Tuesday, December 30, 2008


I wish the bald eagle had not been chosen as the representative of our country; he is a bird of bad moral character; like those among men who live by sharking and robbing, he is generally poor, and often very lousy. The turkey is a much more respectable bird.
--Benjamin Franklin

On Christmas, we had a turkey, ham and beef to feed all of the folks we had over. Considering the current tough economic times, I thought I'd share what we're doing with the leftovers.

Today: Turkey!

We pretty much devoured the entire turkey. All that was left was the carcass. When someone says "carcass," I think stock. Lots of it.

I take the carcass and break it up into smaller pieces. I lay the bones out in a roasting pan, add a half of a roughly-chopped large onion, and one carrot and throw in about a half of a bunch of celery - I dice the bunch whole, starting at the top so I get all of the leaves - .

I drizzle the whole thing with oil and throw it in a 350 degree oven for 45 minutes. This browns up everything and gives it all a nice roasted flavor. I do not add any seasoning to my stock. No salt, no pepper, no nuthin'. I want the flavor of the turkey, not the spices. I add those when I make a soup.

Put the bones and vegetables in a large pot - the bigger the better. I have a 16 quart stock pot that I use. Fill the pot to within two inches of the top with cold water. Turn the heat on high, and wait for it to boil.

Once it starts boiling, cover it, reduce your heat to medium-low, and let it simmer for 3 hours.

Once you're finished simmering the bones, pour the contents of the pot into another large pot covered with a strainer. Don't throw out the stuff in the strainer!

Once the stuff in the strainer has cooled, pour it all out onto a flat surface, and start pulling off all of the meat from the bones. You're going to be amazed at how much there is left.

This started out as a 20 lb turkey. It appeared as though there was little meat left on the bones when it went into the pot. After I was finished picking through the stuff, there was a pound and a half of meat!

I ain't lyin'....

I ended up with about 2 gallons of stock. I pressure canned 10 pints of the plain stock. The rest of it became Turkey and Rice soup. I added rice, salt, pepper, spices, and the carcass meat, plus another three-quarters of a pound of meat I scavenged recovered from two drumsticks that somehow survived Christmas.

Of the soup, I split it into gallon zip-locks (with about 6 cups in the bag) for family meals, and a number of quart-sized (with a pint in the bag) zip locks for individual meals. This will all be frozen for future lunches and dinners (we're all a bit Turkey'd-out right now!).

Honestly, I think of this a free food. Most people just throw out the carcass. For the price of a couple vegetables, some cooking fuel and a couple cups of rice we have pint-sized meals for at least 11 individuals in the freezer, plus 10 pints of stock to make other soups.

As a side note, when I purchased the turkeys about a week before Christmas, they were on sale. For $0.18 a pound. Yeah, eighteen cents a pound! Butterball brand. I bought two 20-lb turkeys for $3.60 each - one for Christmas and one for the freezer!

Next up: Ham leftovers...

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Dis 'N Dat 

It is his capacity for self-improvement and self-redemption which most distinguishes man from the mere brute.
--Aung San Suu Kyi

I've got a boat-load of prepping posts in the works. Pictures even! Until then, a couple of things:

RAIDERS!!! Holy crap, they won two games in a row! The last win, over Tampa Bay (sorry, GuyK), was a great game. They didn't get down on themselves when they fell behind. They actually "kicked it up a notch" and pulled out a win.

Although they only ended up with 5 wins, those last two gave me some hope, and may keep me as a season ticket holder for another year.

As an extra-special bonus, it looks like Al Davis - the Raider's owner - is on his last legs. He missed only his second game today since he has owned the team.

As I've said before, when he croaks, I'll not shed many tears. I'm going to get hammered. Blasted. Shit-faced!

He has ruined a once-great team with his meddling and inability to move into the 1990's, let alone the 21st century. He should have given up the reins many years ago, but his ego would not let him.

I went to see my buddy who had the bad car accident. He's home after 44 days in the hospital, 24 of those in Intensive Care. The bill? Nearly a million dollars... He showed it to me because he knew I wouldn't believe him if he just told me the number. Thank God he has insurance - everything is covered!

We did a 2 hour road-trip that included a couple stops and some walking, and it was too much for him. Honestly, I thought I was going to have to call 911. My son (an EMT and current paramedic-in-training) chewed my ass - a little at least - and said that based upon my description of events, he would have positively taken him to the hospital.

I found out later that one of my friend's daughters had taken him out in the morning as well, so when I got him in the afternoon, he was all worn out! I'm going to take him out on Tuesday or Wednesday, but we'll be going much more slowly.

It's good to see him up and about again.

Israel bombed the crap out of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and of course, are being painted as the aggressor. Never mind that Hamas has been firing upwards of 80 rockets and mortars a day, into Israel.
When Hamas took control of Gaza in June 2007, it fractured governance of the Palestinian territory. The other part, the West Bank, is controlled by moderate Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The renewed violence increases the volatility of an already unstable area.

"It undoubtedly will have a very severe impact on wherever the next administration would like to go," Ed Abington, a former American diplomat who advises Abbas, said in an interview. "You can't kill almost 300 Palestinians and wound 600 to 700 and not have repercussions in the region."
You can't lob rockets and mortars on Israel and not expect repercussions in the region, as well. It would be nice if the press acknowledged that Hamas has been doing this for months without retribution, instead of painting the picture that Israel is to blame for all of those dead Palestinians.

Hamas is to blame. Israel is defending its people as it's supposed to do.
"I don't quite know where the Israelis want to end up," he added, saying that trying to bomb Hamas into submission only rekindles radicalization. Abington said Israel's retaliatory attacks weaken, not strengthen, the stature of Abbas, who is backed by the West.

Alterman said, however, that if Hamas is weakened by the bombings in Gaza, Abbas' position could be emboldened. "It's possible to imagine that he could emerge as some sort of broker who saves Gaza from an Israeli onslaught," Alterman said.
I was watching Meet The Press this morning and they had on the Israeli Foreign Minister. She pointed out that if Hamas figured Israel would just sit back and eat rocket attacks, they were sadly mistaken.

Suggestion: Bomb them into the stone age, then burn the ruins.

Oh, and fill up your gas tanks. I have a feeling the price of oil might go up some...

Christmas was phenomenal! We ended up with 35 butts at dinner.

I've mentioned one of my nieces in a couple of past posts. She's actually my first niece and I haven't seen her in 16 years - by my choice.

To summarize her life, she got knocked up by an 18 year old when she was 13 (how her father let that bastard live is beyond me). She and her brother moved in with my wife and I at a time when we were dirt-damned poor. She shit on us, and I threw her out.

She proceeded to spit out a total of 5 kids over the next 12 years - shockingly, all from the same maggot that knocked her up the first time. All the while, she and maggot are meth heads. At some point they moved to Utah (WTF?). In 2005, Maggot actually lands some kind of decent job, and they're going to buy a home. Two days before they were supposed to move in, he is arrested for burglary.

It seems that he would get home from work, drink a fifth of JD, and go out and burglarize homes. For fun. He'd never sell the stuff, he just put it in the garage of the home they were renting. He made the mistake of hitting the home of a cop, and got busted. Five years in Utah State (and I don't mean state college).

Niece moves back to CA about a year and a half ago, and ends up with her kids, living in a tent, near the Russian River. We hear about this in July of this year. My wife and her sister read her the riot act and say they'll have the kids taken from her if she didn't get her shit together.

It worked.

She has since gotten her GED and is in medical assistant school. She filed for divorce from the maggot. She's in some kind of rehab housing and has to be drug tested every single day (shocking in CA).

Anyways, she and her kids came to Christmas. It was great. Her kids are amazingly well-adjusted considering what they've been through. My niece looked great - clear-eyed and seemingly committed to getting her act together.

It made for a great Christmas present for Uncle Mike.

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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Best Wishes 

I'm off to spend the afternoon with my buddy that had the bad car accident. He is home now, and we're going to take a mini road trip to get him acclimated to the outside world again (after nearly 2 months in the hospital).

I've got some Christmas tales to tell and some political/economic things rattling around in my head as well, so I'll be back at it tomorrow.

Hope everyone had a relaxing Christmas!



Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Going Along With The Program 

If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.
--Joseph Goebbels

Most Americans tend to only casually look into the future. We've been conditioned for the here and now. People rarely have a plan for their career, family, retirement - whatever.

You get a job and you work there until something better comes up, you're fired or laid off.

Your money is spent as fast as you earn it because Social Security will cover your ass when you retire.

About the most common forward-looking thing people do is to go to college. The conventional wisdom is that if you invest in 4 years of schooling, you'll end up with a good job in the end.

After that, most people just "go with the flow". They take what comes their way, but they don't plan - even in broad terms - where they want to be at various "milestones" in their lives.

How many people do you know that have actually mapped out their career, family or retirement? How many have a true plan for retirement - other than folks that are now in their mid-40's or older that have an "oh shit!" moment and realize Social Security ain't gonna cut it?

A handful at best, I'd guess.

Some folks, though, are planners. They have specific objectives they wish to accomplish, and they develop a plan. The plan will lay out the ultimate goal and interim milestones to gauge the progress of the plan. They build in enough flexibility to account for changes in factors that can influence the successful completion of their goals.

For instance, you're goal may be to retire when you're 40. You determine how much money you'll need in those future retirement-year dollars, and how much you can earn/save/invest each year between now and your fortieth birthday. You build contingencies into your plan to account for job losses, business failures, economic down-turns, etc., and what you'll do if any of these events happens.

You plan to Zig when your cashflow Zags.

Groups of people are generally better at planning than are individuals. The military, large corporations and political parties all come to mind. Big organizations.

I'm worried about the plans of the Democrat party. More to the point, I'm worried they are positioned quite well to be able to accomplish their goals.

Based upon their past performance and publicly stated goals, they have three main prongs to the fork they're looking to stick in our sides:

Equality of all. Don't confuse this with equal opportunity. Through the various welfare/income redistribution mechanisms currently in effect, they want to rob from "the rich" and give to the poor, regardless of the reason the poor are poor. Affirmative action, Universal health care, Social Security, food stamps, housing vouchers and all other "entitlement" programs fall in this bucket.

More government control of commerce. One only needs to read about all of the bailouts currently in play (to the tune of over $8 trillion in the past 6 months alone). Add the government regulatory burden placed on telecommunications, transportation, energy, food production and health care, and the die is pretty well cast. The Democrats have had the skids greased by the Bush Administration in getting these recent bailouts passed, but these are traditional Democrat ideals at play.

Gun control. Generally, they say one thing while campaigning, and do another when in office. The ability of the individual to defend himself is eroded on a continuing and escalating basis. Most large, metropolitan areas virtually ban the right to defend yourself with a handgun when in public. You must trust the government for your safety.

In short, these are the 3 major requirements for a centrally controlled country, be it socialist, fascist or somewhere in between. All three lead to the individual becoming dependent upon the State for survival. Everyone are sheep, and Nanny as the sheepdog.

This is what they want to accomplish, but how do they get there? Through unfettered indoctrination and propaganda.

The indoctrination starts as soon as kids go to school. Our public school system is largely a platform for espousing socialist dogma. They work in enough practical learning to keep the public satisfied, but actual learning is becoming secondary to indoctrination. Look at test scores and comparisons with other countries if you doubt this.

Kids are taught that free meals are a good thing. That free education is a good thing. That unions will get you free benefits. That self-reliance and personal achievement must become subservient to society as a whole.

But what about the adults? Perhaps a few slipped through the cracks and actually came out of the public schools with their critical thinking skills still intact. What then?

Consider the past election. They won, but not convincingly. Forty-six percent of voters said, "No" to their ideals. Basically half the country told them to piss off.

How do you convince or at least "dis-arm" or discredit those that aren't going along with the program? After all, if their negative views of socialism/fascism are spread to others, your plan for socialism/fascism might be doomed.

You've got to control the message.

What is the one dissenting voice in the American media? Talk radio.

Talk radio in America is the one, consistent voice against the creeping socialism/fascism trend in our government.

For those of you who haven't yet done so, you need to subscribe to Backwoods Home Magazine. Aside from the fantastic regular articles on self-reliance - from canning, to hunting, to power generation, to building your own homestead - the publisher, Dave Duffy, has the wonderful gift for "seeing into the future". He's a very observant individual.

In the latest issue, he has an editorial titled, From gun control to socialism, it begins with the Fairness Doctrine. He has recognized the plan, dissected the tactics and milestones, and come to a crystal-clear conclusion: If dissenting opinion is silenced, nothing else stands in the way of a fundamental change in what is America.
Silence talk radio with the Fairness Doctrine and you will silence 90 percent of the opposition to any move towards socialism. The only opposition that will be left will be TV's Fox News and small publications like Backwoods Home Magazine. So reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine is a logical move for Obama. Then, after the most vocal pro-Second Amendment voices are silenced, he'll move on to expanded federal gun control.
I would add "any move towards fascism" to the first sentence as well. The Bushies have been all too willing to write laws to increase federal and local police powers - most in direct conflict with the Constitution. While it took the radio hosts longer to call Bush on his transgressions, it eventually happened, and virtually no dissenting voice would have been heard regarding the extraordinary powers Bush wanted to employ with the first cut of the bailout package without talk radio.

I've written similar protestations in the past (here, here and here). The great oppressors of our world understood media control too well. Control the message, and you control the outcome. Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Castro. They were the media.

The Fairness Doctrine, if passed, would surely re-ignite discussions of controlling Internet media such as blogs. This one, angry guy - and others like me - would be silenced as well.

I think Duffy is right in his editorial. I think it is the lynch-pin to this socialist/fascist plan. If those 46% of people that didn't vote for Barry no longer have a source of information that is different from the MSM, they will most likely fold up their tent and go along with "what everyone else is doing".

The will to fight is diminished when you feel you're the only one on the other side. Going along with the program is a whole lot easier.

And an easier life is what socialism/fascism is all about. It isn't until you scratch the surface to expose the facts - via a free media -that you understand what a grotesque violation of basic human freedoms they are.

Fight this with everything you've got...

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Propaganda or Entertainment? 

The goal of modern propaganda is no longer to transform opinion but to arouse an active and mythical belief.
-- Jacques Ellul

What's up with all of these new, "Government Is Here To Protect You!" shows? CBS has some new show called, "Flashpoint".
FLASHPOINT is a drama that depicts the emotional journey into the tough, risk-filled lives of a group of cops in the SRU (inspired by Toronto's Emergency Task Force). It's a unique unit that rescues hostages, busts gangs, defuses bombs, climbs the sides of buildings and talks down suicidal teens. Members of a highly-skilled tactical team, they're also trained in negotiating, profiling and getting inside the suspect's head to diffuse the situation to try and save lives.
Here's what these saviors of humanity look like:

The History Channel has a show called "Shadow Force". This one is real mercs going around the world, saving us all. I think the one that concerns me the most is the new show, "Homeland Security USA" that will be shown on ABC.

From the show's website:
Every day the men and women of the Department of Homeland Security patrol more than 100,000 miles of America's borders. This territory includes airports, seaports, land borders, international mail centers, the open seas, mountains, deserts and even cyberspace. Now viewers will get an unprecedented look at the work of these men and women while they use the newest technology to safeguard our country and enforce our laws, in "Homeland Security USA," which debuts with the episode "This is Your Car on Drugs,"
There are lesser shows, such as "Vice Squad" and others. Kickin' in doors to Save America.

Is it just a coincidence that the news has recently had stories of Army troops being stationed on US soil, and suddenly propaganda shows about paramilitary government agencies pop up on the tube? Trying to blur the line between the military and any other government agency?

They're all just here to help, right?

I don't know. It just disturbs me when the government is portrayed in favorable light as they're ramming people's doors, saving the down-trodden, helpless masses. I'd rather see shows promoting self-reliance and individualism instead of those promoting "Sheepl-ism".

Speaking of Nanny crawling up your ass, a good friend sent me links on these two items coming out of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force in Phoenix.

Front of brochure.

Inside of brochure.

The inside of the brochure details some common traits of terrorists.

Things like:

Right-wing extremists: Defenders of US Constitution against federal government and UN. Damned right. Don't FBI agents swear an oath to do the same? Check.

Right-wing extremists: Groups of individuals engaged in para-military training. I go to the gun range a lot. Check.

Hate Groups: Christian identity. Well, I'm Christian. Check.

Common Law Movement Proponents: Request authority for stop. Question "authority"? Hell yes. Check.

Common Law Movement Proponents: Make numerous references to US Constitution. Don't you hate it when that pesky little document gets in the way of doing your job? Check.

Hmmm. It seems that I might be a terrorist, at least in Nanny's eyes. Hey! That could be a new game show put on by NannyCo - fashioned after Jeff Foxworthy's, "You might be a red neck..." schtick.

You might be a domestic terrorist if....

On a lighter note, here are a couple Christmas cartoons. I'll try and run a couple a day.

And my favorite....

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Friday, December 19, 2008

... we can all be criminals ... 

Don't think of it as `gun control', think of it as `victim disarmament'. If we make enough laws, we can all be criminals.
--Jeff Snyder

Irony, thy name is California.

How ironic that yesterday I did a post on how Nanny has slowly but surely trampled many of our rights. The focus was primarily on the Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful search and seizure.

This morning, I got an email alert from the California Rifle and Pistol Association (CRPA). In some twisted form of logic, the state of California has further restricted the ability of law abiding citizens to protect themselves. They have determined that your front yard is public property.

I shit you not.

Not surprisingly, it is illegal in the late-great state of California to carry a loaded firearm in public without a permit. It's one of those "reasonable, common-sense" gun laws Barry is so hip with. The fact that it is virtually impossible to get a CCW permit unless you're a retired cop, a judge presiding over a Mafia case, or a sitting US Senator, is beside the point, at least in the eyes of these bastard judges. We must be safe! Control the Sheeple! Nanny Knows Best!

What follows is the text of the message from the CRPA. I'll have some comments at the end.

California Court of Appeal Rules Concealed Carry Law Constitutional

In the first case challenging a statute on carrying concealed firearms in public under the Second Amendment since the Heller ruling came down from the United States Supreme Court in June, yesterday a three judge panel of the California Court of Appeal ruled that California's general ban on carrying concealed firearms in public is not unconstitutional - at least under the facts of the particular case. People v. Yarbrough filed December 17, 2008 (2008 SOS 6726).

California has two general statutes that govern the possession of firearms in public. Penal Code section 12025 generally prohibits carrying concealed in public unless licensed or unless another exception applies. Penal Code section 12031 generally prohibits carrying a loaded firearm in public unless licensed or unless another exception applies. The Yarbrough decision holds that Heller doesn't invalidate the application of 12025 for carrying concealed in the publicly accessible driveway of a house you don't own.

Defendant Yarbrough is a young black man who was arrested in East Oakland, California for possessing a loaded and concealed firearm. He, along with others aged 17- mid 20s who may have gang ties, were drinking and smoking marijuana on a sidewalk in front of a house in a notorious area known as an open air drug market. Yarbrough asked the court to rule that 12025 was unconstitutional under his circumstances.

The First District Court of Appeal, Div. One, held that California's statute prohibiting possession of a concealed weapon without a permit does not contravene Second Amendment rights. Where defendant was charged with carrying a loaded firearm in a public place, the alleged public place being the "sidewalk area" in front of a private residence, the trial judge correctly instructed the jury, in response to its questions, that to be found guilty, the defendant need not have been on the sidewalk, that being in the driveway was sufficient, and that "[t]he area in front of a home, including a private driveway, is a public place if it is reasonably accessible to the public without a barrier.

The case does not address section 12031 under the Second Amendment, and may be distinguishable in a subsequent case raising both the 12025 and 12031 statutes in a different context with different facts. Considering the Second Amendment's protection of the right to bear arms, problematically Section 12025 and 12031 together make it almost impossible to "bear" a loaded gun in California. But ominously the Yarbrough court accepted and broadly apply the "sensitive places" exception to the Second Amendment mentioned in Heller (schools, courthouses, etc.) and under this ruling perhaps any public place is arguably "sensitive." The Court also noted the Heller language about statutes regulating concealed carry historically being upheld as constitutional, and interpreted that as a broad sanction of such laws by the Supreme Court.

Curiously and perhaps significantly, the court seems to have gone out of its way to rule on the inapplicability of Heller to this case and statute. The defendants were unsympathetic, and the case in some respects illustrates the danger in raising Second Amendment issues in a criminal case or at the wrong time.

I noted over at Hermit's blog that if they think I won't step outside of my home with a loaded weapon to protect my life or the life of another simply because the state has erected some sort of political force field at my doorstep, they're sadly mistaken.

Come what may.

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

"If You Haven't Done Anything Wrong..." 

The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.

There is a phrase commonly used by people that, for some reason, have no issue when Nanny usurps certain rights. It is usually along the lines of, "If you haven't done anything wrong, you shouldn't care about [insert trampled right]".

The implication is that only law-breakers would care if Nanny itself side-stepped our Constitution. When you point out the fact that the Constitution says Nanny can't do something, you are summarily dismissed as a zealot, and pooh-poohed with a statement along the lines of, "I'd rather be safe/protected than dead/injured".

The first time I bitched about a right being trampled had to do with DUI checkpoints. It gut-punched me when the Supreme Court said they were A-Okay. As a reminder, here is our Fourth Amendment:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
Basically, you or your things cannot be searched unless you have done something to make the police believe a crime has been committed. Even then, the belief of wrong-doing by the police is not enough - a judge must provide consent - -via a warrant - before you or your things can be searched.

Pretty straight-forward.

But it gets in the way of the police doing their jobs - at least according to the police. Using DUI as an example, the police say that they are charged with protecting us from drunk drivers. To prevent needless deaths caused by citizens too self-absorbed to care about the safety of their fellow citizens.

And they're right. It is their job. But they don't need to shit on the Constitution to do it. When they observe someone weaving, or driving too slow, or too fast or demonstrating erratic behavior, they can remain Constitutionally-compliant, stop the driver and investigate because there is a decent chance someone is drunk. There is probable cause.

By using and allowing random DUI checkpoints, you are assuming everyone is guilty. The only Constitutionally-compliant belief would have to be that everyone driving is drunk. Otherwise, there could be no Constitutionally allowed checkpoints.

Yet we have them under the guise of public safety. Just doin' our job to protect you, ma'am.

Once Nanny got a taste of that forbidden fruit - unconstitutional powers - it's a hard thing to give up. Like a crack addict, they always want more.

In my eyes, this most probably started back in the early 20th century with the passage of the 1914 Harrison Narcotics Tax Act. It essentially made it illegal for doctors to prescribe opiates and cocaine. Since drug addiction was not a recognized ailment, that meant there was no medical justification for prescribing these drugs. If a doctor prescribed these drugs, he was arrested. The practical result was making these drugs illegal. Before the law, you could buy a syringe and a small amount of cocaine from the Sears catalog.

The government, "played on fears of “drug-crazed, sex-mad negroes” and made references to Negroes under the influence of drugs murdering whites, degenerate Mexicans smoking marijuana, and “Chinamen” seducing white women with drugs."

Just doin' our job to protect you, ma'am.

The presumption was that Nanny knew what was better for us than we did ourselves. Only the government had the intestinal fortitude to withstand the onslaught of drugs. This, of course, led to the multitude of drug laws under which we now live.

Still, anyone can get any drug they wish to ingest. The only difference is that now, if you buy it or put it in your body, you go to prison.

We have lost the American ideal that you are only punished when you infringe on the rights of another person. You can now be imprisoned for the presumed infractions you will commit.

Look where this presumption that "Nanny Knows Best" has gotten us. You can't smoke in public. You can't walk down the street while intoxicated. You can't talk on a cell phone while driving. In California, you can't even have a GPS map device attached to your inner windshield.

And most people think that every one of those things is just fine. Nanny's just looking out for our best interests. It is because of this mind-set that the gun laws in the country are so repressive. Just like the Fourth Amendment, the Second has been shit on in the name of "public safety".

Look where this slippery slope has recently brought us.

Many people have heard about the 4,000 regular Army troops (3rd Infantry’s 1st BCT trains for a new dwell-time mission. Helping ‘people at home’ may become a permanent part of the active Army) that have been assigned to American soil. Still others have heard of the more recent deployment of a division-sized deployment - 20,000 soldiers (Pentagon to Detail Troops to Bolster Domestic Security).

The Koolaid drinkers will say that this is great. There are bad people out there trying to hurt us! In their minds, this justifies shitting on the Posse Comitatus act which forbids the use of regular military troops on US soil.

In the most disturbing Orwellian twist to this saga, the military is now helping run DUI checkpoints!
The California Highway Patrol in the High Desert and the Twentynine Palms Marine Base are receiving dozens of calls complaining about a controversial DUI checkpoint. Military Police joined the CHP for a recent checkpoint in Yucca Valley.
The military said that they were just there to observe how to run a checkpoint. Seriously. The military said it doesn't know how to run a checkpoint.

Another thing about these checkpoints is, for them to be legal, they must be announced ahead of time. Somehow, the rationale is that if the citizens know their rights are going to be infringed upon, they can take steps to avoid the situation.

In this case, the CHP somehow failed to man the phone number that told citizens when and where the checkpoint would be placed.
A recent KCDZ 107.7 FM broadcast out of Joshua Tree stated, "By law, to avoid entrapment, the CHP is requested to provide the location of the checkpoint to the media at least two hours prior. They did provide Z 107.7 with a phone number to call at 7 PM to get a location, but - defense lawyers take notice - no one ever answered the phone."

When asked why nobody answered the phone at the CHP station, Officer McLoud answered, "I know our dispatch center is a busy place. But normally, they answer the phone. They handle all our public calls."
Just doin' our job to protect you, ma'am.

Nanny must think something big - some sort of civil disorder of large proportions - is likely to happen. Who knows?

The point is, more of our Constitutional protections and civil laws are being trampled. We've been conditioned to believe Nanny must do this to keep us safe.

It's just one more step in conditioning us to be obedient Sheeple.

Franklin said it best: They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Too Pooped To Care 

I was going to do a piece on the ever-creeping Nanny State. It seems that New York is going to start taxing all sorts of crap. I should say New Crap. [gasp!] Soda (unless it's diet), electronic media, iPhones - all kinds of shit.

I had lots of other examples and trend information, but I just don't have the energy. Too much crap going on business-wise to give a damn about how they're going to further corn-hole their citizens. I'm sure the Guvinator here in CA will see this as an excuse to do the same here is the Tarnished Golden State.



Monday, December 15, 2008

Things Economic 

The first panacea for a mismanaged nation is inflation of the currency; the second is war. Both bring a temporary prosperity; both bring a permanent ruin. But both are the refuge of political and economic opportunists.
-- Ernest Hemingway

Hermit had a post with a link to a very interesting article from Fortune Magazine. Interesting, but more importantly, I think it's pretty much on point. It is actually a group of observations and predictions from eight people, each with different perspectives on things.

A couple of the folks mentioned that they believed the Dow would drop into the 4,000 range - or about half of what it is now. I've been saying this is where I think it's going to go before we see the end of this recession/depression.

Two of the folks used different methods to arrive at their prediction, but they both got to the same place. I must admit my prediction was based more on my gut than on math, but I loosely based it on P/E ratios. They were simply much too high and I believed that we were heading into a recession, causing earnings to get further hammered.

One thing I had not considered had to do with commodities, and those that might be hurt in the upcoming months and years. He thought food in particular would be hurt.

I don't know if I agree with the rationale.
Farmers cannot get a loan to buy fertilizer right now. Nobody's going to get a loan to open a zinc or a lead mine. Meanwhile, every day the supply of commodities shrinks more and more. Nobody can invest in productive capacity, even if he wants to. You're going to see gigantic shortages developing over the next few years. The inventories of food worldwide are already at the lowest levels they've been in 50 years. This may turn into the Great Depression II. But if and when we come out of this, commodities are going to lead the way, just as they did in the 1970s when everything was a disaster and commodities went through the roof.
He's making these statements in regards to investors having food commodities as one of the few investments where you'll be able to make money in the near term. The implication, of course, is that there will be a scarcity of food, and prices will rise.

This inability to get loans may be correct for non-food commodities, but I'm not so sure about food commodities. I have not heard about the inability to obtain fertilizer loans anywhere else. I cannot believe that that the government would not open the flood gates for fertilizer loans (or other types of farm credit) in the event food shortages became evident.

Now, if Nanny keeps on giving incentives for turning productive food acreage into other uses - like ethanol - all bets are off.

I still think virtually all of this is tied to personal real estate. When real estate is strong, it trickles through the entire economy. Disturbingly, the real estate market is far from a recovery.

60 Minutes had a piece last night (A Second Mortgage Disaster On The Horizon?) where they were talking about the upcoming rate adjustments for the Alt-A and Option ARM loans. Typically, these are loans to folks that have good income and good credit, just not perfect.

Unlike the sub-prime loans which typically had a 6-month to two-year "grace period" before they repriced to market rates, Alt-A and Option ARM's can be pushed out as long as 10 years (although most are in the 5-7 year range). The borrowers get an initial rate that is a little bit lower than the 30-year fixed rate at the time the loan is originated. The loan payment is then fixed for the 5 to 7 year period, after which it reprices to market rates.

One of the guys being interviewed is predicting that upwards of 70% of these loans will go into default by the time they reprice, especially considering these loans are already defaulting in high numbers even at the current "reasonable" interest rates. The current value for these loans is in the neighborhood of $1.5 trillion. That's on top of the $1 trillion in the sub-prime loans.

What they didn't discuss is people like me. I have the cash flow to currently make my home payment. BUT if I had to move for some reason, I would simply walk away from my loan, as I am now $100,000 under water (loan is higher than home value) - up (or down) from the $70,000 I was under water just 2 months ago.

I bought my home in 2002 - well before the top of the market. If I choose to, or have to move, I sure as hell am not going to send my mortgage company a nice fat check for a hundred grand to "make everything right"!

A neighbor who purchased the same model as mine two years after me is now at least $250,000 under water. They've put their house on the market a couple of time, and just can't get what they need.

This is a "silent death" that is lurking and is unaccounted for. It will take many, MANY years for this gap to be filled. At least 7 to ten years after we hit the bottom of the market. This pain is going to last a very long time...

Something to noodle on: A few weeks back, I had made a comment on Jennersen's blog about how the bailout money could have been better spent.

We're now approaching $8 trillion in bailout funds (here's the breakdown as of mid-November). Consider that the entire US mortgage market is around $12 trillion. If that $8 trillion had been used to pay down all mortgages by two-thirds, consider the impact.

The banks and investors would have had a huge influx of capital - just what the current plan professes to do. Regular Americans would have seen a huge reduction in their monthly expenses. Consider what you'd do if your monthly mortgage payment were suddenly reduced by two-thirds.

That newly freed-up monthly cash flow would be used to purchase more goods and services, keeping the economy alive, or it would have been put into savings (providing more capital for the banks).

Now, I'm not saying this would have been a good idea. BUT, since all American citizens are going to be held accountable for the money that Nanny is spending, shouldn't some of them (those with mortgages) at least have received some direct benefit for this? Many, many more (if not everyone) would have indirectly benefited by the new surge of cash into the economy. Under the current plan, only the banks are making out.

I eagerly await my appointment as the Undersecretary of the Treasury - bailout division...

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Friday, December 12, 2008

Stroking Out - More On Provision 2 

I didn't fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.
--Benjamin Franklin

My youngest brother is a devious soul.

He sent me an email titled, Stroke Out. In it, he noted that, in an attempt bring on a stroke so that he could garner a larger share of our inheritance (not to worry - no one is getting rich here), he was sending me information on how well the Provision 2 program has worked in the Los Nietos School District.

His dastardly plan may be successful.

In case you're unfamiliar with Provision 2, I wrote an entry (California: A Model For Socialism?) about how it is a program where 100% of the kids going to a school get free meals - breakfast and lunch, sometimes an afternoon snack - regardless of family income or size.

My little story revolved around the Los Nietos School District in Southern California. In the previous entry, I discussed how the district only has 9% of its kids at or below the poverty level, yet every single student gets free food. Paid for by you and me (if you're a federal or CA tax payer, that is).

Anyways, the email had some more information on the Provision 2 program, and on the "School Accountability Reports" for each of the schools in the district.

The Food Resource and Action Center in Washington, DC, put out a little "fact sheet" on Provision 2. In the only section that discussed the benefits to the children (the bulk of the sheet is on how it makes it so easy for the school to spend our money) it states these 4 goals:
Provision 2 increases student participation in school meals.
Well no shit. Give something away, and people will take advantage of it. Who woulda thunk it?
Children who eat school meals have more nutritious diets than children who don’t, regardless of income level.
What orifice did they pull that one out of? How do they know what is being fed to these kids at home, or in a homemade lunch? Total speculation. MY speculation would be that at a minimum, the 91% of kids that AREN'T at the poverty levels do pretty well, just like the rest of America.

This is simply more of the Nanny State knowing what's best for us. In this case, literally shoving it down our throats.
Better nutrition in children leads to better academic performance, behavior and learning environments.
That would seem to make sense. If you're eating good food, your whole body works better. In theory, then, schools that have all of this nutritious, state-sponsored gruel should have extraordinary student scores.

At the very minimum, they should be above average for the state. Clearly, a district such as Los Nietos, which has been on the program since 1999, should have a long track record of success. We'll see....
Providing school meals at no charge promotes the value of good nutrition to all students.
No, it promotes the value of helplessness. It promotes the idea that you can get all of your needs taken care of by Nanny. It starts you down the road of thinking it's a better thing to be suckling on Nanny's teat than to have your family provide for itself. It destroys the value of self-reliance.

The district has 4 schools - 3 elementary schools, and one middle school. The schools are:

Aeolian Elementary
Nelson (Ada S.) Elementary
Rancho Santa Gertrudes Elementary
Los Nietos Middle

If you click each of the schools, you'll get a PDF file of their School Accountability Report Cards.

It ain't pretty, folks.

With one exception, the elementary schools are below average for simple proficiency - in most cases WELL below - in every single subject.

The scary one is the middle school - full of kids being prepared for high school. Since the free food program has been going on for the past 9 years, the vast majority of these kids have been getting their two nutritious meals a day for their entire school career. Here's their "proficiency" scores:

English: 23%
Math (not including algebra): 23%
Algebra: 40%
History/Social Science: 16% (!)
Science: 34%

How can this be? I would expect these numbers to represent the percentage of kids NOT proficient in a given subject.

The food program aside, how can the administrators and teachers of this school be allowed to continue "teaching"? If you look at the bottom-right corner of the Report Card, you can see that instead of getting better, this school is in a state of decline. Their scores are getting WORSE each year, not better!

Hey, at least the kids are well fed, right?

I can hear the chorus of excuses now.

They're poor. (Tops, only 9% could be considered poor).

They're [insert the non-Caucasian/non-Asian ethnicity of your choice]. (What's your point? What has ethnicity got to do with anything? Da Prez is a black man. He's now The Man? He seems to have done OK. Chew on that for a while).

They don't have role-models at home. (Really? About a third of these kid's parents attended college.)

We'll get reason after reason for the utterly dismal performance of these programs, and the only way to fix it will be to throw more money at the problem. There is never any consideration of holding the teachers and administrators responsible in any way, shape or form.

There is no other profession in the world (other than being a player on the Oakland Raiders) where horrible performance like this is tolerated. Anywhere else, and you'd be fired.

Until teachers and administrators have their jobs on the line, nothing will ever change.

I see only one way to fix that problem. You MUST give parents the ability to take their kids elsewhere so that they can utilize their unique talents. If enough people leave a school, it will shut down, and the under-performing teachers will be out of a job. A voucher system is the only way I see this working.

As I wrote back in June:
One of the major problems with our current education system is that it assumes that everyone has the same abilities, interests and talents. That is, of course, patently absurd. But it fits in nicely with the socialist view of the world.

I strongly support taxpayer-funded schools. An educated populous is one that can grow and support itself. But the system needs to identify, develop and encourage the natural tendencies of the individual.

Every kid should be required to master the basics - reading, writing, math. Introduce them to "electives" such as history, art, sports, computers, music, science (all flavors) and "trades" through out the primary grades. When they reach high school allow them to choose what they want to study. A person that is able to focus on what interests them is much more likely to complete a course of study than a person forced to meet a generic curriculum.

I also think that a kid of 16 or so should be able to "test out" - take a basic reading, writing and math test. If they pass it, they can quit regular school and go straight to a specialized educational, craft or trade school. They can hone their skills or knowledge in something they love instead of wasting their time in class on a subject in which they have no interest.
Our system fails because it is a "one size fits all" model. It has little to do with income, ethnicity or prejudice.

Will kids still fail? Hell yes. Some parents just don't give a shit. There are parts of any society that simply have no desire to succeed. There is nothing you can do about that.

But don't penalize the families that DO want to learn. When you have a system where as few as 16% are succeeding, that's a problem with the system, not with the kids. This system "dumbs down" the participants. No wonder so many kids leave school before they graduate - they perceive a better chance of making a living by joining a gang or breaking the law than by completing their education. And the system itself is largely to blame for that perception.

Stop trying to buy-off the problem and start firing some under-performing employees like all successful organizations do.

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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Guns In America 

Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.
--Mao Tse-Tung

I had a post partially written on the National Geographic's Guns In America, but lost my enthusiasm. I've got a business project I'm working on, and it's got me jazzed.

Besides, these kinds of show will continue to be shown, and the supposed Pro-Gun organizations will continue to sit on their hand, not saying a damned thing. They understand nothing about propaganda, and how to counter it. Mao got it. The Brady Bunch gets it. The pro-gun organizations don't .

Here's the Clift Notes version of the show:
The show is on again this Saturday. Give it a look.

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Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Time To Buck Up, Folks 

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself.
--Harvey Firestone

Over at TSLRF, Ryan the 2L did a post about the Window factory sit-in in Illinois that got me thinking.

I'm guessing my post is going to piss off a lot of people. Just remember, this is coming from a guy that was recently laid off. I'm not a heartless bastard, I'm just realistic. Understanding how the world really works allows you to plan and not be victimized.

Here is a big reality check to people that work for someone else: You are a tool used by the company for them to fulfill their responsibility to shareholders. Nothing more.

The only responsibility of a commercial business is to increase shareholder value. They do that by making as big of a profit as is possible using legal means. The shareholders - the owners - have invested their money and hired management to make them more money.

It is not the job of the business to make sure you can pay your mortgage, put food on your table, pay for your doctor and dentist bills, or put your kids through college. That is YOUR responsibility.

If you don't like the deal you've made with the company - getting paid so much per hour in exchange for performing work for the business - it is YOUR responsibility to change the deal. Increase your skills or knowledge to increase your pay. Make yourself more valuable. Go work for another business. Go into business for yourself. No one ever said making a living was supposed to be easy.

If they're the only business in town, move. I can't move. My family/kids/favorite sporting team are all here. Cry me a river. It's not that you can't move, it's that you choose not to move. You make choices, you live with the consequences, good or bad.

Again, it's not the company's responsibility to see that you make a living, it's your responsibility.

So, what happened at the window plant in Illinois?

It seems that sales at the company have plummeted.
Republic’s sales tumbled to $40.3 million this year from $52.3 million in 2007
That's in excess of a 20% decline in sales in one year. Very few companies can withstand that kind of a hit.

The management and union are saying that the failure is because Bank of America pulled their credit line.
Workers blame Bank of America Corp., the biggest U.S. retail bank, for the factory’s Dec. 5 closure after it canceled a line of credit to the manufacturer, whose sales have been gutted by the housing slump.
I guarantee you, B of A pulled the plug on the credit line because of the sales decline. The business failure isn't because B of A pulled the plug, it's because the company wasn't selling enough windows! How is that B of A's fault?

When a business gets a line of credit, it has a number of financial benchmarks - loan covenants - that must be met or maintained. The number one covenant is cash flow. If cash flow decreases, the line is decreased or closed. They stopped lending to a business that couldn't pay back the loan!

To those of you who have been bitching about the trillions that Nanny has spent on these bailouts, you sure as hell better not be saying that the bank should have continued throwing good money after bad. That's what got us in this mess in the first place.

Reading between the lines, I'm seeing the owner of the company looking for a bailout of his own.
Richard Gillman, previously a minority shareholder in Republic, bought Republic in 2006 and replaced some of its management. Under Gillman, Republic reduced expenses by 47 percent and boosted productivity by 30 percent, according to a company statement distributed yesterday by Business Wire.

“Despite inheriting a company bloated with overhead and lacking any type of manufacturing discipline and/or productivity, the company made significant improvements only to encounter an unprecedented decline in new-home construction,” the Republic statement said.
What does the condition of the company in 2006 have to do with anything? He's telling us how hard he tried, and hinting well, maybe we could help him out a bit, OK?

Apparently these expense reductions and productivity increases weren't enough - if they're even true (which I highly doubt). If you cut expenses by 47%, then saw a 20% decline in revenues, you should still be profitable, or at least ahead of where you were when you bought the company.

He acknowledges he bought a crappy company. In my eyes, he was just like a house flipper who was betting he could buy a beat-up property, fix it up and make a profit.

He bet wrong.

So, this guy has lost his entire investment in the business. That's the risk you take as an investor/owner.

The workers have lost their jobs. That's a risk you take when you work for someone else. They should have been paying attention to the business. They surely saw fewer orders coming in, and fewer windows being shipped, and acted upon that to protect themselves.

Still, they did hedge their bets by being unionized, and by having the Federal government on their side, right?

There is a law called the WARN Act that requires a business to notify its workers 60 days in advance of "mass layoffs". I don't know if it's applicable to entire business closures. I guess we'll find out. It's administered by the Department of Labor, but they can't enforce it (so typical)!

Most, if not all of these workers were union members. Where was the union protecting their rights? They had to have known the shaky position the company was in, so why didn't they secure their member's rights just like the bank surely did?

Take a security interest (via a UCC filing) in business assets, or walk off the job. Require the business to fund a layoff account before you need it. You don't just take their word they'll live up to their obligations, you make sure of it.

Isn't protecting the rights of the members the primary responsibility of the Union?

When all of the lawsuits start flying - as they surely will - I hope the union is one of the defendants. They were paid good money by the workers to protect their rights, and they failed miserably. Three hundred people are now without a pot to piss in, and their hired guns are blaming everyone else but themselves.

The management of B of A did their job of protecting the assets of the bank. They did what they were paid to do, unlike the union.

It will be interesting to see how this affects things like pension plans and the like. Hopefully, this union was smarter than the United Autoworkers Union when they had the Big 3 holding all of the pension and health benefit monies.

Unless you are/were a federal employee, you had better pray to God that your pension or retirement funds are held somewhere other than with your employer. Otherwise, if they go tits-up, so does your money.

You need to assume someone along the line is going to screw you over, and plan for that eventuality. For instance, since my mid-twenties I have assumed that one way or another, I'll get screwed out of my Social Security checks when I hit retirement age. Either the retirement age will be increased, or the benefits slashed, or they'll be tied to some sort of Socialist "means test".

When I do my financial planning, I do it without Social Security in the picture. If it's still there when I retire, it will be gravy. Gravy I paid for, but gravy nonetheless.

I expect someone to try and screw me. You should, too.

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Monday, December 08, 2008

A Peek At Peak Oil 

But listen to what the professionals say and what do they advise: it’s not going to happen today. It’s not going to happen ten years from now. It’s probably not going to happen 20 years from now. It’s not going to happen 30 years from now. Okay? Because you are still going to be using fossil fuels.
--Ali Al-Naimi, Saudi Arabian Oil Minister

There is a lot of chatter today about the 60 Minutes piece from last night on Saudi oil.

I'm not convinced Peak Oil has been reached. As the program showed, the oil producers will keep finding ways to suck more oil out of the ground.

Where there's a will, there's a way

With Saudi Arabia in particular, they will be increasing their production from 10 million barrels a day to 12 million a day within the next year.

They are spending $60 billion over 5 years ($12 billion a year) to develop two new fields. One of them alone contains 18 billion barrels. At two million barrels a day, that's 730 million barrels a year. That means this one field has 25 years of oil.

Currently, it costs the Saudis $2 to produce a barrel. This field will cost them around $16 a barrel ($12 billion divided by the 730 million barrels a year). Add in the standard operating costs of $2/barrel, and you have $18/barrel in production costs.

But that's only for the first 5 years. After all of the start-up costs have been incurred, it's back to the $2 per barrel.

Also, all told, the Saudis have 260 billion proven barrels, and believe they may have as much as another 200 billion barrels. At production levels of 12 million barrels a day (4.4 billion barrels a year) they have at least 59 YEARS of reserves, and as many as 104 years.

Now, all of this new oil is more difficult to extract. It's no longer a simple matter of punching a hole and sucking it up. The Bakken Formation in North Dakota uses horizontal drilling like they're using in the new Saudi fields. I've read somewhere that oil needs to sell for $40 a barrel to make it profitable to work the Bakken fields (sorry, can't find that source).

Apparently, this is at least somewhat accurate, as production in the area jumped 229% from 2006 to 2007. And that was BEFORE the huge oil price spike in 2008.

Maybe I'm just drinking the Kool-aid. Maybe the Saudis are lying. Perhaps their reserves are much lower than reported. So, let's think about what benefit there would be to "pulling the wool" over the eyes of Americans about Peak Oil.

For big producers like the Saudis, it would be a dual-edged sword: It would be to their benefit to say oil is running out to keep prices and profits up (the fear dividend). It would also encourage the world to get more fuel efficient, thus dampening demand (and keeping prices up). Their reserves would then last much longer.

The risk to the Saudis would be with regards to alternative energy. If cheap (compared to oil) electrical production were to come online in any kind of significant way, they'd be screwed. Coupled with advances in battery design, this could lead to a wholesale switch to electric cars for most Americans. Only those with a true need for engines with massive torque - trucks, tractors, etc. - would need oil in any large quantities. Even that could change in the future.

All-in-all, it seems as though it would benefit the Saudis to say there is no Peak Oil - even if they had to lie. At least for now.

But for this to be true, the entire world would have to be in on this hoax. I just can't swallow that.

At current production levels, the world has 54 years of reserves. For oil to be considered a reserve, it must be accessible with current technology.
The total estimated amount of oil in an oil reservoir, including both producible and non-producible oil, is called oil in place. However, because of reservoir characteristics and limitations in petroleum extraction technologies only a fraction of this oil can be brought to the surface, and it is only this producible fraction that is considered to be reserves. The ratio of producible oil reserves to total oil in place for a given field is often referred to as the recovery factor. Recovery factors vary greatly from oil field to oil field. The recovery factor of any particular field may change over time based on operating history and in response to changes in technology and economics. The recovery factor may also rise over time if additional investment is made in enhanced oil recovery techniques such as gas injection or water-flooding.
So the world has more hundreds of billions of barrels of oil - we just can't get to it right now. But it's there.

Where there's a will, there's a way.

As a consumer, this makes me happy. I feel fairly confident that there will be enough oil to keep me in my current cars and trucks.

As an American citizen, this pisses me off.

These low, affordable prices take Alternative Energy off the table. I filled up my tank yesterday for $1.65 a gallon. It was nearly triple that only a few months ago.

It's not hitting us in the pocketbook any more, so we don't care. Time to move on to the next issue.

In my eyes, the biggest reason to develop Alternative Energy is not the cost, it's the National Security aspect. I don't want us dependent upon ANYONE, and surely not the current top oil producers in the world.

Look at the link above for the top oil producers. Of the 11 that are above the US, I would only consider one - Canada - to be trustworthy. And even that's a crap shoot.

This should be one of the very highest priorities of our federal government. But it won't be. We'll dick around with some subsidies. We'll fund a couple of projects. We may even punch a few holes up in Alaska - maybe even off of the California coast if they really want to show, "We're Serious!".

But it will all be half-assed. No real change will be made in the way we power our country. The Saudis and the other big producers will keep gasoline prices low enough so we don't scream too loudly. Low enough so that oil alternatives just won't make economic sense. Low enough so we don't really bother with research and development.

We'll come up with ways to scrub the particulate and CO2 from car emission to keep the Greenies happy. The congress-critters will get their contributions - above and below the table - and we'll stay dependent upon the oil teat.

It will all keep us hip-deep in the Middle East for well into the foreseeable future. We simply won't have the ability to say, "Fuck it, figure it out yourselves", and walk away. The Saudis know that we have this symbiotic relationship. They get our latest weapons and protection, we get their cheap oil.

I'd pay my $4.50 a gallon to get out of that relationship. Most Americans wouldn't say the same.

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Saturday, December 06, 2008

Golden Times 

I've been out of town - still am - but I wanted to share a couple of items regarding gold with you.

A buddy of mine shared a site with me that is just awesome in showing the disconnect between spot and market prices.

If you scroll down the page, it shows you the different prices for each type of coin. And from all over the world.

US, bullion, Australia, Canada, Great Britain - whatever. It shows how much the gold is worth that's in each coin, they what it is selling for on ebay. It even has links that will take you into ebay directly for the type of coin you want - i.e., 1/20 oz Canadian Maple leaf. Pretty damned cool.

One caution: On certain coins, it is representing the spot value as though the coin were 24k gold. Many are not. For instance, the American Eagles and South African Krugerands are 22k gold. Still, a great resource if you're considering buying some gold.

The other site is actually an article on gold. This has been around the internet quite a bit, but it really sunk home with me.

It seems that an internal memo from Citigroup got leaked, and they believe that gold will hit $2000 by the end of next year.
Gold is poised for a dramatic surge and could blast through $2,000 an ounce by the end of next year as central banks flood the world's monetary system with liquidity, according to an internal client note from the US bank Citigroup.
Take some time and read the entire article. It will help calm your nerves and reassure you everything is right with the world.


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Thursday, December 04, 2008

California: The Model for Socialism? 

Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.
--Winston Churchill
***UPDATED*** After you read this post, be sure to see the annotation at the end. I swear, my head is going to explode.

I've lived in California for all of my 49 years (yikes, number 50 is right around the corner!). I've spent all but one of those years in the greater San Francisco Bay Area. I've seen a great deal of change in this once-great state.

I remember as a kid while attending Fair Oaks Elementary school, that once a week, my mom would give us money to buy our lunch. It cost $0.25 for lunch, and another $0.06 for a waxed-cardboard container of milk.

I clearly remember a conversation I had with my mom about "the rich kids" - some kids that got to buy their lunch every single day. I mentioned the kids names, and she explained that they weren't from rich families, but families with less than what we had. She said the school paid for their lunch.

I honestly remember thinking it must be great to be poor if you got free lunches! It was weird, but these kids kind of wore the free lunch ticket as a badge of pride. My guess is it was a defense mechanism because they were used to having so little, and "buying" their lunch each day was one of the few "cool" thing they had. I don't really know.

The kids that got the free lunches had very well-worn clothes. I distinctly remember making some sort of wise-assed comment about them (my dad was an Oakland beat cop at the time, so we were far from well-to-do, but I was a kid - what did I know?). My mom, who was born in the 1930's and who remembered truly tough times, made it very clear that if I ever made fun of someone being poor, I would meet the business end of her wooden spoon. And it wasn't the spoon she used to make cookies - it was the one used to raise welts on your ass!

Anyways, our school had no more than a handful of kids getting the free lunches - maybe a dozen kids, tops. The school was a K through 6 elementary school with two classrooms per grade. I'd guess there were around 400 kids (I checked the district numbers, and the current enrollment is 355).

If I assume the enrollment has been static over all these years, that means that 3.38% (12/355) were on the program. Let's say I was incredibly inattentive, and the number was actually tripled to 3 dozen kids. That would put us at 10.14% on the program.

Imaging my surprise when I saw this article:
Statewide, nearly 51 percent - or about 3.1 million - students are enrolled in the free and reduced-price meal program, which saw a 4.5 percent increase this year in the numbers of meals it serves.
More than half of all kids in California public schools are on the free lunch program?! Holy fucking shit!

Not surprisingly, the programs are running out of money, just like everything here in California state government. The bleeding-heart socialists have got to be encouraging people to "join the program".

"But it is difficult because we are stretching every single dollar we have," said Cirila Villanueva, food services director for the 2,100-student Los Nietos School District in West Whittier, which has 100 percent participation in the meal program.

How is that possible without encouragement from the state? Even in the most impoverished neighborhood in the poorest city, SOMEONE has got to have some personal pride. Or a job.

I would love to hear how many of these kids are the children of illegal aliens. West Wittier, which is in Southern California, has huge numbers of illegals. Over 83% of the citizens of the fair city are Hispanic, yet only 9.2% of people under age 18 are below the poverty level.

Nine percent are below the poverty level, yet one hundred percent are on the program.

The ONLY logical conclusion is that Nanny encourages people to become dependent on the state for at least one meal a day. It seems especially so if you are Hispanic.

What are these wards of the state going to do if they're not fed? Do you think there may be some "social unrest"?

Everyone's heard how California is broke. To the tune of multi-billion dollar deficits. It's because of crap like this that we're in this hole.

Like all other programs, the well is running dry. The article lays out the numbers:

As for the cost of the program, the federal government shoulders most of it, doling out between $2.17 and $2.57 to schools for each meal while the state pays 22 cents.

Last May, the state ran out of money for the program and sent only about 2 cents per meal to schools, which were then left to pick up the state's share of the cost for the rest of the school year.

Did the school districts "raise the bar" for program eligibility so that the truly impoverished could still be helped? Hardly.

"We have no intention of reducing (the meal program)," said Skvarna, adding that student participation increased between 5 percent and 10 percent this year, especially among middle and high school students.

"It's a great program; something that works."

Yeah. It's working like a charm. It's a great program if you're trying to teach citizens and their kids how to be dependent on Nanny for their survival.

Class dismissed.


Two commentors made note of some things I wanted to check out and see if they applied to the district with 100% student participation - Los Nietos School District.

GR4US has commented that he'd bet that a bunch of the kids in the district would be showing visible signs of money - bling, fancy cell phones, nice cars dropping off the kids, etc.

Jimmycrackcorn noted that in the school district where he lives, THE PARENTS are getting fed as well.

I tried to see if I could find any pictures of the schools, PTA - anything - in the district to see if there were any Hummers, Vettes, BMWs or Mercedes in any of the lots. So far, no hits. But I'm lookin'...

Jimmy's information, though, hit very close to the mark.

It seems as though there is a very good reason the district has a 100% participation rate, even though only 9% of the kids are in the poverty category.
In the September 1999-2000 base year, the state approved LNSD Food Services Department to participate in Provision 2, a non-pricing site for the first time. Non-pricing sites are those that serve meals (breakfast & lunch) at “No Charge” to all enrolled students at the district regardless of family size or income. In the September 2003-2004 base year, the state approved LNSD Food Services Department to participate in Provision 2, as non-pricing sites for the second time. In the September 2007-2008 the State approved the Provision 2 extension for LNSD Food Services Department, as a non-pricing site.
These bastards have been giving the food away, on my dime, since 1999. All students are encouraged to fill out some paperwork, then they will receive free meals for the next five years.

It seems that serving parents is the ONLY way they bring in money. The site doesn't say how they determine how much is charged, only indicating that it includes the cost of food and "some labor". Tax free, though, unlike any other food service establishment in the Late Great State of California.

I need to look into this "Provision 2" bullshit. I don't know if this is a state or federal program.

Gimme strength. I need a cocktail.

The Hispanic community should be going bat-shit crazy over this. They are falling into the same Nanny-dependent honey-trap that has crushed the Black community.

If these parents become dependent upon the state, their kids will model their behavior. The vicious cycle will continue until the pride and honor are gone. Nothing will be left but self-pity and loathing for "the system". The very system upon which they've become dependent.

God help us all.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Has Your Wire Been Tripped? 

You cannot prevent the birds of sorrow from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from building nests in your hair.
--Chinese Proverb

I read often about someone's "tripwire". In most cases, it's the proverbial line in the sand whereby if some event occurs, the person will take a certain action.

There all all kinds of tripwires. For instance, if the stock market drops below X, you sell. Or buy. The ones I've been reading about lately have had to do with our economy and our government. People are making plans based upon certain events transpiring. Most have to do with if they or a spouse suddenly lose a job. The next biggest type have to do with personal weapons. People are getting their ducks in a row in case Barry decides to go on a gun grab.

Personally, my "lose a job" plan is already in play. I'm pretty far along with my gun-grab plans.

But I'm at an impasse regarding economic matters.

I think this is going to be a huge issue in the coming years. As I see it, we're either going to be taxed into poverty to pay the $8 trillion we've committed to the bailout, or the economy is just too far gone, and it's going to crash all on its own (including Uncle Sam defaulting on the bailout debt).

Either way, I don't have a viable long-term solution.

Let's say the economy crashes. My money in the bank will be worthless. I can only buy and store so much food in the house. What's the answer? Turn my cash all into gold and silver? Take the cash and buy some property so all I need to worry about is property taxes?

And what is the tripwire? What event could be foreseen far enough in advance to get me to liquidate all of my retirement funds (while they still have value), locate and purchase a property?

How about the other possibility? God-awful taxation. This $8 trillion is nearly equal to our entire national debt - meaning we've almost doubled the national debt in a few short months. This money will have to be repaid, one way or another.

On top of this, Barry has some very aggressive plans for our tax dollars - Universal health care, carbon taxes, more income redistribution so everyone is equal. Many states, including CA are on the verge of bankruptcy. How can all of these things happen without increased taxes?

Soon, we won't be able to borrow as we have in the past. The world financial markets are tapped out. They're going to start wanting higher returns to invest in our debt. More and more of our tax dollars will go to interest payments and less towards actual services.

Again, what is the tripwire? What actual, measurable event is the red flag that a shit-storm is on the way?

Am I missing anything here?

Of course, the economy could repair itself. Barry could cut unnecessary federal programs to pay for his plans. California might have a new Dot Com explosion, or Gold Rush.

And pigs might fly.

If our march towards socialism continues, property may very well be seized by the state. That's what socialists do. Just ask Kelo. They nationalize everything and centrally manage the economy.

We've seen in recent weeks and months how Nanny is grabbing more and more control of all aspects of our lives. The banking and insurance industries all but nationalized. One of the last large manufacturing industries - automobiles - is on the brink of nationalization. Airlines, railways, utilities, telecommunications are so heavily regulated they are already de facto nationalized.

Couple that with the recent announcement of an Army division of 20,000 soldiers being deployed on our soil. Martial law when we voice our dissent?

Hell, has the wire already been tripped?

On a practical topic, what do those of you with conceal carry permits use for a holster?

I have a number of inside the wasteband holsters, but they aren't very comfortable. I have two tee-shirts fitted with holsters that I like a lot, but you need to wear a button shirt over it to get to the gun.

How well do the shoulder holsters work? If you use one, what style do you like best? I see that some hold the gun upright, some horizontal, some upside down. Any insights into the plus' and minus' of each would be very much appreciated.

I was looking for a quote on 'sorrow' and ran across a You Tube of the song, "A man of constant sorrow" from Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?

I love this song...

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