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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Rewarding Incompetence 

Responsibility is the thing people dread most of all. Yet it is the one thing in the world that develops us, gives us manhood or womanhood fibre.
--Frank Crane
I received a package from a guy named John Hope Bryant. He runs an organization (Operation HOPE) that is supposed to provide financial education to the poor. A laudable goal.

In my opinion, he is nothing less than a Jesse Jackson of the West Coast, using the plight of poor blacks to line his pockets. Again, that is just my opinion. He does seem to be doing fairly well financially - not that that's a crime. It just doesn't seem right to get rich while running a non-profit organization. Maybe it's just me.

Anyway, the package I got had to do with the sub-prime mortgage problems. It seems that Mr. Bryant (who changed his middle name to Hope, by the way) thinks that the federal government should bail out the poor folks that got taken by the big, bad banks.

You remember those big banks? The ones that have been punished by the markets after they've written off tens of billions of dollars for making these crappy loans (through things called Structured Investment Vehicles - SIVs). Yeah, those banks. He wants the participants of the other side of the transaction - the borrowers - to get a pass.

It seems that Mr. Bryant is of the mind that you should not be responsible for your actions. That all consumers are stupid and easily led, and should never have to learn from their mistakes. I'm guessing he's from the camp that wants to punish people like me who have saved their money, never purchased a new car, never traveled abroad.

People who acted responsibly.

When it comes time to get in line for my Social Security payment, they WILL apply a means test. I will have too much money in the bank, and will have my SSI payment reduced or eliminated. The rat-bastard that bought a new car every 2 years, traveled to Europe and spent like a drunken sailor, but is now broke when he retires, will get a full share. Maybe even a little more, 'cause he'll have a disability. Like morbid obesity or self-induced diabetes because of the choice he made during his life.

Mr. Bryant, in Congressional testimony, tells of the plight of his father:
My father lost our family home in South Central Los Angeles because he did not understand the documents he was signing, and unfortunately, because he asked the wrong question.

Growing up, I remember the pride I had, every week on Friday nights, watching my father make a payroll for his cement contracting business, from the front door of our home. That was powerful for a son to see.

But after a while, the workers I knew so well would leave our home. And then a mortgage broker, someone I didn’t know at all, would soon show up at the front door; finally convincing my otherwise brilliant father that he could somehow “have more,” while simultaneously, somehow, “paying less.”

The result: my dad was left almost completely defenseless in making the most significant financial and wealth building decision of his adult life, and our family’s life too. A decision that in the end negatively impacted my dad, as well as his marriage to my beautiful mother -- - and they loved each other dearly. But in the end, it was a marriage which ended, over money.

The number one cause for divorce today, is money. Ultimately, decisions made on that day in South Central L.A. had a negative ripple effect, years later, on my brother, my sister, my mother and me.

You see, my dad ultimately asked this person, this mortgage broker who was disconnected from any sense of responsibility, the wrong question, asking “what’s the payment?” when in reality he should have been asking, “what’s the interest rate?”

No one should ever ask what the payment is when there is an interest rate attached.

We lost our home not because my father wasn’t brilliant, because he was, and is, at 83 years young, but because my dad was badly represented, asked the wrong question, and then signed documents he didn’t understand.
No, your dad was not brilliant. He was greedy. He wanted something for nothing, and got punished for it.

That is what happened with the sub-prime mess. People on both sides - the lenders and the borrowers - got greedy. The banks are taking their licks, but the poor, stupid, vulnerable borrowers need to be forgiven.

And we're all going to pay for it. Literally.
Accordingly, I am also proposing today, as I have likewise done this week in a letter to all federal financial regulatory agencies, that the federal government establish, possibly through the Federal Home Loan Bank System or other suitable agency, a $10 billion loan guarantee fund, structured in many ways like an SBA loan guarantee is.
Huh? First of all, $10 billion won't even scratch the surface on this. Citibank alone has written off (I believe) $12 billion. The SBA program is designed to protect the banks because businesses have such a high failure rate, and banks are hesitant to help finance start-ups. Is he suggesting the big, bad banks get some relief?
1. Carry a standing fixed interest rate of 3%, allowing private lenders to add 2%-3% maximum, as a reasonable fee for administration, overhead and margin. Note: there is a precedent here, inasmuch as the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco extended just such a guarantee offer to banks willing to lend back into South Central Los Angeles following the Rodney King riots of 1992.
Oh. I see. You want the government to subsidize loans which have already been made. There's a financial term for that. Stupidity (not that that has ever stopped us in the past).

And way to go in bringing in the race card with the Rodney King reference! There is a big difference between then and now: In 1992, people had their property destroyed through acts of violence that they had no power to prevent (although the Korean businessmen did a pretty good job!). This problem was caused by greedy people, on both sides of the ledger, who voluntarily entering into a contract to lend/borrow money for the purchase of a home that they all knew could not be afforded by the borrower.
2. Allow anyone who had paid their loan on time and within terms of their agreement, prior to their rate reset, to be refinanced under this new program; the theory being that these individuals were already properly underwritten at the original term and rate, as they were performing prior to reset of their adjustable rate.
Now that would be a neat trick. As I described in my post, Your Biggest Investment - KABOOM!, virtually all loans are packaged and sold on the secondary market. Is the original lender who made the loan (and no longer has any financial interest in it) forced by law to refinance the loan? If so, that means that the income of that lender is being dictated by the government, not the market. The investor (who gets paid off) and the borrower get off the hook. Screw the bank. Stuff like that always encourages banks to lend in the future (not!).
3. All new loans would be made at a 5-6% fixed rate, over a 30 year, and in some unique hardship cases, possibly a 40-year term. Note: respectfully, while I am all for free enterprise and capitalism, and our “silver rights” movement even calls for making capitalism and the free enterprise system relevant to the poor, and ultimately to make capitalism and the free enterprise system work for the poor, I do not believe that we should subject the poor to unreasonable interest rate risk.
Sorry, I just projectile vomited. He's all for free enterprise and capitalism, as long as someone else takes on the risk.

Clearly, this is aimed at the big, bad banks. Again.

Here's another piece of financial education: There are basically 3 types of home loan borrower categories: Prime (or 'A'), Alt-A (or A minus) and Sub-Prime. In general, these categories are driven by your credit score. This is a number, between 300 and 850 that is an incredibly accurate indicator of how likely a borrower is to repay. Incredibly accurate.

Prime borrowers generally have a score of 680 or higher. Alt-A between 580 and 680, and Sub-prime below 580 (all banks set their own ranges, but these are good for generalizations). Rates are set based upon your category.

The risk/reward calculation says that a Prime borrower is highly likely to pay you back, so your risk of loss is lower, and the borrower gets a lower interest rate. The converse is true of the sub-prime borrowers. Lower scores = higher risk = higher rates.

But, just as in my Social Security example, Mr. Bryant wants to reward individuals that have behaved poorly. They didn't live up to their promises. And he wants you and I to pay the fare.

You have taken away the incentive to behave as promised (better credit record = lower rates in the future). You further ingrain into our society that it is OK to do whatever the hell you want, because someone will be there to pick up the pieces. You undermine the idea of honorable conduct. That your word or your signature is your bond.

You are left with a segment of society that has no regard for propriety because there are no consequences for their actions.

I heard a great quote on the radio the other day: When the government subsidizes something, you get more of the same. I can't see why that won't happen here as well. Great plan.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

When Life Intrudes On Principle 

I will not be silenced...

I was reading an article on Accuracy In Media called, Americans Pay For Emerging World Government. It was about another attempt of the UN to tax the world for the use of un-owned natural assets (the seas and air) and to get their piece of the Global Warming pie, while the gettin' is good.

The real thrust of the article, though, was on propaganda and censorship being proposed and actually used against ideas that don't help line the UN cash vaults.

This U.N. report has one of the most devious rationales for censorship that you will ever see. In a section of the report (page 67) about “The Role of the Media,” the U.N. informs us that “The media have a critical role to play in informing and changing public opinion.” It goes on to lament that “one study” in the U.S. on coverage of climate change “found that the balance norm resulted in over half of articles in the country’s most prestigious newspapers between 1990 and 2002 giving equal weight to the findings of the IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] and of the climate science community, and the views of the climate skeptics—many of them funded by vested interest groups. Continued confusion in public opinion is one consequence.”

The U.N. is saying, in effect, that the American people haven’t been indoctrinated enough, and that the media have to provide even more one-sided coverage.

“Editorial balance is a laudable and essential objective in any free press,” the report goes on to say. “But balance between what? If there is a strong and overwhelming ‘majority’ view among the world’s top scientists dealing with climate change, citizens have a right to expect to be informed about that view. Of course, they also have a right to be informed about minority views that do not reflect a scientific consensus. However, informed judgment is not helped when editorial selection treats the two views as equivalent.”
Yeah, how about that "flat earth" consensus? It was sure right on the mark. Same with "the earth is the center of the universe" consensus.

Anyway, I digress.

So I'm reading the article, and I get a new email. It's from Craigslist informing me that a job offer I made the previous day has been removed. They go on to tell me that 98% of the time, the ad is in violation of their Terms of Use agreement.

Below is the ad, in its entirety. Remember where I live (in the SF Bay Area). Can you guess why my ad was removed?
I have a number of images I want designed for goods to be sold on CafePress.com I want to be able to describe the general look of a specific piece, supplemented by a rough sketch. You will provide a rough piece, we will tweak, and you'll produce a finished product and get paid. It will need to be saved in multiple sizes and formats (see the CafePress website for clarification). At a minimum, I will want them in 200DPI in PNG, JPG and BMP formats.

The finished product will be mine alone. You will have the right to use the images in your portfolio, but not for sale or any other use.

Finally, these pieces will be of a patriotic/gun/Second Amendment flavor. If you have a problem with any of that, don't bother replying.

I have a number of ideas I want expressed graphically. We will start with one, see how we work together, then move forward if it makes sense.
Can I see a show of hands from people that are able to guess why someone would feel the ad should be removed? Sorry, I know that was an easy one.

I am fuming with rage: Censored because I dared to have an ad that deals with guns and the Second Amendment.

So, the email from Craigslist says that if it was a mistake, I can simply repost the ad. I do so, and add this little note to the end of the ad:
NOTE: I find it so sad, and so typical, that someone found a job offer surrounding guns, patriotism and the Second Amendment to be offensive, and had the original posting removed. Liberals used to believe in the saying, "I don't agree with what he's saying, but I'll defend to the death his right to say it." No longer. So sad.
The new ad was removed within a half hour! I re-posted it, and will continue to do so 24/7 if need be (as of right now, I've reposted 4 times). Fuck these bastards.

I also wrote directly to Craigslist to complain about the censorship, and to get it stopped. I seriously doubt they'll do anything.

What is interesting is I've gotten over 20 replies to the post, even with all of the removals! Many have mentioned their support of 2A. The latter ones (with my note included in the text) have stated that they don't mind working for someone with differing political views (they just want to get paid!).

These Stalinists hide behind their PCs and chuckle as they attempt to silence those with beliefs that differ from theirs. They picked the wrong guy to fuck with.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Your Biggest Investment - KABOOM! 

Well, at least we have Social Security to fall back on. Right?

The Mortgage Reform and Anti-Predatory Lending Act was approved by the House earlier this month. If this gets approved by the Senate, and confirmed by the President, people that own a home in the US will be screwed. The bill contains so many ambiguous terms and phrases that banks will stop making mortgages. I guarantee it.

[BTW, my bank does not do mortgages to homeowners - only for commercial businesses. Too much bullshit and federal lending requirements. Yep, that's your tax dollars lookin' out for ya!]

The Wall Street Journal had a great article by Stewart Saft (subscription, sorry) on this issue. Some excerpts:
Lenders must for example determine what loan products are "appropriate" to the consumer's existing circumstances. Does that mean that the lender has to investigate whether the borrower is telling the truth? What if the borrower fails to understand the questions the lender is asking? The lender must also "diligently" present the borrower with options. How will that be decided? At trial? What jury will find for the lender against the borrower?
and

Lenders must make "a reasonable and good faith determination based on verified and documented information" that the consumer had a reasonable ability to repay the loan. Who will be able to say what is reasonable or taken in good faith? Would you like to make a loan if years later you can be called before a federal agency or a jury and cross-examined as to whether your actions were reasonable? Could some aggressive prosecutor one day attempt to make his or her career by going after a lender criminally?

In a nutshell: The borrower has no responsibility in the transaction. If it turns out badly, the big, bad banks take the hit.

Or do they? The portion that will be the death knell to real property values is this:
The law wipes out a portion of the Uniform Commercial Code by negating the concept of a holder in due course. This feat is accomplished by permitting a borrower to sue the assignees of his loan -- including securitizers -- for rescission, that is, cancellation of the debt, and for repayment of the consumers' costs, if the loan violates, for example, the statute's minimum standards for reasonable ability to repay.
Here's a little Inside Baseball for those of you that don't know how banking works:

Most banks do not keep the loans they make in their own portfolio. Most originate the loans according to agreed upon underwriting standards, then sell them to the "secondary market" for a slight profit. The big Wall Street firms take all of the little loans and bundle them together into a $50- or $100-million (or larger) bundles and sell them like bonds (thus "securitizing" them). They're called Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS).

The lending banks only make a few hundredths of a percentage point for the loan, but it's only been on their books for a few weeks at most, awaiting to be securitized. They now have their money back, which they can lend again. They also generally have no liability should the loan go bad in the future (unless it happens right away, or the underwriting standards were not followed).

The buyers of the MBSs bring liquidity to the whole real estate market. By making money easily available, it makes it easier for people to buy your home. Take away this money supply - which increases the cost of the money - and it makes it more difficult to sell your home, pushing down prices.

But wait, there's more:

The pièce de résistance is that all of the bill's new standards and mandates will serve borrowers as a possible defense to foreclosure. And so we enter the brave new world, where no mortgage can be foreclosed without a trial. But not for very long, as how many lenders will offer new mortgages with this threat in the background?

If this bill becomes law, lenders who do foreclose will have to take over the property subject to leases entered into prior to the foreclosure -- even if the lease was entered into without the lender's consent, at a significantly below-market rent, and for an indefinite term. In other words, this would permit financially troubled borrowers to stave off foreclosure by entering into uneconomic or long-term leases, which would preclude lenders from foreclosing because they could not sell the property at auction.

This bill will essentially make single family real property worthless. Want to buy a house? Come up with the cash.

It gets worse, too. Do you have an IRA? Own some stock? I absolutely guarantee you that the companies in which you've invested your money, have themselves invested in MBSs. Historically, they have been one of the most steady earning, secure investments you can make.

No longer, should our "helpers" in DC stay on this path.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

Nesting 

Man Make Fire!

I had a very productive weekend after Thanksgiving. I spent it building, buying, tweaking and testing disaster/survival stuff. I bought a new rifle scope, some moon clips for my .357 Magnum and some waterproof matches.

The fun part was what I built. I finally put together my Penny Stove. These are the coolest thing ever put together. They are alcohol stoves that you make out of beer and soda cans, a hanger, some copper wire and a penny. The only tools I used to make it were a razor blade, needle-nosed pliers and a thumbtack.

I was amazed at how well it works. I was able to boil 2 cups of water for some tea in under 5 minutes. I'm going to make a "roughing it" rice dish tonight, using the Simmer Ring.

I also made up 200 fire wicks to put in my various in-house and car disaster caches. These things are really amazing. A 3-inch wick burns for nearly 4 minutes. They consist of cotton string used to tie up roasts, and candle wax. You drop 15 inch lengths into the hot wax, they suck up the wax into the inner fibers and when cooled and cut, are little mini-candles. I put 50 each into some old pill bottles.

Although they light easiest with a lighter (to save fuel instead of lighting the fire with the lighter), I got one started with my magnesium fire-starter by fraying one end and aiming the burning metal at the frayed end. It was too damned cool.

I also practiced my knot tying. Wow, was I rusty. I found a great site called Animated Knots. They have how-to tutorials on how to tie virtually any type of knot. I now know how to make one of my most coveted knots, that I just could not do, the Trucker's Hitch. I spent most of Sunday hitching my chairs to my family room couch. I'm easily amused....

It was kind of funny: For those of you with kids, you've probably heard of or experienced "nesting". Just before and just after the birth of a child, the female begins preparing/up-keeping the area where the baby will be kept. Some primal thing.

I've been doing something similar, only with a testosterone-tinged quality. Of late, I have been almost obsessed with disaster preparedness.

Part of it has to do with work. I'm in charge of my bank's risk management process, and that encompasses our Business Continuity planning. We've been doing mock disaster drills, updating phone tree/event assessment procedures and the like.

Our home disaster boxes have been updated and refreshed. Ammo and water stocks rotated.

I feel like I'm doing "nesting" for a very likely upcoming event. Nothing is really that much different in the country or the world than it was 6 months ago, but my "gut" tells me to get ready. I can't tell you why.

I hope it's just because Business Continuity has been at the top of my list at work for so long. Still, it's better to be safe than sorry. Oh! and I'm going to get a new tool out of it. I'm going to pick up either a Rotozip or Dremel with a cut-off wheel.

I cut a finger this weekend making the Penny Stove (really, it was just a nick), but my wife suggested I pick one up. I don't quite know if I should be offended that she thinks I'm gonna bleed out cutting up cans (!), but I'm getting a new tool out of it, so I don't care!

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

America, right? 

Why risk your capital?

I heard some rumblings about a lawsuit that was brought by the EEOC against the Salvation Army. It seems that the SA (whom I'm no fan of, considering their anti-gun stance) had fired a couple of workers for speaking Spanish while on the job. Now, both houses of Congress are having a pissing contest about whether this is a good idea or not?
Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing hard to protect employers who require their workers to speak English, but Democratic leaders have blocked the move despite narrow vote tallies in the GOP's favor.
I figured the Race-baiters would start in, and I was not disappointed.
"You can have English-only rules . . . if in fact that English-only rule is relevant to job performance, safety, efficiency and so on," countered Rep. Charlie Gonzalez (D-Texas). "If it is not relevant, if it is discriminatory, if it is gratuitous, if it is a subterfuge to discriminate against people based on national origin -- which we know that's what it is -- the EEOC doesn't allow it."
While repugnant to most people, it is not illegal to be a racist, a bigot or just a generally unpleasant person. If I own a business and I don't want anyone speaking Spanish while I'm paying their salary, that is my right.

Or so I thought.
For more than 30 years, federal rules have generally barred employers from establishing English-only requirements for their workers.
What? Suppose that I am the owner of the business. I am the one that has to assess the political, business and economic environment and make decisions that will affect that business. If I make the wrong decisions, I will go out of business. It's called 'capitalism'.

Will Uncle Sam rescue me if their decision causes me to go out of business?

Not likely.

Good Lord, this country creeps closer and closer to a centralized, planned society (that's code for 'communism') with every passing day.

I had mentioned a year or so ago that I was considering going into business with a brother and another partner. We had looked at a number of businesses, and actually written one offer. Thank goodness it didn't work out.

California has been my home for every one of my 48 years. I had had visions of owning my own business here in my home state. It would have been a horrible mistake.

California business 'rules' make the federal ones look like child's play. Add in the influence and power of labor unions, 'diversity' activists and the like, and I would have ended up making the evening news for spraying some lawmaker's office with lead.

Not quite the impact on society I had planned!

So, we're looking for more business-friendly and politically-compatible environs. We'll be taking a number of trips over the next two years to scout out locations, primarily here in the West. It is virtually impossible to publicly voice your opinion here in The People's Republic of California - if that opinion has anything to do with self-reliance or gun ownership - without risking your job.

How ironic: You could easily be removed from your job for voicing opinions in support of the Constitution, yet could be sued by your government for exercising your freedom of choice in employment practices.

These bastards won't win...

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Friday, November 16, 2007

We Don't Need No Stinking Tenth Amendment! 

Tear at the perforations and wipe until text is obscured...

I was over at Yahoo Answers (I really DO work during the day!), and answered a couple of questions on government charity, universal health care, and the like. The results of my research simply disgusted me.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
That would be the tenth amendment to the Constitution. Seems pretty clear to me. If a power is not granted to the Feds nor prohibited to the states, it falls to the states or the individual to make the call. Great idea.

Man, oh man, have we come off the rails on this one!

My research took me to the A-Z Index of US Government Departments and Agencies.

Now, I think there are a number of agencies that, while not specifically mentioned in the Constitution, are legitimate in assisting the Feds in carrying out their legal duties. For instance, the Department of Transportation. Without a solid and reliable transportation system, our commerce would be sorely hindered. Being as commerce is one of the Fed's actual responsibilities, I can give Transportation a nod.

Same with the FDA, the USDA and other similar regulatory agencies that are ensuring that the quality of US goods is top-notch. They give the world (and Americans) confidence in American goods. If you don't think this is important, think how badly China wishes it had a quality control agency for the crap they sell to the world.

[And please, don't flame me with posts about how crappy these agencies are run. I know this. My point is it can be reasonably argued that they are authorized by the Constitution.]

But there are limits to how far you can stretch this "authorization" idea. Something like NASA is probably pushing the envelope (although I'm personally a huge fan of NASA). The argument is usually along the national defense lines. Too many degrees of separation for me. Same with the CDC. A healthy America is a prosperous America. No sale.

Still, there could be intelligent debate about these, and similar agencies.

But how in the hell can you justify The National Endowment For The Arts (A Great Nation Deserves Great Art)? My tax dollars are paying for some guy to create Piss Jesus? Truly, I don't care if they're giving away money to the likes of Michelangelo. The Feds are not authorized to spend my money in this manner.

What about Housing and Urban Development (HUD)? Here's their mission statement:
HUD's mission is to increase homeownership, support community development and increase access to affordable housing free from discrimination. To fulfill this mission, HUD will embrace high standards of ethics, management and accountability and forge new partnerships--particularly with faith-based and community organizations--that leverage resources and improve HUD's ability to be effective on the community level.
WTF? Oh yeah, the "everyone deserves their own house" amendment. I must have overlooked that. And you all know what "support community development" means, right? It means taking my dollars and using them to pay the rent of someone that can't afford to live in their current location. Section Eight housing being the most notorious (you've GOT to read this) of their programs. It usually means the new community develops a crime wave.

One of my brothers owns a home inspection company, and they've recently expanded into inspections of HUD housing complexes. Huge housing compounds where the tenants pay little or no rent. He says that, without exception, the vast majority of tenants that are in the units when he does his inspections are males between the age of 18 to 40-something, they appear to be healthy, with most playing the latest Wii video game on big-screen TVs.

Big-screen TVs, and we're paying their rent. When it comes up, they all "work nights". Right.

He has offered to take me on a "ride along", and I've declined the offer. I told him I'd either go off on these leaches, and he would never get another inspection, or I'd go postal and ..... well it wouldn't be pretty.

The list on the web site I provided above is seemingly endless. Perhaps I'll do a, "Tenth Amendment Abuses" rant every now and then. We'll see if my blood pressure can take it.

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

You go, girl! 

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I love that quote.

I love it because it epitomizes what America is supposed to be all about. It doesn't matter if you're black, white, Hispanic or Asian. Man, woman, boy or girl. You are equal to every other person at birth, and have the ability and opportunity to change your place in society based upon your actions - based upon things that build your character.

It is one of the reasons I despise things like quotas based on race, color or gender. They are not based upon things you are able to control and influence - honesty, education, integrity or experience - but are instead based upon things over which you have no influence - your race, color or gender.

You get rewarded for doing nothing.

There was a time when the quotas were probably warranted. In the 1960's to enforce the Civil Rights Act, it may have made sense for the government to interfere into the operating practices of private businesses. Maybe. Well, maybe not.

Personally, I think market forces should have been the driver of this change. Make the laws - make it illegal to discriminate based on color. If businesses did it, sue them for violating the law. Shut down their businesses via fines if need be.

But the government should not be able to set arbitrary quotas on how many blacks, Asians or Hispanics a company should must hire.



During the 70's and into the early 80's, this wave of protectionism swept up women. The Equal Rights Amendment was proposed. It failed, but, I think in general, businesses were at least working towards equality in hiring practices. I can say it absolutely was stringently enforced here in the SF Bay Area.

I think it was a good thing for women that the ERA did not pass. In my experience, rarely do you hear of someone getting promoted solely because of their gender. It happens all too often with regards to race. In general, businesses saw the benefits of hiring women and advancing them through the organization. Again, in general, the private sector saw the benefits of hiring the best person for the job, regardless of their gender.

(Of course, this does not apply to government jobs. The armed forces, police and fire in particular were forced by court decree to lower standards to admit women into certain jobs. Not to the benefit of society, in my opinion.)

So today I read an article by Peggy Noonan. I've heard of her before, but never read any of her stuff. If it's all like this, I'm a new fan.
Margaret Thatcher would no more have identified herself as a woman, or claimed special pleading that she was a mere frail girl, or asked you to sympathize with her because of her sex, than she would have called up the Kremlin and asked how quickly she could surrender.
Nice. Someone who is what she is, and will stand on her reputation. On her character. On what she has made of herself, not upon some physical trait.
The point is the big ones, the real ones, the Thatchers and Indira Gandhis and Golda Meirs and Angela Merkels, never play the boo-hoo game. They are what they are, but they don't use what they are. They don't hold up their sex as a feint: Why, he's not criticizing me, he's criticizing all women! Let us rise and fight the sexist cur.
She goes on to take Hillary to task over using the "gender card" when things get a little rough. She wants to play with the big boys, but by her own rules. Wrong.

It's the same with the Al Sharpon's and Jesse Jackson's of the world - If you don't like something, pull out the Race Card. Don't argue your position based upon the character of the person in question, use the "boo-hoo" game to get your way.

Noonan offers this hopeful thought:
It's all kind of wonderful, isn't it? Someone indulged in special pleading and America didn't buy it. It's as if the country this week made it official: We now formally declare that the woman who uses the fact of her sex to manipulate circumstances is a jerk.
I think it IS wonderful. I think women enjoy knowing, deep down inside, that their accomplishments are a result of their hard work, and not of some "gimme" force-fed by Nanny.

I wish the racial minority groups would see the benefits of personal accomplishment. Accomplishment based upon personal deeds and not physical traits. Benefits not only to the individual, but to all of America.

I think many racial groups are too invested into the quota/gimme way of doing things. I don't know if they can ever get away from it, quite frankly. And I don't think they'll ever have a chance to prosper as women have.

11/15/07 Update:

Told ya so! Interesting how many financial services firms are included in the list. My first bank, Wells Fargo - where I spent the first 12 years of my career - made the list. Perhaps that is why this seem so, "duh!" to me.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Global Warming Hip Check 

Every little bit helps

There may be hope.

While the overwhelming politically correct stance on global warming is that man is causing it, is making it worse, and should be wiped from the face of the earth, there is the occasional brave soul that speaks out against the insanity.

John Coleman, the founder of The Weather Channel is the latest to weigh in on the man-made global warming absurdity:
"It is the greatest scam in history," Mr. Coleman wrote on the ICECAP Web site. "Some dastardly scientists with environmental and political motives manipulated long-term scientific data to create an illusion of rapid global warming. Other scientists of the same environmental whacko type jumped into the circle to support and broaden the 'research' to further enhance the totally slanted, bogus global warming claims."
It's not often you get someone using 'dastardly' in a modern sentence, but he has hit the nail on the head. Luckily, his detractors are goofballs like this guy:
Daniel Weiss, senior fellow and director of climate strategy at the leftist Center for American Progress, disputes Mr. Coleman's view as insufficiently apprehensive.

"We are seeing the impacts of global warming now that were not supposed to occur until years from now," Mr. Weiss said, citing as examples the melting of Greenland's ice sheets and a higher level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than most scientists had previously predicted. The D.C.-based researcher attributed some of the recent California wildfires' intensity to global warming, mentioning the area had not gotten rain for about 150 days prior to the fires.

"Whether or not the sea-level rise prediction is three feet or seven feet, we know that the phenomenon is real because it's happening today," he continued.
These guys kill me. A bunch of Chicken Little's wetting their britches waiting for the world to come to an end. I just want to grab them by the shoulders and yell in their faces, "Yep, it appears as though the earth is warming. Plenty of evidence. And plenty of evidence to show it has happened time and again throughout our history."

Before man.

Before the industrial revolution.

Before cars and trucks and buses and trains.

Why do these idiots think man has caused the climate change this time, and then be so utterly conceited to think they have the ability to flip a switch and "fix it"?

It is so typical of the left. Pass a law, regulate behavior, cause a new problem. Pass a new law to fix the problem caused by the old law, regulate behavior even further, cause more problems. Repeat ad nauseam.

Listen up, you pinheads: Global Warming might be happening. Let's assume it is. We need to adapt to the changes that are coming our way. People are going to have to make the decision whether to stay where they are now, or move to a more habitable climate. Since we don't yet know what areas of the earth will be affected, how about we wait and see what areas are going to be impacted before we spend time and money doing a mass exodus/relocation?

Let's make our decisions based upon facts, not fear. I know it will be tough, I know it goes against all you've been taught, but how about giving it a shot, huh?

Our lives may depend upon it.

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Sunday, November 11, 2007

Gun Facts 

Fight fire with fire...

I had a post a while back about how insidious the anti-gun propaganda had become, and had found its way into my home. My oldest son had swallowed a piece of gun control flotsom, hook-line-and-sinker.

I was trying to think of a way to address this, and the Big Hand In The Sky reached down and smacked me upside my head! I had forgotten all about GunFacts.Info. It is, quite simply, the best place to find so much information in one one on the positive benefits of gun ownership and the evils of gun control.

It is written in a Myth vs. Fact format. And, most importantly, unlike the gun-grabbers, every fact that it presents has a citation. This way, should the reader not believe the fact, or should they want more information, they can actually find the source of the information. How many gun-grabbers do that? Yeah, I know. None.

They just recently updated the information for 2007. Give it a review and down load a copy to have handy.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

OK To Pee In The Pool 

These eco-freaks are gonna give me a stroke....

Short blurb on my thoughts on Global Warning:
So clearly, I don't think highly of most Man-Made Global Warming zealots. Things like this only solidify my position:
The Philippines government has approved an Australian company's plan to absorb excess CO2 by dumping massive amounts of urea in the Sulu Sea.
Translation: The eco-freaks talked some environmental minister in the Philippines into dumping a bunch of piss (that's what urea is) into the sea to fix global warming.

(A thought: Is this a fake report written by all of those Hollywood comedy writers that are out on strike? Oh, you guys are good.......)

Anyways, the idea is that the piss will encourage plankton blooms, which will suck up all of the bad, bad CO2 in the atmosphere.

Really.

These numb-nuts need to read a little bit more about Carbon Sequestration. These are natural "sinks" that absorb CO2 from the atmosphere. Part of the problem is that none of these keep the CO2 permanently.

Let's say you were able to produce enough plankton to make a noticeable dent in CO2 levels. It's only a temporary fix, at best. Either a whale or some other plankton-eating animal will have a meal, digest the nutrients, then "release" the carbon back into the atmosphere in the form of a crap, burp, fart, you name it.

This is one of the reason the eco-freaks (mostly) no longer support planting trees as a way of reducing CO2. You plant the tree, it sucks up the carbon, it dies, decomposes, and releases the carbon back into the atmosphere.

Oh, and having too many trees also cause Global Warming. They decrease the amount of sunlight reflected back into space, causing things to get too toasty (look, I couldn't make this crap up if I tried).

Yeah, too many trees are a bad thing
. Hmmm, I guess we should cut 'em all down then.

Let's recap some of the ideas the eco-freaks want to employ to save our asses:

They want us to pee in the ocean.

They used to want to plant trees to suck up excess CO2.

They now want to cut down trees because trees heat up the earth.

We have to kill all of the cattle, 'cause they fart too much.

Hybrid cars are allowed to drive in the HOV lanes at high speeds.... where they are less efficient and more polluting than when they are "stuck in traffic".

Virtually non-polluting nuclear energy is not an option 'cause, well, it's just not.

To ensure the survival of the planet, man must perish.

Yeah, I think I'll just do as my ancestors did, and adapt. Aside from being utterly useless, this eco-freak thing is just too damned stressful. All this stress is causing me to sweat, which makes my perspiration evaporate, releasing more CO2 into the atmosphere....

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Monday, November 05, 2007

The Power of Anti-Gun Propaganda 

I was dumbfounded...

I was shooting the bull with my oldest son this weekend. The conversation got around to politics, and he told me of an online "test" you could take to see which of the current candidates most closely matched your beliefs.

He had taken the test, and Rudy ended up as his match.

Hmm. This is the son that is registered as a Libertarian.

I asked him if he could remember any of the questions, and he said it was pretty vague. I said that I didn't much like Rudy primarily for his stance on gun ownership. Out of one side of his mouth, he now says that he's not a gun grabber, in fact he's a gun supporter. Out of the other side is his record of grabbing guns and enacting more restrictive gun laws.
"I used gun control as mayor," he said at a news conference Saturday during a swing through California. But "I understand the Second Amendment. I understand the right to bear arms."

He said what he did as mayor would have no effect on hunting.
Why do gun grabbers always use the, "no effect on hunting" rationale when trying to look sensible?

Anyways, my son said that he understood what Rudy was doing in NYC - just trying to reduce crime in a very violent city.

I was stunned. I wanted to cry out, like I had just had a sharp, glowing poker jabbed in an eye.

My son, a person whom I thought understood the whole 2A thing, had swallowed the "we know what's best for you poor, uneducated dolts" line of crap.

I took a couple of deep breaths, then slowly and calmly went over the finer points of self-reliance and 2A: Gun control only controls the possession of guns by law abiding citizens. The police have no requirement (or ability) to protect you as an individual. If a robber was in your house, would you want a gun or a police station phone number? Would it be OK for your mom to be beaten or raped because the government had removed her ability to defend herself against a bigger, stronger assailant?

Our earlier 2A discussions seemed to rematerialized in his 20 year-old brain. I don't know if it's a temporary slip-up because he's going to college now, and there is the constant anti-gun Nanny State drivel being shoveled his way, or if he has changed his outlook on this issue.

I pray it's the former. I'll shoot his ass if it's the latter ;-)

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Dual Edged Sword 

A number of people are pumping fists and high-fiving over the court case where a church group is being forced to pay a multi-million dollar settlement to the father of a slain veteran. For those of you who haven't heard the story, it goes like this:
Westboro Baptist Church, a fundamentalist Christian group based in Topeka, Kan., has protested military funerals across the country with placards bearing shock-value messages such as "Thank God for dead soldiers."

They contend that the deaths are punishment for America's tolerance of homosexuality and of gays in the military.

At the March 2006 funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder, who was killed in Iraq, church members waved fire-and-brimstone placards near the funeral motorcade. Snyder's father sued Westboro and three church leaders for emotional distress and won a nearly $11 million jury verdict Wednesday in Baltimore.
"Yeah, we shut those fuckers up!"

I cannot imagine anything more painful than burying one of my children. And to have some idiots protesting my son's service to our country might be intolerable. But insensitive, close-minded idiots are allowed to be Americans. That's supposedly what my son would have died for.

This perhaps frightens me even more than the abuses under Color of Authority in my last post. If this verdict is upheld, the government will have effectively usurped the First Amendment protections of Freedom of Speech (the fact that it is a church group is, in my opinion, irrelevant).

Regardless of how tasteless, vile or repugnant you find someone's speech or ideas, they have the right to express them. Only speech which actually harms - libel and defamation of character - should be controlled.

If we take away this right from those with whom we disagree, we are effectively cutting out our own tongues. This sets a precedent that, "those in power" get to determine what is allowable and what is, "hate speech". As the article points out,
Alarmed by Westboro protests, at least 22 states have enacted or proposed laws to limit the rights of protesters at funerals.
We currently have a pro-war, pro-illegal aliens administration in power at this time. What is to stop them from getting laws passed that disallow protests against these stances? Would those not be expressions of opinions that are hateful towards the administration's stance? Illegal aliens are people, too, and should not have to bear the humiliation and degradation of citizens protesting their presence in our country.

What about the flip-side of the war debate?
During Friday's show, the topic of what Islamic extremists should be called was first raised by Colmes during a discussion with conservative author David Horowitz regarding the upcoming "Islamo-fascism Awareness Week" at George Washington University. After Horowitz complained about liberal students creating a poster portraying conservative students as hating Muslims, with Horowitz accusing liberals of using a "hate campaign," Colmes commented that the phrase "Islamo-fascism" constitutes "hate speech." Colmes: "You talk about hate speech. The words, the phrase 'Islamo-fascism' is hate speech. It equates an entire religion with fascism. That's what people object to. It conflates the two, and it's wrong."
If the Colmes administration were in power - or maybe someone like Hillary or Barack or Edwards - it would clearly be a hate crime to call Islamo-fascists, uhm, Islamo-fascists. Could we even call them, "an extremist group of folks" as the president did? Seems kinda harsh to me.

When our government starts limiting the speech and thoughts of its citizens, we move one step closer to becoming subjects. Virtually all thoughts and speech are offensive - even hateful - to someone else. How can we limit the speech of a few without limiting the speech of the many?

We can't.

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