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.