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Cloud Computing: a growing threat to personal freedom and security?

The magic computer in the clouds …

No matter how they spin the story, the major technology companies who are touting “cloud computing” are simply repeating the history of data processing with new equipment, software and communications protocols. The so-called “cloud” concept is as old as “time sharing” when people used terminals to connect to extremely expensive mainframe computers and simply paid for their small slice of time. Since you paid for only the computer power you used, it was a very reasonable price to pay for accessing enough computer power to do the desired job at hand.

Enter the personal computer …

After time-sharing and the introduction of mini-computers, the micro-computer revolution was born. In a period of approximately 27 years, starting approximately in the 1980’s, almost everyone who wanted a personal computer was able to obtain one. Operating systems and applications software steadily improved to the point where they contained so many unused features than only incremental and/or cosmetic improvements could be made. The great fortunes which were made on the need for ever increasing hardware requirements and software upgrades was starting to significantly slow. Especially since personal computer users began to realize that they had their word processors, spreadsheets and databases and that there was little or nothing to gain from continually upgrading either the hardware or the software. They were comfortable with the technology and the software and saw little need to continually invest in new computers and the next whizbang version of the software which did diddly squat to improve their personal productivity.

So, to combat the falling prices of hardware, the increasing uselessness of the next version of your expensive productivity suit (word processor, spreadsheet, slide presentation, database) and the introduction of “open source” equivalents which could be accessed for little or no investment – the major players decided to simply monetize the delivery of software services. That is, return to timesharing, by offering “pay as you go” software services.

Is a major announcement on the way?

In addition to offering “on the web” access to the traditional application suite, rumors now continue to swirl around the possible introduction of a “virtual disk” which would allow a user to store all of their data on a remote computer for little or no cost. Virtually guaranteed (pun intended) to attract an audience who still believes that there is a free lunch and that mega-corporations and the government is willing to provide free services for its citizens without some form of compensation.

Do no evil … (yeah, right)

For those of you in data processing and those who are power users, you may recognize the unofficial mantra of Google: “Do no evil.” Google which has made its fortune (and the fortunes of its investors) on supplying superior search engine technology, is now attempting to use its megabuck capital investment in hardware, software and communications infrastructure to compete with Microsoft’s Windows-brand application software by turning to web-based application programs and the offer of free data storage on their systems. To be sure, Microsoft, having experienced a very slow start in Internet technology, is trying to mount a competitive offer to protect their brand from the Google onslaught. In the process, Google has morphed from a rather idealistic organization into an extremely large behemoth and a corporation that will do anything to keep their position in the pantheon of computing giants. 

But let us consider the RAMifications (couldn’t resist the pun) of such developments.

Eventually, you will pay for the computer power you consume …

Someone will eventually pay the piper, and we are betting it will be the end user. No matter what a corporation may say or do, they are still required to produce quarterly profits to support their stock prices. Not to mention paying for all of their employees, hardware, software, power, cooling and everything else that is necessary to offer their services to the marketplace.

Your data is valuable, not only to you, but to a wide variety of commercial and governmental entities. So whether you pay directly or subject yourself to advertising in exchange for access to remote computers, you are paying a price.

The devil is in the details …

Let us consider for a minute, some of the details which will often be buried in the minutia of the EULA, the End User License Agreement.

We guarantee nothing …

Most user agreements covering software services are made on what is known as a “best efforts basis.” That is, we will try our best to provide the services you desire, but we cannot guarantee that your data will not be lost, that our service will always be available, that you will be able to retrieve your data in a timely fashion, that evil-doers will not be able to access your personal data using advanced technology, or that our trusted personnel will not sell your data to the tabloid press. And, if any of these things happen, we are not liable for the consequences of these actions – and if by some chance we are liable, your recovery is limited to the amount of money you have paid us for the month in which the problem occurred. And, by the way, you must enter into binding arbitration and never, never bring a class action lawsuit against us. Of course, it’s not this simple as these conditions are often buried in pages of dense print with references to additional documents which are subject to change at any point in time. Of course, should you choose not to accept these conditions, don’t use our service.

We may troll your data …

We may, to protect ourselves from various and unspecified threats, examine your data for whatever we decide to look for; be it commercial secrets, child pornography, bad mouthing our service and so on. However, we may also sell your data, in aggregated form without personal references or specific data items, to those who want to use this treasure trove of electronically accessible data for research – and possibly to improve our search algorithms to meet your personal needs. Not to mention, delivering more targeted advertising to your eyeballs.

We may sell you out …

Being gutless wonders, we cave at the mere mention of legal action. Should someone file a copyright infringement notice under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act), we might disable all or a portion of your account with little or no notice.

Of course, we cooperate with the government and will provide all of your information to them in exchange for little more than a “free pass” also known as an administrative summons.

Again, you can’t sue us or seek redress as we have your signed user agreement that says we told you what could happen.

And before you reply that trusted employees with monitored access would never gaze upon your personal information, let me simply point to the disclosures of non-public personal information to the tabloids by medical personnel – who were subsequently fired after the damage was done.

The increasing danger of XML …

For those who do not immediately recognize the acronym, it stands for “eXtended Markup Language” and provides a set of data tags to identify the components of your data and make these data elements more accessible. The following example should give you an idea of how powerful this technique can be for searching and retrieving data.

<Name>John Q. Public</Name> <PersonalIdentificationDetails SocialSecurityNumber = “555-55-5555” DateOfBirth = “01/01/1980” DriversLicenseState = “WA” DriversLicenseNumber = “ZZ4049585” DriversLicenseExpiration = “01/01/2012” />

<MedicalCondition DiseaseCode = “9999” DiseaseName = “Horrible Disease” />

<ComputerAccessCode> 4543-AC37-EF56-8494 </Computer AccessCode>

As you can see, a computer search would be able to easily separate out critical information that would be of interest to insurance companies deciding whether or not to insure you or the government wanting to link your data to a particular computer, communications IP address, date and time.

And lest you doubt the power of XML data tagging, consider that the default mode of Microsoft’s latest Office Suite is tagged XML – note that the familiar extensions now are .docx, .xlsx, etc.

And even worse, courtesy of the Hollywood media moguls who want to keep their offerings under lock and key, all electronic output produced on your computer (including documents, graphics, and audio-visual files) is likely to contain embedded GUIDs (Globally Unique IDentifiers) which can be associated with your software purchase and computer use during the registration process.

Encryption?

The smartest thing when storing information on foreign servers that are under control of others is to use heavy encryption. However, I can point with absolute certainty to encrypted data which can be hacked with no more than a commercial program costing less than $100. Consider also that certain encryption algorithms used to protect computer data have already been compromised and there are those who believe that some of the most stringent encryption algorithms may have mathematical backdoors – ones that require the type of massive computing power of federal agencies.

And, one must consider that XML tagging in and of itself increases the vulnerability of protected works as the data tags are well-defined, universally available and comprise a surprisingly large portion of the data being encrypted. For those who routinely decrypt data, knowing something about the data being protected is always a leg up in the process.

It gets worse …

Very few people have heard of CALEA , the Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act. It is  a United States wiretapping law passed in 1994 (Pub. L. No. 103-414, 108 Stat. 4279, codified at 47 USC 1001-1010). In its own words, the purpose of CALEA is:

”To amend title 18, United States Code, to make clear a telecommunications carrier's duty to cooperate in the interception of communications for Law Enforcement purposes, and for other purposes.”

Considering that those companies who are offering Internet computing services are often considered to also be telecommunications carriers, the extension of CALEA to data services is a given.

Your choice …

Whether or not you choose to use Internet-based software or store your information on remote computers not under your control is up to you.

What can YOU do?

Read the licensing agreement and make sure that you understand the limits of the offering company’s liability if something should go wrong.

Should you choose to use “cloud” computing, it is suggested that you consult legal counsel to determine if your data, which may contain NPI (Non-Public Personal Information) such as names, account numbers and financial details, is subject to the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act, the FTC Safeguards Rule or your state’s privacy initiatives.

If the information is of a critical nature, determine a fail-safe method for backing up the data and preserving it in a format that can be used in an emergency. Remember: any major natural disaster is likely to disrupt or delay access to your data. One need only remember the big institutions who were left without their web sites when 4 out of 10 diesel generators failed to respond to a start command.

For those who want to access their computers over any available Internet connection, it is suggested that you investigate using a VPN (Virtual Private Network) or use one of the commercially available remote access services. Again, security precautions are required to protect you, your data and the innocent parties which may also be involved.

It is my personal position that you never want to mix personal and professional data on any single server and that your professional obligations may preclude using systems and software which you do not directly control.

In all cases, demand that your legislators pass a personal privacy law that unequivocally protects your financial and medical data – as well as mandates stiff criminal penalties and civil compensation for any and all security breaches.

If you are interested in the protection of your personal privacy, you might want to consider joining the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.EFF.com) which is a solid bulwark against those who would electronically compromise our freedoms.

At one point in time, I was a great believer in the efforts of our government to act ethically and to pursue and prosecute those who would interfere with our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights. Unfortunately, we are now experiencing a hyper-politicalization of government agencies. When media concerns mean more than justice. Where document classification is used to hide mistakes and surveillance techniques used against political enemies. And worst of all, friends are rewarded and enemies punished.

Unless we start electing honest politicians, the America we know will simply disappear into the cesspool of third-world nations. 

-- 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:

WIRETAP IMMUNITY: BEYOND CALEA? |One Citizen Speaking

SECURITY ISSUES: MICROSOFT + YAHOO, CALEA, FISA, PATRIOT ACT and MONITORING THE PUBLIC |One Citizen Speaking

LOSING OUR PRIVACY ONE DEVICE AT A TIME (PART II) |One Citizen Speaking

Danger: The SINGLE most important key to protecting your health records! | One Citizen Speaking

Microsoft HealthVault: Can you trust Microsoft or any other commercial vendor with your health information? One Citizen Speaking


“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



THE REAL PRESIDENT BEHIND BARACK OBAMA?

It seems especially ironic that the man touted to be the second most powerful man in the Administration is not the Vice President – who appears to be a genial boob given to making verbal gaffes and outrageous comments; but a diminutive, white, Jewish iconoclast who was a former ballet dancer. Once again, indicating that President Barack Obama appears to be an intelligent, telegenic and well-spoken empty suit with attention deficit disorder – clearly illustrating the perennial triumph of style over substance. And proving, once again, that you can fool a majority of the people most of the time. At least enough to cobble together a coalition to support the far-left liberal democrats who appear to be all about money, politics, revenge and the mean-spirited pursuit of everlasting power. Democrats, many of whom are nothing more than corrupt, demagogues and petty dictators. Not exactly a pleasant scenario as they are playing with billions of dollars in taxpayer funds.

According to the New York Times …

“Mr. Emanuel is arguably the second most powerful man in the country and, just a few days into his tenure, already one of the highest-profile chiefs of staff in recent memory. In recent months, he has played a critical role in the selection and courtship of nearly every cabinet member and key White House staff member.”

“Renowned as a fierce partisan, he has been an ardent ambassador to Republicans, including Mr. Obama’s defeated rival, Senator John McCain. He has exerted influence on countless decisions; in meetings, administration officials say, Mr. Obama often allows him to speak first and last.”

“ ‘You can see how he listens and reacts to Rahm,’ said Ron Klain, the chief of staff to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. ‘You can see that his opinion is being shaped.’”

“How will the feisty, bombastic and at times impulsive former congressman blend with the cool, collegial and deliberate culture of Obama World? And one that is trying to foster bipartisanship? This is someone who once wrote in Campaign and Elections magazine that ‘the untainted Republican has not yet been invented’ and who two years ago — according to a book about Mr. Emanuel (“The Thumpin’ ” by Naftali Bendavid) — announced to his staff that Republicans are ‘bad people who deserve a two-by-four upside their heads.’”

A makeover …

“It is clear to friends and colleagues that Mr. Emanuel is trying to rein himself in, lower his voice, even cut down on his use of profanity.”

“ ‘As chief of staff, you take on the aura and image and, in some instance, the political values of the person you work for,’ said the former congressman Ray LaHood, an Illinois Republican who is now secretary of transportation. ‘I think he’s beginning to morph himself into the Obama image.’”

Perhaps this observed change is designed to mute the obvious: that it is Emanuel’s opinion that is shaping policy and that Obama may be a marginal player – a titular figurehead – in his own Administration. With an image of thoughtfully listening to all arguments, weighing the situation at hand and then becoming the “decider,” as President Bush so aptly described.

“Mr. Emanuel acknowledged in an interview that stereotypes of him as a relentless hothead had some factual basis. But it is an exaggerated or outdated picture, he said.”

“ ‘I’m not yelling at people; I’m not jumping on tables,’ he said. ‘That’s a campaign. Being the chief of staff of a government is different. You have different tools in your toolbox.’”

Which chief?

“Still, his high profile and temperament are at odds with that of some past White House chiefs of staff: They were often low-key types who put the ‘staff’ part of their job titles before ‘chief’ — as Andrew H. Card Jr., the longtime chief of staff to former President George W. Bush, suggested to Mr. Emanuel last month.”

“Mr. Emanuel, who had hopes of becoming the next speaker of the House, has stepped into a job characterized by short tenures — just under two and a half years, on average — high burnout rates and the need to subjugate personal ambitions to the service of the president.”

Even if Obama does not serve a second term in office, there is no doubt that Emanuel will continue to play a part in partisan politics. His future is tied to one person, and that person is not Barack Obama, it is Rahm Emanuel.

“He is not accustomed to fading discreetly into the background. As a staff member in the Clinton White House, a three-term House member from Chicago and the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, he was viewed by many as a consummate purveyor of a crass, kneecapping brand of politics.”

Roasting Emanuel …

Mr. Obama acknowledged as much at a 2005 roast for Mr. Emanuel, who is a former ballet dancer, during which Mr. Obama credited him with being “the first to adopt Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ for dance” (a number that included “a lot of kicks below the waist”). When Mr. Emanuel lost part of his middle finger while cutting meat at an Arby’s as a teenager, Mr. Obama joked, the accident “rendered him practically mute.”

“The video of that roast has become a recent sensation on the Internet and buttressed a view among some Republicans that Mr. Emanuel’s appointment was, in the words of the House minority leader, Representative John A. Boehner, ‘an ironic choice for a president-elect who has promised to change Washington, make politics more civil.’”

Rather than highlighting the fact that, like all pragmatic politicians, Obama often says one thing and does another, one might consider that Rahm Emanuel was the perfect choice. Especially considering the number of Clintonistas who may still owe their allegiance to the former president, Hillary Clinton and a the number of hated Republicans who are still serving in the Obama Administration. One needs a heavy-handed enforcer to keep these people in line – and that role suits Emanuel to a tee.

“Mr. Obama had settled on his fellow Chicagoan to be his chief of staff well before he was elected. He was drawn to Mr. Emanuel’s experience in both the White House and Congress and called him ‘the whole package’ of political acumen, policy chops and pragmatism. He is also a skilled compromiser. ‘He knows there is a time in this business to drop the switchblades and make a deal,’ said Representative Adam H. Putnam, Republican of Florida.”

Not to mention that Emanuel is steeped in the dirty politics of the Chicago machine and understands, probably better than most, where the mines that could potentially sidetrack Obama are buried.

The promises of real power …

“Mr. Emanuel initially resisted taking the job. But he came around after Mr. Obama kept insisting, saying that these were momentous times and that the awesome tasks he faced required Mr. Emanuel’s help. The then president-elect also assured Mr. Emanuel that the position would be the functional equivalent of ‘a No. 2’ or ‘right-hand man,’ according to a person familiar with their exchanges.”

“Since taking the job, Mr. Emanuel spent endless hours reaching out to lawmakers. Mr. Reid gave out Mr. Emanuel’s personal cellphone number — with Mr. Emanuel’s blessing — at a caucus meeting of about 40 Senate Democrats earlier this month. (“He seems to speak to every senator every day,” said Senator Charles E. Schumer, Democrat of New York.)”

“He has been equally solicitous of Republicans in Congress (who also have been given access to Mr. Emanuel’s private contact information). On days he does not swim, he works out — and conducts business — at the House gym: 25 minutes on the bike, 20 minutes on the elliptical, 120 sit-ups, 55 push-ups and many sweaty conversations with his former colleagues. In a recent encounter there, for instance, with Representative Peter Hoekstra, Republican of Michigan, Mr. Emanuel secured his support for Leon E. Panetta to become director of the Central Intelligence Agency.”

Actions speak louder than words …

“So far, Mr. Emanuel has been more chief than staff in performing his job, according to several officials. He advocated fiercely for posts for fellow Clinton administration alums like Hillary Rodham Clinton and Mr. Panetta; not so much for the outgoing Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean, with whom he had clashed while at the Congressional Campaign Committee. (‘He was never negative about Dean,’ said the Obama transition head, John Podesta, who added, “I wouldn’t characterize it as the other way, either.’)”

“Mr. Emanuel has also served as the administration’s chief headhunter. When the Office of Management and Budget director, Peter R. Orszag, had doubts about taking the job, Mr. Emanuel went into his default mode — jackhammering away at him, tracking him down in Hong Kong. “You can’t sit on the sidelines; you’ve got to come inside,” Mr. Emanuel told him.

“Asked if ‘relentless’ would be a fair characterization of Mr. Emanuel’s recruitment method, Mr. Orszag said, simply: ‘He’s Rahm. Come on.’”

Many a truth is spoken in jest …

“At a White House gathering with Mr. Obama and a bipartisan team of lawmakers on Friday, the House majority leader, Steny Hoyer, joked that Mr. Emanuel was too busy to talk to him, so he called the president instead. Mr. Obama said he was always happy to take calls for his chief of staff — a reference to an incident a few weeks ago when Mr. Hoyer called Mr. Emanuel, who was in the back of a car and claimed he was too busy to talk, so he handed the phone to Mr. Obama.”

“In meetings, it is not uncommon for Mr. Obama and Mr. Emanuel to engage in teasing banter. One White House official recalls an exchange last week in which Mr. Obama said something to the effect of, ‘Well, I was going to do that, but I didn’t want Rahm to mope for a half-hour.’”

Just asking …

Why did the journal of the new socialist left, the New York Times, paint such an unflattering portrait of Rahm Emanuel?

Certainly not to inform the public.

Might it be that the New York Times is worried that Emanuel’s pragmatic political sense may actually be holding a more radical Obama in check; and that the Times is openly advocating for more socialistic behaviors?

Or, it might be that the New York Times is flexing its editorial muscle in order to remind the politicians that they are still relevant – even though their circulation numbers and finances tend to indicate that they have lost a significant amount of their audience when they started to abandon their journalistic ethics and become hyper-partisan shills for Obama and the democrat party.

Or perhaps they are setting the stage for some form of corporate bailout? How embarrassing is it to have a Mexican national, Carlos Slim, bail out the newspaper that touts itself as the “national record”  from their self-induced financial difficulties – and at loan shark rates?

And how embarrassing is it to be accused of editorial interference in not covering the rumors that a high profile potential Senate Appointee, Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg, might allegedly be having an affair with the man that heads the New York Times – even though both are married to other people.

Bottom line – the United States is stronger for having Rahm Emanuel in the White House …

Say what you will about Emanuel’s partisanship or choice of political party, relatively few have claimed Emanuel to be a shrill ideologue, overt socialist or one who hates his Country. No one has ever doubted that Rahm Emanuel would not do everything in his power to protect Israel from annihilation. Truth be told, Rahm Emanuel is Barack Obama’s Dick Cheney – a man who is more qualified to assume the presidency than his boss.

What can YOU do?

Continue to watch the New York Times with a jaundiced eye. They have proven that they have compromised their journalistic ethics to become partisan cheerleaders. They can no longer be relied on to separate corporate and editorial interests and that one suspects that their ability to “tell truth to power” has been severely compromised.

Consider that Rahm Emanuel may be the right person, in the right place and at the right time. A moderating pragmatic force that will keep President Obama from catering to the loony leftists who are hell-bent on socializing America as they weaken her economy and military for a strategic global advantage for those who do not wish America well.

While I would much rather have had a conservative Republican in office (certainly not McCain who now appears to be a Judas Goat leading the Republican Party further astray), I am encouraged that a Emanuel/Obama team may take good enough care of the country to keep it from further disintegration and a poor enough job to allow a conservative Republican to be elected in 2010.

Let us not forget that we need re-build the Republican party from the ground up. To sidetrack the North Eastern effete liberals (who now find themselves completely without Congressional power) in favor of Reagan conservatives. Get involved in your local Republican organization. Money is essential – but so are a committed group of volunteers who can bring forth the conservative message.

-- steve

Quote of the day: To modify a Sarah Palin quip … “What is the difference between an ex-ballet dancer and a pit bull?” “Nothing – just as Rahm Emanuel”

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:

Partisan, Playful and Profane, Obama Aide Tries to Hold It In - NYTimes.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



Gambling your future on historical precedent?

theme

I have been invited to a paid public performance of an investment guru. A man who has made some notable observations in the past and thus has achieved a degree of recognition. His current offering is an outlook which can be characterized as either unduly pessimistic or outright calamitous.

Therefore, in preparation for my attendance at this event, I started to think, not about this presenter, but about the  nature of financial gurus in general.

Looking backwards to foretell the future …

Economists, stock pickers, and even climatologists, are always looking backwards, searching the historical data for clues to future events. Plotting numerical values on charts and manipulating the results in the hopes that a repetitive pattern will appear. Sophisticated mathematical techniques, chaos theory and fuzzy logic have all been used to attempt to highlight micro-trends in data which is seemingly random. All to provide an edge to an investor seeking their fortune.

The lucky few …

And among the hundreds of professionals that engage in financial analysis, there are always those few professionals who are able to call a trend, provide a rational, or at least plausible, explanation of their reasoning and then capitalize on their prognostications. In essence to monetize their wisdom in books, speaking engagements and the sale of ancillary materials.  It should also give one pause to note that sometimes those who predict unusual or way out trends are lucky whack-jobs, simply because the results of the other trend-spotters seem to be clustered into the safe and “most probable” scenario.

However, not all is what it may seem …

Unfortunately, there are times when coincidence is able to pass for experience and foresight. That lightning has struck a particular point does not insure that lightning will strike a second time – although it is well known that lightning can and will strike the same point multiple times.

The breakdown of analysis …

Black swan events: While there are those who claim that our current financial crisis is actually based on well-understood long term cycles is to ignore that many events are associated with a so-called “black swan” trigger – an event that is so exceedingly rare that it has never occurred before and thus is not represented in the historical data. In reality the black swan event may be a single event or a confluence of events that produce the storied “perfect storm.” But, by definition, the information is not readily discernable in historical data – unless one uses perfect 20-20 hindsight to develop a story that uses historical data in such a way as to make the analyst’s story believable.

Random patterns: I can assure you that clouds do not contain information. They are a random product of prevailing weather conditions and infinitely mutable, changing to meet the demands of physics. Seeing a pattern in random data can be simply explained. Your heredity, environment, education and experience have all combined to produce a series of recognizable patterns which can be further extended by your reasoning process. Therefore, you are, in a sense, seeing what you expected to see based on the patterns you have experienced in the past or extrapolate from combinations of these patterns. Look at the cloud picture below. Ask yourself, is there any information contained in this picture?

cloudfinger

Hindsight and back-testing: There is a well-known tendency among researchers to posit a theory and then test it against historical data. Using present day information to devine historical precedent. Unless there is a rigorous examination of the entire analytical process, the information that is derived may be both coincidental and unrepeatable in the future. As with many efforts involving historical analysis, the time-range and conditions chosen by the researcher may enhance the effect that they have come to believe is a significant sign of a projectable trend.

The inherent danger of gurus …

Simply put, there is a significant danger in investing significant resources with those who have claimed to be able to devine future trends and point to both historical cycles and their past successes. The best advice that can be given under these circumstances is to use a qualified investment advisor who acts in your best interests, has fully disclosed their corporate associations and referral payments relative to your investments, and diversifies your investment to accommodate your needs and risk profile. In this way, you may achieve some isolation from some wild and crazy ideas. 

The HALO effect …

Those with significant backgrounds and/or magnificent achievements are people that are seen in a different light. They are surrounded with an aura of achievement, wealth and believability.  A golden halo, if you will. However, the sad truth is that stellar performers rarely are able to repeat their original accomplishments. And those who are extremely wealthy may have simply been in the right place at the right time – and it was more fate and relationships than knowledge and experience which resulted in their achievement. One needs to be very wary of someone of great wealth or achievement that offers advice to the general public for a price – as they or their customers may not be able to replicate past results in today’s difficult economy and circumstances.

Everything gravitates to money …

Once someone has achieved critical mass, that is they have a significant amount of personal wealth, control a significant amount of investment capital or have a sterling reputation of achievement, good deals are presented to them before lesser individuals. They are given a “piece of the action” to front deals which use their name and character. In essence, they may become paid endorsers of a product or a particular philosophy. Similarly, the ability to attract media attention or become a walking advertisement is likewise valuable. Therefore, investment results may be significantly skewed by the winnowing of good investment opportunities as money attracts more money and great deals.

This performance has a purpose …

While the speaker may be getting paid for his performance, there often are ulterior motives that should be considered.

Is this a direct promotion of a current book or product (often sold in the lobby and with the extra benefit of being autographed and individualized)?

Is this an event which will attract the media and this add to the preponderance of good press and promotional materials?

Is this an appearance before a distinguished association, major corporate entity or governmental body which can be used to lend additional credibility to the promoter and their product?

Is this a sponsored presentation by those selling ancillary goods and services which feature tie-ins with the promoter’s positions and products?

The danger of self-doubt …

Because I may not be as wealthy, credentialed, experienced or as well versed in the subject matter at hand, I might have the tendency to accept the promoter’s words as gospel while my self-doubt overcomes any  nagging questions I might have as to the veracity of the promoter or the effectiveness of their product. A over-ride of my common-sense? However, since I seem to have a varied background and a well-tuned bullshit detector, I am prepared to meet the future.

It is with this in mind that I am prepared to listen to a person who is being touted as a giant among investment gurus – perhaps I can learn something new; and then again, possibly not. Can’t hurt to listen.

What can YOU do?

Before you invest your hard-earned money …

Do not overlook the fact that one needs a sufficient capital base to invest as to make the investment pay off. While one can earn 50%, 100% or more on a few dollars, the end result will not allow one to live comfortably and may not be worth the effort – or may not be sufficiently scalable to achieve more attractive results.  Alternatively, one must have sufficient capital to withstand the risk of total loss without altering your income generation potential or your present lifestyle. A balancing act to be sure. Which is a way of saying that the odds do not favor an individual becoming wealthy in a short period of time or by making investments where the risk/reward ratio approaches gambling. Money attracts money.

Do not overlook the fact that there are some well-credentialed, wealthy people of achievement who have seemingly struck it rich. Possibly based on the luck of being in the right place at the right time. No guru should be awarded a “halo” for their past activities which may be the unexplainable products of genetics, environment, education and experience.  The fact that one is a person of renown and can write down the steps for achieving wealth, happiness or any other state of being, does not mean that this skill is transferrable to those who simply read the book or attend the lecture. In fact, I would venture to say that there exists an entire class of “information junkies” who flit between courses and never put forth the requisite effort to achieve the results they desire. Somehow their motivation ends with acquiring the knowledge or maybe exerting an attempt at its application. The day-to-day perseverance and killer instinct is lacking and thus the results will be somewhat less than satisfying – often pushing the person to chase the next great idea. Note that I used the words “seemingly struck it rich” … fake Presidential Rolexes can be purchased for a few hundred dollars. Expensive cars can be leased. Do not confuse the symbolism with the substance (the essence of any good con)

Do not overlook that many people monetize their knowledge and capitalize on notable events in their past. Their real fortune is built from making speeches and selling materials to the hopeful. While there may be great tips and techniques in the materials provided, unless one is prepared to use these guidelines in an all-out effort, again, the result may be somewhat less than anticipated.

Do not forget that intermediaries, such as investment counselors, are, in the final analysis, sales people who want to earn a commission by selling you on an investment idea or product. Unless singly employed by you under a strict fiduciary contract, it is best to treat these people as sales people. Remember, people who give speeches, teach courses and sell materials may also want to steer your investments. So be wise and be wary.

Be wary also of the paid sponsor or shill. The paid sponsor who lends his credentials, fame or position to singing the praises of the promoter and their product. The shill is likewise a paid promoter, but one who feigns no association with the promoter and thus is perceived as an independent and credible source of information. And while I am on the subject, be wary of plants – no, not the garden variety – but the people who have been pre-positioned in the audience to ask specific questions which lead the speaker into a prepared speech or who seemingly provide independent corroboration of the speaker’s position. Often these are the first people to “seed the crowd” by being first to sign-up for courses or purchase materials. These people are often well-dressed and well-spoken and serve as a visual reinforcement of the product’s worth.

Take the time to learn about scams and scammers. It might just save you a few bucks in the future. It might have saved a few hundred people up to $50 billion dollars.  It is wise to remember that at the heart of all scams is a mark who is either greedy or afraid of loss. Those that seek to maximize return for a minimal investment, usually find out that the way it works is for them to make a maximum investment for a minimal return.

The wisest investment advice seems comes from the Better Business Bureau: Investigate BEFORE you invest. That goes for both the promoter and his proposition. One need only look at the current Bernard Madoff Ponzi scheme scandal and note that very famous, wealthy and sophisticated investors were wiped out overnight when the scheme was revealed to the authorities.

-- steve

Quote of the Day: “It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.” O. Henry

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

If you should wish to join me on the journey to help me build a web site dedicated to YOUR survival in today’s uncertain times, you can sign up for my free report on job loss related panic at www.aminext.com or by clicking on the site logo below.

subscribe to aminext.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



Barney Frank: An example of why the democrats cannot be trusted with large sums of money ...

The problem with democrats is they cannot divorce special interest politics and money from their legislative decisions. And one of the most powerful legislators in Congress is House Financial Services Chairman, Barney Frank.

Lack of judgment …

  • One, the House Ethnics committee reprimanded because he "reflected discredit upon the House" by using his congressional office to fix 33 parking tickets for his gay lover.

According to reports, Frank paid Gobi $80 for sex and then “tried to rehabilitate the drug-using prostitute by hiring him to run errands and lending him the use of his apartment.

Members of the House Ethics committee was said to believe Frank when he denied any knowledge of the prostitution ring being run out of his residence.

  • Two, nobody complained when Frank engaged in a gay relationship with Herb Moses, an executive at Fannie from 1991 to 1998, where he helped to develop affordable housing and home improvement lending programs for Fannie Mae. Especially when Barney Frank’s committee was actively resisting bi-partisan calls for the reform of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and creating “affordable housing” legislation. Even though Frank witnessed first hand the corruption in both institutions, where there the management of both institutions allegedly cooked the books to earn hundreds of millions in executive bonuses. Frank continued to tout the safety and soundness in the months prior to the collapse of both institutions into a federal conservatorship. 
  • And three … Frank continues to infuse special interest politics with the allocation of banking bailout funds under the TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program); which is the subject of this blog entry.

An example of Frank’s intervention …

According to the Wall Street Journal …

“Troubled OneUnited Bank in Boston didn't look much like a candidate for aid from the Treasury Department's bank bailout fund last fall.”

“The Treasury had said it would give money only to healthy banks, to jump-start lending. But OneUnited had seen most of its capital evaporate. Moreover, it was under attack from its regulators for allegations of poor lending practices and executive-pay abuses, including owning a Porsche for its executives' use.”

“Nonetheless, in December OneUnited got a $12 million injection from the Treasury's Troubled Asset Relief Program, or TARP. One apparent factor: the intercession of Rep. Barney Frank, the powerful head of the House Financial Services Committee.”

Mr. Frank, by his own account, wrote into the TARP bill a provision specifically aimed at helping this particular home-state bank. And later, he acknowledges, he spoke to regulators urging that OneUnited be considered for a cash injection.”

Who is OneUnited …

Capture1-22-2009-5.07.32 PM

According to their web site … 

“OneUnited Bank is the first Black-owned internet bank, the first Black-owned interstate bank and the largest Black-owned and managed bank in the country with offices in urban communities of California, Florida and Massachusetts. Its mission is to provide affordable financial services to support economic development in urban communities and maintain superior financial performance to maximize shareholder value.”

The Bank's operations consist primarily of originating and purchasing mortgage loans - with a focus on urban and low-to-moderate income communities - and funding that activity with the gathering of affordable FDIC insured deposits. The Bank supplements mortgage lending activities with additional interest-earning assets such as United States Government Agency securities and mortgage-backed securities and funding sources such as advances from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Boston. The Bank generates fee income on deposit and loan accounts and, depending on market conditions, net gains on sales of securities and loans. The level of its expenses such as salaries and benefits, occupancy and equipment costs, other general and administrative expenses and income tax expense further affects the Bank's net income. The Bank's mission is to achieve superior financial performance.”

“The OneUnited Bank vision is to unite urban communities across America and build wealth. As an FDIC insured institution, with state-of-the-art technology, a dedicated and experienced branch staff and loan officers who know customers by name, with over a half a billion dollars in assets and locations from coast-to-coast, the Bank is ready to serve.” <Source>

And why is that a problem …

Far from being a sound and prudently run bank, the FDIC felt compelled to issue a “cease and desist” order that cited a number of self-serving management issues.

ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Bank and its institution-affiliated parties, and its successors and assigns, cease and desist from the following unsafe or unsound banking practices and violations of law:

a. Operating with an inadequate level of capital for the kind and quality of assets held;

b. Failing to provide adequate supervision and direction over the officers of the Bank;

c. Operating without an appropriate risk management program that establishes acceptable risk exposure and ensures appropriate policies and practices are in place;

d. Allowing the payment of excessive compensation, fees and benefits to its senior executive officers;

e. Operating with an excessive level of criticized assets;

f. Operating without effective underwriting standards and practices;

g. Operating without an effective loan documentation program;

h. Failing to provide for an effective system to identify problem assets and prevent deterioration;

i. Engaging in speculative investment practices and failing to prudently diversify its equities portfolio;

j. Operating without a system to monitor and evaluate earnings and ensure maintenance of adequate capital and reserves;

k. Operating with deficient earnings;

l. Operating without sufficient liquidity, in light of the asset and liability mix and overall financial condition of the Bank; and

m. Committing violations of law and regulation.

Other issue include a party house in California, car leases and reimbursement of executive expenses …

6. (a) Within ninety (90) days from the effective date of this ORDER, the Bank shall rescind any and all lease agreements, contracts or arrangements with, and shall cease paying for any expenses related to, 703 Pacific Palisades Beach Road, LLC, its principals, successors or assigns.

(b) Within ninety (90) days from the effective date of this ORDER, the Bank shall sell all Bank-owned automobiles and other vehicles provided to or for the use of the Bank’s executive officers; and shall require all executive officers to reimburse the Bank for the fair market value of any automobiles or vehicles purchased by the Bank in the names of such executive officers or their related interests.
(c) Within ninety (90) days from the effective date of this ORDER, the Bank shall amend the supplemental health benefits for the Chairman of the Board, Chief Executive Officer and President, so that such benefits are comparable to those currently available to other executive officers of the Bank.

(d) Within sixty (60) days from the effective date of this ORDER, the Board shall engage a qualified independent consultant, acceptable to the Area Director and the Commissioner, to assess the appropriateness of all current and deferred compensation paid to the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer and the President, in light of each individual’s competence, responsibilities, and performance. The analysis will include a comparison of such compensation to that of Banks of comparable size and complexity, and, based on the forgoing analyses and comparisons, will identify an appropriate level of compensation for each individual. The analysis will also include a determination of the reasonableness of all perquisites, including, but not limited to items such as housing and automobile allowances and/or benefits.

By all accounts, the executives were running the bank in a manner which seems to be placing their self-interests over those of their shareholders and depositors. Not that these executives are any different from those in larger financial institutions. But what is different is that Barney Frank inappropriately interfered with those involved in making sound and prudent funding decisions. It is unknown if Barney Frank also had any contact with any regulatory agencies on behalf of OneUnited and/or its executives or directors.

Three strikes and you’re out!

These are only three of, heaven knows how many, special interest interventions in governmental affairs. This is more about Barney Frank’s judgment rather than his qualifications.

Not only did Barney Frank preside over the most stunning failure of our financial system in modern times, he apparently acted in such a manner as to bring about the collapse of the Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If the democrats in the House of Representatives were as honorable and as ethical as they claim to be … they would refer this matter to the Department of Justice for investigation by a special counsel. 

Unfortunately, it is likely that Barney Frank will be allowed to continue to damage our financial system while those bubble-headed liberal loons in Massachusetts keep re-electing him to office.

Giving new meaning to “fannie” mae …

dish-barney-frank

Barney Frank with a friend.

What can YOU do?

Ask your elected officials how Barney Frank can be allowed to influence billions of dollars in bailout funds and craft new legislation regarding the housing markets when he has shown such spectacularly poor judgment in the past?

Also ask your elected officials why Barney Frank is not being investigated for possible illegal interference in bank matters on behalf of special interests and/or possibly  exerting undue influence on regulatory agencies associated with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac?

Be well and be safe.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “A kleptomaniac is a person who helps himself because he can't help himself.” - Henry Morgan

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:

Political Interference Seen in Bank Bailout Decisions - WSJ.com

ONEUNITED BANK ORDER TO CEASE AND DESIST|FDIC-08-294b

If you should wish to join me on the journey to help me build a web site dedicated to YOUR survival in today’s uncertain times, you can sign up for my free report on job loss related panic at www.aminext.com or by clicking on the site logo below.

subscribe to aminext.com

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for reading my OneCitizenSpeaking blog and encourage you to sign-up for the future benefits yet to come.


“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 can you believe in?

January 2o, 2009  was a monumental day which should be officially memorialized …

2009tombstone

When one considers the last minute deals and the character of the incoming Administration, it appears that the public trust and faith in our government has died.

We have entered the realm of political celebrity, where good intentions and a well-crafted speech serve as a measure of accomplishment – even though little or nothing may have been accomplished.

Where the special interests reign supreme and those who contributed mightily to the campaign are now expecting their rewards.

Where the media is afraid to jeopardize its corporate interests by telling truth to power and is complicit in sycophantically covering up the stone cold truth.

Where the word “crisis” is used to suspend the normal rules and conventions of the government, to allow egregious acts of self-interest and public deception to take place on the national stage; often without a fight or words of dissent.

While observing the pageantry and solemnity surrounding the inauguration, I became even more convinced that Barack Obama was, up until now, an empty slate upon which the voters projected their own wants, needs and desires.

Truly a symbol of hope and change … if one looked only at the rhetoric and ignored the actions of the politicians and their political parties.

It is almost inconceivable that slightly more than half of those who took the time and trouble to vote ignored the environment of corruption and special dealing which surrounded Barack Obama. And, most importantly, ignored the fact that Obama was, at best, a dupe or an opportunist when he associated with those who were corrupt, harbored anti-American sentiments or were judged to be unrepentant domestic terrorists.

That a good portion of Barack Obama’s personal history has remained hidden from public scrutiny and shrouded in mystery. And the portion of what has been revealed surrounded with contradiction and controversy.

That his party, the democrats, by means fair and foul, have managed to corrupt the election process by their suspicious voter registration drives and election practices which, in some cases, count more votes than citizens voting.

That his staunchest supporters rely on the precepts of moral equivalency to justify their actions; to claim that President Bush and his Administration led the way in corrupt, special interest dealings. All under the guise of inoculating themselves from future blame by claiming the roots of any corruption and/or crisis should be attributable to the Bush regime.

So I ask again, “what can you believe in?”

And there is but one answer: YOURSELF!

It is time to take defensive measures …

It is time to take defensive measures and insulate yourself from the physical, emotional and spiritual consequences of a government which has proven to be increasingly out of control.

A government where Orwellian definitions indicating black is white, up is down and good is evil abound. Where lawyers parse sentences to find favorable meaning where there is none. Where profligate spending on special interest projects which never work or are canceled before the acid test of everyday usage abound.

Where people are encouraged to sacrifice for the common good, even though that good benefits only the special interests.

It is time to take matters into your own hands. To manage your own health and physical well being, to isolate yourself from those who are crazy-makers and demanding that you blindly follow their latest schemes, to educate yourself when education is being dumbed down and perverted by social activists, to protect your own employment future when CEOs simply shed employees to improve their bonuses and to manage your finances in an age when the government wants you to spend yourself further into debt claiming it is your patriotic duty to help spend our way to a strong economy.

We can no longer trust those institutions which have failed America. Education which is more about union control and supporting minorities than it is about providing a sound basis for adult maturity. Finance, where those who you trusted to prudently manage your finances, gambled on speculative derivatives to earn outrageous bonuses in the tens, and sometimes, hundreds of millions of dollars.

And unfortunately, this same toxic environment extends to local and state governments. Where personal self-interest pervades party politics and those who do not wish America well are busy enabling our enemies, both foreign and domestic, to take over our cities, states and federal government without a single shot being fired. Using the tools of political correctness, multiculturalism and diversity to further divide and conquer our legal citizens.

There is much that is right with America and there is every chance that this recession will turn the corner soon. But we need to take action now. To position ourselves to benefit from bad times as well as good times. To become strong enough to lend support to our families and our communities.

Beginning YOUR journey …

Today, the day after the inauguration, should be a solemn day. A day in which you begin your journey into the future. Putting aside all of the past angst and confusion over politics and moving forward with your own programs that benefit you. In essence, your inauguration into the world of YOU!

To this end, I am going to dedicate a portion of my time to building a web site that will be dedicated to self-protection and the encouragement of personal achievement.

Join me in becoming personally proactive …

If you should wish to join me on the journey, you can sign up for my free report on job loss related panic at www.aminext.com or by clicking on the site logo below.

subscribe to aminext.com

I would like to take this opportunity to thank you once again for reading my OneCitizenSpeaking blog and encourage you to sign-up for the future benefits yet to come.


“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's inaugural address: Don't blame anyone, he told you what he plans to do!

Perhaps it is just me?  That there is some flaw in my character which encourages me to see some inkling of  unpleasant truths to come; while those about me applaud and cheer the arrival of a new President. Perhaps it is because I have closely followed his campaign rhetoric and compared our President’s talking points with his actions, or in some cases, lack of action.

I will freely admit that our government, starting with the Carter years and moving through the Bush 43 years, has left much to be desired. In terms of the rise in self-interest governmental corruption. Of purchasing photo-ops with foreign dictators who issue worthless proclamations in return for cold, hard American cash, commodities and technology.

Therefore, it is with some trepidation that I read President Obama’s inaugural address; starting from the part that is of interest to me.

“My fellow citizens:”

I am inheriting a mess …

“That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.

"Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred."

"Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age." 

"Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered."

"Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.”

“These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics.”

These are the facts and they are undeniable.

And many in America are discouraged and despondent …

“Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.”

“Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.”

“They are serious and they are many.”

“They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.”

Again, these are the facts and they are undeniable. 

Promise and the hope born of change  …

“But know this, America they will be met.”

You have elected me and I will assume I have a mandate for change …

“On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.” 

“On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.”

“We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

This is an American President speaking to his fellow American citizens: “The God-given promise that all Americans are equal, all Americans are free, and all Americans deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.”

“In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given.”

Our individual God-given rights are a given: they arise from God and have absolutely nothing to do with government. And it is through a willing amalgamation of our individual strengths that our nation becomes great.

“It must be earned.”

It does not have to be earned, it is our right as individuals who have banded together in self-governance. And while it does not have to be earned, it has to be nurtured. Nurtured by individuals who recognize the natural law and the benefits of free association for mutual assistance.

“Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less.”

“It has not been the path for the faint-hearted for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame.”

“Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.”

True! 

Immigration …

“For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.”

“For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.”

“For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.”

“Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life.”

They sacrificed much, and in many cases made the ultimate sacrifice, so all could live in a land where freedom and liberty was the rule rather than the exception. 

“They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.”

I disagree. They saw America, not being bigger than the sum of the individual ambitions, but as the nation that allowed for mutual freedoms, the willing combination of individual achievement for a common good, a structure that could and would defend its individual citizens from a common enemy that would have us as indentured servants to their ideologies.

“This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished.”

Our spirit, knowledge and ingenuity remains strong. But our capacity has been greatly diminished as we have outsourced critical industries and essential materials to foreign countries so that we may enjoy lower taxes and the benefits of cheap labor. If anything, the venality of some, caused in part by overly restrictive government policies, has sold out a portion of our vital national capacity to foreign sovereign nations by outsourcing and allowing the outright purchase of critical industries by those who do not wish us well. What combination of business and political forces allowed the covertly hostile Chinese Army to use a former Navy installation, located next to our most populous city, to ship thousands of uninspected cargo containers throughout our nation?

A slap at the former Administration?

“ But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.”

Lofty and necessary goals …

“For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth.We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost.We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.”

“All this we can do. And all this we will do.”

Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans.Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

Yes, these goals should be accomplished and it is not a matter of those who question those who dream big. It is a question of jurisdiction. Many of these goals should be accomplished by private corporations as there is no Constitutional mandate for our federal government to own and operate what has been, in the past, the purview of private industry – possibly acting under local and state regulations.

There is a fundamental misconception about money in Washington. It doesn’t belong to them, it belongs to the individual taxpayers who earned it. Perhaps the recovery funds should be disbursed to the states in proportion to their original contributions. And then, on a state level, grants made to private contractors who will agree to return this money to the people through lower costs and fees. All I know, from past historical reference, is that the federal government is structurally incapable of managing large sums of money without waste, fraud, corruption and malfeasance. Why should we believe that this Administration, mostly comprised of those who served past Administrations, with the task of doing something that they were unable to do previously?

It’s a new game? 

“What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply.” 

Perhaps the cynics, myself included, understand all too well that an evil confluence of politics, politicians and their special interest friends have created this crisis and are now attempting to use it to further their own political and personal ends. Who were the people who told us to invest in America, place our money in banks, trust that the regulators would strictly enforce prudent and sound money-handling practices? The cynics, at least in this case, have a right to be skeptical – they were the ones who lost 50% or more of their assets due to the malevolent greed of an elite few, unobserved by their so-called government regulators, some of which also profited mightily from this lack of oversight.

Why should I believe a politician who has risen through his self-serving actions through a corrupt Chicago political machines and finessed his way into the White House? Because he is telegenic and speaks well when using a TelePrompTer? I don’t care if he is white, black, purple or green – I care that he is honest and competent;  not a newbie who will make it up as he goes along or fall prey to malevolent advisors who may have their own agenda and be serving another master. Damn the media for not doing their job in protecting America from those who seem to spend more time calculating political spin than producing solid public policy.

We have trusted billions of dollars to those who confirm the fact that there was no reason behind that particular amount other than it needed to be a “big” number. And regardless of the leadership change at the top, or the new faces in Congress, it is the same old political masters who are pulling the strings.

Wrong question …

“The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.”

The correct question is: does the Constitution of the United States empower the federal government  to provide these services or should their provision be a state function, subject to voter approval?

“Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward.Where the answer is no, programs will end.”

This is no more than feel-good social engineering. Yes it would be nice to create high-paying jobs for everyone, provide them with the best health care and usher them offstage with a cushy retirement package. Truth be told, we only do this  for our politicians and those who are politically well-connected.  One need only look at the job security, salaries and perks of government workers (many represented by public service unions) to see that they are isolated from much of the pain found in the private sector. Enlarging government and raising taxes to accomplish your lofty goals is far less attractive than portrayed by the political spinmeisters. For those who do not recognize what is happening here, it is socialism. Centrally-planned actions to manage the collective. A subversion of individual responsibility in favor of more government entitlements.

And should they return our economy to relative health; I say relative because they will need to deal with the value-robbing inflationary billions pumped into our economy, they will soon need to create another crisis to continue their oppressive political behavior. I predict this might be a global warming, “save the planet” issue.

Accountability …

And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.

Politicians and their special interest friends have never been fully accountable to the American people. Billions of dollars associated with government projects have disappeared without a trace. And the government, in spite of the fact that we can compute the orbital trajectory to put a man on the moon, cannot develop a trusted accounting system nor can they develop a system which tracks visitors (both inward and outward) to the United States. But of course, we already know the answer: it is not incompetence, it is obfuscation and corruption by design – for the sole purpose of plausible political deniability and to mask the money flowing to those special interests who support today’s politicians.

If President Obama was serious about accountability, let him purchase an off-the-shelf copy of an accounting program and force each and every government agency to use it. No more funny budgeting or allocations to obscure funding accounts. No more funny squirreling of in hidden accounts to be used as a uncontrolled slush fund.

Free market capitalism and regulatory powers …

“Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.”

The sad fact is that the regulators did not enforce the regulations already on the books or succumbed to the assault of loophole bearing lawyers with enough arguments to tie the matter up in court for years. When politicians, many of whom are lawyers, are allowed to use special interests to draft legislation and permit ambiguous wording we can rest assured that the result will be “legalized fraud.” How many citizens know that Congress voted – and President Clinton signed – a bill which exempted those who created toxic securities from state gaming laws? Yes, that’s right! These people knew they were gambling and did not want any state to prosecute them for engaging in a prohibited act.

“The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on our ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.”

This is government-forced wealth re-distribution couched in terms of “our common good.” No – it is robbing the hard-working, law-abiding American taxpayer of the fruits of his labor at the point of a gun – and giving it to someone who the politician deems worthy. Socialism!

“As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

We can thank George Orwell for writing a book in which the government claims “up is down,” “right is left” and evil is good.”

Remember the quote attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “He who gives up freedom for safety deserves neither?” Well that is exactly what the Obama Administration is asking. They are asking us to cede a portion of our freedom and liberty for the safety of a governmental entitlement. In the case of so-called “global warming,” giving up the right to use energy as we wish – and conserve for the good of all. To sacrifice our men and women to guard the bridges and infrastructure we are building in Iraq when our own infrastructure is crumbling and is in desperate need of repair or replacement.

Consider for a moment the  war in  Iraq. We opt for ridiculous rules of engagement that place our people at greater risk to protect those who openly support the enemy. Because our politicians lack the strength of character to draw a line in the sand and explain the consequences of stepping over the line. They are reluctant to use appropriate force when necessary. These politicians have gotten more combat soldiers killed than necessary. We know Iran is behind the production and importation of deadly and sophisticated IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) and has nuclear ambitions – so they talk to each other over opulent dinners, convincing themselves that America is more secure when they don’t act aggressively toward our enemies. They are more afraid of the media and foreign leaders than they are of the American public – because they know that Americans, especially today,  do not want to be disturbed from their American Idol television program to face the cold, hard truth that we are ceding our liberty to the enemy in return for a modicum of safety. Knowing that Americans will vote for the telegenic candidate with oratorical skills and a “feel good agenda.” Perhaps America deserves this particular wake up call?

“Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations.

The peril was death by hanging as a traitor. The charter was our Constitution. And it has been protected by the blood of Patriots. So, ask yourself, why are they so hell-bent in moving beyond its wise guidance and trying to nullify those portions which protect man against the tyranny of the government. Yes, folks – the Second Amendment. The very same Second Amendment that Barack Obama and Eric Holder, his nominee for Attorney General, claim applies to the collective and not the individual. Self-defense and the possession of a handgun in New York and Washington will get you a felony conviction and a jail sentence. At the same time those who would rob, maim, rape and kill you walk around armed – for it is only the law abiding citizen who must be disarmed. Nothing mentioned about the criminal, many of whom are poor minorities with their own ideas about wealth re-distribution.

Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.”

Note to Obama: we will never give them up, period! And we lead by example. Our country may have flaws (mostly caused by criminals, politicians and their cohorts), but there is not a greater country on the face of the Earth. We have always led the way – offering protection, with our blood when necessary, to others. There is no lead “once more” – we may be despised by governments and those they educate to hate us – but we are admired by all those who recognize that they are being oppressed. Name one other country where people will risk their life to exit their country to enter America. How many people illegally steal across Saudi Arabia’s borders in search of freedom and opportunity. 

Talking to our enemies, negotiating with evil ...

“Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions.They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

Our cause is our God-given freedom and the right to self-defense. Our cause is just an unequivocal. As before, our unwillingness to protect ourselves will be our undoing. Showing humility and restraint to those who demand we become subservient to their religion and their nation was the cause of 9/11. Bowing before an ruthless enemy which declares everyone “not of the faith” to be the enemy will present particular challenges to this new President. And for the sake of America and its continued survival, let us hope he is up to the challenge. 

By definition, negotiation involves some form of compromise where the parties are willing to come together, each taking a little bit less of what they want, in order to pursue a mutual benefit. But I ask you, what benefit should be conferred on evil and those who do not wish us well?

“We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort even greater cooperation and understanding between nations.”

We cannot simply request a hostile power cooperate with America or even the world community. Check your history. UN Sanctions against Saddam Hussein; universal condemnation of Iran’s nuclear program. Yada, Yada, Yada.  

Obama’s War: Afghanistan …

“We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan.”

We may withdraw our troops to their bases and limit their activities, but the drain on our finances will continue as we provide limited support to Iraq and make a full-assault on Afghanistan. I am not so sure that Obama won’t simply agree to allow the Taliban back into a coalition government (similar to Iraq) and continue to supply all parties with taxpayer money -- and then call it a victory.

“With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.”

Global warming remains one of the greatest political scams ever perpetrated by the far left environmentalists whose movement has been infiltrated by socialists, communists and anarchists as a method of pursuing the political action agenda while receiving tax-exempt funding as a non-profit. This represents a great threat to our freedom and serves as a vehicle to increase taxes, enlarge government and reduce our liberties –- all to fight an improbable proposition which takes hundreds of years to manifest results.

Talking tough for the right…

“We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”

Our strength is in our diversity …

“For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness.We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.”

Let’s all sing …

“Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah”

“Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah”

“Kum ba yah, my Lord, kum ba yah”

“Oh Lord, kum ba yah”

Overcoming centuries of conflict with a smile …

“To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.”

But enough about Saudi Arabia (rimshot). The thought that any American, an infidel by any Muslim’s standards, can change a religion that demands death or subservience to anyone not of the religion is beyond ludicrous, it is downright dangerous. Until the religion is reformed and the church is separated from  dictator states, there will be no meaningful Middle East reform or peace in Obama’s lifetime – let alone in in first or, heaven forbid, second term. To hang your Administration’s collective hat on the hopes that there is something resembling a “moderate” Muslim in Arab or other Muslim countries is to be whistling Dixie while walking past the graveyards of generations of soldiers. Obama will probably appoint low level envoys (with Hillary Clinton’s permission should she be confirmed) to come forth with meaningless meeting protocols and accords which will change nothing.

It is unknown whether or not President Obama will support Israel – especially if they attack Iran. Something I thought might occur prior to Obama’s inauguration, but which has been masterfully delayed by the Hamas fighters working on Iran’s payroll.

Re-distributing the wealth …

We will involuntarily tax the people of the United States to buy the cooperation of world leaders; re-distributing the wealth to those less fortunate who are not citizens of our great nation. Including funds for those who leaders who steal our money, subjugate their people and openly mock us for our naiveté and weakness. 

To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.

“And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect.”

Not only shall we capitalize on the hard work of Americans to make your worlds better, but we shall change our mode of living so that the differences between us are diminished – all under the guise of saving the planet from global warming.

“For the world has changed, and we must change with it.” 

Those that do not wish us well seem to have won the war of words, of ideas and ideologies – for President Obama is saying that we must change our lifestyles to match those of others. How very European. How very socialist.

A tribute to the troops who have protected us from the evil that Obama now wants to embrace and reward with both recognition and funding …

“As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us today, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment a moment that will define a generation it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.

True Americans will realize that our troops are the guardians of OUR liberty, embody a spirit of service to OUR nation and willing to find meaning in something greater than themselves – America and all of its legal citizens.

“For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies.”

“It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.”

These are acts of free will, not coerced by any central government or politician. These are helping hands which are freely extended to neighbors and those similarly situated within our great nation. And when we see that we can assist those outside of our own city, state and country, we do so freely and without being compelled to donate our money, time and effort. We help because we are Americans – not because our government takes our tax money and helps those who take our assistance, not with gratitude; but with a sense of entitlement.

Our challenge as Americans …

“Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history.”

“What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”

Our challenge, as Americans, is to elect honest politicians who recognize the value and worth of each and every American citizen, who realize that they exist to do our bidding, to act for our benefit and to give up their self-interests in order to serve the American people. It is one thing to speak of values and of worthy ideals – and then to corrupt them for political self-interest. To politicians, all of the words that describe Americans: hard working, honest, courageous, tolerant, curious, loyal and patriotic, should not form the basis for coercing fellow citizens into serving politicians and their political party; and allowing them to drain the fruits of our labors away so that they may retain office by pandering to the special interests with their own agendas. To elect politicians who do not divide us along racial, ethnic, religious or financial lines; but rather unite us as Americans to better ourselves and, by extension, America herself.

New era or old failed ideas?

“What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.”

“This is the price and the promise of citizenship.”

The price of citizenship is to individually strengthen ourselves first, because only the strong can contribute willingly to others and to his country. But we are not, as some may assume, citizens of the world who should have the world’s burdens placed upon our backs to further weaken us, individually and collectively. Again, we must separate our individual charity and that which is forced upon us by politicians operating in their own best interests. Truth be told, the promise of citizenship is to preserve our way of life, to assure that we remain free and prosperous, to leave a lasting legacy to our children … and to voluntarily share our blessings  when we, as individuals, deem it appropriate.

There are actions taken by our politicians which are not authorized under our Constitution. Actions made possible by the tortured twisting of words and interpretations born of whole cloth. We need to return to our Constitutional roots rather than become a manipulated collective.

“This is the source of our confidence the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.”

Our destiny is far from uncertain. It is the manifest enjoyment of our God-given rights with as little intrusion as possible from a government which has wildly grown beyond anything imagined by our forefathers. While our guiding principles have remained constant, it is the politicians who are bending America to the will of those who can afford to manipulate the media, raise large campaign funds and to insure that their membership will vote as they are told.

“This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”

While we have made great racial strides in electing a bi-racial fellow citizen to office, it should be said, on this solemn occasion, that the man who has been elected, and his political party, has never been afraid to divide Americans by race, ethnicity, religion and class to gain a political advantage. While it is a magnificent achievement for any American to become the President of the United States, it should be noted that his election was more a confluence of events in which a highly polarized nation was voting against a president and his political party than voting for the candidate for office. Aided and abetted by a media who had ceded their journalistic ethics and could no longer tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Also aided an abetted by prodigious fundraising, some of which might have come from foreign sources who saw in this candidate, a kindred spirit and willingness to further drain America’s coffers and weaken her in relationship to other nations.

“So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned.The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

‘Let it be told to the future world that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it].’"

Let us not forget that we were fighting for our survival against a foreign oppressor, one that would summarily confiscate the fruits of our labors in the form of taxes. And impose other egregious sanctions on our budding band of liberty-seeking Americans. Those who have gone before us have fought and died to determine our own destiny.

And I find it highly ironic that we are now engaged in a similar fight against those who would confiscate the fruits of our labors in the form of taxes. Maybe indirectly, to support a burgeoning government with ever-growing power – but confiscate the fruits of our labors nevertheless.

We are fighting an internal enemy and we must all realize that we could lose our America, and our freedoms, without ever having fired a shot in self-defense. Our freedoms and the fruits of our labor are slowly disappearing in a morass of laws, rules and regulations designed to exert control over Americans in the guise of keeping us safe and benefiting society. Until one sad day, we will wake up and find that we have committed the egregious and felonious act of living life as we have lived it in the past.

“America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

Let us hope that newly-elected President Obama realizes that it is our individual strengths which make us strong; and when willingly combined with the strengths of others, makes us invincible as a nation. It would be a sad day for America to see our nation become Europe, an allegedly civilized society that exists for the good of the collective – and those of wealth and power who manage it in their own self interests.

While I hope a President Obama will turn from his previous path and take a step towards the light, I am cognizant of his past political environment and the fellow travelers who have assisted his journey to the White House. But, as an American, I do hope that President Obama has the courage and the wisdom to move beyond politics and the manufactured media image of Abraham Lincoln to achieve the greatness of a Lincoln. While it may be unlikely, one of the greatest things about American and Americans is that it is possible.

Thank you for reading my blog. Be well and be safe.

-- steve

The Quote of the day is actually a few quotes from that great statesman, Winston Churchill, who most definitely knew something of war and statesmanship.

“All great things are simple, and many can be expressed in single words: freedom, justice, honor, duty, mercy, hope.”

“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.”

“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.”

“When the eagles are silent, the parrots begin to jabber.”

Reference Links:

Obama's inaugural address|Washington Times

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“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



I, for one, do not wish Obama to succeed!

Today, I am afraid for the future of America …

cryingeagle

The reason Barack Obama was elected by a relatively small margin …

The reason the Republicans lost the election is because they lost their conservative soul to the Rockefeller-wing of the party which believed that more government, more spending, less regulation and frat-boy cronyism were sufficient to guide our great nation. Pandering to those in the middle to join our party while catering to an ethnic/racial minority by promising what they could not deliver. In essence, turning into liberal democrats.

Simply stated: they lost their moral compass and failed to engage the democrats, as well as the American people, in a substantive conversation about the direction of the country. Primarily because both parties were heading the same way; down the primrose path to liberalism. 

We need to rebuild the Republican party using the precepts of Reagan-style conservatism.

Stating our principles and inviting all who agree to join us in the recovery of our great nation. And, there is nothing mysterious about these principles:

(1)  The first job of government is to uphold the Constitution and to protect us from our enemies, both foreign and domestic.

(2)  The second job of government is to regulate the relations between the individual states and to perform those duties which should be performed at a national level by virtue of being incapable of being performed by the individual states.

(3)  The third job of government is to perform jobs one and two with a minimally-sized government entity and at the lowest possible cost.

Where it went wrong …

Over time, the political parties became stronger and stronger and the support they received from the special interests began to interfere with the governance of the United States. Simultaneously, the public grew more and more apathetic as they were brainwashed by a complicit media into thinking that life was just grand. At some point in time, this apathetic public wanted assurances and guarantees that life would continue on as before – and entitlements were born.

Now we have two political parties which are competing in doling out entitlements to capture the vote and taxpayer dollars to the special interests in order to raise the funding to re-gain or remain in political office. Both parties have ignored the corruption, waste, fraud and mismanagement of the government in order to get their share of the political pie.

Government has grown so corrupt as to now offer illegal aliens the chance at amnesty, becoming legal citizens and being able to capitalize on the benefits which were once reserved for citizens – all in return for their future vote. Both parties have ignored that the influx of illegal aliens amounts to a hostile takeover of the United States.

These politicians watch our healthcare, educational, judicial, retirement, social and cultural infrastructure crumble as they count party votes which may or may not materialize in the next twenty years. In some states it has gotten so bad, that the illegal aliens are being offered the benefits of citizenship without even becoming citizens.

And so we find that the democrat party, cobbled together from special interests and fringe elements; and with financing which may come from those who do not wish the United States well, has managed to secure the Presidency and a majority of Congress. Soon to be a majority on the Supreme Court as well.

So how can I possibly bestow my blessings on this corrupt cabal of politicians – held in check only by public opinion, and then, just barely? One need only consider Barack Obama’s background, filled with dubious characters of questionable repute to see that he is less likely to represent change than he is the continuation of democrat party “machine” politics.

And I am afraid of the results!

Moving forward: consider California to be the “coal mine canary.”

In many cases, California serves as the model for the rest of the states. Whether fads or legitimate innovations, trends often start onthe left coast.

California’s Congressional leadership consists primarily of the same type of liberal democrats found elsewhere; primarily in the federal government. Democrats which have spent California into a budgetary deficit ranging from $12 billion to $44 billion depending on whose numbers you believe and the nature of their hidden agenda. California’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger is a self-absorbed, narcissistic, actor playing the role of a governor. In spite of his public accolades by the fans and fawning media, he has proven he has very little intellectual horsepower and is, for all intents and purposes, a liberal democrat seeking his next office.

Why haave California’s politicians turned the once golden state into a disaster? And how likely is this disaster likely to malignantly spread to other states?

Let’s see what’s wrong with California:

A steadily enlarging government, filled with waste, fraud, corruption and malfeasance. With control being shared by the legislature, governor and the bureaucrats as they pander to the special interests, primary of whom  are the public service unions. No matter how much money is available from state revenues, the legislature manages to spend significantly more. Papering over the difference with borrowing and accounting schemes. California leads the state in spending on government employees. Consider their outrageous salaries and pensions which are unavailable in the private sector. Guaranteed employment is almost a given regardless of the employee's level of performance or even the need for such a functionary. This is unlikely to get better, even if tax revenue is raised – the legislature will continue to spend money they don’t have; on projects which have little or no lasting value. Instead of money being spent to repair or replace our crumbling infrastructure, money is being spent on social engineering efforts and projects which benefit the private interests.

A failed educational system which demands a fixed portion of all incoming funds   has proven that money does not necessarily improve education. One need only to look at California’s largest school system, the Los Angeles Unified School District, where the political players are more interested in soothing the ego of a billionaire by building a $230 million modern art high school monstrosity to serve as part of his overall development project than they are in graduating actual students. Performance, no matter how measured, is abysmal and the LAUSD has just paid their Superintendent $500,000 to walk away from his contract -- because the board failed to set achievable goals and thus were dissatisfied with his lack of performance. In the real world, you fire the non-performer for cause, not reward them with more than a half million dollar bonus.

A declining number of major corporations, wealthy individuals and others who support the bulk of the tax burden. These people are leaving California for Nevada and other states with lower taxes, reduced living expenses and a business-friendly environment.

An unelected sub-government consisting of those who act as Mexican nationals; as they confer the benefits of citizenship on non-citizens to the detriment of the state’s law-abiding citizens and legal residents. These politicians are engaging in social engineering to upgrade the lifestyle of illegal aliens who arrive in droves. Thus California consciously continues to import more  poverty and illiteracy – and demands that their legal and law-abiding residents pay for their good works. Consider that a member of the military or an out-of-state non-resident must pay the non-resident school tuition; and  yet, we spend approximately $200 million to provide free college educations for illegal aliens.

And let us not forget the special interests who spend pennies on the dollar to win lucrative government contracts which are somewhat unlikely to be audited or even produce tangible results. Purposely using low bids to win the contracts and "change orders" to insure a heafty profit. These are the people who have corrupted our government with their campaign donations and/or promises to deliver large voting blocks.

Outrageous!

Add to that the draconian rules and regulations that are imposed on California businesses and which insures that they are less able to compete in the nation as well as the world.

The numbers:  Since Governor Schwarzenegger was elected to curtail legislative spending and to bring government under control in 2003, legislative spending has increased by a an outrageous 40%. A real dollar expansion of $41 billion, to a total of $144.8 billion annually. And our tax base is eroding as people move out of state. Fourteen percent of wealthy Californians (earning more than $100,000) pay 83% of the income taxes

All-in-all, the Governor and the legislature have all but destroyed the California dream.

In addition to the special interests, we have the limousine liberals in both Hollywood and the Bay Area who support these confiscatory policies as they have more money than they can ever spend, tax shelters from the best advisors and who remain totally unaffected by the positions they advocate. These are the people who supported Barack Obama and fervently hope that the federal government will bail out California. The “do as I say, don’t do as I do” crowd.

And this is the democrat model …

So explain to me why I should wish Obama and his merry band of re-tread Clintonistas well. Let them fail and cause the people, the majority of the people, to demand real reform. Reform of the political parties, reform of the government – and above all reform of a large segment of our population that thinks it has a right to government handouts to exist in the real world.

If Obama fails to hold on tight to the far-left liberal tiger he rode to power, he will surely be consumed and make way for a conservative Republican political base. Not the effete North Eastern Harvard/Princeton/Yale liberals and snobs who play at government, but real working people who know that it takes more than saying “My name is Caroline Kennedy” to obtain a Senate seat.

A debt of gratitude …

No matter what you think of our current President, he has managed to keep up safe from terrorism and has taken the fight to the enemy. Although despised by those organizations which have been infiltrated by our enemies and those who naturally hate America, he has done his job to the best of his ability.

So pardon me …

while I wish Obama a one-term Presidency which will encounter a Republican reformation in the Congress in 2010.

And for those of you who claim that President Obama will move farther to the center from his leftist position, may I remind you that President Bush moved the center so far left with his spending policies that Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy and John Kerry almost look like moderate liberals instead of far-left loons. So any attempt for an obvious reconcilliation effort with the right is likely to be simply a strategic ploy to make President Obama appear to be something he his most definitely not: a Joe Liberman-style moderate democrat. For those who follow politics, this is the Dick Morris "triangulation" gambit where one side simply co-opts the issues of the other in order to deny the other side traction.

We should also beware of faux-Republicans like California's Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Senators John McCain and his new best friend, Senator Lindsey Graham who are all too willing to rush into the democratic camp and serve as Judas goats.

There is no doubt that America will survive due to the resiliency and resourcefulness of the American people. Hopefully, the politicians and other evil-doers who put us in this precarious position will be prosecuted and lose their ill-gotten gains. Or at the very least, shamed into silence.

-- steve

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P.S. At this point in time, we are not experiencing the worst economic times since the great depression, we are experiencing the worst economic times since democrat Jimmy Carter's Administration.


“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



Do the French represent a global security threat?

Once again we hear from the cheese-eating surrender monkeys that serve as an arms dealer to the world …

According to The Brussels Journal …

Sarkozy: “Arabic Is the Language of the Future

“The French government is strongly advocating the teaching of Arabic language and civilization in French schools. Not surprising, considering the number of Arabs and Muslims in France, and the unctuous deference with which they are treated by officials, beginning notably with Nicolas Sarkozy, who cannot praise enough the splendor of Arabic contributions to the world.”

How can any world leader of a democratic nation which supports free speech openly support a civilization which supports a religion that demands that any unbeliever be killed or made into a second-class subservient serf and which features the barbarity of the 12th Century in today’s technological age?

Talking about religion or religious leaders can get you killed, maimed and tortured …

“The French National Assembly was the scene of a meeting earlier this month of the first Conference on the Teaching of Arabic Language and Culture, attended by a variety of interested parties. There was much wearisome blather about the need for ‘dialogue.’”

Delusional, or simply complimenting those to whom he wishes to sell arms, nuclear reactors, technology and oil services?

In his message to the participants, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called Arabic the ‘language of the future, of science and of modernity,’ and expressed the hope that ‘more French people share in the language that expresses great civilizational and spiritual values.’"

Orwell again: oppression = tolerance, evil = good?

" ‘We must invest in the Arabic language (because) to teach it symbolizes a moment of exchange, of openness and of tolerance, (and it) brings with it one of the oldest and most prestigious civilizations of the world. It is in France that we have the greatest number of persons of Arabic and Muslim origin. Islam is the second religion of France,’ Sarkozy reminded his listeners.

Along with moral equivalency comes multi-Culturalism and diversity …

He proceeded to enumerate the various "advances in terms of diversity," the increase in Muslim sections of cemeteries, the training of imams and chaplains and the appointments of ministers of diverse backgrounds.

France wants to become your “vendor of choice,” preferably with “no bid” contracts …

"’France is a friend of Arabic countries. We are not seeking a clash between the East and West,’ he affirmed, emphasizing the strong presence of Arab leaders at the founding summit of the Union for the Mediterranean, last July 13. ‘The Mediterranean is where our common hopes were founded. Our common sea is where the principal challenges come together: durable development, security, education and peace,’ added the French president.”

It is also no wonder that France ranks high among nations that foster anti-Semitism – or should I say anti-Jewish feelings as Arabs are also Semites.

There is an answer to world peace: democracy and human rights!

Should the Muslims decide to seek an historical reformation of their religion to remove the death sentence against non-believers, those who turn their back on the religion or those who openly disparage their religious leaders – and enforce the separation of church and state – then, maybe then, will the conflict between the two cultures be resolved so that both can live in peace and foster mutually profitable trade and an exchange of ideas between all citizens and nations of the world. Until that day, a monumental culture clash seems evident.

And, like the old joke about the ambivalence of watching a busload of attorneys drive off a cliff, there is some ambivalence on the loss of the French culture and people to an Islamic theocracy like Iran.

Considering the nuclear weaponry and skills possessed by France, one needs to be extremely cautious of the French motivation to increase their arms trade or exchange dual use technology with nations who do not wish us well.

-- steve

Reference Links:

Sarkozy: “Arabic Is the Language of the Future” | The Brussels Journal

A Paris, de nombreux intervenants aux 1ères Assises de l’enseignement de la langue et de la culture arabes, ouvertes à l’Assemblée nationale française, ont souligné la nécessité de donner davantage de place à la langue arabe dans le paysage français dans le souci d’une “meilleure compréhension, d’un dialogue et d’un rapprochement mutuellement profitable”.

Dans le message adressé aux participants, le président français Nicolas Sarkozy a qualifié l’arabe de “langue d’avenir, de progrès, de sciences et de modernité”, tout en souhaitant que “davantage de français prennent en partage la langue arabe dans laquelle s’expriment de grandes valeurs civilisationelles et spirituelles”.

“Il faut investir dans la langue arabe”, a-t-il indiqué, car “son enseignement est un moment d’échange, d’ouverture et de tolérance” et qu’elle “porte l’une des plus anciennes et prestigieuses civilisations dans le monde”.

“C’est en France que l’on recense le plus grand nombre de personnes origine arabe et musulmane. L’Islam est la deuxième religion de France”, a rappelé Sarkozy. “La France est l’amie des pays arabes.» (lire plus) (via Nicole)


“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's Emmy Nomination?

Al Gore got an Oscar for a so-called documentary which used faked footage of ice calving to make a point. So why shouldn’t Barack Obama get the Aaron Sorkin “West Wing” Award for the best delivery of a written speech?

The triumph of style over substance?

Somehow, looking Presidential in front of a famous and revered Abraham Lincoln – complete with Obama’s favorite columns – is somewhat spoiled by the TelePrompTer that is necessary to turn Obama into the telegenic orator he often plays on television. Hence, he should be a clear winner of an Emmy for best political drama.

Capture1-18-2009-10.16.55 PM

Personally I am tired of Obama’s desire to be connected with the legacy of Abraham Lincoln. Here is a man who has not spent a single day in the Presidency, with not even a hint of greatness apparent – playing a role – just like any other empty suit telegenic actor.

While the jury is out until 2012 – I would much rather Obama deal with solving the problems at hand and making himself available to the working media than striking arrogant poses and delivering TelePrompTered speeches.

And speaking of the media, when are they going to get over their slavish devotion of someone whose record of achievement, other than be elected to the Presidency, is less accomplished than, say, Sarah Palin?

-- 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



What? Global warming is a myth? How can this be with all the smart people like Al Gore promoting their new religion?

In spite of those self-interested parties who would have us enlarge the government, pay more in taxes, allow the government to curtail our personal freedoms – all based on the supposition that man can affect the global climate … there are people who are beginning to smell a hoax or, at least, the birth of a new cultish religion.

According to the Flint Journal …

“If you're wondering why North America is starting to resemble nuclear winter, then you missed the news.”

“At December's U.N. Global Warming conference in Poznan, Poland, 650 of the world's top climatologists stood up and said man-made global warming is a media generated myth without basis. Said climatologist Dr. David Gee, Chairman of the International Geological Congress, "For how many years must the planet cool before we begin to understand that the planet is not warming?"

I asked myself, why would such obviously smart guy say such a ridiculous thing? But it turns out he's right.

The earth's temperature peaked in 1998. It's been falling ever since; it dropped dramatically in 2007 and got worse in 2008, when temperatures touched 1980 levels.”

“Meanwhile, the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center released conclusive satellite photos showing that Arctic ice is back to 1979 levels. What's more, measurements of Antarctic ice now show that its accumulation is up 5 percent since 1980.”

“In other words, during what was supposed to be massive global warming, the biggest chunks of ice on earth grew larger. Just as an aside, do you remember when the hole in the ozone layer was going to melt Antarctica?”

“But don't worry, we're safe now, that was the nineties.”

Dr. Kunihiko, Chancellor of Japan's Institute of Science and Technology said this: "CO2 emissions make absolutely no difference one way or the other ... every scientist knows this, but it doesn't pay to say so." Now why would a learned man say such a crazy thing?

The myth of CO2 as a determinant factor in global warming …

“This is where the loony left gets lost. Their mantra is atmospheric CO2 levels are escalating and this is unquestionably causing earth's temperature rise. But ask yourself -- if global temperatures are experiencing the biggest sustained drop in decades, while CO2 levels continue to rise -- how can it be true?”

“Ironically, in spite of being shown false, we must now pray for it. Because a massive study, just released by the Russian Government, contains overwhelming evidence that earth is on the verge of another Ice Age.”

“Based on core samples from Russia's Vostok Station in Antarctica, we now know earth's atmosphere and temperature for the last 420,000 years. This evidence suggests that the 12,000 years of warmth we call the Holocene period is over.”

“Apparently, we're headed into an ice age of about 100,000 years -- give or take. As for CO2 levels, core samples show conclusively they follow the earth's temperature rise, not lead it.”

It turns out CO2 fluctuations follow the change in sea temperature. As water temperatures rise, oceans release additional dissolved CO2 -- like opening a warm brewsky.”

Give the money to the banks …

“To think, early last year, liberals suggested we spend 45 trillion dollars and give up five million jobs to fix global warming. But there is good news: now that we don't have to spend any of that money, we can give it all to the banks.”

Obviously this column was based on the Pravda article which I covered in my blog entry “Are the Russians stepping up their propaganda war in America?”

But the scientific findings and the opinions of the scientists remain valid. It does appear that the CO2 levels lag the global temperature by 800-1000 years and that this can be easily explained by the temperature-dependent oceanic-atmospheric balance of CO2. Of course, a simple answer makes it extremely difficult for the politicians to work their magic if they cannot easily convince citizens to enter the Orwellian world of politics where “up is down,” “right is left,” and “good is evil.”

Common sense tells us when there is a simple solution to a problem, the special interests will find reasons to support their version – proving once again that special interest money in politics trumps logic and the rights of the citizens.

Reference Links:

It's time to pray for global warming, says Flint Journal columnist John Tomlinson - Flint, Michigan Columns, Letters & Opinion - The Flint Journal – MLive.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