Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Homemade Tamales 

I love you like a fat kid loves cake.
--50 Cent

For some reason, I got a Jones for tamales - those magical wads of steamed meat and dough that are wrapped up in dried corn husks.

I've eaten a lot of tamales in my time. They're like a drug - I can't just take one hit. I consume them to excess. Hell, the primary reason I married my wife (of Mexican and Irish descent) was to have a regular supply of tamales and corn beef and cabbage (big, BIG joke there! Love ya, hon!).

Anyways, I had never made them before, and decided to take a swing at it. I bought the masa harina (the special corn flour needed for tamales) and the dried corn husks to wrap them up. I read the instructions on the bag of masa and saw that I also needed to pick up some lard. I was just going to use some Crisco, but my wife said that pure pork lard is the way to go.

The biggest issue with tamales is the perception that they take a long time. This CAN be true. This is all dependent on what you're going to be stuffing in the centers. If you go with a traditional shredded beef, pork or chicken tamale, from start to eating will be about 6 hours.

If you're going to stuff them with leftovers, cheese, mild chiles or go for sweet ones with raisins, they will take about 3 hours. That's about the same amount of time it takes to prepare and cook a "regular" meal of a beef roast or roasted chicken.

OK, OK, they take a bit longer than normal fare, but it's worth it, damn it! AND, the vast majority of the time you're not doing any work. They're steaming or meat is boiling. Multi-task here, people! They are great, "set it and forget it" meals.

I actually spread my cooking over two days. I took a pork roast and 4 boneless chicken breasts, put them in separate pots, covered them with water and into each pot I threw in about a quarter cup each of dehydrated garlic and dehydrated onions. I brought them to a boil, dropped the heat down to a simmer, covered the pots and cooked them for 3 hours.

The next day, first off, I put 3 bundles of dried corn husks into one of those casserole dishes - something like 9x11 inches. I filled it with warm water and put a plate on top of the husks to keep them submerged.

I then took the meat and hand-shredded it into a bowl. I strained a bit of the remaining liquid and poured it over each of the meats (still keeping them separate). Just for ease of storage, I then transferred the shredded meat and liquid into 1-gallon zip lock bags and put them in the fridge.

DO NOT THROW OUT THE REMAINING BOILING LIQUIDS! I strained them both into a large measuring cup and put that in the fridge as well.

Every recipe I read online said that you needed to "fluff" the lard. WTF? The bag of masa said the same thing. So, I took the room-temperature lard, put it in a bowl and just whipped it up with a whisk. It really did fluff up!

In a separate bowl, I put in 2 cups of the masa flour, baking powder and salt. I added 2 cups of the reserved boiling liquid and worked it into a very soft, moist dough. According to the bag, this amount of dough will turn out 20 tamales.

The instructions said you want to then mix the fluffy lard with the masa and make a spongy dough. My wife had told me that this is the most difficult part. She explained that this was why her grandmother was such a tough old broad!

I turned to technology. I whipped out my Kitchenaid mixer, and let it go to it. In a couple of minutes, I had this awesome, spongy dough!

All of the recipes I found online said that you take a corn husk, smear the wide half of the husk with dough and plop about a tablespoon of filling in the middle. None of them said how thick to make the dough. Hmmm.

I spread it about 1/8 to 1/4 of an inch thick. I didn't know if this stuff would "proof" or contract. I was flying blind! Here's what mine looked like -

Yeah, I went over the tablespoon of filling. Sue me.

You fold one side to the center, then have the other side overlap the first. The masa acts as a glue to hold it closed. You then fold the un-doughed bottom up over the crease and fill up the steamer.

I found that each of the bundles of dried corn husks had 6 husks in it. I made a dozen tamales - half of them pork, half of them chicken. I used a pasta steamer that sits 2 inches above the bottom of the pot. Everything I read said to make sure you don't have the tamales sitting in water, or they won't cook up right.

They take about 2 1/2 hours to cook. I checked the water level every 30 minutes and added more as needed.

While the tamales were steaming, I made up a Tomatillo/Green Chile salsa. The recipe was for a canned salsa recipe from New Mexico State University. It was a water bath recipe that took no time at all.
Tomatillo Green Salsa

Yield: 5 pints

5 cups chopped tomatillos
1 1/2 cups seeded, chopped long green chiles
1/2 cup seeded finely chopped jalapeños
4 cups chopped onions
1 cup bottled lemon juice
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 Tbsp ground cumin*
3 Tbsp oregano leaves *
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and stir frequently over high heat until mixture begins to boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle hot salsa into pint jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water canner 15 minutes at 0-1,000 feet altitude; 20 minutes at 1,001-6,000 feet; 25 minutes above 6,000 feet.

You may use green tomatoes in this recipe instead of tomatillos.
If you're going to make this recipe, DO NOT substitute vinegar for the lemon juice. It will negatively affect the acidity of the recipe, maybe making you very sick.

Oh, and it only made 4 pints (plus a little bit more) instead of the 5 pints. It is friggin' awesome! Not too hot, but with enough punch to get ya there. This would be great chilled and eaten with tortilla chips.

The picture doesn't do it justice. It's a nice green color with fantastic flavor. It went wonderfully with the tamales -


What I learned:

Use one of those silicon spreader things for spreading the masa on the corn husks. It goes much more quickly than when using the back of a spoon.

If you mess up and throw out the meat boiling liquid, use a bullion cube to make up some broth. You really want to have that extra flavor in the masa once it is cooked.

Pull the steamer cage out of the pot and let them cool for a half hour or so before eating them. Aside from being cool enough to stuff into your face, the masa firms up a bit, making them easier to peel from the husks.

I've got at least half of the meat left, so I'll be steaming up a batch of these bad boys for lunch or an afternoon snack. Happy as a pig in slop.....

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Racist In The NAACP? Shocking! 

There is a class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs-partly because they want sympathy and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs.
--Booker T. Washington

Waa waa waaa! Dry your tears, beeoch.

Shockingly (not), the Virgina NAACP has its panties in a wad over a huge Barry Joker poster that's been unfurled in Richmond -
The Virginia NAACP called it an abomination and a sign of disrespect. The owner of a downtown Richmond strip club called it exercising his right to free speech.
In predictable fashion, the Executive Director is doing his damnedest to drag race into an economic issue.
"It is apparent that he and others are comfortable disrespecting the president," King Salim Khalfani, executive director of the Virginia NAACP, told the crowd.
Hold on to your hats, folks, but I agree with him there. The owner DOES feel comfortable disrespecting the president. So what?
So do I when he's promoting a socialist agenda.

That's allowed in America. Just ask all of the leftists that painted Bush as a Nazi, an unintelligent dullard, and a puppet of Cheney.

Oh, look! He was portrayed as a joker, too...

So, uhm, King... why might this strip club owner feel comfortable disrespecting Barry?
"Why? The answer is simple: because the president has African blood."
Holy shit. Could you have pulled out that race card from deeper in your ass?

OK, fine. Let's say it was racist. Then just as clearly, you leftist fucktards disrespected Bush because of his Caucasian blood. That can be the only logical explanation, right?

You make me sick to my stomach, you race-baiting, woe-is-me, piece of shit.

The press, not happy with just promoting the agenda of these racist bastards, feels the need to do the old ad hominem attack on the club owner.
Moore's club is awaiting a Nov. 9-10 state Alcoholic Beverage Control hearing on alleged violations. Last year, Moore was convicted of three misdemeanor charges related to having sex with a minor and another female at his apartment above the club, and filming it illegally.
Wow, a strip club owner who's a scumbag. That's about as shocking as there being a racist heading a 'civil rights' group.

Why would the "reporter" feel the need to bring up facts that are totally unrelated to the issue at hand? Of course, it's used to cast aspersions on the guy - to detract from the message he's trying to make.

Well, here's a little ad hominem back at ya, asshole.

You are a racist, and are proud of it. You proclaim it at the top of your voice.

Here is the mission statement of the NAACP:
The mission of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure the political, educational, social, and economic equality of rights of all persons and to eliminate racial hatred and racial discrimination.

The vision of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is to ensure a society in which all individuals have equal rights and there is no racial hatred or racial discrimination.
Equal rights for everyone. They state - at least publicly - that they are "color blind". You are the Executive Director of the NAACP for the entire state of Virginia. Here is your biographical information, taken directly from your website -
My greatest accomplishment is that I am by choice a revolutionary Afrikan Man. I am a Pan-Afrikanist. I am one who speaks truth to power unashamedly on behalf of Afrikan people. I have not cringed or cowered when faced with criticism, ostracism or threats of bodily harm. l have represented my people with Integrity.
Hmmm. That seems to run counter to the official mission of the NAACP. They specifically say they are for equal rights for everyone, and you specifically say you are ONLY for people of African (Afrikan?) descent.

Isn't promoting a specific race the very definition of racism?

Naw, it must be an oversight. Surely he is proud of some kind of non-race-based accomplishment -
He founded the Pan-African Resource Center. African Awareness Association, Sons or Africa, Operation STRIKE (Students Tackling Racial Issues with Knowledge and Enlightenment) and African Perspectives, a weekly live call-in television show ...
It appears as though this racist - this statewide executive of a national organization - doesn't have a single thing he's ever done for anyone other than blacks.

Where is the MSM in reporting THAT? Why wasn't that conveniently inserted into the article along with the information on the club owner?

[Insert chirping crickets]

And the newspapers wonder why they're losing circulation numbers.... At least they can look forward to some Barry Bailout Bucks.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

How Is Prison Health Care? 

A government is the most dangerous threat to man's rights: it holds a legal monopoly on the use of physical force against legally disarmed victims.
--Ayn Rand

I've just been crazy-busy, and it will continue this week (muy importante meeting/presentation on Wednesday), so posts may be a bit light.

Here's a quickee, "You must be shittin' me" item.

So, Senator Baucus has put together his flavor for the Universal Health Care scam. Instead of providing the entire thing like the House did, he only provided a summary. Without the specifics, it's much more difficult to pick something apart. Smart guy.

Still, someone sent the senator a question about being thrown in prison because of his bill.
Under the health care bill being considered in the Senate Finance Committee, Americans who fail to pay a penalty for not buying insurance could be charged up to $25,000 by the Internal Revenue Service or face up to a year in jail, according to congressional analysts.
Let that sink in: If you don't get health care insurance, you will go to prison. You are being threatened at the point of a gun to participate in a socialist scam.

Unlike Social Security, which is stolen from you by your employer on behalf of Nanny, this requires your active participation. People will not take this, and will fight back. Violently.

I will actively cheer the people that shoot back.

I don't know if any of you watched the Raiders/Broncos game. It is always a sell-out, and the most raucous game of the year. You can taste the hatred in the air.

It's awesome!

This year, it wasn't even sold out. I'm guessing 20% of the seats were unsold. By half-time, the stadium was half full.

Our "quarterback" (in quotes on purpose) - JaMarcus Russell is a total loss. He was booed after each of his series in the first half. In the second half, he was booed as he came on to the field. Then the chants of, "Russell Sucks!" took over.

They did nothing to fix the situation. Russell was playing horribly - again - and it was clear that the Vote Of Non-Confidence from the crowd made matters even worse. This guy is Jello, not an NFL quarterback.

Put him in a pretty pink skirt, sit his ass on the bench, and go win some football games.

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Friday, September 25, 2009

In Praise Of Capitalism 

There is a serious tendency toward capitalism among the well-to-do peasants.
--Mao Tse-Tung

I've been in a bit of a funk lately with so much of what's going on in the news. The video of the kids singing the praises of Barry. The video being shown to kids all around the nation on the evils of capitalism. Barry being lovingly embraced by all of the world's socialist rulers. It was a bit much.

What disturbed me the most was a side-show to the G20 conference. It turns out, this ended up being the center-stage for the little get-together -
Struggling with a contentious issue, world leaders have reached basic agreement on limiting the bonuses of bankers whose risky behavior contributed to the global financial meltdown, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Thursday at a summit of the world's largest economies.
I read that line in utter disbelief. Can we really be joining forces with other countries in the world to regulate the income of a group of people? Can this really be happening?

Apparently so -
The treasury secretary said the G-20 countries had reached a consensus on the "basic outline" of a proposal to limit bankers' compensation by the end of this year. He said it would involve setting separate standards in each of the countries and would be overseen [by] the Financial Stability Board, an international group of central bankers and regulators.
Hmmm. The Financial Stability Board. That sounds like one of the many global organizations that were established in the (supposedly) fictional Atlas Shrugged.

Are they really going to let some entity other than a bank's Board of Directors set the pay of their employees? It is horrific enough to think of our own government doing this, but being dictated to by some quasi-New World Order organization is too much to comprehend.

I needed some "hopeful" reading material.

Barry keeps popping off that he is a big capitalist - he just loves that shit. But everything he does is the exact opposite. He doesn't encourage individualism and entrepreneurship, he rewards the collective.

If he wants to get all "worldly" on us, maybe he should meet this international group of folks.

They are 10 entrepreneurs that turned hard work into billions. Daddy didn't give them a big pile of money. These folks earned every damned dime they have.

In fact, of the Forbes list of the 900+ billionaires in the world, two-thirds of them made their riches on their own. No silver spoon involved.

Here's another list (albeit with some repeats from the other list).

Black or white or Asian or Hispanic. Men or women. College educated or drop-outs.

If you allow and encourage people to take advantage of the gifts they were born with, the cream will rise to the top. This "coddle the down-trodden" bullshit IS KILLING US!

Remember: That list was for billionaires. Our country has millions of millionaires.

I was watching the new Jay Leno show last night, and Rush was on it. I was surprised, but he and Jay got into it pretty heavily. Jay was basically asking, "How much is enough?" with regards to salaries (I'm guessing he would change his tune if Barry suddenly targeted the entertainment industry).

Rush made the precisely correct statement - It's not a zero-sum game. Just because someone is making tons of money doesn't mean it's coming out of the pocket of someone else. In fact, just the opposite is true.

If I buy something for $X, add value and sell it for $X + $10, my supplier and I BOTH make money - neither at the detriment of anyone else. This false thesis that people get rich off of the backs of others is bullshit.

Yes, there are unscrupulous people. In business, in religion, in academia and in politics. Especially in politics. But you don't shut down an entire economic structure because of a few bad apples. You destroy the rotted fruit.

That is a roll of government, although the market usually does a better job of it all by itself.

So, what is your gift? What skill do you possess that you can leverage to make you buckets-o-money? The people on the Forbes list provided a product or service that lots of people wanted. They packaged it in such a way that they beat their competition - very few of them actually created something new. They produced a better product or service than what was being offered by the competition, and were rewarded for their efforts.

I've always preached that making lots of money is not an ends by itself. It simply gives you the freedom to do what you want. The more money you have, the more choices you have.

You had better get moving, though, on your earth-shattering idea. Barry and Timmy may be targeting your market niche next.

An Atlas Shrugged Moment of Zen -
“So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia, “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?”

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

Gold Swap Scam 

It was beautiful and simple as all truly great swindles are.
--O. Henry

A buddy of mine sent me a link to a press release from GATA - the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee that discussed Gold Swaps. In particular it was about how the Federal Reserve was apparently lying about participating in these swaps. Go here to get an overview, and copies of the letters from the FRB basically admitting that they do these swaps, but have no requirement to disclose this fact.

I read the article and the accompanying documentation. From what I can see, GATA is right - the FRB does participate in Gold Swaps. I shot my friend an email basically asking, "So what? How does this affect anyone in a negative way?"

WTF are Gold Swaps? I found a short report (PDF file) from the International Monetary Fund explaining what these are (pgs. 3 and 4).

In short, a Gold Swap is where a central bank "lends" gold to another central bank. There are a number of reasons they may do this, which generally have to do with foreign exchange accounts. At least that's the official story.

With these swaps there are two very important things to know: First, no gold is actually sent from one central bank to the other - it's a paper transaction. Secondly, the "sending" central bank does not show a corresponding reduction in their gold reserves once the swap takes place.

The result: The amount of gold shown as being held by central banks is essentially doubled.
The statistical implications of gold swaps and gold loans/deposits are complex and have not been fully worked through. Work is still being undertaken by the Committee to address the implications. In particular, gold may be double counted with either a gold swap or gold loan/deposit if the party acquiring the gold were to on-sell it outright, because both the original owner and the outright purchaser would report ownership of the gold.
Country A (who actually has the gold) does a swap with Country B. They may do a swap for 1 million ounces of gold. Both countries now show the SAME 1 million ounces of gold in BOTH of their reserve accounts that are disclosed to the public.

Since the FRB has a number of legal exemptions in their charter, they don't have to disclose which countries, and for what amounts they have done these swaps. The letters GATA received from the FRB show that the US in involved with these swaps, but we don't know how big this is.

Why would we do this? What benefit would there be to the US to participate in these swaps?

One word: Confidence.

Supply and demand drive the price of commodities. More supply equals lower prices.

The dollar is the world's currency (at least for now). If the perceived value of the dollar begins to decline against gold, central governments that are holding dollars in their foreign exchange accounts will start getting jittery, possibly selling them off. Sell offs result in greater lack of confidence, resulting in more sell offs....

You get the idea.

BUT, if you're able to push the price of gold down in relationship to the dollar, you can keep the confidence in check. You can do that by either producing more actual gold, or you can artificially "produce" it by doing swaps with other central banks.

What do you think would happen to the value of the dollar if it were disclosed that a large portion of our gold reserves were being double-counted around the globe? It certainly wouldn't help things.

What kinds of things might bring on the lack of confidence in the dollar? Oh, maybe things like the fact we're printing up money left and right, reducing its value. The fact that we're now monetizing our debt. The fact that we're absolutely, positively going to have to raise taxes, which ALWAYS reduces productivity in the private sector.

Waddaya do? Not much, really. The FRB will continue to do these swaps, and they'll continue to NOT report them.

Conspiracy Theory Alert: Since there's no world CPA auditing firm, what is to stop the FRB from doing swaps in excess of the amount of gold we hold?

Seriously, when we do a swap with Country B, we're not going to open our books to prove we have not done swaps in excess of our holdings. Both parties get what they want. We help to maintain confidence in the dollar, and the other country gets to show they have a butt-load of gold in their reserves.

Ponzi would be proud...

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Gun Biz 

There is more similarity in the marketing challenge of selling a precious painting by Degas and a frosted mug of root beer than you ever thought possible.
-- A. Alfred Taubman

Check this out: I do a weekly newsletter for my biz. It gives tips and insights into personal protection. I touch on awareness, self-defense tools (from pepper spray to handguns) and home defense strategies. It is pretty well received.

I'm putting an issue together on selecting the right self-defense tool based upon your personal lifestyle. Are you young and agile, or older and less mobile? Do you have a lot of kids in and out of your home? What kinds of situations do you often find yourself in that MAY require you to defend yourself (like walking your dog in the park)? Stuff like that.

I was looking through the Internet to gather some crime statistics (fear sells!). I found this on the FBI website -

Astounding. What amazed me is that all of these numbers have improved (gone down) over the stats from 2007!


I need some help. MOSTLY from folks that do not have much (or any) firearms training experience, although input/votes from anyone is appreciated.

I've been offering a couple of classes for firearms, and the response has been "tepid" to say the least. Everything has been through referrals.

The main class is one that is targeted (pun intended) at prospective gun buyers who don't know if they want/need a semi-auto or a revolver. The class is based upon the NRA First Steps class - I just expand it to include both types of firearms.

They get all of the classroom safety and technical training, then go to the range to shoot a number of semi's and revolvers.

The class includes 50 rounds of ammo (25 for each type of gun), eye and ear protection, plus all of the NRA handbooks/brochures/certificates. They pay for the range time and targets.

How much would you pay for this class? This assumes that you have picked me from Internet searches or newspaper ads - NOT from a personal referral. You're a "cold" lead.

We all have a perception of value in our heads. If a price exceeds that, we will often times automatically "shut down" and move on. Where is your, "no friggin' way" line?

Most you would pay for a 4-hour firearms training... » ProProfs Polls


Next week, I am meeting with the owner of a new indoor range to try and work out an arrangement for me to do the training at their range. They will sell guns, ammo and other equipment - as well as offer training. So far, these guys are falling all over themselves to hear what I have to offer. We'll see if we can make this work.

Pricing for this will be interesting. I would categorize these leads as "warm" leads. They've taken the time to get off their butts and actually walk into the shop looking for a gun. They've crossed the, "guns scare me" barrier, and moved into the, "crime scares me more" space.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Budgets and Taxes and Bailouts, Oh My! 

What seems to us as bitter trials are often blessings in disguise.
--Oscar Wilde

A buddy and I were talking yesterday about what's going on in the economy. We were talking about some different strategies for buffering ourselves for what's coming down the line. The difficulty is in knowing exactly what's coming - and when.

We discussed everything from the purchase of real property to going big into precious metals. The idea being putting our money in places where we would have something tangible to hold on to if/when we get a financial SHTF, but not being totally screwed if by some miracle, the economy makes a real, significant rebound.

From where I sit, I simply cannot see a way around the US being battered mercilessly by both inflation and taxation.

From AIER - The American Institute For Economic Research
Over the next 10 years, federal spending is projected to remain at historically high levels, revenues are projected to rise from their current post-World War II lows to near postwar highs, and ongoing federal deficits are projected to add $10 trillion to the federal debt. This according to the latest analysis from White House’s Office of Management and Budget.
The AIER analysis is based upon projections by the White House, so I personally consider this to be a Best Case Scenario. In delving into the White House numbers, I see that they've only budgeted a bit over $600 billion (over 10 years) for Universal Health Care. Of course it will be considerably more than that. The recent "affordable" Senate version had a price tag of "less than $900 billion" according to Senator Baucus.

Reality will probably be triple that number. At least. And we're going to have to pay for it somehow.

On the spending side, outlays are now at 25 percent of GDP, the highest since World War II. This percentage is projected to fall as the economy rebounds and the financial crisis passes, leveling off at 23 percent of GDP, which again would be unusually high in historical terms.

One source of higher outlays will be rising interest payments on the ballooning federal debt. By 2019, the government is projected to spend more on interest payments than on national defense.
Where will THAT money come from? Does anyone who has lived in America for longer than 60 seconds believe that one, single Federal program will be cut to pay for the increased debt payments? Really?!

And then there are us Boomers -
Moreover, these projections stop in 2019, before the full wave of baby-boom retirements hits Social Security and Medicare. So the longer-term budget outlook is actually even worse. Barring some unexpected improvement or a stretch of exceptionally rapid economic growth, it would appear that some combination of higher taxes, reduced spending, or increased inflating (printing more money) is inevitable.
I guess some, "stretch of exceptionally rapid economic growth" could hit, but I'm not betting on it.

In the 1980's and 1990's there was a "buzz" with computers and the Internet. We could see progress. Chips kept getting smaller, faster and cheaper. Memory got bigger and cheaper. We went from 1200 baud to T-1 speeds seemingly overnight. There was reason for optimism because all of the changes were truly innovative. It wasn't a re-branding of old ideas.

What do we have before us now? Giving more free shit away to more people. Jobs will be all "green" - even though everywhere it's been force-fed in the past, it's failed. We have the government attempting to control the economy, instead of letting the capitalists do their thing.

Why innovate when the fruits of your labors will be taken from you?

Fed Head Bernanke is now laying the groundwork for the excuses. The excuses for why the economy just won't respond to his ministrations -
Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s efforts to stoke a U.S. economic recovery may be undermined by the central bank’s other goal of restoring the banking system to health.

The Federal Open Market Committee, at the conclusion tomorrow of a two-day meeting, will probably maintain its assessment that “tight” bank credit is impeding growth, said economists including former Fed Governor Lyle Gramley. Lending contracted for five straight weeks through Sept. 9, a drop that in part reflects Fed orders to banks to raise more capital and toughen lending standards, analysts say.
If you dig deeper into the article, the real reason for the tightened lending standards is uncovered - the soon-to-go-tits-up commercial real estate market.
Falling values of commercial real estate are also a problem for banks, with an “uncertain degree of losses” to come, said Ryding, a former Fed researcher. Loans made for commercial property will probably sour and lenders will need to raise more capital to cover credit losses, Mike Mayo, a banking analyst at CLSA Ltd., said today at a conference in Hong Kong.
Banks are preparing for the massive hit that's coming. To put it into perspective, the FDIC has $10 billion or so in cash. Some are predicting it will cost them in the range of $400-$500 billion (to a worst-case estimate of $800 billion) before this financial system hemorrhaging is complete.

How do we NOT raise taxes or feed inflation by printing more money?

As I've written before, I hope TS doesn't HTF before late October/early November. If things can hold together until then, my family should be in a good position to plop ourselves down on a semi-rural piece of property with very little debt.

It will allow us to significantly reduce our monthly outlays. That, in turn, reduces the amount of reportable income that is necessary to justify our lifestyle to Nanny (should they come snooping around).

One of the reasons we're taking this path is that we can't see a down-side to it. If the economy is somehow able to rebound, we're sitting even prettier. If it tanks as I believe, we could slide under most of Barry's (and his successors) tax tiers to help us to NOT fund this bastardization of America.

As God is my witness, I hope Barry, Ben and Tim's plan works. But, I don't see a snowball's chance in hell of it happening, and I'm not willing to bet my family's future on "hope".

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Monday, September 21, 2009


As the ostrich when pursued hideth his head, but forgetteth his body; so the fears of a coward expose him to danger.
-- Akhenaton, King of Egypt, 14th century BC

I purposefully didn't watch Barry and his PR machine running around to all the networks selling his snake oil. I hear his lies enough so that I don't need to hear them again on all stations.

I didn't even watch Fox, although I figured they'd at last ask him some real questions regarding the health care debacle-in-waiting.

I found out this morning that Barry purposefully snubbed Fox. They were the only major broadcast or cable network that was not given an interview with Barry. Univision got an interview, for goodness sake. I must say, I was shocked.

There isn't even a pretense that the Administration is doing something newsworthy. It's all about the propaganda -
The president's week-long media blitz has left no other network behind. The president has appeared on CBS's "60 Minutes," Bloomberg and CNBC and will appear on five public affairs talk shows on Sunday: ABC's "This Week with George Stephanopoulos," CBS's "Face the Nation," NBC's "Meet the Press," CNN's "State of the Union" and Univision's "Al Punto, con Jorge Ramos." And he's doing CBS' "Late Night with David Letterman" on Monday.
When Fox bitched about it, here was the White House's response -
"We figured Fox would rather show 'So You Think You Can Dance' than broadcast an honest discussion about health insurance reform," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told ABC News.
You gotta be shittin' me. What 'honest discussion'? They chose "news" outlets that would play nice. Aside from disgusting me, it sure says a lot about Barry. He doesn't have enough confidence in his ability to publicly justify ObamaCare - sans Teleprompters - and the associated costs. Why are none of the "news" outlets pointing THAT out?

Fucking coward.

Don't shoot the messenger (that'd be me).

As much as it pains me to say, Congress needs to re-instate funding to ACORN - at least until they can follow the Constitution to stop sending them money.

Back in March, I railed against Congress when they were passing laws specifically targeting the employees of AIG. It's called a, "bill of attainder", and it's un-Constitutional.
A bill of attainder (also known as an act or writ of attainder) is an act of legislature declaring a person or group of persons guilty of some crime and punishing them without benefit of a trial. Bills of attainder are forbidden by Article I, section 9, clause 3 of the United States Constitution.
The House overwhelmingly passed the Defund ACORN Act. Could there be a more obvious example of a law targeting a specific group of persons?

IMO, ACORN needs to be de-funded because of the apparent criminal and Un-American activity that is prevalent throughout the organization. But only after they have been proven to have broken the terms that are placed upon them as a condition of receiving federal funds.

The Constitution is sacrosanct. We cannot bypass it simply because we detest a person, place or organization. Even the left-wing, commie, America-hating groups are protected by it.

OT: Before the start of the NFL season, I predicted that the Raider quarterback, Jamarcus Russell would only last 4 regular season games. He has all of the "tools" to be a great quarterback, except one: He has no heart.

This dude is 6'5", 260 pounds. At quarterback. But he plays like a frilly-pantie clad school girl (no offense meant to frilly-pantie clad school girls!).

He needs to go elsewhere if the Raiders want any chance of having a winning season this year.

My morning radio show had the best line: Al Davis needs to trade him for a 14th round draft choice and a bag of footballs.


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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Make-Work Whiners 

You can't create a monster, then whine when it stomps on a few buildings.
--Lisa Simpson

Stuff like this just drives me bat-shit crazy.
A relatively small and peaceful group of about 500 protesters, most demanding new jobs programs, marched through city streets in the first full day of demonstrations targeting the Group of 20 economic summit later this week.
Translation: Give us more "make-work" jobs.

It seems like the normally compliant American Socialists are beginning to break ranks with Barry. They're beginning to see that he's a Global Socialist, not just an American one. That means he'll ship your job off to some God-forsaken armpit in the world if it suits his political ends.
Protestors were also critical of comments made by President Barack Obama in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, downplaying the effectiveness of mass protest on abstract issues such as global capitalism.

"You have revealed the real Obama!" Clarence Thomas, a member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union told the crowd. He said the president's remarks were "very, very disrespectful" to the civil rights and other social movements.
Well, boo-friggin'-hoo. How do you like the "change", huh sport? Barry's got too many special interest groups he must "service" and you piddly little union members just got the shaft. Welcome to our world.

Take care of yourself - don't expect Barry to hand you some crumbs whenever you ask. We're running out of crumbs.

Speaking of making millions of dollars (like that transition there?!), I was watching a show on CNBC called, "How I made my first million" or something like that. Very interesting show.

I was most drawn to the woman who co-founded Bert's Bees. They started off making hand-dipped beeswax candles and other labor-intensive stuff. She came up with some recipes for personal care stuff, and realized that the way to make some decent money was by automating.

They dropped all of the handmade stuff, and sales (and profits) went through the roof. She decided she didn't want to work behind a desk, and sold her portion of the business. For a cool $167 million.


A unique "catch" (made from beeswax). Perceived high quality (beeswax has that 'organic' feel to it, which many people perceive to be better). Shelf and transportation stable (sitting in a warehouse won't destroy the product). Consumable (multiple sales when you use up your last purchase). Automated manufacturing without sacrificing quality (cheaper per-unit production).

Yeah, I'm making lists... If I could bottle grouchiness, I could make a mint.... ;-)

Raider's won. Must replace the floor tiles where I hit my head after passing out. How did they manage NOT to choke?

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Being An SOB 

I'm only grouchy and moody on days that end with Y.

I just had a "lively" exchange on the role of government over at Pearl's place. The broad topic was about when private industry and government are in the same "business," private industry ALWAYS does a better job.

Hell yeah!

Still, I took issue with one paragraph she posted -
Here is where I am. Everyone wants people to get the medical treatment they need - EVERYONE. You have to be a rotten SOB to deny medical care - seriously. Thats why in this country you can walk into any hospital and get treatment. Yeah, we roll like that here in the USA.
My issue was that I don't believe health care is a right.

Health care, like any other service, requires the skills of another person and the assets of another organization. You don't have a right to require that they divest themselves of their skills and assets.

Meadowlark (of whom I'm a big fan!) took issue with me taking issue (click Pearl's link above to see the exchange)!

In my eyes, it all boils down to morality. I don't want the federal government imposing its definition of morality on my pocketbook.

As an example, in my discussion with Meadowlark, I noted that in the eyes of the federal government, a poor child needing health care is exactly equal to a heroin addict that has chosen to pump himself full of drugs. Both of them get exactly the same level of care, because Nanny says so.

I think that is immoral.

In yesterday's post, I grumbled about being pissed off because Nanny is giving away 10% of our national supply of Swine Flu production.

Why are they even involved in this in the first place? Shouldn't this be handled at the local hospital, or perhaps at the state level? The Feds have no Constitutional right to be doing this (only the brute force power), but in one fell swoop, they not only do so, then some bureaucrat in DC decides it's the "moral thing" to give a huge chunk of it away.


Where's it going to go? Who's going to get it? Who decides who gets it? How much is this going to cost us for the vaccine AND its administration? If one single American dies because he or she could not get a dose, who will be held responsible?

If we want to encourage compassion, maybe Barry could squeeze in a public service announcement between his ObamaCare speeches, and ask American's to give to their favorite charity to send some vaccine abroad.

Ahhh, but then he loses the power and prestige of spending YOUR money for you. His compassion is coming out of your hide.

Perhaps I AM a mean, grumpy SOB. I don't care. I've been a silent partner to this disgusting abuse of federal power for much too long. No more.

I know we're too far gone to get this to change - at least in my lifetime - but that doesn't mean I have to quietly go along for the ride. Maybe my kid's kids can reminisce about, "that old grumpy SOB, Grandpa Other Mike", and have things different for their lives.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Constitution Day 

The truth is that all men having power ought to be mistrusted.
--James Madison

Yep, today back in 1787, the first cut of the Constitution was signed by 39 freshly-minted Americans. It would take a few more years to get the whole thing re-worked and then ratified by all of the 13 former colonies, but it all started today.

I'm guessing they'd all be pretty disgusted to see what's become of their work of art today.

I poached this from Gun Rights 4 Us. Spot on.


I haven't had the time to dig into the newest iteration of ObamaCare put forth by the Senate, but this caught my eye - let's tax innovation!
This new tax will eventually be passed through to patients, increasing health-care costs. It will also harm innovation, taking a big bite out of the research and development that leads to medical advancements. The core of the industry (excluding a few conglomerates like Johnson & Johnson) spent about $9.6 billion on product development in 2007, according to Ernst and Young. The Baucus tax is nearly half that, and also exceeds $3.7 billion, the total venture capital invested in device makers that same year.
Let's turn our country into a third-world shit-hole, one tax at a time.

A green shoot?
Housing starts climbed 1.5% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 598,000 in August from the previous month on an increase in multifamily home construction, the Commerce Department said Thursday. But single-family homes, which accounted for about 80% of all housing starts, fell 3% to 479,000.
I don't think so. What's this information tell us?

More people need multi-family living quarters - apartments and the like - and fewer need their own homes, or can afford one.

Plus, the builders know that the banks are holding millions (literally) of homes on their books from the gush of foreclosures. There is going to be a glut of homes available for a very long time. Unless the builders can put something together for less than what's on the market now, I don't see how they can stay afloat.

I don't know that I'd want to buy a new home built by a contractor with razor-thin margins...

Clear this up for me: The US government works for us, right?
The United States will donate 10% of its supply of vaccine against pandemic H1N1 influenza virus to developing countries that do not have the resources to procure it on their own, a White House spokesman said today. The U.S. has ordered 195 million doses of the vaccine, which means it will make nearly 20 million doses available to the World Health Organization for distribution.
So, we have 300+ million people in the US. Nanny has ordered 195 million doses - enough for 2/3 of the people that are paying for it. We're going to give away 10% of our stash, so we're now closer to only having 50% of the needed doses.

How do those bastards in DC figure on explaining any deaths of US citizens that could not get a dose?

I don't want my taxes paying for a flu shot for an American citizen - they can pay for their own shot - let alone paying for someone in another country.

But then, I don't have much say in the matter. Neither do you.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Don't Be Silenced 

Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.
--William Arthur Ward

I was watching TV last night, and this interview was shown. This is a US Congressman from Georgia saying that Joe Wilson is a racist because of his, "You lied!" outburst.

Well, he goes a bit beyond just calling him a racist. He suggests that this is the start of a new wave of the Klan.

"I guess we'll have folks putting on white hoods and white uniforms again..... that's the logical conclusion if this type of attitude is not rebuked."

That man's lack of integrity is stunning. The thought that a grown man, let alone a congressman, could stand in front of cameras with a straight face and pull such an obscene conclusion out of his ass is mind-boggling.

That the MSM swallows his bullshit like the good little whores they are, is less surprising. At least wipe your chins and dust off your pant knees when you're done...

Then there's Jimmy.

Look at this NBC News (LOL, 'news' and 'NBC' in the same phrase) clip of an interview they did with Carter. The anchor starts off saying that the Tea Parties and Town Hall meetings are full of racist tone and imagery.

Huh? The meetings are supposedly full of racist banter, yet, they are only able to show one single image from across the country of a swastika, and that one is on a placard that specifically says they are against Barry's brand of change. No racial messages at all.

**UPDATE** As you can see, NBC has pulled their approval to allow the clip of Jimmeh from being played. Kinda embarrassing when a major news organization has a pack of race cards shoved up their ass, huh?

A clip from the Glenn Beck show - complete with Jimmeh's lips saying the same disgusting words - is now embedded below the original. **

"An overwhelming portion of the intensly demonstrated animated animosity towards President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man."

WTF? How about the "fact" that Barry surrounds himself with racist Marxist and is trying to nationalize all major industry in our country? How about the fact that he is proposing to saddle us and our children's children with mind-boggling debt that can never be repaid? How about the fact that he wants to establish various, "tax it if it moves" schemes - from VAT to Cap-and-Trade?

But you disparage tens of millions of pissed-off people across the country because you think we care that Barry is black? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!

By any sort of logical conclusion, since Barry now has a 50% approval rating, you MUST imply that America has 150 million racists. Half of the country.


If speaking against Barry makes you a "racist", then count me in.

If the media wants to hijack the word to include anyone who says anything counter to the Barry Express, then yep, I'm a "racist".

If it includes people who point out the lies in the socialist's speeches and writings, then I'm a "racist" by their definition of the word.

I will not be shamed into silence when I've done nothing shameful.

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Recovery, My Ass 

I would never lie. I willfully participate in a campaign of misinformation.
--Fox Mulder

I read - slack-jawed - article after article yesterday that Uncle Ben Bernanke says the recession is over. WTF?
"I've seen some agreement among the forecasting community that we are in a recovery," Bernanke said, "But the general view of most forecasters is that the pace of growth in 2010 will be moderate."
This disingenuous SOB is playing it cutsie - he qualified his statements by saying that it may only be a "technical recovery". If we have one single quarter with growth, we are technically out of the recession.

Let's see, is there any chance we might have an "up" quarter? Maybe one artificially 'stimulated' by, oh, I don't know, handing out $3 billion to people to buy cars? Hmmmmm?

The problem is, this was an artificial 'blip' - the stimulus brought people that would have bought cars in 3, 6, 9 or twelve months down the road, and front-loaded them into this past quarter.

What's going to happen in 3 to 12 months with the auto industry? All of those people already have their cars, so the auto manufacturers are going to take a shot to the nuts.

Since it "technically" takes 3 consecutive quarters of contraction before the next recession officially begins, Barry and Company have bought themselves at least a year of respite from the financial press.

Gold and Silver continue to climb (which actually surprised me, as I expected some profit-taking to temporarily drop prices).

Gold ended yesterday at $1,008 and silver ended OVER $17.

A buddy of mine sent me a link to a recent interview with Gerald Celente. He's the top dog over at Trends Research. He's one of the few folks out there that have been screaming that we're going to take it in the shorts unless we stop artificially messing with the markets.

This interview is a bit long but is well worth the time.

This thing isn't over until jobs steadily rise - not just end up being better than the number of job losses the government predicts. Until people are working, economic growth will be hampered since they have no money to spend. It's really a vicious circle.

OT: My wife had made a comment about the ObamaCare scam - she didn't understand why a law being passed in 2009 would not start until 2013. You understand why that date was picked, right?

Barry and Company can claim a victory for getting it going, but nothing will happen to our economy as a result of the law. Barry can restore his reputation, get re-elected, etc. No one that voted for it has to be burdened at election time - in 2010 and 2012 - by what happens to the country when it goes into place.

By the time the shit starts hitting the health care fan in 2013, they'll all be comfortably re-elected. It's a great plan.

If the Repubs were smart, they'd throw a fit saying that if it's so good, it should start right NOW. Get right on it to keep poor babies from dying. Barry's a man of action!

At least they would then have a couple of years of this thing killing the country and seeing it reflected at the polls.

But they're NOT smart, so they'll just play along...

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Astro-turfed ACORNs 

Bouncing around a bit...

Astroturf? Headline on CNN online:
Tea party movement has anger, no dominant leaders
Shockingly, the headline hits the Tea Party movement squarely on the head. It is buckets of people, from widely differing backgrounds, from every state in the nation, that are pissed off. Pissed off enough to get off their butts to protest what is happening to our country.

And they're doing it all on their own. No conservative equivalent of ACORN or SEIU or any other major organization are coordinating this. It is the epitome of grassroots.

Isn't that a story in and of itself? Of course it is, but since the story runs counter to the MSM agenda, it is denigrated and marginalized.

Have you folks heard of Scribd.com? Holy crap, what a great resource. They have zillions of documents available online. If you sign up for a free account, you can download most documents in PDF or Word format. Again, for free.

They sure seem to have a lot of stuff that says "copyright" all over it. I was looking for some information on knife making, and they have a number of books that I have purchased in bookstores available for the taking.

Seriously, pick a topic and see what they have. It's quite impressive.

Tonight is either the start of a new era, or the continuation of a steady decline.

Am I talking about American freedom? Socialism and fascism creeping into our way of life? Taxes crushing the very soul of citizens for generations to come?

No. I'm talking about tonight being the season opener for the Raiders.

I'm off in a while to try and find parking for our tailgater. I'm bringing a 5-gallon keg of Amber Ale to help numb the expected pain after we play San Diego in front of the nation (although I'm guessing those of you on the east coast will be tucked in bed when the game starts at 7pm here on the left(ist) coast).

We'll try and set up camp in our usual place (the BART parking lot across the street from the Oakland Coliseum). We'll be eating brats and tri-tip while we watch the early game on rabbit ears. I just picked up one of the digital converter boxes, so this should be interesting.

It will be very difficult for anyone to explain why the Raiders don't win a butt-load of games this season. We have some incredible talent. Serious talent.

But we also have Al Davis. 'Nuff said (plus, I don't want to get sued by the leader of Walking Dead).

ACORN popped again?

First Baltimore, then DC, now NYC.

I swear - I thought I heard the ACORN scum emphatically state that the Baltimore incident was isolated. Two bad employees that were dealt with quickly.

Hmmmm..... seems to be a bit deeper than that, huh?

Not surprisingly, the MSM is barely covering this. No questions of a massive, rotten organization - just excuses and (not so) subtle hints of prosecuting the reporters for doing their job.

Whistle-blower laws protect conservatives too, right?

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Just The Facts, Ma'am 

If you tell the truth you don't have to remember anything.
--Mark Twain

Quite busy of late - sorry for the light posting.

I swear, you could make millions of dollars if you launched a news source that just reported the news. Leave out the left wing and the right wing, and just give us the facts. The Joe Friday Gazette, perhaps?

I'm taking a break, watching some TV. I clicked on Fox News, and they're showing images of somewhere between 60,000 and 100,000 people who have marched on Washington DC.

Out of curiosity, I flipped to MSNBC, CNN and Headline News (HLN).

MSNBC - Images of a gathering in Minnesota for Barry to continue with his con job on health care. They are showing the place filling up. They actually had a headline on the screen describing the images they were showing as, "Awaiting Obama At Healthcare Rally In Minneapolis".

They're not covering the news-making event that is ACTUALLY HAPPENING in DC - they're showing people taking their seats at one that will start in a few hours. I guess they don't have enough cameras to cover both events.

HLN - Running a piece on the Kennedy brain cancer - and how he was a 'champion' of health care. They followed that up with a stint about Larry Gelbart - the guy who produced MASH - and how he just croaked. They then showed a hard-hitting piece on a website that CNN has just developed where you can speak your voice if you're a veteran. Wow! A blog - who'd a-thunk it? Apparently, they ran out of cameras as well.

CNN - Doing a piece on boxer George Foreman - "Rolling with the punches" - about how to weather the bad economy. Oooooo, George shadow-boxing. Gripping stuff. Hey, maybe we could reduce taxes! They then went to some guy that makes hot pepper sauce - with prisoner labor. OK.....

On all three networks, I watched the rolling ticker of breaking news. Not a single one mentioned what's going on in DC. Not one.

Cindy Sheehan and a half-dozen protesters sit outside the president's personal residence, and they get world-wide press attention. Upwards of 100,000 people gather in the nation's capital, and a single network covers this? Amazing.

Did you see that another ACORN video has turned up? This time it was the DC office that was working to set up a whore house with our tax dollars.

Hmmm. I thought ACORN said the Baltimore incident was an "isolated incident". Apparently not.

The Census bureau has shockingly dumped ACORN to do the census next year. Really, I'm shocked. Call me cynical, but I'd bet a good number of dollars that they'll be involved when the actual census starts. Any takers?

What is it going to take to get Congress to start an investigation on these scumbags? Do they actually have to be filmed as they RUN a whore house? It's not enough they're using our tax dollars (with $8.5 billion MORE in the pipeline) to fund a whore house?

Wow, gold ended the week over $1,005 an ounce. Silver was at a bit below $17 an ounce.

Squirrel some away while you still can...

Three more banks bit the bullet yesterday, bringing the total this year to 92 failures. These three will cost us a cool $2 billion.

Those green shoots just keep poppin' up all over the place...

LOL! Fox is now showing Barry's health care con job in Minnesota. He's in the middle of a story about getting, "fired up". It's the exact same story he told the union members in Ohio on Labor Day!!

C'mon, Barry - get your speech writers to give you some new folksy, aw-shucks stories. We enjoy being treated as mouth-breathing, drooling idiots.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Name Of The Game Is ... 

You lie!
-- SC Representative Joe Wilson to Barack Obama

Barry did his health care speech last night. I could not listen to it live. I had the same problem when Dubya would talk. I knew that if his lips were moving, he was lying to me, one way or the other. I knew that it would cost me either money or freedom, or both.

It's the same with Barry.

The TV and radio were both playing clips of the speech, and I had it in my head to discuss his comment that marginalized Americans who are exercising their right to petition the government for a redress of grievances as "bickering".

I spent a part of this morning reading the transcripts of the health care speech. I wanted to see what he said, not be influenced by how he said it.

The transcripts took me down another path.

What is a 'right'? I found a definition that most matches with my beliefs on FreeRepublic.com -
A right is the sovereignty to act without the permission of others. The concept of a right carries with it an implicit, unstated footnote: you may exercise your rights as long as you do not violate the same rights of another—within this context, rights are an absolute.
I like that. You can do as you wish as long as it doesn't stop another person from exercising the same right. For example, I don't get to exercise my right to keep and bear arms, then use my guns to stop someone else from doing the same.

This concept of exercising rights while not infringing on the rights of another goes deeper, though. Your ability to exercise your rights cannot place a burden on another individual.

Simply because you want to exercise your first amendment right to free speech, does not give you the right to require a newspaper to spend their money on paper, ink, presses and manpower to print your words.

If you want your words in print, you must bear the burden of getting them printed.

Again, FreeRepublic said it very well -
A right must be exercised through your own initiative and action. It is not a claim on others. A right is not actualized and implemented by the actions of others. This means you do not have the right to the time in another person’s life. You do not have a right to other people’s money. You do not have the right to another person’s property. If you wish to acquire some money from another person, you must earn it—then you have a right to it. If you wish to gain some benefit from the time of another person’s life, you must gain it through the voluntary cooperation of that individual—not through coercion. If you wish to possess some item of property of another individual, you must buy it on terms acceptable to the owner—not gain it through theft.
The only legitimate claim or burden placed upon another is through taxes paid to the government to enforce your rights. Using the example from above, the government is not in place to provide you with printing presses. They are there to ensure you can operate your presses.
fascism - a governmental system led by a dictator having complete power, forcibly suppressing opposition and criticism, regimenting all industry, commerce, etc., and emphasizing an aggressive nationalism and often racism.
So, I read through Barry's speech, and I was horrified. Plain as day - with no qualification or excuse - he is conferring a right to a select few individuals, and requiring that I pay for it.
Now, even if we provide these affordable options, there may be those -- especially the young and the healthy -- who still want to take the risk and go without coverage. There may still be companies that refuse to do right by their workers by giving them coverage. The problem is, such irresponsible behavior costs all the rest of us money. If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for these people's expensive emergency room visits. If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors. And unless everybody does their part, many of the insurance reforms we seek -- especially requiring insurance companies to cover preexisting conditions -- just can't be achieved.
In one fell swoop, he is granting a right to health care. It's actually more than that - he's requiring you have health care insurance if you live in the United States. Most importantly, it will be a crime if you don't have health care insurance.

In the good old days, before a new right could be granted, the congress and the states had to agree to it. It used to be called the 'amendment process' as detailed in Article 5 of the Constitution.

Now, we just pass a law, and it's called, 'progress'.

Suppressing dissent. Regimenting industry and commerce. Aggressive nationalization.

Sounds like fascism to me. What else could it be called?

Look at what he's saying, and the implications -
If there are affordable options and people still don't sign up for health insurance, it means we pay for these people's expensive emergency room visits.
He's using a federal law that prohibits a hospital from refusing treatment to anyone that shows up on their doorstep, as rationale for requiring we all continue to pay for this treatment, but in a different way, and somehow it will be less expensive.

How about you allow private hospitals to turn people away, or to at least transfer them to the county hospitals that were established for the indigent?

But far and away, this was the single most frightening aspect of his 'vision' -
If some businesses don't provide workers health care, it forces the rest of us to pick up the tab when their workers get sick, and gives those businesses an unfair advantage over their competitors.
I thought he was all about 'competition'. Why not just be right out front and say you are nationalizing all business in America?

There are a million things that go into a company business plan. Price, product, quality, location. A huge component is employees.

A business makes a decision on how to least expensively produce its product or service. It may decide that it doesn't give a damn who fills the jobs it has. Quality and customer service are irrelevant - it just wants to produce the most products for the lowest cost and charge the highest prices it can get. The market will decide if their business plan is correct - they'll either buy the product or not.

Another business may wish to pay a salary of 150% of the market, offer flexible scheduling, a great 401k plan, but no other fringe benefits. They may believe they can retain the best employees for their particular business with that model. Their employees can decide to spend the higher wages on health care insurance or on crack cocaine. Or leave and take a job with a company that DOES offer benefits. It's their choice. Again, the market will decide if their business plan is correct.

Barry's plan takes those options away. If a business is mandated to offer benefits, IT is now placed at a competitive disadvantage. It will either have to cut salaries, cut employees, cut retirement benefits or cut quality to stay competitive. Or go out of business.

Is Barry going to tell them what to cut as well - or allow them to make any cuts at all?

I'm telling you, if this passes, there will be one way, and one way only to survive: Get out of the tax paying business.

The 'public option' will destroy the private insurers. Despite Barry's assurances that not a single tax dollar will be spent on the plan, do even the most parched Koolaid drinkers believe that?

Pretty soon, Nanny HealthCo will be the only game in town, and your tax dollars will be paying for it.

The end result will be crappy, rationed health care for all. If you're going to get the same care whether you pay for it or not, why pay?

An Atlas Shrugged Moment of Zen -
"Did you really think we want those laws observed?" said Dr. Ferris. "We want them to be broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against... We're after power and we mean it...

There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws.

Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted – and you create a nation of law-breakers – and then you cash in on guilt.

Now that's the system, Mr. Reardon, that's the game, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Tough Times Chit-Chat 

If this nation is to be wise as well as strong, if we are to achieve our destiny, then we need more new ideas for more wise men reading more good books in more public libraries. These libraries should be open to all—except the censor. We must know all the facts and hear all the alternatives and listen to all the criticisms. Let us welcome controversial books and controversial authors. For the Bill of Rights is the guardian of our security as well as our liberty.
--John Fitzgerald Kennedy

I need some input and some ideas.

I'm working on a project that includes information on emergency communications. I've got the basics covered on how a family can communicate by having a pre-selected location to leave messages during a disaster.

You can generally use a cell phone to call outside of a disaster area - the circuits are jammed coming in, but going out of the area, they are generally available. You select a family member that is sufficiently geographically removed, and they act as a clearing house of sorts to pass along messages.

You can get a ham radio license. You can have CB radios. Standard land-line phones (NOT wireless models) will typically work even when there is a power outage.

For one-way communications, you can have battery-, solar- or dynamo-powered radios so you know what's going on in the outside world.

I've got this covered. But what do you do when communications are purposely disabled?

I was watching the traveling chef, Anthony Bourdain, on the Travel Channel last night. He was in Thailand when a state of emergency was put into effect. It got me thinking about how you would communicate with others if the government effectively shut down all communications.

Let's say that Barry or one of his successors decides that we're under some sort of dangerous situation, and enacted any of the martial law-like powers they've granted themselves, and they restrict communication only to government entities.

They shut down cell towers, land lines and the Internet. They jam all CB and ham radio frequencies. No phone calls, emails, blog postings, Tweets or MySpace posts unless they go through government censors first.

Waddaya do?

What if the restrictions are only focused on you? What if you're a Randy Weaver or Branch Dividian? A situation where the "free media" - newspapers, TV, Internet - is still intact, but you are shut down?

How do you make sure people know what's going on with your situation?

For the first instance - total shut-down of all communications - I guess it would be through word-of-mouth, and some sort of underground newspaper would emerge. Communications would be made via more "primitive" means - analogue versus digital. Fliers, rogue newspapers, graffiti, etc.

I'm at a loss for the second situation - where you or your group are the target. Do you set up some sort of message that is published in the event that X, Y or Z happens? A YouTube video journal or post-dated blog entry?

I'd love to hear some ideas for either of these situations. OK, I'm begging for some ideas!

You know about steganography, right? It's the practice of using one digital object to hide another object inside the first.

A few years ago, I did a demonstration of steganography for our board of directors. I showed them a picture of our bank's logo - a JPG image.

I told them that I could hide any information about the bank that I wished right under their noses. They laughed, literally out loud.

I told them that I could hide our business plans, individual compensation information, confidential federal regulator reports or anything else I wished, and no one would be the wiser.

I ran the image through a program, and magically, out popped a Word document. The document said -
Mike just saved your asses. Give him a raise.
That got a nice chuckle from the board, but showed them how vulnerable we were to information leaks. Leaks that would be virtually impossible to protect against (at least at the time).

Steganography works by using the un-used "space" inside of every type of file. It fills that space with whatever data you wish without affecting the quality of the original file (usually an image file). The only way you can tell the file has been altered is if you know the exact size (in bytes) of the original file, and compare that with the new file.

You, too, can use steganography to hide information that you might want to pass along to someone else, but don't want an electronic trail that leads back to you.

There are a number of free programs out there (i.e. Invisible Secrets) free for the taking. You just take your image and whatever information you want and mash them together, and post the image somewhere on the Internet.

Let's say you have a bunch of photos of your latest outing to the beach that you upload to Picasa or one of the other free photo sites. You add the information to one of the images that is uploaded. The person that needs the information downloads that image to their computer, runs it through the program, and bang-zoom! there is the information.

Wanna pretend you're a spy?

This image file has a super-secret, rarely used document hidden inside of it. Click it to enlarge, then save it to your desktop. I used Invisible Secrets (free) to hide the message. The password to gain access to the secret document is 'nanny' (all lower case - without the apostrophes). The encryption algorithm used was Blowfish (if it's not the default, just select it from the drop-down menu). Select the destination of the super-secret document (like your Desktop) and read away.

FYI - it's a simple TXT document that contains no other junk.

Hey, spymaster! Don't forget to leave some comments on communications during tough times...

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Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Laboring Over The Weekend 

Most of what we object to as misconduct in children is a natural rebellion against the intrusion of an unimaginative adult despotism in their lives.
--Floyd Dell

Busy last couple of days.

Saturday, I was supposed to brew up some beer with one of my brothers and another friend. Instead, my buddy bailed on me [some weak story about a romantic weekend with his wife up in Tahoe - yeah right! ;-) ] and my brother and I did some emergency repairs to my backyard sprinkler system.

We got lucky and found two plumbers to speak with at Home Depot while we were looking for a part, and got it done very cheaply.

My brother also crawled up on my roof and sprayed WD-40 up under some eves. I have a HORRIBLE pigeon problem, and one of my next door neighbors told me he started with the WD-40 and hasn't had a problem since.

So far, not a pigeon to be seen!

I then went over to my brother's house to help him install a new stove, oven and range hood. It took us a good 6 hours or so, but it looks very nice.

This whole weekend, we seemed to talk about Barry's speech happening today, and the health care scam.

The health care thing has gotten so divisive - I'm not sure I know what Barry is trying to fix. Tell me if there are any issues other than these:Easy peezy.

Item one is already in place. Let them choose either their local county hospital (THAT is why they are built in the first place), or allow them access to Medicaid. Have congress pass a law to change the eligibility standards for Medicaid. The program is ALREADY IN PLACE!
Good health is important to everyone. If you can't afford to pay for medical care right now, Medicaid can make it possible for you to get the care that you need so that you can get healthy – and stay healthy.

Medicaid is available only to certain low-income individuals and families who fit into an eligibility group that is recognized by federal and state law. Medicaid does not pay money to you; instead, it sends payments directly to your health care providers. Depending on your state's rules, you may also be asked to pay a small part of the cost (co-payment) for some medical services.
While they're at it, pass a simple law that says -
It is illegal for insurance companies to deny coverage for pre-existing medical conditions.

To allow insurance companies to spread their risk across a greater customer base, the prohibition against insurance companies offering their product across state lines is hereby rescinded.
With those three things - Medicaid, no pre-existing conditions and opening up the entire country to insurance companies (as is the case with life and auto insurance already) the problem is fixed.

If they really want to make a substantial change, they can introduce tort reform so that doctors aren't encouraged to cover their asses by testing you for every damned possible ailment under the sun so they don't get sued. The problem with health care costs isn't with "greedy insurance companies", it's with greedy trial lawyers.

Guess who has the better paid lobbyists?

Hooch update: After sitting for 10 days in my freezerator, the hooch has cleared up considerably -
While not perfectly gin-clear, it is getting there. There is still just a hint of haze from suspended yeast, but it's much better than the grapefruit juice clarity from right after the fermentation. I transferred the liquid to a secondary container and will let it sit for another week or so.

I'll then put 1/3 of it on the rest of the blackberries I foraged to make a fruit brandy/wine of sorts. One-third will be left as-is to be used as a mixer for "girlie" drinks, and the last one-third will be used for experimentation. I'm just going to leave it at that.

I read the speech Barry will be giving today. In general, I like the message. Stay in school, work hard and you'll achieve your dreams. Good stuff. He slid in some inferences to health care and other crap, but in general, it was OK.

(Did you notice all of the product placement ads included with the speech? Ipod, Xbox, Google, etc? I wonder if they had to pay for the mentions like they do when their products are shown or mentioned in movies.....).

I read the speech out loud to my brother and his kids. We had a little discussion afterwards about volunteerism and service to your community. My brother and I disagreed quite sharply.

My brother feels it is appropriate for schools to have a requirement that kids perform some sort of community service before they graduate (BTW, Mrs. TheOtherMikeS agrees with him). He feels it shows them what volunteerism is all about.

I have a HUGE problem with it. I have a problem with any required service to the state or at the direction of the state, for free people. It is nothing less than indentured servitude. It plants the seed that it is OK for the state to tell you what to do with your time.

I'd be OK with a civics class where volunteering got you extra credit, but not as part of the requirement to graduate.

The idea of civics is to want to make your community a better place to live. It isn't to make it a place conceived in the mind of some bureaucrat. Until people see with their own eyes that unless THEY do something for their community, it will rot, no real change will be made. If Nanny continually "rides to the rescue," people have no incentive to improve their community.

We're not teaching civics, we're teaching dependence on the state.

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Saturday, September 05, 2009

Movie: The Wave 

The doctrine of blind obedience and unqualified submission to any human power, whether civil or ecclesiastical, is the doctrine of despotism...
-- Angelina Grimke

In a recent post (Propaganda and Indoctrination), commenter John B made reference to a movie about how easy it was to move kids towards totalitarianism. Fellow commenter Jimbo noted that it was called, The Wave.
In 1967, at the Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California, World History teacher Ron Jones was asked about the Holocaust by a student. "Could it happen here?". According to the press release accompanying the latest retelling of the events that followed, "Jones came up with an unusual answer. He decided to have a two week experiment in dictatorship. His idea was to explain fascism to his class through a game, nothing more. He never intended what resulted, where his class would be turned into a Fascist environment. Where students gave up their freedom for the prospect of being superior to their neighbors.
Each day, the teacher added one more seemingly innocuous aspect to the experiment. Rousing music. Propaganda ("Power Through Discipline" written on the chalkboard) and physical manifestations of conformity (sitting bolt upright in your seat with your hands folded over the small of your back - try it). A Group salute (The Wave).
The first sign of concern came when some students had taken it upon themselves to report others who did not conform. After just four days, things got out of hand. Jones feared for the safety of a few students who refused to participate. To his dismay and alarm, the experiment was so blindly embraced by the students, that he cut the project short. "Initially I just wanted to show my students how powerful the pressure to belong can be, but the exercise got out of control. A momentum began to build that I couldn't slow, or even deter. I became frightened by the day-to-day happenings in class, and was forced to call it off," recalls Jones.
Don't tell me that I shouldn't be worried when the Dear Leader is the star attraction in an event where his minions (The Department of Education) provide the teachers with the tools to move everyone in the same direction - No "dissenters" allowed.

The Dear Leader apologists are saying, "What could possibly be wrong with the president talking about staying in school or doing "service"?

Nothing. Maybe. But that's not what this is about. If the sole purpose is the school/volunteer gig, then why is this STILL in the DOE "Menu of Classroom Activities" -
Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama. Teachers could motivate students by asking the following questions:

Who is the President of the United States?
What do you think it takes to be president?
To whom do you think the president is going to be speaking?
Why do you think he wants to speak to you?
What do you think he will say to you?
What does the office of the president of the US have to do with this subject? Nothing. It could be presented by an astronaut, or a pro ball player or a rock star. If some rock star were giving the pep talk, would the DOE have provided a list of questions as well?
Who is the most famous rock star in the US?
What does it take to snort a line of coke as thick as a number two pencil?
Do you think you'll be able to comprehend the thoughts of his alcohol-addled brain?
Do you think he'll share his drugs with YOU?
Is his talk about school and volunteerism, or is it about idol-ism of government? Is it about setting the framework that, Nanny Is Good - The Dear Leader Says So. Set the expectation that The Dear Leader is your friend - he's speaking directly to you.

This little Kiddie Fireside Chat is less about volunteering, and more about doing as you're told. Also from the "Menu" -
Why is it important that we listen to the president and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?

Here is the two-part movie. Pay particular attention at the beginning of the movie (a dramatization of what happened in the classroom) with regards to the economic and social environment of the time.

Part 1

Part 2


A question: In the schools that show the speech, but allow kids the option of not watching it, how will they be treated by their peers and teachers?

I think history has already given us that answer...

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