Main Street Out Loud - www.MainStreetOutLoud.com

Essays: 2008 and 2009

2009

CLUELESS IN WASHINGTON 

December 31, 2009

"HOME"land Security----- We're not talking about here, there and everywhere.  We are talking about our country.  From the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico and a couple of states and a few territories.  Yes, it seems a large area to cover, but relation to the North American Continent or Asia or some other great mass, it is smaller than you might think.  And, while complex, Homeland Security must have some basic rules and guidelines that it just has to follow.
 
I would think that one of them might be the adherence to communications regarding potential critical information shared between the CIA, the FBI, the Secret Service and Homeland Security.  After all, didn't we decide that might have helped us to be on alert prior to the 9-11 attacks?
 
I don't understand why we are falling for the seemingly stunned attitude in Washington over the latest breach of security, regarding the near catastrophic event on Christmas Day.  Doesn't it make sense to think that on one of the most recognized holidays, a day of Christian significance, that someone of the Muslim radical community might think this would be a good day for killing Americans?

Doesn't it make sense that on such a day, that with information, from the father of a Muslim Radical, that Homeland Security and the TSA might be on the lookout for this person.  His father said he might be traveling by air and he sensed his son was just not right----and WE EVEN KNEW HIS NAME, yet we did nothing.  And why?  We know why.

Please spare me the political rhetoric of profiling and the ACLU concept of bleeding hearts liberal extremism.  I really don't care about that nonsense.  You see, if a plane flies parallel to the ground, between its start point and its destination, then things are correct, figuratively, politically and safely.  But, when a plane blows up and hundreds are killed, that is tragic, devastating, gut-wrenching and when the tragedy is caused by those with an agenda to kill Americans---that is an act of profiling and it is politically incorrect.

We missed this guy on the travel manifesto and it nearly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of innocent men, women and children.  It wasn't averted because of good Homeland Security or coincidence, but instead only by the grace of God.  God decided on this special Christian day of religious observance that it would not be marred or remembered for such a horrific disaster, not in America, for Americans at the hands of those that wish us to be exterminated.  And we need to do our part.  First to reverently thank Him and second, to tighten up AGAIN----yes, AGAIN, the rule book for Homeland Security. 

The first modification to the rule book would be to remove any mention of a requirement to be 'politically correct', to be cautious and abstain from any acts that might be interpreted as 'possible profiling' and to eradicate the notion that in the interest of American welfare and safety we should be sensitive so as to 'not offend any group based on nationality, religion, terrorist sympathies or ties'
.

If Homeland Security wasn't so busy checking American Veterans, law enforcement officers, Tea Party Organizers, conservative journalists, media entities and other non-violent demonstrators that simply love their country and believe in the Constitution of the United States of America and its principles of government----if Homeland Security wasn't so busy gathering intelligence data on these people and/or monitoring their actions, they and the Secret Service might,  at the least, be able to spot intruders to the White House before they stand a handshake away from the President of this nation.  Thank God it was only a ploy to get recognition, this time.  Had they been of a radical religious order that refers to America as Satan and a snake; then what? 

Let's take it from the top shall we?  And taking it from the top means the removal of Janet Napolitano.  Let's face it, there comes a time when the writing on the wall discloses that it's time to go.  Two events within the last month.  The clock is ticking and the next sounds might be more than tic toc. Call it what you may, profiling or political incorrectness, it beats the sound of an explosion and the desperate cries of Americans that were simply flying the friendly skies to be home for Christmas.

President Obama talked about change during his entire election campaign.  He spoke of change coming to Washington and we are aware just how well that worked for us.  I would suggest that change in Washington needs to happen and it can happen by change leaving Washington.  And Janet Napolitano can lead the exodus as she heads out of the homeland and on to, possibly, back to the state she left teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.   Then again, I don't think she would be all that welcome in Arizona.

How about someone to head up Homeland Security that has an Intelligence/Military/Anti-Terror background?  How about not putting someone in this position because of some favor that needs to be paid back?  After all, isn't this land and its people worth having a really qualified person in charge?

And, one last reason to make a change of the clueless:  The next one might not come calling without an invitation or might not be wearing a tux or a dinner gown.  The next one might not even be wearing underwear.  The next one might not be looking for a photo op or have a father trying to warn the authorities.  If the group, in charge, can't pick up the obvious clues, then they will surely be at sea regarding a more covert attempt.


Maybe Tiger Should Have Held onto a Wood and Stayed Out of the Woods

December 5, 2009

It's the same old story, no matter how many times it is told and no matter who's name you use when telling it.  Whether it's a politician, athlete, entertainer, business person or some other public figure,when they get caught with their hands in the cookie jar or their hands on the cookie, they deny and they deny and they deny.  (Deny is the mild form of lie that has a softer ring to it).

When the denial becomes rather thin, they then say they are sorry and typically, they give some excuse as to why.  Eventually, no matter the clever and deceptive prowess, the truth comes out and they ask for forgiveness and ask us to mind our own business and go back to paying them, buying tickets or supporting them for whatever it is that they do to earn lavish life styles at the expense of adoring fans and supporters. 

Just a quick observation:  In all fairness, they are a lot like you and me in one sense, we are pretty good at the denial bit ourselves when confronted with the same situation and circumstances.  But, that is about as far as I would go with the comparison.


Enough about us, back to Tiger and all those that have gone before.  When asking for forgiveness and when trying to keep or regain support; that is left to each of us to decide for ourselves.  But, here is an equitable idea:  How about the one getting caught just not charging us for whatever it is that they do to amuse, entertain, awe or lead us and get us to spend what we spend for the privilege of doing whatever it is we do to be amused, entertained, awed or led.  Or, they could just give back all their wealth and then live the secluded and private life that they want instead of showing their fans the look of a deer caught in the headlights.  They can have a life like the rest of us that don't make money off of the public.

In my own case, I really doubt if anyone cares (outside of my own family and possibly extra close friends) if I have a tryst with anyone or with many ones.  First, I'm not married and second, I'm not evening news fodder.  Breaking my story won't hike up the ratings and it won't sell commercials.  While I'm not on anyone's 'what's he up to, gotta know'
list, I will say on my own behalf that, no matter the temptations, I am mature enough and principled enough to simply keep things zipped.

As for Tiger Woods:  Welcome to the world of being a billionaire; a fortune that he made by having fans that would pay to see him, stand along the sidelines as he earned a few million dollars to play golf on a tropical and/or enchanting golf course on any given weekend.  He made his fortune through fans buying the products he endorsed.  Has Tiger forgotten?  I would think that he didn't mind their presence when he was breaking into the ranks, when he was trying to entice sponsors to go with him as his fan base grew.  Let's try to keep this thing real.  If he wants the fame and money and to hear the applause, then he has to accept the consequences when the applause turns to whispers of 'how could you and with whom did you?'
 

If things are too public for him, there is another direction that he can take.  If he doesn't want to be eyed as the eye of the storm, then take off the sponsors' attire, put down the special clubs, forget the media ads, the endorsements and give back the cars (preferrably after the auto body shop has had a chance to ply some magic) and give back all the wealth he has (before Elin gets started) and play golf on a sometimes green, manicured community golf course.  Forget the tour, forget the deals and don't ask for any money other than that which he makes from working at the auto plant, the local bank, the super market, selling shoes or insurance or whatever else that the rest of us---out of the public eye---do.

By the way, I think Tiger is an absolute fantastic golfer and his success at golf is great for the game.  I also think that the game of golf has been great for Tiger Woods.  As for what his wife thinks; she has a right to privacy.  She didn't sign up for any of Tiger's romantic tours; not one, two, three or however many more. 

This is one time that Tiger may have had too many irons in the fire and he would have been better off practicing with his woods and forgetting about the drive to a chippie. Just sayin'.

Pushers in Washington and Users on Main Street

November 30, 2009

Washington continues to amaze even the most skeptical with their spending programs.  Its as though they use them as a pusher uses drugs.  They promise a feel-good result and though these drugs are questionable, they are seemingly legal.  Washington has figured out a way to get Main Street high, and they have done it in such a slick way that neither the pushers nor the users have to look over their shoulder as to who might be watching the selling and use of these drugs.  Main Street principles and hard work seem to have been stepped over in search for another quick fix--another program that increases the size of a government that just continues to spend and spend. 

What about the consequences?  Of course there will be the occasional court cases, but not the type that require a public defender, instead, more like the kind that requires a business attorney to account for the money that was used to buy a quick fix or a good bankruptcy attorney to wash away the debt and the troubled assets (remember the T.A.R.P program?). 

There will also be the withdrawals with which many of these users will have to face as they run out of funds needed to buy another fix.   But unlike the junkie that can get into a state funded rehab program to help kick the habit, these addicts will be left to cope the best way they can.  Unfortunately, some will have such a rough time of it that there will be casualties along the way.  What else would you expect?  And if users are looking for some sympathy from the pushers, to feel sorry for them and give them a free high:  Think again.  That just doesn’t happen in the world of illegal drugs.  While many shy away from the pushers and their offerings, the temptation persists since there doesn’t seem to be a consequences at the moment.   But what about the future, what then?  Isn’t it known that quick fixes bring certain ruin?

What lies ahead?  What the users can expect is for the pushers to split and leave them in agony.  The pushers will simply move on, to a life of luxury, built on the misery of others.  They have their swank cribs, on the ultra private golf course, and they take in the sun on private yachts.  And they take private jets to party in places the users will never visit.  

And for the users, what fate awaits?  What the users can expect is the artificial world that they have been part of, a world that will crumble and crumble with severe and long lasting consequences.  What made the user take the first dose?  That answer couldn’t be simpler; it was their greed!

Yes, their greed and your greed.  You are just as responsible.  You see, without standing against the pushers, you became part of the problem.  You wanted what everyone else was getting.  And so, you sat back and bought into the stimulus package, you mumbled, but you bought into it.  You tried to give some opposition to the mortgage parachute program, but you gave in to it also.  You even resisted the AIG bailout, but eventually the pushers got you to go along with it by giving you a story about how it would help you in the long run.  And for the earmarked and deceitfully stained budget, you really didn’t much care; you watched it become a reality.  You ranted about the king pins and their dealings, but, just as before, the pushers knew you would forget it once your neighborhood was promised a playground or your inner city was promised a couple of rehabs with big screen TVs.  After all, they did repeat over and over, that it wasn’t about Wall Street, it was about Main Street.  Right?

Greed; your greed and that of your fellow users, did all of this and you were so used to the quick fixes that you started looking for more.  The pushers knew you would.  So they folded a couple of companies and left many to die along the roads as they closed shops and moved to a highly protected area within the bankruptcy courts.  And when the coast was clear, after everyone left the area, thinking surely the occupants had all died or they would have come out by now, after that, they snuck out from the protection with new identities.  And lo and behold, they had your money and your backing, because you they knew you were still hooked.

And before you would have enough thought to try to clean up, they set up a diversion while they opened a new route from which to distribute a new drug.  They knew you would be all against anything that would hurt your family.  They also knew you wouldn’t stand for anything that could take away your right to get clean.  You still keep kidding yourself that someday you will just stop using.  Anyway, they gave something to chew on and they called it health care reform.  And once that got into your system, to the point that it was consuming you, the pushers knew they had you and that you would not resist the next fix. 

And boy, oh boy, did they have that right.  They got you so hyped up on this new drug that you and many of your neighbors started knocking down the doors of the new fronts for the pushers.  You and your neighbors started begging the fronts to take your stuff and give you theirs.  And, it worked.  You got so high that everyone started saying the fix works and the habit is good and the future looks bright, thanks to these drugs.

And now, the fronts for the pushers are about to find out what getting high is all about.  The withdrawals are about to set in.   The pushers knew that this was coming.  That’s why they all took a month for vacation and they will take more.  As for the withdrawals, they could get real nasty.  But then again, if the withdrawals are bad enough, the pushers won’t have as much resistance to their next fix, regarding your health, or the fix after that, the one that keeps them, as the king pin, representing your neighborhood.

And to think, it all started with a pusher’s greed to feel good at the expense of another’s habit, the habit to buy into a quick fix to feel good.  The cycle feeds off of itself.  The pusher just bought you a new merry-go-round.   The pusher’s future and Wall Street depends on it.

Main Street needs to wake up, clean up, go to work and get rid of the neighborhood pushers.  American history tells us that Main Street became strong through hard work; not one big government spending  program after another---not one quick fix after another.
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Don't Bring a Stick to a Gun Fight

October 26,2009

Have we become numb or indifferent?  Have we forgotten our commitment or have we simply found distractions that have become more important to many of us because we, or our families, are directly affected?  We are engaged in a war and the death toll, civilians included, continues to mount, not so much from conventional weapons, but more so from suicide bomb incidents.  Great numbers are killed in single incidents where vehicles, heavily loaded with explosive devices, are driven into populous areas with unsuspecting workers, shoppers and visitors.  And let's not forget to add to these numbers the devastation from I.E.Ds planted in the roads, along the roadsides, in walking lanes and anywhere else the extremists feel they can take enough innocent and/or unsuspecting lives without being detected. And, how can we overlook the lives taken by those that have explosives strapped to their bodies that they detonate once they are within the deadly proximity of those that these radicals have been sent to kill.

We continue to add to the rising count of American military service personnel, both men and women.  These numbers are made up of the brave souls that volunteered to enlist, to defend, to stand for freedom and to oppose oppression, tyranny and a multitude of other inhumanities.

In the past few months, it seems as though there are different set of rules that apply to the display of public opposition.  Whatever happened to those that opposed the war back in the years of the past administration?  Where are those voices as the war continues today?  Whatever happened to those that opposed the loss of American lives?  As the daily, weekly and/or monthly death toll rises above those in recent years, where are those voices?  Once, those that made their voices heard, bullied their views through the media and, together, those opposed and the media, tried to bully their  opinions upon the administration of the time.

Time has marched forward and we have been subjected to a variety of attempts to end the war, to push a surge, to implement new strategies, to make new assessments and to man up or man down the efforts.  This administration even hand-picked a soldier to put his boots on the ground, make an assessment and file a comprehensive report complete with required numbers of personnel to take the fight to the enemy.  The ultimate goal of this finding was to control the insurgents, rid the Afghanistan region of those that instill fear and oppression in the people and to establish a form of government that would remove the chains of corruption and oppression.

Yet, when it is all said and done and the report had been delivered and scrutinized, there continued to be a lack of action.  Some of its contents has been made known, and there is much debate over the additional personnel requested for the fight.  No matter how long we take to have meetings and debate, one thing is certain:  meetings, differing opinions, debates and other non-actions only allow the enemy to continue to roll up the death toll and implant doubts in the minds of many as to our ability to win this war.

If the administration had not weighed all the possible views that could be included within such a report, if the administration had not planned to act on the advice of its chosen general, if the administration had planned on playing 'Monday armchair quarterback', then what was the object of putting any personnel in that theater at this time?  This isn't a game and there isn't a joy stick that controls the action.  And the downed participants don't get 'do-overs'.

The local participants, the American military volunteers and those forces that have allied themselves with us and the people of the region, all of these individuals are real and they experience the reality of the enemy on a, seemingly, daily basis.  And this, whether it's in the report or not, this is real: The enemy plants explosives to kill, to maim, to terrorize, to instill fear and to cause submission and surrender.

When it comes to engaging in battle, some things are absolute and necessary to insure victory.  One is that you better be focused on the mission, distractions can be deadly.  When the first step is taken to move forward, there is a single focus:  The Mission.  The time for talk is over, action is necessary, not more meetings or discussions. There is no room for other agendas or viewpoints---none.  And, in the minds of many, it is thought that vacations and guest appearances on entertainment shows to tout personal agenda items do little to enhance our military endeavors.  We are talking about the lives of our military sons and daughters.  Doesn't their blood take precedent over Wall Street bonuses, cash for clunkers, stimulus waste, health care reform, network squabbles and personality differences?

We need to fight this fight with a mighty force.  Our military and those that they are fighting to defend don't need more diplomacy, tact, meetings, discussions or further consideration.  The boots are on the ground, the march is on and focus is key.  This fight is not conventional, the weapons are not conventional and the enemy is certainly not conventional, nor are his methods. 

Presidents use their office as a bully pulpit to drive their points and influence the public.  Theodore Roosevelt was a master at it.  He also said that it is wise to speak softly and carry a big stick.  

Today, how about forgoing the speeches and the television appearances to make points for health care reform, how well the stimulus is working, how many jobs are being created by the recovery act, etc and etc?  Instead; how about LISTENING to our military leaders and accepting their evaluations and proposed actions?

(Just a thought:  I would heed the recommendation of a general that puts his boots on the ground, makes assessments and writes a report over some congressman that didn't read a bill before voting on it.)

And, as for a big stick?  You can't carry a stick to win this war, not when the enemy flies passenger aircrafts into buildings, killing innocent men, women and children.  You can't bring a stick to a war that has the opposition enlisting fanatics that wear explosives and stand next to children on the roadside---just before they detonate.

Blood above cash!  Time to focus!  Time to be forceful!  Time to march!  Time to win!

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Flash:  Dash for Cash is Subject to Crash

August 19, 2009

Just one thing before I start.  I didn’t just jump on this band wagon; I have been voicing my concerns over this industry, bailouts and programs since late last year.  So, as you can see, this Administration, this Congress and this Senate listens to me just as much as it listens to you. My view of this oversight comes in the last paragraph of this article.

‘Cash for clunkers’ has dealers on edge and hesitant to make any more deals.  The industry has an underlying hum and it isn’t coming from a fuel efficient engine. The program is on hold and that move is initiated by the same industry it is supposed to help.  Why?  The program may have run its course and there may not be any money for subsequent deals.  There are many speculations and even some calculations, but no one, not one person, not one agency can give anything that might resemble real facts.  And so we scratch our heads and ask: How can this be, how can this be happening again? 

Unfortunately, once again, this administration has come up with yet another program to spend tax payer money, without a viable method to control the spending.  It seems as though we have been stuck on this crooked path since this ‘hurry up, give me the money’ started last September.  Remember when Henry Paulson said that the financial markets needed a 700 Billion dollar bail out (T.A.R.P)?  That program continues to be questionable and much of the money is still unaccounted for or not being disclosed as to its use.  And since that fiasco, it seems that every ensuing program just mirrors the unbridled spending and waste.  You would think that once would be enough and someone would get the clue to ride a different pony.    

Let me clear your mind as you continue to read.  When it is all said and done, the ‘cash for clunkers’ program will have cost more than Congress figured, will uncover some real nightmares to deal with, somewhere, the end result of these transactions (the recycle bin) will crush parts of the industry to the point of needing a bailout and we will be put in the position of having to pony up once more.  Stay tuned.  Surprised?  I bet you are thinking I could have left this paragraph to your imagination, right?!

Some auto dealers are as good as out of business.  Why?  They have no inventory and they have not received the cash the administration said they could get if they took in gas guzzlers, junkers and ‘back-forty’ field ornaments and sent the customers out in quasi fuel-efficient, bright, shiny new vehicles.  So the dealers sent their inventory out on the streets, stock piled the less-than-desirables, made sure they ruined the engine, filed the proper forms that were necessary to the program and sat around doing nothing but checking their mail for the money, so they could pay business expenses, commissions and loans that they took out to fund the start of this great opportunity the Administration sold the nation.  Not to toot my own horn, but I didn’t buy into this deal when it was first pitched.  I remember a bit of sound advice that has stuck with me for many years.  Most people are familiar with it; they just push it aside when it comes to their own pocket, when greed takes over and when they feel they might be able to pull a fast one; anyway the adage goes like this:  “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”.

Today, here is a partial overview of what this administration has accomplished with ‘just’ THREE BILLION DOLLARS.  It cleared some eye sores from the road, out from behind the barns, out from under the oak tree in the field and from Aunt Matilda’s garage.  It replaced them with shiny metal, lots of it, enough to leave many dealers with near empty lots except for the occasional gas guzzler that everyone just side stepped on the way to their new found bonanza of trade-in cash.  AND, the Administration now has dealers, all over America, wondering what they are going to do to stay in business. The dealer reports the new car as sold through a registration process in their state and the manufacturer is then entitled to get paid.  Unfortunately, the dealer is $3,500.00 to $4,500.00 short to satisfy the conclusion of the deal that includes overhead, commissions and other operating costs.  This leaves the dealer in the hole.  You really didn’t think that that was going to be all profit for the dealer’s pocket, did you?  If ever there was an anti-acid commercial in the making, any dealer that has participated in this program would make a very convincing pitchman.

Toyota and Honda saw the writing on the wall earlier than most and offered the dealers money and pay-off programs.  Now, General Motors Company, that new company that came out on the other side of bankruptcy, that company, of which you and I own 60%, has found more of our money and now are offering 30 day, interest free loans to their dealers to tide them over while the administration figures out whether the deals are solid and whether the dealers should be paid.  Could someone tell me where General Motors Company (not GM any longer) got this windfall, that they can be so benevolent now?  First the manufacturers need a bail out that cost us B-I-L-L-I-O-N-S, then they went upside down anyway and filed bankruptcy, they then dropped thousands of dealers across the country, ending jobs for tens of thousands and further handicapping areas through the lack of sales tax revenue that they used to get from the long-standing auto dealerships.  I haven’t forgotten Chrysler. They just seem to be stuck with so many problems that it is hard enough for them to breath, let alone talk.

And here is a follow up on the fact that not all deals will qualify, because of some inconsistency in registration, insurance or title of ownership.  Dealers have had to unwind some deals and de-horse the new owners for some of these hidden and undeclared discrepancies in registrations and insurance requirements on the sleds that were traded in.  (By the way, since I have some background in the industry, I am familiar with terms like unwind, de-horse and sleds).  And if this ‘your trade didn’t qualify’ isn’t a nightmare for the dealer, who put out a perfectly sound, brand new vehicle; he/she now has a used car (the returned new car) sitting on the lot that had been registered and the warranty started on the day of registration.  And, as for the customer that was de-horsed, he gets his old field ornament back.  But in what shape is it returned?  Did the dealer pour the solution of sodium silicate into the engine as he was supposed to do to make the rust bucket inoperable?  If so, how does the customer get satisfaction on the back end of the deal?  Will there be a line of lawsuits coming out of this administration’s program to solve the auto sales dilemma that has contributed to the economic crisis?  Since no one on the hill in Washington seems to listen to Main Street, we can only cross our fingers and hope the administration runs out of ideas for more programs-----and soon.

So, overall, the administration has bailed out giants of an industry, demanded the firing of some executives, led them to bankrupt filings, without notice, canceled dealership agreements across Main Street America, structured the sale of these companies, infused them with more bailout money, came up with an incentive program to increase sales and rid the planet of exhaust fumes and dependence on oil (yeah, right).  Along with that, the administration’s program orchestrated the debacle that stripped lots to the point that less employees are needed for the day-to-day operations, left dealer franchises strung out to dry on both the deals, the trades and the rebates to the point that existing dealers are beginning to think those that got the axe were the lucky ones.

And add to all of this the wonder of wonders, the auto manufacturers are now revving up the assembly lines to produce more vehicles and these same manufacturers are lending your and my money to the private sector to keep them afloat so that they stay in business to order the cars that the manufacturers are now pushing down the line at the plant.  Are you dizzy yet?  Wait, there is one more thing I should let you in on.

Odds are that Japan has sent its thanks to the Administration for the handling of this program.  You see, Toyota is the number one beneficiary in this program.  Toyota has sold more cars in the ‘dash for cash right up to a program crash’, than any auto maker.  And where is Toyota headquartered? Spare me the rhetoric about Toyota plants in America.   

This administration has taken American taxpayer money and directly injected it into the industry, greatly benefiting a foreign auto maker housed in a foreign country, while our auto industry reinvents itself from the ashes of bankruptcy and we (America) continue with high unemployment rates, hundreds of thousands of foreclosures, small businesses closing their doors and all the while, the banks that got taxpayer funds, have tightened their credit lines to the point of near non-existence.  Who do I call to get Japan to repay me for the money used to bolster up their auto industry, export industry and general economic well-being? Instead of trying to figure that out, maybe this administration could have planned this program to solely benefit the same people that are funding this ---(okay, your turn to fill in the blank).

Oh, lest I forget, this program has gotten rave revues and everyone that ever owned a car, drove a car or just saw a car is patting themselves on the back for coming up with this fantastic program that has added so much to the economy and the auto industry.  Yes, up to now, this program is touted as a roaring success.  Of course, the players have been too busy promoting steals, working deals and delivering new wheels.  Before too long, everyone will come out from under the ether and the pain from this operation will be felt.  It’s anyone’s guess as to how deep and lasting the scars will be.

Can you hardly contain yourself as you wait for the health care program to make things all better? 

“In God We Trust”----more than ever:  “We Must!”

One last thing:   I said this administration and not ‘this government’ throughout this article for one simple reason that we sometimes forget.  Those on the hill are the Executive Branch and it's appointees (referred to as the Administration), The Legislative Branch (Congress and the Senate) and the Judicial Branch (Supreme Court).  But,  "THE GOVERNMENT" is YOU and ME.  We, the Government, have elected these people to represent us and we have empowered them, through the Constitution, to act on our behalf.  You will also notice that I refer to this Administration’s programs.  I do not call them plans because they aren’t thought out enough to be considered plans, and the end result of these recent programs, time after time (unfortunately for you and me) proves me out.

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Why I Aired Program on Cambridge Arrest.  Was it Racism?

July 29, 2009

To begin with, I really love America.  And when my country gets a thorn that could fester into a serious wound, I can't sit back and do nothing.  And since I am fortunate enough to have a forum that reaches tens of thousands of people, I speak up.  Unlike so many talk radio programs, I don't deal in hype, supposition or conjecture that reeks of controversy, all for the sake of ratings.  I present the facts and I try to give non-biased commentary based upon the findings.  My personal views have no place in reports.  Luckily, this is not a report; instead it is the reasoning for my latest broadcast on July 27, 2009. 

The topic of race is often one that people only approach from the edges and skirt around the possibility of true, in-depth studies or conclusions.  Too often, humorous and ‘what a shame' comments divert any real attempts to get closure.

Recently, the issue of an arrest made the headlines.  A local incident became a national incident as soon as the President weighed in with some words, by his own admission; that were not based on facts.  Was the President racist, was the professor racist, was the policeman racist?  Was the incident filled with racial profiling, as the professor stated?  And it was a topic that most wanted to stay away from.  They would discuss the President's comment and dissect that, but otherwise, most seemed to ask questions that they expected the air to answer.  The news channels had their regular anchors  and the interviews were with, you guessed it, persons of color.  As though only an African-American could answer the question of ‘should President Obama have commented?', ‘do you think this was racially motivated?' and misdirected questions, such as ‘do we really have a race issue in America?'.  The dance around the facts was farcical and degrading.   As for me, I wanted the factual details and I wanted to relay the truth.

I understand that many would raise an eye brow or dismiss my thoughts.  Surely you are familiar with the thinking that asks ‘what does a "white" man know about color discrimination?'.  What could a "white" man say that made any sense to a person of color?  I have heard it all in past years and I have to say, I don't hear it too often, anymore.  By the way, Tom Sawyer got his friends to paint a picket fence white, and, according to that guideline, I am not "white".

Just before I went on the air, I recalled a comment I made years ago, as a panel member that addressed the issue of separations within America.  It was that if you do not discriminate, if you are unbiased and truly blind to color, race and nationality, you may be chastised for the content or leaning of your words, but never for expressing your opinion.

I started off my broadcast with a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  He said:  "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".  I asked the audience to keep this quote in mind.  My personal feelings about Dr. King are irrelevant at this time, but I will state, for the purpose of this writing, I admired him, his principles, his character, his integrity and his love for God and all peoples.

I migrated to America from Europe when I was a young child.  I could never understand why I was the butt of jokes, sneers, name calling, down right nasty comments and fights.  After all, I was a child, I didn't fight in the war, I didn't have a side, at that time I never expressed my views; I just was.  Eventually I learned:  I found out what it was and I found out why it was.  It was discrimination and it was based on ignorance, covered in hypocrisy.  And today, when it comes to racism, those factors are just as true.  

Whether it is in our country, against our own citizens, or against visitors or against another nation, so many first cloak themselves in religious and/or spiritual robes as they worship God, pray for a better world, and invoke their ‘God will forgive me' and turn into vile and condescending hypocrites.  In a heart beat, they make statements and take actions that reek of ignorance as the ‘better-than-you', ‘holier-than-thou' discriminatory self takes over.

I got a bit off the subject; please indulge me for the moment.  My feelings on race, color and nationality discrimination could fill the halls of Congress.  Back to why I dared to air this program.

Eric Holder, the United States Attorney General, made a statement during his speech after taking office.  He was talking about America, that in his opinion, was more racist than we would admit and that things regarding race are avoided by Americans, that we are "essentially a nation of cowards".  To say I took exception to the statement goes beyond comment.  While I agree that many, as I said at the beginning of this piece, skirt the issue, but I do not believe cowardice is correct.  I believe that people are uneasy to speak openly because they, most often, haven't a foundation or true conviction of their own.  You don't need to live another's color, but you do need to understand the Creator made us equal.  Don't worry, I won't get Biblical and quote scripture.  But, even our Declaration of Independence tells us "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness".  And just like that, if you are American and believe in our way of life, our freedoms and our Constitution, you have a foundation to build on and, without exception, racism is unconstitutional and to be against the Constitution is un-American.

I have noticed, throughout my life, that it is normally someone that could fit the description of being biased, prejudiced or discriminatory in regards to race, color or nationality, that brings up the issue of race.  And then, it is that same person that adamantly denies being a racist.  You know it is the truth and I would be willing to wager heavily that many of you reading this can think of someone you know that fits that description.

I live in an attractive and quiet neighborhood.  That is how I describe it, when asked.  I use that description to make a point.  What did you envision as you read that?  Take a moment and picture my neighborhood and my neighbors.    I will now veer from my normal description and, for the sake of making a point, I offer this description.  I live in a diverse and mixed ethnic neighborhood.  Now, what did you picture.  Get the point?  As diverse as it may be,  I never refer to one neighbor or another, while talking to friends or neighbors, as that black family, that African-American family, that Asian family, that German family,  that Hispanic family, that Indian family, or ----again, you get the picture..  I simply refer to them by name or location.  My neighbor isn't white, black, brown, yellow, pink or green.  My neighbor is my neighbor.  I do not shy away from talking about issues of equality in America, race, color or nationality.  Why?  Because I am very comfortable with my belief that "All men are created equal" and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is the Creator.  To have a problem or feel uncomfortable with presenting an issue that may involve racism would be hypocritical on my part.  You either believe or you don't.  There are no exceptions.  It is like being pregnant, you either are or you aren't.  There is no such thing as almost, partially, or ‘all but'.

While I don't claim to be the last word on this topic, I would suggest that if you disagree with the concept of equality for all, you might want to examine the foundation of your conscience, the motive in your beliefs.

As I said at the very beginning, within the limits of my ability and talents, I will not let my country suffer.  I vowed to defend her while I wore this nation's uniform and, though no longer in uniform, I am an American Citizen that loves the life of being free.  If you are a parent, you understand that those that you love, you will protect at any cost.  If you are a homeowner, you understand how protective people can be over their property.  If you are an American, then surely you understand why I couldn't let issues or allegations of racism add another scar to this land.  I love this nation and she doesn't deserve a black eye, a broken arm or a scandalous reputation.  The Statue of Liberty stands in the harbor, with a message that welcomes all peoples, no matter the color.  The flag of this country stands as the symbol of freedom in America, without regard to race.  America is you and you and you and me.  And you and you and you and I, by virtue of birth, naturalization or government intervention, we are American.

I repeat the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter".

Why did I speak out on something considered as taboo by many?  Discrimination and racist attitudes have no place in my world and they shouldn't in yours.  We are the product of the same Creator.  We are all equal in His eyes and also in the core of our Constitution.  In my world, courtesy, diplomacy, respect and tact matter.  And when those traits, coupled to principles, integrity, morals, ethics and character, are taught to our youth, we can make this world a better place----one home, one street, one neighborhood, one city, one country at a time.  AND THAT MATTERS TO ME!

Listen to the Broadcast of July 27, 2009....
_______________________________________________________________________________________________


PROPANE RIP OFF ---- LESS IN THE TANK, MORE IN THEIR BANK

May 27, 2009

FIRST: THE PROPANE RIP OFF AND VIEWS FROM THE RETAILERS


ITEM: When oil prices soared in 2008, propane suppliers quietly reduced by two pounds the amount of gas pumped into each 20-pound tank, saying they wanted to avoid raising prices.

ITEM: Since then, propane prices have been cut in half as the price of oil has dropped. But smaller refills are still being sold nationwide by many dealers, and most buyers are unaware because the tank is the same size.

ITEM: The problem, consumers say, is that no one tells them they're getting less propane. Companies have adopted similar practices in the packaging of coffee, sugar and laundry detergent.

ITEM: Until last year, Blue Rhino and Amerigas, two major suppliers, put 17 to 18 pounds of propane in each 20-pound tank. Tanks should not be filled completely for safety reasons. About a year ago, that amount was cut to 15 pounds to save consumers a price hike, Blue Rhino spokesman Chris Hartley said.

ITEM: Home Depot, which offers propane tank exchanges, said cutting the amount of propane in 20-pound tanks was an industry wide measure. There have been no customer complaints, spokeswoman Jean Niemi said.


NOW: MY VIEWS ON THIS RIP OFF


FIRST, HERE IS THE WHOLE ISSUE WRAPPED UP WITH THREE POINTS: The suppliers quietly reduced the amount in the tanks. Most retailers went along with the deception (it’s an industry wide measure, stated a spokesperson for Home Depot). The reasoning was to save us a price hike---someone, namely Chris Hartley with Blue Rhino, thinks that consumers are really stupid.

Cheating is cheating, lying is lying and this qualifies on both counts. If it is such a great idea for consumers, then why didn’t they announce how they were going to save the consumer from a price increase instead of keeping this deception quiet?

Home Depot says it is an industry wide measure, so that makes it right? If adding an extra penny at the register to every item that is scanned was an industry wide measure, that would make it right? If stores sold used merchandise and advertised it as new, and that was an industry wide practice, would that be okay? As long as every home improvement store and hardware store cheats; that makes it right? Is this what they teach employees? Isn’t this the same Home Depot that makes it a point to brag about how many of their employees are on the U.S Olympic Team? I hope our Olympians don’t follow the example of their employer and believe that cheating is okay.

This Rhino spokesman, Chris Hartley, must surely think that you and I are stupid. To save from having a price hike, they decreased the amount of the product the consumer got for the same amount of money as they used to pay when they got MORE. This is so far out there that it might hold up as the lamest comment of the year. At the same time, it shows how some corporate entities within the retail industry think; and that is really disturbing.

Let’s use an example to illustrate the lameness of his comment. You go to a particular deli because it has the best triple-decker sandwich in the city. You have been going there for a triple-decker for years and you always paid $5.00 for that triple-decker. Then food prices go up and the deli has to pay more for its supplies. The store continues to advertise the triple-decker for $5.00. You continue to buy it, but when you unwrap it and start to eat it, you find that one layer is now just cardboard. Have you been deceived? Have you been cheated? Do you feel you have been lied to? Has the deli mislead you in its advertising? Yes, yes, yes and yes. You have just paid for something you did not get. Which, when translated into simple economics, means: ‘You have gotten less for your money----which means you have experienced a price increase’.

And Chris Hartley (Blue Rhino) says they gave you more air in the tank than propane so you wouldn’t have to pay more?

Last year we paid nearly $4.00 a gallon for gas. Before that huge increase we used to fill up our tanks for about $40.00 a tank. And all of a sudden, it cost us about $80.00. So to keep from paying more, we just put in $40.00 and guess what-------we got half of what we used to get. And to get the same amount we had to pay more. In other words, we had a price increase and we knew it. Because the pump readout stated the price per gallon and we saw how many gallons we were getting (unlike how much is in those metal tanks we take home for the barbeque). With the gasoline issue, we realized if we didn’t get the same amount (by volume), we could not travel as far as before.

Chris Hartley, tell me again how getting less volume and cooking time out of a Rhino tank, that I paid the same amount for as before, is considered a savings to me-----because I still paid the same and got less?

If Blue Rhino doesn’t fire you, then it tells us just what type of a company they are. It also lets the consumer know what they think of the consumer---that cooing is the sound of a pigeon---get the hint?

By the way, before I overlook the comment about coffee, sugar and detergent companies cutting back on their packaging. Let me point out, that while we are getting smaller containers, we know it. The amount by volume or weight is clearly marked on the packaging. Unlike the propane industry that "quietly" gave us less in the same sized container that we could not see into and that gave us no notice that our dollar would now buy less.

As for Blue Rhino, Amerigas, Home Depot and any other supplier and/or retailer that went along with this ruse of the public, they should be investigated for consumer fraud, false advertising, deceptive practices against the consumer and other related acts of lying and cheating aimed to deceive the consumer.

Write your state representative. Tell them how you feel and/or send them this commentary. After all, with the bailouts, the stimulus and the omnibus budget, aren’t you paying enough for what you aren’t getting?


A Bib, a Booster Chair, Curly Fries and a Glock ...
May 19, 2009

I am responding to an article in the Arizona Republic. I have included the greater portion of that article with this commentary
. Early in my business life, I was a salesman and I made sales calls. I went to the client; the client did not come to me. My car was my office and I worked long hours and spent a lot of time in my office. Therefore, I have always thought of my car as an extension of my home. And since I still feel that way, it is not unrealistic for me to think that I have the right to have anything in my car that I would also have in my home. I feel that as long as I don’t abuse that privilege or go to extremes with ridiculous acts, my car is my personal property, as is my home, and I have all the rights of ownership that should be mine. To the point, I have no problem with the Arizona House Bill that this article mentions (HB2474). This bill, authored by State Representative John Kavanagh, allows the transport and storage of a weapon within a vehicle that is secured (locked) and wherein the weapon is not openly displayed for public observation. I find this reasonable and without need to justify my position, suffice to say, my car, my weapon, my personal property, locked, alarmed and hidden from prying eyes. How this would be different than an item in my home, I haven’t a clue.

What I do take exception to is the added dialogue by others regarding their attempt to piggy back on a reasonable bill or grab the spotlight for their agenda or makes an attempt to adulterate a bill with, in my opinion, ludicrous proposals to see how far we can stretch the existing laws that we accept as fair and balanced. Such is the case, I believe, with this latest bill, HB2474. This bill is clear. The following article seems to make an obscure attempt to link other comments and proposals with this bill. It is these alternate proposals that I, at this time, would oppose.

I am not in favor of carte blanche possession of fire arms; I am not in favor of ownership of any and all kinds of weapons. Why anyone needs to possess an AK-47, an Uzi, a 50 millimeter machine gun and/or various other combat weapons is far removed from my realm of reason. I will save my commentary on this particular issue for another day. I will stay focused on the proposal of carrying weapons into public places. In particular, venues that attract men, women and children, young and old, without threat to anyone in their offerings and attractions.

I have used this format before, intertwining my comments along with the story (article) written. Again, the article is in black print and my commentary is in red. That section that is high lighted in yellow is the core of each of my comments. Please feel free to make your opinions known to me through emails or by calling the program during air time. Whether you agree with me or not, let your voice be heard. The Second Amendment is (hopefully) here to stay.

Due to an illness, I was unable to get this on the web site in a timelier manner. The crux of this essay is still timely and deserves much consideration. The NRA held its convention this past weekend in Phoenix. HB2474 passed the House and has been passed on to the Senate. No matter how you lean in your opinion, express yourself by writing, calling or emailing your state representative or state senator. You will really feel good about getting involved. Contribute---it’s your privilege. Now, here’s what is on my mind, what’s on yours?

Pending legislation joins spate of NRA-backed measures in Arizona

JJ Hensley - May. 10, 2009 12:00 AM
The Arizona Republic

The National Rifle Association will bring more than 50,000 visitors to downtown Phoenix for its national convention later this week, but the group's presence has already been felt at the state Capitol.


If the NRA gets its wish, registered gun owners in Arizona will be able to keep weapons locked in their cars outside of a business, regardless of the business' policy on weapons in the workplace;
they'll also be allowed to bring guns into certain restaurants that serve alcohol.


If I recall: let me retrace the weapons education that my dad gave me at the age of twelve and other classes I took as I matured regarding respect of weapons. I think the simple message was always the same: Guns and alcohol don’t mix. No, I wasn’t drinking at age 12, but I went hunting with adults and that was their credo and it became mine as I matured. If there was alcohol anywhere, there were no guns----if anyone had been drinking, they weren’t going hunting. End of the story. But now? The little family goes to dinner and they are packing heat----tell me this just an Arizona insider’s joke.


The guns-in-cars legislation,
House Bill 2474, moved out of the House on Thursday and its sponsor, Rep. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, expects it to pass through the Senate.

"I think there'll be some Democratic votes, too. The Republican Party does not have a monopoly on the Second Amendment," he said.


Kavanagh said the NRA brought the proposed legislation to him earlier this year, and the gun-rights group is pushing for states to enact similar laws around the country.


He's not alone. Rep. Frank Antenori, R-Tucson, also sponsored a bill with the NRA's backing this session, that would allow gun owners to bring firearms into restaurants that serve alcohol,
provided the gun owner doesn't drink and the restaurant gets more than half its profits from food sales.


And if the gun owner does have a drink who will have the responsibility of taking the gun away from this desperado? If someone attempts to and is shot, who is the responsible party; the bartender, the server, the waiter, the owner, the gun-toting, pistol-packing mama or papa, the person that tried to remove the weapon, the others at the table, etc, etc? How young can the dining patron be that is packing a pistol on his side when he orders a ‘Big Mac’ and fries?


Antenori's legislation never got a hearing, but it should live on in the Senate, where Sen. Jack Harper, R-Surprise, inserted the language in another bill, Antenori said.


Both Kavanagh and Antenori characterized the NRA-backed legislation as striking a prudent balance between the rights of gun owners and the rights of businesses.


"We've got several documented cases of people
that were assaulted in parking lots. They were leaving the gun in their car because they couldn't take it in the restaurant," Antenori said "They're forced to disarm themselves because the law states you can't have a firearm in any place that serves open-container beverages."


I think this article probably cited the Tucson representative correctly, but let me question his concern. There are several cases of people being assaulted in parking lots? Several cases? How many is several and are these enough to eliminate a law of reason and caution? According to the current law, they are forced to disarm themselves by leaving a gun in the car and not bringing it into the restaurant? Forced to disarm themselves? Please tell me that is not what he really meant to say. Disarm themselves? It makes it sound like they had to surrender their weapons and were forced to walk across an unfriendly parking lot, while encountering hostile acts that could be eliminated if only the innocent could protect themselves by having a shoot out on the asphalt. This just doesn’t hold up to the “How sane am I” test.


If you are going out to dinner and feel you need a weapon to accompany you across the parking lot, maybe you should try dining in a more ambient—friendly eatery. Really, think about this: How enjoyable could this meal be if you have to load a clip, insert it, remove the safety and unsnap the holster strap,
while you are trying to butter your bun---AND--- all while you are trying to protect your buns. Just how fast of a draw would you have to be to do all this and still plug the ace of spades through the pip?


According to this State Representative (Antenori), we can also offer this example. He said there were several cases, so okay. There are several cases of police officers being out gunned in arrest attempts or while simply carrying out their duty to protect and serve.
How about passing legislation to appropriate and arm these men and women with up-to-date weapons. I haven’t heard or seen where the legislature even has such a bill up for debate, let alone ready to become law. We have nothing for law enforcement, but for the guys that want to hang in the parking lot, we are all over it and ready to arm them with whatever weapons they deem necessary to defend their dash for that plate of hash.


Antenori said the language in the legislation was tweaked to satisfy Arizona restaurant owners, including a provision that prohibits the gun owner from drinking, which the legislature will revisit in 3 years.


"They're not going to Olive Garden or Chuy's to drink alcohol.
There's no ill-intended purpose to do that," he said.


Again, Representative Antenori makes an attempt to rationalize---who says they aren’t going to Olive Garden or Chuy’s to drink? Are you telling me that no one ever goes to these restaurants to have a drink or tell me that no one has ever had a drink before going there? These places sell beer, wine and cocktails and they sell these alcoholic beverages because people order them and then (get ready for a real eye opener)----they drink them.


And shame on you Frank Antenori----if your comment is to suggest that these types of places are family venues and fares, then what are we teaching the youngsters in their bibs and booster chairs? Look children, see;
mommy and daddy need a gun at the table when eating. So remember, when you get older, always take a shotgun (by then we will have advanced--- shotguns will be the vogue, not 9mms), with you as you blast your way across the parking lot from the valet’s station to the front door.


While I have read about cruel events in parking lots and also experienced a few while in my younger years, there is absolutely no good that can come from this proposed bill.

Too often, the ardent proponents of the Second Amendment think you have to check your brain at the door to support the right to possess and bear arms. As I said before, I believe in the right to possess and bear arms and I believe that the road to ownership should not be filled with obstacles and hoops. I also believe in the right to protect oneself, their loved ones and their property. But-----if I need a gun to walk from point A to point B then (as a member of the sane club) maybe I should find a road less traveled, especially if I am taking others to dinner. Yes, you can defend the Second Amendment and have a brain too. It is kind of like multi-tasking---supporting and thinking all at the same time-----WOW, what a concept, what a country (couldn’t resist, Yakov Smirnoff).


I don’t have to agree with every gun law. I have the right to possess arms and I claim my right to possess a brain----and at this moment, you can’t take either away from me.


Rep. Chad Campbell, D- Phoenix, said, as a gun owner, he could have supported Kavanagh's
bill if there were certain exemptions, such as for condo owners who don't want weapons outside their homes.

Now here is another example of what rational thinking representatives we get when we don’t research the candidates. Odds are this Representative has lunch with Frank Antenori----oops, forgive me---to think a Democrat and a Republican could have lunch. Maybe this is what the ‘bring a gun to lunch’ is all about (opposing political sides going to lunch). This Representative, Chad Campbell, thinks its okay to carry a gun into the golden arches or into chucky cheese pizza, but not if your visiting someone in the neighborhood that lives in a condo. And what about the rights of the condo resident-----he is just screwed. He can’t go to Olive Garden and take an AK-47 with him, to make sure he gets across the parking lot. But, if he has a friend that lives in a house somewhere away from a condo complex---you know a place he can store the gun, then he might be able to still defend himself against the threat of the Pillsbury Doughboy and his poppin’ fresh muffins. But, the question then becomes convoluted: Can he trust the friend to not use his registered weapon to commit a crime that he will be stuck with?


Clearly, so it seems, the problems just continue to mount on these legislative dilemmas. With all the side issues, maybe we should just call out the Arizona National Guard and have them patrol the restaurant and bar parking lots so we can all leave our weapons at home when we take little Johnny and Susie out for a ‘Happy Meal’.


"The fundamental problem I have with both these bills is you're infringing on private property owners”, Campbell said. "There is room for common ground here, but so far the other side has been unwilling to work.
There's a balance in everything we do down here. That's our job is to find a balance to protect people's rights."

If Representative Campbell and other legislators want to balance something, I really think I have a better idea. Allow me to direct their attention to the state budget. How about trying to balance the budget and promote affordable education, senior health care, rewarding careers, clean air and a PEACEFUL life style? How about trying to balance those things for starters? When those items are accomplished; don’t worry, I have more for you to do. And for a novel concept----we can leave our guns at home and teach our children that the restaurant is a place to go for breakfast, lunch or dinner and not for the re-enactment of the O.K. Corral shootout.





Another Trillion—But Who’s Counting

March 26, 2009
Well, Washington announced a new program and without thought, Main Street got the chills. We know it will cost us, it always does, we just don’t know how much this time. We will do something different with this writing. Washington announced the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility (who makes up this stuff?), immediately referred to as TALF. We will precede the comments from Washington with a ‘FROM WASHINGTON’ and also print comments and quotes in black. My commentary and that of Main Street will be in red.


For the intricate details of this program, please refer to the national debt figures, the lack of jobs on Main Street, your personal bank account, your pension fund or your subsequent IRS tax returns.


For the end result of how this program should work, please check with any smiling face on Wall Street, the gleaming CEO and other officers of your bank or the Board of Directors of most Hedge Funds. A hint to finding them, they will be on their yachts, probably in some exotic port. Sorry, but as you know, it really isn’t about you. Congress just says that in order to stay connected to its votes.


Okay, let’s get started on detailing the latest phase of "THE SELLING OF MY AMERICA."


Well the new plan is out. Yes, we ---you and I---are soon to go into partnership with private investors and between the both of us we will buy up these toxic assets the banks now hold. I will put this in real plan language as we move along, but first, here is the latest deal from President Obama and United States Treasury Secretary, Timothy Geithner.


FROM WASHINTON: The Obama administration formally presented the latest step in its financial rescue package on Monday, an attempt to draw private investors into partnership with a new federal entity that could eventually buy up to $1 trillion in troubled assets that are weighing down banks and clogging up the credit markets.


Mr. Geithner added the following to the announcement, which surely instilled an air of confidence in the average person on Main Street.


FROM WASHINGTON: The Treasury secretary did not deny the uncertainties inherent in the new program on Monday but defended it as a practical approach. Mr. Geithner acknowledged that the government is taking a big risk with this program and his question was as to how best to do it.


Of course, the Government (that is you and me) is taking a risk. Since this whole collapse started it has always been Main Street that has had to reach and bail out those that sat back and waited for the rescue wagon. You probably have figured this next part out, but just in case you haven’t: This program could turn out to be a real sweet deal for our friends on Wall Street.


FROM WASHINGTON: The private investors would be subsidized but could stand to lose their investments, while the taxpayers could share in prospective profits as the assets are eventually sold, the Treasury said. The administration said that it expected participation from pension funds to insurance companies and other long-term investors.


Bottom line: Investors being subsidized could lose their investments---fat chance. With any subsidized program, the potential ‘real loser’ is the subsidizer, not the subsidizee--- let’s be real clear about that, as we read the next statement regarding the plan------


FROM WASHINGTON: The plan calls for the government to put up most of the money for buying up troubled assets, and it would give private investors a clearly advantageous deal. In one program, the Treasury would match one-for-one every dollar of equity that private investors invest of their own money in each "Public Private Investment Fund."


Yes, a clearly advantageous deal to the private investors. Without going into every minute detail or explaining the dollar investment portions (you can find that on the White House’s web site or in most cartoon sections of a variety of newspapers), let’s look at the end result.


FROM WASHINGTON: For a relatively small equity exposure, the private investor thus stands to make a considerable return if prices recover. The government will make a gain as well. In the worst case, the bulk of the risk would fall on the government.


Notice the wording in the release. Private investors stand to make a considerable return, while we, the government, will make a gain (nothing about considerable here). And of course, as to risk, well, we get the lion’s share of that one. Private sector (coded wording for Wall Street) gets the lion’s share of the reward, government (coded wording for you and me—Main Street) gets the risk bonanza. Someone explain how this is supposed to make all of us so happy? It seems everything is still the same, all profits lean to Wall Street, while Main Street gets handed the bill.


And if this program isn’t loaded enough to the gain of the investor; here is a little fact hidden into the plan that really has Wall Street smiling.


FROM WASHINGTON: Hidden in this program is the details of how the Treasury would dramatically revise and expand its joint venture with the Federal Reserve, known as the Term Asset-backed Secure Lending Facility, which was originally created to finance consumer lending and some forms of business lending. This program will soon be expanded to finance investors who want to buy existing mortgages and mortgage-backed securities, including commercial real estate mortgages.


In other words, the U.S. Treasury (our money) will be used to back the Federal Reserve as investors borrow money to buy these lame assets that were the single most contributing factor that got us into this mess in the first place. The same assets that made the banks look hard and long at their balance sheets and that look subsequently led to getting us, you and me and every other tax payer, to lend the banks money so they would lend money to us again. Yes, the initial Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that only helped the banks and did absolutely nothing for the people for which it was intended. This was money that the banks chose not to lend but instead to pad their balance sheets and buy up smaller banks and all the while they continued to freeze us out of borrowing OUR money---get the picture? Never forget the first half of the TARP bailout--at election time--let it be a voice in your voting. Never forget!


There seems to be some skepticism on the part of the potential investors over this plan and there is surely some concern on the part of the administration regarding the concept the investors have over this program. In simple language, the concern of the investor is "How much is in it for me and do I have to follow any rules?" So Washington, in selling this plan said:


FROM WASHINGTON: Administration officials strove to reassure potential investors that they will not be subjected to the sort of pressures, criticism and public outrage that followed reports of the million-dollar bonuses to executives of AIG.

Ya think? It might be hard to get investors to bite if they think that they or their employees are going to receive death threats in the event they make ‘mega kajillions’ of dollars on this lopsided program.


Most of these (if not all) toxic assets have been sitting (in a file marked by a skull and crossbones) since this whole mortgage collapse started last September. So what glitter has been added to make these assets (I use the term loosely) worth the effort? And let’s not forget the uproar over AIG and those bonuses that then led to the House to quickly draft a bill to tax these bonuses. Yes, the hypocritical action of the House, to cover its own tail, has left some investors more than cautious in contemplating this new program. Why should they think twice about this program? Remember, the Wall Street greedy will participate in a program that involves your and my money, again. So, they are concerned about the backlash when, not if, but when profits are realized. To be more precise, they are concerned what we will think when we find out how much they made and what little we got.


FROM WASHINGTON: The plan relies on private investors to team with the government to relieve banks of assets tied to loans and mortgage-linked securities of unknown value. But some executives at private equity firms and hedge funds, who were briefed on the plan, are anxious about the recent uproar over millions of dollars in bonus payments made to executives of the American International Group. Some of them have told administration officials that they would participate only if the government guaranteed that it would not set compensation limits on the firms, according to people briefed on the conversations.


Here is the part that President Obama’s administration crossed their fingers over and laid it out there, so that these ‘soon to be even richer’, fat cats of Wall Street will come to play.


FROM WASHINGTON: Mr. Geithner made it clear on Monday that no limits on executive compensation would be imposed on companies that invest — unless the companies are already subject to such limitations as recipients of TARP money.


As to whether Washington will renege on its intentions, I would say that the odds are good on that happening. Why? I think why not would be easier to answer, but how about these buzz words: no lobbyists in my cabinet, transparency (no time to read a bill, just vote), change (Washington insiders holding many positions in this administration), end of bickering and partisanship (no that even makes me laugh while writing it), no ear marks or pork barrel spending (oh, okay some, but no more than 9,000 at a time), we can not govern out of anger (who said last week they were angry?), and above all of these, there is the mindset of Congress. Congress, hypocritical, self-serving, dishonest and conniving, ‘please re-elect me’, yes, that Congress that insisted on the names of those that would not give back their bonuses and then quickly drafted a bill to tax persons beyond reason and to do so without cause, other than Congress was trying to save its own rear.


Be careful to not anger some members of congress, they hold powerful positions and they want those that would jeopardize their re-election campaigns to feel their wrath. As I watched the bonus hearings, I wondered if any of those questioning Edward Liddy, had cleaned their own side of the street lately. I also wondered if any of them ever think about the fact that they hold no power except that which you and I give them. I am not certain as to what their constitution says, but my constitution, the Constitution of the United States of America says the government is of, by and for the people. We, collectively, are the only true power of this great nation.


And to think that today is exactly nine weeks into this administration’s attempt to govern. About the only actions and results that are definite are the ones we didn’t want yesterday, don’t want today and definitely don’t want tomorrow. Those are the spending programs that focus on the wrong beneficiaries and the debt consequences that go along with these misguided programs. America laid its foundation on principles of ethical behavior and morals of truth, trust and respect. America was not built with borrowing, America was built with work.


All of this money for programs to bail out the bail out, after the program to bail out failed to bail out the ‘bailee’ (code word for Wall Street). And Washington keeps saying it is about Main Street, that is the real focus. Oh, really? Let me iterate a comment I made at the beginning: Sorry, but as you know, it really isn’t about you. Congress just says that in order to stay connected to its votes.




CONFIDENCE OR CONFIDENCE GAME?

March 11, 2009
There is a pattern in Washington that has been followed since the hectic cry for money in September of 2008. Today, Washington speaks publicly of gloom and crisis, then Washington (not so publicly) makes deals and spends money, then addresses America again regarding the impending doom and gloom and again, Washington gets a bigger bag of money to spend. And all the while, Washington asks us to trust them, to have confidence. They say we can ward off the pending economic doom by spending and buying. Spending our money and buying what? Foreign made products, made by people that have jobs in American companies, located in foreign countries?

In the old west, there existed a breed know as snake oil salesmen. These were men that made their way from town to town, exploiting the people by telling them of impending diseases and other maladies that could be remedied by their solutions. They stuffed their pockets with ill gained money based on wrongful claims. And in the wake of their dust, all they left were trails of broken promises and empty pockets.

And just how confident are you? The White House, The US Treasury, The Federal Reserve, Congress and Wall Street all have said the same thing regarding what it will take to turn this economic crisis around ------- it will be based on consumer confidence. Consumer confidence will trigger spending and buying.

The stimulus package is at work and the TARP funds are being dealt out again and there is talk of a new set of TARP funds and even a second stimulus package. Phase one of each of these programs have worked so well, why not copy them, after all, waste makes waste. These figures are already in the trillions of dollars and every bit of this is borrowed money, money borrowed from foreign countries, not necessarily our good friends, either.

Here is the breath of fresh air, straight out of Washington, that is designed to give us hope and instill confidence.

To date the unemployment rate is over eight percent and heading to near-historical highs. We get updated unemployment figures that exceed 600,000 new claims, as of late, each week. And economists say that unemployment figures will continue to be bleak in the many months ahead.

Unemployment benefits increase by $25.00 a week --- no jobs available, none seen in the near future, so we increase the couch payments and extend the time for benefits. That instills confidence?

Medicaid gets near billions of dollars to strengthen its ability to provide services for those on the welfare roles such as food stamps, ‘baby mama’ benefits per child, free health services, etc. Social programs that can be misused and will be by those that have carved out a rather decent living from these programs, and with only exercising their voice to ask for more. The only confidence here is in the confidence game (as in con game).

Public housing gets millions upon millions of dollars to provide more housing, better housing and subsidized rental funds. This is not a statement on how we take care of the needy, it simply says there will be more added to the roles. And, of course, there will be those, both landlord and tenant that will burden the system with deceit and fraud. See previous comment on confidence game.

Soon to be foreclosed properties may qualify for reduced mortgage payments based on income, reduced mortgage principle and other considerations so that those that can not afford their homes can keep them through the sacrifices of the employed by having a co-op system whereby we pay our mortgage and we also help with a stranger’s mortgage. My confidence in the concept of fairness is waning.

Let me offer this as for the mortgage issue: If you can afford your home, keep it. If you can’t, I think you can figure the next step. I believe in the "Golden Rule" and I want to help my neighbor, but if you can’t make YOUR house payments (note the definitive and possessive word ‘YOUR’), then don’t ask me. And you can trust me on this one: If I would have known I had to help you with your mortgage, I would have picked out an entirely different house and neighborhood for you. You really should have asked first. Or did you not have any confidence in my suggestions?

TARP (700 billion dollar bailout) is shoring up to lend more to the investment banks, insurers and automobile manufacturers. Citibank keeps tapping the till and AIG has found the goose that lays the golden eggs to the tune of approximately $180 billion dollars based on credit lines, bailouts and structured stocks. Isn’t it time to reverse a few words in an old adage and simply say: ENOUGH IS TOO MUCH! Let’s ask the shareholders to define confidence.

General Motors and Chrysler, like the old farm horse, have found their way back to the watering trough for more. They are laying thousands off, closing plants and want more than before. Let me define ‘before.’  Before was when they showed Congress their plan for restructure, growth, energy efficient autos, etc. Isn’t it time to put them out to pasture? I would say their plan, to date, has been worthless and lacking confidence.

We are experiencing some of the most severe lending practices in history. The banks have OUR money (notice the definitive and possessive word ‘OUR’), they want more of it and they won’t let us borrow any of what we have given them. Somebody needs to explain how this builds confidence in the banking system.

And the credit card companies are having a field day, running free with new charges and changes. They have free reign until the new regulations take effect in 2010 and they are making the most of it while they can fleece their cardholders and add to the ever increasing debt of America and its people. See the paragraphs that are wrought with confidence games, this one belongs there also.

Wall Street continues to take a dive, a free fall, as more and more people simply want to stop the bleeding. They have to bail themselves out. And that, within itself, is a lesson. Wall Street has no confidence in all of these conditions or the plans put forth to end this economic debacle.

Do you notice how Wall Street firms get bailed out while Main Street companies get to pay the bill? Yet, it is the companies of Main Street that employ the majority of workers in this country. Let me emphasize that statement: The vast majority of the American work force is employed by the small companies of Main Street, U.S.A. Wouldn’t you think that as unemployment continues to sky rocket that the bailout funds should go directly to Main Street, so that existing jobs could be sustained and new jobs could be created? Or is this concept not in the best interest of those that hold the purse strings? It is often said, that in order to get, you have to give. Okay. Show confidence in Main Street (let’s not talk about how wonderful Americans are --- put your money where your mouth is) and Main Street will surely show its confidence.

All in all, I would suggest that "In God We Trust;" in these plans, we don’t.

TARP funds, stimulus package and now a bloated budget with near 9,000 ear marks (ear mark is the politically correct term for what you and I might call favors, re-election votes, personal wealth enhancements, pay-offs for back room deals, etc). Anyway, 9,000 ear marks for an administration that would be transparent in all its affairs, practice bi-partisanship and bring change to America and give Americans a cause to hope by delivering upbeat messages of "we shall overcome" and "yes, we can".

Somehow, "we shall overcome" sounded a lot more believable when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it. As for yes, we can --- most Americans are not much for slogans that fuel demonstrations regarding anything illegal; whether that be illegal immigration or illegal anything else. See paragraphs on welfare, Medicaid, ‘baby momma’ benefits, food stamps, social services and other confidence games.

This is the true picture in America today. And Washington wants us to smile, applaud, cheer and more importantly, Washington wants us to spend money and fuel confidence on Wall Street?

We are drowning in bailout packages, stimulus plans and foreclosure parachutes that boggle the mind with figures never heard of, into the trillions of dollars.

A trillion or trillions of dollars is written as follows: a number of up to three digits, followed by a comma, then 3 zeroes, a comma, 3 zeroes, a comma, 3 zeroes, a comma, 3 zeroes, a period and then 2 more zeroes. That is a total of 13 numbers and zeroes, followed by a period and 2 more zeroes. Your computer calculator won’t let you enter it, your desk calculator won’t let you enter it---it comes up as an error --- AH HA! Could it be that therein lays a message to be heeded?

Could it be that these hand outs might just be an error? It is too bad that the message wasn’t heeded when Congress and this Administration entered numbers into their calculators ---- a big fat ‘E" for error President Obama, error Ben Bernanke, error Timothy Geithner (and file your taxes this year), error Nancy Pelosi, error Senator Reid, error Congress, error, error, error.
 
If you work, pay your bills and take care of your family, there is nothing at the ‘poor me table.’  You are left on your own to fend for yourself. You need to bail yourself out from under any problems by sacrificing and cutting back on little pleasures. You were taught that hard work and an honest life style would be its own reward. You never took without giving first and you felt good about it. Your word is your bond and there is honor in your name. By being around you, your confidence spills over into others. Your actions speak for you, you don’t need to ask for others to have confidence  ---  they follow your lead.

Instead of Washington speaking to Main Street, how about Washington listening to Main Street --- STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY! Let those that are standing with their hands out (again and again), let them restructure and rebuild through the ethics of hard work. Let them know that the well is dry and they will have to dig for water. How about telling those that want to coast on our dime; let the amount of their efforts dictate their fate? And how about recognizing the fact that Main Street wants to work, not stand in a soup line? If we must spend money, let’s do it by creating jobs ---- not handouts.

What are we teaching the youth of this nation with all of these bailouts, through undelivered promises and non-implemented changes and with these blatant and erroneous examples of how rewards (handouts) can be obtained, simply by playing the ‘victim’ role?

Have we no pride?  AMERICAN PRIDE!




 

Mortgage Parachute Denies Equal Opportunity

March 4, 2009
I have used a rather unusual format for this commentary. I have made comments within the latest news article published as an update on the Internet. To distinguish the article from my words, you will note the news article (unaltered) is in black print, and my commentary is in red. I chose this format so that you would not have to click back and forth to the article for reference.

It goes without iterating, I believe this ‘mortgage parachute’ plan is unfair, unjust, discriminatory and a slap in the face to many Americans that have been omitted from this plan for no reason other than they have done what was necessary to keep current with their obligations. And what about the family that would easily qualify, but they were removed from their home just 5 hours before the parachute strings were available? Equal opportunity is what we teach. Recently, equal opportunity has been exemplified as an American truism as the new President took office. But this is neither a plan, nor is this parachute an equal opportunity.

Administration unveils details of housing plan

Program designed to help up to 9 million borrowers stay in their homes

March 4, 2009 msnbc.com staff and news service reports

NEW YORK - Seeking to stem the housing market's downward spiral, the Obama administration released guidelines Wednesday for a plan that would pay lenders to refinance or lower monthly payments on mortgages for homeowners who qualify.

The Treasury Department said it expects the plan to help up to 9 million Americans stay in their homes. The slump in home prices that began more than a year ago has led to massive foreclosures across the nation and is the root cause of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

In America, the housing industry is only a symptom of the problem, it is not the root cause as the article suggests. The root cause of this economic crisis is complex, but the majority of the fault can be broken into three parts:
1) Lack of regulation, incompetence and ignorance to detail of/by the SEC. This is where the biggest share of the blame should lie;
2) Greed on the part of investors, manufacturers, builders, buyers and speculators; And
3) Congress (by being lied to and manipulated) moved to bailout the unworthy as company heads raped their firms through vulgar amounts of salaries, perks and bonuses.
The results of this mismanaged program left Main Street America to fend for itself as companies laid off workers, cut back production, or closed their doors, all while they continued to display an air of entitlement; and with Main street’s money, they moved to protect, pamper and please themselves. And, though many knew the problems, the initial spending of the $700,000,000.00 (seven hundred billion dollars) TARP funds, the US Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Administration and Congress turned their head, ignored the process and spending went without control, records or plans for repayment. To this day, this lack of planning and controls are exhibited by the recipients with their defiant attitudes as to disclosing the whereabouts of these funds, the use, if any, of these funds and if any funds remain. This is blatant, uncontrollable and unaccountable spending without a plan. The result: America is deeper in debt and without knowing why, what, how or where and without benefit; Main Street will be forced to pay.

It is imperative that we continue to move with speed to help make housing more affordable and help arrest the damaging spiral in our housing markets,” Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said in a statement.

Alas, the ever reassuring words of Timothy Geithner. After he has completed this phase of his job description (obeying every whim and wish of the administration without question), will he shore up the IRS, Social Security Retirement funds and American pension plans? (Author’s aside: How did a comment regarding the IRS get into this? Freudian? I think not; more an absolute fact and on the record.)

For borrowers who qualify for the $75 billion loan modification program, first announced on Feb. 18, their interest rates could drop as low as 2 percent or their loan could be extended for as much as 40 years. If necessary, the lender has the option to forbear (sacrifice) principal, one of the thorniest problems for many homeowners who owe more than their home is worth. Some mortgage servicers have also been reluctant to modify loans in markets where home prices are falling because the future value of the home may not cover the refinanced loan.

The program aims to reduce monthly payments to no more than 31 percent of a borrower's gross monthly income. In order to qualify for financial incentives of as much as $4,500 to modify a loan, mortgage servicers will have to agree to follow strict guidelines established by the Treasury Dept.

Struggling homeowners will also have to leap several hurdles to pass the “Making Home Affordable” initiative's test. They will have to provide their most recent tax return and two pay stubs, plus an “affidavit of financial hardship.” The program runs through 2012.

The plan, as laid out in the previous paragraphs, leaves one gigantic unanswered question: How can anyone consider this fair? Whether you are immune to financial woes and mortgage issues or whether you are about to experience the most severe financial dilemma of your life, how can you justify this plan in your heart and mind? By accepting this plan, the administration (it was their idea from conception), congress (without their votes it doesn’t fly) and anyone that speaks on its merits is simply rejecting the concept of American government being ‘of, by and for the people.’  What about all of those significant, dependable and hard working Americans that sacrificed necessities to make payments and still experienced loss prior to the activation date of this plan? What do we tell them as to why their loss is their problem, that they should keep working and paying taxes, because their money is needed to help others keep their homes. As an American, as a veteran, as a member of Main Street, I can never accept this plan until Washington can look into the eyes of my American brothers and sisters and give an explanation that they will accept as fair and equitable in a land where “all men were created equal.”

Let us not forget those that have lost their homes due to lesser income, while they served in uniform to defend this nation and our right to be free. What do we say to them? And then there are those ex-homeowners, whose incomes changed forever due to a contributing family member that made the ultimate sacrifice while in uniform, whether that be through duty and honor with the United States Military or national, state or local Police and Fire Departments. And how about the families who today have tremendous burdens of medical care (appallingly not covered) for injuries suffered as a direct result of defending America and its citizens?

I can not accept this plan. This plan is not thought out and it is unjust and compromises the worth and well being of too many Americans. It seems to nullify the mere existence of those with identical issues, able to qualify, but their loss occurred one day too soon. America does not believe in torture. What do you call the loss of a loved one or the severe injury of one while defending this country and the subsequent loss of income that dictates the eventual eviction from a home...  all while this plan is helping someone else stay in a home almost worth three quarters of a million dollars? I hope you will join me in sending this argument to every representative in your state, city, county and national government.

Borrowers are only allowed to have their loans modified once, and the program only applies to first-lien loans made on Jan. 1, 2009 or earlier. Up to 4 million borrowers are expected to qualify. Mortgages for single-family properties that are worth more than $729,750 are excluded.

With a few rare exceptions, if you live anywhere in America and the house is valued over $700,000.00 dollars and you need assistance -- most Americans would say the only assistance you need is in moving out. Just think if someone has a $725,000.00 first mortgage on their home, they could manipulate figures and facts and wind up with a President Obama bailout. It is not a government bailout for one simple reason; let’s remember the government is you and I and the majority of Americans have not agreed to this one. You and I will pay to allow these people to live in their home while we make the payments on our less-than-grandeur home, valued at somewhere between $135,000.00 and $280,000.00, depending on your location in this country. The King (unfairly) will remain in his castle, while we, the serfs, forage the fields for our meals.

Separately, up to 5 million borrowers who have mortgages held by government controlled mortgage finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac should be eligible to refinance through June 2010.

Treasury officials said Wednesday they are still ironing out key details. One involves a major sticking point for many servicers who have tried to modify mortgages to more affordable terms: how to handle the millions of homeowners with second mortgages or home equity loans. Lenders who issued those second liens typically suffer the biggest losses when primary mortgages are modified, so winning their approval for to modify loan terms has been difficult. The Treasury is working on a plan to let primary mortgage servicers compensate second lien holders, but those details have not been worked out.

Let me get this straight. The investment banks that hold these mortgages have little money, are lining up for the second round of bailout funds (paid for by the sweat of taxpayers), have to write down loans, except lesser payment amounts, receive less interest on the loan and then, by the wave of a magical wand -- they will have the money to make deals and pay second lien holders? Are you wondering where this money will come from? If you think it would come from the $4,500.00 (maximum that might be paid them), they may receive in “for consideration” funds, please spare me your rhetoric. The losses will far out weigh this amount. Bailout money, lots more of it, that will be the end result. Well, almost the end result. The true end result is higher taxes for you and me to pay for this. The concept that only the rich will have greater taxes is absolutely ludicrous. But, I will admit, to date, that concept has sold a lot of tickets and it played in Peoria (once).

The plan also offers no ‘safe harbor’ provision to shield mortgage servicers from lawsuits by investors holding the securities backed by a loan being modified. By making the mortgage more affordable, those investors have to accept a lower return. Though standardized guidelines will clearly streamline a process that has overwhelmed many servicers, those who have declined to modify mortgages based on contract language may still face legal liability.

I would think that investors are taking a number to get near the head of the line that is forming on this one. They have been at the losing end of irregular, deceptive and/or fraudulent lending practices; deceived through the bundling of no chance, no value mortgages into packages with potential value and watched their investments crumble while the investing banks received bailouts. As losers, they might think enough is enough. Then again, less is sometimes more. Time will tell. But, if I had to wager which way this will go, I would have to put my money on the unwritten rule for investing -- “what’s in it for me?”

Treasury officials also said the program will be available only to “responsible’ homeowners who didn’t buy more house than they could afford. But it was unclear how that criteria would be determined.

Once again; a commitment to fast and furious spending without a plan in place. Since last September, we have continued this pattern by committing and spending over a trillion dollars in bailouts, stimulus, recovery and other programs. This administration, with its promise of transparency is becoming transparent only in its lack of planning.

Meanwhile action to put in place another part of Obama's housing plan is expected soon on Capitol Hill.

Again, this is status quo for Washington. They agreed to spend money with no concrete plan and they now move on looking for the next way to spend. We are being sold deeper and deeper in debt, in what seems to be almost a plan designed to bankrupt America. If this plan isn’t a deliberate attempt to such, then I would suggest that incompetence and rampant disregard for the future of this nation be curtailed at once, allowing reason, planning and fiduciary responsibility to reign.

House Democrats, under pressure from a group of moderates in their ranks and the banking lobby, agreed Tuesday to narrow legislation that gives bankruptcy judges the power to force lenders to lower the mortgage interest rate or principal balance.

No matter what limitations are put on judges, they will rule independently and, if pushed, the judicial branches will challenge any law they deem would lessen their authority. And, as history has shown us, the outcome is quite often contrary to the rationale of most Americans who regard the right to prayer, displaying the flag, displaying The Ten Commandments and displaying nativity scenes during Christmas, as an inalienable right.

Under the terms of the agreement, judges would have to consider whether a homeowner had been offered a reasonable deal by the bank to rework his or her home loan before seeking help in bankruptcy court. Borrowers also would have a responsibility to prove that they tried to modify their mortgages.

The compromise legislation was expected to come to a vote in the House as early as Thursday.

And the results of that vote are already known. Democrats and the White House initiated this proposal and the house majority is held by the Democrats. Done deal! Compromise passes and another tally mark goes next to the line that reads: “Reasons to increase taxes on all Americans (but we will hold off as long as we can on springing this one, at least until after the next election, so we get re-elected).

Investors got a bit of good news from the housing industry Wednesday, as homebuilder Toll Brothers Inc. said its loss in the fiscal first quarter narrowed as it slashed expenses. Still, revenue plummeted 51 percent as the company sold fewer homes.




Reminds me of the old song, "16 Tons" --
Another Day Older and Deeper In Debt

February 17, 2009

Has brisk spending replaced Pilates and other exercises? Hurry, create a need, make a plan or don't make a plan, pass a bill, deal out the money, more, more and faster and faster. Do you feel the burn?

In the latter part of September of 2008 we were told of serious economic problems in America. Now, this news came before the discovery that we had been in a recession since December 2007. We got the official word on the recession almost a year after it became fact. Yet, since October and the onset of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), we have quickly spent or are about to spend the following:

$700 billion TARP passed - $350 billion spent and no one knows on what, for what, and it accomplished nothing to cure the economic woes of Main Street America.

After the inauguration, the administration suggested and the House proposed a plan to spend between $800 Billion dollars and One Trillion dollars on a plan to stinulate the economy, since the last program didn't work.

In less than a week since the plan was ironed out (that is a kind way of saying that Congressional members made deals with each other for immediate or future payoffs), the House voted to approve a plan in excess of $800,000,000,000.00.

The Senate voted to approve a plan of their own liking, in less time than it takes you to drink a cup of coffee, after the House had constructed their plan.

In less than 24 hours after the House and Senate had settled their plans, a committee was selected. It sat in conference and a decision was made to accept a revised version of both Chambers' plans, and $787,000,000,000.00 was approved. Certain members of Congress, such as Harry Reid, had insisted they sit on this committee and did so.  I would offer that this committee was not chosen by normal standards, instead it was an inside group of good old boys. Though we do not have this money in reserve and we will have to borrow it, the plan will move forward.

The plan was prepared and readied for President Obama's signature. It was delivered for his signature the afternoon of Monday, February 16.  Coincidentally, that is Presidents' Day and it is the same day that President Obama said he wanted it finalized.

President Obama will sign the bill while he is in Denver, as he continues to travel around the country to rally support for this plan. Of all the Republicans in Congress, this plan was able to only attract three (3) members of the Senate. By the way, keep this in mind: The final plan is 1,073 pages and NOT ONE Congressional member read it before voting to accept it. The plan, in its final version, was only given to the Senators and Representatives a mere few hours before the vote. OUR LEADERS VOTED TO INDEBT US WITHOUT KNOWING THE DETAILS! Would we send troops into battle without a plan and without understanding of that plan? Yet, we will commit generations of Americans to a debt that is still unknown to us? What waste, what pet projects, what payoffs have been promised and nefariously added to this plan? Knowing the history of Congress, there is much to be learned of this plan and we, the taxpayers, will not be happy with what will be disclosed in time to come.  Is this the way a democracy based on the will of the people works, or is this taxation without (details) representation? 

During this period of hurry and spend, we were led to anticipate phase two of the TARP bailout. So, February 10th, Tuesday, Timothy Geithner, the Secretary of the Treasury, aka "I didn't know I had to pay taxes on earnings," laid out a lame concept of spending the balance of the bailout money. He told us nothing of a plan and covered this ineptness by saying the details would come later. Didn't President Obama tell us on Monday evening that he did not want to steal thunder from Geithner's speech the following day? Thunder? Nothing of a plan, just more debt to put us under. And if there ever is a plan, you can bet it will go to the banks, the investment firms, the big brokers of the housing industry and no one will have been offered time to read the plan, it just will be - and the money will be spent. Period. So far, since last October, absolutely nothing is working to benefit Main Street and the signs are not promising for the near future.

Now, President Obama will lay out another plan for approximately 50 billion dollars to help this nation with the foreclosure crisis. And he will present his plan to the nation from Phoenix on Wednesday. Is this a phase of the plan that he will sign Tuesday (Denver) or a new plan? I don't think anyone can answer that question - no one has had time to read the plan. For all we know, this is one the President will make up on his way from Denver to Phoenix. I will give the President his due credit; his speech will probably have some thunder in it, maybe no immediate help, but thunder.

Economists and government officials took over a year to tell us we had problems - after the onset of the recession and yet in three and one-half months, yes THREE AND ONE-HALF MONTHS, WE SPENT MORE MONEY THAN WE SPENT IN THE FIRST 200 YEARS OF THIS NATION.

And we are to be like sheep and simply accept this stuff? As John Stossel of 20/20 always says: "Give me a break."  I say, there is no brake. There is no brake to stop this questionable method used on us to spend, spend, and spend some more. Weeks ago, I said that a successful tactic used to defeat those that would stand against you is to understand the fears of your adversary. If you can identify the fear of your enemy, you can play on and to it and when plied with stealth, you will defeat the heartiest of opponents. And unfortunately, the engine that drives the Wall Street and D.C. bus is too often fueled by self-interest and greed. And any sign whatsoever of the greedy losing, creates fear.

Thomas Jefferson (3rd President and co-author of The Declaration of Independence) said that the first treasurer of the United States, Alexander Hamilton, needed to be scrutinized in his beliefs, as they pertained to the furtherance of this young nation on its path to being a credit worthy and strong nation. Jefferson said that Hamilton's ideology was based on the belief that the people could only be governed by force or through self-interest. And during the founding years, force was not an option this new democracy could afford to use on its own citizens. Therefore, Hamilton thought that self-interest could be served by feeding the baser instincts of fear and greed. This seems to be the tactic being used today and it's not being dealt out in subtleness, but more in spades.

It's a shame that for Wall Street, banks, investment firms, retailers, manufacturers and many other American citizens the biggest fear seems to be about money, money, money. And it is this obsession that has led us to spend without plans, to go further into debt, to sell ourselves to the highest bidder. And there seems no end in sight.

Are you, Main Street, wondering how these debts will be paid? If you think the words "raise taxes" aren't around the corner, think again. If you think things are bad now, just wait for the payback. There is a saying about payback. It goes like this (you can fill in the blanks at the appropriate places, after all this is a family website): Payback is a b_t_h, and we, our children and generations to come will find out just what a b_t_h it really is.

Maybe this would be a good time for the economists of this nation to come together. This country has some of the greatest business minds that exist and we should utilize their expertise. Not those that would profit through greed, but those that would lead, lead us out of this arena of loss. I won't call it a catastrophe, because it isn't. Matters pertaining to life and liberty are paramount and the loss of either could be catastrophic, but the loss of money is only an inconvenience, a hardship, hardly would it qualify as an equal to family, life, and liberty. As I said, surely a host of economists could agree on a REAL PLAN, not one that no one has read or knows anything about.

As an addition to the spending, have you noticed the beginning of a trend in this administration? Phase two of the bailout package certainly affirms the alternate concept of the Golden Rule. President Obama has said that any bank or other financial institution that takes TARP funds will have a $500,000 cap on executive salaries. In other words, his message is if you want some money, then here are our rules that you must obey. As I said, the alternate concept of the Golden Rule seems to affirm that he who has the gold, rules.

And if we are indebted to foreign nations for all this money we are dishing out - what rules will WE have to obey? Who shall rule then? Do you think that idea is far fetched, radical and absurd? Really? Has history taught us nothing?

Awareness of and participation in government is the right and duty of every citizen that appreciates the freedoms under which and with which he/she lives.

Let your Congressional representatives know where you stand. The constitution of this great nation is clear: We put our representatives into office and they are only EMPOWERED TO CARRY OUT THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE, nothing more and nothing less. To violate this trust is cause for removal from office.



2008

Where'd the Money Go? Sssh, it's a Secret!

December 24, 2008

Recently, the Associated Press reported a story of overwhelming implications (you can read the article by clicking here).

Simply put, $350,000,000,000.00 (that is a big figure) has been spent and no one knows where it went, how it was spent, if it was spent, and — grab hold of something so you don’t fall over — those that got the majority of the 350 billion dollars have no intention of telling you and me anything. It is OUR MONEY but we are scorned for asking what happened to it! Is this outright greed and a pompous air of entitlement? Absolutely! But above that, it is criminal in the way we are thought to be expendable and then discarded. Why are we being sold into a debtor’s prison? Under what hidden agenda are we being played?

In September I wrote an article about the bailout [scroll down on this page to read: "Hello Washington, Remember Me?"] and one thing I questioned was the hurry up approach that was being pushed on us. We were urged to give Henry Paulson this money right away or economic doom would surely be upon us. Really?! Compared to last October 1st, the economy has tanked further. Also, I expressed concern over the credit worthiness and business practices of these firms needing this money and so I was for denying them the funds.

Here we are. Greed and deception is the rule. Henry Paulson, of the Treasury, continues to back pedal, the investment and banking industry (friends of Paulson) has gotten our money and now thumb their noses at us as being insignificant, without a right to know where our money was spent.

Does the comment, "We need to do this for Main Street" ring a bell? Do you remember how Main Street was mentioned over and over before the bailout was passed? And now they've got the money and we are on the "NO NEED TO KNOW" list. Are we no more than the dust on their shoes, to be brushed away? We must not accept this treatment. We must not.

I have one question for Congress: If we are not privy to disclosure and accurate accounting, then how in the hell can they look us in the eye and tell us we will be paid back? This has become the pattern du jour — broken promises. Last week we talked on the air about honor and giving your word — Congress deceived us and Wall Street lied, again. I say, no more money to anyone.

Never forget: You and I make up Main Street. You and I are supposed to be the government of this great nation. America became the greatest nation on this earth not through apathy, but through those who stood up and spoke out loud. According to The Constitution of the United States of America, we have a right and a duty to govern — of, by and for the people. These are the days. We have to get it right.

Here is the message you should send your Congressional ELECTED representatives. Mail, phone, fax or email this message to your district and your State Senators and Representatives. Take a moment to copy this letter and send it. It isn’t just about your grandchildren’s future, its about you: today, tomorrow and next week.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Dear Sirs,

To begin with, don't call it a government bailout. Let’s be clear: It is Main Street money, American taxpayer money. Let’s not give it a remote name in an effort to veil the severity of debt that is drowning Main Street. Wall Street gets money, increases assets and gives lavish bonuses to its generals that orchestrated these unregulated and unethical hoaxes as they ran their companies into ruin. And Main Street? Main Street has been snubbed, denied access to its money, records of how that money was used or hoarded and we, the American people — the government of this nation — are less prosperous and have less hope than before you voted to give our money away.

The plan for this bailout money was a total ruse. The hurry up approach to getting this money was used only for deceptive practices. There was no need for such urgency. A direct message that preys upon the fears of a people results, quite often, in rash and unsound actions that carry extreme and dire consequences. At this time, things are worse, not better, and the immediate forecast according to saner minds, free of undue political persuasion, continues to be bleak. You betrayed our trust while the firms asking for help falsified their applications (those that bothered to put anything in writing).

The Administration and the Congress — YES, YOU — employ horrendous accounting and business practices that can only lead to ruin. Therefore, you and your fellow electees present a great risk to any investor, whether that is Main Street or, unbecoming to the welfare and independence of this nation, a foreign government.

Until these expenditures can be verified and until we are repaid the initial 350 billion dollars, further bailouts funded by the American taxpayer are denied. Until you hold those seeking loans from Main Street to the same standards that we are held to, we strongly recommend that you do not waste any more of our money. Main Street is speaking loud and clear. Its message is concise: As an elected official, you have taken an oath of office to do the will of the people. Serve according to the democratic principals of this nation: a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. Today, Main Street votes out loud, with a resounding "NO" to this spending. And soon — MAIN STREET WILL CAST ITS VOTE AGAIN!




FREEWAY SPEED CAMERAS
December 9, 2008

Yesterday, on the show, we discussed the speed camera issues and I promised you a follow up on  the web site. We gave all the statistics and background. If you heard the show you know the facts. If you didn’t catch the show, you can research the facts. The purpose of my commentary is to give an overview of the implications and uses, not about whether or not you should be allowed to speed.

Should we have so many cameras? Are they really about a concern for your safety or are they about, according to the short history of their use, massive revenue for the state and municipalities during this economic recession?

What about the law enforcement officer? Is he being replaced? If so, who will catch the impaired driver, the drunk or the driver needing assistance? Do we develop cameras that detect those drivers? What about the times that the patrolman uses his discretion, noting that speed was warranted to avoid an incident or other mishap? The camera can’t discern and it can’t see beyond its focal range. 

Does the camera deny you certain leeways? For instance, your right to speak up in defense, at the time of the incident, that possibly the officer won’t issue a ticket, but a warning instead? And what about the pleasure of bragging to your friends after you got out of a ticket when you should have gotten one? And what about the time you tried to get out of a ticket, you begged, pleaded, maybe even got teary eyed, but still got the ticket? So, you turned off the tears and gave the officer a piece of your mind, remember how satisfied you felt after that? You can’t do that with a camera.

If the cameras replace the patrolman, are we quickly approaching the robotic stage of existence? How long before a computer program will replace a judge or the jury of your peers? Will we have a computer scan the camera’s video of the infraction, give the findings to a data program designed to weigh that information and the defense offered by us and then, in less time than you can promote a tear again, the computer spits out a finding of innocence or guilt? How cold is that?

What about the company that oversees these, are the cameras really true to speed? Or maybe, they are just a bit off, after all the company gets some of the money generated too. Or, with as much as they generate, they don’t need to be off. And what security check do those that monitor the cameras go through? After all, they are privy to a lot of information about us and could easily sell that information for ID fraud or other purposes. Are we entitled to know that these people are upright and can guard this confidential information? Or is the information not so confidential any longer? Every day, You Tube and other internet sites get supposedly private films and conversations of unsuspecting people---their indiscretions are shown around the world. Are the cameras just another form of what the famous put up with in the paparazzi?

Why not cameras? We have the internet for communication, children play video games, people text on cell phones, there are exercise DVDs and there are a host of other examples I can give where we have all but eliminated the human aspect to most things we do. So aren’t cameras just an extension of how we live? Satellites, phone cameras, bugging devices, telescoping microphones, drones and more than we suspect, these are the norm. Since the Rodney King video, people record EVERYTHING. They record the good—a birthday party, the bad—an armed robbery, the ugly—a beheading or an execution. And some record stuff in the name of art and/or posterity and------never mind, I don’t even want to get started on the smut issue. Nevertheless, today, people have a video and/or sound recorder at the ready all the time. The plain truth is: Some people won’t leave home without it.

So what about the issue of privacy? Do we really have it any longer? A speed camera, a surveillance camera, an on-your neighborhood-street corner camera, an I-see-you-and-I-know-what-you –are-doing camera, are these soon to appear at an area near you?

What if we put cameras in some strategic locations, so that Main Street gets the same benefits that states and municipalities get? For instance, how about putting cameras in the corporate offices of Ford, GM and Chrysler? We could watch as they squander this new found money on things not in their proposal and on parachutes some will use as they are forced to exit. Money wasted or used on themselves as plants close, dealerships suffer with inventory, production costs get trimmed and workers are laid off. Oh, let’s not forget, we could watch them ignore cost effective and energy efficient measures that are tried and proven and have been used by some foreign manufacturers for some time. Do I hear a rumbling of: BRING ON THE CAMERAS.

Let’s be an equal opportunity camera proponent. We will put them in the banking investment offices of Wall Street. After all, they watch us when we transact business in the bank, shouldn’t they have to live by the same rules as us? How much more efficiently would our money be used and would we really have to bail out so many? Oh the list of places to use camera is endless.

But, above all, how about putting cameras in the offices of those that make the laws to use cameras to watch us? Can you imagine cameras in the state offices of the governor, the senate and the house? But first, we would exclude any sensitive office that is essential to and/or of local or national security. These offices would have to be off limits as long as people didn’t start using those offices to just duck and hide. Put these cameras, not in the chamber halls (as you see on Cspan), but in the private offices where the favors are handed out and the lobbyists meet. And we could put them in Washington D. C. In the offices of those we elected to office. In the offices where the pork is added to bills Main Street wants passed, in the offices where compromises are made and deceptive practices, not in line with their campaign promises, have become much too common place.

Main Street is the government and Main Street is not subservient to any lawmaker. Therefore, shouldn’t the law makers be held to the same scrutiny as those of us that, by decree of law, have to follow the laws?

How many cameras are too many and who decides that issue? Do you have a right to privacy? Or should you garner a new message out of a song that is a holiday classic? When you are driving, shopping, banking or having a closed door meeting---you might want to heed the words of that song. What song you ask? Here are some of the words. “He sees you when you’re sleeping, he knows if you’re awake…….He knows if you’ve been bad or good…….you better watch out………”.



Hello Washington, Remember me?

September 27, 2008

$700,000,000,000.00 helps me? Let's take a hard look at what is being sold to us as "THIS WILL HELP MAIN STREET." Am I a contestant in a game show and I am so overtaken by the enormity of the situation or can I just say -- NO DEAL!!

You Keep Saying You Want to Protect Me ---  Really?

I can make this really brief. After all, the administration and the politicians have been talking non-stop ever since the bailout (a generally accepted term for the problems we face) was announced.

One of the major problems, according to the gurus, seems to be that credit will tighten up so severely that we won't be able to finance cars, get new mortgage loans or take out a school loan. Now, I know there is much more to it, but on the surface, this keeps being told to us. I don't know about you, but as a child, I was taught that when times were tough, we tightened our belts. I recall my parents telling my brothers and sisters and me that we would have beans and bacon for some meals and as a treat, chicken dinner on Sunday. It worked. We had clean clothes, a roof over our head, good, wholesome meals and we prospered as time went on.

So, what is so terrible if we can't buy a new car or a new house when we want, because we want? And as for not getting a school loan, how terrible would it be if we had to work to raise the money and then go to school, instead of going to school and then spending years paying off a student loan as we embark on a career.

If I understand our administration and our elected officials, this bailout is not about keeping what we have, but instead, it borders on being spoiled and not being able to have more. Sure, some of the movers and shakers would surely be affected if Wall Street fell far below the levels it has reached in recent years. But, most of us, certainly me, can't even fathom what it must be like to have to decide which ONE of the 10 houses to keep as a residence. Or, I can't imagine the terrible dilemma that befalls someone that has to decide to cut back on worldwide vacations or how to decide which or how many of the limos and mega buck cars to sell. And, of course, what would life be like if the yacht wasn't available---the one you get to by flying there in your own jet and then using the private helicopter to land on your heliport. I understand times might be unbearable, but somehow, good old Main Street Americans always find a way to make it. Well, there is the problem; I am used to the tenacity of Main Street Americans, and I am not invited to socializing with Wall Street Americans or whatever they call themselves.

Speaking of not being invited to hobnob with the ones that need little ole me to help keep things afloat, here is a question that keeps running through my head for the past couple of weeks. "Mr/Ms Banker, Mr/Ms Investment Broker, Mr/Ms Mortgage Broker and Mr/Ms Lobbyist and Politician; while you were wheeling and dealing, gorging yourself at the trough, grabbing performance bonuses and everything else you could get your hands on as you climbed the ladder-----were you thinking of me? Did you stop to assure me that you had my best interest at heart? Did you even stop to think about sending me a card as you continued on your rapid paced trip up that ladder? Did you? But now, let me get this straight, now you want me to stand at the bottom of the ladder and catch you so you don't hurt yourself? Are you serious? I am neither cynical nor vindictive, but I think you have a right to reap what you have sown. I think if you thought about me and my fellow American 'Main Street' people and our future, if you would have consulted us and followed wise business practices and regulations, we would not be having this discussion. Based on your performance, I can't trust you with another $700,000,000,000.00.

It is time that we "Main Street America" stand up to our responsibilities. WE ARE THE GOVERNMENT. And, when we aren't being served by the people we hired (senators, representatives, governors, mayors, etc., etc.) then it's time to give them the courtesy of an exit interview and take back the key to the restroom. One last thing, have you noticed they all have names, Senator this and Representative that, Speaker this and Majority that, but you and I, we aren't important enough to have an identity other than collectively---we are Main Street or we are the American taxpayer.

It seems I am really important to those that need bailing out at this moment. Because Wall Street, so it is said by the administration and the politicians, need money and they refer to that money as coming from-----the American taxpayer. Well, after reviewing the credit application that Wall Street submitted and referring to its business acumen as to how it has been able to safeguard other people’s money, the criteria for this size of loan has not been met and the amount of collateral is insufficient. Furthermore, based upon past histories within the last 80 years (one great depression and on the brink of another), there is a pattern of incompetence by many once they acquire great personal wealth. The consensus seems to be that instead of helping others, most Wall Street personnel simply use others for greater personal gain. Main Street must do the right thing to ensure that there will be a Main Street long after Wall Street has been renamed. Therefore---------loan denied.

Who am I? Please forgive me for not introducing myself at the beginning, but you give most the impression as though you know me well enough to speak on my behalf. Of course, you really don't know me, I could be blunt and tell you I am THE GOVERNMENT, but you would not understand because your words are without conviction or true understanding, as in times when you refer to me as--------

The American Taxpayer

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