Saturday, February 28, 2009

If you didn't notice what happened in the first 4 weeks, Pt. 1

So everyone everywhere on the globe is unhappy with their economy, and no matter who or what party is in charge, they get blamed. There are strikes in Greece and mutinies in Bangladesh, and Cincinnati, Ohio is planning an old fashioned tea party to revolt against the stimulus plan--because where‘s the representation if no one read the bill?

The Socialist, Marxist and Capitalist economies are all in trouble. Why blame Obama, president for four weeks, instead Bush president for 8 years? Well, Bush was a Republican, but not a Conservative. Obama is a Democrat, but not a liberal. At least not as we've come to think of them. He's a socialist/marxist, and all you need to do is read what he has said in the past, what he has written, and look who his friends are and who financed the campaign. Or listen to his vague statements last Tuesday night. The program he proposed and got passed--the $780+ billion-- will amount to over $3 trillion by the time the debt is paid, and no president has matched that, not in 8 years, and certainly not 4 weeks, and he has promised more to come.

You may have your money in cash or CDs right now, but unless it's in the cookie jar, I doubt that yours is any safer than being in stocks, bonds or real estate market. And yes, the banks have been nationalized--that's what the "bailout" is. "We the people" now own the big banks--and not as stockholders. That's why they are being forced into foolish business decisions by Obama to rewrite all those bad mortgages--60% of which will fail within 6 months (Oh! those nasty predatory lenders--with gun to the head they loaned money to bad risks). That's why they have to cap salaries--and maybe yours or your industry will be next. And yes, the auto industry is nationalized too--that's why they are going to produce more "green" cars which don't make a profit. Now the government can also tell you to stop driving your “pre-green” car, even if you can’t afford a $35,000 hybrid. That way “we the people” can sell more new cars. See how nicely it works together when “we workers” own the means of production? And yes, when "children" are covered through age 28 in families earning $80,000 year, that is nationalized health care, and it doesn't touch the poor, because those new "children" were already eligible through parents' employers, and the poor were eligible under Medicaid. It's just one more way to put private insurers and private doctors out of business. The government simply needs to redefine “children” and “poverty.”

It's better to compare Bush with Clinton--and Bush was actually a bigger spender on Human Resources (welfare state, education, entitlements, etc.) than Clinton about a 2.75% annual growth during his years compared to 1.41% for Clinton. Bush lost the support of both the RINOs who always voted with the Democrats (in power since 2006). And he lost the support of the libertarians and conservatives, unhappy with the course of the war (people like Barr and Pat Buchanan).

A year ago, unemployment was 4.5% and the Dow at 14,000. Housing had been in trouble since August 2007, but mainly only that sector supported by government loans--maybe 2% of all mortgages, and that got worse. What happened Sept. 15, 2008 we may never know--I've read some "conspiracy theories" like 550 billion taken out of the economy in a few hours, and the government acted to stop it. Some say it was George Soros, some say it was the Chinese who own our debt. That totally changed the election campaign. From the beginning of Oct. 2008, Obama was the Man, and the markets, who don't vote for either party but hate instability, began to plunge and haven't stopped.

If you didn't notice what happened in the first 4 weeks,Pt. 2

Nobody wants to invest in our economy while Obama continues to threaten to raise taxes on the most productive segment that already pays 95% of the taxes, the so-called rich--those two income families that shelled out $100,000 to buy an education or business or law practice or medical clinic and are expecting to be paid for their efforts. Those "rich" families like mine who invested in businesses with our 403b and 401k giving up other things when younger.

I think the federal government--whether Bush with the Democratic Congress or Obama with the Democratic congress--needed to back off in 2008 and 2009 and let those companies in debt, banks and insurance companies included, struggle and die or merge and be bought out. President Bush failed his party and became President Hoover overnight--but he really stopped governing in October and turned everything over to Treasury and the incoming Obama administration. Hoover had 3 years of throwing money at the problem 1929-1932, Bush didn't. Then FDR continued socializing industries and the courts for another 12 years, until WWII pulled us out of it. Hoover is blamed and Roosevelt acclaimed. Baffles me. Allowing the economy to come back on its own is what happened in 1999-2000 during the last bear market. Jump starting it with tax cuts for tax payers, not tax takers, is what got it going again after 9/11.

Now, Bush did his share of "nationalizing"--like the drug benefit plan, developed with Ted Kennedy, certainly took us further down that road, and the NCLB which exerted even more federal control over local schools (also with Ted Kennedy) is another example. Both these money burners lost him tremendous support among conservative Republicans. The drug plan has just made us more dependent on less safe drugs made in India and China, and has resulted in huge profits for the drug companies. Again, these companies don't care which party is in office--they can succeed with either because the regulations and laws always work in their favor (they help create them with their lobbyists) because they kill the smaller businesses and competition. In fact, they love the Democrats because they are more likely to impose regulations whether it's on mythical global warming or the broadcasting industry or lead in toys.

No president ever spent more money on education than Bush, and although I think he was right to care about the " child left behind" all he did was make the unions and academics mad--leaving kids behind had always been their field of expertise--raising another generation of victims. Some studies show that NCLB made progress, but I suspect it's more "wealth transfer" only it's with grades and achievement at the expense of the better students, and eventually our country.

It may take years to show up, but I don't think Bush did churches any favors with the "faith based initiatives," because it has made churches more dependent on government grants, and Obama plans to tighten the screws on any mention or appearance of religion in those grants (a campaign promise he'll probably keep). Some of that had already happened under Bush and Clinton--I know 30 years ago we used to put religious literature in every bag of groceries at the food pantry. That doesn't happen today, but the food pantry is about 90% government funded--local, state and federal--10% by the churches.

American businessmen aren't stupid; they know how to make money. There are no business men in this administration and it shows. There would never be a Google or Microsoft or a Dodge Caravan if the Barney Franks and Nancy Pelosis of Congress had been in charge of the business plans. But they're more than happy to take over once someone else has figured out how to make money, and then Amtrak it. You can do that when the government is in charge.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ben said it, not Obama

But markets respond to positive, upbeat messages, not gloom and doom, it'll-be-years talk.
    "Bank stocks on Tuesday posted their best performance in almost a month, and their seventh biggest percentage gain ever, after Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke reiterated that the government would keep banks solvent and said he saw no need to nationalize some firms.

    Investors rushed to buy bank shares after Bernanke said there is no benefit from nationalizing the biggest U.S. banks."
And Newsweek certainly didn't help the mood blasting us with this cover. Why would they decide to say what he is now? The authors sound like whiny kids--"Well, Bush did it first." Then why didn't they love Bush? They slobber over Obama!

"We got into this mess largely because of government meddling in the economy, and because of regulations, policies and agencies that have no business existing in a capitalist society in the first place." Newsbusters

And I don't trust Ben either. He and Hank laid the ground work.

Russia's president laying off staff

Here's a novel idea. Dmitry Medvedev says, "One has to begin with oneself. The President’s administration is not the largest structure but it should show an example.” And this leader is also a darling of the press.
    Some 100 employees are to be sacked from Dmitry Medvedev’s administration. This means that approximately every fifteenth worker will lose their job, since there are about 1500 people working in his offices. . .

    Besides asking to work out a plan for cutting the expenses of his administration, Medvedev also recommended that the Federation Council and regional deputies do the same.
But apparently a lot of officials went to France for holiday anyway. Government officials get all the perks regardless of the country. RT link.

Finding bank failures in the library

"Works on bank failures are classed in 332.1 Banks, which has the note: “Including bank failures.” An example of a work about bank failures classed in 332.1 is Systemic Financial Crises: Resolving Large Bank Insolvencies. For more on how cataloguers in libraries are handling bank failures, see 025.431: The Dewey Blog. A very clever idea for a blog.

Men buy, women shop

For our upcoming trip, we both needed new shoes, and time to break them in. I saw there was 15% off at Kohl's today for seniors so we made an appointment for afternoon. But before I went to volunteer at the lunch room, I swung by Kohl's just to take a quick peek (an hour) and get the lay of the land. I found a pair for me that wasn't clunky and ugly trimmed in strange colors, a white tie Nike with a small band of light gold trim. I know we'll be doing a lot of walking, so there really aren't too many options if you need good heel support. I also browsed the sale items for women without purchasing anything, because all the good buys were winter clothing, and it will be hot in Israel and Egypt.

When we went together after lunch, we selected 3 brown/beige in Skechers for him to try, to replace his casual pair that is starting to show the wear of our trips to Ireland, Italy and Haiti. Because he wears an 8, he can usually find a good selection on sale. Two pair fit really well--he didn't want to choose--so he bought both. While he was checking out, I grabbed two short sleeve T's, white and blue (for me) I'd seen in the morning and tossed them on top of the shoes. In and out in about 15 minutes.

Today’s new word/phrase is CONSUMER-DRIVEN

You probably think you know what this means, however, when you find the phrase--usually in health care, technology or food articles--and analyze the sentence or paragraph, you’ll see it is used to mean exactly the opposite of what you thought.* In my opinion, it really means market and/or advertisement driven, or interest group driven, not consumer (you and me) driven. We've all laughed when told all that scummy stuff on TV is what "the people" want. Total nonsense, isn't it? They call that "consumer driven" programming. It's a soft word for "choice," except, usually the consumer hasn't made a free choice, it's been foisted on her. Someone interviewed 50 teen-agers with credit cards in the small brained crowd and found a match for their value system, then sold it to an investor. We've got a "consumer-driven," multi-use, multi-story condo monstrosity down the road from here that some city planner with the heart of a social worker sold our city fathers. So far, they haven't found enough people with $750,000 who want a condo overlooking the parking lot of Kingsdale Shopping Center.

I came across this phrase again yesterday reading a jargon filled paragraph lauding the achievements of an OSU professor who'd completed "the Food Systems Leadership Institute program." Wondering what a food system was and why someone needed to be its leader, I looked up FSLI. I found more mush words about boundaries, challenges, emerging issues, stakeholders and change agents that explained nothing--those are the same buzz words that librarians, health care workers, architects, and auto suppliers get in their workshops and conferences. But I did see the publication “Land Grant colleges' response to the changing Food System” (corrected version, Jan. 2008) had a focus on drivers and actors. A major theme was the "food system should be consumer-driven," and able to change as quickly as the environment it operates in. From there it really bogged down. See if it makes sense to you.

Today I saw an article in the paper on retirement. Seniors are choosing to stay longer in their own homes, thus hurting the retirement/nursing home industry. Now that is something I'd call "consumer-driven." The consumer has no money, the investments are gone, so they can't pay the entry fee. One night on our way home from our date spot, I noticed the parking lot at Panera's was jammed. I'd say that is "consumer-driven." The formerly two income family now has one, but still wants to eat out on the week-end, so they are choosing a less expensive venue. The consumer, not the ad agencies, are deciding.

But just about everything else you see called "consumer-driven" means the advertisers and marketers, bureaucrats and academics thought it up, and that includes all the hype about organic food, nutrition and exercise, and the "choices" in your insurance plan.

*google this phrase and see if you don't agree

Challenges to invest

This morning I got an e-mail from TIAA-CREF (Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association-College Retirement Equities Fund) encouraging me to invest more. I've already forgotten the reason. There were so many footnotes clarifying it, they outnumbered the sentences in the message. The "barrister" from Nigeria and the princess wife of the prisoner in Suckerstan who are offering me millions if I just help a little are starting to look more interesting, don't you think?

Monday, February 23, 2009

At last, someone who has read the bill

Notice how the Meet the Press interviewer continues to defend the bill, throwing in criticism for Republicans, not Democrats, Bush but not Obama. Still in the tank, but gasping for air.

Bobby Jindal.

To see how socialism will look in 10 years, check out the elderly unemployed

Today's WSJ has another anecdotal article on the economy today, this time on the elderly unemployed. Three in their 80s, one 90 year old, and a 76 year old--all unemployed. They have social security, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, various government social services like 27 months of paid job training--I don't think any were in government housing. In short, they are our future, because Obama is destroying our economy. He's following the pattern of the 1930s when Hoover and FDR threw money at the problem and deepened the Depression. Our pensions will be worthless soon if business can't recover. We are, or were, a capitalist country and so far all his proposals and plans like destroying our energy industry, the absurd plans to control the climate, and nationalizing banks, auto industry and health care, huge segments of the economy, do not bode well for the future of the USA. Our future is these workers. Barely getting by with all the generosity a bloated government wishes to bestow.

I suspect those in the story who have families would have help if they wanted it, or else they raised some very spoiled children. The divorced 80 year old raised 7 children, and if none of them help her, there's probably material for a novel. The 90 year old has six sons. Two of these workers took out home equity loans when things were good a few years back. Another never married and has outlived all her relatives.

Actually, the 90 year old isn't unemployed. When she quit waitressing at 85, she went into a job training program.
    Getting hired isn't impossible. Dorothy Adams, 90, who raised six sons, had been a waitress. She quit at age 85 because of the physical demands. She couldn't make it on $8,000 a year in Social Security and $1,140 in food stamps, so she enrolled in an Experience Works training program in central Pennsylvania.

    She got a job last year at a home-health-care agency. She drives to the homes of elderly adults who are sick and homebound. She reads them their mail, takes them to appointments, helps them dress and prepares light meals. She gets paid $7.50 an hour, plus mileage reimbursement.
Social Security and Food Stamps were intended to supplement, not support. These people did not have private pensions like 401k or 403b or defined benefit plans. If the markets can't recover under Obama, neither will we.

Human rights swept under the rug of debt

"Noting that Washington is borrowing more to fund stimulus spending, [Sec. Clinton] praised China--the world's largest holder of U.S. Treasurys--for its continued purchases of U.S. government debt." WSJ Feb. 23

How to create a Depression

. . .“while the Federal Reserve is predicting that unemployment from our current recession will remain high through at least 2011, President Obama plans to raise taxes on small businesses, corporations, and all Americans who invest in the stock market.” Morning Bell, Feb. 23.

That should make the markets respond--by going down even more. Thus the Obama Depression.

Investor's Business Daily reported in mid-October on the causes of a 6 week slide in the stock market:
    • The imminent election of "the most anti-capitalist politician ever nominated by a major party."

    • The possibility of "a filibuster-proof Congress led by politicians who are almost as liberal."

    • A "media establishment dedicated to the implementation of a liberal agenda, and the smothering of dissent wherever it arises." And things haven't improved.Link

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Lessons from San Quentin

“Real-estate entrepreneur Bill Dallas's charmed life changed dramatically when he was charged, convicted, and sentenced to five years in prison for grand-theft embezzlement. Lessons from San Quentin tells the amazing true story of how one man's life was changed for the better due to the hardships encountered at the legendary maximum-security prison. Using stories and reflections from life on the inside, Bill teaches 12 core principles that will inspire readers to use tough times to develop the character God wants them to have. “ Link

I watched him on the Hour of Power program last night. He said his Christian brothers in prison discipled him. He introduced two other parolees in the congregation. He’s now president and CEO of Church Communications network.

Update: Schuller's Hour of Power is not something I usually watch, but according to one source, he dumped his son, Robert A. Schuller, because he was preaching too much from the Bible, and not enough from the Self-Esteem Movement. Link.

The painful fence straddle at Kiplinger Connection (AIA)

The opening paragraph proclaims the stimulus WILL work (for architects). Then it’s like someone slapped him upside the head . . .that Treasury will “get its act together soon” . . . "Businesses will wait to rehire until they’re sure that any pickup in demand will last." And finally, the truth dawns.
    We’ll never know if the stimulus really worked. There are no do-overs, so we won’t be able to tell what would have happened if a different path were taken.

    Because recessions run their course, eventual improvement is inevitable, helped by low interest rates as well as low prices for gasoline and other commodities. But a lack of confidence among consumers and companies and the halt in spending and hiring threaten to keep the economy from recuperating fully for several years.

    Throwing billions at the problems means soaring deficits and inflation later. But policymakers see those as the least of the evils they face. And it will help efforts to keep deflation from getting out of control. That would lead to a downward spiral that could get vicious and certainly would result in a much longer, deeper recession.
So, what these financial gurus are saying we're throwing money at a problem that would resolve itself in say 3 years instead of 11 or 12 if government would just stand back. And not a word about nationalizing so many industries and making us a socialist economy in the meanwhile. Which is really the excuse for this massive infusion of money. Maybe architects don't care? As long as they can play with their computer assisted design and have buildings that won't last 30 years (more jobs for the future), who cares who the employer is?

Straight out of the Roaring 20's

Soapbox Jill, a librarian/writer in Wisconsin, answers some questions you might have about Obama and his supporters with answers from the 1920 Milwaukee Leader featuring responses from the Socialist Party.
    Q: Why doesn't the Democrats' stimulus bill contain more comprehensive tax cuts for consumers and businesses so we can have secure jobs to allow us to save for our future?
    A: "...under Collectivism there will not be the slightest necessity for individual saving with a view to providing for the future or old age, for care will be taken of every citizen...There will be no encouragement for saving, because the accumulating of capital will be looked upon as the function of society, and not of the individual." (from "Socialism vs. Communism" by Victor L. Berger in The Milwaukee Leader, February 7, 1920)

Government funded, non-profit After School Programs

If you’d like to develop an after school program in your community, there’s apparently a lot of money. Here’s the link for government grants. You can be the director and hire your out-of-work or underemployed friends and relatives to help you. A back ground in teaching or social work might be nice, but I don't see that anywhere as a requirement. If you don't like children, you might try a different non-profit area, like finding mold, or lead, or hazardous waste.

No one has ever been able to determine what exactly these after school programs do in the long run, but in the short run they keep children supervised and off the streets, and provide adult mentors. Maybe they reduce crime; maybe they just put good kids in the path of bad kids they normally wouldn't be spending time with.

In the 1950s, my after school program was called "working at Zickuhrs," the local pharmacy, and I also had one called "working at the public library." After school club activities were known in the old days as hanging out with my girls friends for parties, overnights and picnics. When I was in elementary school I think it was called Girl Scouts, 4-H, and church choir. I'm sure the adults were role models, although we probably didn't think of them that way, and I'm sure they weren't paid. Our parents, not the government, provided the snacks, and I actually earned college money with all that adult advice and supervision from the Mayor and his wife Alice.

This definitely isn’t new to Obamadmin; the government has been using non-profits to spread the wealth for years. Bush was a heavy user of religious organizations for this. In exchange for taking government money, they were not to get preachy, which is what the church is there for. This will probably get much more restrictive under Obama--that's one promise he'll probably keep.

Just glancing through the list; in FY 2006-2008 there was about $7 billion available in just one after school snack program called CACFP; if you can throw in a little supervisory training for job skills you can dip in a pool of about $36 million through CNCS; if you’d like to educate the children on environmental issues there are numerous grants through EPA, including $25,000 from an $8 million pocket (2006-2008 years). I’ve even seen grants for getting people into mortgages in this after school funding list, although I’m not sure how that benefits the children--putting their single mom into mortgage debt instead of subsidized rental housing.

One of the "crown jewels" of after school programs is located in Chicago, called "After School Matters," and it was started by Mayor Daley's wife about 20 years ago. That should be long enough to see if it really does matter, but the fly in the ointment in determining this is that the children in the program are hand picked, and they can't participate unless they have a good attendance record in public school. Reading through a 2008 report, it appears to me it is in direct competition with several other programs in Chicago which don't get the fat cats' contributions. They all use government money, of course. But how they name it is a bit clever. For instance ASM says in a report by Sengupta
    "Researchers studying After School Matters at Chapin Hall have asserted that its funding stream depends on Maggie Daley’s leadership. According to After School Matters’ audited reports from FY 2005-2006, of the $22 million in revenue received, 30% came from in-kind contributions from Chicago’s public partners, such as school and park space, while 51% came from government contributions."
Call me crazy but 51% from government "contributions" and 30% from the school and park funding is all tax money, isn't it? And $22 million a year for an afterschool arts program is nothing to sneeze at. The children are paid to attend this, so the demand is high. Then that leaves three other programs, also government funded, to pick up the slack: Department of Children and Youth Services includes the Kid’s Start and recreational centers after school programs; PARK kids run by The Chicago Park District; and Community Schools Initiative run by Chicago Public Schools. Since the Park district and the schools also contribute to ASM, it would seem to me the lesser advantaged kids are contributing to the more advantaged.

This is definitely math Chicago style. Now we see where Obama gets it.

Obama’s revolving door--FINRA and SEC

I've written about Mary Shapiro before. There is no hope for change when the fox guards the henhouse. We'll continue to have the Bernie Madoff and "Sir" Allen Stanford scandals and ponzi schemes.
    "Markopolos and the subcommittee members devoted much time to laying out the multitudinous and egregious failures of the SEC with respect to Madoff. During the questioning, Markopolos was asked his opinion of another regulatory entity that is supposed to be overseeing and policing the activities of a segment of the financial services industry—broker/dealers. This one is called the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). It is a non-governmental organization run by the broker/dealers (think: fox watching the henhouse), empowered by the U.S. Congress to do so. Its powers include arbitrating disputes between customers and their broker-dealer members, since aggrieved customers are not usually permitted access to the courts. Supposedly, the U.S. Congress oversees FINRA activities.

    Now, Markopolos was asked to compare the SEC and FINRA. His answer was short and pithy: the SEC is incompetent; FINRA is corrupt.

    President Obama had appointed one Mary Shaprio to be the new head of the SEC, replacing the clueless Christopher Cox. I also knew that Mary Shapiro's previous job was head of FINRA, where she was paid approximately $3 million per year, plus another $5-$25 million reward for her FINRA exit. So, we have here the chief of a corrupt regulatory body, being appointed to clean house at an incompetent regulatory body. She was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate." Bob Gilbert quoted at Maggie’s Notebook

Saturday, February 21, 2009

This should be a classic

Of all the blogs written on Terri, this is one of the best. It's been almost four years.

How little the lives of children matter in the legal system

In Ohio, we have incredibly oppressive, counter-productive drug sentencing laws. We have so many people in prison for doing dumb things with drugs, hundreds of books could and probably have been written. That's not my topic. This is about maimed, injured and murdered children. Here are two stories in today's Columbus Dispatch.

1) MOTHER OF BATTERED BABY GET PROBATION: The child had 27 bone fractures and cigarette burns on it. The father went to jail for 4 years; the mother gets probation and the child back. The injuries happened in May 2007; just getting to court. Link.

2) MAN PLEADS GUILTY IN 2001 DEATH OF TEEN IN BATHTUB: A man drowned and dismembered a 15 year old boy, and got the MAXIMUM sentence, 7.5 years. It was called a "domestic" dispute, because the boy was somehow related to the sister of the ex-wife. Link

But they'll put druggies in jail to rot forever.

Another meme

I found this at Gekko's site.

1. What are you wearing right now? Navy wool slacks, white collar shirt, layered with rust colored 100% cotton long sleeve open weave t-shirt. Brown Ecco tie oxfords, no jewelry except my rings.

2. What is on your mind right now? Blogging this meme. Also, I'm multi-tasking, listening to see if the dishwasher is still making that funny noise I heard on Thursday.

3. What was the last thing you watched on TV? I had one of the rerun channels on during the night. I saw several wretched "family" comedies from recent years, one about a baby being born with lots of screaming and yelling, one about a daughter that shoplifted so she could get in with the popular crowd, one about a daughter 15 who was getting her driver's permit and was driving badly because her boyfriend dumped her; they weren't very good, but I was awake with a cough about 3:30, then overslept. The converter box is working fine on the 20 year old set. Wish my eyes worked better; it's across the room.

4. What was the last thing you ate? My fabulous, thrown-together, cabbage soup with a touch of sweet-sour. See the previous blog entry.

5. Who was the last person you were on the phone with? Haven't talked on the phone today. It might have been a friend calling from Florida who reads this blog?

6. Are you a compulsive cleaner? I'm cleaner than a lot of people, but certainly not compulsive. I can see cracker crumbs and cat hair on my dark green office carpet. I've recently discovered that if I wipe some alcohol on my kitchen marble counter top, the paper towel finds a lot of dirt. I wonder if it's the old sealer coming up?

7. Zombies - good, bad, or just misunderstood? Where did that come from? Do people actually think on such things?

8. What was the last song you listened to? I was listening to Dr. Laura on a California station yesterday (streaming radio)--so it was probably her bumper music. She's not been available locally since the Gays got mad at her for saying that an adopted baby deserved a mother and a father.

9. Do you have any pets? Yes, she's getting drowsy right behind me on my office couch. I gave her a piece of cheese at lunch, and she'll be my best friend for about 2 hours.

10. What's your favoritest ice cream? Toft's Moose tracks, but it's hard to beat their Black Raspberry Bugaboo Fudge, too. I hope the government doesn't socialize the ice cream business and ruin it.

Cabbage soup for lunch

After I started this one, I thought I'd check google. Hmm. Cabbage soup doesn't seem to be a hot topic. Here's what I had. A very tired, half a head of cabbage. I trimmed off all the brown and limp, and chopped it up with a medium onion, and put it on the stove with home homemade chicken broth. I usually keep a lot of broth on hand, but the other day decided it looked a little pricey, so I just cooked some chicken and froze some of the broth. That's what I'm using. The recipes I looked through all used beef broth, some included potatoes and carrots. I have that. And I also have some green peppers and some tomato juice that needs to be used up. I looked through Granddaughter's Inglenook Cookbook, but that wasn't old timey enough.

I'm sure my mid-19th century Great grandmother Nancy (near Dayton) and Great-great grandmother Mary Ann Elizabeth (Dandridge, TN) must have kept this kind of food around the house--not having refrigeration and huge families. By the end of February, carrots, potatoes, turnips, onions, and cabbage must have become pretty boring and probably looked as limp and tired as what I had in the frig this morning.

I looked in More-with-less cookbook and found something called "Good Friday Vegetable Soup," which uses chicken broth, carrots, onions and cabbage, as well as green beans. I don't want to add any beans. I'd throw in some corn, but my husband hates corn. One of the recipes I googled was sort of a sweet-sour flavor using a touch of brown sugar and lemon juice, so I tossed in a little of that.

I'll let you know. . . but it sure smells good.

Update: It was fabulous with some crackers and cheddar cheese. That sweet-sour touch did it. Also I sprinkled in some bacon bits.

Sourcing the Morgenthau 1939 quote

At the coffee shop this morning another imbiber handed me a quote on a torn piece of paper, "We are spending more money than we have ever spent before, and it does not work. After eight years we have just as much unemployment as when we started, and an enormous debt to boot. - U.S. Secretary Henry Morgenthau. . . May 1939." Being a librarian, I looked into his handsome face and said, "Do you know the source?" And he didn't.

So when I got home I googled it, and found every conservative, libertarian and anti-Bam source on the internet is using it. That's not a good sign. Even going to a fact checking web site like Snopes or Factcheck is dicey, because even those are political, whether liberal or conservative. Someone, somewhere, must know where the original is, but with libraries like Fisher in the College of Business at OSU closing because it's all free on the internet, I don't know if I could find a paper copy. And these days, for this librarian [retired], paper is the "gold standard." Anything digitized, like all that stuff Obama promised us would be up there for us to read, can be altered. And although his staff had wiped out all the Bush stuff on January 20, they can't even get his press conferences up in a timely fashion so you can fact check. (I wonder if his IT staff paid their taxes?)

Anyway, I only recently (yesterday) began reading Alan Caruba because he'd written about coal, which is extremely important to Ohio's economy, which Obama and his green friends are trying to kill. Here's what I found in a Caruba blog.
    In 1939, ten years after the crash on Wall Street, the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr., told the House Ways and Means Committee:

    “We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong…somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises…I say after eight years of this administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started…And an enormous debt to boot!”
    Does history repeat itself? Yes, it does. And there is every appearance that the White House and the Congress intends to repeat many of the errors of the last Depression that came to be known as Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal.

    With exquisite timing, after ten years of research, professor of history, Burton Folsom, Jr. has published “New Deal or Raw Deal? How FDR’s Economic Legacy has Damaged America” ($27.00, Threshold Editions).

    To get an idea of just how bad the U.S. economy was during the 1930’s, Folsom notes that, even though the U.S. had budget surpluses in 1930 and 1931, government spending “ballooned and far outstripped revenue from taxes.” It was the Wall Street Crash of 1929 that precipitated the Depression, but it was FDR’s “solutions” that deepened and lengthened it, actually preventing any solution.
I'm guessing he found the source in Folsom's notes, but unless I see the committee report somewhere in print, I'll reserve judgement on the authenticity. Some quotes are just too good to be true, and after 8 years in office, I'm not sure Roosevelt had any people left who would question his plans. Anyone got a source?

And please, let's not give all the credit for the mess to FDR! President Hoover first did what Obama is doing now with help in the fall from Hank and Ben before he took office, spiking the unemployment to the 20% range. FDR's policies just lengthened it. If those two presidents had sat on their hands, if they'd just gone on vacation or wherever the summer White House was in those days, we'd be a much different country today. Regardless of whether we have a Democrat or a Republican in office, we've been bankrupting our country with social spending, not military spending, for years.

You can see from this that spending on social/human services levels or dips a little under a Reagan or a Bush, but it doesn't really go down. We'll be stuck with SCHIP and summer lunches for children forever, even though they've never been proven to help poor children or decrease poverty. In America, it's all about intentions, never results. If it feels good, it must be good. Which brings me back to the Morgenthau quote--got a paper source?

Update: Caruba has kindly confirmed the source from the Folsom book: Morgenthau Diary, May 9, 1939, Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library.

Blogging from the kitchen

Today I'm sitting in the kitchen with the laptop--the one that frequently balks and quits, and I have to reload everything. I've learned over time, to not upgrade anything on it--not virus protection, not internet settings; don't add widgets or gizmos, nothing that flashes or wiggles. No music. No streaming radio. It wants to live in its own little cocoon of 2004, or whenever I bought it. So I got this e-mail from Murray, who will be my guest blogger until I can get the office computer to work (where I keep my drafts). Murray is living in Florida right now, but Spring is coming even to Illinois, wrapped in another very cold winter, and he and the Mrs. will soon be returning home to the golf links of Sunset Golf. course.
    Murray sez: President Obama has been visiting some of the major cities to sell HIS plan to help people who got in over their heads and cannot keep up with their mortgage payments. His last stop was Phoenix where he assured the crowd that he has committed 75 billion towards that goal. He states that this help is only for the people that got caught up in the housing bubble or lost their jobs and will not assist the speculators, house flippers, and the people that bought more house than they could afford. (Heh,heh,heh!) Now, I would like someone to tell me just when did the Federal Government ever fine tune any financial bailout or large expenditure and track exactly where the money went? When they release this 75 billion it's gone. Never to be seen or heard from again. Just like free money for services in the war, the 150 billion PORK package and for Katrina. Anybody know what happened to those funds? They will manage the bail out just like they did with Medicare, Social Security and the National debt. They couldn't get the Prescription drug plan, the tax code, or even the simple AMT right.

    Today I watched CNBC as the majority of the analysts argued why should the people who didn't do anything wrong bail out the people that did. One of our legislators responded with "these people did nothing wrong, they just got caught in the housing bubble"! Well, that statement ticked off quite a few people and one of the analyst replied, "me and everyone around me did nothing wrong but now our 401-K's are 201-K's. Who's gonna bail us out?" Excellent point that will go unanswered!

    I'm sure by now you have all heard of ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now. You know, they're the group that went to Ohio and rounded up anybody they could whether or not they lived in Ohio and took advantage of a weeklong period in which new voters can register and cast an absentee ballot on the same day in Ohio. You just know that they didn't round up anybody to vote Republican. Well, anyway these same shock troops will be rearing their ugly heads again. The troop hero (Obama) is dedicating millions of his PORK plan to this organization. Their next goal will be to stop people from being evicted from their homes even if it means that they will chain themselves to the front porch and refuse to be evicted. Or if evicted they will move back in. This will constitute civil disobedience. ACORN's drum beat and chant will be that they are defending these poor defenseless homeowners from the big bad banks. Columnist Michelle Malkin says "the ACORN foot soldiers, funded with your tax dollars, will scream, pound their fists, chain themselves to buildings, and engage in illegal behavior until they get what they want."

    Here is a link to a video of ACORN breaking into a Baltimore house formerly owned by a woman who could no longer afford the payments after the Balloon. The bank she did business with no longer owns it and had resold it to someone else. Someone who probably had the traditional credit check and standard loan.

    The lawyers will have a heyday AND your President already is aware of the tactics planned by ACORN and will see to it that they are adequately funded. This could, by itself, drag on for years.
I just looked in on the office computer. After hitting the F1 (or F2) key, after about 30 minutes a message came up about the keyboard, so I unplugged, replugged, and also rearranged the mouse just for good measure, and it seems happy now. Maybe the cat was looking for something to do last night when she wasn't sitting on my head while I was sleeping.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Going south for the decade with President Obama's Plan

Can we hold him to his promises?

No. "I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less - because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy."

Actually, reading a bill line by line isn't the same, is it?

Or this one?

Third debate: ". . .what I've done throughout this campaign is to propose a net spending cut.... What I want to emphasize ... is that I have been a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go. Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches."
    Rich Lowry RealClearPolitics:
    If he had pledged in October to double federal domestic discretionary spending in a matter of weeks—including increasing the budget of the National Endowment for the Arts by a third, spending hundreds of millions more on federal buildings and throwing tens of billions on every traditional liberal priority from job training to Pell Grants—he'd have been hard-pressed to win at all.

    The president should read the transcript of the third presidential debate. He claimed his program represented "a net spending cut." He called himself "a strong proponent of pay-as-you-go. Every dollar that I've proposed, I've proposed an additional cut so that it matches." He added, "We need to eliminate a whole host of programs that don't work."
Actually, I don't believe that if he told the truth he wouldn't have been elected. He made it over the finish line on white guilt, and blacks were voting for him 99%, and the press fell down and played dead. No, it wouldn't have mattered at all.
What is an OCDCA?
Not an obsessive compulsive disordered Californian. Here's the definition:
    "an organization of community development agencies from through out the state [of Ohio] focused on building economically and socially stronger neighborhoods and communities. Through mutual assistance, training and advocacy, they influence public policy to improve the statewide community development environment and support community-based development."
This is one of those definitions you can choose words from several columns but nothing makes sense. So I went to OCDCA's web site and looked at its history. It has been in the "affordable housing" business for over 25 years and guess what? They've never found a reason to shrink (as they would if they were successful) only to expand. Imagine!

It began in 1983-84 with a foundation grant staffed entirely by volunteers to be an Ohio trade association for Community Development Corporations, hiring a director, Patrician Barnes in 1985. Her first initiative was to see that it stayed in business by creating a grant program funded by the state. It got $1 million from the Ohio Department of Development in 1985. Then it created the OCD Finance Fund building on the linked deposit model of AmeriTrust Bank, making it a product. From 1987-89 OCDCA organized a statewide Task Force to guide the Finance Fund, partnering with other development programs and an Episcopal Diocese. Then it got the governor and legislature in 1989 to provide matching public funds through an expansion of its CDC grant and Finance Fund continues to this day in a set-aside in the Ohio Housing Trust Fund. (Call me crazy but it looks like the state was matching state funding.)

Is it clear to you so far? Me either.

During the 1990s OCDC got involved in "educating the public" about ballot initiatives to expand the state's powers to finance affordable housing, helped draft legislation advocated for reduced state prevailing wages for housing targeted to low-income households and got exemptions from state prevailing wage for nonprofit sponsored housing development. (I think that means they didn't have to pay union wages.) Then it got into the training and assistance business making it possible for welfare recipients to start businesses and hold assets (called micro-enterprise programs).

As the CRA was gearing up to bring pressure on banks, the OCDCA began training Community Development Corporations staff.

Some new sites to visit

This is fun to read--at least for a conservative, The Absurd Report. Seem to be a few Washington insiders present--a group blog. Be sure to read the collection of links on articles about Obama paying mortgages, and the percentage that will fail within 6 months anyway. I was going to do that one, but they've already done it.

Also I've added Hot Stuff 2.0 to my library links. He/she has corralled a huge list of librarian bloggers (540 last I checked), which are fun to look through (for me). Didn't see the Laundress', Deb's or Jill's--think you just add your name at the bottom. Librarians are really into blogging. Only about 1% are conservative, would be my guess, and that might be high. But it reflects what's on the shelves of your library.

Somehow my Bearflag League group fell off my blog--must have been in my last redesign. It's a group of California or ex-pat California bloggers. Yes, I used to live in California. Way long time ago. Alameda. Update: I found the code and added it, but couldn't get it to work in a cute little scroll box.

FISCONS blogs on the issues that affect your wallet - and the members of Congress that vote to protect it.

For once (or twice) I agree with President Clinton

After being elected on "hope" Obama has been the biggest down talker of the people and the economy I've ever heard. President Clinton has cautiously announced that this isn't the way to give people hope, and that everyone who has bet against America in its history has lost. First he gives Obama an "A" for his first month (he doesn't mind the huge ethics lapse of Obama's staff). Then he adds his "fatherly" advice--lighten up.
    Former president Bill Clinton tells Good Morning America, in an interview airing today, that he likes "the fact that (President Obama) didn't come in and give us a bunch of happy talk. I'm glad he shot straight with us. ... (But) I just want the American people to know that he's confident that we are gonna get out of this and he feels good about the long run. ... I like trying to educate the American people about the dimensions and scope of this economic crisis. ... I just would like him to end by saying that he is hopeful and completely convinced we're gonna come through this."
I have never felt so belittled and distraught as I do listening to our President hem and haw his way through a speech or interview. He is throwing bad money after bad. And then he tells us it probably won't work. Huh? The markets are responding--unfortunately--just the way Obama "hoped." The markets began plunging when it appeared in the fall that Obama-spread-the wealth would be elected. They have continued to plunge because the more he destroys the economy, the more he knows the people will turn to him. Now all the gains of the Bush years have been wiped out, and Obama appears to be the big winner.

Friday Family Photo--August 1982

Is it too early, too cold, too gray to be thinking about Lakeside, Ohio, that 19th century chautauqua community on Lake Erie? In the 1980s, we liked the nostalgic 1950s feel; now we like the nostalgic 1980s feel.

This home was one of our favorite rentals. I think it's now owned by the director, Kevin Sibbring. When it came up for sale, we still had children in school, so couldn't even think about it. I like this photo because my son was standing on his tip-toes and was not yet taller than me. Now he is 6'1" and I'm the shortest one in the family. But in 1988 we did buy our own cottage, and now we can spend most of our summer at Lakeside. Here's my link for life at Lakeside.

Here we are at Lakeside (without the children) 25 years later, August 2007.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An unusual story in the Wall St. Journal

It actually criticizes President Obama, and points out how irritated and unhappy the people are who chose to live within their means, who met all the requirements for downpayment and percent of income for housing costs.
    What do you expect from the government?" said David Newton, 46 years old, proprietor of DJN Management LLC, which owns 232 rental apartments in the Atlanta area. "The government isn't out there to help people who obey the law and follow the rules."

    Mr. Obama "told everybody, 'I'm going to spread wealth around,' and that's what he's going to do," Mr. Newton said. Story by Timiraos and Phillips here.
Yes, it's a quote, but at least it's not from an ACORN "community organizer" who was first taking money from the government to put people into mortgages they couldn't afford, then taking money from the government to run foreclosure workshops, and now is taking money to organize foreclosure protests.
    Since 1986, we have helped 45,000 families successfully negotiate the homebuying process and achieve the American dream of homeownership for the first time." ACORN website

    "ACORN Housing provides one-on-one mortgage loan counseling, first-time homebuyer classes, and helps clients obtain affordable mortgages through our unique lending partnerships." ACORN Florida website

    "In Providence, Rhode Island, ACORN will provide a foreclosure workshop to assist homeowners who need to renegotiate their mortgage loans. ACORN is a nonprofit group that advocates for initiatives that benefit moderate- and low-income people." Bankruptcy website

    "ACORN plans local action to stem North West Indiana mortgage foreclosures." NWI website.
If you need a job, ACORN is hiring. I'm guessing the protestors in front of homes, banks, and mortgage companies are paid.

My Friend ERMA

United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund was authorized by President Obama after one week in office to furnish assistance under the Act in an amount not to exceed $20.3 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund for the purpose of meeting unexpected and urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, related to humanitarian needs of Palestinian refugees and conflict victims in Gaza. Federal Register, January 27, 2009"

Big Gay Al wonders how he missed it on the national news. Yeah, I wonder. Obviously, someone had that ready for his desk before he took his hand off the Bible.

So I went over to the ERMA website to see what else was going on, and why this was such a rush job.
    Of the $20.3 million in new ERMA funds, $13.5 million will go to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), $6 million to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), and $800,000 to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). . .

    Today’s [January 30] contribution to UNRWA augments the $85 million the United States contributed in December 2008 toward UNRWA’s 2009 appeals. Of that amount, $25 million supported UNRWA emergency operations in West Bank and Gaza. The remaining $60 million supported UNRWA’s services for 4.6 million Palestinian refugees in the region, including Gaza. . .

    Furthermore, today’s contribution to ICRC complements the $9.7 million the United States provided earlier this month for ICRC’s activities for victims of conflict in the Middle East, with particular attention to its critical programs in Gaza. . . In addition to our contributions to UNRWA, ICRC, and OCHO, to date, USAID has provided more than $3.7 million for emergency assistance to Gaza."
And does the US give Israel a lot. Oh yes. Billions. Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East. However, when I tried to find a reliable source, all I found was hate Israel pro-Palestine sites (well, the first 20 or so). As with most problems in the middle east, it depends on your politics. Maybe the press didn't mention it because Bush gave more in December and they didn't want Obama to look like a piker?

The beautiful children of Haiti

Please see the previous blog entry first so you understand why we have these photos. It's hard to hold the camera when they all want to see the picture.

Lunch time! There are many shifts, and the food is on the table before the children enter.

Girl's choir from 2007 trip

Scenes from Haiti 2009

On Monday afternoon my husband returned from a short term mission trip in Ouanaminthe Haiti. This was his third year to go, and he hopes to go again next year. He loves the people there. By our standards, they don't have much, but they are so joyful in their faith, and the students he works with are just delightful.
The 2009 team with Dave and Pam Mann (UALC ministers who serve there)

The container with the construction materials didn't arrive until Thursday, but God always has a Plan B, so the team busied themselves painting a room cream with salmon pillars.

Two of the team members have medical equipment backgrounds and were able to help calibrate equipment in the clinic which is now completely staffed with Haitians. The first few years of the clinic it was staffed with rotating teams from the USA.

After he was finished with his construction responsibilities, my husband taught a 13th grade class in model building. These are models of the buildings he has designed for the vocational school which will be built next to the academic buildings.

Today's new word is JAILBREAKING

I don't have an iPhone, but do have an iTouch, which I haven't yet figured out. Today I saw the following: "For quite possibly the first time ever, Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) has publicly stated that it believes that jailbreaking an iPhone is against the law -- not against its end-user agreement for iPhone use with Apple's services like iTunes, its App Store, or MobileMe -- but against the law. More specifically, Apple contends that jailbreaking an iPhone infringes on its copyright. That's right, copyright."

Jailbreaking, then, is opening up your iPhone's file system so it can be accessed from your computer. says, "Jailbreaking your iPhone means freeing it from the limitations imposed on it by AT&T and Apple. You install a software application on your computer, and then transfer it to your iPhone, where it "breaks open" the iPhone’s file system to allow you to modify it. Once you do it, you're on your own. You may have voided your warranty, so you can't rely on AT&T or Apple to fix any problems you encounter."

Don't wear this to an awards event

Especially not if you are. . . rather large and going to be in every photo from the top seller award to the janitors' cleaniness prize. This photo is from yesterday's WSJ fashion article, but what I saw in a non-profit newsletter was a woman exec in a very big black and white patterned dress with jacket in a similar shiny fabric and design. And I won't provide a link. I don't think she realized when she took it out of her closet that morning for the event, that seeing the dress about 10 times in a single issue of the company newsletter would have such a stunning, memorable affect. At least I'll never forget it. The other female CEO wore a simple muted lavender suit, so she looked much more business-like standing next to the men who were all in dark suits, or even the janitors who also looked more professional than the black and white event of the day. It's not that large women have to always dress conservatively or in black, but neither should they be a moving billboard.

Go Green to Get the Green

Here's the February issue of the International Masonry Institute blog--I see the first article is about terrazzo floors, and its advantage for "green" building. I was roller skating at the White Pines on terrazzo floors 60 years ago. Who knew we were so ahead of the times back then.

Until the recent building meltdown caused by our inept government regulations, a mason probably made more than a teacher or professor. The BLS describes the job here. But, you'd have to pay through the nose and join the union. "Only about 2 percent of cement masons, concrete finishers, segmental pavers, and terrazzo workers were self-employed, a smaller proportion than in other building trades. Most self-employed masons specialized in small jobs, such as driveways, sidewalks, and patios."

Update: I was wrong about the salary. See here for terrazzo floor installers. The median annual is about the same as school teachers, and the hourly is much lower.

Global warming and the economy

"The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that October in the US was marked by 63 record snowfalls and 115 lowest-ever temperatures. Over the past few years, similar signs of colder than usual weather have been recorded all over the world, causing many people to question the still fashionable, but now long outdated, global warming alarmism. Yet individual weather events or spells, whether warmings or coolings, tell us nothing necessarily about true climate change. . .

Introduction of a carbon dioxide tax to prevent (imaginary) warming, euphemistically disguised as an emissions trading scheme, is a politician's, ticket clipper's and mafia chief's dream. . ." Australian, Jan. 20, 2009

"The IPCC’s assertion that a dangerous human influence is being exerted on climate change rested in 2001 on three main arguments. These were (i) that the thermometer-based ground-temperature record shows unprecedented warming; (ii) the claim, after the Mann et al. (1998) ‘hockey stick’model of climate change, that late 20th century temperatures rose to an unnatural level and at an unnatural rate; and (iii) the implication, based on a radiative-balance model of atmospheric processes, that deterministic computer models can predict climate 50 or 100 years ahead.

Regarding (i), the ground temperature curve now shows no statistically significant warming since 1995, and cooling since 2002. Regarding (ii), the work of Mann et al. has been shown to be deeply statistically flawed (McIntyre and McKitrick 2003). Which leaves GCM computer models as the sole remaining argument for dangerous human-caused warming. ‘How are they travelling’, you ask? ‘Not at all well’ is the answer. . ." from "Knock, Knock: Where is the Evidence for Dangerous Human-Caused Global Warming?" by Robert M. Carter, ECONOMIC ANALYSIS & POLICY, VOL. 38 NO. 2, SEPTEMBER 2008 (Available on-line as PDF, 26 pages)

Some in government have common sense

Sarah Palin and Bobby Jindahl. They are our hope for the future. Hope that there are elected officials who are NOT socialists and marxists. Shame on the US voter for not even putting up a fight before the takeover. Palin to Greta Van Susteren:
    voiced her opposition to the Obama stimulus bill because Congress hadn’t had time to fully digest it.

    “I wish he would veto it and send it back until our lawmakers can read it and know what’s in it. I think I speak for a lot of Alaskans who say also understanding that the impacts on individual states that this stimulus package has, they are unknown impacts,” Palin said. “So until our guy and our gals in Congress can read it and understand what the impacts are, I don’t want to see it signed.”

    The former Republican candidate for vice-president added, “I would call for a veto, absolutely, and let’s do this right, understanding that there is going to be some kind of stimulus package. There is going to be some kind of attempts for economic recovery. I say construction projects that put people to work, that fits the bill, but these big huge expanded social programs where we are adding people to the rolls, and then the economic stimulus package dollars from the feds are going to dry up at some point. States then are going to be beholden to these programs.

    “We will have to pay for them. That’s not right, that’s not fair. We just want to make sure that whatever is it is that is passed makes sense for the states, for the residents of our individual states.”
Although I think both governors will be pressured to accept the oppressive measures of this largest ever tax increase and deficit (each household in their state will also be slapped with the $10,000 price tag), it's nice to know someone up there still believes in reading the legislation.

Unfortunately, in order to read Greta's interview, you'll have to scroll through the Bristol and Trig stories, which seem to be the level at which you can ease most voters into this important news. Sorry--it's the best I can find. There may be 5 generations of family to help with the new baby, but that's not the message the teens get when Bristol's situation is glamorized. Shame on Granny Sarah for allowing this.

More of what got us to our financial meltdown in housing

Have you noticed that the GSEs Fannie and Freddie are front and center of the stimulus?

"Before Wall Street screamed bloody murder at the opening of 2008, President Bush was resisting pressure to lift the financial limit on the mortgages Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac purchase and securitize. The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO), the GSEs’ wimpy watchdog, also objected to lifting the limit and continues to do so post stimulus agreement. The present GSE limit is $417,000. The stimulus would snap the cap to $625,500, and to $729,750 in extra pricey housing markets. Allowing Fannie and Freddie to purchase and securitize jumbo mortgages, the oversize loans MBS investors now shun as too risky. Link

How we got here--a quick review

HT Taxmanblog

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Michael Crichton on religion

Remarks at the Commonwealth Club, September 15, 2003:
    I studied anthropology in college, and one of the things I learned was that certain human social structures always reappear. They can't be eliminated from society. One of those structures is religion. Today it is said we live in a secular society in which many people---the best people, the most enlightened people---do not believe in any religion. But I think that you cannot eliminate religion from the psyche of mankind. If you suppress it in one form, it merely re-emerges in another form. You can not believe in God, but you still have to believe in something that gives meaning to your life, and shapes your sense of the world. Such a belief is religious.

    Today, one of the most powerful religions in the Western World is environmentalism. Environmentalism seems to be the religion of choice for urban atheists. Why do I say it's a religion? Well, just look at the beliefs. If you look carefully, you see that environmentalism is in fact a perfect 21st century remapping of traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs and myths.

    There's an initial Eden, a paradise, a state of grace and unity with nature, there's a fall from grace into a state of pollution as a result of eating from the tree of knowledge, and as a result of our actions there is a judgment day coming for us all. We are all energy sinners, doomed to die, unless we seek salvation, which is now called sustainability. Sustainability is salvation in the church of the environment. Just as organic food is its communion, that pesticide-free wafer that the right people with the right beliefs, imbibe.
    More here.
And that's why, he says, you can't talk anyone out of hard core environmentalism, of belief in global warming, because those are issues of faith. No one invested emotionally and financially in the faith wants the facts.
    So I can tell you some facts. I know you haven't read any of what I am about to tell you in the newspaper, because newspapers literally don't report them.

    I can tell you that DDT is not a carcinogen and did not cause birds to die and should never have been banned. I can tell you that the people who banned it knew that it wasn't carcinogenic and banned it anyway. I can tell you that the DDT ban has caused the deaths of tens of millions of poor people, mostly children, whose deaths are directly attributable to a callous, technologically advanced western society that promoted the new cause of environmentalism by pushing a fantasy about a pesticide, and thus irrevocably harmed the third world. Banning DDT is one of the most disgraceful episodes in the twentieth century history of America. We knew better, and we did it anyway, and we let people around the world die and didn't give a damn.

    I can tell you that second hand smoke is not a health hazard to anyone and never was, and the EPA has always known it. I can tell you that the evidence for global warming is far weaker than its proponents would ever admit. I can tell you the percentage the US land area that is taken by urbanization, including cities and roads, is 5%.

    I can tell you that the Sahara desert is shrinking, and the total ice of Antarctica is increasing. I can tell you that a blue-ribbon panel in Science magazine concluded that there is no known technology that will enable us to halt the rise of carbon dioxide in the 21st century. Not wind, not solar, not even nuclear. The panel concluded a totally new technology-like nuclear fusion-was necessary, otherwise nothing could be done and in the meantime all efforts would be a waste of time. They said that when the UN IPCC reports stated alternative technologies existed that could control greenhouse gases, the UN was wrong.
Obama and his bevy of tax evading advisors probably don't read Michael Crichton.

Whether you love him or hate him

This will make you smile.

Temperature to drop tonight

If you live in Illinois, I understand you're passing along some cold temperatures to Ohio. Thanks a bunch. Oh, this global warming. Last year the average daily temperature here in central Ohio in February was 26.2. This year it's 17.6. One year doesn't make a trend, but it's actually been getting cooler for about a decade. I need to start tracking these AGW sites--you can get all you want about the other side, the political side, just by watching the main stream media, or reading any newsy/pop source like Time, Newsweek, or Nature. It's very hard to get a research grant or get published if you have a different viewpoint.

One piece of the economy that is going great guns is "continuing education." For my husband, that means taking courses in "green" in order to stay licensed--he had a 12 hour seminar yesterday (and we think he got food poisoning as a side benefit). But architects aren't the only ones by any means. Lawyers, pharmacists, medical trades, automotive, hospitality industry, leisure industry, janitorial and cleaning trades, school teachers, building trades--they all have license requirements, and they are all having "green" pushed down their throats. Yes, it's been a real boon for the companies that offer these courses. Whether the people teaching the courses believe it, I don't know, but they couldn't make any money if they publicly denied it.

Global warming hoax news

Global Warming Hoax

Master Resource

National Center for Policy Analysis

    There never has been a scientific consensus that human activities are causing catastrophic global warming. Indeed, hardly a day goes by when some eminent scientist comes “out of the closet” so to speak and publicly rejects either the link between human actions and the recent warming trend or the idea that the global warming will result in horrific environmental or human harm. Indeed, the U.S. Senate has a minority report listing more the 650 international scientists who disagree with the all or part of the so-called consensus. Many of the scientists on this list are current or former members of the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate change (IPCC) who have broken with the IPCC over its findings or, at least, how it is presenting them. H. Sterling Burnett
    Denver, CO (Feb. 18, 2009)—A new study says that a climate action plan promoted by several Western governors could prolong the economic recession, weaken already overburdened Western power grids and will deliver a temperature “benefit” of only one ten-thousandth of a degree Celsius even after a century of operation. The study, commissioned by the Western Business Roundtable, found that the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) greenhouse gas (GHG) cap-and-trade plan could “chase away tens of billions of dollars in high technology investment from the West to other regions” and would “further stress the West’s already strained electricity grid, increasing the threat of potentially catastrophic power outages.” ICECAP
We have one sensible weatherman in Columbus, Jim Ganahl.

The Can’t Fail Presidential Plan

“Suppose, as seems a distinct possibility, that the sloppily crafted, spend-to-oblivion stimulus package does precious little near-term good while causing eventual runaway inflation, a teetering dollar, huge tax increases and overall diminution of American prosperity and power. Will Barack Obama pay a political price?

Maybe not. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal fiscal policies did not end the Depression and may have done more harm than good, but he was perceived as bold and caring, a dynamic leader making the best of the situation while here and there easing pain.” Link

More money for government buildings

The government gets to the green pork trough first. According to Architectural Digest $130 billion of the bill is earmarked for construction-related spending. Glancing through the list, it looks like you'll need to live near DC, Maryland or Virginia to get any of this. I don't think we have any GSA or NIH buildings around here.

BUILDINGS: $13.4 billion
General Services Administration (GSA), energy-efficiency upgrades for federal buildings: $4.5 billion
Facilities on federal and tribal lands: $3 billion
National Institutes of Health, facilities upgrades/construction: $1.5 billion
National Science Foundation, research equipment and facilities upgrades/construction: $600 million
Department of Homeland Security, new headquarters: $450 million
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, procurement, acquisition, and facilities construction: $430 million
Department of Homeland Security, ports of entry: $420 million
National Institute of Standards and Technology, facilities construction: $360 million
Department of Agriculture, facilities: $330 million
Border stations and ports of entry: $300 million
U.S. Courthouses and other GSA buildings: $300 million
Fire stations: $210 million
State Department, Capital Investment Fund: $90 million
Smithsonian facilities: $25 million

HOUSING/HUD: $9.6 billion
Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Public Housing Capital Fund: $4 billion
HUD, redevelopment of abandoned and foreclosed homes: $2 billion
HUD, Community Development Block Grants: $1 billion
HUD, energy retrofits, "green" projects in HUD-assisted housing projects: $250 million

DEFENSE/VETERANS: $7.8 billion
Veterans Affairs, medical facilities upgrades/construction: $1.25 billion
Department of Defense (DOD), facilities upgrades/construction: $4.2 billion
DOD, military “quality of life’ projects, such as housing and child-care centers: $2.3 billion

Weren't you always told to read the fine print before you bought something on credit? When the editors put this list together, no one had yet read the bill--not even the people who voted on it. Not even the President read it. It's sort of a guess.

Can you spot the typo?

This one was a headline in OSU Today

Collaboration with Microsoft Widows Live

Oregon Democrats propose 1,900% tax increase on beer

Like the cigarette taxes that hurt the poor the most to pay for the medical care of the middle class, the state run lotteries that hit the low income the hardest that are supposed to help reduce dependency on real estate to fund schools, the reasoning here is that it will save in medical costs. For whom? I'm guessing it hurts the low income beer drinker the most. I've known a lot of alcoholics, and only one was a beer-alcoholic. I've never even tasted beer. Smells like rotten grain to me. More than likely, it will be one more case of Democrats shutting down an industry that employs people so they can create more dependency on the government with unemployment, universal health care, and the government owning and operating the beer plants. Or, if you follow the lobbyist money, you might even find some very large beer companies passing out some change to Oregon's legislators so they can put the competition out of business.
    Jamie Floyd, owner of Ninkasi Brewing in Eugene, said Ninkasi paid $19,000 in taxes last year, and the increase would raise its taxes to $370,000. The tax increase brewers would assume would inevitably be passed on to their distributors, retailers and consumers, he said.

    The economic recession already affects Taylor's, especially because its customer base is on a fixed income, Walker said, so the tax increase will only hurt business further.

    "It can't be a positive thing for the economy," Walker said. "College kids are still going to do what they do, but (business) is down a little bit; it's not as busy as it was six months or a year ago." Daily Emerald

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The President of Everything

Wouldn't it be surprising if even the press were to catch on this early in his presidency to where Obama is taking us?
    "This is a presidency on steroids." That's not an assessment from a libertarian shocked by President Barack Obama's first month in office. That is the first sentence of Eugene Robinson's latest column, which goes on to list many of the ways that the Obama Administration is "managing the big chunks of the private-sector economy that are now more accurately described as semi-private at best.... He may have to become an auto executive, a banker, mortgage broker and who knows what else before this crisis is done." Who knows what else, indeed. Link to Morning Bell.
Meanwhile, a viral e-mail with a few inaccuracies but which gets it pretty close about all the tax and ethics problems which have turned up in just the first 3 weeks. Don’t know where it started but it’s been going around the internet for about a week and most points were correct, although it left out the Rezko-Blago-Burris-Obama connection--maybe was too early:
    Secretary of State Clinton was bought off with her appointment and that's under a cloud due to her husband's gifts both in and out of office and laws passed while she was a Senator. Making available a donor list apparently made all the questions go away.

    Secretary of the Treasury Tim Geithner is a tax cheat. Then when he talks, the brightest guy on the planet, next to the President, makes no sense at all.

    Attorney General Eric Holder's law firm represents terrorists imprisoned in Gitmo. I've watched enough TV to know that's not right. And didn't he represent Marc Rich? If he wasn't ethical enough to be an advisor during the campaign, how can he be AG?

    CIA boss Leon Panetta has zero experience. Where is the donor list for his "institute." He has no other visible means of support.

    The Secretary of HHS nominee Tom Daschle withdrew under charges of cheating on his taxes. Also how many millions did he make his first two years after he left the Senate? Sort of a double standard Mr. Squeaky Clean President.

    Nancy Killefer withdrew from consideration as deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget

    Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has tax problems, and she was also a pro-union lobbyist, something Obama said he didn't want in his gang cabinet.

    Bill Richardson was first choice to be Commerce secretary, but the New Mexico governor withdrew amid a grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors. When do we see Panetta's donors list?

    Then Commerce secretary nominee Judd Gregg, a Republican, withdraws when he sees Obama’s plan for that department, particularly his interference in the Census.

    Matthew Nugen, a top Obama campaign aide is joining Ogilvy Government Relations as a lobbyist. Like Daschle's, the position is technically one of "strategist." If it quacks like a duck. . .

    David Plouffe, the campaign manager calling for for transparency and openness during the campaign prevented reporters from attending a speech at the National Press Club!

    Rezko-Blago-Burris-Obama connection getting stronger.

    And although not quite in the same category, Mr. draw down, code Pink, can't we all get along, is ordering 17,000 more troops for Afghanistan.

    Update Feb. 17 from Dick Morris' column: Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, lived rent- free for years in the home of Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.) - and failed to disclose the gift, as congressional ethics rules mandate. She is the wife of Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg who has received over half a million in polling contracts from the Democrats. Emmanuel is a millionaire who shouldn't need free rent.
This is a stunning list for only three four weeks in office. Where was our main stream press, our free press that hounded Bush for 8 years, finding all sorts of minuscule crimes, but that can't locate these tax cheats who now steal our taxes?