Odd Citizen

Odd Citizen
An Odd Citizen’s Search For Vanishing Freedoms

YIKES! WOW! Anita Moncrief!

August 27th, 2012

Anita Moncrief is a one-woman army fighting against socialism and Democrat corruption. Apparently she was an inside whistle blower against ACORN and continues the war. And what a warrior she is. I was completely unaware of her before stumbling on this video via Daily Caller. It’s a bit long, but very engaging. See it for yourself below:

This is a link to her blog, which has been hacked and to her new web home.

I’m blown away by her fearless indictment of Democrat dirty tricks and socialist scheming. You will be too.

The Greenie Tax

July 3rd, 2012

I’m dreaming of a new business that will make me filthy rich. It’s really quite simple. Now that Congress has the go-ahead to treat a mandate as a tax, I’ll propose to them the Greenie Tax. Wouldn’t the environmentally inclined be really pleased if all Americans practiced green policies, such as low flow shower heads, energy efficient appliances, solar panels on the roof, flush-thrice toilets (Al Gore model), alternate fuel vehicles, etc. Now that would transform the country, wouldn’t it?

Here’s how it would work. Of course nobody has the moola to do all of the above greenie-things all at once. But the Congress could mandate that every American should spend, say $2,000 per year on environmentally beneficial products. If they couldn’t prove they spent this amount, they would be taxed — see how clever this is? But how would the government know that a citizen had complied with the requirement? Easy. Each citizen would annually have to purchase a Greenie Inspection Certification. And that’s where I come in. My new business would inspect homes for a fee, of course, and insure that the requisite expenditures had been made. My company would then issue a Greenie-Compliance-Certificate, good for one year’s exclusion from the Greenie Tax.

But why stop there? How about a fitness and pantry content tax and certification? How about a political education tax and certification? Could a reading-list tax and certification be far behind?

Can you see how rich I’d become by certifying all of those good things the government wishes to mandate? Why, we’d be such a wonderful country if only the government could effectively regulate our lives down to the smallest detail. And my company will be at the heart of it.

Trouble Plain Spoken

May 16th, 2012

After over 500 articles in this blog, I’m getting weary. But some things are quite clear when explained simply. Play Senator Coburn’s explanation (complements of Daily Caller) of what we’re facing as a country. It’s worth it.

Breitbart’s Criticism of Press Validated After His Death

March 2nd, 2012

Andrew Breitbart brought great energy, a bit of humor, and a lot of courage to the right side of the political spectrum. All who appreciated his work mourn his untimely death at the age of 43 years.

Among Mr. Breitbart’s journalistic targets was the mendacity and bile characteristic of the so-called “mainstream” press. Just a day after his death this ugly leftist taint shines through in the press coverage. While mentioning a few words about his reputation as a merry prankster, these commentators from API and CNN and other outlets then turn to attacks on his work, particularly his exposure of corrupt Obama-connected organization ACORN and Shirley Shirrod, the race-hustling former Department of Agriculture employee. But nowhere have I seen any mention of one of Andrew Breitbart’s most ardent targets, the Federal Government’s Pigford settlement with black farmers, which is so larded with fraud and race that the “mainstreams” won’t touch the issue. On this there’s complete silence, because they know Breitbart had the facts down cold.

Let’s face the facts. A half-black (mulato) president and a lot of black appointees, so freak out the mainstream media fearful about being called racists, that they become liars and apologists for all manner of government-employed criminals and low-lifes. Or maybe they’re that way by nature and the race-hustling, leftists in government simply take unfair advantage of their moral weakness.

We’ll miss Andrew Breitbart, because he wasn’t afraid to sweep the shit out of the stalls, even when others called this crap “government work” and accused him of being a racist because some of the horses are black.

Porter Stansberry: Why your family owes $700,000

February 11th, 2012

With permission from the author, below is his entire article. Read it and weep. Then get busy reforming government and protecting yourself and your family from the predations of the political class and their greedy beneficiaries, i.e., most of our ignorant fellow citizens.

Weekend Edition
Porter Stansberry: Why your family owes $700,000
Saturday, February 11, 2012

Today… a review of what I think are the most critical facts in our country’s looming currency crisis. Most people still don’t understand the risks we face as a nation because of our feckless leaders and their reckless ignorance of basic economics.

What follows are facts. Nothing in this essay will be conjecture or opinion. I will make no forecast – at least not in this essay. So please, stop the political name-calling… and grow up. The problems we face are ours. All of ours. It doesn’t matter how we got here. It only matters that we begin to deal with these issues – soon. If we don’t begin to solve these core financial problems, they will certainly destroy our country.

Today, our national federal debt far exceeds $15 trillion. This alone is not a serious problem. The interest we pay on these debts is small – thanks to the trust of our creditors, who, for the moment, continue to believe America is a safe bet.

So… what’s the problem? The main problem is the amount of debt we owe continues to increase at a faster and faster pace. This is exceptionally dangerous for two simple reasons. First, there’s simple math. When numbers compound, the result is geometric expansion. And that’s happening right now with our national debt because we continue to borrow money to pay the interest. And we have done so for about 40 years. Think about it this way: How big would your debts be today if you’d been using credit cards to pay your mortgage for the last several decades?

Even worse, our debts are compounding at an accelerating pace because we lack the political ability to limit the federal government’s spending. Please understand… I’m not pointing the finger at any politician or either political party. I’m simply pointing out a fact: This year’s $3.6 trillion federal budget is 20% larger than the entire 2008 budget. And while our government has grown at a record pace, our economy hasn’t. It has hardly grown at all. Thus, this will be the fourth year in a row we set a record for deficit spending. Never before in peacetime has our government borrowed this much money. And now, it’s borrowing record amounts every year.

This combination of borrowing record amounts of money (during peacetime) and continuing to borrow the money we need to pay the interest is setting the stage for a massive increase in total federal debt levels. Why is this happening? Don’t our leaders realize they can’t continue on this path?

Well… the problem isn’t so simple to fix. What we face isn’t a $15 trillion problem. It’s actually much, much bigger…

The $15.3 trillion we owe today is really only a minor down payment on promises the federal government made to its most important creditors – the American people. Not yet included in our debt totals are the $15 trillion shortfall in Social Security (thanks to the Democrats), the $20 trillion unfunded prescription drug benefits (thanks to the Republicans), or the $115 trillion unfunded Medicare liability (thanks to the Democrats and Republicans).

Most people ignore these looming liabilities because they obviously will never be paid. In fact, the federal government’s total obligations today – including all future obligations – is more than $1 million per taxpayer. And that’s if you assume all 112 million taxpayers really count. (They don’t. Only about 50 million people in the U.S. pay any substantial amount of federal income taxes.)

But here’s the funny part… While everyone seems ready to ignore these obligations, we’ve already begun to pay them. Our spending on Medicare and Social Security already greatly exceeds the $800 billion in payroll taxes we’re collecting to pay these benefits. (Total spending on Social Security and Medicare last year was more than $1.5 trillion.) And that means our actual debts will continue to compound faster and faster every year, assuming nothing is done to curtail these benefits.

I want to make sure you understand this fact: It doesn’t matter how much (or how little) Congress chooses to cut its discretionary budget. The promises we’ve already made to Americans in the form of Social Security and Medicare guarantee that our debts will continue to compound faster and faster, every year. How do I know?

Once again… let’s return to basic math. Right now, we’re spending (at the federal level) $2.4 trillion per year on transfer payments and interest on our national debt. That doesn’t include any of the other functions of the government – nothing else. Meanwhile, we are only collecting $2.3 trillion a year in income, payroll, and corporate taxes.

Let me make sure you understand this: Even if we cut every other government program – including the entire military budget – the federal revenue collected still wouldn’t be enough to merely cover the costs of our direct transfer payments. Not even close. And every year, these payments will automatically grow.

Here’s another way to look at the same basic numbers, but on a macro scale. Right now, total government spending in the U.S. equals $7 trillion per year. (That’s federal, state, and local.) Total interest paid in the U.S. economy on all debts, public and private, equals $3.7 trillion. The size of our total economy is only $15 trillion. Thus, we are currently spending $10 trillion (out of $15 trillion) on our government and debt. This is unprecedented in all of American history. This financial structure is unsustainable – and extremely unstable, given our debt levels.

There’s the bigger problem. (Yes, it gets worse.) The political solution to our soaring deficits will most likely be higher taxes. Yes, technically that’s a prediction… And I promised no predictions in this piece. But let’s face it. You will never see the federal government make dramatic, meaningful cuts to its promised benefits – not when half the country pays no federal taxes and more than 40 million people are on food stamps. So it’s not really a prediction – it’s a political reality. Will higher taxes save us?

No. You cannot squeeze blood from a stone. The federal debt isn’t the largest obligation we suffer under. Americans hold nearly $1 trillion in credit card debt. We hold nearly $1 trillion in student loans. Total personal debt in America is larger ($15.9 trillion) than all of the federal debt. In total – adding up all of our debts, public and private – Americans owe close to $700,000 per family. It is not possible to finance our federal government’s spending via taxes because the American people are broke. Total debt levels in America are the highest – by far – of any developed nation.

Tax the rich, you say. Well, of course. But marginal rates in many places are already greater than 50%. Tax rates this high don’t work… They actually reduce tax revenues as people move their economic activities elsewhere to avoid taxes… or even simply forgo working.

Don’t forget, the very wealthy can simply leave. James Cameron – director of blockbuster movies Titanic and Avatar – recently did just that, buying a 2,500-acre farm in Canada. John Malone, chairman of Liberty Media, likewise told the Wall Street Journal that he bought a farm on the Canadian border specifically so that he could leave the country whenever he wanted. “We own 18 miles on the border, so we can cross. Anytime we want to, we can get away.”

Think I’m exaggerating the risks of real capital flight from the U.S.? Well… let’s look at the facts. According to the latest IRS report, the number of Americans renouncing their U.S. citizenship has increased ninefold since 2008.

How then will the government’s spending be financed? Well, I promised no predictions. Not today. But I will remind you that since 2008, the Federal Reserve has expanded the monetary base from roughly $800 billion to nearly $3 trillion. That, again, is a fact. Feel free to draw your own conclusions about what the Federal Reserve is likely to do in the future if the U.S. Treasury is faced with a financial need that can’t be met.

These facts prompted me to focus the latest issue of my Investment Advisory on a step-by-step guide on how to prosper during the coming crisis. I just published the issue yesterday. You can learn more about my letter and how to get immediate access to my research here.


Porter Stansberry

P.S. You may do whatever you’d like with today’s essay. Feel free to pass it around to your friends – or anyone else who may be interested in these ideas. Be prepared for lots of nonsense about making the rich pay their “fair share” and pie-in-the-sky projections about how the entitlement system could easily be reformed.

Robbed by Illegal Immigrant

December 20th, 2011

I live near the Mexican boarder. For years now illegal Mexican immigrants have passed through my property. Often times I fed them, gave them water, let them use the telephone and sent them on their way. Other times they disconnected my hoses at night to re-fill their water bottles, discarded trash on the property and camped out back in a dry stream bed (wash) on the property. I speak some Spanish, having attended college in Mexico and Chile, and have a warm spot in my heart for Mexico and Mexicans. But with regard to those crossing my property these days, the hospitality is gone. Last week, for the second time, I was robbed by an illegal Mexican immigrant.

The latest robbery involved the complete ransacking of my office/guest house. The thief was obviously a professional crook, not a desperate immigrant farm laborer. He homed in on and took those things that could be exchanged for cash, such as jewelry, a fire-arm, ammunition, loose change, camera, short-wave radio. He also took military medals and incomprehensibly and most painfully some irreplaceable hand-written journals.

The thief also took a $2 bill that had been my late father’s good luck piece. A visit to a store across the highway yielded a surveillance video of the guy spending the two-dollar bill and many dollars of loose change. There’s no doubt about this culprit.

So why write this in my blog? Not sympathy. I get that from my family. Not fame, this blog has very few readers. No, just a testament to the fact that the Mexican border has become a dangerous channel of criminal activity into the U.S.A. Don’t you believe those who say these are just innocent work seeking immigrants. Most used to be, but now most are drug mules and criminals. So for my erstwhile Mexican friends, you have spoiled it for your companieros, you’re no longer welcome, no longer will you receive any hospitality from me. Adios!

A Potato, a Baseball and the U.S. Constitution

June 16th, 2011

If someone pointed to a baseball and told me it was a potato it wouldn’t tempt me to cook it for dinner. I don’t think it would tempt you either, no matter how authoritative the source of the statement. There is a fundamental and obvious difference between a baseball and a potato. But when it comes to laws then it boils down to what the definition of “is” is.

The U.S. Constitution was written by some very wise and well educated men who also expressed their thoughts succinctly and clearly. So it baffles most of us who read and understand the English language how the Constitution’s plain meanings have been mangled and bent to justify all manner of Federal Government powers and expansions. So I was particularly interested to encounter online a copy of the Constitution in the U.S. Senate website, with the original language accompanied by an interpretation. I guess this is what our Senators refer to when they need reference to the Constitution.

Now I’m not a lawyer by any stretch of imagination, and I do concede that much of the damage to our republic has been done by those worthies of the Supreme Court. So I’ll just mention a few things I found in Section 8, where the “limited and enumerated” powers of the Federal Government are specified, along with their interpretation for use by the Senators.

The first of these is the notorious Commerce Clause, which gives congress the power to regulate “interstate commerce.”

This clause has been used as a huge loophole to justify federal power to regulate and do almost everything, most recently by Democrats to justify the constitutionality of Obamacare and EPA regulation of carbon dioxide. The winds blowing across state lines are apparently “interstate commerce,” thus making the EPA’s regulation of airborne pollution Constitutional. So wind is “commerce”, flowing rivers are “commerce”, trucking and communication are “commerce”.

Look at the Constitutional statement on the left and then at the interpretation on the right, where it states that “the ‘Commerce Clause’ is one of the most far-reaching grants of power to congress.”
Can that conclusion be reached by the plain meaning of the Constitution in which “interstate commerce” was plainly intended to mean commercial transactions over state lines? A power needed to keep one state from taxing and regulating commercial transactions involving other states? YAH, YAH, I know that the Supreme Court was defenestrated during the F.D.R administration and hasn’t ever regained its courage to do its duty.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all government programs now justified by the Commerce Clause were re-examined, and those that did not involve actual commerce, i.e., commercial transactions, were shut down forthwith?

OK, here’s another little gem. The Postal Clause shown below:

Where in the original language does it say that “Congress may also punish those who use the mails for unlawful purposes.”? Was that a pet notion of the guy who wrote this interpretation for our dear senators?

And where does it say that the Post Office must be a government monopoly?

And now to that clause beloved by politicians and bureaucrats, and tyrants, the “elastic clause”. Read the plain language on the left, then the explanation on the right.

The plain language specifies that the congress can “make laws necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution …“. The bold parts refer to those powers already defined in Section 8 and elsewhere in the Constitution. It doesn’t say that this is an ‘elastic clause’ that enlarges legislative power to let Congress do whatever they damn well please, but that’s the impression one gets from the description by the dear senators’ constitutional interpreter.

Of course, whole books are written on how the original meaning of the Constitution has been contorted and ignored to the detriment of the country. There are undoubtedly many learned experts out there who will tell me I’m uninformed and simple minded. But a potato isn’t a baseball, nor a baseball a potato no matter what the experts claim.

The Illusion of China’s Future… and Ours

June 15th, 2011

From “The Australian” newspaper we have a
report of multiple protest demonstrations, some of them violent in China.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone who is monitoring Chinese affairs. The country is an overheated boiler waiting to blow. The people of China are increasingly aware of their suppression and brutal treatment by the corrupt communist government. The banking system is teetering on the verge of collapse. Inflation is kicking in with a vengeance. The housing bubble is as volatile as that in the U.S.A. Central planning has wasted vast sums of money on infrastructure that nobody has any use for. Huge “ghost cities” have been built that nobody occupies. Urban, coastal Chinese grow rich by exploiting slave labor from the agricultural interior, where hoards of people still go barefoot. And construction companies fail to pay their workers. When these workers object they are suppressed by corrupt local bureaucrats. People are being poisoned by air and water pollution, tainted food and counterfeit medications.

Meanwhile, U.S. and European companies have moved manufacturing to China to take advantage of low paid, essentially slave labor. What will these companies do when the boiler explodes? What will happen when Chinese currency kicks into hyper-inflation? How should the financial world react when China becomes so preoccupied with suppressing the discontent of its population, maybe even revolution or civil war, that it loses interest in buying U.S. government debt? Will the communist government launch an attack on Taiwan as a distraction from its internal problems?

There has been a parade of commentary in the past couple of years to the tune of “China will overtake the U.S. economically, if not also militarily.” Or “China is doing all the modern things, such as high-speed rail, modern airports, high-tech manufacturing, etc.” “The West needs to learn from China.” Nonsense. This is the same kind of hand wringing we heard in the 1970’s about “Japan Inc”. The Japanese supposedly had all the answers, the better formula, the best economics, the best education, they were destined to overtake the U.S. economically and buy up all of our most valuable assets, and on and on. Then, in the 80’s and 90’s the American entrepreneurial economy kicked in, Japan swooned, and the silly notions were proved wrong. And Japan wasn’t even our enemy.

Today communist China is not our friend and is far from a model for our future. It is a dangerous illusion waiting to collapse, perhaps violently, with uncertain consequences for our well-being.

Coburn’s $10-Trillion

May 31st, 2011

Here’s Senator Tom Coburn’s take on the budget reforms that our congress will need to implement if we’re to survive as a prosperous nation.

It’s really sad that politics has thus far made it unlikely that a real solution to the government’s out of control spending will be found. So Senator Coburn’s calm, sensible approach is encouraging.

Ominous Forebodings

May 10th, 2011

Ireland’s government has announced a novel way of paying for government spending by taxing the assets of private pension funds. This appears to be a direct levy on wealth retained by pension funds.

Similar ideas have popped up from time to time here in the U.S. There are trillions of dollars in private pension funds, IRA’s, Kehoes, 401-K’s, etc. Some have suggested that it would make sense for the government to seize these assets in exchange for bonds issued by the Social Security Administration. The argument is that these bonds would guarantee a fixed return thus removing risk from pension investments. It would also have the “benefit” of providing “social justice” by equalizing returns for all retirees. (see this scenario.)

Well, folks, that’s where the money is. So why shouldn’t the government skim off some or all of it to pay its debts and to support important public investments such as economic stimulus packages, financial industry bail-outs, auto-industry union rescues, high speed rail boondoggles, alternative fuel subsidies and other public benefits?

Don’t say it can’t happen here. It very well might, and sooner than you could ever expect.

Hard Work On the Farm

May 6th, 2011

In case you’ve never seen up close what Mexican workers do on U.S. farms (it was new to me), please take a few minutes to see this video. The narration is in Spanish, but I’ll explain it below.

The task involves three people. The first worker cuts the lettuce. The second worker trims the lettuce head so it will fit properly in the box. The third worker cleans off the cut end of the lettuce head, which has accumulated some white sap after cutting. Then the fourth worker assembles boxes, packs each box with a fixed quantity of lettuce heads and then seals the box.

I was most impressed by how fast these guys work. It has to be a really back-breaking task! Can you imagine doing this kind of labor for two to three months at a stretch?

Governing by Tantrum

April 10th, 2011

The $38 Billion “cut” is a painful slashing of the U.S. government budget say Democrats. It’s the best we can do say Republicans. Neither party has disclosed exactly what will be cut. Who, then, will bear this horrible pain?

The Obama democrats, while in control of the presidency and both houses of congress, have increased the deficit by over a BillionOOPS! TRILLION Dollars, without even passing a budget. And the community organizer complains that his is the party of adults? Let’s face it, the majority of both parties in congress are a bunch of crybabies throwing tantrums. They ignore the really important questions while squabbling about trivia. The American people are not so stupid that they perpetually lied to and fooled by such behavior.

As a voter you should ask yourself these questions before the next election:

  • Do I get any “valuable service” from government? If so, what specific service is it and am I getting my money’s worth?
  • Do I believe that government spending stimulates the economy? If so, should the government get the money from taxes or borrowing or both. Are there any ultimate limits on the amount of borrowing or taxation?
  • Does the Federal Government really run the country as is so often repeated, or do citizens run the country?
  • Does the president run the country or does he run the bureaucracy? If he runs the country, should he?
  • Should it be the government’s business to regulate moral behavior? If so, mine or someone else’s?
  • To what extent should the government be the source of charity in this country and internationally?
  • Does government regulation of your life improve your life? What regulations are these?
  • Does government regulation of the lives of others improve your life? What regulations are these?
  • Are members of congress and Washington bureaucrats all smarter than you are? If smarter, should they be allowed to control your life choices, pocketbook and preferences?
  • Do you currently use government subsidized “investments” such as light rail, high speed rail, Amtrak, corn-ethanol, solar panels, windmills, etc. Do you anticipate future benefits from these subsidies?
  • Do you think the government does anything economically or efficiently? If so what?
  • If the government is competent to run health care, then why are Medicare and Medicaid bankrupt? What makes you think that they can do a better job with this than they do with Amtrak or the Post Office?
  • GDP is defined as the entire economic production of the U.S. economy. At what level is government borrowing unwise, at 100% of GDP (where it is today), at twice GDP, at 6-8 times GDP where Obama’s party is steering it?
  • Should American soldiers be committed to combat under the command of French generals, or any non-American commanders?
  • Should American soldiers ever be committed to combat without a plan for them to win the struggle? Without any plan or goal at all?
  • Is the U.S.A. a special country, or is it just one among many, nothing special?
  • Should an American president bow in front of foreign kings? Should he apologize for America’s history of success? Should the president be a proud American patriot?

Perhaps by my phrasing of these questions I’ve stacked the deck in favor or my own point of view and preferences. But I dare any liberal democrat or RINO to answer these questions completely and honestly without then questioning his own political beliefs and loyalties.

Hope For the Future

April 5th, 2011

In the video, above, Representative Paul Ryan outlines the vital need and rationale for his proposed U.S. Government budget.

We’ve heard this proposal described as “extreme” but what is really extreme are the mindless increases in spending that have already been built into the government’s spending. If anything, Ryan’s proposals are modest, but a good start. Let’s back Rep. Ryan and his plan for the good of our children and the future of our country.

Weather Not Weirder

February 13th, 2011

Global warming alarmists and warming skeptics alike sometimes delight in citing weather events as evidence that their viewpoint is the correct one. It is easy for the alarmists to point to severe weather events such as the freezing cold U.S. weather a week ago or the Australian floods and say they are evidence of global warming’s effects on weather — always negative, of course. But it’s much harder for skeptics of AGW to argue that these events, though newsworthy in an annual context, don’t necessarily mean anything significant in terms of a world-wide climate, i.e., proving negative. But now we have a study that purports to evaluate extraordinary weather events in a global and long-term historical context. See:
The Weather Isn’t Getting Weirder”

The interesting thing about this is that it apparently contradicts the dire warnings being issued by the mathematical climate models and their keepers. There appears to be nothing too extraordinary about the weather now in a historical context. This is bad news for the climate modelers, who should toss their models on the basis of being contradicted by the physical evidence. But it is good news for the human race and the world economy that the climate isn’t on a collision course with disaster.


Sane Thoughts, Insane Murderer, Unwise Politics

January 10th, 2011

RECOMMENDED: The Scary World of Jared Loughner; Dems Target Political Speech By Chris Stirewalt This is a well reasoned discussion of the political “do-something” climate already swirling around this weekend’s murder rampage by Jared Loughner.

New Defense Budget Item

December 18th, 2010

Now that the Reid/Pelosi led lame duck congress has passed the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, with the object of stuffing the military forces with homosexuals, congress will have to add a new line item to the defense budget: Cost of Aids Treatments for military personnel. It should be quite a lollapaloosa.

As earlier posted, I don’t think that a gay army is a better army, combat being a very supercharged male, macho enterprise which depends as much on intimidating the enemy as it does on killing him. The Defense Department survey has been widely misinterpreted in that combat elements, the point of the spear, overwhelmingly reported against the inclusion of gays in their ranks. The views of combat soldiers should carry much more weight than those of uniformed bureaucrats. (Sorry guys, no offense intended.)

Gay soldiers, personified by Bradley Manning, the PFC behind the WickiLeaks document thefts are not the kind of soldier we need more of. There is a good reason that homosexuals are excluded from sensitive national security posts, and there is a good reason to exclude them from military duty.

If the liberal members of congress, most of whom have no personal military experience, believe it is their duty to expand career opportunities for gays or to proselytize the professional gay agenda, then they should do so within organizations and activities that they personally engage in. I’m sure these creative people can find somewhere better than the military services to engage their progressive fantasies, such as day-care providers for their children or sports coaches for their young sons.

So if the new Congress fails to reconsider this folly, we’ll just have to pay for it in military AIDS treatment costs and a less capable military. Neither of these is good for the country.

Introduction to Liberal Mushification

December 17th, 2010

Mushify: [verb] The progressive/liberal formula for solving every problem and spreading happiness throughout the world. Whenever a liberal encounters someone, anyone who is unhappy for any reason, the answer is to mushify. The essence of musification is to redefine things so they no longer vex the unhappy complainer. Simple!

Mushification appeals to those with a collective mentality, people who consider individual responsibility quaint and icky, who think that demonstrating excellence is an insult against under-achievers and the lazy, that the exercise of honor and duty belong to fools, and that individuals are not entitled to form their own, independent opinions and judgments.

Before the concept of mushification entered my mind I was at a loss to understand why Liberal Collectivists came up with the inane proposals they called progressive. But now it is quite clear. Once you understand how to mushify, you understand the liberal mind in its entirety.

In its simplest form mushification involves changing meanings through euphemisms. Crippled becomes handicapped, becomes physically disabled, becomes physically challenged. Trash dump becomes sanitary waste fill. Muslim terrorist becomes terrorist, becomes insurgent. Criminal becomes victim of failed social justice system. The essence of the object doesn’t change, but the word naming it becomes less and less meaningful. You know the drill.

But it gets worse. Mushification can be applied to legal concepts, societal standards, political debates, foreign policy, and everywhere else that liberals see a need for “progress.” Unless you understand it clearly as mushification it’s hard to resist. The only way to effectively resist this is to insist on using the original terminology and its original meaning. You’ll be vilified for that, but if you don’t respect the source you don’t care about the brickbats. To do otherwise is to accept the distorted, mush-meanings, which makes you unable to ever win the debate.

A huge example of Mushification is how it has been so successfully applied to the Commerce clause of the constitution. With a simple redefinition of the term “commerce”, every activity of every citizen can become subject to regulation. Without mushification the U.S. Constitution would have protected us from having a government that now threatens to sink the entire country with its burdensome regulation and crushing expense.

To help you understand the process of mushificaiton, here are some more minor examples:

Senator Weanie wants to pass a bill banning gun ownership — Mushify! Redefine the term “arms” to that, in the constitutional context, it applies only to muskets and flintlocks. Everything else can be banned. Or just redefine an individual right as a collective right.

Johnnie complains he can marry Billie, Mushify! Redefine marriage.

Henry complains that he’s not earning enough money, Mushify! Redefine individual earnings as entitlements. It’s society’s fault, not Henry’s. Pass a law forcing Harry’s employer to give Henry more money. If Harry’s employer goes under, let the government give Henry more money.

Carl complains that his boss says his work is substandard and he doesn’t work hard enough, Mushify! Redefine individual performance standards as group performance standards. Tell Carl’s boss that according to union rules Carl is no better and no worse, on average, than any other union member.

Billie comes home from school crying that his team lost the baseball game, Mushify! Redefine win or loss in sports. Eliminate scoring in baseball games.

Young Sammie complains that his father criticized him for picking his nose at the table, Mushify! Redefine table manners. Table manners are obsolete and don’t matter, especially for young kids.

Artist Jan-Paul creates a sculpture that makes people puke, Mushify! Redefine art as anything the artist says it is.

Bill the welder complains that he’s being blamed for burning down the factory because he didn’t follow the safety rules, Mushify! Redefine Bill’s conduct as an issue, not a problem. It’s not Bill’s fault, nor anyone else’s. It’s the system. It’s not a “problem” that the factory burned down, it’s an “issue”. An issue is something everyone can talk about, but nobody is responsible for.

Victor the CEO made a decision to move the company to China. The Chinese ate the company’s lunch, and it went belly up. Mushify! Redefine the role of CEO as group organizer, not responsible leader. Victor says that really, he didn’t “make a decision”, he “took a decsion” (collectively) so he can’t be held personally responsible for the failure.

Symphony conductor Roger complains that the audience didn’t applaud his latest performance. Mushify! Redefine music as an in-your-face art form designed to challenge the sensibility of the audience. The audience doesn’t appreciate that all sounds produced by an orchestra, no matter how harsh or discordant, are the expressions of the inspired composer, and the audience has no right to make a judgment based on their primitive level of musical sophistication.

Blog reader complains that writer of this article has used only male names in his article. This is sexist. Blog writer Mushifes! Redefine sex. There is no difference between males and females, so why should there be difference of names. Any child should have any name his parents pin on him/her/it regardless of sex (oops! Gender, sexual preference, or perversion). So using male names is moot. The examples could be either or both.

FED POMO for Stock Market Manipulation

November 8th, 2010

I have a hard time bending my mind around things like interest rates, FED open-market operations, bond yields and international exchange rates, but today I found some articles that discuss these things in terms of stock prices, something I’m quite comfortable discussing.

A chain of articles, starting with
This Is What Happens When The Market Gets Addicted To Federal Reserve Smack by Charles Hugh Smith, Of Two Minds, then linked to ZeroHedge and then the original article:
A Grand Unified Theory of Market Manipulation (The Precision Report, August 2009) … adds illustrated speculation, though not yet proof that the Federal Government has been manipulating stock prices upward, at least since March of 2009, a theme I’ve discussed here since early 2009 and as recently as October 21 here. Maybe the market manipulation we’ve been observing is in plain sight in the form of POMO (Permanent Open Market Operations) of the Federal Reserve of New York.

The Precision Report says:

There is much speculation and anecdotal information regarding the rally that began March 6 2009, which have suggested the gains are the result of massive manipulation on the part of the Federal Reserve (FR) and the large institutions that dominate Treasury securities dealing, program trading and the derivatives markets. Traders have reported that traditional indicators and metrics used for market analysis stopped working for periods of time or altogether, and that correlations among markets have been erratic and quick to change. Record program trading by Goldman Sachs as reported by the NYSE, heightened focus on high frequency trading (HFT), outsized profits by the large and well-connected banks, along with unprecedented intervention by the FR in the markets only fuel the manipulation speculation.

The article reports the direct stock market intervention of the FDNY The author then goes on to observe there is a direct motivational link between the Fed’s need to sell government bonds and the price of equities. As the equities market rises, drawing investment into stocks, the bond market’s investment appeal fades so interest rates have to rise in order to attract bond buyers.

The theory for which we have the greatest supporting evidence of manipulation surrounds the fact that the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (FRNY) began conducting permanent open market operations (POMO) on March 25, 2009 and has conducted 42 to date. Thanks to Thanassis Stathopoulos and Billy O’Nair for alerting us to the POMO Effect discovery and the development of associated trading edges. These auctions are conducted from about 10:30 am to 11:00 am on pre-announced days. In such auctions, the FRNY permanently purchases Treasury securities from selected dealers, with the total purchase amount for a day ranging from about $1.5 B to $7.5 B. These days are highly correlated with strong paint-the-tape closes, with the theory being that the large institutions that receive the capital injections are able to leverage this money by 100 to 500 times and then use it to ramp equities.

The Federal Reserve, under Ben Bernanke has a lot of contrary pressures put upon it by politics and Wall Street. The political pressure is toward lower interest rates to favor consumers and business borrowers at the expense of interest earners such as pension funds and social security recipients.

But Bernanke must also face the reality that if interest rates go too low then nobody will want to buy government bonds. With a 14 Trillion dollar debt to finance and refinance, the inability to roll this debt over is a frightening prospect indeed. The other end of that rattlesnake is that raising interest rates by buying U.S. Treasuries, as Bernanke announced he’d do, starting now, risks stoking a hyper-inflation, making the U.S. Dollar worthless and thus stimulating an international panic to dump U.S. dollars and bonds denominated therein.

The Precision article further points out that:

Killing the stock market to lower long term yields.
If Bernanke’s biggest threat is high long term yields, the easiest way to prevent or postpone a yield ramp is to kill the stock market and create a flight to safety situation that lowers long term yields.

we revised our theory and became open to the possibility that there would not be an intentional market crash, but that Bernanke and the FRNY would engage in a dance that would see equities rise, then correct
just as Treasuries were in danger of picking up downward momentum (and yields upwards momentum), then correct again just when it appeared that equities were in danger of crashing. In retrospect, this was the more logical choice because the FRNY, with the large member banks on its board, would not have permitted another major equities downturn if it could help it. Nor would the administration have permitted this, as it needs as much political capital possible to achieve its massive reform agenda (including healthcare). Such political capital would evaporate in an instant with another major hit to 401(K)’s. Not to say that Bernanke prefers a falling stock market (which would hurt his chances of re-nomination), but it is the lesser of two evils. For those who wonder why Bernanke, an expert in depressions, is operating from the Japanese playbook that resulted in their lost decade, we submit that it is intentional and preferred to financial apocalypse.
(emphasis added)

Remember, this was written in August, 2009. Now Bernanke has been reconfirmed for another term, the mid-term election is over, and interest rates continue to be near zero. So we may be near the precipice of hyper-inflation and/or a stock market crash due to the Feds need to drive capital from equities into “safer” bonds.

The most ugly part of this is that power to trigger or prevent these events lies with a single, unelected and quite unaccountable individual, Ben Bernanke. In this realm he has God-like powers, but his godliness is more like the ancient Greek variety. The ancient Greeks perceived their gods as fallible and capricious. Their gods were also capable of over-estimating their own capabilities.

So stand back. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens next.

Beating The Entitlements Tar Baby

October 23rd, 2010

A provocative Forbes Blog article was referenced by Maggies Farm Blog: Why The GOP Will Never Cut The Size Of Government by Rick Unger. The article rightly observes that if you “[a]dd the 42 percent for Social Security and subsidized health care and the 23 percent for other entitlements and net interest […] you get to 65 percent- or roughly two-thirds of our total federal expenditure.” The author then concludes that the American public, including tea party participants, won’t ever let these entitlements be significantly cut, so the federal budget is permanently stuck-on-overwhelming. We’ve got our fist in the belly of the tar baby.

The magnitude of the entitlements, not even including the looming trillion-plus dollar addition of Obamacare is an unavoidable fact. It is also an unavoidable truth that a large portion of the U.S. citizenry has paid into these (social security and medicare) programs and relies on them. But it is also an unavoidable truth that these programs are fiscally unsound if not already bankrupt. So any way you parse it, something has to be done. If we leave things as they are, taxation and borrowing will inevitably be unable to sustain the burden, and the entire economy of the country will collapse.

But first, let’s look at the one-third of the budget that is not entitlements. Within this portion of the budget are most of the liberty-nicking and draining, annoying and harmful regulatory measures that make government increasingly odious and the private economy and life in general increasingly burdened. The vast majority of these bureaucracies produce absolutely nothing of value for individual voting citizens. (I dare you to take an inventory and list Federal Government activities that actually benefit you personally.)

For an interlude we may be able to ignore the entitlements mess and direct our attention to reducing the intrusiveness of government into our every-day lives. We may be able to celebrate and encourage individualism and self-reliance by drastically reducing or better yet, eliminating departments of government like Education, Commerce, Labor, Energy, Transportation, EPA, HHS, and other burdensome, expensive and useless bureaucracies. (I wrote about this here, here, and here.) That would distract some of the attention from entitlements, as millions of bureaucrats would have to find civilian employment. Just removing these people from the future retirement cost burden of the government and reducing taxes needed to pay and equip the bureaucracies would have a major stimulating effect on the economy. And that’s even before the economic and spiritual uplift from tax reduction and elimination of red tape, regulation and harassment that would follow.

After successfully hacking back the federal bureaucracy and regulatory apparatus, thereby stimulating the private economy and renewing a sense of can-do private initiative throughout the country, it would then be possible to think seriously about the problem of entitlements. The first thing to do about this is to allow younger people to opt-out of these government programs, with a final drop-dead date for phasing them out completely. This reduces the future entitlements problem, but pops the Ponzi-scheme that allows current and near-term eligible people’s benefits to be paid from revenues collected from new participants. We’re then left to rely on the so-called “trust funds” which the government has already looted, leaving behind government IOU’s. Here is where some pain comes in. The pain will be apportioned mostly to the younger generation who will have to pay for their own private retirement and medical plans, and will also bear the tax cost of redeeming those government IOU’s. A newly buoyant economy will help, but it will still hurt. The irresponsibility of generations of politicians and voters has a cost — no escaping it.

Then, after four to six presidential election cycles have passed, assuming that the will to reform can be sustained — as it might be through evidence of progress and success — the country can emerge from its encounter with the entitlements tar-baby, stronger, better, and more self-confident than it has ever been before. And the best of it is that we’ll preserve our freedom.

Trouble at the American Physical Society

October 12th, 2010

Thanks to “The Air Vent” for bringing to the forefront a significant development in the Global Warming fantasy skit. Here we have the resignation of a physicist named Hal Lewis from the American Physical Society. I and perhaps others was unaware of Lewis’ credentials. Fortunately the Air Vent blog provides a summary:

Harold Lewis is Emeritus Professor of Physics, University of California, Santa Barbara, former Chairman; Former member Defense Science Board, chmn of Technology panel; Chairman DSB study on Nuclear Winter; Former member Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards; Former member, President’s Nuclear Safety Oversight Committee; Chairman APS study on Nuclear Reactor Safety Chairman Risk Assessment Review Group; Co-founder and former Chairman of JASON; Former member USAF Scientific Advisory Board; Served in US Navy in WW II; books: Technological Risk (about, surprise, technological risk) and Why Flip a Coin (about decision making)

Dr. Lewis writes a letter in which he resigns in disgust from the American Physical Society over their blatantly political stand on global warming. His letter is well worth reading HERE (pdf).

A hundred or so articles back I predicted that the global warming fantasy would eventually fade away and nobody once connected with it would admit they were ever involved. That process is taking a while, but it is picking up speed as more and more knowledgeable people recognize AGW as a political scam, a mania, and a money grab bag, not a valid scientific prediction, if such a thing even exists.

Free Speech and Justice

October 6th, 2010

There is a group, led by a guy named Fred Phelps and his wife, calling themselves a church. This group rotinely assaults the funerals of fallen soldiers, claiming that their deaths are due to sinful behavior and homosexuality. These demonstrations are unbelievably ugly and offensive. The Supreme Court is considering whether their behavior constitutes protected free speech as guaranteed by the constitution.
(sorry for the ad)

I contend that it does constitute free speech, but it also constitutes an assault of the most vicious kind. We all have the right of self-defense, and when assaulted we have the right to defend ourselves.

The Supreme Court, if it has any sense at all, should rule that what Fred Phelps and his followers say is free speech, but that the manner and place of their demonstration constitutes assault. Therefore, the families and friends of the fallen soldiers have the right to send a pack of dogs to tear the assailants to shreds in self defense.

That’s free speech and justice.

Freedom From vs. Freedom To

September 21st, 2010

By restraining government powers the U.S. Constitution protects “Freedom To” for its citizens. It doesn’t define those freedoms, it just restrains the forces that, if allowed, can and will limit or destroy “Freedom To”. We should understand “freedom to” as anything an individual wants to do do that is not explicitly illegal.

President Franklin Roosevelt fameously perverted the concept of freedom by defining “freedom From Want” and “freedom from fear”, presuming that it is the government’s responsibility to supply these “freedoms”. Quoting Roosevelt:

The third is freedom from want–which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

The fourth is freedom from fear–which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor–anywhere in the world.

What Roosevelt implies is that political and diplomatic activities should provide “freedom from want”, while world disarmament would result in “freedom from fear.” That sounds like the Hillary/Obama agenda of a nanny world government and disarmament as a prevention for war.

Over time, however, the term “freedom from” has come to mean freedom from worry, from financial struggle, from hunger, from criticism, and from anything else that embarrasses, inconveniences or annoys people. All of this “freedom” is, of course, to be provided through legislation, regulation and taxation.

In today’s context the political left under the leadership of President Obama sells Freedom From’s by the ton. Freedom from worrying about health care, freedom from worry about college expenses, freedom from getting ripped off by the financial system, freedom from bank failures, freedom from big business rapacity, freedom from jokes or wisecracks about being black, homosexual, female, disabled, crazy, lazy, or weird. The uses of “Freedom From” are endless if you’re a big government type.

All of this “Freedom From” is usually attributed to its use in Franklin D. Roosevelt’s January 6, 1941 speech which was ostensibly intended to rally America in its preparations for war and the cause of providing material aid to the Allies already fighting World War II. Then about half way though the speech he shifts to sewing doubt about the loyalty of some citizens thus: “We must especially beware of that small group of selfish men who would clip the wings of the American eagle in order to feather their own nests.” Oh, those evil capitalists may be at it again.

And later in the speech:

A free nation has the right to expect full cooperation from all groups. A free nation has the right to look to the leaders of business, of labor, and of agriculture to take the lead in stimulating effort, not among other groups but within their own groups.

The best way of dealing with the few slackers or trouble makers in our midst is, first, to shame them by patriotic example, and, if that fails, to use the sovereignty of Government to save Government.

(emphasis added)
What? He appears to fear that the citizens might wreck his Government. “Using the sovereignty of Government to save Government”? Is that Roosevelt’s purpose of going to war? The above paragraph tells more than it says about the leftist mindset.

Then it was time to shift to the social issues.

For there is nothing mysterious about the foundations of a healthy and strong democracy. The basic things expected by our people of their political and economic systems are simple. They are:

Equality of opportunity for youth and for others.
Jobs for those who can work.
Security for those who need it.
The ending of special privilege for the few.
The preservation of civil liberties for all.

The enjoyment of the fruits of scientific progress in a wider and constantly rising standard of living.

Sounds a lot like our current president to me. Damn the constitution. The government can do anything I want it to do. If the government could just get a hold of everything we’d have: equality, jobs, security, end to “special privileges”, and preservation of civil liberties. All stated in terms of collective needs, “all the people” not “every person.”

A paragraph later he calls for more government social-economic programs to provide:

Many subjects connected with our social economy call for immediate improvement.
As examples:

We should bring more citizens under the coverage of old-age pensions and unemployment insurance.

We should widen the opportunities for adequate medical care.

We should plan a better system by which persons deserving or needing gainful employment may obtain it.

Sounds more and more like the Reid, Pelosi, Obama agenda all the time. But, of course, they’ll tell you theirs is a modern, 21st century version.

But common to this day’s leftist agenda, it costs a lot of money. They have a crisis not to waste, preparation for World War II. So:

A part of the sacrifice means the payment of more money in taxes. In my Budget Message I shall recommend that a greater portion of this great defense program be paid for from taxation than we are paying today. No person should try, or be allowed, to get rich out of this program; and the principle of tax payments in accordance with ability to pay should be constantly before our eyes to guide our legislation.

If the Congress maintains these principles, the voters, putting patriotism ahead of pocketbooks, will give you their applause.

Notably, Roosevelt recommended that the country borrow less and tax more as a result of the crisis. But then he wastes no time casting aspersions on the evil capitalists who would probably cheat and might make money from his wartime program. And to top it off, in true Marxist form he says tax payments should be based on “ability to pay.”
Paraphrasing Carl Marx’s Communist Manifesto: “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need.”

If all this sounds remarkably like the Obama regime today, it’s not a coincidence. These are people who have no ideas of their own beyond clever ways to undermine America’s hated capitalist system, redistribute wealth, use a crisis to pass a radical socialist agenda, regulate individualism out of existence, and make government the be-all and end-all of life in these United States. It’s the old, worn-out, discredited by experience, the 1930’s to 1940’s Socialist New Deal.

The scary part of it is that they might succeed in finishing the destruction of American individualism and enterprise, a task started by earlier “progressives” and largely implemented by their own hero Franklin D. Roosevelt.

The most valuable “Freedom To” that we still have is the freedom to vote and lobby for reduction of government. The “Freedom From” that we most need now is Freedom From the Obama Regime.

Cantor’s ‘You Cut': Well Intentioned Political Pablum

July 27th, 2010

House Republican Whip Eric Cantor has a clever web based campaign called You Cut. The idea is that citizens should suggest wasteful government programs then vote on the ones they consider most deserving of cutting or elimination. The winning program-cut would then be introduced as legislation and the votes of congressmen would be recorded for all to see.

For example, this last week the winning cut was a $100 Million subsidy for sleeping car services on AMTRAK. That’s a lot of money to subsidize first class treatment including private compartments, turning down the bed, first-class food service, and complementary entertainment. The service costs AMTRAK $396 more per passenger than it collects in fares. The difference is made up by a subsidy from the U.S. Treasury, i.e., taxes.

Now who could be against elimination of this subsidy? It’s obviously a blatant waste of taxpayer’s funds. Rep. Cantor brought this proposed cut to the house floor and of course it was voted down by the usual suspects. It makes great theater, maybe good politics, too. But does it solve the real problem? No.

Mr. Cantor’s $100 million cut proposal ignores the fact that Amtrak costs the government $1.3 Billion per year (last estimate I could find). The real problem isn’t the first class subsidy, which appeals to the class envy of the voters. The real problem is the total subsidy. Why should the government run a railroad at all?

The answer to that is quite obvious when one investigates a little legislative history. In the last Amtrak authorization bill (part of the $787 Billion stimulus bill) Amtrak was instructed to improve commuter services between Washington, DC and New York, and between Washington, DC and Boston. Guess who benefits from fast subsidized train services between these cities?

In 2007 an amendment (S 257) to the Amtrak reauthorization bill was introduced in the Senate that:

-Prohibits Federal funds from being used for the operation of Amtrak train routes that have per passenger subsidies of over $200 during the first fiscal year after the date of enactment and over $100 after the fifth fiscal year of enactment.

-Requires Inspector General to submit a report that lists the new subsidy levels and states that Amtrak will terminate train routes that have per passenger subsidies above the set limits.

Of course the amendment was struck down on a party line (28-66) vote. Interestingly a few senators ducked the vote, including: Clinton (D-NY), Dodd (D-CT), Feinstein (D-CA), Kennedy (D-MA), McCain (R-AZ), and (surprise!) Obama (D-IL).

Rep. Cantor’s You Cut program is clever political theater, and it may even embarrass some Democrats and a few big-spender Republicans as well. I can’t criticize people who participate in the belief that they’re doing some good. Maybe they are. But the truth is that trimming around the edges completely misses the point that the federal government has grown so big, so intrusive, and so expensive that only a major reorientation of its major programs will fix it. Don’t just trim Amtrak, eliminate it. Don’t just trim Social Security, privatize it. Don’t just re-organize the departments of education, commerce, labor, agriculture, and energy, eliminate them and a host of unconstitutional others. The politicians are happy to have us do the edge trimming while they blithely water the greens.

I left a comment to the effect of the above paragraph on Cantor’s site, but it was tossed. Oh, well. That just proves my point. No guts, no real progress.

Needed Branch of Government: House of Repeal

July 15th, 2010

The Washington Times in its article “Finance bill favors intersts of unions, activists” points out some of the blatent paybacks and race bias that characterize Democrat mega-legistlation (2,400 page) being blindly jammed down the country’s throats. It’s just what we need, 20 more offices of minority and women inclusion.

The bill would create more than 20 “offices of minority and women inclusion” at the Treasury, Federal Reserve and other government agencies, to ensure they employ more women and minorities and grant more federal contracts to more women- and minority-owned businesses.

The agencies also would apply “fair employment tests” to the banks and other financial institutions they regulate, though their hiring and contracting practices had little or nothing to do with the 2008 financial crisis.

“The interjection of racial and gender preferences into America’s financial sector deserves greater media exposure” before Congress debates and passes the massive 2,400-page bill, said Kevin Mooney, a contributing editor for Americans for Limited Government’s daily newsletter.

This is just one more of the many reasons why the current congress and executive need to be booted out and replaced. They’ve gone completely wild with their power. Under the guise of financial reform they’re creating new bureaucracies and carving out preferences to reward favored constituencies, including racial preferences. They’re passing inane and insane laws that may stay on the books for decades to come unless the situation is corrected. But how?

If ever we’re able to elect a sane, disciplined set of representatives, they’ll have a huge job wiping out this and other liberty destroying monstrosities. It would be a better procedure to pass a one-page bill that would force a 2-year sunset for ALL legislation passed in the last 25 years and further specify that no replacement bill may contain any part of the sunsetted legislation, no replacement may cover more than a single subject, and that any replacement must fit into 20 typed pages or less. Furthermore, congress shall have no more than 90 days to replace a bill, after which it will expire forever.

Then, to prevent this regulation through mega-legislation from ever re-appearing, we should have a constitutional amendment establishing a “House of Repeal,” whose elected representatives would be charged with repealing already passed legislation. A two-thirds vote of both houses of congress could override the repeal, but the President could veto the congressional over-ride.

The Legislative Shredder, what an idea!

Mexican Border Violence

July 2nd, 2010

Today’s Headlines: 21 killed in Mexican gang shootout near Arizona border and Gunfire hitting City Hall prompts Texas AG to ask for more troops on border

For anyone who considers Mexican border enforcement to be a minor concern and Arizonans to be racial alarmists, the above headlines speak for themselves. We citizens of Arizona, and by inference of the United States of America, are entitled to protection from this growing violence on the Mexican side of the border.

Although Mr. Obama cites evidence that crime on the U.S. side of the border decreased from 2008 to 2009, it is plain to see that on the Mexican side, right up against the border, thousands of people are being killed in gun battles between police and army fighting drug gangs and between drug gangs fighting one another.

These gangs are involved in trafficing drugs across the border into the U.S. That is the reason the drug gangs exist. To think that these beasts will suddenly acquire good manners when operating on our side of the border is patent nonsense. In fact, due to the drug trade, Phoenix has become the kidnapping capital of the U.S. Tucson, my home, by hosting numerous drug warehouses, has become one of the major hubs for drug distribution throughout the U.S. The people running these criminal enterprises are not nice people, and they are not welcome here.

I admit that even the most competent border security won’t completely shut down the drug smuggling operations. But it may make life safer for those of us living very close to the border.

Maybe it’s time to consider Odd Citizen’s solution to the drug problem: Winning the Drug War in 2 Years or Less

We can also solve the problem of border crossing for the non-criminal element, so they can enter the country legally and won’t have to cross the hazardous desert on foot. See: Illegal Immigration — A Sensible, Workable Solution

Mexican Border Terror

June 16th, 2010

Shown below is a map of the Buenos Aires National Wildlife Refuge, a half million acre preserve that buts up to the border with Mexico. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has declared a portion of this park along the border line unsafe for American Citizens.

I am personally concerned about this because I live about 10 miles north of the park’s border along the major route between Tucson and Sasabe, the Mexican border town adjacent to the park. This highway, route 286, although heavily patrolled, still channels a major amount of illegal traffic in people and drugs.

The nearby Mexican border town of Nogales, Sonora has seen drug related murders constantly increasing. Tucson’s Arizona Daily Star reports:

There were 136 homicides in 2009, up from 126 in 2008 and 52 in 2007.

Through March 23 of this year, there have been 79 killings, according to a tally maintained by El Imparcial newspaper in Sonora.

For a population of about 21,000 (in yr. 2000) that’s a lot of murders, although not yet reaching the terror level in Juarez, across the border from El Paso.

There have also been pitched gun battles between police or military and drug gangs in the past year, and that the level of violence continues to increase. In March, this year, the deputy police chief of Nogales was murdered by drug gangs.

The conventional wisdom is that this violence hasn’t yet, and probably won’t spill over the border into the U.S. However, recent events such as the discovery on 8 tons of marijuana in a Tucson house this week, the murder of rancher Krentz, gangs against gangs near the border, the shooting of a Sheriff deputy a month ago, and now the closure of American territory to American citizens shows that this is wishful thinking.

As I’ve mentioned earlier in these blogs I’ve seen a lot of illegals cross my land and in the past. When these were honest farm laborers looking for work, I had sympathy for them. Two of my college years were spent at what then was Mexico City College in Mexico and I have a warm regard for Mexico and Mexicans. However, with the violent drug trade pushing violence directly up to my house in the desert I’ve become very apprehensive. The recent murder of a local Arizona rancher, Mr. Krentz, it has made it clear that those of us who live near the border are potentially exposed to this violence. Although I don’t consider myself an alarmist, the closure of the lower part of the wildlife refuge reinforces this and gives me chills. The route followed by the drug gangs who make this zone toxic leads directly north through my property.

Philosophically I’d love to have open borders, so Mexicans would be welcomed here, and Americans, likewise could invest and enrich the Mexican economy. In an ideal world we’d both gain. But this is obviously not an ideal world, especially here on the border. As a combat veteran of the Vietnam war I’m completely comfortable around weapons but not in any way an enthusiast. When I left the army I thought I’d never again have to carry a firearm for personal protection. I still don’t relish it, but do so occasionally when confronted with foot traffic from Mexico. However, I also realize that the drug gangs are far better armed than I am — revolver against AK-47 is not a fair contest.

The political winds that swirl around border enforcement are stirring up a lot of dust. But the bottom line truth is that when peaceful American citizens begin to fear for their own safety and the safety of their families, then it’s time to cut through the bull-shit and send in the troops. That’s what we did when Pancho Villa raided across the border. That’s what we need to do now.

And Mr. Obama, a word of advice: Don’t you dare send in troops without weapons or without ammunition.

More Steam on Innovation

June 9th, 2010

My friend, Ben Kalafut, wrote a comment to my recent article “Automotive Innovation, American Know-how.” His comment, below, stirred up some old memories on the subject. Ben wrote:

Have you seen the six-stroke water-injection setup? Makes timing and manifold design a bit more complicated, but a very nice way to lower T_c and get higher thermodynamic efficiency.

I hadn’t heard of the six-stroke engine so I looked it up on Wikipedia. Interesting! It appears that the original six-stroke was thought of around 1883. The Crower engine, which you are possibly referring to, which uses water injection, was invented in 2004 by a 75 year old American. Apparently it is similar to a design originally invented by Leonard Dyer in 1915.

In 1960 I had a friend who modified his Jeep engine to accept water injection. He was a pilot and also modified his Jeep’s controls so he could steer, brake, and accelerate using an aircraft joy-stick control.

And on a similar note, in the late 60’s I was a frequent user of the Mechanics Institute library in San Francisco. This library was originally established during the gold rush days to support engineering involved in gold mining. On numerous days, while doing my customary stock market research, I noticed a fellow patron at the back corner of the stacks. He was hunched over some very old, dusty tomes and took copious notes.

My curiosity get the better of my manners and I asked him what he was researching. He reported that he was a senior engineer from LearJet Aircraft company, which was then proposing to re-introduce a steam propelled automobile. The most complete and accurate technology for steam propulsion, he said, was all developed in the 1850’s, and thus resided in the dusty archives of the Mechanics Library.

An aside to all this is that sometimes good ideas in mechanical (for example) engineering become practical much later due to innovations in electronics (computerized controls) and materials (single crystal turbine blades, carbon fiber composites), for example. It takes time, humility and open minds for these things to come together in practical, economical products. There’s a gold mine out there, and it’s worth prospecting.

Automotive Innovation, American Know-how

June 7th, 2010

At last, something sunny to blog about!

This MIT Technology Review article and associated links describes new technology to make automotive (and truck) gasoline and diesel engines more efficient. The research promises increased mileage, perhaps to 70 MPG or more, less pollution, and perhaps no significant increase in vehicle cost. Among the innovations are more efficient ways to burn gasoline, in some cases mixing gasoline with other fuels, such as diesel, or jet fuel. This is done with computer controlled fuel mixing & valves, direct injection of fuel into the cylinders, and preheating the fuel and air. One experiment involves switching an engine from four-stroke to two-stroke on the fly, depending on load. Additional experimentation involves using compressed air instead of battery power in hybrid propulsion systems.

What’s most interesting about these technologies is that they are all derivatives of common gasoline or diesel engines, running on fuels we have now. There’s no need for PC in these experiments, unlike the $0.5 Billion each that the federal government has poured into backing plug-in electric sports cars by Tesla and scissor company, Fiscars (an Al Gore investment, yet). Basic economics, not politics, governs success or failure of these independent and practical experiments.

And to top it all off, they’re being done in AMERICA! YEH for scientific innovation. YEH for inventive engineering. YEH for American universities. YEH for American Venture Capital. YEH for Boeing and Ford!

Yankee technical know-how survives and thrives in the good old USA.

Black Markets and Free People

May 23rd, 2010

The socialist state is closing in on you and me.

1) The health care law requires all transactions totaling $600 or more (cumulatively over a year) to trigger IRS 1099 reports. That means the government will know who you get money from and whom you pay it to.

2) Thousands of new IRS agents will be hired to monitor your health insurance subscriptions. Do you have a government approved policy? What else might these new jackboots be used for?

But that’s not all, folks ….

3) The new financial regulatory law in front of congress has a provision that allows the government to collect data on all banking transactions, including ATM transactions, by name of person including address. The government is specifically authorized by the legislation to do anything they please with this data.

4) Various “comprehensive immigration reform” proposals by “progressive” Democrats have proposed national ID cards for all citizens (and non-citizens?).

Guess what all that is aimed to do? I’ll tell you if you read on from here.

The logical and historically inevitable result of these measures which will be combined with regulatory measures to control your behavior, the upcoming massive tax increases in the form of energy taxes, carbon taxes, and potentially a VAT — will be the complete stagnation of the county’s economy and emergence of an immensely enlarged underground economy, often called a black market. This type of situation arises historically from the advent of repressive regimes and hyper-inflation, both of which are on the horizon for the U.S.A.

Beyond a certain point most people are not helpless and stupid. Even if they don’t value their civil liberties, they do react to attacks on their economic freedoms. They’ll find a way to take care of themselves. And when they find that government has destroyed the integrity of the above ground business environment through over-regulation usually accompanied by massive corruption, when their money is worthless, their lives are monitored in excruciating detail by oppressive bureaucracies — then they figure out ways of living that bypass all of this. The black market emerges. Don’t like to be monitored by government? Don’t participate by reporting anything. Don’t like your government clinic? Pay a doctor under the table. Don’t like the government monitoring your ATM transactions? Use cash obtained in under the table in private face-to-face transactions. Don’t have cash? Do barter transactions. Money worthless? Use another country’s currency or gold. Afraid to being found out by your local commissar or block committeeman? Arm yourself. Afraid to arm yourself? Emigrate.

Of course, this type of economy is typically a growth opportunity for criminal gangs. Look at Russia. Look at Zimbabwe and Nigeria. So you don’t like what the gangs are extracting from your black market activity? Join the gang.

Do you think I’m exaggerating? That it can’t happen here? Think prohibition, then read the first part of this article. The “progressive” government doesn’t think it’s so far-fetched. It’s preparing itself already.

Exploding Growth of Free Market Healthcare

April 28th, 2010

What happens when the world’s only provider of free market medical care converts to a socialist system? Where do the patients go? Where do the doctors and nurses go? Where do the researchers go?

They won’t be allowed to operate in the U.S. in competition with government regulated facilities. They’ll go abroad to open and operate private, free market medical services. Medical tourism takes off.

As an investor I’m betting on a big surge in for-profit offshore medical services. The demand will be overwhelming because the U.S.A will no longer provide high quality free market medicine for Americans and foreigners alike. The only alternative will be privately owned facilities in countries like Mexico, India, Thailand and elsewhere.

Obama, Reid and Pelosi can get their offshore care in Cuba.

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