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WE DON'T "CAIR" ABOUT THE TRUTH...

Condemning Israel for protecting itself...

In a one-sided press release, "The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) today issued a joint statement condemning Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip that have killed at least 20 people, including many civilians. Since Wednesday, 14 Palestinian civilians, among them eight children, have been killed by Israeli missile strikes."

And of course, in order to seem fair and balanced, they always decry mutual violence just before adding an attack on Israel

"In a statement, the groups said: "The killing of civilians on either side of this tragic conflict only serves to deepen mutual hostility and mistrust. We condemn all attacks on Palestinian or Israeli civilians and urge President Bush to address the humanitarian crisis, and end our nation's uncritical support for Israel's brutal and counterproductive actions."

The truth is simple...

If the Palestinians, of whatever flavor or faction, stop the rocket attacks on Israel, Israel need not carry out self-defense attacks on Gaza. It should be noted for the record that Israel has shown great restraint after being repeatedly attacked by the "freedom fighters" who target women and children and prefer to launch their attacks behind civilian homes. So when the rocket source is attacked, the miscreants can claim that Israel is targeting their women and children.

We don't really CAIR... all we want is media attention...

It is my personal opinion that CAIR is funded in-part by radical Saudi Arabia elements and serves as the United States media outlet for the terrorists engaged in a propaganda war.

Unfortunately, the American media want to play upon the story and give this bogus organization airtime and attention.

Netanyahu: Hope for the future...

Should Benjamin Netanyahu be re-elected as the Prime Minister of Israel, I am confident that all rocket attacks on Israel will cease at once. Netanyahu is a no-nonsense leader whose previous service was marked with unusual calm and quiet with very few attacks. Perhaps because he was one of the few Israelis who did not endlessly debate the situation -- he counterattacked and told Arafat that he would be erased from the face of the earth if the attacks continued. A short message backed by Netanyahu's steely resolve.

For more on this remarkable leader, check out his Wikipedia entry.

Continuing provocations...

"Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) - Gaza residents fear that an Israeli ground assault is in the making, one Gazan said on Friday. Many Israelis, tired of the constant rocket fire, hope so."

"In Israel on Friday, lawmakers called for full-scale military action to halt the rocket fire that has forced Israelis to take cover more than 100 times this week."

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is due in the region early next week and no major Gaza invasion is expected before then. But the Israeli government is coming under increasing pressure to act. On Wednesday, a man was killed in Sderot, and several other Israelis have been injured by falling rockets since then."

Self-defense...

"The army said it had carried out seven aerial attacks in the Gaza Strip on Friday -- six of them on rocket launching areas and a seventh against a weapons manufacturing plant."

"Since Wednesday, some 30 Palestinians, mostly armed militants, have been killed in Israeli air strikes on rocket launching cells and Hamas targets. The Palestinians say more than a dozen victims were civilians, some children."

"The Israeli targeted attacks follow a major increase in rocket launchings from Gaza. More than 120 rockets and mortar shells have been launched at southern Israeli communities from Gaza since Wednesday."

"Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Friday blamed Hamas for the escalation, saying it was 'directly responsible for the current situation' would bear the 'cost of our response.'"

The problem...

As long as the Palestinians, universally hated by their Arab and Iranian neighbors, stop teaching hate and violence in their schools -- and start respecting human life instead of martyrdom, nothing much is going to change.

And if it were up to me, I would deport all the CAIR personnel back to the Gaza area where they can fight against killing on both sides -- that is if their own countrymen don't kill them first for advocating peace.

-- steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



A sneak peak at the future of the United States economy when the global warming watchdogs take over!

One of my greatest fears for the United States economy is the spectre of an outside agency, under the control of  the globally-corrupt United Nations or the globally-inept European Union, imposing rules and regulations on American businesses, enforced in foreign courts and resulting in large paydays to what can be charitably described as a bunch of socialistic collectivists.

Microsoft found out the hard way...

It matters little if you think that Microsoft is the enemy and the Bill Gates is the devil. Without Gates, Allen, Ballmer and company, progress in placing computers on every desktop and every home would have been almost non-existent in a world where mini-computers and mainframes ruled supreme in business and that micro-computers like those sold by Apple may have remained unconnected toys.

The various Windows operating systems have their problems, and I personally hate Windows/Vista, but why should the Europeans, or anyone for that matter, be able to compel a company to reveal their internal secrets to nullify their competitive edge for the benefit of non-affiliated interlopers.

According to the Associated Press...

Record EU Fine for Microsoft

"The European Union's longest-running fight with Microsoft Corp. neared an end Wednesday as regulators imposed a record $1.3 billion fine on the world's largest software company for failing to fully comply with a 2004 antitrust order."

"Microsoft has not decided whether to appeal the penalty, which amounts to a fraction of the $14.07 billion it earned in fiscal 2007. In all, the company has been fined just under $2.4 billion by European antitrust regulators over the years."

"Barring an appeal, the fine shuts the door on an investigation into Microsoft's behavior that was triggered by a 1998 complaint by Sun Microsystems Inc. It alleged Microsoft was refusing to supply information that servers need to work with its market-dominating Windows operating system."

"Microsoft eventually made the information available to rivals, but the EU said it charged 'unreasonable prices' until last October."

"[EU Competition Commissioner Neelie] Kroes roes also was skeptical over Microsoft's announcement last week that it was further expanding its efforts to make its software work better with rival technologies. A news release, she said, 'does not necessarily equal a change in business practice.'"

It depends on whose rules you are flouting...

"'Talk is cheap. Flouting the rules is expensive,' she said."

"Fines—which can hit as much as 10 percent of company's global yearly revenue—are paid into the EU budget which pays out farm subsidies and research grants. The European Commission claims antitrust fines ultimately help reduce the financial burden on European taxpayers."

Screw European taxpayers! I am not a proponent of wealth re-distribution from hard-working innovative risk-takers to people who legislate 6-8 weeks of vacation.

"'We could have gone as high as 1.5 billion euros,' Kroes said, referring to an amount equal to about $2.2 billion. 'The maximum amount is higher than what we did at the end of the day.'"

Where is it written?

While it is nice to seamlessly integrate with the largest group of desktop computers and business servers, I do not recall this as being a constitutional right. If you want to compete -- build your own better mousetrap! If enough people were truly dissatisfied with Microsoft, they would purchase their systems elsewhere.

Where would you be without Microsoft?

"Microsoft's actions stifled innovation, hurting millions of people who use computers in offices around the world, she said, calling the fine 'a reasonable response to a series of quite unreasonable actions.'"

"The software titan fought hard against the EU's 2004 decision that ordered it to share interoperability information with rivals and sell a version of Windows without media software, taking an appeal to an EU court that it lost last September."

"It was fined again in July 2006—$357 million—for failing to obey that order."

"The EU alleged that Microsoft withheld crucial interoperability information to squeeze into a new market and damage rivals that make programs for workgroup servers that help office computers connect to each other and to printers and faxes."

Now imagine what will happen if the United States ignores its sovereignty and cedes power to a foreign entity charged with setting and enforcing carbon caps and controlling the creation, use and sale of trading emissions credits?

The spectre I fear:  foreign inspectors roaming the industries which comprise the strength of America, ostensibly measuring pollutants while collecting competitive intelligence that borders on state-sanctioned industrial espionage and spying on our military assets.

Or even worse, forcing Americans to report on other Americans to a foreign entity.

Plus being able to force American Courts to assess and collect fines which are remitted to a socialist entity such as the anti-American European Union or even worse, the corrupt anti-American interests at the United Nations.

What can YOU do?

Protect American intellectual property from foreign interlopers who want to invent workarounds and work-alikes and then sell them into the American market -- to the detriment of the true innovator. A classic maneuver which can be compared to Asian interests stealing American movies and songs -- reproducing them with impunity in Asia and then selling the purloined copies abroad as well as at domestic swap meets.

Do not cede any portion of American sovereignty to any foreign entity, including the United Nations. For those who are monitoring the current situation, this is primarily why the United States refuses to sign the Kyoto protocols which are being pushed by the far-left liberals, socialists, communists and anarchists.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Record EU Fine for Microsoft


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



WHAT SEAN PENN, DANNY GLOVER & THE REST OF THE PEOPLE WHO PANDER TO DICTATORS CAN LEARN FROM PRESIDENT BUSH!

He may be somewhat clumsy and inarticulate, but then again President Bush is not a trained performer who must convey sincerity and emotion while regurgitating the words someone else wrote and polished for delivery. There are no multiple takes.

So no matter what the so-called Hollywood far-left thinks of our President, he IS the President and they are only interloping dupes who are being used to generate favorable publicity to prop up these miscreant dictators.

So while Sean Penn may be a notable actor/director, he is a committed leftist dupe following in his father's radical footsteps. A modern day Jane Fonda giving aid and comfort to our enemies -- and the enemies of humanity.

So in case anybody does not understand the issues involved, here is our President, George Bush, clearly explaining how it all works in a press conference.

So before you condemn our President for the actions he has taken in the past, you might want to give him some credit for bringing a little more compassion and freedom into a harsh world.

And for you far-left dupes... pay attention: you might actually learn something of the real world.

-- steve


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



OBAMA ALREADY TALKING WITH FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS ABOUT LYING TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE?

UPDATE: 03-03-08  IT'S TRUE -- CANADA & CAMPAIGN LIED!  See the blog entry "OBAMA IS A TRUE DEMOCRAT: ASSOCIATED WITH LYING AND CORRUPTION?"

UPDATE: 02-29-08  "Canada Says TV Story on Obama NAFTA Deception is 'Untrue'"

"(CNSNews.com) - A Wednesday evening report on a Canadian television network that said a 'senior member' of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign had called Canada's ambassador to the U.S. to advise him that Canada should not take seriously Obama's attacks on the North American Free Trade Agreement was 'untrue,' the Canadian government told Cybercast News Service."

"'I can categorically say that no one has contacted our embassy or our ambassador,' said Canadian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andre Lemay. 'None of our officials at the embassy discussed anything with the runners up in the presidential campaign. We realize that one of the Canadian networks mentioned yesterday that such a call had been made. The report is untrue.'"

"When asked whether Ambassador Michael Wilson, the Canadian emissary to the U.S., had received a call from anyone in the Obama campaign, Lemay said he had not."

Original blog entry...

We almost expect Hillary Clinton to lie, but what about Barack Obama?

It is one thing to believe that everything that Hillary Clinton may say has been spin-tested and calculated to produce a political reaction.

But Barack Obama, who professes his desire to clean up the existing system and  to restore honor to the Office of the Presidency -- has apparently been "outed" as a conventional duplicitous politician.

If this story is true - OBAMA IS GUILTY OF CONSPIRING WITH A FOREIGN GOVERNMENT TO LIE TO THE AMERICAN PUBLIC!

According to CNSNews.com...

Obama Deceived Debate Viewers on NAFTA Plans, Canada TV Says

"Did Sen. Barack Obama say one thing privately to the Canadian government about NAFTA -- and something very different during Tuesday night's debate? The answer is yes, according to CTV, a Canadian television network."

"The network reported Wednesday night that a 'senior member' of the Obama campaign called Michael Wilson, the Canadian ambassador to the U.S., 'within the last month,' warning Wilson that Obama would 'take some heavy swings' at the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as part of his campaign.

The Canadian Government apparently believed it...

"The Obama insider reportedly told the ambassador, 'Don't worry -- it's just campaign rhetoric, it's not serious,' CTV reported.
CTV reported that the Obama campaign's message to Wilson was taken as 'completely authentic' by the Canadian government."

Hillary's position...

"At Tuesday's debate in Cleveland, Sen. Hillary Clinton said that as president she would opt out of the North American Free Trade Agreement in six months, if she couldn't renegotiate the agreement with Canada and Mexico to her satisfaction. "

Barack's position: Is this a lie?

"I will make sure we renegotiate," Obama agreed. "I think we should use the hammer of a potential opt-out as leverage to ensure that we actually get labor and environmental standards that are enforced."

"Democrats count labor unions among their biggest supporters, and labor unions blame NAFTA for eliminating jobs."

On Wednesday, Canada's Trade Minister David Emerson said NAFTA is at risk, given Clinton and Obama's threats to end it, the Bloomberg News Service reported.

It's not a matter of protectionism... it's a matter of sovereignty!

"The rhetoric of protectionism has been creeping up and getting more strident," Emerson was quoted as saying. "It's not just the heat of the presidential campaign," he said -- there's a grassroots movement against it as well."

"Obama has not directly responded to questions about his differing private and public stands on NAFTA. A spokesperson for the Obama campaign told CTV that the Obama staffer's conversation with Ambassador Wilson sounded implausible. But the spokesperson did not deny that the Obama campaign had contacted Wilson.
"Senator Obama does not make promises he doesn't intend to keep," the spokesperson told CTV."

See what CTV had to say...

What else is Barack Obama not telling us? And can we afford to discover the truth after he is nominated?

What can YOU do?

If Obama is just another democrat machine politician who has already proved he deals with slime-ball donors, he should be eliminated as a viable candidate! 

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Obama Deceived Debate Viewers on NAFTA Plans, Canada TV Says -- 02/28/2008


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



VIRTUAL BORDER FENCE: DEFECTIVE BY DESIGN?

Surprise: we turned it on, it did not work and did not meet the needs of the Border Patrol...

The Washington Post is reporting...

'Virtual Fence' Along Border To Be Delayed -- U.S. Retooling High-Tech Barrier After 28-Mile Pilot Project Fails

It's not OUR  problem anymore...

"The Bush administration has scaled back plans to quickly build a 'virtual fence' along the U.S.-Mexico border, delaying completion of the first phase of the project by at least three years and shifting away from a network of tower-mounted sensors and surveillance gear, federal officials said yesterday."

Technical problems discovered in a 28-mile pilot project south of Tucson prompted the change in plans, Department of Homeland Security officials and congressional auditors told a House subcommittee.

Though the department took over that initial stretch Friday from Boeing, authorities confirmed that Project 28, the initial deployment of the Secure Border Initiative network, did not work as planned or meet the needs of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Which leads to unanswered questions...

Are we seeing the beginning of a multi-billion dollar boondoggle beset with schedule slippages and massive cost overruns... complete with the government paying for the vendor's entertainment of government officials and other lobbying activities? In other words: business as usual?

Are we seeing government malfeasance on a grand scale. Malfeasance that pushed the prime contractor into cobbling systems together with little planning and testing in order to meet the government's political deadlines?

Or are we seeing something more sinister: a deliberate attempt by the current Administration to avoid being the ones to implement a border fence? For political reasons? For historical reasons? To appease the Mexican Government who is already receiving billions in U.S. aid? To appease the United States Chamber of Commerce who continues to lobby for cheaper labor? Or simply to allow Bush and Chertoff to retire gracefully while making the fence the next president's problem?

"The announcement marked a major setback for what President Bush in May 2006 called "the most technologically advanced border security initiative in American history." The virtual fence was to be a key component of his proposed overhaul of U.S. immigration policies, which died last year in the Senate."

They knew they were in trouble...

Investigators for the Government Accountability Office had earlier warned that the effort was beset by both expected and unplanned difficulties. But yesterday, they disclosed new troubles that will require a redesign and said the first phase will not be completed until near the end of the next president's first term.

Those problems included Boeing's use of inappropriate commercial software, designed for use by police dispatchers, to integrate data related to illicit border-crossings. Boeing has already been paid $20.6 million for the pilot project, and in December, the DHS gave the firm another $65 million to replace the software with military-style, battle management software.

Questions abound...

Question: Is DHS capable of managing the project?

Question: Why was such a large pilot project attempted without a smaller "proof of concept" project?

Question: Did the government and the prime contractor use project management software which would have indicated the failure of project components?

Question: Why did the government advance another $65 million dollars to cover the failure of a $28 million dollar failure -- without going for a redesign?

Question: Will the military-grade hardware and software compromise national security if it is stolen by an enemy force?

"Boeing has said that the initial effort, while flawed, still has helped Homeland Security apprehend 2,000 illegal immigrants since September."'

The Border Patrol in concert with the Minutemen could have done better.

Guesstimates instead of estimates...

"It estimated in 2006 that it would spend $7.6 billion through 2011 to secure the entire 2,000-mile southern border, an ambition that was meant to win support from conservatives for legislation creating a guest-worker program and a path to legalization for 12 million illegal immigrants."

"But officials said yesterday that they now expect to complete the first phase of the virtual fence's deployment -- roughly 100 miles near Tucson and Yuma, Ariz., and El Paso, Tex. -- by the end of 2011, instead of by the end of 2008. That target falls outside Boeing's initial contract, which will end in September 2009 but can be extended."

"The virtual fence was to complement a physical fence that the administration now says will include 370 miles of pedestrian fencing and 300 miles of vehicle barriers to be completed by the end of this year. The GAO said this portion of the project may also be delayed and that its total cost cannot be determined. The president's 2009 budget does not propose funds to add fencing beyond the 700 or so miles meant to be completed this year."

The politics of land acquisition...

"The total cost is not yet known," testified Richard M. Stana, the GAO's director of homeland security issues, because DHS officials "do not yet know the type of terrain where the fencing is to be constructed, the materials to be used, or the cost to acquire the land."

Surely the fence path must have been mapped out before the government could even reasonably estimate its cost. The fence follows the border as the night follows the day.

This is inexcusable and indicates the lack of proper prior planning...

Defense contractors know the sampling rates of their detectors, range data and operation in hostile environments operating under adverse conditions from their military projects.

"GAO investigators said that Boeing's software could not process large amounts of sensor data. The resulting delays made it hard for operators in a Tucson command center 65 miles to the north to lock cameras on targets. Radar systems were also triggered inadvertently by rain and other environmental factors. Cameras had trouble resolving images at five kilometers when they were expected to work at twice that distance, Stana said."

Now we are getting to the truth --  its a  DHS debacle...

"He added that the system was developed with 'minimal input' from Border Patrol agents, resulting in an unworkable 'demonstration project' instead of a operating pilot system. He blamed the DHS for acting too hastily in trying to deliver a working pilot by last June."

The effort produced "a product that did not fully meet user needs, and the project's design will not be used as the basis for future . . . development," Stana testified, adding that the DHS plans to replace most of the components. The Wall Street Journal said Saturday that Boeing's pilot project will not be replicated.

"A non-government source familiar with the project said that the Bush administration's push to speed the project during last year's immigration debate led Boeing to deploy equipment without enough testing or consultation."

Question: Is the DHS too big to manage effectively and is Michael Chertoff, a lawyer, the right guy to lead the department?

"Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff said Friday that the department will 'take elements' of the pilot project and apply them elsewhere, but that it plans to expand the number of mobile ground surveillance units from a handful to 40, and to double its fleet of three unmanned aerial vehicles. Boeing has offered DHS a $2 million credit from the funds it has already received."

Question: what is the symbolic value of  $2 million credit if it results in further contracts worth billions?

Here we have another political project doomed to failure from unrealistic government expectations and a contractor apparently afraid to say "no" in today's competitive environment.

What can YOU do?

Demand the government secure the border. Regardless of who wins the Presidency, Congress or any of the Administrative Agencies.

Demand that they prove the effectiveness of their so-called electronic fence which may be susceptible to jamming using high-powered microwave devices and laser beams. Or, in the present design, staging your border crossing in the rain.

Place stop loss numbers on government contracts. Do not reward failure with additional millions of follow-on contract dollars.

Use a competition between vendors to determine who will be the prime contractor and implement penalties for fraud, non-performance and bad designs.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

'Virtual Fence' Along Border To Be Delayed


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



A COOLER YEAR: GLOBAL WARMING WEATHER ANOMALY OR THE BEGINNING OF A "REGRESSION TO THE UNKNOWN TEMPERATURE MEAN?"

What we all agree on...

There is no doubt in anyone's mind, be they a proponent of global warming, global cooling or just skeptical of the whole man-made weather change thing, that weather is variable. (And most politicians are slime-balls).

Where we diverge...

Some of us, myself included, doubt that man is responsible for the variability in global weather and that this variability is linked to the greenhouse gas known as "carbon dioxide." The basis for our conclusions lies in the fact that carbon dioxide is a minor component of the global weather inputs and is far overshadowed (pun intended) by a more significant greenhouse gas source, water vapor. Both of which are dwarfed by the issues induced by the variability of the sun's solar output. Since we disagree about the cause, we are naturally pre-disposed to disagree about the so-called cure or mitigation efforts which involve man's attempt to control carbon emissions. We believe that these efforts are mostly driven by political considerations which have co-opted certain scientific findings to justify their conclusions while ignoring others.

My personal belief is that the weather is cyclical and we are unable to compute an accurate global mean temperature due to the extremely long time periods needed for analysis, the systemic inaccuracies of historic global temperature measurement and the imputation of global temperatures from secondary sources such as ice cores involving the percentages of trapped gases. The basic problem is that the measurements are based on a statistically insignificant number of observational sites and that the data returned can be characterized by researchers as semi-empirical  phenomenological theories. This is complicated by the systemic noise introduced by the placement of instruments and the collection of data.

The trouble with mathematical models of natural events...

I once engaged in a rather pointless argument with a mathematician engaged in cellular automata research. The mere fact that a computer using a mathematical algorithm could produce what appears to be the structural pattern of a leaf ... did not mean, at least to me, that the mathematical model employed could be used to accurately describe the character and nature of a leaf, but merely portrayed a representation of something that looked like a leaf.

So it is with weather models. They can produce data which appears to correlate with natural phenomena, but one must question whether or not it is a coincidental representation or something truly representational of the underlying system mechanics.

With mathematical models, it all depends on your starting point assumptions and the range of data used for the modeling run. Unfortunately, some mathematical models produce outlandish results that seem to have an extremely low probability of being accurate or predictive. And one of my pet peeves is when these "outlier" values are used to develop wild scenarios to justify political actions. This appears to be the basis for some of the more outlandish tales in Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth." A work I believe to be more political than scientific.

The scientists continue to do science...

Those scientists who are not engaged in supporting funding activities or supporting some political agenda continue to work hard at discovering elemental truths. They labor under difficult circumstances and very rarely speak out about the work of others; especially should that work fall outside of their own scope of research. Most are not generalists and those that are, are mostly driven by mathematical modeling.

I believe that these scientists should be financial supported with politically-neutral funding and continue to publish their findings and conclusions in peer-reviewed publications which provide a forum for both confirmation and rebuttal. This process does not yield instant gratification and results which are media-friendly without a long explanation of assumptions, probability and the hazards of projecting limited data into global situations with statistical certainty.

So what are we to make of the recent findings that the earth is globally cooler in the past 12 months?

According to Anthony Watts (Watts Up With That?)... 

January 2008 - 4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months

"January 2008 was an exceptional month for our planet, with a significant cooling. January 2007 started out well above normal."

"January 2008 capped a 12 month period of global temperature drops on all of the major well respected indicators. I have reported in the past two weeks that HadCRUT, RSS, UAH, and GISS global temperature sets all show sharp drops in the last year."

Here is a quick comparison and average of ∆T [change in temperature] for all metrics shown above:

Source: Global ∆T °C

HadCRUT:    - 0.595

GISS:              - 0.750

UAH:               - 0.588

RSS:                  - 0.629

Average:        - 0.6405°C

"This represents an average between the two lower troposphere satellite metrics (RSS and UAH) and the two land-ocean metrics (GISS and HadCRUT).  While some may argue that they are not compatible data-sets, since they are derived by different methods (Satellite -Microwave Sounder Unit and direct surface temperature measurements) I would argue that the average of these four metrics is a measure of temperature, nearest where we live, the surface and near surface atmosphere."

The media gets it wrong...

The DailyTech web site carried a story citing the Watt's blog post as a reference. However, the following paragraph is in error.

“Anthony Watts compiled the results of all the sources. The total amount of cooling ranges from 0.65C up to 0.75C — a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years. All in one year time. For all sources, it’s the single fastest temperature change ever recorded, either up or down.”

According to Watts, "I wish to state for the record, and with objection, that this statement is not mine: '–a value large enough to erase nearly all the global warming recorded over the past 100 years'”

"There has been no “erasure”. This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, but it does not “erase” anything. I have suggested a correction to Daily Tech."

But Watt gets it right...

"This is an anomaly with a large magnitude, and it coincides with other anecdotal weather evidence. It is curious, it is unusual, but it does not “erase” anything. "

I don't know what it means...

Yes, it could be the inflection point that signals the "regression to some unknown climatological mean temperature value" or it could be an anomaly which will be buried in the sands of time. I do not know the significance of the finding. The scientists don't know the significance of the finding. And the politicians certainly have no clue about the significance of the finding or even the methodology for researching the significance of the finding. 

Which brings me back to the reason for this blog entry. With all of the uncertainty in observations and weather modeling and with the extremely long periods involved to see measurable results, we should concentrate on expanding the science and the funding for science -- and not be stampeded into rash actions based on political considerations. Actions which can have dire consequences for our economic, legal and human rights infrastructure without being able to produce an measurable impact. A perfect scenario for politicians who want to take advantage of science for their own purposes and still remain unaccountable for producing results or even proving that their climate theories are valid.

Man will survive...

Man has always adapted to harsh climates. Man has always thrived under rigorous conditions. Who are we to say that global weather change is "good or bad" and that  the  political consequences of taking preemptive and precipitous actions can be justified on any basis?

Global warming, global cooling and the more politically correct global climate change are artificial constructs of politicians. No matter what anybody may say or claim, there is a scientific case to be made for both sides -- and it should be left to the scientists to make that case. Not the other way around where politicians support their case with carefully chosen scientific findings.

What can YOU do?

Support politically-neutral science and science organizations. Beware of political institutions which base their political actions on their interpretation of science.

Beware of the corrupt and morally bankrupt United Nations where it is all about money and power -- and the preservation of the rights of dictators in the face of democracy.

Take a scientist to lunch.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

Quote of the Day: "I would feel more optimistic about a bright future for man if he spent less time proving that he can outwit Nature and more time tasting her sweetness and respecting her seniority." -- E. B. White (1899 - 1985)

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

January 2008 - 4 sources say “globally cooler” in the past 12 months « Watts Up With That?


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



Network Neutrality: Comcast filled FCC hearing with "street people" to block legitimate dissenters!

UPDATE:  (07-30-08) COMCAST ILLEGALLY INTERFERED WITH WEB -- FCC

As reported in the Washington Post ...

"A majority of the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that cable operator Comcast unlawfully disrupted the transfer of certain digital video files, affirming the government's right to regulate how Internet companies manage Web traffic."

"Three commissioners on the five-member FCC have signed off on an order that finds Comcast violated federal rules by purposely slowing the transmission of video files shared among users of the application BitTorrent."

"Comcast has said it delayed the files to assure that enough bandwidth remained available for other users on its network. But the company did not disclose its practices until public interest groups and the video-sharing site complained to the FCC, alleging that the company had set itself up to be a secret gatekeeper of content, picking and choosing which applications to favor."

As a follow-up to our blog entry on Network Neutrality... 

NETWORK NEUTRALITY: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ONE QUESTION!

The question…

Do you want your Internet Services bundled and billed in the same manner that your current telephone and cable providers now use when providing your existing service?

...we are unhappy to report that Comcast, a common carrier seeking to "manage" the Internet to increase their profits... HIRED STREET PEOPLE TO FILL THE FCC HEARING ROOM IN ORDER TO REDUCE DISSENT!

According to Portfolio.com... 

"Comcast acknowledges that it hired people to take up room at an F.C.C. hearing into its practices."

Lying comes easy to Comcast?

"Comcast acknowledged that it paid some people off the street to hold places in line for its employees, but denied they took seats in the hearing room."

Except the Free Press was there with a camera...

FCChearing

"Two men apparently sleeping during an F.C.C. hearing at Harvard on Monday." (Photo Credit: Free Press)

Portfolio.com continues...

"How big are the stakes in the so-called network neutrality debate now raging before Congress and federal regulators?"

"Consider this: One side in the debate actually went to the trouble of hiring people off the street to pack a Federal Communications Commission meeting yesterday—and effectively keep some of its opponents out of the room."

"Broadband giant Comcast—the subject of the F.C.C. hearing on network neutrality at the Harvard Law School, in Cambridge, Massachusetts—acknowledged that it did exactly that."

"Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury said that the company paid some people to arrive early and hold places in the queue for local Comcast employees who wanted to attend the hearing."

"Some of those placeholders, however, did more than wait in line: They filled many of the seats at the meeting, according to eyewitnesses. As a result, scores of Comcast critics and other members of the public were denied entry because the room filled up well before the beginning of the hearing."

We had the best of intentions...

"Khoury said that the company didn't intend to block anyone from attending the hearing."

Like hell you did!

Business as usual...

"Such tactics are not unheard of at congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., but Comcast's critics said that they were inappropriate for a public hearing on a college campus."

"Free Press campaign director Timothy Karr said that he showed up at the hearing 90 minutes early, only to find the room "75 percent full."

"'The only reason these people were in the room, it seemed to me, was to keep seats warm and exclude others,' Karr said."

"A number of people in the audience wore yellow highlighter marking pens on their shirts or jackets; Karr said that was to identify them to Comcast employees coordinating the company's appearance at the event. Khoury acknowledged that Comcast coordinated the employees that it brought to the hearing."

More to come...

And this is ONLY the beginning as the common carriers send forth their paid lobbyists with promises of untold millions in campaign funds and support -- all aided by the communications workers unions who know that they are also in for a hefty chunk of change should the common carriers secure the right to further bilk the public over Internet services that they currently enjoy. Services which are not FREE when you consider the costs of hardware, software and the monthly charge for access and download speed.

What can YOU do?

Keep an eye on the common carriers who want to insert a toll-booth in front of your computer so they can siphon off a percentage of the money that may be made by content providers who supply video on demand or downloaded music. They see a bonanza to replace the money they lost when they foolishly refused to support VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephony which has fulfilled its promise to provide almost decent service at a large discount from the over-regulated phone tariff charges.

Keep an eye on the politicians who may be crafting enabling legislation to allow the common carriers to "manage" the Internet under the guide of providing superior service over limited bandwidth instead of increasing the national bandwidth to that enjoyed by many foreign countries.

Watch the money. Watch the power. And watch your pocketbook.

-- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

Comcast F.C.C. Hearing Strategy - Portfolio.com


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



SOROS: WE CAN WIN THE WAR ON TERROR BY DEFEATING BUSH, WEAKENING THE MILITARY?

Another Orwellian Maneuver by a Soros-backed group:  Accuse the opposition of the very thing you are promoting!

According to CNSNews.com...

McCain's War Policy Called 'Surrender' to Bin Laden

An outrageous assertion...

"'Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) supports a policy that has 'essentially surrendered to Osama bin Laden,' the leader of an anti-war veterans' group said on Monday."

By a veteran whose group is supported by George Soros...

"Jon Soltz, a veteran of Iraqi Operation Freedom and the Kosovo campaign, is the co-founder and executive director of VoteVets.org. On Monday, as part of a conference call sponsored by anti-war liberals, Soltz noted that '90 percent' of the U.S. Army is in Iraq. 'There is not one of our 42 combat brigades that could deploy anywhere in the world in the next 72 hours. What does America do when there is another Hurricane Katrina? What does America do on our border security issues?' Soltz asked."

"Soltz's VoteVets, which includes Iraq war critic Gen. Wesley Clark on its board of directors, is leading the liberal charge against decorated war hero John McCain, apparently operating on the theory that it takes a veteran to criticize a veteran. The group presses the point that even 'patriotic Americans' and war veterans can and do oppose President Bush's war in Iraq -- and McCain's support for that war."

"On Monday, VoteVets.org joined MoveOn.org in an effort to link the high cost of the war in Iraq with economic woes back home. MoveOn.org announced the lobbying and public education campaign on Monday in a conference call with reporters."

Anything to defeat the Bush Administration...

It is Soros' blind hatred of the Bush Administration, coupled with his billion-plus dollar war-chest, that is fueling much of the negativity surrounding the United States today. By supporting the democrat party, Soros appears to be hoping for a weakening of the American military, intelligence efforts and to convert us to his more enlightened "pacifist" viewpoint.

Soros apparently believes that even terrorist groups like Hamas and Fatah act rationally and can be reasoned with... and that is rationale enough to cease hostilities and open a dialogue with the people who believe that their war is religiously just, that individual lives have no meaning other than to serve Allah in any way their enlightened leaders decide ;and that one can simply look beyond a history filled with blind religious rage against "non-believers" and accept a universal peace accord.

The false trail...

"Soltz noted that most U.S. troops are fighting far from the remote area where al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is rumored to be hiding. 'They [the U.S. Army] are stuck in Iraq at a time when Osama bin Laden is on the Afghan-Pakistan border," he said. "We have one tenth the amount of troops there than we have in Iraq, which is not related to the central front on the war on terror,' Soltz said."

While we do not have first-hand knowledge of the strength of Al Qaeda, Bin Ladin and his band of terrorists remain, at best, a symbolic  target. Why we should move heaven, earth and our military to kill this single man and his immediate supporters cannot be justified in the larger scope of world events. While it might be nice to have Bin Laden demonstrably dead, do not think, even for a moment, that other similarly-inclined leaders would not pop-up to assume his power base. There is always factional infighting in such groups and while nobody will regain the mythic symbolic stature of Bin Laden, they can prove to be just as deadly.

Soros: overlooking the truth...

Soros appears either unwilling or incapable of seeing the current Middle East situation as a somewhat unwinnable struggle between cultures in which the opposition only respects brutal strength and the will to employ it to subjugate ever-increasing numbers of people.

Attacking McCain as a proxy for George Bush...

The democrats fear McCain. When democrats speak of legislative change -- McCain has done it -- by dealing with big issues such as campaign reform, immigration reform and global warming. When democrats speak of creating bi-partisan support -- McCain has done it -- by creating and supporting McCain-Feingold(D-WI), McCain-Kennedy (D-MA), McCain-Lieberman (D-CT). And when democrats speak of being able to deal effectively with the military, McCain has the better track record and respect of the military.

So the democrats need to link him to a mostly unpopular president and his unpopular policies. Policies which still may be proven right by those who examine our history many years from now when the impact of the Bush policies can be measured and weighed against the  test of time.

And who better to do it than another veteran?

"As part of the new effort, VoteVets has released an ad featuring an Iraq veteran with her infant son. The ad blasts Sen. McCain's stance that U.S. troops will remain in Iraq for as long as they're needed there."

"'This is my little boy,' the veteran says in the VoteVets ad. 'He was born a year after I came back from Iraq. What kind of commitment are you making to him? How about a thousand years of affordable health care, or a thousand years of keeping America safe? Can we afford that for my child, Senator McCain? Or have you already promised to spend trillions -- in Baghdad?' The ad will run on cable TV stations in the Washington, D.C., area."

Wake up you idiot!

Our enemy wants to kill your little boy -- only because he was born a non-Muslim and will not submit to Allah as defined by corrupt religious leaders. And they wants to kill you, the rest of your family, your neighbors and everyone else in the United States for much the same reason. This blind hatred is institutionally inculcated into children at an early age thanks to "our friends" in Saudi Arabia who have spread their violent Wahabist sect around the globe -- infecting all it touches. 

If you really believe that there are moderate Muslims, ask yourself why they haven't repudiated the bastardization of their religion? Ask yourself why they haven't condemned the religious crazies? As why they haven't removed their leadership who engages in terrorist tactics? And while you are asking, ask why they simply don't acknowledge Israel as a nation and live in peace?

The sad truth is that Israel could give back all of the land taken for protective purposes during the wars -- and NOTHING will change. Israel is the stalking horse that Mid-East dictators use to keep their people in line while they siphon-off billions of dollars of public money to be used by the profligate princes who party in England and other places -- doing what they dare not do at home under the penalty of death.

The closest to a benign dictatorship can be found in Dubai, where it is all about money, commerce and open trade,

Dealing with the enemy...

How do you effectively deal with an enemy who professes that their religion is the "religion of peace," allows 12th century barbarisms as part of their legal code, and can barely contain their people from rioting when encountering anything remotely critical about their religious practices? How do you effectively deal with a country whose leadership is so afraid of rioting and overthrow, that they will do or say anything to appease the religious fanatics and other assorted crazies?

An example from Reuters...

"Pakistani Internet service providers may have inadvertently blocked the popular YouTube Web site across the world at the weekend when they restricted local access to the site, a telecommunications official said."

"Pakistan ordered local Internet service providers to block access to the site because it was running material insulting to Islam, a Pakistani industry official said on Sunday."

"A government telecommunications official said the initial order to restrict local access might have mistakenly affected users around the world."

"The authority had earlier justified its order to block access in Pakistan saying it was necessary to avoid unrest in the overwhelming Muslim country of 160 million people."

"'It has the potential to cause more unrest and possible loss of life and property across the country,' the authority said in a statement on Monday, referring to the material."

"Publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad published in Danish newspapers in 2005 sparked widespread anger and deadly protests in several Muslim countries, including Pakistan."

"Protests have been held in recent weeks in Pakistan after the republication of one of the cartoons."

"On Tuesday, about 150 students staged a rally in the eastern city of Multan city and burned Danish and U.S. flags to express anger over the reprinting of the cartoon."

I don't care how well Barack Obama speaks or how tough Hillary looks when she scowls, both are paper tigers committed to talking when the enemy only understands strength and resolve. Anything else is perceived as a sign of weakness. It is believed that the democrats may allow an attack on American assets here and abroad before upsetting their far-left supporters and spin-testing the possible response scenarios for political fall-out. It has happened with Clinton when he failed to respond to attacks abroad -- or responded half-heartedly.

No matter what you think, say or do: Reagan was tough, Bush is perceived as tough and with McCain you have the "real deal made of steel."

McCain acknowledges the political dangers in pursuing his present course -- and, yet, presses on...

"Sen. John McCain has counseled patience -- and success -- in Iraq, saying the "costs of retreat" would bring chaos in Iraq as well as terrorists to U.S. soil."

"On Monday, McCain admitted that the war in Iraq is one element by which his candidacy will be judged. At first he said he'd 'lose' the election if the American people think the U.S. is losing the war in Iraq."

"Then McCain backed off his 'stark' comment about losing: 'Let me just put it this way,' he said: 'Americans will judge my candidacy on how, first and foremost, on how they believe I can lead the country both from our economy and for national security.' McCain said there's no doubt that how Americans judge Iraq will have a 'direct relation to their judgment of me -- my support of the surge. Clearly I am tied to it to a large degree.'"

Another reason to defeat Barack Obama...

"MoveOn.org recently endorsed Democrat Barack Obama for president. Obama has promised an immediate troop withdrawal from Iraq and a greater military commitment in Afghanistan."

Once again, proving to our allies that we do not finish what we start and remain an unreliable ally. Not to mention the "Pol Pot-like" revenge and ritual killings of innocent men, women and children the day we pull out.

Another armchair general and amateur diplomat with very little experience in anything by being a fairly intense orator.

"'When we end this war in Iraq, we can finally finish the fight in Afghanistan,' Obama said in a policy speech in September. 'That is why I propose stepping up our commitment there, with at least two additional combat brigades and a comprehensive program of aid and support to help Afghans help themselves.''
Obama supports an immediate withdrawal of combat troops from Iraq, and he stresses diplomacy over a military solution."

One should remember that Obama is an empty suit with a good facade -- and people are projecting their hopes and dreams on his blank canvass. He is Iran's choice for president -- leaving Iraq is the best thing thaat could possibly happen to Syria, Iran and Egypt. Talk about high gas and commodity prices now, wait until you see the IRAQ-IRAN version of OPEC.

What can YOU do?

Tell Soros and his band of unrealistic pacifists to go to hell by voting for a somewhat conservative John McCain.

Appreciate the somewhat ironic fact that McCain is now under attack from some of the tax exempt 527 groups he helped to create with his McCain-Feingold campaign reform. Some believe that Soros supported McCain-Feingold to further his own interests in creating unaccountable political groups and insuring his ability to remain a player in the political pantheon. It is rumored that Soros-directed groups have amassed at least $20 million dollars in an attack McCain fund.

Do not vote for any candidate or current politician who is willing to subvert the safety, security, sovereignty and economic strength of the United States or limit an individual's right of self-defense for their personal philosophy, power, prestige or profits.

-- steve

Quote of the day -- "Politicians are like cockroaches, the breed and multiply in the dark -- and if you see one, you can be sure that there are plenty of others hanging around to divvy up the spoils." -- steve

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

McCain's War Policy Called 'Surrender' to Bin Laden -- 02/26/2008


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



NETWORK NEUTRALITY: ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW IN ONE QUESTION!

UPDATE:  (07-30-08) COMCAST ILLEGALLY INTERFERED WITH WEB -- FCC

As reported in the Washington Post ...

"A majority of the Federal Communications Commission has concluded that cable operator Comcast unlawfully disrupted the transfer of certain digital video files, affirming the government's right to regulate how Internet companies manage Web traffic."

"Three commissioners on the five-member FCC have signed off on an order that finds Comcast violated federal rules by purposely slowing the transmission of video files shared among users of the application BitTorrent."

"Comcast has said it delayed the files to assure that enough bandwidth remained available for other users on its network. But the company did not disclose its practices until public interest groups and the video-sharing site complained to the FCC, alleging that the company had set itself up to be a secret gatekeeper of content, picking and choosing which applications to favor."

Original Blog Entry ...

The question…

Do you want your Internet Services bundled and billed in the same manner that your current telephone and cable providers now use when providing your existing service?

A simple, easy to understand question. No more, no less.

Connectivity is a commodity...

Internet connectivity is a commodity. There is essentially very little difference between Internet access provided by your wireline provider, wireless provider or your cable/satellite provider. In each instance your computer is connected to the Internet.

And you already are paying...

You have already paid for your computer equipment, modem and the connection. You are already being billed by the common carriers depending on whether or not you are using dial-up, DSL, cable or T-1 services. Your monthly bill already reflects the connection speed. At the other end, your content provider is paying the same expenses: computer, connection and bandwidth.

So why should the common carriers insert another complex regulatory structure in the transaction in order to be charge you by the type of service you are using: download audio or video content, VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) telephone, e-mail or simple web browsing? All in the guise of improving service and, laughably, lowering connection costs.

The electronic toll-taker...

But that is exactly what they want to do. They want to leverage your in-home connection into a gateway guarded by their toll-booth – to make you pay-and-pay-and pay.

Bogus benefits...

Their argument that video down-loaders suck-up all the bandwidth and reduce service quality for everyone is mostly bogus… especially in the era of fiber-optic cable.

Their claim that charging for e-mail will reduce unwanted SPAM may be partly true, but do you want to pay extra to insure that your messages are delivered faster than those paying little or nothing for their services.

Do you want to see Internet innovation die as multi-layer Web 2.0 mash-ups are charged by the type of audio-visual content? Or VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) be turned into just another tariffed common carrier service? 

Competing on chaos….

Historically, the common carriers have competed mostly on an overly complex set of service levels which present an almost incomprehensible series of time ranges, bonuses, service levels and speeds which serves to mystify the  communications professional as well as the average consumer.

One can plainly see what they have done with text messaging; the telephone version of instant messaging. The various text programs seem benign and affordable. But, and its a big but, exceed your limits and you can generate a $5000 telephone bill in a single month. Ask any of the parents who did not understand what "premium texting" meant in terms of service level. Where a normal text message can cost ten to twenty cents, premium text messages can be billed by third-party content providers at $1, $2 or even $5 per message. All collected by the telephone company for their percentage. Like a croupier at the craps table dragging in the house percentage. Or perhaps like a loan shark with his vigorish (Yiddish for the amount a bookmaker or loan shark charges for their services).

No sympathy here...

When the parents of teenagers recover somewhat from the shock of a multi-thousand dollar bill, they are in for a very unpleasant experience should they ask their carrier for some form of charge mitigation -- and are informed that maybe a fifty-percent discount may be arranged.

Enter a public champion...

Author of Internet Freedom Preservation Act Speaks at FCC Hearing in Boston

Today, February 25, 2008, Representative Edward J. Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet, stood up for all consumers when he delivered the following prepared remarks at the Federal Communications Commission hearing on Internet freedom in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“Just over 20 years ago, in October of 1987, I chaired a field hearing of the then-Telecommunications and Finance Subcommittee here in Massachusetts. FCC Chairman Dennis Patrick was the lead witness and the issue was his proposal to levy per-minute access charges on computer users. His argument at the time was that because emerging online services like CompuServe and Prodigy accessed the network in the same way AT&T and MCI did, computer users should foot the bill the same way long distance phone users did. He testified that if such fees were assessed then it might help lower long distance rates by…..a whopping one percent.

“I battled against this short-sighted proposal. I contended that higher, per minute charges would dramatically reduce the use of electronic information services, crippling an infant industry. I stipulated that for education and health care and innovation, we needed to treat this nascent information industry as special and nurture it. And even though AT&T and the other carriers were powerful foes compared to the embryonic information industry, my view prevailed at the Commission."

“As a result, when Congress voted a few years later to permit the commercialization of the Internet, providers were able to offer consumers flat-rate pricing for accessing the Internet, and consumer use and innovation flourished. No wonder that former FCC Chairman Bill Kennard has said that this decision was the single most important decision in fostering the growth of the Internet."

“I am pleased therefore that the Commission has returned to Massachusetts to examine contemporary issues in the development of the Internet. As you analyze the issues before you today, I want to briefly suggest a few thoughts to keep in mind."

First, let me underscore that the Internet is as much mine and yours as it is Verizon’s, AT&T’s or Comcast’s. Please keep front and center in your examination the needs and wishes of the community of users rather than a small coterie of carriers."

Separating content from transmission...

“Much like the policy debate over access charges on information services at the FCC two decades ago – the key question for safeguarding the Internet is recognition that the nature of the Net is really not about services provided by carriers themselves. They don’t provide ‘Internet services’ – they provide broadband access to the Internet. There’s a difference between the two and this distinction is vital in my view in order to ascertain the proper role for the FCC and for the carriers themselves going forward.

Tools: for deep-packet mining and throttling...

If we emphasize unduly the present desires by broadband network providers to utilize certain network management tools, it runs the risk of conceding all-too-readily that these network providers have a genuine role in managing – and in so doing, constraining -- our broadband access to the Internet. I understand that there may be transitional issues until bandwidth increases sufficiently, but the Commission should be wary about the premise posed by any carrier’s contention of the need for a significant network management position."

“Perhaps if we had multiple competitors or super-high bandwidth to residential consumers this wouldn’t be an issue. The problem today is that we have neither sufficient competition nor affordable, truly high-speed access to the Internet. I fully support and celebrate efforts by industry participants to deliver ever higher bandwidth speeds to consumers and have battled in Washington to ensure that policies are in place to make sure these key infrastructure assets are deployed over time to all neighborhoods in a given community.

If the lack of bandwidth is plaguing network operations and posing policy issues needlessly, then the Commission would do well to re-examine broadband policies with a goal of jump-starting competition. Through broadband competition, consumers can reap the benefits of lower prices, higher speeds, and enhanced service quality. Certainly, wireless policy, universal service mechanisms, and other tools can also promote high-speed broadband deployment and affordability, but I continue to believe that competition should be our preferred policy for alleviating the current broadband policy issues of speed and affordability."

“In the interim, a broadband network provider will undoubtedly express a reasonable need today to manage the network to address congestion caused by insufficient bandwidth. But such intercession into a user’s access to the Internet should not result in the outright blocking of political speech or other content, or the transformation of BitTorrent into ‘Bit Trickle.’ That’s a problematic result whether it is purposeful or purely circumstantial. We must insist on reasonable measures and today’s hearing will give you an opportunity to assess whether reasonable approaches are being employed."

Commercial = money-making...

“Finally, the Commission should examine these issues not only to discern corporate practice and intent for reasonableness -- but also to ascertain whether these actions truly are temporary or transitory due to the dearth of bandwidth, or instead, managerial creations of the moment that the carriers may find useful and make permanent for non-networking, commercial reasons."

While carriers will assert the need to manage networks in their current state of evolution, we need to remember that Internet freedoms are most properly thought of as consumer-centric. Such freedoms extend to use of the Net for any lawful purpose."

“The beauty of the Internet is its wonderfully chaotic, ever evolving nature. “Its ability to re-invent itself every year. "

“The promise for the future is the Net’s ability to enhance education, health care delivery, celebrate free speech, mitigate against the problems caused by concentration in traditional media, foster innovation, job creation, and spur economic growth."

Representative Markey is one hundred percent "spot on" when it comes to his enthusiasm for the wonders of the Internet and his enlightened stance on keeping the traditional gate-keepers from establishing toll-booths along the Internet Information Highway.

Enter the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) ...

Like many government agencies, it is hard to determine the true motivation of FCC rulings as they walk a fine line between consumer watchdog, unofficial booster of the American communications industry and an instrument of the Executive branch which openly panders to special interests. Like all agencies of the Administration, they must listen to lawmakers like Representative Markey and follow the dictates on Congress.

However, as we have seen in the past, the special interests through their lobbying activities and campaign funding are able to circumvent almost all consumer-oriented legislation unless the public rises to the challenge and beats them back. Often by contacting their elected officials and threatening to withhold their vote -- a vote necessary to keep the politicians in their cushy, powerful and profitable positions.

Will the FCC continue to play games with the public?

In the past the FCC was willing to declare that a zipcode had broadband access if just one user in that zipcode has access to a high-speed connection. Which provided a misleading picture to the government, the regulators, Congress and the public. Now Congress is willing to put forth legislation dealing with the problems of broadband accessibility and costs.

The coming fight...

There is no doubt in anyone's mind that the big-money boys, the powerful carriers with their lobbyists and the telecommunications unions with their dollars will be trying to negotiate legislation and Agency oversight to benefit themselves rather than the public.

Unfortunately some legislators may fall-in with the carriers and the telecommunications unions for no other reason that increased tariffs result in increased government revenue. Anybody who has studied their telephone, wireless or cable bill will be aware of the various taxes and fees that are imposed by the local, state and federal government.

In fact the City of Los Angeles flat-out lied to its constituents by putting forth a ballot proposition which was mislabeled as a "tax reduction" when in fact it legislation creating a slightly reduced 9% tax on all telecommunications in the City when a judge ruled that the present tax of 10% was probably illegal. The consumers got stiffed by the Los Angeles officials who are now planning to expand such deceptive ballot propositions to fund public safety-related items which should be given first priority in the City's budget.

And the deceptions happen at all levels of government.

Only a vigilant population with informed citizens can battle against this type of blatant power and money grab.

What can YOU do?

Do not let the common carriers ride roughshod over the consumer by imposing service-based charges over and above what you are paying for connectivity and speed.

Let your elected officials know that the convoluted tiered tariff system died with the old telephone and wireless systems and that Internet should be free of all charges based on content type or size.

Make it known that we pay for our computers, our software, our connections based on type and speed...and the content from those who make content available. And that the common carriers need to curb their greed and provide superior services before being allowed to charge extra for bandwidth which is clearly inferior to most modern nations.

Support those politicians who support an open Internet and who are willing to stand up to greedy common carriers. If these carriers want to introduce premium services for premium pricing, let them build the new services and leave the older Internet infrastructure billing alone.

-- steve

Quote of the day: Americans will put up with anything provided it doesn't block traffic. - Dan Rather

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

References:

2/25/08 Statements From FCC En Banc Hearing on Broadband Network Management Practices, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Martin: Acrobat
Copps: Word | Acrobat
Adelstein: Word | Acrobat


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell



CREDIT CARDS COMPANIES: AMERICA'S NEW LOAN SHARKS

I was not amused when I received an offer from the NRA (National Rifle Association) to help the NRA continue its defense of the Second Amendment rights by participating in Visa's service-marked "Maximum Rewards" credit card program.

"It's the card that will help support
your Second Amendment rights"

There is no doubt in my mind that the National Rifle Association is one of the best lobbying organizations in America when it comes to protecting a citizen's Second Amendment rights against the continual encroachment by politicians and others who would deny law-abiding citizens their God-given right to self-protection. There is also no doubt in my mind that a portion of the monies earned by the joint marketing of this Visa card will somehow be committed to the greater good.

The devil is in the details...

But, the question remains, is this card offer superior to other similar card offers and can you really believe the advertising? So let us take a walk on the dark side of credit card agreements and disclosures.

The non-disclosure disclosure...

"IMPORTANT RATE, FEE AND OTHER COST INFORMATION (Summary of Credit Terms)"

Mandated by government regulation, banks and other financial institutions must clearly disclose the APR (Annual Percentage Rate) for monies advanced by a lender.

You will note that the "teaser" rate to encourage you to sign-up for this card is fully and clearly disclosed. Since the teaser rate is available to all new customers, there is no further consideration of this issue required.

However, you will note that your actual percentage rate after the teaser period of 6 billing cycles is not actually disclosed and can be anything between 9.99% APR and 17.99% APR which is why we term this a non-disclosure disclosure. The weasel words "depending on how you meet our credit criteria" followed by the footnote designators insure that your credit rate will only be known after you apply for the card. After that, it becomes a "take it or leave it" choice -- which if you decline the card -- may be noted on your credit bureau report and negatively impact your credit scores.

"Annual Percentage Rate (APR) for Purchases"
"0.00% APR fixed for the first 6 billing cycles after your account is opened. After that 9.99% APR, 13.99% APR, or 17.99% APR as of 02/01/2008 depending on how you meet our credit criteria.*"

WOW: 0.00%...

The  innovative industry marketing ploy of a 0% teaser rate offer is said to be the brainchild of Andrew Kahr, an industry credit card consultant who realized that in a world of competitive offers, a zero percent rate was a surefire means to attract your attention and get you to open the envelope. Even though the teaser rate will be honored by the credit card issuer through the specified period, the fine print makes it perfectly clear that if you miss a payment, go over limit or bounce a payment check, the teaser rate can instantly convert  to the highest rates allowed by law.

The disclosure goes on to state that there  is a different rate 3.99%) for balance transfers and the teaser rate is only available for three billing cycles instead of the six billing cycles mentioned for the teaser rate. It is as if the bank is relying on your first impressions of the advertising BOLD print and counting on the fact that you will let the rest slide under the radar. And again with the weasel words, "depending on how you meet our credit criteria."

"Other APRs
Balance Transfer APR: 3.99% fixed for the life of the balance on Balance Transfers made in the first 3 billing cycles after your account is opened. After that, 9.99% APR, 13.99% APR, or 17.99% APR as of 02/01/2008 depending on how you meet our credit criteria.*"

But notice the exorbitant rate of interest for cash advances, especially if you should meet any of their default or penalty provisions...

"Cash Advance APR: 23.75% as of 02/01/2008.*"

"Penalty Rate APR: up to 31.75% as of 02/01/2008 (see explanation below).*"

Again each item carries a footnote often indicating more unpleasantness to come rather than a further explanation of the footnoted item.

Maximizing their returns...

It is in the best interests of all financial institutions to maximize the rate of return on their capital investment. Therefore, they will link your cash advances and transfers to some floating index which moves up or down in synchronization with another financial rate such as the Prime Index, LIBOR (London Inter-Bank Offering Rate).

"Variable Rate Information
The APR for Purchases and Balance Transfers may vary and will be the greater of 9.99% or the Index plus a Margin of 4.50%,* or the greater of 13.99% or the Index plus a Margin of 8.50%,* or the greater of 17.99% or the Index plus a Margin of 12.50% depending on how you meet our credit criteria.* The APR for Cash Advances may vary and will be the greater of 19.99% or the Index plus a Margin of 18.50%.* The Penalty Rate may vary and will be the Index plus a Margin of up to 26.50%.*"

One, note that they do not disclose the "Index" that will be used which may be a significant flaw to the disclosure process. And two, note the use of multiple and widely varying  rates along with the use of the words "or the greater of" to insure that you are always receiving the "maximum rate." And again note the weasel words "depending on how you meet our credit criteria."

Take a moment and pre-compute what the penalty rate may be by using a rate of 6% plus the margin of 26.5% for a total rate of 32.5%. Multiply that by your outstanding balance and re-think your overall debt load.

There is no grace for the unforgiven...

"Grace Period for Repayment of Balance for Purchases
Not less than 20 days from the date of the billing statement on new purchases (provided you have paid your previous balance in full by the due date)."

Again, the devil is in the details. Not less than 20 days from the date of the billing statements -- "provided that you have paid your previous balance in full by the due date." One may wonder if the billing statement date is actually the mailing date, which means that any grace period is shortened by the amount of time that "snail mail" requires.

Some credit card processors have been known to pick up their mail late in the day to add a "processing day" to the equation in the hopes of making a statistically significant number of clients pay their late fee and further subject their account to higher rates.

"Method of Computing the Balance for Purchases
Average daily balance (including new purchases)."

Again, another non-disclosure disclosure.

The methods for computing the average daily balance vary widely and may be computer on a one-month or two-month basis. Or you may find that your payments are automatically allocated to the charges that carry the lowest rate first, prior to being applied to the higher rate charges.

"Annual Fee
None."

"Minimum Finance Charge
$1.75 (any billing cycle a finance charge is imposed)."

Considering that this is not a so-called prestige card like those issued by American Express, paying for the issuance of the card should not be a determining factor in your decision as you should expect no annual fees.

The most profitable play in foreign exchange...

"Foreign Currency Transaction Fee for Transactions made in Non U.S. Currency
3% of the amount of the transaction (after conversion to U.S. Dollars)."

While a financial institution's foreign exchange traders are risking large sums of money in the hopes of making a profit or avoiding currency translation losses, this type of foreign exchange transaction is always a winner for the credit card companies regardless of the currency rate in effect since it is an "ADD ON" fee. 

Since most people do not extensively travel abroad, this item rarely catches their attention. However, in today's Internet age where vendors may be located almost anywhere in the world, do not be surprised to find that this charge will be applied to some of your Internet purchases.

Paying for the privilege of cash IN ADDITION to the interest rate... "Discourtesy" checks.

"Transaction Fee for Cash Advances
The greater of $15 or 3% of the transaction (the greater of $15 or 5% of the transaction for certain "Cash Equivalent Transactions")."

"Transaction Fee for Balance Transfers
The greater of $10 or 3% of the transaction."

You know those courtesy checks that appear in the mail prior to tax day and Christmas, they are actually what I call "discourtesy" checks because they trigger this cash advance feature. Ditto when you use these checks to pay-off another creditor.

Exceed your line -- pay the fine!

"Over Limit Fee
$39"

While the credit card companies waffle on about the additional risk of credit default by a creditor who has maxed out their cards, in reality, "fee and penalty" income is often the largest bottom-line profit maker for financial institutions. 

"Late Payment Fee
$35 if your New Balance is less than $500; or $39 if your New Balance is equal to or greater than $500."

Ever wonder how the bank decides how much to charge you for penalty fees? Simple, the fees, in and of themselves, often bear no resemblance to the additional risk or loss of funds that they are associated with because they are often determined by focus groups and other market research techniques to be the maximum allowable charge that will not upset a customer so much as to immediately change their credit card issuer. Although, each issuers secretly hopes than some other issuer will make you mad enough to use their "discourtesy" checks to pay off your old balance and switch accounts.

Meet the devil ... disguised as a "" footnote...

"† Your Annual Percentage Rates (including Introductory Rates, Preferred Rates or Special Offer Rates) may terminate and increase to a Penalty Rate or a Preferred Rate if you: (1) fail to make a minimum payment to us when due; (2) exceed your credit limit with us; or (3) make a payment to us that is dishonored for any reason. Factors considered in determining the higher rate may include how you have handled your account with us and current and historical information regarding your credit in general."

Items (1), (2) and (3) -- bingo: pay the issuer

Slip up and your entire account is going to be charged at the highest rate legally allowed in your state. Which brings up another sore point with me. Have you ever noticed that some interest rates are constrained by state law and that you always live outside of one of those rate- and fee-limit states?

And just when you thought it couldn't get any worse: the Universal Default Provision...

Note the innocuous section that states:

"Factors considered in determining the higher rate may include how you have handled your account with us and current and historical information regarding your credit in general."

and ask if your credit card issuer is applying the UNIVERSAL DEFAULT provision to your account. This methodology allows the credit card issuer to raise your rates to the default maximum if you have been late or have defaulted on any other credit card or payment reported by one of the major credit bureaus -- even if your credit card issuer is not associated in any way with the other defaulted account.

And this is not the end...

The information in this disclosure may be overridden by any subsequent disclosures that you receive with your credit card or with your statement. The terms are always subject to change without notice. And all changes are unilateral; that is, made by the credit card issuer without your input, permission or agreement.

In no other business can you change the terms on past purchases...

One of the greatest dangers in dealing with credit cards is that the issuers can change the rates on your past purchases with impunity. This is not done in any other area of banking. If you are late on your mortgage or car payment, you may be assessed a late fee... but your interest rate remains the same. Which is not true of your credit card transactions. Those items which were purchased when your rate was 9.8% are now being charged at 20-30% after a default trigger. And it is all perfectly legal due to the credit card company's Congressional lobbying activities. It appears that your elected officials would rather sell out their constituencies than disappoint the special interests who contribute support and money to a legislator's campaign.

Hobson's Choice...

In the final analysis, you choose to be screwed and your only recourse is not to use the card, use the card wisely or switch to an issuer with better rates and terms.

The best revenge...

The best revenge is to live well, live within your means, use credit sparingly and pay off your balances in full. Of course, you may still be paying a price for credit as the merchant charge for using a credit card is often reflected in your final bill. Which leads us to recommend that you ask the merchant for a 2-3% discount if you pay with cold, hard cash. And if they say no, it is a matter of nothing ventured, nothing gained.

To the NRA's credit, they highlight the major terms and reinforce that you must be responsible with your credit by making timely payments, etc.

What can YOU do?

Recognize that you are allowing yourself to be screwed by a financial institution when you do not read and, more importantly, understand what you are reading and how it applies to your financial situation. It's all there somewhere to keep the institution out of regulatory trouble.

Recognize that most offers made by organizations under "affinity group" arrangements inherently make money for the organization, both from advertising and marketing activities as well as an ongoing revenue stream from your continued use of the service offered. Somehow, this part of an organization's disclosure to their members is often overlooked and may only be known to the organization's top officials.

Recognize that there is no inherent advantage in selecting one financial product over another since money is a commodity. Therefore, the only consideration that should be given to the selection of any financial product is that you get the most favorable rate and terms possible under your particular financial situation (credit rating). Informed shopping is a must.

Always ask your credit card issuer to waive fees. Most will want to keep your business and will waive an infrequent late fee and all will almost waive any charge for their card. After all, it is in their best interests to keep your revenue stream.

Always keep a copy of your credit card application and all of the materials that are associated with the account in a folder.

Always read your credit card statement fully and completely to determine if your rates have been changed without notice.

Whenever possible, payoff your credit card balances in full or keep your credit balances as low as humanly possible.

Demand that your elected officials eliminate the "universal default" provisions and support legislation which mandates that only new purchases made after a rate change are subject to higher rates. Request that fees be restricted to more reasonable amounts that can be justified in terms of processing costs and not just serve as another card issuer profit center. Enact severe economic and legal penalties for those who attempt to game the system to make consumers wrong by staging their mailing or mail handling procedures to convert on-time payments into past due fee income. Such as setting the due dates on Sundays or Holidays in the hopes that a statistically significant number of people will remit late payments.

Beware of credit card issuers who want you to think that you have additional power because they let you add your own picture to the card, select the initial rate, decide on a bonus rewards plan. Realize that every choice leads to their unilateral determination of the final rates -- especially should you be late with a single payment, have insufficient funds covering your payment check or exceed your limits. You will discover (no pun intended) that that smiling face fronting their commercial turns into the scowl of an impersonal, hard-hearted computer terminal attached to a no-nonsense person whose compensation is directly dependant on how much money he can wring out of your overextended wallet.

Watch out for "unrewards" cards that feature bonuses restricted to narrow categories with the remainder of purchases earning a significantly lower rate. Also watch out for expiring bonuses -- it may take some people longer to accumulate the points they need to a desirable purchase; only to find that their points fully or partially expired before they could use them. Watch for dollar bonus caps on rebate programs which limit the effectiveness of the program. Watch how the card issuer defines your category of purchases: groceries purchased at mini-marts or even at large stores such as Wall-Mart may not be correctly classified -- leading to loss of any bonus points or rewards. Be extra careful with rewards programs becuase all rewards can be wiped out with a single late payment or bounced check charge. Check the fine print when choosing a rewards card. Since many rewards cards carry higher interest rates, they make the most sense for people who are known in the industry as "deadbeats," those who pay-off their card balances in full each month. Those that carry a balance are known as "revolvers." In some Orwellian sense, it is better to be thought of as a deadbeat by the card issuers.

Warning: maximizing your card purchases on a single card could negatively impact your credit score. Credit score algorithms sometimes rank the percentage of card use and may consider 60% or more monthly purchases when compared to your card's credit limit to be an excessive use of credit. And speaking of credit scores, watch your employer reimbursement program. If you routinely charge large amounts to your card for business purposes and then are reimbursed by your employer, accounting-wise you may be OK. But your credit score may be negatively impact if your total credit purchases exceeds your stated income. This is also may be an audit flag for the IRS.

A warning about so-called "debit cards:" Even though they may carry the logo of a well-known card issuers, they are a direct pipeline into your bank account and do not have many of the protections that have been legislatively mandated by Congress. Yes, you may get your money back if the card is improperly used -- but only after a long and often arduous fight with your bank. With credit cards one can simply "refuse" the charge and the matter is thrown back in the hands of the merchant as a "chargeback." With debit cards they already have your money and may be disinclined to remedy any legitimate complaint you may have. We do not recommend the use of debit cards -- especially for Internet purchases. Banks and credit card issuers love debit cards as they are often the reason for fee-producing overdrawn accounts and the bounced card payments which trigger additional fees and interest rate hikes.

Always review your credit report at least once per year -- and the best news is that all credit bureaus must provide you with one free report. Warning: watch out for those groups that try to make your "free credit report" contingent upon purchasing their monitoring or other services. For your free credit reports, visit the Federal Trade Commission for details.

-- steve

Quote of the day: "If you don't ask, you don't get." -- Steve's Beloved Parents 

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

NRA Maximum RewardsSM Visa® Card Credit Card Terms & Disclosures


“Nullius in verba.”-- take nobody's word for it!

“Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance.”-- George Bernard Shaw

“Progressive, liberal, Socialist, Marxist, Democratic Socialist -- they are all COMMUNISTS.”

“The key to fighting the craziness of the progressives is to hold them responsible for their actions, not their intentions.” – OCS

"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

“A people that elect corrupt politicians, imposters, thieves, and traitors are not victims... but accomplices” -- George Orwell