Friday, December 26, 2008

Buy It Forward

So, I am sitting here racking my brains about what can be done to get the economy going again. By the way, I hope greater minds than mine are also being racked... Anyway, I think, or at least hope it is becoming clear that the way we pawns have been manipulated into spending our limited resources on things we really don't need for all these years is not only fool hardy but ultimately destructive. Time to move on from the conspicuous consumption model.

Yet it's consumers buying things and businesses investing and selling things that keeps us all employed and well fed. This is basic structure of the world we live in, this is reality and it's not going change anytime soon. We really do not want a world where the government essentially tells us what we need and then supplies it for us. Nothing good will come of a socialized marketplace and economic model. So, we need to remake the world with what we already have - because so much of it is good - we wouldn't tear down a sturdy house just to remodel it.

We have all by now heard the term "pay it forward". It was popularized most recently by a book of the same name by Catherine Ryan Hyde and a movie staring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt. The concept is not so new as this. In 1951 Sci-fi legend Robert A. Heinlein in his book 'Between Planets' popularized the term and personally lived this doctrine. Benjamin Franklin, in a letter to Benjamin Webb dated April 22, 1784:

I do not pretend to give such a Sum; I only lend it to you. When you [...] meet with another honest Man in similar Distress, you must pay me by lending this Sum to him; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands, before it meets with a Knave that will stop its Progress. This is a trick of mine for doing a deal of good with a little money.

So the concept is not so alien to the human condition as there have always been people in need and those with good hearts able to help without demanding recompense. With this in mind I began fleshing out something I would call "Buy It Forward".

Buy It Forward

Doing a good turn by helping someone out with a favor or paying a debt is all well and good but to revive the economy things need to be bought and sold. As mentioned, buying things we really don't need and drowning ourselves in conspicuous consumption is pointless and ultimately unsatisfying. Why not buy something for someone else? Something they really need...

What I envisioned is a 'CraigsList' sort of thing. While I have not fleshed out any details I see an all voluntary system national in scope but local in practice like CraigsList. Those in need could post up requests including compelling details and those with means could voluntarily fulfill the requests with new "store bought" items after judging for themselves the veracity of the requester. Obviously fraud and abuse would be the major problems with something like this. Fraud and abuse would probably doom an unsophisticated deployment. The last thing I want is crimes being committed and lawyers getting involved.

A second thought would be to try to establish local "Buy It Forward Chapters" through places like Churches and community organizations . The chapters would be loosely bound by standard concepts and completely voluntary for any member of said organization. Again, I don't have specific details - I'm just trying to come up with a concept.

The basic point is there are a lot of people out there who need things and there are a lot of people out there with money and good hearts that really don't need more things cluttering their lives. What Buy It Forward would hope to do is get them together and also drive the economy forward which will be good for all people.

The truth is that the best solution for poverty is prosperity. Strong and rational economic growth is the key, but buying "stuff" just to spend, spend, spend is more destructive than good. However, buying stuff to help someone in need is downright righteous!

I would love to hear some thoughts on this idea - crazy? misguided? brilliant? wonderful?

Please write me at If it is something that could be done - for all the right reasons - then we should put it out there and maybe it will snowball into something fantastic.

Craig Willms
St. Paul MN

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Prosperity: So Long, Its Been Good to Know 'Ya

If you would, do me a favor and Google the phrase "end of prosperity". If ever there has been a consensus on the subject of economics this is it. More than any other economic downturn in my 47 years on this Earth this one has elicited the greatest pessimism. Truth be told it's all rather unsettling.

According to the U.S. — not to mention Western Europe — is in the grip of a downward spiral that financial experts call deleveraging. Arthur Lafer and Stephen Moore tell us in their book "The End of Prosperity" that the rest of the world is following the American economic growth model of lower tax rates, more economic freedom, and sound money. Paradoxically, one country is moving away from these growth policies and putting its prosperity at risk -- America. In his OP-ED piece "The End of Prosperity" Stephen Lendman quotes Marc Faber's "Gloom Boom and Doom" report. "I think first we'll have a bout of deflation that will actually be quite substantial, but then the budget deficits will go through the roof and the Fed will print even more money (so that) later on we'll have very high inflation." Last week in a single edition of the Wall Street Journal every headline in the finance section was negative.

What in the hell is happening here?

If you ask the folks in my parents generation it seems quite clear to them why this has happened. These folks lived in an America that built things. They will sadly point out the America they knew is truly gone. Today with one of the last of the heavy industries - the auto manufacturing business in the throes of its waning days I find it hard to argue with them.

In this WalMart generation where manufacturers big and small have been compelled (or coerced) to move their manufacturing to China or other points offshore in the name of cheap labor America has lost much of itself. The greatest generation fears for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Many of their own children successfully made the transition from the manufacturing age to the information age. They have been servicing the slow decline of the American manufacturing sector and all its ancillaries. But even the information age worker is seeing a morbid transformation of his skills into a commodity that can be filled by better educated, lower waged, and outsource-able talent from overseas. The fortunate few young people who can afford a university education have preferred law degrees and business majors over engineering and hard science majors. Honestly, do we really need any more lawyers.

If you ask folks in my generation what has happened you will find most of us are speechless, shell shocked more or less. We have made the leap from the 19th century the 21st century and now find there are absolutely no laurels to rest on. Those of us who have educated ourselves, found meaningful work, bought the house, had the kids and tried to do all the right things in this hyper-paced world have found that everything we have been programed to believe is a sham. They said buy a house, they urged us to invest in our 401Ks, we must save for college and most importantly spend, spend, spend.

After 25 years what did it get us? The house is hardly worth what we owe on it, the 401K has less than one year of living expenses in today's dollars, tuition for one semester gobbled up everything in the account. Then there is, of course, that mountain of debt. Wow, this is just great.

Are we really seeing the end of prosperity? Who or what is truly to blame? The peevish, cynical and intellectually lazy will say it was Bush of course, but they would be wrong - or at least mostly wrong. Bush failed because he let himself become completely marginalized. He backed many policies the Democrats would have loved had they hailed from a Democratic administration. As it was his opponents and their toadies in the media were never going to give him accolades, never.

The current subprime mortgage mess that is at the heart of the economic meltdown can trace its origins to the Clinton years. Yet it could have been stamped out years ago had the Bush Administration and the Republican-controlled Congress pushed hard for the regulatory reforms they proposed, but alas, they didn't. The GSE's - Fannie and Freddie - were out of control and everyone in Washington knew it. Since 2003, the Administration was calling for a new GSE regulator, and over the next five years, the Administration continued to call for GSE reform only to be accused by Democrats in Congress of creating artificial fears and fomenting racism and classism. Had Bush displayed any fight at all on this subject it would have gotten done. He failed and so here we are.

So, when housing prices collapsed it sucked out all the capital that had been supporting every other sector of the economy. Simple as that, really. When the banking and investment institutions that had thrived on it began their precipitous avalanche precisely when oil prices began to skyrocket driving the cost for food and everything else to new heights it constituted the perfect storm. With a touch of corruption at every level of business and government and a sprinkle of a media driven liars-fest called a presidential election pure psychology finished the job. We all got screwed.

In all reality we do have to spend, spend, spend as consumers and as businesses to keep the economy viable and growing. But we can't go on like we have before. For the American middle class - don't kid yourselves there are still plenty of us - one of the biggest problems we have is what to do with all this junk we have accumulated. For 30 years we have been buying stuff we don't really need and then buying bigger houses with bigger garages to put it all in.

The perpetual rising values of our new overstuffed homes was essentially a bank account we leveraged to buy more stuff we either didn't need or couldn't really afford. It's a mentality that has to change. The real question is what to replace it with? No one really has the answer to that. Does it mean that the America we knew is over? Maybe.

One of things that has to change is the tax system. We have a tax system that absolutely punishes personal savings. We have a tax system on our businesses that punishes profits. It's a tax system that has spawned entire industries and corporate strategies to "creatively" do work arounds to avoid paying taxes. It wastes time and energy and for the most part is patently stupid. Why are our non-labor intensive corporations compelled to move their headquarters and operations to other countries and offshore tax havens? Insane tax laws. In the end the government sees even less revenue from the corporations and consequently less income tax revenue because the jobs have gone too. We need a leader who can throw off the shackles of the special interests and gather the American people behind the idea of rational and realistic tax laws.

We now have to wait and see if Mr. Obama is a pragmatist or a pure partisan. His campaign rhetoric suggested the later. His partisan credentials suggests higher taxes all around and more government socialism than we already have. The worst possible outcome - and right now the most likely - is the complete loss of trust in our government and our businesses. We need corporate leaders and government officials to shun corruption, embrace transparency and do what is right for society instead of continuing to be what is wrong it. The rest of us are pawns - if that isn't clear by now you are not paying attention.

We the people have to save more (which is damn near impossible now) and be much, much wiser about our spending. No one likes austerity, wealth is so much nicer, but we must all be pragmatists now.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

SHORT STORY: Presidential Decency

Please take a minute to read this short story. I can't verify its authenticity, but I personally have no doubt that it's true since I have read similar stories about President Bush. He did in fact visit the air force base on his way to Asia...

This short story was linked in the comment section of this American Thinker article "The simple human decency of George Bush" by Rick Moran posted on Dec 22 2008.


Posted by: Rob Hains
Dec 22, 02:01 PM

The Value of Service

Lt. Col. Mark Murphy, 354th Maintenance Group deputy commander.

8/15/2008 - EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska -- I learned a big lesson on service Aug. 4, 2008, when Eielson had the rare honor of hosting President Bush on a refueling stop as he traveled to Asia.

It was an event Eielson will never forget -- a hangar full of Airmen and Soldiers getting to see the Commander in Chief up close, and perhaps even shaking his hand. An incredible amount of effort goes into presidential travel because of all of the logistics, security, protocol, etc ... so it was remarkable to see Air Force One land at Eielson on time at precisely 4:30 p.m.--however, when he left less than two hours later, the President was 15 minutes behind schedule.

That's a big slip for something so tightly choreographed, but very few people know why it happened. Here's why.

On Dec. 10, 2006, our son, Shawn, was a paratrooper deployed on the outskirts of Baghdad. He was supposed to spend the night in camp, but when a fellow soldier became ill Shawn volunteered to take his place on a nighttime patrol--in the convoy's most exposed position as turret gunner in the lead Humvee. He was killed instantly with two other soldiers when an IED ripped through their vehicle.

I was thinking about that as my family and I sat in the audience listening to the President's speech, looking at the turret on the up-armored Humvee the explosive ordnance disposal flight had put at the edge of the stage as a static display.

When the speech was over and the President was working the crowd line, I felt a tap on my shoulder and turned to see a White House staff member. She asked me and my wife to come with her, because the President wanted to meet us.

Stunned, we grabbed our two sons that were with us and followed her back into a conference room. It was a shock to go from a crowded, noisy hangar, past all of those security people, to find ourselves suddenly alone in a quiet room.

The only thing we could hear was a cell phone vibrating, and noticed that it was coming from the jacket Senator Stevens left on a chair. We didn't answer.

A short time later, the Secret Service opened the door and President Bush walked in. I thought we might get to shake his hand as he went through. But instead, he walked up to my wife with his arms wide, pulled her in for a hug and a kiss, and said, "I wish I could heal the hole in your heart." He then grabbed me for a hug, as well as each of our sons. Then he turned and said, "Everybody out."

A few seconds later, the four of us were completely alone behind closed doors with the President of the United States and not a Secret Service agent in sight.

He said, "Come on, let's sit down and talk." He pulled up a chair at the side of the room, and we sat down next to him. He looked a little tired from his trip, and he noticed that his shoes were scuffed up from leaning over concrete barriers to shake hands and pose for photos. He slumped down the chair, completely relaxed, smiled, and suddenly was no longer the President - he was just a guy with a job, sitting around talking with us like a family member at a barbeque.

For the next 15 or 20 minutes, he talked with us about our son, Iraq, his family, faith, convictions, and shared his feelings about nearing the end of his presidency. He asked each of our teenaged sons what they wanted to do in life and counseled them to set goals, stick to their convictions, and not worry about being the "cool" guy.

He said that he'd taken a lot of heat during his tenure and was under a lot of pressure to do what's politically expedient, but was proud to say that he never sold his soul. Sometimes he laughed, and at others he teared up. He said that what he'll miss most after leaving office will be his role as Commander in Chief.

One of the somber moments was when he thanked us for the opportunity to meet, because he feels a heavy responsibility knowing that our son died because of a decision he made. He was incredibly humble, full of warmth, and completely without pretense. We were seeing the man his family sees.

We couldn't believe how long he was talking to us, but he seemed to be in no hurry whatsoever. In the end, he thanked us again for the visit and for the opportunity to get off his feet for a few minutes. He then said, "Let's get some pictures." The doors flew open, Secret Service and the White House photographer came in, and suddenly he was the President again. We posed for individual pictures as he gave each of us one of his coins, and then he posed for family pictures. A few more thank yous, a few more hugs, and he was gone.

The remarkable thing about the whole event was that he didn't have to see us at all. If he wanted to do more, he could've just given a quick handshake and said, "Thanks for your sacrifice." But he didn't - he put everything and everyone in his life on hold to meet privately with the family of a Private First Class who gave his life in the service of his country.

What an incredible lesson on service. If the President of the United States is willing to drop everything on his plate to visit with a family, surely the rest of us can do it. No one is above serving another person, and no one is so lofty that he or she can't treat others with dignity and respect.


If you didn't feel something after reading this you are either 1.) dead 2.) suffer from terminal BDS. As another comment suggested - George Bush could find the cure for cancer and AIDS, and then single-handedly bring peace between Israel and Palestine and the chattering classes (the left) still would hold him in [utter] contempt. Despite rumors to the contrary George W. Bush does have a heart.


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Is The Internet in Trouble?

My profession is in large enterprise networking. Much of my work in the last few years has been to leverage the power of the Internet for my employer. In that regard there is much to be gained building relationships and collaborative ventures with business partners, vendors and customers via the Internet. Everyone is doing it.

However, it is unwise for any business to put all their eggs in one basket. There are growing concerns that the Internet as it is constructed is reaching its limit. As well known Internet architect-guru John Day once said: "The Internet architecture has been fundamentally flawed from the beginning. It's a demo that was never finished."

With all the talk of net-neutrality and IPv6 and the coming exponential growth of demand as TV, movies and newspapers move inexorably to an Internet distribution model it's almost inevitable that we are heading for a crash. Some say as early as 2012.

Today's Internet was mainly designed together with the TCP and IP protocols in the 1970s and early 1980s. TCP or Transmission Control Protocol and its famous three way handshake is what has made the Internet as reliable as it is today. It has inherent error checking built in that ensures that the data/content you requested is delivered. IP or Internet Protocol shows TCP the way. You may have heard the term IP address in your computing career - and that's exactly what it is - an address that points the way to your computer. For all intents and purposes it's hardly any different than the street address on your house. But just like back before the days of postal zip codes in 50's and 60's the system is becoming too large for something as quaint as IPv4.

For a while network address translation or NAT together with CIDR and VLSM helped stave off the inevitable depletion of available IP addresses. NAT allowed you to do a "many to one" scenario behind an Internet connected firewall so that from a web server's stance hundreds or thousands of connections all appeared to coming from the same address. The firewall would maintain a table of private addresses to deliver the request "inside" to a unique computer. CIDR and VLSM in a nutshell allowed network engineers to carve up large networks and route the traffic efficiently without wasting address space. OK that's a lot of mumbo jumbo that basically describes a band aid.

The problem now is that what we are doing and what we want to do with the Internet is going to bring the current architecture to its knees. In today's Internet, a URL or web site name first must resolve to an IP address - a street number if you will, and then to a well-known port, like say, an apartment number for example. If a system has multiple interfaces (such as when it's multihomed - a computer with more than one address for the same physical place), it has multiple aggregate-able IP addresses. The Internet routers can't tell, however, that these different addresses go to the same place (because there's no defined mechanism for this), the system has to be assigned a non-aggregate-able address, which increases everyone's router-table size. In practice, that means that either most users can't use multihoming, or routing tables must increase causing a strain on an rickety system. The system as it was designed is revealing its limits.

In the case of raw bandwidth there is good news. With fiber optic cable having been put down with abandon in the late 90's by Qwest, Global Crossing, AT&T and others we should have bandwidth to spare. That's all fine and well, but what good is a super highway with billions of unicyclists going every-which-way without guard rails and coherent signage.

IPv6, the next generation of IP protocol will not in and of itself solve the problems of mutihoming or network mobility, but rather shine the light on the Internet's inherent transport limitations. One of the biggest challenges surrounding adopting IPv6 is that nearly all the applications in use today are potentially impacted. Each and everyone one of them would need to be explicitly enabled to work with IPv6. We can't underestimate what a huge challenge that would be. Considering what I know of human nature there will be gazillion widely deployed and beloved applications that will never, ever be upgraded. Essentially the de facto APIs in use today are more or less tied to TCP/IP rather than along the lines of - ConnectTo: DNS name, service or port. Have you heard the term - painted into a corner?

What many in my field euphemistically call PFM (Pure Friggin Magic) to explain how all this Internet stuff works in a fashion that is greater than a sum of all its parts, we will be left standing mouth agape with our keyboards in hand when the bottom finally falls out. Just knowing how people go absolutely ape when their e-mail doesn't work it will not be hard to imagine what will happen when commerce comes to halt on The Day The World Wide Web Stood Still!


Monday, December 15, 2008

Bush Flamed by a Shoe Thrower

I share this from the Ace of Spades HQ blogsite not because I think this incident was really very important, it was not, but because I thought the comment section was interesting and funny. I have included one of those comments allegedly submitted by an Indian national turned US citizen. Comment # 143 drips with passion and incredulity at the way we (Americans) tear ourselves and this country down. There is a time when we need to step back and see the world through a different pair of eyes...

Bush Visits Iraq UPDATE: More On Bush's Reaction To The Shoes
This is probably as close to a victory celebration as the President is likely to get. Slipping out of the White House over the weekend, Bush flew secretly to the Iraqi capital to hold talks with Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki and address a rally of U.S. troops.

"Bush has come to meet Iraqi leaders, thank the troops and celebrate the new security agreement," a White House official said.
Bush arrived first by helicopter at the presidential palace for talks with President Jalal Talabani and his two vice-presidents. He planned to meet later with Maliki. Bush's trip -- his fourth to Iraq since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion -- follows approval of a security pact between Washington and Baghdad last month that paves the way for U.S. forces to withdraw by the end of 2011.

Unlike previous visits which were so secret that there were no official welcoming ceremonies, this time there were.

Sadly, the host of the Iraqi version of Countdown was on hand and tried to attack the President.
The president's appearance was interrupted by a man, apparently a journalist, who leapt to his feet and threw his shoe at the president, who ducked and thus narrowly missed being struck. Chaos ensued. The [man] threw a second shoe, which also narrowly missed the president. The president was at no point injured and he brushed off the incident. "All I can report is it is a size 10." The pool's Iraqi colleague said the man shouted, "This is a farewell kiss, dog."

/sarcasm on/Apparently the man and his family were arrested, his wife raped in front of him and then the entire family was thrown screaming into a wood chipper. Oh sorry, that's what would have happened if this brave Iraqi patriot had tried this during Saddam's reign. /sarcasm off/

No one likes to have their country invaded and patrolled by a foreign military, even if it's for a their own long term good but maybe this guy should think about why he suddenly is so courageous and who made that possible.

Meantime, no doubt many on the left are cheering this asshat. The world turned upside down my friends.

UPDATE: Gee, I wonder why this part was left out of the earlier reports:
Some Iraqi journalists stood up to apologize. The White House said Bush ducked to avoid the first shoe, while the second narrowly missed the president. Bush said: "Thanks for apologizing on behalf of the Iraqi people. It doesn't bother me. If you want the facts, it was a size 10 shoe that he threw".

Playing down the incident, the president later added: "I don't know what the guy's cause is... I didn't feel the least bit threatened by it." This is the the second classiest way for Bush to have handled it. The classiest way? Bush pulls a dagger out of his waistband and flings directly into the guy's heart and shoe chucker is dead before he hits the ground (which incidentally is exactly how Dick Cheney would have handled it).

Posted by: DrewM. at 02:38 PM

Comment #143
I am really amazed and saddened by the division in this country. It is no surprise that the whole world blames US for all evil in the world when we have an abiding media and a growing number of people in our own country who would waste no time in blaming USA first. A house divided is seen as weak and vulnerable. Our own media would take every opportunity or create if there are not enough, to downplay this great nation and make it a mockery for the rest of the world.

I am an immigrant from India and I have always admired this country for the freedoms and opportunities it has to offer. There is no other nation for which people are willing to stand in long lines in the blistering heat outside embassies to get a chance to enter this nation, some are even willing to die crossing the border to somehow make it to the land of opportunities.

Around the world and at every corner, nations are in an eternal chaos and have their own internal battles and demons to fight. Take India for example, we are engaged in an unrelenting war with radical jihadism, and we were recently attacked by this fanatic cult. Indians were anguished and angry and wanted to retaliate like America, but our spineless leaders came out and condemned the attacks and gave only speeches. In the last two years alone, there have over 5000 ppl killed in bombings and suicide attacks in India, but the leaders of india wanted a peaceful resolution reflecting the sensibilities and resolve of that L****** "mahatma" gandhi. what did we acheive, more bombings, attack on our congress, massacre in mumbai, and more to follow.

Peace is only possible with peaceful people not with someone who are itching to exterminate you.
Bush may be a lot of things, but he had the courage to stand up to this growing and imminent threat and had the resolve to not back down even when the political winds reversed course and slapped him in the face at every turn. Bush has the necessary attributes that Indians only wish there leaders could have. For a better grip on reality and a grasp on the breadth of threat of radical Islam awaiting the shores of this country, ask an Indian or an Israeli.

I hope this country is prepared under infantile Obama to take this threat head on.

Posted by: Manu Saini at December 15, 2008 02:47 AM (WKpuS)

We will soon find out how the new President will handle terrorism against the U.S. since it's likely he will be tested despite Joe Biden's stern warnings. For all his faults, and there are plenty, Bush acted swiftly and harshly toward Islamic terrorists and their state sponsors. They have been reduced to throwing shoes.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Let the Obama Scandals Begin

The Question(s) Should Have Been Asked...

The media, and the electorate for that matter, were so in love with Barack "the Savior" Obama that important questions were not asked and basic vetting was not performed.

The first question the investigative press should have asked is how one rises so fast and so high through the world famous Chicago political machine without getting tainted? Well, one doesn't. The major media purposefully dropped the ball on this. They had well over a year to tell the story of the rise of Barack Obama but didn't. Curiously within minutes of Sarah Palin's entry into the campaign legions of investigative reporters were dispatched to that bastion of political corruption known as Wasilla Alaska.

Before Obama even takes the oath of office he is tainted by scandal. This must be some kind of record. It is almost too bizarre to be true - the Governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich puts the President-Elect's vacated Senate seat up for sale to the highest bidder. Obama's favorite Jesse Jackson Jr. is reported to have offered a half a million through third parties. Of course everyone (except Blagojevich) is denying any involvement whatsoever. Don't buy any of it.

This is the way things get done in Chicago. It has been this way for as long as anyone can remember. Payoffs, nepotism and cronyism is the Chicago way. Can we believe that Obama somehow rose above it all? We already know that Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, is neck deep in this thing. (Rahm also had a role in the Fannie Mae debacle too, but the media doesn't seem to care about that either.)

Obama and Blagojevich have a history of personal involvement with each others campaigns. Obama acted as an advisor on Blagojevich’s first run at the governor's office and endorsed the governor again in 2006, but said Tuesday that he has had no recent contact with him. Again, this is the way things are done in Democratic party politics in Chicago. With one hand it's back scratching and with the other waving off any knowledge of impropriety.

The question now is will the press be as agressive toward an Obama "scandal" as they were with Bush's or Clinton's scandals? This rises so far above the phony baloney scandal of the outing of a non-covert CIA operative that dominated the chattering class for over a year. The 21st century media wanted their own Watergate and their own Nixon. The fact that they knew early on that neither Bush nor Cheney (not even Karl Rove) had a bloody thing to do with it really didn't matter now did it? And just maybe Obama really did steer clear of Blagojevich and the Chicago political machine... Yeah, and maybe one day pigs will have wings.


Sunday, December 07, 2008

PAINTING: Eagle Harbor Lighthouse

"Eagle Harbor Lighthouse"
18X24 (acrylic)

Here's a new painting for your pleasure. I was really pleased with the way this one turned out. For some reason I really like lighthouses as art. I suppose it's the beauty of human architecture against the awesome background of the natural world. This painting was based on a photo by Paul Lemke. I hope you enjoy.

[be sure to click on the picture or a larger view]

Please visit my online art gallery when you have a minute. Thanks!


Saturday, December 06, 2008

How Convenient...

...that after flying high for five years despite the best efforts of the doom saying media the national and global economy has rapidly ("rapidly" being the key term here) deteriorated just in time for Barack Obama to ride to the rescue. As noted in an earlier post, and by bloggers all over the blogosphere, just a scant two years ago, about the time the Democrats took over control of both houses of Congress the economy was doing quite well, thank you. I'm just saying...

Capitalism has been given a black eye, the titans of industry and finance have either been tarred as creepy, greedy sleazeballs or reduced to beggars rattling their tin cups on Capitol Hill. The conservative mantra of free-markets, low taxes and small, efficient government is a complete joke (not that much of this has been tried in the last 8 years). While applauding his tax cuts, we cringed as President Bush presided over the most rapid expansion of government in U.S. history. Talking free trade and open markets out of one side of his mouth and steel tariffs and lopsided trade balances with every single trading partner out of the other. In the real world they call it bait and switch.

So true capitalism with its free markets, free trade and limited government has never really been tried in post radical America and yet it has been thoroughly discredited in the eyes of the voting public. Can you blame them? The only time we saw anything approaching it was a few years during the Reagan Revolution and then again when the Gingrich led Republican's "Contract for America" got some help from the most unlikely of sources - the Clinton Administration.

So now enter Barack Obama. The stage is set for the Savior. Depending how far and deep this economic malaise descends we could be seeing the beginning of the most radical paradigm shift in American culture since the signing of the Constitution. In fact it is the Constitution itself that Obama plans to target.

The question is: will he be content to let his judges do it over time? Highly unlikely.

Melanie Phillips of London's The Spectator has an eye opening piece that spells out what the Obamakins have in store for America. Read all of this important article "Ruling by a Radical".

Ms. Phillips directs our attention to this:
look at the latest email Camp Obama has sent to the 13 million-plus names on its database of supporters:

Exactly one month ago, you made history by giving all Americans a real opportunity for change. Now it's time to start preparing and working for change in our communities. On December 13th and 14th, supporters are coming together in every part of the country to reflect on what we've accomplished and plan the future of this movement. Your ideas and feedback will be collected and used to guide this movement in the months and years ahead.Join your friends and neighbors -- sign up to host or attend a Change is Coming house meeting near you. Since the election, the challenges we face -- and our responsibility to take action -- have only gotten more urgent.

A house meeting? Real grassroots stuff here. Eerily similar to the early Soviet system. Problem is in America our civic policies are debated in formal and public forums called city councils and state and federal legislatures. Personally I find it a bit creepy.

Perhaps the most chilling thing Phillips offers is this:

[Communist and radical Saul Alinsky, a hero to Obama,] believed that the revolution had to be carried out through stealth and deception with its proponents cultivating an image of centrism and pragmatism, set out in Rules for Radicals how capitalism would be overthrown by the mobilization of the masses and the whipping up of their discontent. As I noted here, the strategy revolved around creating apparently moderate local organizations that would be manipulated by community organizers -- effectively deniable political agitators -- to foment grievance and dissent.

Watching Obama appoint a series of seemingly reasonable centrists to his cabinet surely has fostered a notion that he is not the radical the right-wing has made him out to be. Not so fast. Barack Obama has been trained from an early age by the leading communists of our time. Can a Zebra change its stripes? Can a scorpion resist using its stinger. It is the nature of a communist to be subversive.

Lord knows I hope both Melanie Phillips and I are completely wrong.


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Meltdown: America's Waning Days?

It is so hard to be positive and optimistic about the future. For years leading up to the current fix we find ourselves in I simply rejected the doomsayers - and for good reason. For one, I was not ready to give up on America, Mother, apple pie and Chevrolet. Two, at the time the evidence didn't support such a pessimistic outlook. I believe we are as much a victim of self-fulfilling prophesies as we are being slapped by reality. How much of today's market meltdown and consumer (un)confidence is pure psychology? Much of it?

The things I personally believed in such as the American middle class lifestyle, free-market capitalism, the Catholic Church, GM cars, rock music, meat-based diets, conservatism, cheap gas, rising incomes, the Minnesota dream( a lake front cabin w/a boat) and happy, well adjusted children are all under assault these days. Nothing we have been programed to take for granted is safe anymore. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

The question is: Is it over for America?

Maybe not. Even when you consider that we have huge and looming problems as a nation our starting point as compared to the rest of the world is our ace in the whole. It has been said that when America catches a cold the rest of the world gets pneumonia. I think this is mostly true considering that the subprime mortgage disaster that set off this economic tailspin occurred in the U.S. and has now affected the entire global economy. Amazingly America has prospered despite everything the Congress, the unions and big business has done to neuter our competitiveness with our foreign rivals. Of course there is only so much even the remarkable resilience of the American backbone can withstand. We may be buckling, but so is the rest of the world.

According to Rod Hunter of The American Magazine "Demographic and economic trends suggest that the age of American dominance won’t end anytime soon."

Mr. Hunter goes on to point out some important trends that face economic giants in Europe and Japan and the emerging giants of China and India that do not favor a massive hegemony shift. In his article "America is Not Declining" he points to Robert Shapiro the author of "Futurecast" who cites analysis that suggests the United States will remain the leading global power, but Europe, Japan, and China, meanwhile, have reason to worry.

He goes on to report:
In Europe and Japan, where labor forces are already shrinking, fewer workers will have to pay more taxes to support the growing pensioner population, triggering a vicious economic cycle. Workers will have less money to save. That will mean less investment, which will translate into slower productivity growth and sluggish income progress, making it ever harder for the fewer workers to support the pensions of more seniors.
China will face similar challenges. Thanks to its notorious one-child policy, it has the world’s most rapidly aging population: between 2005 and 2020, the number of Chinese aged 65 and over will grow by 65 percent. China does not offer much government support for its elderly, which may lead to unrest, particularly among seniors living in urban centers such as Beijing and Shanghai.
The United States faces a more encouraging demographic future. To be sure, it will need to make adjustments and reform its entitlement programs. But America has maintained higher fertility rates than the countries of Europe and Japan, and its population has been rejuvenated by two generations of high immigration.

Similar aurguments were made in Mark Steyn's bestselling book "America Alone". Steyn went on to highlight the assent of non-productive (in the Western economic sense) Muslim populations in Europe that will further erode the fragile welfare states of France, Germany and England.

Where Russia and India are concerned one is most likely to decline precipitously while the other will slowly improve. Russia faces a severe demographic problem that is unlikely to be reversed particularly if a prolonged global recession devastates Russia's energy industry - it's all they have.

India on the other hand will one day eclipse China in population and will have such a servere poverty problem that their global economic progress will be hampered. However, since turning away from rabid socialism they have attracted foreign investment that can tap into a growing educated class which bodes well for long term Indian prospects.

I still have hope for this country. I believe in the American experiment and that a well tempered capitalist approach to economics is preferable to full fledged socialism. We need to work on the "well tempered" part. Who knows what will get with Obama, Reid and Pelosi???

Godspeed to us all.


Friday, November 28, 2008

I Memristor You

Big changes could be coming to your computer in the very near future. The change I am looking forward to the most is instant on computing. Imagine pushing a button and seconds later just like your TV or radio your computer is ready to use.

Earlier this year scientists at HP have demonstrated a workable switching memristor. First conceived by Leon Chua in a 1971, the theoretical memristor was an idea waiting for material sciences to catch up. He believed that a fourth device was required to provide conceptual symmetry with the resistor, inductor, and capacitor. The memristor is needed to complete the basic passive circuit elements as defined by a relation between two of the four fundamental circuit variables, namely voltage, current, charge and flux. The venerable resistor is such a passive element as it relates to voltage and current giving us V = R × I or I = V / R or R = V / I, known as the formulas of Ohm's Law. The once theoretical memristor fills this role in the capacitance/inductance/resistive triad.

What this means in practical terms for the continuation of Moore's law - that shrinking transistor sizes, and by extention computing power would double approximately every two years - is that far fewer switching memristors could replace many transistors on a given circuit thus increasing the speed and density of the circuit. Given that fact that memristors can "remember" their current state even when power is removed is really the key to their potential.

In theory memristors can be combined into devices called crossbar latches, which would replace many of the transistors in our future computers. With circuits taking up a much smaller area computers can be smaller and more powerful than ever. The exciting concept for everyday computer users is that memristors can also be fashioned into non-volatile solid-state memory, which would create far greater data density than on existing hard drive technology with access speeds similar to DRAM. This could spell the end of hard drives, the single biggest source of failure in current computer architecture. HP has reported that its version of the memristor is about one-tenth the speed of DRAM - for now...

Increasing computer performance has usually meant shrinking components so that more transistors can be packed onto a circuit. However, transistors can't get much smaller. Instead, this breakthrough will allow the removal of some transistors to be replaced by a smaller number of memristors. The only thing keeping Moore's Law afloat right now since CPU speeds have seemingly reached their limit is stacking multiple cores per CPU.

The next few years will be very important for memristor research. Right now, "the biggest impediment to getting memristors in the marketplace is having so few people who can actually design circuits using memristors," Stan Williams, a senior research fellow at HP says. Still, he boldly predicts that memristors will arrive in commercial circuits within three years.

We have already seen the power of miniturization - just look at the computing power of a cell phone. Can implantable computers for our brains be far behind with developments like these? I for one could use a little more non-volitile RAM upstairs - if you know what I mean. I aint getting any younger.


Friday, November 21, 2008

Shall We Dance... The Economic Limbo

How low can we go?

Having lived through the better part five decades now I have seen good economic times and I have seen bad economic times. In recent times we have been repeatedly told by the dominant media that the economy was bad even when it was quite good. When I would hear young people complain about the bad economy when unemployment was under 5%, interest rates were ridiculously low and the stock market was heading north I would remind them of the 1970's. Blank stares ensued. They had no idea what bad times were. This is all about to change.

Unemployment is on the rise, nearing 7%. Home prices continue to plummet. There are real fears that one or more of Detroit's Big Three could go bankrupt. What's worse is the people who should know have no idea what is happening.

Two years ago (about the time the Democrats assumed control of Congress strangely enough) the economy was very good by the numbers. This was right before gas prices at the pump began to skyrocket. Very few pundits on CNBC or at CNN Money or CBS MarketWatch were predicting what has happened.

Alarm bells have been wringing about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and the looming subprime meltdown for years. With the media having marginalized every word that came from the present administration no one outside of a few Republicans in Congress took heed of the President's repeated warnings regarding Fannie and Freddie. Therein lies his failure in all of this. He allowed himself to be ignored and while he held the White House and the Republicans held both houses of Congress they didn't get it done. On this they were right, and yet they failed miserably.

President Bush acknowledged today that the financial crisis was caused by many factors including "government inaction and mistaken actions, outdated U.S. and global financial regulatory systems, and by the excessive risk-taking of financial institutions." The inaction I described above, the mistaken action was Clinton era policies regarding CRA legislation and loosening time honored lending and underwriting practices. The sharks on Wall Street buoyed by fresh blood entering the investment pool gobbled up the good and the bad... The bad was really bad.

The new subprime culture was a house of cards built on the faulty premise that housing and real estate values would increase forever. Once home values began to fall the landslide became an avalanche.

There is one bit of good economic news: The average price of gasoline is now less than $2 a gallon for the first time since March 2005, down 52% from the peak of $4.11 in July. Surely $147 per barrel was an aberration, especially the speed of the increase. I remember writing months ago when the pump price were merely $3 a gallon that there was nothing about these economic woes that $1.99 gas wouldn't cure. I am holding out hope that I was correct.

The sudden shock of $150 a barrel oil has created a bubble that needs to move through the economy. Manufacturers that require petroleum in their operations and of course the transportation industry have been slammed. We have been slammed right along with them. When prices increase exponentially behaviors change. People stop buying things and companies stop hiring. One of the things people stop buying is large gas guzzling cars. With the American auto industry already on life support $4 a gallon gas was like the doctor pulling the plug.

Is it really all that mysterious what is going on? If you think about your own life and assess what your biggest expenses are outside of taxes (which is the biggest expense of all) it is housing and transportation... These are the things our economy revolves around. Both have been subject to a massive shock.

As a colleague of mine pointed out today the bubble caused by the oil shock has to work its way through the system. People and businesses are scared. But the psychological impact of that sign at the local gas station is immense. More than one person has said to me that it seems surreal to see the price so low just weeks after it was in the upper $3 range. What should be welcoming and comforting is disquieting instead. If, and that's a big IF, gas prices at the pump stabilize somewhere near $1.99 a gallon I believe the economy will make the turn.

Real estate has never been worth zero and it can't keep falling forever. We have to be near the bottom... Right?


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The General's E.D. problem

In a previous post on the disposition of General Motors and a possible "bailout" I cited the fact that GM has legacy costs that have an effect on the bottom line, things the foreign competition just doesn't have to deal with.

Well, I read today that GM is the world's largest private purchaser of Viagra. No, you read it right. Is it any wonder why the cost of a Chevy is inflated. My God, I truly hope the next time I go to put my GM car into gear the stick shift lever doesn't go limp on me - how embarrassing!

Yes, Virgina, Viagra is written right into the union contract. During the last round of renegotiation's with the UAW regarding the co-pay GM was able to get it up to $18.


Monday, November 17, 2008

Suicide is Painless: Part II RIP GM

First off I just don't buy it when people say that Detroit and GM make crappy cars. I will concede that Toyota and Honda are a cut above in many respects, but that does not equate to GM builds shitty vehicles. I hear people say that Detroit offers nothing but huge SUV's - yes, they produce the ridiculous Hummer - but Toyota and Nissan and some of the German makers are marketing huge SUV's too, as well as cars with 400-500 horse power engines and no one gripes about them. When GM Ford and Chrysler decided years ago to cede the small car market to Japan instead of creating decent, efficient cars - even at a loss - they set into motion the world they live with today. It was a huge mistake.

Detroit has problems, this is true. They also have overhead and mandates that the foreign competition just doesn't have to deal with. When they poured all their efforts into SUV's and luxury add-ons instead of innovations in economomizing and developing hybrid-type options it was another major mistake. But they also had to be able to support the outrageous UAW and other legacies of a bygone era and large profitable vehicles were the only path they could follow.

Bottomline: The whole thing is unsustainable in today's reality. So, now what?

Bailout or Bankruptcy?

A bailout will either lead to a nationalized industry because the bailouts will never end or a total collapse when they do. Any government money will come with demands that the management of these companies be sacrificed - and replaced with whom? Government bureaucrats? Such a nationalized industry will not be efficient and will surely not be able to truly compete on the quality front with the imports. In the end it will fail anyway.

Bankruptcy MAY be the best option. Chapter 11 filing would give the company breathing room. The government can jump in to cushion the blow to the workforce as things get sorted out. In the end GM and the others will be smaller, more efficient - and better - companies.

Michael Levine makes an excellent case for bankruptcy in his Wall Street Journal piece today.

According to Levine: unless we are willing to support GM as it is indefinitely, the downsizing and asset-shedding will have to come anyway. Even if it builds cars as attractive and environmentally responsible as those Honda and Toyota will be building, they won't be able to carry the weight of GM's past.

Therein lies the key, a modern manufacturing company in this era in America has got to shed its past.

Levine sums it up with the plain truth: GM as it is cannot survive without long-term government life support. If it gets that support, it can't change enough and won't change fast enough. Contrary to Mr. Wagoner's brave declaration, bankruptcy is an option. In fact, it's the only option that merits public support and actually has a chance at succeeding.

Both Ford and GM say they are on the cusp of success with the measures they have taken in the last few years. The UAW has made concessions too. But this problem is decades old now. The Japanese, Koreans and even the Germans have somehow delivered good vehicles in the context of a good business model - why has it taken the American companies so long? Now in the midst a global economic meltdown the Big Three are not healthy enough to stand on their own.

As a GM owner and booster I really want this company to survive because I believe America simply has to build cars - it is a vital part of who we are. As GM goes so goes America.


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Suicide is Painless: RIP GOP

The Grand Old Party is Dead

Randall Hoven over at The American Thinker site lays out an impassioned case for calling the "Time of Death" for the Republican Party. It's hard to argue with any of it. He lays the cause of death squarely at the feet of President Bush - - like I said it's hard to argue...

I won't go into it since Mr. Hoven has done a good job of it himself, but here is the gist of it:

Republicans had branded themselves as the Party of low taxes, responsible spending and limited government. Virtually everything President Bush has done since his tax cuts in 2001 has been the exact opposite.

* Prescription coverage for Medicare and Medicaid, the largest expansion of entitlements since LBJ.
* No Child Left Behind, sponsored by Ted Kennedy and leading to even more Federal intrusion into education and doubling federal spending on education.
* Increased steel and lumber tariffs.
* Ending the Freedom to Farm effort and expanded ethanol subsidies.
* Increases in the minimum wage, the first in 10 years.

* Increasing spending from about 18.4% of GDP to 20% and more, and turning surpluses into deficits.
* Campaign Finance Reform.
* And almost forgot, our President had the Justice Dept. file an amicus brief to weaken the 2nd Amendment in the Heller case.

How long can you go on speechifying about the free market or limited government when this is your track record?

He's right. Where to now for those still believe in it?


Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I read that Barack Obama quit ingesting any media reports as the campaign progressed. He stopped watching cable TV news, quit reading the blogs, the New York Times and eventually all media toward the end. Instead he relied on staff to flag important articles and developments.

Well, I seem to remember the cackling buffoons on CNN, MSNBC and your Michael Moores and Bill Mahers of the world castigating President Bush for the same thing - calling him incurious and too stubborn to listen to differing opinions.

Well, I understand that Obama needed to protect himself from the slings and arrows that could make anyone question their beliefs, whether up was down or left was right. But, I'm sorry, Barack Obama received a mere fraction of the enemy fire that Bush did (from day one). So why can't we just accept that Bush was protecting himself too?

It turns out Bush is one of the best read Presidents we've ever had. He especially sought out history books. Many authors reported being tickled to see Bush climb down from Air Force One or the helicopter on the White House lawn with their book in his hand.

I'm not trying to cheer lead for Bush - but I will point out double standards when I see them.


Sunday, November 09, 2008

A New Painting

A good friend of mine returned from her mountain hiking adventure with a series of photos that really caught my eye. This is Lyman Lake in the shadow of Dirty Face Peak. It will be our little secret that Dirty Face Peak is the mountain you don't see on the right...

"Lyman Lake At Dirty Face Peak"
18 X 24 (acrylic)

This painting was based on a series of photos by Jen Oberg. I was very happy with the way it turned out. It will soon adorn a wall in her house.

Be sure to visit my online art gallery when you have the time...


Friday, November 07, 2008

A Decent Man, not the devil

Yesterday I saw George W. Bush implore his staff and those working in his administration to assist Barack Obama in a seamless transition. Despite the picture painted of him by Hollywood and the entertainment industry he is not the devil. Bush, like his father before him, is a decent man. Neither were particularly good Presidents in total. In my lifetime there has been perhaps one man who was a good President but even that's debatable... I speak of Reagan, but he had his foibles as well.

Yesterday I also saw a headline in my local paper on the editorial page that said "Now it's Time To Work Together". I just sighed. What about the last eight years? Wasn't that the time to work together? Could the Iraq war, the aftermath of Katrina and a host of other situations have been more successful if the media, the Democrats and the American people "worked together" instead of knee-jerking everything against the President? We will never know. Just declaring Bush a divisive figure in American politics on every newscast does not make it so.

I have my problems with Bush and have chronicled them in this blog. But he, like all Presidents, has a thankless job and Mr. Obama will find out soon enough that it's lonely at the top.

Michael Gerson has an interesting piece at that looks at the decency and humanity of President Bush. I leave you with the final few paragraphs:

Many conservatives view Medicare, education reform and foreign assistance as heresies. Many liberals refuse to concede Bush's humanity, much less his achievements.

But that humanity is precisely what I will remember. I have seen President Bush show more loyalty than he has been given, more generosity than he has received. I have seen his buoyancy under the weight of malice and his forgiveness of faithless friends. Again and again, I have seen the natural tug of his pride swiftly overcome by a deeper decency -- a decency that is privately engaging and publicly consequential.

Before the G-8 summit in 2005, the White House senior staff overwhelmingly opposed a new initiative to fight malaria in Africa for reasons of cost and ideology -- a measure designed to save hundreds of thousands of lives, mainly of children under 5. In the crucial policy meeting, one person supported it: the president of the United States, shutting off debate with a moral certitude that others have criticized. I saw how this moral framework led him to an immediate identification with the dying African child, the Chinese dissident, the Sudanese former slave, the Burmese women's advocate. It is one reason I will never be cynical about government -- or about President Bush.

For some, this image of Bush is so detached from their own conception that it must be rejected. That is, perhaps, understandable. But it means little to me. Because I have seen the decency of George W. Bush.

Good luck Mr. President in your civilian life - I am confident that as Iraq progresses into a successful nation your legacy will progress too.


Monday, November 03, 2008

Dude, Where's My Politics?

I have been a political junkie since I was seven years old. It was 1968 and the Presidential candidate for the Democratic Party was none other than Hubert Humphrey. I was a huge Humphrey guy right from the start. You see Humphrey was from my home state - and that was good enough for me.

I followed the election closer than a seven year old should and was quite devastated when he lost to Richard Nixon. We hated Nixon. Humphrey, Humphrey he's our man, Nixon belongs in the garbage can. Yeah, that was the mantra back then and as it turns out we were right. Just think how different history would be if Humphrey had won.

For one thing there would have been no McGovern and the Democratic party might not be the socialist organization it has come to be today. Humphrey was the happy warrior, he was for social justice, real social justice not "just" socialism. He was an ardent anti-communist and a pro-growth capitalist. He was what the Democratic party used to be before LBJ and George McGovern destroyed it.

Sure I continued to follow Democrats and root for them over the pro business Republicans because Democrats were for the "little guy" and Republicans were for big business. At least this is what I heard constantly from both my union democrat parents.

By the time I could vote I was already beginning to sour on the Democrats (and I couldn't vote Republican, that would've been a sin). I voted for Anderson in 1980. I know, I know I was 18 - what the heck did I know.

In 1984 I could not vote against Reagan - after all the country had already made the turn and everything was looking up after the mess Carter had left. But my conversion was not completed yet. I did not like George Bush 41 for whatever reason and this Bill Clinton guy was new kind of Democrat, not like the fools that had taken over the party. Or so I thought.

Well 92 was the last time I ever voted for a tax raising Democrat at the national level (including my Senators).

In the early 90's I was starting to earn decent money and was raising a family. The first thing that Clinton did was raise my taxes. My quarterly bonus at work was a cool $1000 and I would net $750 or so. I had come to rely on that money and worked hard to make my bonus every quarter. Well after Clinton's tax hike my net was $530. My $1000 was cut in half because Clinton taxed bonuses differently than wages. What a slap in the face!

I am not an anarchist, I do believe in paying taxes. But, my friends, no one can justify confiscating nearly 50% of my money. Particularly when we all know the government is wasteful and inefficient from the get go. When all is boiled down taxes is the issue I vote on primarily.

I continued to love politics and the political season, even in the off years, it was my favorite time of year. George W. Bush was a no brainer ( no pun intended) for me. He said he would (and he DID) lower my taxes. But little did I know that was the beginning of the end.

The 2000 election was so bitter, but I thought it was merely a speed bump, an anomaly, and things would return to the normal rancorous, good-natured mud slinging. But 2002 and then 2004 were so nasty that I really thought it could get no worse. But 2006 was so bad and the nasty piling on of G.W. Bush was unrelentingly awful - if even a tenth of the things they said about him were true then Hitler and Stalin would have to move over from their lowly places in hell to make room for Bush. But Bush is and was a good man, a terrible politician, and and awful communicator but he is not the devil.

Come "You Decide 2008" and I hate politics. I hate it. The media is so partisan and complicit with ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, NYT, WaPo, MSNBC and, well etc, etc for the Democrats and Fox News and the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal for the Rebublicans. No one even tells half truths anymore.

I refuse to watch it on the TV anymore. Obama and Biden are so flipping smug they make me want to puke and McCain and Palin sound like imbeciles half the time. They try to keep up with the Democrats when the deck is tilted so far to the left the cash contributions are falling off the table.

Honestly, Republicans are just not inspiring at all. They had the better part of a decade to earn the respect of the electorate and they blew it by selling out to special interests and feathering their own nests. Instead of standing up to the socialists they buckled at every opportunity (including and especially John McCain).

Come tomorrow I'll get up and go to polling place with all the enthusiasm I would muster for getting a planter's wart removed. I am so sad.

All I can say is - dude, where's my politics?


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Obama's Civilian National Security Force

In several of his speeches, including his prime time infomercial last night, Barack Obama has mentioned his "civilian national security force" idea. What is it? What is it supposed to do? He said "we can't just rely on the military for our national security, we need a civilian national security force that is just as powerful, just as well funded."


What is his intention with this civilian national security force? He said, "Loving your country shouldn't just mean watching fireworks on the 4th of July," in a speech in Colorado Springs, Colo. "Loving your country must mean accepting your responsibility to do your part to change it."

Change it? What? It's not the country per se that needs changing, it's Washington DC. There is just something not right about all of this.

The real question today is why isn't the major media even talking about it? Do a Google search and see that none of the major newpapers or TV networks are writing articles about this. The only people commenting are conservative bloggers.

OK, it could be his attempt at a John Kennedy Peace Corps thing or Bushs' USA Freedom Corps and doesn't warrant serious attention? Neither Kennedy nor Bush had socialist/communist tendancies like Obama does. This is the kind of thing that reminds us of Hitler's youth corps... (There I got my first Hitler/Obama reference, gee I feel so much better).


Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Greatest Desire: To Be Proven Wrong

If Obama becomes my President, then I wish him well...

Whether McCain or Obama wins I want either them to be good for America. I wanted George W. Bush and Bill Clinton to be good for America too - though in the end neither of them were.

Coming from the center/right side of the political spectrum I have very low expectations for a President Obama. I doubt he will do much of anything that will make me happy. Yet I hope he proves me wrong. I hope everything I believe is wrong IF it is proven that his way makes this country better and richer and the more successful than any other nation on Earth. I hope the same for McCain too.

It should be pointed out that Congress has more real impact on our lives than the chief executive on matters outside the military. As much hope I might have in Obama my fear of an unstoppable Reid and Pelosi cancels it out. The best we can hope is that the Republicans can be a formidable opposition party since it has become clear they are a disaster as a governing party.

Lastly, I really, really, hope that if Barack Obama wins he lives long and prospers. My biggest fear is that Joe Biden is forced to take over and my fellow Americans that would be a disaster. Honestly Sarah Palin is a giant next to that man. She may not be ready - yet - to be our President but we should hope we never have to find out about Biden.


Friday, October 24, 2008

Introducing The People's Cube: a new link

I'm adding a new link under my Recommended Sites section on the right. Please check out "The People's Cube" when you have a minute.

In these trying times with the heavy anticipation of creeping socialism getting ready to stand up and sprint into our lives at every level we have to take time to laugh. The People's Cube is priceless. Hat Tip to Al Fin on this one... Hilarious!

Let's poke a little fun at "The One" and all that he stands for...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A Frightened New World

Since the twilight days of European colonialism in the late 1930's American exceptionalism has buoyed the world economy. There are those who will say such a thing does not exist, but you need only to look at the current economic situation to realize that as America goes so goes the world. America is exceptional.

We still have a culture that (for the most part) values reason, success, and prosperity. However the U.S. is fast becoming the mother of all nanny-states. It is almost impossible to fail. What is capitalism without great success and humbling failure? To say that the U.S. economic system has in any significant way represented a true free-market system in the recent past is stretching the definition of a market system. The spirit of flexibility and perseverance which has always characterized the American ethos is finally petering out. One might be inclined to ask - - what happened?

For one, politicians at all levels view segments of the population with contempt, using them only as pawns to obtain and hold power. The looting of our tax dollars which are then funneled into specific interest groups to empower and entrench Democrats and Republicans has become obscene. These so-called servants of the people selfishly set themselves up for the sweet life regardless if they win or lose at the ballot box. We have become essentially powerless as citizens to do anything about it, and the record seems to strongly suggest that government has done more to destroy the lives of families than anyone else.

What we have is a beast - a beast that could destroy the world as we know it. For those who would stand up and cheer you'd better be careful what you wish for, the new world may not be better...

First it's the nanny-state, next it's the slave state. The only way to kill the nanny-state beast is to starve it. When deciding on the next President just ask yourself which candidate is MOST likely to put the beast on a diet.

In Ayn Rand's preeminent work "Atlas Shrugged" the conflict between "men of the mind" ( inventors, artists, business leaders, scientific researchers, and idea guys) and the looters (politicians, bureaucrats, leftists, union bosses and welfare whores) is the central theme. As the story goes the doers and producers essentially go on strike leaving the world to the looters without any grease for society's wheels. Many people see a parallel to today's America.

Though instead of individuals taking their ball and leaving it is entire American industries and economic sectors. For 40 years tax policies and the labor unions have driven the once mighty American industrial machine overseas. A businessman and a capitalist is first and foremost an opportunist - he has to be - and like running water he will take the path of least resistance.

American industry is still significant, but the trend lines are all pointing in one direction. One day they too will become wards of the state. If you think it is impossible think again. The government has "nationalized" over 50% of home mortgages, the biggest insurance company, and now many of the banks… What’s left to save? We’ve been riding the slippery slope for a long time, and it is looking like we’ve reached the point of critical mass where the system can no longer support all the looters.

Look at the situation with pure reason, and logic, something that was taken out of schools long ago, in preparation of leading the sheep to slaughter. The Democrats are led by socialists, and the Republicans sold out to the politically connected pseudo-businessmen who buy and sell influence. Do you hear anyone defending the concept of equality of opportunity over equality of outcome anymore? Certainly not Barack Obama. Read his short exchange with a citizen on the campaign trail for a look into the heart of Obama's true beliefs...

"Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" the blue-collar worker asked.

After Obama responded that it would, Wurzelbacher continued: "I've worked hard . . . I work 10 to 12 hours a day and I'm buying this company and I'm going to continue working that way. I'm getting taxed more and more while fulfilling the American Dream."

"It's not that I want to punish your success," Obama told him. "I want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success, too.
Then, Obama explained his trickle-up theory of economics. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody. I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

Spread the wealth around??? This is exactly what the looters said in Rand's novel. It is exactly what socialists have said for decades. It is exactly what has been tried in the Soviet Union and most of Europe for the better part of a century. Using the government to spread the wealth around - where has it worked? In the Soviet Union where communism (an extreme form of socialism) was an utter failure and collapsed entirely, millions upon millions still suffer in poverty and deprivation. In Europe the collapse is slow and methodical - more of a crumbling than a catastrophic failure. In the coming decades as the native populations of the European nations move into old age having not replaced themselves by having children, will find there is no one to pay into the massive needs of the social welfare state coffers. The only way forward for Europe is immigration. The immigrants are largely Muslims who have no interest in becoming French, Spanish or Italian. Europe as we know it now will be dead.

It's only fair to ask if Obama does get elected, and the Democrats control both houses of Congress, could they possibly do more harm than "the Abramoff's of the world" and the Republicans did? Whose “side” is our side? Just maybe when Obama and the Democrats have all the power, they will rush forward with their socialist agenda so quickly that the frog will jump out of the water before it’s too late - if it isn’t already. To my dear friends who have bought in to the Democrat socialist propaganda I say, “be careful what you wish for, you might get it”. This is what Ayn Rand was warning us about…


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Laying the Ground Work

Reuters Headline: 10/15/08

Obama supporters fear race may bring candidate down

This type of article will become common over the next few weeks. The article basically says if Obama does not win it is because America is a racist country. Honestly I am already tired of being told what a bunch intolerant bigots we all are as we live in the most diverse nation the world has ever seen.


Could it be that some people ( like me) don't believe in socialism? Or that some people don't believe a first term Senator with nothing to show for a legislative accomplishment is ready to be President? As Geraldine Ferraro so correctly noted, no white candidate with his inexperience and past associations would even have gotten this far.

Consider also, as to why it wasn't racism when Ken Blackwell and Michael Steele lost... Oh yeah they were Republicans. Never mind. How silly of me. But wait - it couldn't be his long history of radicalism, anti-Americanism, socialism, Marxism, etc., etc. No, no that's impossible. American's are clamoring for CHANGE!

Well so be it, whatever I say is tainted anyway. Being born a white male, and choosing to be center/right has made me an extreem racist in the mind of the media any way.

None of this would even be an issue if Republicans (including John McCain) hadn't screwed the pooch for these last 6 or 7 years. The fools, the cowards and the self interested have no one to blame but themselves. Why wouldn't people want change? This doesn't mean I want to turn America over to socialists and Marxists - which is why I would never vote for someone like Obama be they white or black - but I want a government that is not strictly about special interests but rather a government that is all about the general interest.


Friday, October 10, 2008

American Lovebirds

A new painting for your eyes...

"American Lovebirds"
18 X 24 (acrylic)

This painting was based on a photo by found on the Internet. Unfortunately I can't read the signature on the photo??? I do hope you enjoy it. (be sure to click on the image for a larger view)

Please visit my online art gallery to see more!


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Reflections on Termites and Cockroaches

The American House Has a Serious Infestation Problem

//The political system is broken//

I don't think this will garner much of an argument. This is not to say the blueprint for the "House of State" is obsolete or even defective. More like we have a profound termite and cockroach infestation.

In Washington they are usually called "special interests" so that we can put an easy label on the problem. For purposes of apt description the cockroaches are the money interests and the termites are the socialists. As one might surmise cockroaches can be dealt with, though never completely exterminated, nor should they be, they can be controlled. The termites, however, are chewing through the very foundation of America.

In the name of social justice they act as an interwoven force bent on the destruction of the America we know in favor of the socialist paradise clods like Stalin and Khrushchev failed to create. They have been at it since the dawn of the 20th century. Quite amazingly their work spans the generations and they have been spectacularly successful. They are in fact on the verge of installing (yes, installing) one of their own as the President of the United States.

I know this sounds very conspiratorial, a fantasy of a demented mind that sees the boogie man behind every closet door. So be it.

What about the cockroaches? The diseases they carry can be just as devastating to a household as rotted joists. There is a difference, a big difference. Cockroaches are opportunists. If and when this house crumbles to the ground in a heap of poverty and despair the cockroaches will be there to make a living, exploiting whatever resources are left behind. Cockroaches are self interested and greedy. They don't care to remake the world. They do not desire the destruction of the house, but they'll make the best of it when it happens.

When you boil it all down the evidence is clear: the termites (socialists/communists) would like to see the success that is unique to the United States crumple and fold. It really is as simple as that. They like to pretend that they want to return this country to the grandest traditions of our past as if they had nothing to do with its impending destruction. But they are the impending destruction - by design.

// The questions one has to ask is why - and - why do they appear to be be so successful?//

As to the "why"... Termites simply believe those who occupy America are downtrodden workers, minorities and immigrants - the proverbial little guy. They are the woman being held down by an unfair patriarchal system. They are the poor, the weak and the victimized. They have been wronged and cheated since birth. Most are so oppressed and disenfranchised that they don't even know it. Yet they bear zero responsibility for their plight. Neither their faults nor failings are their own, ever: they are continually exploited and manipulated by the cockroaches. This is all they see when they think of America.

The solution, of course, is to tear down virtue, individualism and personal responsibility and erect a beneficent government in its place. Saving the oppressed from their sorry lives, the termite agenda demands the denial of personal responsibility, encourages self-pity, encourages dependency, promotes sexual hedonism and condones civil disobedience and violence against our institutions. They will excuse the financial obligation of the borrower while demanding the lender continue to make bad loans to the undeserving.

It doesn't have to be that way they will tell you... In the termite hive you will be cared for from cradle to grave and all you have to do is comply. The cost? Not to worry - the government will pay for it all.

This, of course, is unsustainable and our society as we know it will collapse. I believe we are seeing the beginning (or the acceleration) of it even now. The current financial turmoil will ultimately be blamed on the cockroaches, but the cockroaches are only leveraging the opportunity laid at their feet by the termites. Cockroaches are indeed despicable and greedy. But it was the termites (socialist Democrats) who created the environment for the subprime fiasco through their wholly owned subsidiaries Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The facts are clear. But when the termites masquerade as cockroaches the lines get blurred and the truth gets buried in the rubble.

As to why the the termites have been so successful it's simply because they are patient and resourceful - they are in it for the long haul. They have infested the government, the schools and the media. They pray on the innate jealousy most of us have of the rich and privileged.

// The key to their genius strategy is America's youth//

The way to destroy a nation is to separate its youth from its parents and its history. The portal to the nation's youth is the public school and public university system. The educational system, particularly since the 1960's, has been controlled by teachers unions. Even the teachers who want no part of America's destruction cannot fight the union. Most good teachers, whether liberal leaning or not, leave the system. The rest are well meaning pawns or are complicit.

Those bent on the destruction of America in favor of an "International" government seem to always open up the old wounds. So slavery, the slaughter of the indigenous peoples of North America, women's suffrage and a whole host of blemishes that succumbed to the self-correcting moral compass of the American people are continually thrown in our faces by the termites. Our children see and hear this insufferable litany day after day in class, in the movies and in the media. America is always wrong, always has been.

The loss of our moral compass is a deliberate ploy by the NEA, the ACLU, Hollywood actors and college professors to name just a few. They have a visceral need to destroy white men, conservatives, and especially Christians. They will excuse anyone within their ranks who has gone astray, because of course they are just victims, but will condemn (demanding the removal of) any one on the other side.

Again, you can say this sounds very conspiratorial - it is.

The NEA promotes a anti-American agenda by declaring that "allegiance to a nation is the biggest stumbling block to the creation of international government. National boundaries and the concept of sovereignty must be abolished. The quickest way to do this is to condition the young to another and broader alliance. Opinion favorable to international government will be developed in the social studies curriculum in the public schools." And anyone who disagrees with NEA? They will be given special sensitivity training, since the diversity training forced on them at the beginning of the year obviously didn’t take. Most teachers have no say in the education of the children. They truly have no choice in the matter.

Many parents have chosen homeschooling, private schools or charter schools if it is available to them. But for most people they have no choice but to use the public schools. For 30 years fixing the dismal state of public education has been a "priority" and yet it has slipped further and further behind.

If America is to be saved public education must be rescued from the unions and from Federal control. Dire warning, I know, but I am not the only one who is saying it. Sadly, I have almost zero confidence that it will happen.

// Lastly, common sense is dead - by design//

This is the saddest development of all. Through this thing we blithely call political correctness the termites have rotted common sense from the inside out. Everyone I know, liberal, conservative or politically agnostic hates political correctness. Yet we are all slaves to it. Why?

Political Correctness like most any concern has some truth and justice to it. Like any concern when taken to nth degree it becomes ridiculous. When something that is considered by everyone to be past the point of ridiculousness and then made into law it becomes dangerous. That's where we are. Ever so slowly the forces behind political correctness (the termites) are strangling us with laws designed to stifle free speech and even our free thoughts - ever hear of hate crimes? Even premeditated murder requires the prosecutor to present evidence of the premeditation. Not so with hate crimes. This is just the tip of the ice berg and more proof that common sense is dead in American public life.

The real shame is that the lion's share of the American people either 1.) don't care (or won't until it's too late) or 2.) are so blinded by the manufactured hatred of the caricature of America the socialists present in the mass media they become complicit by default. Either way we lose.

There are plenty of us raising the alarms through blogs and talk radio and even a few on the TV that survive being shouted down. Because many of us are Christians or white men we won't get our due. Despite the fact that the termites point the finger at us and call us cockroaches (whom everybody hates) we persevere.

Examine your own beliefs

It's perfectly all right to hate the cockroaches too - they have their part in the impending destruction of our society. But they are the dirty bath water not the baby. The termites are tossing both out - by design.