Obama has now stated that he intends to make 40% of the proposed stimulus plan, that was championed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi from $50 billion to its now $800 billion level, business tax-cuts. That is the first logical and reasonable thing I've heard about this plan since its inception.

Some $300 billion dollars will target businesses by cutting taxes on new workers hired and accelerated depreciation among other thoughts. The tax break from hiring new employees is critical. Tax on employees is one factor that cannot be controlled by an owner and is devastating to the bottom line. If this proposal, which is short-term, could be made more substantial - by being proposed long-term or matched by a cut in corporate taxes - it will have a definite impact on the economy. But that is not thinking like a liberal Democrat.

If President Obama goes to his consistent style of thought, and Speaker Pelosi is able to forge ahead with her plans, we will see more of the compartmentalized thinking that dominated the election speeches. That is the thought that there is no connection of one economic plan with any other part, nor that new deficit widening spending or raising taxes might counter any other stimulus proposed. Listening to the Democratic leaders one would believe that each of these things are isolated and do not interact, but in the real world they always do.

Thus if corporate taxes are raised, any gains created from a tax break on new employees will evaporate and those new hires will quickly become unemployed again. But it will buy the politicians a few months of back-patting on the lowering of unemployment.

But the majority of the new stimulus plan is still solidly in the realm of polispeak. Only in that realm is the thought that $500 for singles and $1000 for a family able to turn around a mortgage crisis, credit crunch, and shrinking economy.

The last stimulus plan, which was completely ineffective, came about as a direct payment of money from the Government to the public - which will be repaid in taxes at a later date. That money was used by the majority of Americans to stave off mortgage default and pay down on debt. This time President Obama believes that by directly cutting payroll taxes for 4 months it will have a bigger impact. Which is perhaps even more dream-like an expectation.

That equates to around $120 per month, or $240 for families -
"The $500 tax credit would apply to the first $8,100 of wages, meaning a worker who earns $24,400 a year and is paid twice a month would get about $60 extra per paycheck for four months."
While that is not insignificant, it is not a factor either. If the average person in America has $6,000 in debt currently, and basic monthly costs of some $1500 to live the extra money is 1 night out, or 2% payment on the debt not including interest, or 1 month of cell phone service. Which seems most likely for a person to do?

From what I have heard across the nation a free month of phone service, or paying down on the auto insurance, or electric bill, or catching up with the cable bill, or having a bit of extra food, or paying on the car loan, or replacing clothing are higher priorities than going out for drinks and a dinner. Sure some may buy an new video game, but they may well be doing so because they will be losing cable and thus the game is their only entertainment.

The fact is that stimulus plans that depend on creating money to give to the public, that will need to be paid back via taxes, will never work. Unless the nation were to get $6,000 per person it will never work. The current individual debt and the interest on that debt is too high. And any amount below the current debt load is too small to invest in anything - even if consumer confidence were there.

This stimulus plan is a failure just as much as the one proposed by the Bush Administration was. There is no improvement. There is no greater gain. Money given to the public will garner no positive lasting effect in the economy any more than the last one did. The only thing that will happen is the polispeak will be positive for a time. Great for politicians, but ultimately bad for the public.

If this stimulus were to be a real fix, corporate taxes would be reduced, new employees would create a tax break, accelerated depreciation would be tied to new equipment purchases, and Government would not be directly involved in the daily actions of private business. But that too is a pipe dream. Just like watching the Dow go above 9000 any time soon.

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