Monday, December 28, 2009

Beaming With Pride: Our Senator Franken

We here in Minnesota couldn't be more proud

Seriously, not again, first Jesse "the body" Ventura as our Governor and now Al Franken as our Senator.

Let me just say this from the bottom of my heart: "America, I'm so sorry." Granted I did not cast a vote for this guy - I didn't vote for Ventura either. In both cases it was a three way race and the third man in siphoned votes from the candidates who should have won. Alas, there is nothing saving us from these embarassments.

I had no doubt that Franken would turn out to be the bull in the China shop in Washington DC. He is an angry guy with no class when it comes to dealing with those he disagrees with. He has on the periphery sponsored and supported a few minor but very good initiatives that will benefit members of the armed forces and he should be commended for that. But his boorish and in your face demeanor is off putting to his new colleagues. It reflects badly on Minnesota, particularly after the popularity of Norm Coleman in and around the Senate halls was so well known.

Both Sen. John Thune and Sen. Joe Liberman are men of class and distinction and should never be treated like insolent children. Franken should be taken aside by the leadership and given a lesson in protocol. Probably won't happen...

Only 5 more years of him.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Black Dog

A new painting:

"The Black Dog"
18 X 24 acrylic

by Craig Willms

This is the first grayscale painting I've ever attempted. It won't be my last. It was very satisfying. I really enjoyed the challenge of using just 2 tubes of paint. This is another entry in my Vacation Photo Project. Click HERE to see the paintings I already presented.

Be sure to check out the rest of my online art gallery Static Art Online.


Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Apocalypse When?

With the impending doom, err, I mean impending Senate health care legislation the demise of the republic is being stepped up. The blogoshere is imploding. Insanity reigns! Well... Frankly, I don't think it's all crazy talk anymore. The nation is already bankrupt and the people in power seem to have no restraint mechanism whatsoever.

The comment sections of these blogs and mainstream web pages often make the most interesting reading. Here I pulled just 3 comments that I think they sum things up pretty well. FYI I've done some minor editing for brevity.


There is absolutely no chance that the US can get out of the fiscal mess we are in. The Great Society in sequence with the Vietnam War was the financial ruin of the US, one not sustainable and the other not winnable. With unfunded liabilities in the scores of trillions, and yearly budget deficits in the trillions, and the forced monetization of the debt due to the lack of demand for treasuries, we are finished financially. Finished.

The question. What should we do? On a personal level, reduce or eliminate your debt, buy land if you can, or invest in precious medals if you can't. Get the hell out of major cities now, before it's too late. The end of the welfare state will cause massive disruptions, and violence will take place. Learn a trade, it might be as simple as gardening or as complex as an automobile mechanic, but do something other than sitting in an office behind a computer. Local junior colleges offer many of these courses.

As for the nation at large, the events will now play themselves out. One doesn't know exactly what the large scale effects of massive defaults will have on the world's financial makets, but it is likely that the entire multi-national system will fall apart. World trade as we know it will cease to exist, at least for a period of time. It is very likely that we will no longer live in the world that we know, but one much different. One more like it was much longer ago. We shall see, and I hope and pray that I'm wrong.


By all reasonable, logical standards the world economy should have ALREADY collapsed as a result of the financial meltdown caused by the US invented and backed shell game of derivatives/credit default swaps/etc. as well as the predictions of U.S. debt as far into the future as the eye can see.

The financial markets have been exposed as a Las Vegas den of gamblers ponzi scheme that is backed up by nothing other than the investor confidence, there is no 'there' there. And yet, S&P and the Dow have risen over the past year even though on the ground nothing has changed.

Same goes for the dollar, there is no reasonable way the U.S. is going to be able to manage the debt load w/out massive inflation some time in the future. Logically, a person/country would sell all of their dollars now and cash out. But, that isn't happening, investors are still confident about the U.S. dollar, even though the numbers would argue otherwise.

I would say we will have to pay the piper and one day there WILL be a collapse of epic what happened to the French when they defaulted on their debt and lo and behold violence and revolution ensued. But when? How long can the patient AKA global financial system be kept alive on life support? Ten years? Twenty years? Fifty years? Five years?

Here is what I sent to Rep. Boehner:
Forget about the Democrats and their socialist running dogs, they have been lying, corrupt, power hungry scum for at least 50 years now. It is no surprise that they have engineered this convoluted monstrosity of a bill. And it will pass – to the utter damnation of their souls. But, Congressman Boehner, you and your fellow Republicans in the House and Senate are to blame for allowing these vermin to come to power. You squandered the support and faith we citizens placed in you and the Republican Party.

The fall of the United States of America…and make no mistake sir, it is coming about, will be laid directly at your feet by future historians. You have not the backbone to stand up, the honesty to stop playing along with Democrats in the interest of ‘compromise’, nor the courage to stand at the gate of freedom and defend it. The Democrats play Monopoly with our money and you have made no effort to cry foul; to bring the game to an end, to tip the board over and scatter the cards. In short, sir, you and your minions have no shame. Being professional politicians instead of Statesmen, you will pat yourselves on your backs, thump yourselves on your chests and declare that you have done everything you can to defend our interest, but it will be a lie.

Posted by: Philip McDaniel | Monday, December 21, 2009 at 11:30 AM

It's really hard to argue with any of these points. Unless and until someone comes along to really bring hope and change - not this pablum from Barack Obama we've had to endure for 2 years - but real ideas, real discipline and a real "vision" the United States of America is doomed. One almost gets the sense that this is what the current regime wants.

Many are saying we can't leave this up to the politicians (of either party) to fix, since they are precisely the ones who screwed it up. It's like giving the bull a tube of crazy glue and telling him to fix the China shop. It is far too complicated for sound bite drivel and special interest pandering - this is all the politicians are capable of - yes, including President Obama. It seems by way of their actions that the Democrats care only about power and the Republicans care only about money. The only thing keeping this rust bucket afloat is the hard work of the American citizen - and I include the public sector worker too. But we simply can't bail out a boat with a ten foot gash with an ice cream pail.

Apocalypse When?


Saturday, December 19, 2009

Any Bill at Any Cost

The Democrats in the Senate have reached agreement. They now have the 60 votes they need to ram through their "historic" health reform bill. They need zero Republican votes and can defeat any filibuster. It's even possible that the House will simply put the Senate bill up to a vote without any conference committee compromises. Almost no one including the President will know what's in the bill. What they know is that it will cost us all dearly. The demands of Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) for tighter restrictions on insurance coverage for abortions not withstanding this Senate sold it's soul for any bill at any cost.

Nelson's Nebraska will get billions for his vote. Senator Landrieu's $300 million deal is being called the 2nd Louisiana Purchase. These deals are just the tip of the ice berg... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.). "This is not renaming the post office. Make no mistake -- this bill will reshape our nation and our lives."

Medicare is slated to suffer billions in
cuts in order for the Democrat's fantasy numbers to line up with all cost savings their reform promises. Does anyone believe that when push comes to shove even $1 will be cut? This thing will bankrupt the country.

All I can say is elections have consequences - this is what the voters get whether they wanted it or not. Close to 60% of the public was not in favor of this sweeping power grab. The real brilliance is that Americans won't start feeling the pain until 2014. How convenient that the 2012 elections will be in the rear view mirror by then.

It's anybody's guess what this ram job will actually cost in direct dollars, but I am reasonably sure it will stifle the economy for some time to come until businesses large and small sort it all out.

It's hard to be optimistic about anything coming out of Washington these days - I pray to God I'm completely wrong when I say nothing good will come out this.


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Is American Decline Inevitable?

True or False

Decline is inevitable?

Decline is a choice?

The answer is to both questions is true. For an individual physical decline is a certainty. The mind, however, can be sharp as a tack until death. For a nation decline is a choice. Individual aspects of any culture or economy will decline, ebbing and flowing like the tide. But a nation, a culture, an economy can choose to reinvent parts of itself and grow to prosper again and again. Or it can choose to give up.

The American people, at least a vast swath of them have not chosen decline, however, many of our political and cultural leaders have.

In a fine exercise in thinking the incomparable Charles Krauthammer wrote recently for the Weekly Standard "Decline is a choice". He is without a doubt correct.

The question of whether America is in decline cannot be answered yes or no. There is no yes or no. Both answers are wrong, because the assumption that somehow there exists some predetermined inevitable trajectory, the result of uncontrollable external forces, is wrong. Nothing is inevitable. Nothing is written. For America today, decline is not a condition. Decline is a choice. Two decades into the unipolar world that came about with the fall of the Soviet Union, America is in the position of deciding whether to abdicate or retain its dominance. Decline--or continued ascendancy--is in our hands.

Not that decline is always a choice. Britain's decline after World War II was foretold, as indeed was that of Europe, which had been the dominant global force of the preceding centuries. The civilizational suicide that was the two world wars, and the consequent physical and psychological exhaustion, made continued dominance impossible and decline inevitable. The corollary to unchosen European collapse was unchosen American ascendancy.

We--whom Lincoln once called God's "almost chosen people"--did not save Europe twice in order to emerge from the ashes as the world's co-hegemon. We went in to defend ourselves and save civilization. Our dominance after World War II was not sought.

Whether the U.S. sought to be a super power all these years later is beside the point, we are. The people in power from the mayor of the wealthy suburb all the way to the current President don't think we should be anymore. There is a belief in all corners of " liberal" worldview that not only is there nothing exceptional about America, but there is a undercurrent of thought that we are undeserving of being a pinnacle nation because of our inherent unfairness, racism, sexism and the whole pantheon of isms.

Again FTA:
Facing the choice of whether to maintain our dominance or to gradually, deliberately, willingly, and indeed relievedly give it up, we are currently on a course towards the latter. The current liberal ascendancy in the United States--controlling the executive and both houses of Congress, dominating the media and elite culture--has set us on a course for decline. And this is true for both foreign and domestic policies. Indeed, they work synergistically to ensure that outcome. The current foreign policy of the United States is an exercise in contraction. It begins with the demolition of the moral foundation of American dominance. In Strasbourg, President Obama was asked about American exceptionalism. His answer? "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Interesting response. Because if everyone is exceptional, no one is.

Interesting indeed... I would vote against any politician who uttered such a phrase. Every parent knows regardless of how exceptional the child really is it is their job to be a cheerleader in the presence of the child or not. I honestly get the sense that President Obama has zero pride in this country. His only pride evolves from a government program and not the resourcefulness of the citizenry. He proves this everyday and in every way with policy proclamations that would shackle that resourcefulness and replace it with another inept government solution.

Words can't describe how much I dislike Obama's vision for America.


Friday, December 11, 2009

Obama: Full of Surprises

The Nobel Peace Prize Acceptance speech surprized me!

It was very good. This is something I was not expecting. Normally I can't stand his speeches. Kudos, hats off, at a boy and thank you President Obama.

"We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations - acting individually or in concert - will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified."

"Yet the world must remember that it was not simply international institutions - not just treaties and declarations - that brought stability to a post-World War II world. Whatever mistakes we have made, the plain fact is this: the United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms. The service and sacrifice of our men and women in uniform has promoted peace and prosperity from Germany to Korea, and enabled democracy to take hold in places like the Balkans. We have borne this burden not because we seek to impose our will. We have done so out of enlightened self-interest - because we seek a better future for our children and grandchildren, and we believe that their lives will be better if other peoples' children and grandchildren can live in freedom and prosperity.

"So yes, the instruments of war do have a role to play in preserving the peace. And yet this truth must coexist with another - that no matter how justified, war promises human tragedy. The soldier's courage and sacrifice is full of glory, expressing devotion to country, to cause and to comrades in arms. But war itself is never glorious, and we must never trumpet it as such."

These words are true no matter who uttered them and I for one am grateful to this President in particular for standing up and declaring the righteousness of American power before the whole world. Despite the many mistakes made by past administrations from both parties America has been a force for good more often than not.


Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Obama Continues to Whine

Will some one please tell Barack Obama that HE ran for President and that HE won! Once again the President is acting like the problems of the country were foisted upon him. Well some one should inform him that he wanted to be President, that no one forced him to accept the nomination.

What a putz.

President Obama used his speech rolling out a stimulus-style jobs program Tuesday to point the finger at Republicans for allegedly facilitating the economic crisis and then foisting it off on his administration to solve.

Obama: "We were forced to take those steps (to jump-start the economy) largely without the help of an opposition party which, unfortunately, after having presided over the decision-making that had led to the crisis, decided to hand it over to others to solve."

The opposition party didn't decide to hand over the nation's problems - YOU ASKED FOR THEM and the people elected you with a large majority in Congress. Why is this so hard for you to understand? The opposition party failed, this is true, but they largely failed to undo what a Democratic administration set into motion in the 1990's. That's a subject that's been beaten to death already - and it's just another example of the blame game.

If this was somebody I liked or admired (or a child) this would be my advice: Pointing the finger of blame is unbecoming for a winner. Pick up the ball and run the other way - don't mock the other team all the way to end zone. Try to act like you belong there.


Obama Sucks his Thumb Too

I mean to tell you I couldn't respect President Obama any less than I already do but he is really pushing it.

I read today this quip by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D) MI about how the President called Conyers and demanded to know why Conyers was demeaning him. Wah Wah. For God's sake Mr. President stand up and be a man. My own mother criticizes me when I need it.

Conyers spent most of 2008 schilling for Obama. His criticisms are that The President isn't leading us even farther to the left. What is it with these guys in the White House? No dissension allowed!!!

A few weeks ago Chris Wallace, the host of Fox News Sunday, declared that this was the most childishly thin skinned administration he had covered in his 20 years in Washington.

What a bunch of babies.


Monday, December 07, 2009

RIP Mesha 1997-2009

This morning I had to do what all pet owners dread. My loyal German Shepard, Mesha had lived a good life and was as good at her job as anyone could ask. Her job was to alert us whenever something was out of place in the area around our home. She was great at it. Mesha lived outside as all my dogs have. Living in Minnesota you can imagine it is not always pleasant. She had a nice dog house that was actually built into the garage and it had a heat lamp for the cold months. Our rule was if the mercury dipped below zer0 F she could come in the house until the weather moderated. She was never comfortable in the house, even though she always wanted to be inside - or at least close to the rest of the "pack".

This summer she started to lose the ability to use one of her back legs. The vet said it was a nerve thing - signals not reaching the leg. He said she was likely not in any pain. In the last few months it began happening to the other leg as well. More often than not she really struggled to walk without having to drag both her hind legs. It was not going to get better...

With very cold weather and large snowbanks looming I couldn't let it go on.

Rest in peace Mesha... We love 'ya.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Dangerous Pap of Multiculturalism

Ahh, multiculturalism, that wholesome concept popularized in the 1960's by righteous academics, has at last embedded its pureness into all aspects of American life as we live and breath here in 2009. Without a doubt the world is a friendlier, more harmonious place because of it.

Yet it was the fear of retribution by the agents of multiculturalism and its cousin political correctness that is thought to be the reason no one dared "connect the dots" that should have flagged Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan as a potential terrorist. Long before the Fort Hood massacre all the warning signs were there - and actually the dots were connected by multiple agencies, but fear prevented any action. Fear of the politically correct multiculturalist and their allies in the media and the justice system.

Presented as an alternative to the prosaic “melting pot” contrivance, multiculturalism replaced what was really just a code word European whites used as a license to rule American culture. The melting pot was criticized by minorities who felt that it gave whites the power to expect conformity from all others. Multiculturalism requires the opposite, it demands that that various ethnic and racial cultures exist distinctly but equally within a single society. Essentially multiculturalism regards our diversity as a concept rather than a fact. It just sounds better to declare proudly that we celebrate diversity rather than celebrating a fact. In practice it becomes a call to celebrate our differences instead of our similarities.

Here's news to you - there was nothing wrong with the concept of the melting pot except that it was uniquely American, and we will have none of that now will we?

The real problem with multiculturalism is not that it seeks to lift diverse racial and cultural entities to an equal stature with the prevailing majority, but that is seeks to depreciate the dominant culture as virtue-less. While it encourages people to respect cultural equality it also encourages people to feel separate from others on a basis of color or creed. In some academic circles this is known as Balkanization - which is not generally viewed as a positive. How is this superior to the American melting pot construct?

Multiculturalism reinforces the idea that people who look or act a certain way are inherently different. This separation inevitably leads to ignorance and suspicion. In the end the good that is supposed to be the result of widespread recognition of disparate cultures is lost. Multiculturalism was supposed to encourage the sharing of diverse cultural facets whilst allowing for cultural autonomy, oddly this is exactly what the melting pot had largely achieved. Forced multiculturalism darkens the lines between ethnic groups making them harder and harder to erase.

The real problems arise when governments, both national and local, start making laws to enforce multiculturalism instead of the slow but natural process of cultural congealing like a simmering pot of booyah.

Multicultural policies can include:

--forced support for newspapers, television, and radio in minority languages

--forced support for minority festivals, holidays, and celebrations

--forced acceptance of traditional and religious dress in schools, the military, and society in general

--forced support for arts from cultures around the world

--programs to force minority representation in politics, education, and the work force

By and large none of these things are necessarily bad goals, except when the force of government is haphazardly applied through the court system. In the Fort Hood case fear of government retribution froze out any action that might have saved 13 lives and more than 30 injuries. So now we've experienced the inevitable result of the dangerous pap of multiculturalism.

Multiculturalist policies by design oppose cultural assimilation which is the very essence of the "melting pot". We are no longer Americans, but rather, hyphenated Americans. Sadly, new immigrant groups are not even encouraged to participate in the larger society, learn the majority language, nor are they "encouraged" to legally enter the labor force. When social integration and cultural assimilation is held back it can lead to economic disparities and an exclusion of minority groups from the benefits of becoming mainstream. In the end this helps no one. It has been speculated that as practiced multiculturalism is just apartheid by another name.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Brit's to NHS: "Heal our Hospitals!!!"

Last week (the hospital) Basildon was condemned by inspectors who found “blood-spattered” walls and filthy conditions...
The Sunday Telegraph

When my friends who support (for all intents and purposes) a nationalized health care system in America via a single payer system they repeatedly cite the "better outcomes" in countries who have already so wisely adopted such a system. Well not so fast.

We have all heard anecdotal horror stories about Canadian and British patients, whose countries that have gone whole hog into socialized medicine, but we also hear how happy most Brits and Canadians are with their health system. Rich Canadians have the advantage of a pay for service system just south of the border. Rich Brits have Germany nearby. The average Brit however is stuck with very low standards and by all accounts they are getting lower.

Shamed: the top hospitals with the worst death rates

(recent) disclosures have cast further doubt on Labour’s flagship foundation hospitals’ policy, which has been under attack since appalling standards of care at Mid Staffordshire Hospital were exposed in March.

Last night patients’ groups demanded that ministers carry out a “total overhaul” of the system, which they said was “failing” patients. Investigations by this paper have found:

- Eight foundation hospitals are failing so badly that they have breached the terms of their licence to operate and are being placed under close supervision by the NHS watchdog, Monitor.

- The leading children’s hospital Alder Hey has been issued with a “warning notice” for breaching basic infection standards and putting vulnerable young patients at risk of killer infections – just two weeks after the trust declared itself “the best in the country”.

- Three ambulance services have also been issued with the same notices after failing to properly decontaminate equipment, or provide clean services for the most high-risk patients.

- Bosses of foundation trusts with high death rates have awarded themselves bumper pay rises. Chief executives at the eight foundation trusts with the highest death rates in 2007-08 had average salary rises of 15 per cent when their institutions took on the coveted status.

It is not a scare tactic to declare that this is what is in store for America if we allow the health care system to become nationalized over the next few years. We have heard similar stories as this in regards to our own Veterans hospitals. I think the most appalling aspect of these revelations out of Britain is the rewards the administrators are bestowing on themselves as their hospitals fall apart.

I fully acknowledge that America has a serious problem with the health care delivery system as it is currently instituted. I absolutely worry about my children who will soon be entering a world without good job prospects and therefore very poor health insurance options. But a wholesale conversion to a government take over (this is what President Obama and the core Democrats really desire) will destroy the parts of the system that are unparalleled and replace them with something like what is described above.

This is one issue where tinkering around the edges is justified - following the Hippocratic Oath of first do no harm. There are other solutions out there. Right now the powers that be will not give any of them a fair hearing simply because the 60 year obsession to nationalize our health care is so very, very close to reality for the Democrats. It seems that a majority of Americans know instinctively to oppose a top down one-size fits all solution. The question now is will Congress be listening?


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What Secret?

Saw this online ad the other day and had to laugh...

Secret war? What secret? The administration isn't fooling anyone. There are valid arguments for and against a strong or weak dollar policy. Washington pays lip service to a strong dollar policy because it appeals to the masses and because it benefits consumers - you know, the regular folks. Wall Street isn't at all shy about supporting a weak dollar. This policy, like all things, needs to find a balance. Presently balance is not being sought by the current regime in Washington. It wasn't being sought by the former regime either - but possibly for different reasons. I'll let you guess which reason suits Obama and which suited Bush.

Strong Dollar

Lower prices on foreign goods & services for consumers
Helps keep inflation low
Cheaper for US citizens travel abroad
US investors can purchase foreign investments cheaper
US companies' goods/services expensive to foreigners
Foreign tourists face higher price in US
Foreign investors find US investments expensive
More difficult for foreign investors to provide capital to U.S. in time of heavy U.S. borrowing

Weak Dollar

US companies' goods/services cheaper to foreigners
Foreign travelers find US more affordable
US assets more attractive to foreign investors
Higher prices for consumers on goods/services from outside US
Higher prices on foreign goods translates into higher inflation
Expensive for US residents to travel abroad
US investors find foreign investments expensive

Here's the question: Who is the real loser with a weaker dollar _________?

The answer can be found in the list.


Saturday, November 21, 2009

You Can't Handle the Truth: CAGW is a fraud

Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming IS a Fraud

We mostly abhor them. We wish they'd put their talent to good use instead of creating mischief or worse, committing crimes. I'm talking about computer hackers. But once in a while something good comes out of it - intentional or not. Sometimes they expose a vulnerability that really needs to be addressed. Sometimes they expose fraud.

It seems Russian hackers obtained a folder containing documents, data and, e-mails from Britain's Climate Research Unit (known as CRU) that appears to be proof of a conspiracy to conjure up the existence of and the cause (Western Civilization, of course) and the ultimate threat of global warming.

The question of who put these hackers up to it - some are speculating it was funded by the Russian government - seems to be beside the point. The list of CAGW conspirators implicated in this fraud includes a who's who of the world's leading climate alarmists. The best part is the hacked data and e-mail correspondences appears to have been confirmed as legitimate. CRU director Phillip Jones confirmed that CRU servers had been hacked leading one to consider that the incriminating documents now circling the cyber world are in fact genuine.

This small group of scientists associated with the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia have consciously withheld and worse, disposed of actual data that proves their own claims false. They are using false data to pressure governments and international organizations to restrict global progress on the development of third world economies and thus putting peoples lives and livelihoods at risk. The honorable Lord Moncton calls it a global fraud. It most surely is, but its more than that, it raises the question about accountability? Who are these climate propagandists and their cohorts in government accountable to? The truth or their anti human progress agenda? This deception is simply unacceptable. While their ‘science’ sets out to prove current world temperatures are the highest ever and human CO2 was the cause the actual truth (that we don't know what we don't know) is ignored and ridiculed. The e-mails exposed in this hacked data seemingly betray an organized apparatus of deception.

Those of us who are labeled "global warming deniers" always suspected fraud from the climate change "industry" - especially since its been proven on several occasions even before these revealtions, but hopefully this will cause enough shame that these people will slink off quietly into the night. Somehow I doubt that's going to happen.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Obama's Hypnotic Allure

I remarked recently to a friend that I now understood all those people who had a visceral dislike (hate) for George W. Bush. They literally couldn't stand the sight of him and particularly couldn't stomach hearing him speak. Me, I feel the same way about Obama. I can't click the clicker fast enough when he flashes up on my TV.

Even during the campaign in 2008 I found myself annoyed by his speeches and speaking style. Perhaps, subliminally, I didn't want to hear what he had to say because I didn't want to be "roped in". Well, maybe I was reacting negatively to a deliberate attempt by Obama to hypnotize me. Before you go off cracking wise about my sanity consider for yourself what many professional speakers and many politicians and all cult leaders do. All of them practice a form of mass hypnosis. Don't kid yourself, most of them are doing it intentionally.

President Obama is quite masterful at it. The techniques he uses are tried and true and are particularly effective on the young, and oddly enough, on the highly educated. Using pacing and leading techniques described in "Patterns of the Hypnotic Techniques" by Milton H. Erickson, M.D. Obama short circuits the rational mind of the listeners leaving them ripe for a state of hyper-suggestibility.

We are all subject to trance like states on a daily basis. It happens when we listen to music, drive in heavy traffic, or ride in a packed elevator. We are captive to our subconscious mind when we are engaged in group activity. We find ourselves missing our exit on the freeway or getting off the elevator on the wrong floor because we followed the crowd. Who hasn't lost track of time listening to music and literally spaced out on something we needed to do?. The same can happen when we listen to a great speaker. The difference is, a great speaker can implant hypnotic suggestions binding you to them emotionally- literally bypassing your rational brain.

Candidate Obama was universally praised for his soaring speeches as if good speeches were enough to qualify a man to occupy the most powerful position in the world. It was his halting, slow and deliberate pacing that I picked up on right away. Coupled with meaningless slogans or obvious truisms that were always, I mean always, redirected back to himself that eventually turned me off. Millions of others were inspired - some to the point of fainting at the sound of his voice.

We need to ask:
Does it really matter that Obama had no real world accomplishments other than getting elected, That he never takes hard positions on anything. That he has had long term connections to extremists, racists, and other shady people. The logic of this disturbing information about who Obama really is resides on the conscious level, this truth can't override the subconscious mind or change how people feel inside. Plenty of people are actually bothered by it logically, but it hasn’t changed how they feel about him. His hypnosis targets emotion - the opposite of rational thought.

Have you heard Obama speak off the cuff? He is quite frankly painful to listen to. Honestly, he's every bit as annoying to listen to as George W. Bush ever was. Without his prepared, teleprompted speeches he comes off as a dullard. He is so so careful with his word selection that he utters the words uhh, umm and ahh more often than he uses the word "I", and that's saying something!

I have no doubt that Obama intentionally practices mass hypnosis on Americans.

Hypnotizing someone without their knowledge is the height of immorality. It's also illegal.
(source material for this post ---- Click here---- )


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Will China Go Boom?

As a frequent reader of Al Fin's web pages - as I know all of you are - you've seen numerous articles questioning the conventional wisdom on the future of China and the Chinese economy. Many pundits in business, journalism and economics see China as a rising star that will soon overshadow every other economy as it steps over the United States as the dominant player on the global economic stage. It's hard not to view it that way considering what has happened in the last 20-30 years. Still, the one thing we need to consider when evaluating China's ascendancy is the little fact that they didn't get where they are today all by themselves.

The lure of an endless supply of cheap labor and lax environmental laws was irresistible to the world's 3 largest and most technically advanced entities. The U.S., Japan and Europe have sunk huge amount of capital and resources into China. The hard liners in the upper reaches of the (communist) Chinese government have not let the Americans or the Japanese run all over them and have kept an iron grip on the ultimate control of all these enterprises foreign and domestic. On paper it looks like a brilliant strategy - but it might be the very thing that sinks them in the end.

Well Al Fin has company in his skeptisism. This week Politico the fine political/economics web site has run this article Is China headed toward collapse? that challenges the conventional wisdom on China's economic outlook.

First, they point to the enormous Chinese economic stimulus effort — with the government spending $900 billion to prop up a $4.3 trillion economy. “Yet China’s economy, for all the stimulus it has received in 11 months, is underperforming,” Gordon Chang, author of “The Coming Collapse of China,” wrote in Forbes at the end of October. “More important, it is unlikely that [third-quarter] expansion was anywhere near the claimed 8.9 percent.” Chang argues that inconsistencies in Chinese official statistics — like the surging numbers for car sales but flat statistics for gasoline consumption — indicate that the Chinese are simply cooking their books. He speculates that Chinese state-run companies are buying fleets of cars and simply storing them in giant parking lots in order to generate apparent growth.

Another data point cited by the bears: overcapacity. For example, the Chinese already consume more cement than the rest of the world combined, at 1.4 billion tons per year. But they have dramatically ramped up their ability to produce even more in recent years, leading to an estimated spare capacity of about 340 million tons, which, according to a report prepared earlier this year by Pivot Capital Management, is more than the consumption in the U.S., India and Japan combined.

I have also read that China has built countless condo complexes in their large cities employing thousands of construction workers and involving hundreds of suppliers only to have them sit empty when finished - primarily because Chines citizens can't afford them. Over capacity in housing and manufacturing creates a shaky economic outlook.

With the U.S. consumer joining the Japanese consumer as savers instead of spenders where will all these Chinese-made goods go if the Chinese don't start to become consumers themselves? Personally I don't doubt the American government will make all the wrong moves in regards to throwing it all in with the Chinese - as long it helps the short term view. With all the talk of one big globalized marketplace where everyone dances in concert America would be unwise to trust China or for that matter the Japanese who are in bed snuggling even closer to the communists than anyone else.

The truth is a China crash is not good for anyone really. The China boosters like economist Mike Norman and NYT writer Thomas Freidman can gush about how China is doing everything right while the Americans fiddle, but smart, serious people like Jim Chanos, a billionaire and founder of the investment firm Kynikos Associates, Gordon Chang as well as Al Fin believe otherwise - or are at least highly skeptical of China's "dominant" future.

The question is when will China falter? The compression of growth to dominance to decline is sped up by modern technology. Britain is still in a slow decline from a dominance that ended 60 years ago. The U.S. having been far more dynamic is declining even slower, but if one looks at the Japanese ascent to dominance and decline it has happened in the course of the same 60 years. China could be entering decline after only 30 or 40 years...

I have little faith that the Obama administration, who is in the finishing stages of dismantling the most dynamic economic system the world has ever seen will do anything to arrest the slide toward global economic collapse led by the U.S./Japanese/Chinese decline.


Friday, November 06, 2009

10% and rising

Unemployment figures released today show the official rate at over 10% for the first time in 26 years. The actual rate is probably closer to 20%. It's so telling that the Obama team and the Democrats in Congress have pushed hard for their radical agenda instead of focusing on repairing the fabric of America - the economy. Pushing a complete overhaul of the health care system at a time when millions are out of work to satisfy their decades old obsession to socialize American medicine is self destructive and frankly its selfish.

The self destructive part comes from the pall of uncertainty floating about the business world over this thing. Even if such a monstrosity as this 1990 page Pelosi plan is passed into law the uncertainty of what it will do to businesses big and small will stunt growth and hiring plans for months and even years to come.

Next on the agenda is so-called Cap and Trade legislation which is really nothing more than an energy tax on businesses and individuals who dare to go about their day to day lives just as they have for decades. The pie in the sky promise of alternative energy is not even such a bad thing, but we aren't going to get there if we are economically stunted. Are these Democrats this obtuse or do they actually want China to lead the way since the Chinese have no intention of shackling themselves as they ramp up for the future.

So millions of unemployed Americans and perhaps even millions more will have to wait (and suffer) because the Democrats in power want their Christmas in July. The fact that they haven't just rammed these radical policy objectives through is also telling. They can pretend it's because of the Republicans (and Fox News) but that would be a lie. The own both houses of Congress, they have a veto proof/filibuster proof majority in the Senate. The only thing stopping them is the ire of the American people.

There are tried and true ways to ease unemployment just as there are small and practical incremental steps that can be taken to reform areas of the health care system. I'm here to tell you that the Obama White House and the Pelosi/Reid Congress don't give a damn about 10% unemployment - they want their agenda advanced first.

The truly appalling thing about this is that the actual cause of the dire situation we find ourselves in has not been addressed. If anything the Obama team has doubled down on the mistakes and policy flaws that led us here. With the government acting as a backstop for all manner of poor behavior from Wall Street all way down to Rondo Ave. where the poor folk live why would anyone act responsibly. If the government is going to bailout risky investing and risky behavior at every turn then both the rich and the poor are going to take stupid (dangerous) risks - why wouldn't they?

I can't believe the Democrats are fools. They are doing exactly what they want to do. America's unemployed be damned.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Something to Believe In

Life is full of disappointments...

They say the only sure things in this life are death and taxes. I would add disappointment to the list. Disappointment is a part of life no matter who you are or how sunny your disposition is. The good thing is that disappointment is rarely fatal. The only time it really hurts is when someone you really believe in falls flat on their face. This happens to everyone eventually.

So we ask the question who or what can we believe in? Everything disappoints...

Now the religious side of me says I can count on Jesus of course. Non believers would say, fine, trust in your imaginary friend, its hard to be disappointed by a fantasy. It's my view that through the Holy Spirit Jesus exists in me, it's personal. Does the Lord let me down or do I let myself down? We must also then consider that humans are of dual nature endowed with the free will to follow the path of evil (the devil, Satan) whom also exist in me. So who exactly is the one doing the disappointing?

Beyond the metaphysical we need to believe in something righteous or risk being cynical and negative about everything. Sadly we can't separate the humanity from human institutions. If humanity straddles the dual nature of light and darkness then so do our institutions. This is what makes it so hard to believe in something enough to give us the comfort and assurance we crave. For those who find it in their mate or partner count yourself lucky. The rest of us have to separate the baby from the bathwater.

Everything we are taught to trust and respect, to believe in - mother/father, apple pie, Chevrolet, the Church, America, our elected officials, our wife(or husband) Coca Cola, well I could go on and on - have let us down, crushed our spirit, appalled us, poisoned us, cheated us, or robbed us blind. On the other hand they have also loved us, consoled us, driven us, enriched us, delighted us... You get the picture.

Do I hate the Church because a few nasty-assed priests are despicable pedophiles? Do I forget the charitable work and the spiritual uplift and truly wonderful things the Church has done? Do I despise my nation because of its shortcomings, do I forget the greatness of our system and its people because some Americans are abusive? Do I junk my Chevy (and all Chevy's evermore) because the transmission went out after 150,000 miles? Do I distrust all politicians because so many of them pull the wool over my eyes (half the time it's transparent wool anyway)? You see the conundrum here. Baby - bathwater.

What can I believe in that won't let me down? Everything disappoints...

Well, I can trust in logic and reason. Gee, that sounds inspiring. Other than the old cliche of believing in ourselves we can't realistically expect to count on anything or anybody all the time.

Everything disappoints.


Thursday, October 29, 2009

A Drop of Water in the Ocean

The Big Picture

Pondering the nature of the universe is usually a futile exercise. To be honest it's one I find fascinating and tedious. We humans get so caught up in the day to day machinations of living we rarely take a minute to consider all the big questions philosophers and physicists have been struggling with for centuries. Obviously we know more now than we ever have, but in reality we are barely one toe off the starting line.

The sheer size of the universe we can see (with our eyes and our telescopes) is so mind boggling that the possibility that billions more exist is almost incomprehensible. Or is it?

According to this interesting article on website:

It may not matter how many universes exist - just how many a single observer can tell apart.

According to quantum physics, observers affect the systems they measure. If observers are an integral part of the cosmic formula, then it may not matter how many universes exist - just how many a single observer can tell apart. If the observer is a person, that depends on how many bits of information the brain can process.

This says to me - puny humans...

But what if... What if you and I were drops of water sitting next to each other on deck of a boat, and we were both universes. Would it not be feasible that you and I could see each other? Now what if the boat was rocked by a wave and we dribbled into the ocean? Do we continue to be a drops? Who knows, but we certainly would not see each other as drops among the billions of other drops. Given this, is it conceivable that the multiple universes that physicists say must exist are intertwined in our universe like so many drops in the ocean? To my mind it's the only answer since we - puny humans - can scarcely comprehend the size of the single observable universe we find ourselves in.

How then can multiple universes even exist interspersed with our own? Hell, I don't know, but it would seem to me that they would have to be settled into different wavelengths or different dimensions - which may of course be one in the same.

Time and Space
In this fine article on the website space/time dimensions are discussed:

What is a Dimension?

With such a basic question, you might think we'd have a simple answer. Sadly, we haven't. Defining just what a dimension is turns out to be a surprisingly slippery problem.

The most intuitive description is the oldest one: the number of dimensions a system possesses is the number of independent directions you or anything else can move in. Up and down count as only one dimension because up-ness and down-ness are two sides of the same coin: the further up you go, the less down you are. The same connection exists between left and right, and forwards and backwards, but not between up and right, down and backwards, and so on. Thus, the geometers of Ancient Greece recognized, we live in a three-dimensional world. So far, so simple, but then things start to unravel.

Unravel indeed. The first 4 dimensions are doable (with time being recognized as the 4th). Six, eight, ten??? Spend 10 minutes or ten hours trying wrap your mind around the "string theory" and you will unravel. I try to think of simple analogies like the concept of TDM -time division multiplexing where multiple signals are given a precise time slice interval in a shared time pool to communicate with another end point. This circuit - think telephone circuit - can carry many simultaneous conversations over the same wire by giving each conversation evenly spaced intervals of time to talk. Each conversation is real enough and happening at the exact time as the others yet they are all isolated, unable to "cross over" due to laws of TDM. Could these conversations be compared to multiple universes? Why not?

That's why time, being the most ambiguous of the recognizable dimensions, makes a perfect slurry for multiple dimensions. If what we think of as time passed at a different rate for each of the "universes" would we, could we be sharing the same physical space as the others?

What is time really? You can't see it, you can't feel it, it doesn't exist as a physical entity. Time is a concept as much as it is anything, but we have no disillusions that its real. Is it merely a byproduct of the necessary function of quantum mechancis? Is time really as steady and constant as we believe it is? We can measure time before it passes and count on it getting here just as predicted? But, ask any teenager waiting to grow up - time takes forever. Ask any middle-aged parent hustling and bustling all year only to find it's Christmastime again - time flies. The pace of time is all about perception, right?

Time is a great paradox that has perplexed humanity since, well, since the dawn of time. The philosopher Kant proposed that space and time do not exist at all but are merely intuitions, perceptions imposed by our own minds. Einstein believed that space and time are in fact interchangeable.

Indeed many theories abound in today's metaphysics community.

One is multiple universes, or "the multiverse". A theory that says what we have been calling the universe is an infinitesimal fragment of a far grander, more elaborate sprawling cosmos - and as vast as our universe is, it is actually a tiny bubble of space surrounded by countless number of other bubbles, or what they call pocket universes.

Its been suggested that a majority of these other universes would not have been fine-tuned as is ours; most are sterile and unremarkable. Only the "Goldilocks" universes where things are just right, will intelligent beings rise up to ponder how remarkably bio-friendly the universe is.

Continuing on that train of thought since the number of pocket universes is essentially unlimited, there are bound to be some that are not only inhabited, but populated by highly advanced civilizations - with technologies powerful enough to create artificial consciousness. And what if we are a product of that technology? Think - "The Matrix"

There is another variant called the Many Worlds interpretation of quantum physics. It says that every quantum event in the cosmos creates multiple new universes. A new universe is created for every possible outcome of the quantum event. Every right turn you have ever made was also a left turn in an endlessly spawning cascade of universes. It's almost too strange to even contemplate. Honestly wouldn't the whole thing become a damn circle?

Have Faith
There is one thing all multiverse theories share in common: there's no physical/empirical evidence available to prove them. And therein lies the tedium. There are no right answers. Science will probably never prove or disprove any of it. Am I jumping to conclusions? Should I have faith in science to answer these profound questions? Or should I just believe in God?

Half of one, six dozen of another...


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Random Thoughts

Just some random thoughts on issues great and small...

1.) Did you hear the Bob Griese (football legend) ooops when he made a racially insensitive remark about NASCAR driver Juan Pablo Montoya?

They were discussing a promo graphic listing the top five drivers in the Chase for the Cup race, when broadcast partner Chris Spielman asked, "Where's Montoya?" to which Griese responded, "Out eating a taco."

OMG what a horrible, terrible, racist, God-awful, earth-shattering thing to say. OK, so he wasn't too bright to say that in this day of hyper-sensitivity, but for Heaven's sake it was a minor fopaugh. Ask yourself this: If someone had asked "where's Tony Stewart?" and Griese had said, "out eating a cheeseburger" would anyone have to apologise? The answer is no.

Move on, nothing to see here.

2.) It seems to me that the average (uninformed) person regards the "fight" against climate change with the same passion they give to recycling. No one, not even those evil American flag waving conservatives, want waste and pollution to choke the planet. So most people casually go along with this hoax of "fighting climate change" because they want to feel good about themselves the way they do every week when they put the recycling on the curb. So far they have paid nothing but the cost of an overpriced hybrid in the driveway.

The problem is the purveyors of this hoax are using the good will and noble intentions of the hybrid driving recyclers to advance an agenda they know will do nothing to stop climate change - because it a preposterous goal on the face of it. Their real goal is to redistribute the wealth of the hardworking and productive to the backward and corrupt as if somehow the hardworking and productive are cheating the poor out of their share of the wealth. If people really understood what the "climate" pimps (including and especially President Obama) are doing I doubt they would go along with it.

3.) The health care issues in this country are real, no question about it. Too many people have no access to health care coverage. So, when the "government is the only answer" crowd toss up one lie after another to demonize their opponents it becomes harder and harder to weed out the good ideas from the bad. The biggest whopper of all is the constant lie about obscene profits for the health care insurance industry. It's just plain not true...

The truth is that the healthcare insurance industry's profits are small fraction of that of other industries. For example, Network Equipment manufacturers reap 20.4% profits, Railroads 12.6%, Crude Oil extraction 11.5%, Securities 10.7 %, Household & personal products 8.7%. Where does the health care insurance industry fall? A whopping 2.2%. Why that's obscene!

4.) The White House vs Fox News is either a brilliant strategy by one or both parties or a disaster for the seemingly thinned skinned Obama administration. One school of thought is that the White House having no illusions of turning Fox News around is firing a warning shot at the other networks. This one is a little weak. The other theory I heard that the more Fox is attacked the more shrill and over the top it will become making the already near-parody news/opinion operation even more goofy. This one is plausible. The most likely scenario is the one that seems most obvious. This White House feels entitled to complete and utter adoration and Fox News just isn't playing along. The hissy fit angle seems about right to me.

5.) The Stock Market Rally that's been ongoing since March is perplexing on the face of it. Really though it's not that surprising. Companies will enjoy increased profits and increased dividends when they have slashed their payrolls to the bone and reduced their inventories to one deep. Lead times for manufactured goods are going way up because the reduced work force. Eventually this will backfire. Without (employed) consumers driving demand across all non military sectors eventually profits and dividends will fall. Unless employers see the need to start calling people back to work a double dip recession (or worse) is a distinct possibility. There are a few proven forecasters predicting the "or worse" part.

I'm jumping down from the watchtower now... I've got work to do.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

IMPORTANT: Please read and consider

UPDATE: We are now hearing rumors that President Obama may not attend the Copenhagen conference at all. There will, of course, be some vague statement delivered by an administration representative - that's a given. If true one has to wonder why ( besides any official reason) the President decided against going? I can only hope that he realizes the utter absurdity of the notion that "we must fight climate change". Future historians are already laughing at us over that one...

In December a conference is going to be held in Copenhagen in regards to so-called global climate change. There is a good chance that President Obama will sign a treaty that essentially abdicates the sovereignty of the United States to a "world government". The purpose of this "government" is to facilitate the transfer of wealth - yours and mine, and everyone in the West - to poor third world countries. Wealth that was not earned by corrupt poor third world countries, rather, wealth that was earned by you and me!

Take 4:12 to watch this video... Lord Monckton is a respected scholar and a former high ranking adviser to PM Thatcher of Great Britain.

This will be done in the name of climate change and the crimes of the West that it entails. It's a fools game that will solve nothing. The poor nations will not become wealthier because they will still be corrupt. But you and I will become poorer - no matter how hard you have worked to create a good life for you and your family. Don't let this happen.

I have sent a letter to my Senators and Congressman. As follows:
October 20, 2009

Dear Representative McCollum,
Dear Senator Klobuchar,
Dear Senator Franken,

Please do not commit such a crime against the sovereignty of the United States by sponsoring, advocating or backing ill advised international "climate change" TREATIES OR LEGISLATION!

You will go down in history as the people who destroyed American greatness. And if you snidely dismiss what I've said because you don't believe in the truth of American exceptionalism then you are in the wrong job.

Stop lying about so-called human caused global warming. The utter arrogance on display by those who think we humans are more powerful than nature leaves me breathless.

I am praying for this country with all my heart.


Craig Willms
Saint Paul, MN
I have sent this letter to my Senators and Congressman. You should too!


Monday, October 19, 2009

Is This "the" Battery Breakthrough?

The problems with today's meager batteries and their various undesirable byproducts are legend. Advanced battery technology is the missing link in the chain that could one day pull us out of the age of oil. The problem just might be solved....

An Israeli scientist, Yair Ein-Eli, at a firm called Technion, in collaboration with Prof. Digby Macdonald of Pennsylvania State University in the U.S. and Prof. Rika Hagiwara in Japan, has developed a unique battery that is based on silicon as a fuel. Once spent the fuel reverts to its original state - sand - making it environmentally freindly and reusable. Best of all this battery has an indefinate shelf life.

It works like this: oxygen from the air in the battery capsule passes through a membrane and interacts with oxidized silicon. The silicon in this battery has the favorable qualities of being inert, stable, lightweight and nontoxic. Just as important - it has a very high-energy content.

Other metal-air batteries exist, some using lithium that are cheaper and far lighter than conventional batteries. These technologies have the backing of corporate giants on the technology side for use in electronics. They have not been successful in creating rechargeable metal-air batteries yet. Technion has bigger goals for their battery such as powering cars and also integration into solar or wind operations to make up for the largest single flaw in those energy solutions.

Technion's Ein-Eli tells us this new battery technology - with a US patent pending - is not yet rechargeable, but it can supply power for thousands of hours. Full development may take ten years but many companies world-wide have inquired about this promising technology.

I for one am all for it!


Saturday, October 17, 2009

Up To The Lake

"Up to The Lake"

18X24 (acrylic)
by Craig Willms
(click on the image for a larger view)

A fabulous vacation photo for the "project". For my friend Deb J. based on a S. Oakland photo. Be sure to see all Vacation Photo Project paintings - click here -

You can see other examples of my paintings at my online art gallery at

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I got a disease

I got a disease
Deep inside me,
Makes me feel uneasy, baby.
I can't live without you.
Tell me, what I am supposed
to do about it?!
Keep your distance from it.
Don't pay no attention to me,
I got a disease!
I think that I'm sick
(chorus from "Disease" by Matchbox 20)

So, I went to the Rob Thomas concert last Sunday night. Now, right up front I can tell you Rob Thomas is a hellva singer and had I known more than 1 or 2 songs I might have truly enjoyed the concert (oddly he played not one song from his Matchbox 20 days, not one). Frankly I was distracted through the entire show.

Distracted by what you might ask? Well, it was hundreds, perhaps thousands of little glowing screens. I mean to tell you Americans have a disease... I would guess that 30 to 40% of the five or six thousand in attendance never put their cells, their Blackberrys or their Iphones away. It was unbelievable. These people were so attached to being attached that they couldn't put it down for 2 hours and enjoy the show. One guy literally never looked up from Blackberry until his neglected girlfriend finally elbowed him. Why on Earth did he pay $50 to sit and stare at his little screen - and who the hell was on the other end of that thing? It certainly wasn't his girlfriend.

The 4 young girls in front of us danced, drank and texted all at the same time. Amazing actually. They did seem to be enjoying themselves.

What looks like a disease to me is reality to the younger set. Being connected in this fashion seems a poor substitute for actually connecting with people (I say this as I sit alone in my office blogging). In my day we had nothing of the sort and our reality was just different, not better, not worse, just different. WAIT WAIT WAIT - I can't really say that. I feel sorry for these kids. They know nothing of solitude, of useful self-reflection or clarifying introspection. They wake up in the morning and reach for their Blackberrys instead of the Pop-Tarts.

I wonder that in the age of Facebook, Myspace, blogging, Twitter and the rest of the non-stop deluge if there will be a backlash. In my day the hippies were advised to Turn on, Tune in and Drop out. Will today's culture ever Turn off, Tune out and Drop in? You've seen the commercials where the parents become "hooked" on Tweeting and Facebooking and disgust their own children. Funny stuff.

The enablers, the Blackberrys, Facebooks and Twitters as well as the Verizon's and The T-Mobile's are profit making corporate giants. Are they the modern day pushers? Do they have a responsibility for this potentially destructive and addictive behavior? Probably not, but don't be surprised when the do gooders get a hold of this concept. There will be blood - er I mean there will be legislation. And pray tell, somewhere in the bill there will be funding for "Crackberry Clinics". Mark my words.


Friday, October 09, 2009

Weak Dollar, Strong Dollar Part II

The strength of the U.S. dollar relative to other currencies is of utmost importance to all of us. Unfortunately until the Treasury replaces George with a picture of Betsy Ross in a low cut V-neck displaying ample cleavage our shallow pop culture won't care until it's too late. How about ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, and even Fox as well as all the rest of the alphabet networks? A passing mention, maybe - as long as it doesn't directly reflect badly on the current regime.

The falling dollar didn't start with the Obama administration. The Bush Administration was no friend to a strong dollar policy. The dollar began it's decline during the recession of 2000-2001 and despite a few brief turnarounds it is heading south at a breathtaking pace.

The thing that is so frightening now is that the Obama administration is barely paying lip service to a strong dollar while pursuing policies guaranteed to push it down to a point where global investors abandon it altogether. This is bad on many, many levels.

The trajectory of economic policy coming from Washington is clear. The things important to investment and growth are clearly in the cross hairs of the Obama plan. Capital gains tax going up. Income tax on the investor class going up. Tax and entitlement pressure on the entrepreneurial class going up. New entitlements requiring trillions of dollars in new U.S. debt. More vigorous antitrust enforcement and more regulation of the shining star of American ingenuity telecom in the form of net neutrality. Then there's the Climate Change scam and a new wave of protectionism and tilted rules for union organizing. Basically the folks in Washington are guaranteeing that the United States will be relinquishing the crown of the King of the Global Economy.

What's worse is that the opposition called the Republican Party is so bereft of motivating ideas there is absolutely nowhere to go. Those of us diametrically opposed to the vision of Obama, Soros, Pelosi and Axelrod have no one to rally around. The truth about this is so evident that the Democratic machine and their friends in the media are targeting Fox News, (Hannity, O'reilly, Beck), talk radio (Limbaugh, Levin) as the face of the Republican party. It's working. Only Sarah Palin, damaged goods in her own right, scares them. Unfortunately Sarah has done herself no favors. Instead of trying to impress those in the middle where elections are won and lost she is pandering to the rabid. She's not a far right "wing nut" as she is being portrayed but she's doing absolutly nothing to dispel the notion. She's taken on corruption in her own party and challenged the status quo for the good of her state - that's exactly what we need now. Too bad she has botched her chance to impress upon the people that she's not the portrait the opposition media has painted.

The question of the fate of the American greenback hangs in the balance and so to all of our fortunes. The current path under Obama is unsustainable and unattractive ( in my eyes). When is someone going to lay out a better path?


Thursday, October 08, 2009

Weak Dollar, Strong Dollar: A Love Story

There is something of a global finance mystery challenging financial journalists this week. Those of you about to yawn - well, I understand, but this is important. Politico, a top-notch blog page posts the story "Whodunit? Sneak attack on the U.S. dollar".

From the article: It began with a thinly sourced but highly explosive report Monday in a British newspaper: Arab oil sheiks are conspiring with the Russians and Chinese to quit using the dollar to set the value of oil trades — a direct threat to the global supremacy of the greenback.

It sent the dollar reeling on global currency markets and shot gold to record highs. While this is only the latest salvo against the dollar each previous dive bomb was followed by silence. No one believed anything of the sort would actually happen. Surely the American government would do what it takes to prop up the dollar, right? As always - follow the money.

Who benefits from a weak dollar? American exporters for one. It supposedly makes U.S. exports more attractive to foreign buyers. When one looks at what we export it starts to make sense. Decades ago America exported finished products made with the blood, sweat and tears of American labor. Not any more.

In 2008 capital goods was the largest category of U.S. exports. What are capital goods? Raw materials used to produce finished products. Industrial supplies was the largest growth category including fuel oil, other petroleum products , non-monetary gold, chemicals-fertilizers, and steelmaking materials. Other growth areas for capital goods exports were medicinal equipment, materials handling equipment, industrial engines, telecommunications equipment, and civilian aircraft engines. These are things that make up the finished products that are shipped back here from Asia (China) to be sold to you and me.

The second huge area for exports from the U.S. to the world is agricultural. Farmers (read Agri-business) just love a weak U.S. dollar. Neither farm work nor the extraction of raw materials is very labor intensive anymore. Now who do you think your government is going to favor? The down on his luck laborer? The overworked, under payed service worker? Or possibly agri-business and commodity exporters?

Don't count on Congress or this President to stand up for the dollar by getting government debt under control. The more the U.S. Treasury prints dollars the less valuable they become. Exporters love it. Overseas manufacturers love it. Your bank account and retirement savings - not as much.


Friday, October 02, 2009

Uncertainty and The Future

The government employment numbers came out for the month of September and things do not look good. The "official" unemployment figure is 9.8%. A statistically significant number yes, but realistically it's meaningless. The true number of unemployed or chronically under-employed is probably better than 15% maybe even 20%. Twenty-one months of decline and million upon millions of good jobs lost. Why is this downward spiral continuing? One word: uncertainty

There is massive uncertainty about the creeping Federal takeover of the economy. You might scoff at the notion and label me (and many others) a reactionary, but it has been a long time coming and this administration has got the accelerator mashed to the floor.

The only one doing any hiring right now is the Federal government. What business, big and small, need from government now is a steady hand at the helm with a calm and measured response to the continuing financial crisis. What we have now is calm words from an articulate speaker (teleprompted of course) but whose actual deeds are anything but reassuring.

America followed George W. Bush to war after 9/11, even invading a country that had nothing to do with it because he was steady and resolute. There were no flowery speeches, quite the opposite actually, but underneath there was calm, conviction and certainty. He was reelected. Less than a year later his Presidency was in shambles as he appeared absent in the aftermath of Katrina and uncertain as Abu Grabbe and Fallujah unfolded. Bush never recovered from this shocking appearance of uncertainty.

Barack Obama is not instilling any certainty in middle America. We have seen our world turned upside down by this financial crisis that most of us had little to do with. The crash of the housing sector was as much a function of government meddling as it was so-called capitalist greed. So here we have the same players - congress and the big lending/investment/insurance houses - gobbling up even more of the cash while the middle class plummets. Rather than a calm and steady hand Obama appears to be ready to double down on all the things that got us into this mess... What is he doing about bringing jobs back to America? What is Obama doing to instill confidence and certainty so that employers big and small can start calling the American people back to work? The answer is nothing.

As the value of the dollar shrinks due Obama's massive spending programs American business is going to take what dollars they have left to grow their businesses overseas. It's already happening - has been for years actually.

Without certainty there is no future.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Racist Baby Buggy Bumpers

So the people who are influenced by Fox News (or Faux News if you prefer) are ignorant rubes being brainwashed, but those who are influenced by Newsweek or other left leaning propaganda sources are truly enlightened. Isn't that right?

The very week that charges of racism are flying around the media and blogosphere that those who oppose the Obama prescription for health care reform are indeed racists, does anyone else find it as obvious as I do what Newsweek is trying to do with this cover story?

Essentially they are saying, listen rubes it's not your fault if you can't see the sheer brilliance of Obama's plan because you were born a racist. You can't help it...

I don't really care that this may have been a perfectly legitimate study and scientifically valid, verifiable and testable (though I doubt it is) the point is the timing and the placement on the cover of a (once) respected news magazine. Who are they trying to kid?

Are we to assume that the dialogue Newsweek wishes to engage is a simple verification of white guilt organic style?

In the article, the authors say that black parents teaching ethnic pride is very good for a child's self-confidence. They then assert that the thought of white children having some kind of ethnic pride is "horrifying to imagine" and "abhorrent".

Why is it that white scholars and liberal activists ignore a most significant racial tenet offered by anyone of any color? Martin Luther King Jr. was crystal clear when he advised us all that a man should not be judged by the color of his skin, but rather by the content of his character.

Honestly, what more needs to be said? Just this: shame on you Newsweek.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Garbage In Garbage Out

Learned something today...

I am narrow minded and self centered. Let me explain.

I received a note from my trash hauler that said the city council is considering new laws for trash collection. Currently the city, the second largest in the state of Minnesota is a free for all. The only stipulation I am aware of is that all the haulers have to serve the same neighborhoods on the same day so there are not trash trucks rumbling up and down the streets 5 days a week - this makes perfect sense. The city is open to competition and we have excellent choices and lower costs. I recently changed haulers and saw my bill drop by more than a 3rd. This is good, no?

Well, of course it's good for me. I am motivated by nothing more than cost. I can't say "boy that guy picks up the trash way better than the other guy".

So today I called my city councilman to voice my opinion about it. The first thing I asked was what problem were they trying to solve. To my surprise I got back some decent answers that made some sense.

  1. Multiple haulers going down the alleys that were not designed for that much load adds to repair costs for the city and property owners. Hmmm I don't have an alley.
  2. Efficiency for the hauler in that (after winning the bid for that particular district) they can condense their routes and save fuel. Hmmm not my fuel.
  3. The requirement that all properties have trash collection could be enforced when one hauler has all properties in a district - many don't and use the road ditches for their junk. Hmmm I have seen street garbage myself.
OK. So I can agree some of this has merit. However he lost me when he said that these government mandates and regulations should increase efficiency that will result in lower costs. I laughed and oddly so did he... In the end I had more questions than answers.

  • A fair compromise?
  • A logical step toward government takeover of trash collection?
  • A solution looking for a problem?
  • All of the above?

The lesson I guess is that when I look at something through the rose colored lens of my narrow world I can't possibly see the whole picture. In this case the city is not (currently) calling for municipal trash collection and will open up for bids from private companies district by district. I am still skeptical primarily because I see my costs going up!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

When I'm Wrong - Boy am I Wrong

In June of 2007 - seems like a lifetime ago - anyway, I posted a short piece on the demise of the Federal deficit. I loudly proclaimed by April of 2008 the annual budget deficit would vanish thus giving the Democrats nothing to run on in the fall. It seemed like a safe bet at the time...

Had I known the housing bubble was going to burst (or possibly already had) and the cascading effect it would have on the not just the domestic economy but the global financial system I wouldn't have been so smug.

At the time it seemed that since the economy had been so robust and the war in Iraq had taken a turn for the better that the Democrats had nothing left to run on except that their nominee would not be Bush. I wasn't sure that was going to be enough. Regardless, I thought any GOPer would beat 'ol Hillary if there was no deficit to bark about. If I even had an inkling of what was to come I wouldn't have been so smug.

Oddly the warning signs were there all along and whether I just wasn't paying attention or the news media was unaware or willfully negligent in reporting the news of rising foreclosures and falling housing values I wouldn't have been so smug.

As 2008 unfolded the bottom had fallen out on the housing market. Since the entire rebirth of the economy after the dot com bust was based on housing it was going to be bad. I had no idea... When all the industries and services that fed the housing market began failing the cascade effect made it exponentially worse. To add insult to injury gasoline prices at the pump exceeded $4.00 a gallon further stunting consumer spending which is the life blood of any economy. By July when it looked like Barack "hopeandchange" Obama was going to be the nominee for the Democrats and was spewing his rhetoric about how he was going remake America traditional businessman prepared to hunker down and trim their operations. Had I imagined any of this back in June of 2007 I wouldn't have been so smug.

I am here to say - I WAS WRONG.


Friday, September 18, 2009

Soros: Is he on your radar?

...he should be

I have been monitoring the doings of George Soros for several years and have written in this blog about what a dangerous man I think he is.

I ask you to spend a few minutes reading a quick synopsis of the activities of this man by Jack Kemp on Timothy Birdnow's website. Click here to read it now...

Here are a few choice excerpts:

quote - “The main obstacle to a stable and just world order is the United States.”—George Soros

Soros made his first billion in 1992 by shorting the British pound with leveraged billions in financial bets, and became known as the man who broke the Bank of England. He broke it on the backs of hard-working British citizens who immediately saw their homes severely devalued and their life savings cut drastically…almost overnight.”--Kyle-Anne Shiver for “The American Thinker”

In 1997 Soros almost destroyed the economies of Thailand and Malaysia.“We regard George Soros as a kind of Dracula. He sucks the blood from the people.” -- Thai activist Weng Tojirakarn

America, as the centre of the globalised financial markets, was sucking up the savings of the world. This is now over. The game is out,” he said, adding that the time has come for “a very serious adjustment” in American’s consumption habits. World financial crisis was”stimulating” and “in a way, the culmination of my life’s work.” -- attributed to George Soros in the newspaper The Australian

He has for all intents and purposes bought and paid for the Democratic Party and using his powerful media and political organizations (Time Warner and to name just two) so demonized Bush and the Republicans that he has successfully achieved control of the ruling party. This is one dangerous man. Read the article!