States Visited

Monday, December 22, 2008

Time well spent...

As part of my continuing research on the development of our original form of government - the Constitution, I came across this gem from Montesquieu in which he quotes the Greek philosopher Xenophon that lived ca. 431-355 BC. The Banquet which he quotes is usually referred to today as Xenophon's Symposium.

"We find in Xenophon's Banquet a very lively description of a republic in which the people abused their equality. Each guest gives in his turn the reason why he is satisfied. 'Content I am,' says Chamides, 'because of my poverty. When I was rich, I was obliged to pay my court to informers, knowing I was more liable to be hurt by them than capable of doing them harm. The republic constantly demanded some new tax of me; and I could not decline paying. Since I have grown poor, I have acquired authority; nobody threatens me; I rather threaten others. I can go or stay where I please. The rich already rise from their seats and give me the way. I am a king, I was before a slave: I paid taxes to the republic, now it maintains me: I am no longer afraid of losing: but I hope to acquire.'"

It is hard to believe that a philosopher writing more than 2,300 years ago had a better understanding of the dangers of the path we are currently taking than those currently in Washington, but that certainly seems to be the case. But Montesquieu had some thoughts of his own:

"The people fall into this misfortune when those in whom they confide, desirous of concealing their own corruption, endeavour to corrupt them. To disguise their own ambition, they speak to them only of the grandeur of the state; to conceal their own avarice, they incessantly flatter theirs. The corruption will increase among the corruptors, and likewise among those who are already corrupted. The people will divide the public money among themselves, and, having added the administration of affairs to their indolence, will be for blending their poverty with the amusements of luxury. But with their indolence and luxury, nothing but the public treasure will be able to satisfy their demands."

"We must not be surprised to see their suffrages given for money. It is impossible to make great largesses to the people without great extortion: and to compass this, the state must be subverted. The greater the advantages they seem to derive from their liberty, the nearer they approach towards the critical moment of losing it. Petty tyrants arisewho have all the vices of a single tyrant. The small remains of liberty soon become insupportable; a single tyrant starts up, and the people are stripped of everything, even of the profits of their corruption."

Given the amount of attention given to Nostradamus for having written exceptionally vague pieces of gibberish that might, possibly, after a night of heavy drinking, seem to bear some relation to relatively recent events, we should positively be building churches and proclaiming sainthood for Xenophon and Montesquieu. Except that it doesn't fit with the world-view of the current establishment; therefore, it is unlikely that many of you (and me) have even heard of Montesquieu and Xenophon, much less read their writings. If their absence from your high school education doesn't seem strange, consider that none other than Thomas Jefferson thought enough of the writings of Montesquieu to personally translate and publish Antoine Louis Claude Destutt de Tracey's A Commentary and Review of Montesquieu's Spirit of the Laws.

Bah, what did he know anyway?

Obama's Inaugural Address - A Preview?

I am certain that my fellow Americans expect that on my induction into the Presidency I will address them with a candor and a decision which the present situation of our Nation impels. This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with that understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days.

In such a spirit on my part and on yours we face our common difficulties. They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.

Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it. Plenty is at our doorstep, but a generous use of it languishes in the very sight of the supply. Primarily this is because rulers of the exchange of mankind's goods have failed through their own stubbornness and their own incompetence, have admitted their failure, and have abdicated. Practices of the unscrupulous wall street executives stand indicted in the court of public opinion, rejected by the hearts and minds of men.

True they have tried, but their efforts have been cast in the pattern of an outworn tradition. Faced by failure of credit they have proposed only the lending of more money. Stripped of the lure of profit by which to induce our people to follow their false leadership, they have resorted to exhortations, pleading tearfully for restored confidence. They know only the rules of a generation of greed. They have no vision, and when there is no vision the people perish.
The money changers have fled from their high seats in the temple of our civilization. We may now restore that temple to the ancient truths. The measure of the restoration lies in the extent to which we apply social values more noble than mere monetary profit.

Our greatest primary task is to put people to work. This is no unsolvable problem if we face it wisely and courageously. It can be accomplished in part by direct recruiting by the Government itself, treating the task as we would treat the emergency of a war, but at the same time, through this employment, accomplishing greatly needed projects to stimulate and reorganize the use of our natural resources.

Hand in hand with this we must frankly recognize the overbalance of population among our most wealthy and, by engaging on a national scale in a redistribution, endeavor to provide a better use of the wealth. The task can be helped by definite efforts to raise the values of American manufactured products and with this the power to purchase the output of our cities. It can be helped by preventing realistically the tragedy of the growing loss through foreclosure of our small homes. It can be helped by insistence that the Federal, State, and local governments act forthwith on the demand that their cost be drastically reduced. It can be helped by the unifying of relief activities which today are often scattered, uneconomical, and unequal. It can be helped by national planning for and supervision of all forms of transportation and of communications and other utilities which have a definitely public character. There are many ways in which it can be helped, but it can never be helped merely by talking about it. We must act and act quickly.

Finally, in our progress toward a resumption of work we require two safeguards against a return of the evils of the old order: there must be a strict supervision of all banking and credits and investments, so that there will be an end to speculation with other people's money; and there must be provision for an adequate but sound currency.

These are the lines of attack. I shall presently urge upon a new Congress, in special session, detailed measures for their fulfillment, and I shall seek the immediate assistance of the several States.

If I read the temper of our people correctly, we now realize as we have never realized before our interdependence on each other; that we cannot merely take but we must give as well; that if we are to go forward, we must move as a trained and loyal army willing to sacrifice for the good of a common discipline, because without such discipline no progress is made, no leadership becomes effective. We are, I know, ready and willing to submit our lives and property to such discipline, because it makes possible a leadership which aims at a larger good. This I propose to offer, pledging that the larger purposes will bind upon us all as a sacred obligation with a unity of duty hitherto evoked only in time of armed strife.

With this pledge taken, I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems.

Action in this image and to this end is feasible under the form of government which we have inherited from our ancestors. Our Constitution is so simple and practical that it is possible always to meet extraordinary needs by changes in emphasis and arrangement without loss of essential form. That is why our constitutional system has proved itself the most superbly enduring political mechanism the modern world has produced. It has met every stress of vast expansion of territory, of foreign wars, of bitter internal strife, of world relations.

It is to be hoped that the normal balance of Executive and legislative authority may be wholly adequate to meet the unprecedented task before us. But it may be that an unprecedented demand and need for undelayed action may call for temporary departure from that normal balance of public procedure.

I am prepared under my constitutional duty to recommend the measures that a stricken Nation in the midst of a stricken world may require. These measures, or such other measures as the Congress may build out of its experience and wisdom, I shall seek, within my constitutional authority, to bring to speedy adoption.

But in the event that the Congress shall fail to take one of these two courses, and in the event that the national emergency is still critical, I shall not evade the clear course of duty that will then confront me. I shall ask the Congress for the one remaining instrument to meet the crisis—broad Executive power to wage a war against the emergency, as great as the power that would be given to me if we were in fact invaded by a foreign foe.

For the trust reposed in me I will return the courage and the devotion that befit the time. I can do no less.

We face the arduous days that lie before us in the warm courage of national unity; with the clear consciousness of seeking old and precious moral values; with the clean satisfaction that comes from the stern performance of duty by old and young alike. We aim at the assurance of a rounded and permanent national life.

We do not distrust the future of essential democracy. The people of the United States have not failed. In their need they have registered a mandate that they want direct, vigorous action. They have asked for discipline and direction under leadership. They have made me the present instrument of their wishes. In the spirit of the gift I take it.

In this dedication of a Nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come.

Okay, you caught me. That's not Obama's inaugural address, but it was given at an inauguration - Franklin Roosevelt's. Did "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself" give it away? Probably. Errr...I hope so. I made a few changes (using some modern words in place of less known and replaced references to agriculture with references to manufacturing, along with deleting a few unrelated paragraphs) but it certainly reads as though it could be delivered today. We have seen all sorts of references comparing Barack Obama and FDR since the election in November and we are seeing and hearing comparisons between the plans of Obama and FDRs New Deal. All indications are that Obama is following the Roosevelt playbook line by line.

It took seventeen years and World War II for us to come out of the Great Depression thanks to the New Deal, but that isn't even the scariest part. The scariest, most frightening part of the New Deal, and a part that it seems certain Obama will use or threaten to use, is the paragraph I put into italics above - the president will seek near-dictatorial, emergency power to fight this war against the laws of economics. It would be easy to scoff and say that it can't happen here - except, as I have already pointed out in a previous post, Bush has set the table for it.

Maybe I'm wrong and he won't "go there" but, as the recession/depression continues and their idiotic policies continue to fail, the pressure to "do something" will mount and the temptation may be too great. In addition, it seems completely clear that neither the Bush team nor the incoming Obama team have any ideas other than to follow Roosevelt and, as FDR said himself, it is the "one remaining instrument to meet the crisis."

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Holy Friggin' Crap.

This is ridiculous. These are inflation adjusted numbers. The bailout, SO FAR, has cost more than all of the other COMBINED.

America MUST come to its senses and realize the people in Washington: 1) do not know what they are doing and 2) know the house of cards is about to collapse and are looting the treasury.

The chart and more information can be found here:

You would think...

I would get used to it eventually. It seems like almost every day I read something that leaves me speechless for a few minutes. My brain just can't seem to believe what I'm reading - but there it is.

Its not often you see this much stupidity in one place. In that sense it does deserve some appreciation. Although, I suppose I'm too dumb, unskilled and easily exploited to make such an observation. You know how us suth-a-nahs are.

(sigh) This reads exactly like something out of Atlas Shrugged. I cannot believe this is an actual column in the real world. I realize this is a site by and for left-leaning people, but the fact that an 'educated' person wrote it and so many people believe it is appalling. The amount of Constitutional and economic ignorance in this piece is almost unfathomable.

There is just sooo much in that piece that is just...un-American. How have we fallen this far?

Oh, and take a look at some of the comments on the column. Here are a couple of my favorites:

"Sherman let them off easy. Sherman was far too conservative with the torch on his march."

"Say what you will about the "proud" south......they CAN be bought!I'd bet that if the price were right, they'd let Al Qaeda set up shop. AQ only attacks blue states anyway!!"


Monday, December 15, 2008

As an aside...

Given what our current President has ordered done to even US citizens, it might not be a good idea to throw things at him. If that dude is lucky he's just getting waterboarded at Guantanamo!

With all apologies to my Auburn friends...

This was just too good to pass up.

Chizik Arrives in Auburn

Saban Arrives in Tuscaloosa


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Dealing with the Devil...

Somewhere in Chicago a small business is going out of business. The company's bank has refused to extend their loan because they do not believe the company has the ability to repay it. I have not verified this information, but various outlets have reported that the company is required by law to give the workers sixty days notice before a layoff. The workers received a three day notice. The workers now refuse to leave the building and are demanding the benefits in which they apparently have a lawful claim. I have no problem with any of this. I hate to hear about people losing their jobs, especially at the holidays, but if the company is negligent in their legal responsibilities, it should be held accountable. If the story stopped here, though, I wouldn't be writing about it.

Where this gets more than a little irritating is that various pundits, apparently along with the workers, are calling for the BANK to be involved in the payment of the workers' benefits - because the bank received part of the federal bailout money! Just today I heard our savior-president-elect state his support for the workers.

When I first heard all of this a few days ago I chalked it up to pundits loving to feel self-righteous and pretty much no one involved understanding the bankruptcy laws. I figured it was very likely that the workers would be first in line for payment as the company is liquidated, with the bank and other creditors coming next, and the owners of the company getting anything left after paying everyone else. I expected this to all go away. But it hasn't, because apparently they ARE expecting the bank to pay for the benefits. I do not know how much crack one has to smoke to destroy enough brain cells to enable a person to believe that the bank is somehow responsible for those payments, but apparently lots of people have been hitting the pipe, including the president-elect.

If you or I borrow money from a bank to buy a used car and we take the car to get it painted and then refuse to pay the bill, can the paint shop call the bank and demand payment? Of course not. Under what possible line of logic is the bank responsible for those benefit payments? And now the governor of Illinois is calling for the people of the state to boycott the bank! This is insane. But it is par for the course when the government is involved. And we are going to see more and more and more of this in the coming years.

(As an aside, that same wonderful, caring Governor was arrested by the FBI today on multiple counts of federal corruption.)

Here's a thought: What if instead of spending trillions of dollars to bailout multi-billion dollar companies that made bad investments and/or stupid decisions, we spent a few billion dollars rounding up and prosecuting corrupt politicians? Which do you think would be best for the country in the long run?

Monday, December 8, 2008


Have you ever seen a 'con' so well performed that you almost had to admire it? You know, kinda like the guys in Ocean's Eleven? The kind where they always have their bases covered and are one step ahead of everyone else. Well, then have I got a story for you!!!!!

(NOTE: I wrote very little of what is contained in this blog post. For expediency, it is mostly a cut and paste job with information obtained from: wikipedia, Huffington Post, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Forbes magazine and Senator Chuck Grassley's website.)

Current Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson joined Goldman Sachs in 1974 and eventually became Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer - positions he held from 1998 until he was tapped by President Bush to be Treasury Secretary.

Paulson's three immediate predecessors as CEO of Goldman Sachs — Jon Corzine, Stephen Friedman, and Robert Rubin — each left the company to serve in government: Corzine as a U.S. Senator (currently Governor of New Jersey), Friedman as chairman of the National Economic Council (later chairman of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board) under President George W. Bush, and Rubin as both chairman of the NEC and later Treasury Secretary under President Bill Clinton.

I also found Paulson's work experience prior to joining Goldman Sachs to be very interesting. He spent some time working in the Nixon administration, serving as assistant to John Ehrlichman from 1972 to 1973, during the Watergate scandal for which Ehrlichman was convicted, and sentenced to prison.

Josh Bolten, current White House Chief of Staff. From 1994 to 1999, he was the Executive Director, Legal & Government Affairs, for Goldman Sachs International in London. He recruited Hank Paulson as Treasury Secretary.

Robert Steel - worked for Goldman Sachs from 1976 until his retirement in 2004, where he was as a partner serving on the management committee. Upon his retirement he assumed the position of advisory director for the firm and then senior director in December 2004. He was appointed by Hank Paulson as Under Secretary for Domestic Finance in 2006, where he stayed until 2008 when he left to become the CEO of Wachovia.

In June of 2008, as Wachovia was beginning its financial troubles they hired - tada - Goldman Sachs to analyze its loan portfolio. "Goldman has collected over $77 million in fees from Wachovia since October 2006, plus another $25 million for advice involve the sale of the bank to Wells Fargo."

Neel Kashkari - "the head of the Office of Financial Stability, a new office established by the Treasury Department to oversee the $700 billion bailout. He has been a senior advisor to Treasury Secretary Paulson since 2006. Prior to joining the Treasury Department, Kashkari was a Vice President at - surprise - Goldman Sachs in San Francisco, where he led the Information Technology Security Investment Banking practice, advising public and private companies on mergers and acquisitions and financial transactions."

"Secretary Paulson’s team at Treasury also includes senior advisors formerly at Goldman Sachs, such as Dan Jester and Steve Shafran."

"Former Goldman Sachs board member Edward M. Liddy was selected to lead AIG when the Treasury loaned AIG the first $85 billion of $150 billion of taxpayer funds."

"According to the New York Times, Lloyd C. Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, was in the room with Henry Paulson (former CEO of Goldman) when the decision to save AIG was made. Why does this matter? According to the New York Times, AIG owed Goldman $20 billion. If AIG had been allowed to go bankrupt, Goldman would be in line with all the other creditors, hoping for a few dimes back on each dollar of debt. Because Henry Paulson decided to rescue AIG, Goldman gets paid in full."

"News that Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs (GS) is taking the rest of Wall Street to the cleaners is nothing new, but now comes word that Goldman played a direct role in the destruction of competitor Bear Stearns (BSC). According to Fortune's Roddy Boyd, several days before the collapse, Goldman decided to stop backing up Bear Stearns derivatives deals -- and it announced this decision to hedge-fund clients in an email that was then forwarded around an increasingly panicked Wall Street..."

A few weeks later J.P. Morgan acquired Bear Stearns at a "fire sale" price with the Federal Reserve assuming much of the risk.

I think all of the bailouts are a bad idea, but if you are wondering why the auto makers aren't getting bailed out when money is flying all over the place to (almost) everyone else, the answer seems pretty clear - it is not in Goldman Sachs best interest. If that seems hard to believe, maybe you should ask someone that used to work at one of Goldman's competitors - Lehman Brothers.

Lehman brothers was allowed to fail on September 15, 2008. One day before the bailout of AIG.

All of this in about 20 minutes of digging on the Internet. (Why do I have this sinking feeling that some kind of Internet restriction is on the way???)

Oh, and there is quite a bit of 'evidence' that some Goldman alumni, along with some folks at J.P. Morgan, may have worked together to 1) force Washington Mutual (WaMu) into the largest bank failure in U.S. history, whereby, Morgan stepped in to gobble up WaMu's assets for pennies on the dollar and 2) to dump billions of dollars in "toxic" assets onto Lehman Brothers as it was going bankrupt and set up Morgan to receive better than $130 billion in taxpayer funds in repayment of a "loan" to keep Lehman Brothers solvent.

What really pisses me off is that if the press ever starts talking about any of this (which I doubt) it will only be in the context of greedy, capitalist, Wall Street pigs with too little regulation. It will be used by politicians and pundits to demand more oversight, more regulation, more government involvement, and more government control. The fact that NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE BEEN POSSIBLE WITHOUT THE GOVERNMENT AND THE FEDERAL RESERVE will be completely ignored.

Thank goodness Obama is gonna save us! He has tapped Timothy Geithner to be the new Treasury Secretary.

He was Under Secretary of the Treasury for International Affairs (1998–2001) under Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers. Summers was his mentor, but other sources call him a Rubin protégé. In October 2003, he was named president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Once at the New York Fed, he became Vice Chairman of the Federal Open Market Committee component. In March 2008, he arranged the rescue and sale of Bear Stearns and later, in the same year, he is believed to have played a pivotal role in both the decision to bail out AIG as well as the government decision not to save Lehman Brothers from bankruptcy. Well, at least he wasn't a V.P. at Goldman Sachs...

Wow, we are already up to a couple trillion taxpayer dollars and I haven't even gotten into the Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac garbage.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

It was my Privilege...

A couple of months ago my mom asked if I would go down to Washington, D.C., on November 15th and take some pictures. The father of a friend was being flown up from South Carolina as part of a group being recognized for their service in World War II. (Since I am not certain how he would feel about being the subject of my blogging I'm just going to call him John. Right away he insisted that I drop the "Mr." and just call him by his name.) Always looking for an excuse to go down to D.C. and wander among the memorials I told her I would be happy to do it.

When I woke up yesterday it was cool and rainy with the forecast calling for more of the same. Ah, crapper. I suddenly wasn't very excited about spending a couple of hours walking around in the rain...but I had promised.

The night before I had gotten all of the contact information and the itinerary for the day and let everyone involved know what I would be wearing so we could find each other in the crowd - a bright, Crimson #14 Alabama football jersey. John and I had a brief introduction a few years ago but it was in a social setting with a large crowd and I wasn't sure I would remember him. I figured the jersey would make me stand out in the crowd.

Their flight was to leave Columbia, SC, around 8:30am and arrive in D.C. around 10:00. From there they would travel by bus to the World War II memorial for a ceremony and lunch, then hit a couple more sites before going back to the airport for the trip home. I decided to take the train into the city so I could avoid the traffic and parking. I got off the train around 10:30 and began the walk to the memorial.

As I approached the memorial I saw three buses with full police escort pull into the parking area so I picked up the pace. On a cool, misty morning there weren't many tourists at the memorial but there was a small crowd gathered around the buses. I stood over to the side and watched and waited. Soon enough, a tall, lanky fellow made eye contact and made his way over to me. After a quick re-introduction we got started on two of the most memorable hours of my life.

We were just about to make our way to the memorial when I saw someone I recognized - former Senator and Presidential candidate and World War II veteran Bob Dole. He and his wife, Senator Elizabeth Dole, had come out to welcome the veterans to the memorial. After a few comments for the media he spent the rest of the morning taking pictures and sharing stories with the men and women that made the trip. John went over and snapped a few pictures and then we made our way towards the memorial. As we approached the memorial a middle-aged man wearing a Memorial Staff shirt approached us, extended his hand to John and said, "Thank you for your service, sir. Welcome to your memorial." It was the first of many lump-in-the-throat moments.

We began to chat as we made our way down into the memorial. I asked John if he had a good flight and he said, "Man, you wouldn't believe it. They've treated us like royalty. There was a big group at the airport to see us off this morning. There was a band and people shaking our hands and hugging our necks. I couldn't believe it. And then, when we got to Washington, there was a BIG crowd and another band. My goodness."

I did a little digging when I woke up this morning and found some of the pictures taken by various media outlets. I do not know the gentleman in this picture but this was the scene that greeted the veterans as they got off the plane in D.C. Family, friends, random people in the airport, representatives from the various branches of the Armed Forces and a marching band were there to cheer them on. I later heard one fellow say, "I haven't gotten a hug from a girl with the USO in more than SIXTY years!" You can go here for a slideshow of the day -

During our first walk around the memorial I asked John about his time in the service. He was in the Navy and spent his time as a gunner on civilian ships helping protect them as they carried goods around the world. He told me about days spent roasting in the tropical heat of the Pacific and other days spent fighting hypothermia in the frigid north Atlantic; about making the trip through the Panama Canal and about getting to take a swim when they could find the time. I asked if he was drafted or if he enlisted. He laughed and told me, "The only thing I ever volunteered to do was KP one time for a weekend pass to go see my sister! I was 'Selectively volunteered' into the Navy!" I asked if he had ever been on a ship before he was drafted and he replied, "Oh, noooo."

We continued to walk and chat and, as we did, the weather began to clear - the clouds drifted apart and a warm sun came through - unseasonably warm for November. We made our way over to the South Carolina column for a group picture and a flag ceremony. I was trying to find a good spot from which to take some pictures when I realized that the group of men, assembled togther and all wearing there "Veteran" caps, had caught the attention of everyone at the memorial.

In just a few moments it seemed like everyone at the memorial wanted to come over and take a picture, shake a hand, or give a hug. It was one of the most spontaneous, emotional things I've ever seen.

After the ceremony I was teasing John about having so many people taking pictures of him all at once and looking like a movie star when a girl I would guess to be in her mid-twenties approached. She asked John what branch of the Service he was in during the war. He told her he had been in the Navy. She asked if she could give him a hug and he said sure. She reached up and held him for just a minute and said, with tears rolling down her face, "This is just the greatest thing. I just happened to be here today. Thank you so much for what you did for us. You guys are all heroes. Thank you so very much." I was speechless. John was speechless. Wow! This was going on all around me. I saw a young Marine Lieutenant lending his arm to a man wearing a Marine pin. Semper Fidelis - Always faithful. I later learned that the gentleman was one of the very first black men to serve in the Marine Corp. A family of four that looked to be out for a day of sightseeing had stopped to watch the ceremony. The children, without even really knowing why, were as still as statues. "Mom" had tears in her eyes. "Dad" stopped taking pictures and walked over to the closest veteran, extended his hand, and said, "Thanks for what you did for us." A young lady in Air Force blue and wearing the rank of Major was kneeling to chat with one of the men in a wheelchair, her hand resting on his arm, her eyes not leaving his. It was overwhelming for everyone. Sitting here this morning I get a lump in my throat thinking about it.

John and I walked and talked and took pictures as we made our way up to the tent for lunch. On the walk to the tent we passed Bill Dukes, the Chairman of the group that organized the trip. John had pointed him out to me earlier and told me who he was and about all the work he had done to put it all together. Just as we walked by one of the veterans approached Bill and tapped him on the shoulder. The old man, stooped and hardly able to walk, had tears running down his face. He reached out and pulled Bill down to him, put his arms around him and said, "I've got to hug your neck. Thank you, son, for doing this. I can't tell you what it means to me, To all of us." Bill just smiled and said, "Thank you. It was my privilege."

John and I chatted through lunch but then it was time for them to board the buses and head off to their next stop and time for me to go home. They made a brief stop at the Korean and Vietnam memorials and a short stop at Arlington for the changing of the guard before heading back to the airport for the flight home and a heroes welcome upon their arrival.

The organization that put this trip together, and others like it from all over the country, is the Honor Flight Network. This is a non-profit group that flies these veterans to D.C. for a day at the memorials, at no charge, as a small way of saying "Thank you" for all they did for our country. Their website is and their page for local chapters can be found here

I would encourage everyone to consider helping this organization through donations of time or money. It was two of the most emotional hours I've ever had in my life. A check from me will be in the mail tomorrow and I am looking into doing some volunteer work with them.

If you are interested in seeing more about the day:

There is a brief story with video here -

Another, more in depth story with links to other articles about some of the men that made the trip can be found here -

And, finally, here is a link to the group that

Friday, November 7, 2008


I cannot help but find some amusement at the reaction among liberals at California's ban on gay marriage. They are collectively outraged! I find it ironic that a group that champions democracy - majority (mob) rule - suddenly doesn't like it very much when the majority disagrees with them.

This is the danger our Founding Fathers saw in democracy - in a democracy the rights of a minority can be 'legally' denied with no limit on how far those restrictions can go.

What is sad is that, rather than realize that the only legitimate function of government is to protect rights that already exist and not to grant rights at its discretion and begin to demand such a government, these people will seek to subvert the very form of government they champion using the courts. They must do this because if they acknowledge that their rights do not come from the government but are, in fact, inherent in being a rational, volitional human being, it undermines their belief that a government has the authority to create unnatural rights such as housing, health care, education, etc.

Even more evidence that we've been screwed...

There was a very quiet announcement on Tuesday - which happened to be election day so almost no one was paying attention:

Michael Alix, the chief risk officer at Bear Stearns from 2006 through its bankruptcy from risky investments, was appointed as a senior vice president in the bank supervision group of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Before becoming the chief risk officer he was the bank's global head of credit risk management from 1996-2006. Bwahahahaha.

Damn, that's arrogance. Steal from us, lie to us, and then piss in our faces.

Change! Or not...

Obama's gonna save us and change the way things are done in Washington!

So, with his very first appointment he choses - Rahm Emanuel, as his Chief of Staff.

A an old-school, Chicago-style political hack that spent six years in the Clinton White House, has remained a Clinton strategist, and was a primary mover in the Democrat move to power in 2006. I think that certainly qualifies as changing they way things are done in Washington. Riiight.

Fifty years from now Obama may go down as the greatest President in history but, if his first action is any indication, what we got was not what was advertised. Imagine that, a lying politician...

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

"Lesson" #1 Prerequisite

Over the last few days I have been asked by more than a few, in particular by those who have known me the longest, why I decided not to vote for the first time in my life. Now that the election is over and we have chosen a new President, I think its time I really shared the things that took me from where I was to where I am.

I haven't been completely open and honest about all the things I've learned. People have to live and survive and have hope and believe that life will be better for their children than it was for them. Do people really want to hear about the possibility of a future in which everything we understand as being American is gone or perverted? What right do I have to take that away from someone?

I decided last night it was time to share what I've learned, even if people think I'm crazy, because the stakes are just too high. If I hurt someone's feelings or make someone angry or make someone nervous about the future so be it. Everyone is going to learn it, one way or another. I love this country and everything the Founding Fathers intended it to be and I'm going to do everything I can to fight for it in the only way I know to do it. As much as I would like to disappear into the Montana wilderness and leave these problems behind, I know that isn't a solution. First, there is no where to hide in order to escape it. Second, my conscience won't allow me to do it - bad things happen when good people do nothing.

I am going to try to avoid preaching and simply present the things as I found them. I more than willingly acknowledge that I could be wrong about things. If I have learned anything in the last few months it is just how dangerous it is to believe you cannot be mistaken.

I have, on more than one occasion, made reference to the movie The Matrix and the scene where Neo is offered a choice - take the red pill and see the world as it really is or take the blue pill and continue to live as you were.

I do not have any pills, at least in the literal since, but I am offering them digitally - changing the colors lest anyone attach any ideological significance them. You have a choice:

Take the green pill, follow these "Lessons," challenge yourself to see through everything that has been put in front of you to prevent you from understanding the truth and see the real world of American politics. This will not be easy and it will probably leave you with feelings of emptiness and fear. One of the hardest things a person can do is acknowledge to themselves they have been wrong about the things in which they believed the most and the people they trusted have lied to them. I have likened this to discovering that your long-held religious convictions were based upon a lie. There is an alternative.

Take the yellow pill, read some of the things I post and ignore the rest. You can assume that I am misguided, ignorant, crazy, under the influence of the devil, lying for my own benefit or whatever other reason you wish to concoct and you can continue to live your life as you were.

Its your choice. I can't make you do it.

Prerequisite -

In order to understand where things went wrong you must first understand how things were supposed to be. Even if you have read them previously, read the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I don't mean read them the way you read an assignment in fifth grade history where you fly through the words in a race to get finished. I mean really read them - do google searches for words and terms you may not fully understand, think about why they did what they did, etc. Think of it as a couple of hours in deep conversation with James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, John Adams, and many others who contributed both directly and indirectly to them. These documents, while not perfect, remain the greatest form of government ever conceived by man.

The Declaration of Independence -

The Constitution of the United States -

The Bill of Rights -

привет! Welcome to a New Era in American Politics!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Please note – The information contained in this blog entry, while I believe it to be accurate, comes from so many sources, some conflicting and with less than clear motives, that I cannot guarantee its accuracy. I have tried to find multiple sources for each item but that isn’t always possible and sometimes I must rely on the words and works of others, particularly since I do this in my spare time. Please let me know if you find something you know to be incorrect. I do apologize in advance for the lack of…polish to the writing.

In response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Department of Homeland Security was created. Whereas the Department of Defense is charged with military actions abroad, the Department of Homeland Security works in the civilian sphere to protect the U.S. within, at, and outside its borders. Homeland security policy is coordinated at the White House by the Homeland Security Council which, in turn, answers directly to the President. It is the third largest Cabinet department behind the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs.

The Insurrection Act of 1807 is the set of laws that govern the President’s ability to deploy troops within the United States to put down lawlessness, insurrection and rebellion. The law was written to limit Presidential power as much as possible, relying on state and local governments.

The Posse Comitatus Act of 1878 prohibits most members of the uniformed armed services from exercising state law enforcement, police or peace officer powers on non-federal property – the states, their counties and municipal divisions.

During Bush’s reign both of these laws were repeatedly amended to remove restrictions on Executive power. The Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2007 expanded Presidential power to declare martial law under revisions to the Insurrection Act and take charge of National Guard troops without state governor authorization when public order has been lost. This same act gave the President the power to declare a national emergency at his discretion and to employ the U.S. military to suppress any group that obstructs or opposes the execution of the laws of the United States or impedes the course of justice under those laws.

The Office of Legal Counsel, which assists the Attorney General as legal advisor to the President, prepared a series of memos in which it was asserted that the Fourth Amendment restriction on unreasonable searches and seizures does not apply U.S. forces deployed inside the country. A footnote in one of these memos argued that Fifth Amendment guarantees of due-process rights “do not address actions the Executive takes in conducting a military campaign against the Nation’s enemies.”

These changes essentially gave the President the power to declare martial law at his discretion, including the suspension of Habeus Corpus and most of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution, and the authority to use the full force of the United States military against any one, any time and any place without Congressional approval, in both foreign and domestic operations.

The “War on Terror,” we were repeatedly told, is different than any other war in history because it is not against any grounded nation or single army. This would be a war with a global theater of operations against small pockets of well-armed, well-trained, guerilla fighters. The President, it was explained, must have the authority to go after these people wherever they hide and implement martial law and military control over any area necessary to insure our safety – including inside the United States.

During this time the Bush administration authorized the National Security Agency to monitor, without warrants, telephone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, and text messaging, and other communications involving any party believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S., even if the other end of the communication lies with the U.S. The exact scope of the program is not known, but the NSA is or was provided, total, unsupervised access to all fiber-optic communications between major telecommunication interconnect locations. The legality and extent of those operations is still in question, however, the Protect America Act of 2007 authorized the monitoring of all electronic communications of people in the United States without a court’s order or oversight, so long as it is not targeted at one particular person “reasonably believed to be” inside the country. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 granted immunity to the telecommunication companies involved in the surveillance. It also allows the government to conduct surveillance of any person for up to one week without a warrant, an increase from the previous 48 hours, as long as the FISA court is notified at the time the surveillance begins and an application to submitted to the court within that week.

Effective October 1, 2008, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team will be under the control of U.S. Army North, the Army service component of Northern Command (NORTHCOM), as an on-call federal response for natural or man-made emergences and disasters. This marks the first time an active U.S. Army unit will be given a dedicated assignment to NORTHCOM. This formalizes a role for the use of federal troops within the U.S. during major public emergencies and disasters.

In United States constitutional law, plenary power is a power that has been granted to a body in absolute terms, with no review of, or limitations upon, the exercise of the power. A signing statement is a written pronouncement issued by the President upon signing a bill into law. These statements do not appear to have legal force by themselves, although they are published in the Federal Register. As a practical matter, they may give notice of the way the Executive intends to implement a law, which may make them more significant than the text of the law itself. No Constitution provision, federal statute, or common-law principle explicitly permits or prohibits signing statements. In essence, the statements are a means in which a President can selectively enforce only those portions of a bill in which he approves while ignoring those in which he disapproves. Under President Bush these statements often include assertions that the President will not follow the statute based on his belief that it interferes with his plenary authority. Historically, signing statements have been relatively rare. President Bush has issued more signing statements than any President in our history. In fact, he issued more than all previous Presidents combined – in just his first term.

President Bush has asserted that the Executive has the plenary authority to conduct domestic surveillance programs such as those discussed above without receiving either a warrant or other FISA court approval. His administration has argued that Congress cannot limit or check the President from exercising his plenary authority and “inherent” powers.

In addition, President Bush has asserted plenary power and directed his advisors to ignore Congressional subpoenas, subverting Congress in its ability to provide oversight to the Executive branch. I believe this is the first time in U.S. history that a President has made such a claim.

NOTE: Under Democrat control, Congress, via the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal year 2008 has (at least temporarily) repealed most of the changes to the Insurrection and Posse Comitatus acts. It is possible that some or all of the other extensions of Executive power have been removed but I only found these.

The expansion of Executive power under President Bush has been enormous. The Founding Fathers, when writing the Constitution, sought to implement a series of checks and balances to prevent too much power from accumulating in any branch of the government. This system was used to prevent one branch from becoming supreme by means of rules and procedures that serve to limit each other. As it was conceived, our government would consist of three branches: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial.

What we have seen under the Bush administration is the Legislative branch rendered impotent. Even a Democratically controlled Congress has only had limited success in slowing the growth of executive power. The checks and balances system has become unstable. With President Bush leaving office in a few months why does all of this matter? It matters for two reasons: 1) The actions of a President sets precedence for future Presidents and 2) the next President will have unprecedented control over the Judicial branch.

The next President, in his first term in office, will likely appoint four justices to the Supreme Court and two more if he serves a second term, potentially six of the nine justices. In addition, the next President will appoint several judges at the district level and to the extremely powerful court of appeals. This alone is enough to give any President an almost unprecedented ability to direct the political direction of the country for the next several decades through his nominations. Typically, a President cannot become too radical in his selections because all nominees must be approved by Congress.


Barack Obama, if not an outright Marxist, has at least has some very Marxist leanings. If he is elected tomorrow he will likely have a Democratically controlled House and a filibuster proof Democrat majority in the Senate. This will effectively eliminate any restriction on who he nominates to these judicial positions. In his first term in office, Barack Obama may appoint enough federal judges to have “liberal” control of ten of the thirteen Circuit Courts of Appeal and the Supreme Court with almost no restriction on who is nominated.

Even if everything he did was with the best intentions and the interest of the nation in his heart, President Bush has set the table for our first pro-Marxist President to be the most powerful executive to ever hold the office. The remaining power in Congress will be controlled by a complicit Democrat majority and he will have the ability to pick and choose the judges at every major federal court. One man is going to have direct control or indirect influence over all three branches of our government and an active, deployed war-trained Army brigade at his disposal to suppress any ‘pubic emergencies.’

Perhaps I am paranoid, but no man should have this kind of power. George Washington was the last man with that much power and control over our government. It is a testament to his uncommon character that he refused the power that could have been his. He could have made himself king, in authority if not in name. Could you turn your back on unlimited, unchecked power? I do not know if my resolve would be as strong as his. He remains one of the few men in history to refuse to allow his citizens to make him a monarch/dictator when it was in his power to become one. Unless something incredible happens tomorrow, the people of this country are betting that Barack Obama has the wisdom and character of George Washington. God help us all if he doesn’t.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

A Few Thoughts on Government and Politicians

  • There will always be some who acquire more wealth than others, regardless of the form of government. The form of government only determines who will have the opportunity.

  • There is an inverse relationship between the power and control exerted by a government and the wealth and autonomy of the citizens. As the power and control of a government increases the ability for an average citizen to independently direct his life and acquire wealth decreases.

  • Governments and politicians always seek to gain power and exert control. Every emergency, both real and perceived, will be used as a reason to expand authority.

  • A government cannot legislate the laws of economics out of existence any more than they can legislate gravity out of existence - regardless of the form of government those laws still apply.

  • The most productive economy will always be the one that uses its resources most efficiently.

  • A person who bears no responsibility for bad decisions has no incentive to make good decisions. The more powerful a politician becomes and the harder it is to remove him from office, the more insulated he is from bad decisions and the more inefficient and subject to corruption he becomes.

  • It is almost impossible to have a power at your disposal and not use it for your benefit. The greater the power available, the greater the temptation to do so. Regardless of its stated use and their stated intent, assume every power given to a government will be used by those in power for their benefit.

  • Corruption in society is inevitable, but a corrupt businessman is less dangerous to society than a corrupt politician under any form of government.

  • The immorality of an action is not changed by politicians passing legislation making it legal. Morality and legality are not the same.

  • Always assume a politician has his best interests at heart. The more he insists that he is doing what is best for 'the people,' the more likely he is lying.

  • Under no circumstances should a single person or organization have control over more than one of the following branches of government: Legislative, Executive, and Judicial. Likewise, under no circumstances should a single person or organization have control over more than one of the following forms of authority: political, military, and religious.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My vote...a follow up.

Not that I need someone with a PhD to validate my analysis, but apparently I won't be the only person not voting...

Good read.

McMussolini or ObaMarx?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Playing in the blogosphere

Friday, October 24, 2008

I was playing on the blogs this morning and I came across Scott Adams' blog - he's the creator of the Dilbert comic.

Here is his entire latest post -

I plan to start hoarding supplies soon. There should be some big riots after the election. Here's a sequence of events and conditions that would lead to rioting. Do you see anything on the list that isn't likely?

The economy stays bad for a another month

Obama has a clear lead in the polls before election dayMcCain wins anyway. While the real reason for the polling discrepancy will be racism, there will be a widespread belief that the election was rigged. And there will be plenty of real and imagined evidence that it was.

Riots will break out, partly out of genuine anger, partly to get that new flat screen TV.

We know the country can get past one suspicious Presidential election, because it did exactly that with Gore versus Bush. But two in a row would turn even normal citizens into conspiracy theorists. Given the anxiety over the economy, concerns about abortion rights, and the continuing wars, you have a perfect storm for revolution.

Interestingly, the only person who could stop the riots would be Obama himself.

Other than how stupid the Obama campaign would look for having spent several million dollars renting a HUGE facility for their victory party, I really haven't given any thought to how the country might react to a McCain win. Now that I think about is scary. Especially when a McCain win would, in all likelihood, mean that Obama wins big in the popular vote but lost the electoral vote. I have visions of the Rodney King riots bouncing through my head, except all over the country and not just in L.A.

I think this is unlikely because there are just too many electoral votes leaning towards Obama right now...but, unlike an opinion poll, you don't have to answer to anyone once you step in the voting booth.

I wish I had written this...

Thursday, October 23, 2008

I came across this on a blog that I read on a regular basis -
Every advocate of central planning always - always - envisions himself as the central planner.

Man, is that right on the money.

Gotta give the man credit -

I've come to a decision...

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Last night, as I was burning some calories on the elliptical machine, I was thinking about which candidate would get my vote in November.

I have read speeches, I have read debate transcripts, I have seen commercials and listened to interviews and one thing is so painfully obvious it borders on absurd - there is no way in hell either of these candidates should even be considered for the office and the fact that these are our choices makes it clear that the entire American political system has failed.

Saddam Hussein was 'elected' by 100% of the votes in several Iraqi elections during his tenure. We all laughed at the notion that his 'election' was anything other than staged. What kind of election is it when there is only one man on the ticket? Well, what kind of election is it when we have two chose between two morons from the same political aristocracy? Is that really an election? An election should be a chance to choose between two or more alternatives but we have gotten to the point where there is so little difference between them, despite all of their bloviating to the contrary, that their really isn't much of a choice. To offer a simple analogy - After dinner you can choose to have ice cream or pie for dessert. Both choices are obviously 'sweets' but they are very different kinds of 'sweets'. We no longer have this kind of choice available - in this election we have vanilla ice cream and chocolate ice cream, but they are both still ice cream. Henry Ford once said that a person can have any color car he wants as long as its black. In America, we can vote for the candidate of our choice - but he or she must be part of the political class.

I voted for George W. Bush over Al Gore and John Kerry, not because I thought George was a great statesman, but because he was better than the alternative - and boy was I correct in both of those assumptions. But, I can't do it any more. I can't cast my vote for the lesser of two idiots because all you get is an idiot. I can already hear the arguments: 'don't complain if you don't vote' and 'if you don't for for X then Y will win' and 'our right to vote is a big part of what makes America great,' etc. I've said them all myself. And I was wrong.

An Iraqi that stepped into the voting booth and cast a ballot for Saddam Hussein was not voting to give himself the right to complain because he had no real choice. His vote did nothing but give legitimacy to a corrupt system. We have no real choice and I am no longer going to cast my vote to give legitimacy to this corrupt system. My vote, and all the lives that were lost to protect that right, is too important to me to waste on either of these numskulls.

I'm looking for recommendations

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

I am putting together two lists of books, fiction and non-fiction, that really should be "required reading." My brother and I have discussed this at length and I have two pretty good lists going but it seems like I am always coming across something that I think I should add that I can't believe isn't already on the list. Any suggestions?

For entertainment purposes only!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

At the risk of rendering myself completely irrelevant in terms of a serious discussion, a thought occurred to me this morning. It began when I saw the name of the new department created by the bailout bill - the Office of Financial Stability. The name is so absurd and so ridiculously Orwellian that I actually double checked to make sure someone wasn't just being facetious. Nope. That is what they named it. My mind just kept turning it over and over - how could they possibly choose a name that far removed from reality? Didn't they realize how much it had to sound like one of the "Ministries" from 1984? And then it occurred to me that it was NOT an accident. After all, who could possibly argue with a decision handed down by an office whose only job is to provide financial stability?

As I was pondering the underlying reasons why the government would use psychological tools against its own people - and that is precisely what is happening - it lead me down a rabbit trail of thoughts that made my skin crawl.

I've said repeatedly in my blog that either our politicians were woefully incompetent or corrupt to the core. I've also said repeatedly that I am convinced that there are no longer two separate political parties in this country, just two arms of the same party always bickering amongst themselves but always putting themselves ahead of the citizens.

As I was thinking about our new Office of Financial Stability and just how unlikely it is that the new finance czar will produce anything like financial stability (using the 'successes' of the drug czar at dealing with drug problems and the energy czar at fixing our energy problems as a guide) I was also thinking about how we got here in the first place. As I was trying to come to terms with those things I read an article about the Congressional questioning of Robert Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers. The first thing that caught my attention was the comment by Rep. John Mica (R-FL) when he made it clear just exactly why Fuld was in Washington, "In case you haven't discovered your role, you're the villain." I have no doubt Mr. Fuld bears some responsibility for the actions of his company but he is no more the villain than the members of the House doing the questioning. Something about that statement just doesn't sit right with me. Perhaps it is just too true - he was brought in to be the lamb of sacrifice so the House could wash their hands of their sins. Washington has clearly circled the wagons and started pointing fingers at everyone but themselves. Then, either during his questioning or afterward by a reporter, he was asked why the government didn't bailout Lehman Brothers when it stepped in to bail out so many others. He didn't know and said, "Until they put me in the ground I will wonder." Look, he is super-rich and I don't feel sorry for him, but it is a good question. Why was Lehman Brothers allowed to fail when others of comparable size were deemed 'too big to fail' and saved? Something about that doesn't make sense to me...I kept thinking.

Beginning in the early 1990s pretty much every office and department in the federal government has consistently and repeatedly made horrifically wrong economic decisions and compounded those wrong decisions with even more wrong "solutions." The number of people making horrible decisions is mind boggling. This pattern cuts across party lines and across multiple administrations and continues to this day. The House, the Senate, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury Deparment, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, the administrations of Presidents George H. W. Bush, William J. Clinton, and George W. Bush, along with countless departments, committees, and offices. How can this many people consistently make that many bad decisions? These are supposed to be some of the best and brightest in the world. How did we get here? How is this possible? Is it all just the result of a 'perfect storm' of bad luck, bad decisions, bad investments, and bad timing? Or could this be exactly what some have had in mind all along?

That sounds preposterous, I know, but, forgive me for a moment of conspiracy theory. In a period of just a few months we have seen half of the home mortgage business nationalized, a huge chunk of our financial markets placed under direct federal control, and the institution of an office that will control the 'financial stability' of the country. In less than one year we have seen the federal government step in and take control of perhaps the last major capitalist system in the country (world?) under the guise of 'saving' us from a mess the government helped create. We already have an essentially nationalized passenger rail system, an airline industry taking giant leaps towards federal control, an auto industry that will be essentially under federal control in less than a year, a nationalized retirement system, a nationalized old-age medical insurance system, a nationalized emergency response system and it appears we are on our way to a complete national health system. And those are just the big ones I can think of off the top of my head. All of those things, and many more, are now under the direct control of a handful of people in Washington. It is ludicrous to think that a small group of people are pulling off the biggest conspiracy in the history of mankind, essentially taking over the entire United States right before our eyes, but is that any more ridiculous than having that many 'experts' make that many bad decisions over so many years?

The thought also occurred to me that this could be the first truly tangible stages of World War III. What? Our financial meltdown is rocking the entire financial world. Most of us live our lives without any real understanding of just how important the United States is to the rest of the world. The U.S. is probably the only country in the world capable of surviving a complete global financial meltdown. Again, this seems almost unimaginable, but could all of those bad decisions have been a deliberate manipulation of the markets to trigger a global collapse that would cement our status as the world's only superpower? Not a hot war or even a cold war but a silent war waged with financial paper rather than bullets and rhetoric? For all of the talk about changes and freedom, it was our seemingly limitless defense spending that led directly to the fall of the Soviet Union, so there is precedence for our using economics as a weapon.

It is not like I am breaking any new ground here. I have, off and on over the years, read lots of things online that pointed to some sort of behind the scenes, shadow government that was made up of the ones really pulling the levers. If you want to get really, really deep into it just run a few google searches on the Bilderburgs, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Skull and Bones Society and the Trilateral Commission. Weird stuff.

I have always written it off as nothing more than conspiracy theory nut-balls, lumping it in with the stories about aliens at Area 51 and other X-files type stories. For entertainment purposes only. And, for the most part, I still do. Perhaps in a few years, possibly decades, I will find it incredibly amusing that the level of incompetence in Washington rose so high that it actually made one of those ridiculous theories seem plausible. In the end I think it was, and is, nothing more than a 'perfect storm' of inadequate, career politicians doing everything than can to make sure they get re-elected and doing it all on the backs of willing taxpayers who are more than happy to trade freedom for a free ride. Term limits, anyone?

Welcome to the new world, comrades!

Random thoughts

Monday, October 06, 2008

A sure sign that the world might be coming to an end - Vanderbilt is in the Top 25 and Florida State, Miami, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Michigan are not.

Another sign that the apocalypse is upon us - arguably the best writer on Conservative American politics is an openly gay Roman Catholic that isn't even a citizen of this country.

If human zygotes were being threatened by the building of a power plant or a refinery liberals would be screaming from the mountain tops and filing hundreds of lawsuits to protect it. It is only a 'lump of cells' when it is inconvenient to think of it any other way. Either that or the lawsuit to protect the red-tipped swamp darter has something other than protecting the environment at its heart.

Alabama is ranked 2 and shouldn't be any higher than 8th.

John McCain cannot win the debate on the economy when he, nor his advisors, can explain how a problem caused by government intervention can only be solved by more intervention. Go read this if you want to hear it from someone other than me -

People in Birmingham often ask me about living in the north. I explain that I am technically still in the south because I am below the Mason-Dixon line. I tell my friends in Baltimore that no one in the "south" thinks of Maryland as being in the south. I now have absolute proof. The last two minutes of the Alabama - Kentucky game were interrupted to show a tribute to Michael Phelps. Nothing short of a national emergency - something along the lines of 9/11 - would cause a station in the 'real' south to interrupt a close football game with two minutes left.

There is now another video of children offering 'praise' to Obama. Only this time they are chanting and wearing military fatigues. Hitler Youth anyone? This stuff scares the crap out of me.

Two things are becoming painfully clear - (1) Sarah Palin, while beautiful and approachable, so far seems to be in WAY over her head and (2) McCain and his advisors couldn't possibly have spent much time vetting her for the job. Maybe she could grow into the position, but, right now, it scares the hell out of me to think she would be one heartbeat away from the Oval Office.

As unqualified as I think Palin is to be President and as much as it scares me to consider it, I would rather have her than Obama...I think.

Even playing fantasy football can't get me interested in the NFL.

"Debate" analysis

Friday, October 03, 2008
"Debate" analysis
I use the term "debate" lightly - unless you consider two people ignoring the moderator's questions, saying whatever comes to mind, and generally spouting nonsense a debate. Seriously, why do they need a moderator? Just have lights that come on when it is your turn to talk and go off when you have to stop.

I watched about ten minutes and switched over to ESPN to watch football. It was horrible. Even my curiousity about how Palin would peform wasn't enough to make me sit through that. I don't know when or how this started - probably when they started being televised - but none of these "debates" are debates. It is just a series of one-or-two-line, short answer, blips in which each person tries to come off as witty or tries to catch the other in a 'gotcha' moment.

What is really sad is that if one of the candidates actually engaged in real, philosophical answers (if that is even possible when you only have 60 seconds to answer) he or she would get destroyed in public opinion polls. People don't want to hear that, they want to hear which candidate is going to offer the biggest carrot and the smallest stick. I think part of the problem is the questions of the moderator. The moderators are trying to ask the questions that 'the people' would ask. I understand where they are coming from but that opens the door for all of the garbage (most of which is highly confusing) from the candidates.

I'll give you a quick example. Last night one of the first questions asked was, "...the next question is to talk about the subprime lending meltdown. Who do you think was at fault?"That is a stupid question for a debate in that format. There is no way to give a legitimate answer to that question in 60 seconds. It would be tough to give a really good answer in 60 minutes! You do not ask that kind of question in that kind of format if you want real answers.

The Presidential debate is set for next Tuesday. Ohhh, I'm so excited to watch THAT. Uh, thanks, but no thanks. I would rather watch static. WAIT, I have an idea. Comedy Central should broadcast the debate in split screen with Obama and McCain on one side and Statler and Waldorf (the two old guys in the balcony from the Muppets) giving running commentary on the other. I would PAY to watch that!

Go read this. Now.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

It is a message from the future.

I have a question...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

I'm sure some of you may have seen the video of the children singing a 'praise' song about Obama. If not, you probably can't find it anymore. My understanding is that it has been on the campaign website since August and on youtube and other places, but once it started getting huge numbers of hits - and so many people found it...disturbing - it has been taken down almost everywhere. I really had to dig but finally found a copy of it here -

I am going to put the lyrics to the song at the bottom of this blog.

Here is my question: Why is this so disturbing to me? Normally a children's choir singing songs would make me smile, but listening to a group of children sing praises to Barack Obama made my blood run cold. At first I thought it might just be because it is about Obama, but I don't think so. I'm pretty sure I would have the same reaction to a song like that about any politcian. Immediately I had visions of the Hitler Youth singing about the glories of Nazism under Adolf Hitler or the children of China singing praises to Mao Zedong. However, I will admit that knowing that Obama, like those two, has called for compulsory community service by children and adults in return for government benefits and that he is full of other Marxist leanings probably made my reaction stronger than it otherwise would have been.

Am I overreacting? Maybe there is a precedence for this in this country but I can't think of one. I just kept thinking, "What kind of a politician has a video of children singing about him?" When I watched it a second time something else caught my attention - the parents (I'm assuming) and other adults in the audience. If you have ever seen the face of someone in church having a true spiritual moment then you know how these people looked. There is something deeply unsettling about seeing people have those looks while watching children sing about a politician or really any man for that matter. Especially a song with these lyrics -

We're gonna spread happiness
We're gonna spread freedom
Obama's gonna change it
Obama's gonna lead 'em

We're gonna change it
And rearrange it
We're gonna change the world.

Now's the moment, lift each voice to sing
Sing with all your heart!
For our children, for our families,
Nations all joined as one.
Sing for joy and sing abundant peace,
Courage, justice, hope!
Sing together, hold each precious hand,
Lifting each other up;
Sing for vision, sing for unity,
Lifting our hearts to Sing!
Yes we can
Lift each other up
In peace, in love, in hope
Change! Change!

Maybe I am just overracting...?

Somewhere Karl Marx is laughing his beard off...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I have written fairly extensively about the Marxist leanings of a certain Presidential candidate and I have also written about the march to the left of our government as a whole. Well, I'm not the only one that's noticed. I see no point in writing the things I've been thinking when someone has done it for me -


Thursday, September 25, 2008

I only have a few minutes but I just had to throw out a quick comment on Bush's speech last night. Again, I didn't watch it, but I read the text.

I am not going to rehash what got us here or the merits and demerits of the proposals being tossed about. I will however point out something he said that indicates to me that the entire Washington establishment is either woefully ignorant or playing some kind of power game.

"...these are not normal circumstances. The market is not functioning properly."

The market is doing exactly what the market should be doing - punishing bad decisions and risky investments that fail. The market IS functioning properly. The problem is that no one likes the results. But sooner or later you have to reap what you sow. And we've been sowing this debt-fueled, super-leveraged economy for years. I've been blogging about this for...well, as long as I've been blogging.

There is no doubt that without a bailout of some sort we are going to see an unprecedented economic collapse. A whole generation of Americans are going to get a first-hand look at how bad things got during the Great Depression. You may recall that it took the Second World War to pull us out of that depression.

On the other hand, if the bailout put in place contains provisions along the lines of the original proposal - essentially creating a financial emperor that can do whatever he wants (check out this week's Newsweek cover if you don't believe me) - then we will quickly no longer be the United States of America anyway. We will have avoided economic collapse but it will have cost us the very things that make us America.

Remember these times and the decisions that were made. I think it is safe to say that, regardless of what Washington does or does not do in the next few weeks (days?) the impact is going to be felt for years, possibly decades. We are living in an historic time.

Shocked (scared?) beyond words...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I just finished a quick read of a proposed bill for the government bailout and I can't believe it. I can't. I read the words heart stuck in my throat. Here is a link so you will know I'm not just making it up:

If you scroll down you will find the following:

Sec. 8. Review.
Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

I want you to read that sentence again. Non-reviewable? By any court of law or administrative agency? This bill would give Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson powers that cannot be revoked by the Supreme Court, the House, or the Senate - essentially unlimited, unchecked, unreviewed power. I wonder if we will have to call him King Paulson? So much for the Constitutional separation of powers and checks and balances.

Oh, I'm sorry. Section 9 says its only for two years then he will give up all of that power and we will get back to normal. Whew. That was a close one. I mean, everyone knows dictators give up their powers peacefully all the time.

And if that doesn't scare you enough, go here:

Continued brilliance!

Monday, September 22, 2008

Thank God we have so many smart people in Washington to save the day!

It appears that two of the primary figures in the trillion dollar bail-out of the government sparked credit crisis are going to be a former CEO of one of the companies involved in the bad loans (who was at the helm while they were being made) and a guy who all along insisted there was nothing wrong at Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae. (Sigh)

If I wasn't absolutely scared to death that I am watching the fall of the United States this would be the funniest thing I have ever seen.

"My philosophy, like color television, is all there in black and white."

28th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Friday, September 19, 2008

Let me see if I've got this straight:

The federal government, in its infinite wisdom, stepped in and monkeyed with the supply/demand dynamics in the home mortgage markets.

This tinkering, all done with good intentions, sparked a massive profit-fueled home buying bubble.

Billions up billions of dollars became available for home loans to anyone that could "fog-a-mirror." Companies made loans they should not have made and people took out loans they could not afford.

Much to the surprise of no one, prices went up. And up. And up. And up. And up. In fact, they went up so much, people stopped buying so many. At the same time the lenders were seeing big jumps in foreclosures on some of these loans so interest rates crept up and lending requirements stiffened. Buying slowed dramatically.

Economics lesson – when supply exceeds demand, prices fall.

Home prices are falling all over the place. This, in turn, has led to even more foreclosures as more and more people have home loans they cannot pay and that far exceed the value of the home and their payments, which are tied to an interest rate, increase. This further increases downward pressure on home prices. The loan companies that made bad loans and the people that took out loans they could not afford are paying for their bad decisions - the lenders with huge losses and bankruptcies and falling stock prices; the buyers with home foreclosures and ruined credit. The 'market' is doing exactly what is should do – 'punish' people for bad decisions.

But wait – the federal government, in its infinite wisdom, has decided that something must be done. Their solution – monkey with the supply/demand dynamics again! It appears that Congress, with the help of the Federal Reserve, is going to step in and, somehow, let the lenders unload all of those bad loans and avoid being punished for their bad decisions. I would wager a substantial amount of money that a similar program is already in the works to do the same for the people that took out loans they could not afford. I just read a brief summary of what is known so far – the first cost estimate: $1 trillion dollars.

So, if that figure holds, we can add that $1 trillion to the $5 trillion for bailing out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac coming to about $6 trillion (in less that three months) to add to our already $9 trillion in debt for a total of about $15 trillion dollars. I am certainly not an expert on international finance, but I know two things for certain: 1) this country is already in debt up to its eyeballs and doesn't have $15 trillion in cash sitting in a vault somewhere and 2) we will have to issue bonds to raise that money and foreign governments have been gobbling them up.

We are in the midst of the greatest transfer of wealth in the history of mankind. The United States is sending billions and billions of U.S. dollars to China, Japan, and the Mid-East as we buy cheap products, oil, cheap labor, etc. And they are loaning OUR money back to us at interest.

I do not have many answers but I do know that, just like the borrowing frenzy that sparked the housing bubble and subsequent crash, this is an imbalance that cannot exist in perpetuity. Sooner or later the U.S. government borrowing bubble is going to burst.

As an aside, I wonder if Obama is still out campaigning on tax cuts for 95% of working families? If he is, I want some of what he's smoking. It's probably the same stuff that Larry Langford and his Olympic Committee have been smoking for the last few months.

At this point all I can see to do is just go ahead and amend the Constitution to get rid of even pretending that we are what we were. So, here is my proposal:

Amendment 28 to The Constitution of the United States:
Henceforth, it shall be the duty of Congress to enact such laws as deemed necessary to ensure that all persons and respective businesses are not held accountable for their decisions should those decisions produce results inconvenient to the decision makers.

And, with that, I am off to Rehoboth Beach to sit in the sun, enjoy a cocktail or five, catch up on some reading, watch college football and have some good times with great people and try not to think about the disaster unfolding all around us.

Happy Anniversary!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I hate feeling so pessimistic; ignorance is bliss, I suppose. I'm sure some of you have been hearing about it but the federal government has agreed to bail-out AIG in return for about 80% of its stock. I understand why they did it and I'm not sure I could offer a better alternative, but, in less than two months, we have the federal government taking a controlling interest in half of the home mortgages in the country and now the largest insurer in the country. In other words - nationalization.

It doesn't take a PhD in history to know what happens to countries that have governments ignoring its own laws to do things that are for the 'common good.' If you don't know, then I...I really don't know what to tell you. Go read. A lot.

The anniversary?

September 17, 1787 was the day the Constitution of the United States was completed and presented to the Constitutional Convention. It took about a year and a half from its completion for it to be ratified and become the law of the land. I wonder if 18 months from now we will all be realizing that the U.S. Constitution, as we knew it, died 221 years to the day after it was born?

Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is the group of accountants that has to try to make sense of the mess in Washington. They are about as non-partisan as a group in Washington can be. The have put a price tag on the government bailout of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Are you sitting down? $5.4 TRILLION dollars. Yeah, on top of the $10 trillion we already owe.

The following information is from this article:

"Peter Orszag, CBO director, said: 'It is the CBO view that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be directly incorporated into the federal budget.'"

Okay, the numbers are enormous and the taxpayers are going to have to pick up the tab. So, what else does it mean. It means the United States, forever the most stable, solid, consistent, financially stable government in the world, just got demoted.

"The price of credit default swaps on five-year US government debt hit a record 18 basis points in early trading, according to CMA Datavision. This means that it costs $18,000 a year to buy insurance on $10m of US government debt."

I know most of you are saying, "What?"

"Tim Backshall, chief strategist at Credit Derivatives Research, said the price implied that the US was more likely to default on its obligations than Japan, Germany, France, Quebec, the Netherlands and several Scandinavian countries. Traders said the CDS market for US debt was illiquid and it was hard to see evidence of increased concern over US creditworthiness in broader market prices." (Emphasis mine)


Friday, September 05, 2008

And, finally, we are to the end and John McCain.

Like his choice of running mate, he changed up the order a little on the Standard Operating Procedure, but it was still there. He did, however, say something that I have not heard a candidate or President or pretty much anyone in Washington say for a very, very long time:

"We're dedicated to the proposition that all people are created equal and endowed by our Creator with inalienable rights. No country ever had a greater cause than that."

I have no idea what he is going to say next, but it sure is nice to hear a politician at least acknowledge it. This is the promise of American – nothing more, nothing less.

"All you ever asked of government is to stand on your side, not in your way. And that's just what I intend to do: stand on your side and fight for your future."

Well, he is off to a good start. He, unlike Obama, seems to at least grasp the real promise of America.

"She's (Palin) tackled tough problems like energy independence and corruption. She's balanced a budget, cut taxes and taken on the special interests. She's reached across the aisle and asked Republicans, Democrats and independents to serve in her administration. She's the mother of five children. She's helped run a small business, worked with her hands and knows what it's like to worry about mortgage payments and health care and the cost of gasoline and groceries."

As I mentioned in my remarks on her speech, he record on cutting taxes and balancing the budget aren't quite a rosy as presented here. She may have cut taxes on individuals and other businesses, but she roasted the oil companies and basically instituted a wealth transfer from the oil companies to the people. However, she would bring a huge unknown to Washington – a "real" person that has actually lived a true middle class lifestyle.

"I don't work for a party. I don't work for a special interest. I don't work for myself. I work for you."

Okay, he's still talking the talk, saying the right things…

Oh, boy, now he's throwing out names of citizens showing how much he cares. If this wasn't the millionth time I've heard a politician do this it would carry more weight.

"I fight to restore the pride and principles of our party. We were elected to change Washington, and we let Washington change us. We lost the trust of the American people when some Republicans gave in to the temptations of corruption. We lost their trust when rather than reform government, both parties made it bigger. We lost their trust when instead of freeing ourselves from a dangerous dependence on foreign oil, both parties and Sen. Obama passed another corporate welfare bill for oil companies. We lost their trust when we valued our power over our principles. We're going to change that. We're going to recover the people's trust by standing up again for the values Americans admire. The party of Lincoln, Roosevelt and Reagan is going to get back to basics."

He is still talking the talk. All of these things are true and deserve to be said, but we've heard it all before. That last part about Roosevelt scares me a little, though. Roosevelt was one of the very first to start throwing around Progressive ideas.

"We believe in low taxes, spending discipline and open markets. We believe in rewarding hard work and risk takers and letting people keep the fruits of their labor. We believe in a strong defense, work, faith, service, a culture of life, personal responsibility, the rule of law and judges who dispense justice impartially and don't legislate from the bench. We believe in the values of families, neighborhoods and communities. We believe in a government that unleashes the creativity and initiative of Americans. Government that doesn't make your choices for you, but works to make sure you have more choices to make for yourself."

Well, there it is – the message of Barry Goldwater and the message of George Bush. Goldwater never had the chance to show what he could do as President. Bush did and he, with the help of a Republican House and Republican Senate, screwed the pooch. I want to believe it. I want to believe he believes it and will fight to make it happen, but history says he won't. It isn't all his fault. The entire party is to blame. I'm still not comfortable with the words "make sure you have more choices." How is the federal government going to do that? If it is by cutting taxes and getting out of the way, perfect. If it is by trying to deliberately do things to the economy, it is just Barack Obama all over again.

"My health care plan will make it easier for more Americans to find and keep good health care insurance."

BOOM! That was the sound of his promises starting to crack. Government in the health care business scares the bejeepers out of me. I really don't know exactly what his plan includes, so I'm not going to completely write him off, but I do know it doesn't contain the word 'universal' and that is a very small step in the right direction. My guess is that it will be some sort of hybrid plan that allows for private ownership with public funding. Grrrrr…that's not much better. Incremental socialism.

"Keeping taxes low helps small businesses grow and create new jobs. Cutting the second-highest business tax rate in the world will help American companies compete and keep jobs from moving overseas. Doubling the child tax exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 will improve the lives of millions of American families. Reducing government spending and getting rid of failed programs will let you keep more of your own money to save, spend and invest as you see fit. Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy is essential to our future prosperity."

Oh, Senator McCain, you were soooo close. You almost had it. Everything was just peachy until the last sentence – "Opening new markets and preparing workers to compete in the world economy…" I will give him a bit of a pass on "opening new markets" because he doesn't say what that means and it could mean signing trade agreement treaties (which is good), but it could also mean directly subsidizing businesses (which is bad). But, I can't let that last phrase go without a few words. It is absolutely NOT the job of the federal government to be training people for jobs. That is absurd and it is a vote buying scheme.

"We will use our community colleges to help train people for new opportunities in their communities. For workers in industries that have been hard hit, we'll help make up part of the difference in wages between their old job and a temporary, lower paid one while they receive retraining that will help them find secure new employment at a decent wage."

Here is more of that crap. So some bureaucrat in Washington is going to monitor wages paid at certain jobs, monitor what someone is now getting paid and stroke a check to cover the difference? This is not a job for the federal government and there is no way to effectively manage this from Washington, either financially or productively speaking.

"Education is the civil rights issue of this century. Equal access to public education has been gained. But what is the value of access to a failing school? We need to shake up failed school bureaucracies with competition, empower parents with choice, remove barriers to qualified instructors, attract and reward good teachers, and help bad teachers find another line of work… I want schools to answer to parents and students. And when I'm president, they will."

I understand where he is coming from here but I couldn't disagree more with that first sentence. Education is not a civil rights issue because you do not have a right to an education. You cannot have a right to something that must be provided by someone else and still live in a free society. We may, as citizens, decide that public education should be a priority and is worthy of our tax dollars, but it is not a right. I completely agree with his assessment that schools should be subject to competition and parents should have a choice, but none of these are things that should be within the realm of the federal government. In the first place, this is not a job for the federal government. In all of the debates about the form and duties of our government that were had by the Founding Fathers, to my knowledge, education was not mentioned once. Second, why do we need an additional layer of bureaucracy, an additional layer of 'professionals', an additional layer of payroll and insurances and benefits on top of all of those that already exist in every state, county, parish and city in the country?

"My fellow Americans, when I'm president, we're going to embark on the most ambitious national project in decades. We are going to stop sending $700 billion a year to countries that don't like us very much. We will attack the problem on every front. We will produce more energy at home. We will drill new wells offshore, and we'll drill them now. We will build more nuclear power plants. We will develop clean coal technology. We will increase the use of wind, tide, solar and natural gas. We will encourage the development and use of flex fuel, hybrid and electric automobiles."

Here we go with the government going into business. There is a role for the federal government here but it isn't what he or Obama believe it to be. The full explanation of how it would work is well beyond what I want to get into here, but it is all a matter of supply and demand. If we quit importing so much oil from OPEC, and know those reductions are coming well ahead of time, the government won't have to do anything, our companies and economy will do it, in spades.

"My grandfather came home from that same war exhausted from the burdens he had borne, and died the next day. In Vietnam, where I formed the closest friendships of my life, some of those friends never came home with me. I hate war. It is terrible beyond imagination."

I cannot even begin to imagine what this man suffered in Vietnam. Can anyone? He personally experience things that make our scandals at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo look like a fifth grade field trip. He was tortured and held in confinement as long as I was in college. It has been decades since a President has had the kind of service he gave in the military. I would wager that no President has ever given so much of his own blood for his country. Perhaps I am naïve, but I trust this man when it comes to the military and politically Senator Obama would be a fool to get too deep into military matters with him – I don't care where he finished in his class at the Naval Academy.

"We need to change the way government does almost everything: from the way we protect our security to the way we compete in the world economy; from the way we respond to disasters to the way we fuel our transportation network; from the way we train our workers to the way we educate our children. All these functions of government were designed before the rise of the global economy, the information technology revolution and the end of the Cold War. We have to catch up to history, and we have to change the way we do business in Washington."

Man, is he ever right about all of these things, but he couldn't be more wrong if he thinks Washington should be the place providing the answers. He doesn't really say how he wants to address these problems. He is still saying the right things…but will he do it when in power? History says not a chance.

"A lot of prisoners had it worse than I did. I'd been mistreated before, but not as badly as others. I always liked to strut a little after I'd been roughed up to show the other guys I was tough enough to take it. But after I turned down their offer, they worked me over harder than they ever had before. For a long time. And they broke me. When they brought me back to my cell, I was hurt and ashamed, and I didn't know how I could face my fellow prisoners. The good man in the cell next door, my friend, Bob Craner, saved me. Through taps on a wall he told me I had fought as hard as I could. No man can always stand alone. And then he told me to get back up and fight again for our country and for the men I had the honor to serve with. Because every day they fought for me. I fell in love with my country when I was a prisoner in someone else's. I loved it not just for the many comforts of life here. I loved it for its decency; for its faith in the wisdom, justice and goodness of its people. I loved it because it was not just a place, but an idea, a cause worth fighting for. I was never the same again. I wasn't my own man anymore. I was my country's."

Maybe his is using his time as a prisoner of war for political gains. Maybe he is tugging on our heartstrings and filling us full of what we want to hear. Perhaps I am cynical enough to believe any person seeking that office has an ego so big that he or she would do it in a heartbeat. But, I cannot attack what he said. As the son and step-son of men who served in Vietnam and have personally shared their stories with me, as a student of history that is aware of the absolute, unimaginable horrors that so many of our soldiers have faced over the years, as the beneficiary of the freedoms guaranteed by the sacrifices of so many, I will not question the words of the man on that subject. I will argue his politics, I will disagree with positions he takes and decisions he makes, but there are certain things I will not question because, thanks to him and millions like him, I've never been asked to do it. Thank you for your service, Senator.

"If you find faults with our country, make it a better one. If you're disappointed with the mistakes of government, join its ranks and work to correct them. Enlist in our armed forces. Become a teacher. Enter the ministry. Run for public office. Feed a hungry child. Teach an illiterate adult to read. Comfort the afflicted. Defend the rights of the oppressed. Our country will be the better, and you will be the happier. Because nothing brings greater happiness in life than to serve a cause greater than yourself."

In the end, he actually said a lot less about policy than Barack Obama, so I have a lot less to write about. I want to believe him. I've gone back and read what I wrote and, even though I should know better, I am drawn to it. I am drawn to the politician that seems to understand what this country was supposed to be rather than the one that has some vision of a world as it should be that looks nothing like the America our Founding Fathers created. I do not agree with all of his positions, not in the least. He still sees government involvement in far too many places in which it should not be involved, but he said the right things so far, as limited as they were. We've been here before. George Bush said the right things. The Republican congress and Senate said the right things. But they did something else. And I really see no reason to assume, at this point that a McCain administration would be any different.

What a choice we have to make!