Monday, November 24, 2008

Next Bailout Might Be Your Local Government

By now, you're probably sick and tired of hearing about government bailouts... but a new bailout looming on the horizon doesn't appear to be getting much exposure on the tube, which strikes me as odd, since it may bankrupt more than one municipality.

Check out this November 22/2008 story in the LA Times:
"Credit market freeze may claim local governments as victims"

As the dreaded ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) start coming due in January of 2009 that many are predicting could create a new tide of foreclosures from skyrocketing interest rates, seems that few have realized there is another variable-rate financial instrument in common use by many States, cities and municipalities that could create new havoc on December 1 of this year. To give you an idea, here's a brief excerpt from the story:
The government agencies at risk issued a hybrid municipal bond known as a variable-rate demand note. The payouts on many of these issues have been driven sky-high by the credit crisis.

The situation prompted California Treasurer Bill Lockyer and 19 municipal treasurers to ask Friday for an emergency Federal Reserve program to restore liquidity to the malfunctioning market and force rates back down.

Without government intervention, there will be higher costs for taxpayers, more budget woes for localities and higher obstacles for crucial infrastructure projects...

The variable-rate notes were sold mostly to money market funds. The bonds carry maturities of up to 30 years but pay short-term interest rates that can be reset as frequently as once a day.

Until recently, the resets were not a problem for issuers. The dysfunctional credit markets, however, have exposed them to rate increases no one ever anticipated.

The Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority, for example, says the rate it is paying on $132 million in variable-rate notes has soared to as much as 12%, from as little as 1%. That's a difference of as much as $1.2 million in interest a month. The MTA says it may also have to pay $50 million to retire interest-rate swaps it purchased to hedge against interest-rate changes on the original notes.

For those who really think taxes are only going up on the wealthy per the Obamaplan, I heard there's someone looking to sell you a cool bridge.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Project Leper

If you missed the Glenn Beck Nov 6/2008 radio show, you might not know about "Operation Leper" that is now underway.

Here's a brief excerpt:
Project Leper is we intend to continue writing about the people on the McCain campaign who were sabotaging Sarah Palin and make them political lepers so when 2012 rolls around, they are not going to be able to work for their chosen 2012 candidate.
Three cheers to Erickson and his group over at for highlighting this and sticking up for the lady who had to face down so much just for doing her job for her party and her country.

And three cheers to Jasper County for such a large voter turnout. Results on the Presidential Election side tally up as follows:
--> 59.6% McCain/Palin (7,669 votes)
--> 39.2% Obama/Biden (5,044 votes)
--> 1.2% Other (149 votes)

I see P.E.B.O. picked former Freddie Mac director, Rahm Emmanuel, for White House Chief of Staff. His nicknames include "Rahmbo" and "Absolute Enforcer" ...and according to this recent Bloomberg story, "Barack Obama once joked at a charity dinner that when Rahm Emanuel severed his middle finger, it almost rendered him mute."

Emanuel, it is reported, once sent a dead fish to a pollster he didn't like. And according to Dick Morris (author of "Fleeced"), though Emanuel served in various positions in the White House with him, even President Clinton didn't fully trust that one.

So while the Republican campaign staff try to set Sarah Palin up as their scapegoat in order to secure work in the 2012 elections, I sit here shaking my head, wondering why they're going after people in their own party when there is so much fodder on the other side of the fence. When they can't be loyal to their own candidates, who in the heck would want them on their team?

Have ethics, values, morals... all gone by the wayside?

It's just one more reason why I am a registered Independent.

Still, I tip my hat to (and Glenn Beck) for stepping forward on this issue.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

2008 Election Reaction

Simply this...

"In a world without truth, freedom loses its value." ~ Pope John Paul II

Monday, November 03, 2008

Obama and Coal

Both Obama's and Biden's stance on coal is not new -- IMHO, they hate it.

Biden's tirade against coal when he poked his finger at a citizen in a rope line at one rally clearly revealed his distaste for coal as a source to help meet our massive energy needs. It was well publicized.

What's upsetting a great number of people is more than just the issue of coal, it's the reporting (or lack of reporting) on what Obama said on the subject back in January of this year.
Yesterday, Sarah Palin demanded to know why the San Francisco Chronicle sat on this story for so long. The Chronicle responded by noting that the video has been available on their website since January 17th of this year. However, the Chronicle never reported on these quotes from Obama, and these statements certainly seem noteworthy enough to include in any look at Obama’s policies on energy.

Even more oddly, they never provided a transcript of the interview, an almost automatic step for any meeting between national political candidates and the editors of a newspaper. Why didn’t the Chronicle transcribe their meeting in the nine months between then and now? Did they realize how damaging this could be to Obama’s hopes in the middle of the primaries and chose to quietly shelve the interview? [link]

Here is an excerpt from the interview in question:

In a later part of the interview, Obama goes on to discuss other possible repercussions from his plans to enforce far tougher legislation on coal power plants across the nation.
This still consists of Obama sending “price signals” that discourage the use of coal. He does say that getting rid of coal altogether is an illusion, but he's obviously opposed to expanding its use or even keeping it at current levels. He wants to heavily fine coal operators in order to get “billions” for R&D on alternatives, which will send the coal industry reeling and energy prices skyrocketing, as Obama himself pledges later in the same interview.

View the full video below to hear Obama state clearly how, under his plan, energy prices will "SKYROCKET" his own words:

Think about it... on the one hand, he will give 95% of working citizens a tax break -- for the 40% who don't pay taxes at all, call it what it is -- welfare. Then on the other hand, he will tax the coal power plants to the brink of bankruptcy, which will skyrocket energy prices... thereby wiping out that annual tax break in the first month your new energy bill comes in.

We all experienced the pain at the pump when oil prices rose through the roof.

Just wait 'til you see your electric bill multiply by up to 10 times or more what you are paying today. Businesses, small and large, are about to get pounded by that kind of energy policy.

Keep in mind, coal power plants feed into the grid.

It isn't just the coal states that will be heavily impacted (I'm seeing major job losses, possible/probable coal power plant shut downs, since many of them are running on shoestring budgets even now)... it will impact EVERYONE connected to the grid.

For the record, I'm against carbon capture (emission sequestration), because scientific studies have already proven how dangerous it could potentially be to our aquifers in the event of "leaks" and/or fissures... picture water turned to acid.

Here's what he has to say on that option:

How much has his "team" put into researching the energy dilemma we are facing?

To be fair, Obama and the Dems are not the only party in favor of CCS. Currently, the USA is budgeting a hefty chunk of change in that direction:
CCS is diverting funds away from renewable energy options. The US DOE’s 2009 spending on CCS is $623.5 million, a 26.4 percent increase over 2008, at the same time that it is scaling back programmes on renewable energy and efficiency by 27.1 percent to US$145.2 million. (read more here)

In my humble opinion, solutions to meet our energy needs must be safe, sustainable and preferably renewable. (And, for the record, there are several other clean coal technologies very much worth pursuing to help us keep the lights turned on.)

BUT -- I am most certainly a realist. I don't believe in wiping out one method of energy production until it can be fully replaced with another stable source of energy that is equal to and/or superior to what we have now.

It would be insane to turn off the power during these crazy economic times in which we live.

We are a nation extremely rich in coal resources.

It would be a shame and a waste, in my humble opinion, to not explore methods of being able to put it to good use in a safe, clean way to help power our nation. It can be done. I believe it. We have the technology, we have the ingenuity, and we have the determination and drive to make it happen.

But Obama, IMHO, has missed the entire point by a landslide.

If the polls are right, dig in. We're about to find ourselves in a world of hurt in the years ahead.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Sen. Evan Bayh comments on Fox

"Indiana's gonna go in a different direction..." says Sen. Evan Bayh (D) on a Fox News interview earlier today.

He's right -- in many respects.

For example, it's well-known how many CAFO owners and supporters have shovelled funds towards the Visclosky ticket over the years (and this year). And I, for one, will not be voting for him.

I'm not alone.

They also sent heavy support for a Democratic presidential nominee, but their guy lost in the primaries. I'm wondering if they've transferred their allegience to Obama now?

And then, of course, there's Mitch (R) and his "double pork production" slogan for Indiana. Definitely a NO vote on that one here in our area.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The October Surprise?

In "Bailouts and Bullets" I outlined a small piece of the very complex (and carefully crafted) puzzle that pushed the American taxpayers to their knees, landing them with the burden of bailing out humongous financial institutions even as they watched their own 401Ks disappearing before their eyes.

Yes, the CRA, particularly with the addition of the Clinton changes, was a major trigger... but in fact, the defaults in the sub prime mortgage arena were more like the kindling for a much bigger fire, something far more explosive - and evil IMHO.

I find it rather distasteful to see the media play up the sub prime mortgage side to the crisis with such a vengeance.

Lay off the mortgage defaulters for a minute.

Now, after you've taken your chill pill, how about reporting ALL THE FACTS... not just the little take-out window sound bites that you keep hammering on the little guy at the end of those sub-prime mortgages?

Let's take a walk back in history to the financial whiz kids era that brought about the biggest part of the mess, shall we?

Let's take a trip down CDS lane (Credit Default Swaps) starting with BISTRO.

The average taxpayer has no idea what BISTRO is, who dreamed it up, and how it became "all the rage" -- a working template for financial institutions throughout the world.

Before we begin this new journey... from what I understand, financial institutions couldn't securitize sub-prime before the revisions in the Community Reinvestment Act of 1995 (Clinton).

AND -- equally important -- a commenter on the article you are about to read had this to say in addition to the CRA related info:
The SEC had no authority to regulate Credit Default Swaps. Look up Brooksley Born. Greenspan, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers (Clinton's 70th and 71st Treasury Secretary) assured the agency which should have regulated them couldn't. The Commodities Futures Trading Commission, she was chair.

It started at J.P. Morgan. Then Credit Suisse caught on, building somewhat more toxic versions of it... and then, well -- I'll let you be the judge.

For those Americans who are still scratching their heads about this whole mess and wondering how a tiny percentage of mortgages out of the massive mortgage pie could have landed us all here, grab your favorite beverage and be prepared to read for the next 30 to 40 minutes...

Here is the most important (and best, IMHO) article you will ever read on the bailout subject -- The $58 Trillion Elephant in the Room

On another note...

I see Barney Frank and his buddies are gleefully rubbing their hands together wondering how much more money they should take from the taxpayers while we are all still reeling and somehow being made to feel guilty for the "so-called sub prime mess" that supposedly froze credit 'round the world.

NEWS FLASH to the House and Senate -- the American taxpayers are learning the truth. It would be wise if you put away that check book for now and wait to see how they plan to deal with the mess you allowed to happen on your watch.

For his part, McCain did try to reign things in on Fannie and Freddie. Obama must have later just been "present" as usual... I dunno.

Speaking of Obama...

Hey dude! Why don't you just fork over the necessary documents to prove your citizenship in the "Berg vs. Obama" case? It shouldn't take your legal team more than a few minutes to hand deliver it and get the whole citizenship thing cleared up. If you can afford to send such a HUGE fleet of investigators up to Alaska to do the smear job on Palin, seems like it would be a small feat for them to prove you are an American citizen.


You being a lawyer specializing in the Constitution, I would think this would be a very important little thing to clear up BEFORE the election, don't you?

And, ummmm, in case you're wondering, I don't believe the site regarding this issue. You were in charge of doling out millions of dollars through the Annenberg Assoc, the very same association connected to Nice try, though.

Just get your dang lawyers to high tail it on over to the courts with your documents. It's a very simple thing.

Unless... well, geez, I hate to even think it. Are you not an American citizen?

I won't tell everyone about the API tapes here. What your wife says to reporters isn't all that interesting to me. I never even watched her on "The View" or any of those other media spots.

But, I find it rather intriguing that your legal team should be fighting so hard to suppress the API tapes ... and fighting so hard to NOT supply the necessary documents proving your citizenship.

It's rather, odd... to say the least.

Meanwhile, a bit closer to home, did any of you happen to catch this article in Inside Indiana?

Way to go Jill Long!!! I applaud you for catching this and hope you will be successful protecting taxpayer interests here in Indiana. Thank you!

Fun With Words - Today's Word: FEAT
noun. notable deed; surprising trick.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Surviving the next four years in the USA

This is going to sound pretty weird to plenty of folks visiting this blog. That's okay. Consider it a wake-up call if, as I believe, the ballot boxes have already been stuffed and the 2008 elections already rigged.

Question: "The inner bark of which tree can be made into a soup to sustain life in the wilderness?"

Question: "What common weed can be used to make tea and/or coffee and can also be used to treat pneumonia, bronchitis, and other respiratory disorders, tinnitus, tonsillitis, osteoporosis, abscesses, anemia, boils, mammary tumors, cirrhosis, water retention, hepatitis, jaundice, rheumatism, warts, and may also be effective in eliminating or averting age spots.... AND can improve general health, and is beneficial to the kidneys, pancreas, spleen, stomach, and other organs?"

Question: "How can the sun be used to distill and purify water to make it safe for drinking?"

Question: "What is the safest way to preserve food in the wilds, far from any electricity?"

Final Question: "Think you don't need to brush up on your survival skills?"

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slaughtering the American Dream

Several years ago, when my husband got injured on the job, the money stopped.

Poof - just like that - no paycheck, no income, not even unemployment benefits or worker's compensation... nothing. It was a soft tissue injury - next to impossible to file claims for benefits - and impossible to do the job he had done for 22 years.

I couldn't go to work... even if I had wanted to do so. We were still waiting on the long slow process of getting my permanent residence card. (In all, that took us 6 years. Long story.)

My husband had "made too much money" the previous year for us to qualify for any assistance.

So... there we were.

It wasn't too long before what little savings we had dried up. And in no time at all beyond that when the creditors began calling. And very soon after that when we couldn't afford to put gas in our tank to heat our home, heat our water, run our stove...

A dear friend helped us with 4 mortgage payments.

A close relative helped with 1 more.

Have you ever tried to cook spaghetti on a campfire in your backyard?

A little tip for you... you'll need a LOT of wood to keep the flame hot enough to keep the water boiling.

Six months, the coldest spring in years, we went without heat. We had a 2-1/2 year old child as well... and heating water for his baths became quite a trick. I'll leave it up to your imagination.

There is a saying that goes like this:
"Necessity is the mother of invention."

Without my residence card, I might not be able to work as an employee, but I could write... and I had a great deal of experience on the Internet. So, out of necessity, I began my Internet writing career... our first online business began.

The first year, we made less than half what is considered "poverty" by Government standards. Less than $13K for an entire year -- for a family of three.

Working 12-, 13-, 14-... up to 18-hour days, the second year brought in $60K -- but a mountain of debt hanging over our head sucked that up right quick. More long days -- 7 days a week -- night and day -- day and night... and the following year was our first 6-figure income year.

It was a time for celebration.

Then the tax bill came.

We're still paying that one off... it's a long process.

But we did it. We didn't declare bankruptcy. We didn't walk out on our mortgage. We didn't walk out on our debts. In fact, here we are, 6 years later, and we've finally managed to pay off the last of the largest (and highest interest) credit card debt.

It was a long struggle, doing what most people will not do. We lived on a budget so tight that even a pack of hot dogs was a luxury.

Cell phone?

Forget it... one more bill we were not willing to add our month.

A couple old computers, a cheap dial up connection, and a huge dose of dogged determination.

Those were the days, and not so long ago...

Flash forward to today. My husband is back at work doing the job he loves. Plus I'm still working on the business. Plus, just last month, I've expanded into joint venture ownership of 3 more businesses based online with partners on the East Coast... and with the economy in shreds, it's actually looking really good for us next year. I had even had plans to add 3 to 5 new work-at-home employees next year.

It's the American Dream.

The rags to riches story.

It's our story.

We lived it.

We suffered.

We struggled.

We sacrificed.

Yes, we even starved for a bit.

No Government handouts. Very little help from family and friends... a drop in a very large bucket if you would have seen the load we were under back then.

And Obama thinks that people like me should "share the wealth" with others who are not willing to make the kind of sacrifices I and my family had to make to survive ...and at long last... finally thrive?

He's like a vulture circling high over our heads...

We're just finally getting out from under a mountain of debt.

We're just now finally paying off that first whopping tax bill.

We're finally starting to breathe easier, even thinking of adding carpeting to our bare floors and finish remodelling the kitchen that has had to remain half torn apart prior to my husband's injury more than 6 years ago.

So now you know...

You know why the recent bailouts have angered my husband and I so much -- why Obama's plan actually makes me physically ill at the thought -- snatching our success away, the rewards for hard work, negating all the sacrifices we made to finally reach this point ...stealing our American Dream to give it to so many others that I know for a FACT would NEVER EVER go through the sacrifices my family and I had to struggle through.

Imagine that.

Based on polls I'm seeing, he'll be your next President.

Imagine that.

No more rags to riches stories for America.

No sirree... just households all across America lining up with their hands held out, waiting for their Government handouts.

Imagine that.

Work hard to succeed?

Well, maybe if you're a so-called non-profit like A.C.O.R.N. where you fall under far different tax laws.

Oh, and let's throw even more money into education and pay for all those who want a College or University education they can graduate and work for...?

I had to struggle, paying for my education as I worked two full time jobs, taking a course here and there as I could afford it. I have no "degree" or fancy certificate -- but I do have a business built from scratch out of need and a strong desire to face down our challenges.

And because we were willing to sacrifice.

Imagine that.

You think the financial picture is grim when you look at the Stock Market?

Check this out.

No less than 10 states are facing insolvency for unemployment benefits in 2009.

Indiana is one of those 10 States... here's a few others.

"California, New York, Ohio and Michigan are among populous states projected to deplete their unemployment insurance funds this year or in 2009 to cover the cost of benefits." [link]

"Michigan, which has the country's highest unemployment rate, at 8.1 percent, is already borrowing from the federal government, even though it is not in the red just yet, according to a spokesman." [link]

But here is the rub...

"The federal government is required to loan states money when their trust funds run short. In the short term, bailouts increase the federal deficit. In the long term, businesses pay higher unemployment insurance taxes to replenish the trust funds." [link]

Imagine that.

So, under Obama's health plan, how many businesses are thinking about hiring new employees next year? Under Obama's tax plan, how many will expand their businesses next year? And under Obama's plan to extend Unemployment benefits, how many new businesses will be eagerly starting up next year?

Restore confidence? Indeed.

Inspire economic growth? Puh-leeease!

And then he stands there and says we all will have to tighten our belts a bit.

The ultimate slap in the face.

Imagine that.

Spending is furiously out of control at the Federal level. Wealth is being redistributed every day... ...but who are the recipients?

Here's another little newsflash for you.

"On Monday, I said that the total cost of this bailout could scale up to $3 trillion -- I just didn't imagine it would happen by Wednesday. We learned yesterday that the size of the bailout just tripled, from $750b to $3T." [link]

All that to get credit into the hands of conumers, to build even more debt on top of debt on top of debt....

Imagine that.

Take it from one who has been there -- debt is no fun.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

I Won't Be Voting For Obama

After considerable deliberation, I've decided I will NOT be voting for Obama.

So ...go ahead all you far left Dems -- have at 'er.

Show the world how nasty you have truly become by posting your comments here.

Keep in mind, however, that comments are moderated.

With that said, I'm guessing most of the worst of you won't even see your comments appear here.

But, I will be reading every comment... so if it makes you feel self-important (and full of that ridiculous self-righteous indignation you like to brow beat others with), then feel free to flame away.

It won't change my mind.

It will just further reinforce my already low opinion of what has become of you...

So sad.

So very truly sad...

Friday, October 03, 2008

Bailout - Who Voted Yes

Well, here in Indiana, I now know who I'm NOT voting for... the "Y" against each name below.

In the Bailout Bill passed this afternoon, here are the votes from the Indiana part of the House:

DemocratsCarson, Y; Donnelly, Y; Ellsworth, Y; Hill, N; Visclosky, N.

Republicans — Burton, N; Buyer, N; Pence, N; Souder, Y.

Now it doesn't mean I'm voting for any of those who voted NO... but it definitely means anyone that voted YES is getting a NO from me.

Interestingly enough, Visclosky voted NO both on the first version and on the second version of the Bill. I'm impressed. It must have been tough considering the political arm twisting that was going on.

Speaking of Visclosky, Jasper County Democrats are hosting a "Meet the Candidate Night" event this weekend here in Wheatfield. Here are the details:

Saturday, October 4th 6:00 pm

Wheatfield American Legion
11768 N 80 West

Congressman Pete Visclosky, Jill Long Thompson (Candidate for Governor), State Representative and State Senate Candidates, and Jasper County Candidates

Free Food and Refreshments

PS: For a complete list of all who voted for and against the bailout bill, here is a link to the Associated Press article on the final votes.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Bailout of the Century

After the Senate signed off on the $700+Billion-dollar-bailout, there was a saying that came to me that goes something like this:

"Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me."

As the news trickles down to the American public of who really gets the biggest benefits... as the pounds of pork buried in the bailout becomes common knowledge... as the reality sets in for what we have done to our children, their children and their children's children...

~~ shaking my head ~~

They tell you it's about "Main Street" -- to make sure you and I have credit to buy those cars, those homes, meet those small business needs -- and yet, one of the first articles to come out this morning hailing from Bloomberg notes:
Oct. 2 (Bloomberg) -- The cost of borrowing in dollars in London for three months rose for a fourth day, signaling that banks haven't started to lend after the U.S. Senate approved a $700 billion plan to rescue beleaguered financial institutions.

...Credit markets have frozen as financial institutions hoard cash to meet future funding needs amid deepening concern that more banks will collapse. Libor, set by 16 banks in a daily survey by the British Bankers' Association, is used to set rates on $360 trillion of financial products worldwide, from home loans to derivatives.

Where not many months ago the Feds were known for giving millions to millionaires, the Feds have raised the bar, now giving billions to billionaires.

Sucks, doesn't it?

And look at all the "sheeple" who believe the Gov is acting in their best interest.

It hearkens to "abused housewife syndrome" where the woman keeps clinging to the hope that her man will change and stop beating her up.

In the back of her mind, she knows he'll never change and the beatings will continue, getting more and more violent... and yet, she'll see his false tears of remorse through swollen black eyes and cling to his false promises as she croaks through bloodied lips -- "I forgive you." -- sticking around for the next time he decides to beat on her. Never knowing when he will strike again. Walking on eggshells until the next time...

Those in denial will swallow the promise of economic security, the bitter pill that needs to be swallowed, only to watch the economy slowly unravel as the country's debt climbs to heights where it can never be repaid.

And voila, the tax slaves of the future have been condemned to their fate.

I dunno, maybe it's just me, but I just don't get it. Why-oh-why-oh-why do they want all of us to be swimming in debt? Why-oh-why do they want all of us to live on credit and loans instead of living off the wealth we build through saving and careful budgeting?

They've managed to jam it through the Senate. It now meets the house.

Who really has our best interests at heart?

"Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Matt. 7:20

In other words...

"You shall know them by their deeds."

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Bailouts and Bullets

The minute pathetic Pelosi perched on her pulpit to pummel Republicans for the mess, I knew the so-called "partisan" deal was heading to "heck" in a hand basket.

Here's a chilling thought to ponder.

As Speaker of the House, Pelosi ranks second in the line of presidential succession, following the Vice President. So that makes her "two heartbeats away" from the presidency of the USA.

And let's not forget that bigoted buffoon, bombastic Barney Frank, blustering party bashing rhetoric to the cameras -- even cracking jokes to much laughter among the dems standing beside him -- blaming while trying to remain blameless as 12 of his very own committee members voted NAY against the bailout of the century.

Both of them must think the American population is deaf, dumb and blind.

Here's a few bullets:

1977 - the CRA is enacted into law by President Jimmy Carter (Democrat) Thus, Freddie and Fannie came to be. The FDIC was chosen as the regulatory body responsible for ensuring Fannie, Freddie and other banks complied with CRA.

Sidenote: The Federal National Mortgage Association is Fannie Mae // The Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation is Freddie Mac

1993 - the CRA is revised by President Bill Clinton (Democrat)

Major changes included:
- Reduced leverage requirements for Fannie and Freddie, allowing them to hold just 2.5% capital to back their investments (versus 10% capital requirements required by banks)
- Required non CRA banks to qualify under CRA regs by forcing them to have a certain percentage of their business in "risky" loans to low- to moderate-income borrowers if they wanted to merge and/or change their business in any way to better compete in global financial markets
- Allowed marketing of such "risky" mortgages by established and new community groups (such as ACORN)

2002 - An interagency review is launched at the request of the Republicans to review effectiveness of the 195 regulatory changes to the CRA that were done in 1993.

2003 - Bush Administration (Republican) recommended that a new Dept of Treasury step in to oversee Fannie/Freddie... Democrats state based on their review it was certainly not necessary and that Republicans were wasting taxpayer dollars investigating a problem that does not exist.

McCain (Republican) also pushed for change of regulations. His statements regarding the impending disaster are well-commented on by some of the media out there so no need to repeat it here.

2005 - Democrats opposed new CRA regs put into effect in July of 2005, which included clearer definitions for what actually counted as a "small" and "intermediate small" bank which were subject to less restrictions than formerly

FACT: Between 1993 and 1998 the number of CRA mortgage loans increased by 39% while other loans increased by only 17%

FACT: By 2007, largely owing to their reduced capital requirements, Fannie and Freddie owned or guaranteed nearly 1/2 of the $12 Trillion US mortgage market.

FACT: As a result of the CRA, the community groups as of 2000 received an estimated $9.5 Billion in services and salaries. They also received multi-year commitments from banks adding up to tens of billions (eg. ACORN to the tune of $760 million, NACA to the tune of $3 Billion, New Jersey Citizen Action-lead Coalition to the tune of $13 Billion, Massachusetts Affordable Housing Alliance to the tune of $220 million, etc.)

FACT: The housing "bubble" was inflated in large part owing to the CRA and the requirements that Act forced on banks in order for them to compete in a global economy.

FACT: The way I see it, reduction in leverage capital requirements through the CRA set banks up to fail if/when home market values started falling owing to the mark to market general accounting principals chosen to value mortgages -- in turn, creating a credit crunch with little to no room for any bank holding large amounts of mortgages (toxic or otherwise) on their books.

FACT: You can't lay the entire blame for the collapse entirely on the doorstep of the financial institutions and/or banks when Government (mostly DEMOCRAT), through short-sighted regulations and poor economic impact studies (if any) were a major influence in their demise.

And don't even get me started on the short-selling market tampering that's been going on, forcing once great USA companies to crash and burn. That was a Bush (REPUBLICAN) mistake by wiping out the up-tick clause.

Personally, I think short-selling should be abolished entirely. It turns the entire market system IMHO into a lottery system for big players only -- small investors like you and I need not apply.

Frankly, every time Government seems to stick their fingers in the cookie jar, it seems a mess is inevitable -- particularly when they tamper with the so-called "free" market system.

Don't get me wrong... I'm most certainly not anti-gov or whatever. In fact, there are some super hard working, honest representatives seriously trying to resolve the "crisis" we all face, through no fault of our own. God Bless them, for they surely have a lot of political posturing and BS to swim through to accomplish anything while at the same time protect all of us here on "Main Street."

I'm a little sick and tired of everyone running around crying "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

They say it's about us being able to get more loans. Honest to Betsy, who in their fool mind would want to get a loan at the rediculously high rates being charged today? Why in the world would they think we can't live unless we keep adding more and more debt in our lives?

And further, as a small business owner, I KNOW exactly how hard it is to get a small business loan... way, way, waaaaaaaay before this whole thing erupted on the scene.

My father always used to say, if you can't afford it, don't buy it.

He was a small business owner that grew his business from a back yard garage into a small empire in his area. He knew how to hold the reigns tight, watch his cash flow, avoid heavy debt and hang onto capital... because in those days, there was no such thing as a bank loan being available to help you meet your payroll.

Bottom line is, you should always have more coming in than you have going out. You should have solid products and services because one angry customer will tell ten more and hurt your business exponentially.

Bad news always spreads faster than good news.

Now... that said... they can slap a bandage on the gaping wound and postpone the inevitable... truth is, things are already tight down here on "Main Street" -- they always have been. Thing is, we're innovative and flexible enough to think on our feet and stay afloat during hard times. We prepare for contingencies, and most of us have more than a Plan B... we usually have a Plan C, a Plan D and more. We know how to eat hot dogs and skip the steak when we can't afford it. And it will be small businesses like ours that help rebuild the economy when the time comes -- that is, if you don't tax us into extinction and regulate us out of the country.

To both parties I say:

Don't spread your fear by telling me I won't be able to get a loan -- because you know what? I'm not asking for one, thank you very much. And when I really needed one, you wouldn't give it to me. I either wasn't rich enough, or wasn't poor enough by your standards.

For the record, I'm one of the 1/3 out here who DOESN'T own stock in the markets, DOESN'T have a 401K to lose, is saving CASH for my son's college education (he's only 8 right now) and will have plenty for him when he's ready.

Okay. Stepping down from my soap box now.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on a Pig

I'm sitting here wondering, "Did Obama's writer/handler give him the saying as part of his town hall type speech yesterday? Or did he come up with it all by himself?"

To me, it was reminiscent of the time he brushed off a female reporter calling her "sweetie" -- he never did answer her question as I recall.

In case you're one of the very few who didn't hear the pig speech, this is a short excerpt of the quote as reported by Reuters:
“You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig,” he said as the crowd cheered and yelled and eventually got to their feet.

Now, he could have said: "If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck... then it must be a duck." --- but NOOOO --- in his infinite wisdom he chose the lipstick comment.

Lipstick on a pig -- ***** -- it's a saying that isn't even on the list of over 500 colloquialisms and phrases that I save in my resources for writing projects.

I won't be adding it to the list.


Well... quite simply, because it is sexist.


For supposedly such a sharp man (I'm having serious doubts) he sure knows how to tick off a demographic quickly.

Here's another sexist saying:
"You can slap aftershave on a donkey, but in the end, it's still an ass."

Maybe he can use that one in his next town hall meeting.


Speaking of pigs, here's a newsflash from the Political front lines closer to home:
The Indiana Pork Advocacy Coalition (INPAC), the voluntary membership arm of Indiana Pork, announces its endorsement of Mitch Daniels in his bid for a second term of Governor of Indiana. This is the first official political endorsement that the organization has provided in its history.

It figures. If you've been following my blog at all, you know how I feel about Daniels' pro-cafo stance, giving millions to millionaires.

So if you're wondering if I'm voting for him, I'll answer with another colloquialism: "When pigs fly."

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Election Speech Analysis

Did you watch the speeches delivered from BOTH large party conventions on each side of the presidential election fence?

I did.

Not just from a voter's point of view (pov)... but also from a writer's pov.

By now you know I'm a copywriter. Some of you might be wondering, "What is that, exactly?"

Briefly, I write the words that help my clients make their fortunes. I'm the ghost writer behind the scenes, talking to you through them. I've written:
- large product/service presentation websites
- lead generation sites
- scripts for online video presentations
- SEO copy for online website traffic generation
- press releases and content articles
- classified ads, google ads, banner ads, ezine ads, solo ads, and more ads
- scripts for radio ads, tv ads, and more...

Yes, I've even written a few "jingles" during the course of my career.

But I digress.

I point out the above because when watching any "scripted" presentations, such as the bulk of the speeches that were dilivered during both major 2008 Presidential Election Party conventions, I like to take them apart from a writer's pov -- paying careful attention to what the writers have each done to "frame" and present their speakers.

As usual, there are a LOT of subliminals built in (A LOT!!) to both Presidential Candidates' speeches.

But, I was curious if I had caught the main themes.

After the campaigns were over, I searched and searched online for "analysis" of the speeches but kept tripping across propaganda and hate articles on both sides of the election fence instead.

Finally, I found this article:
"Super Bowl of Spin Heating Up …
Who Do You Think Will Win?"

It was written by a Canadian copywriter who has been observing events (at a comfortable distance) from his home in Toronto, Ontario. This distance gives him a bit of a clearer "perspective" since he's not an active participant in what is happening here on our side of the border.

After reading Daniel's article, I have to admit, he really "nailed it" from a writer's pov. It's well worth your time to read. It will reveal with startling clarity how words from both speeches were used to "brainwash" voters.

Well, maybe "brainwash" is too harsh a word... but needless to say, the subliminal "positioning" deployed through the speeches were without a single doubt, brilliant -- on BOTH sides.

Click to read the article and see what you think.

More on this soon. See you then!

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Knee Jerks

Dumbing down a population starts in 2 main areas:

1) at the school level

2) at the mass media level

Mind control of a population requires 2 things:

1) constant exposure to the "message" (subliminal or otherwise)

2) an eloquent speaker to "lead" the sheep

Having watched a lot of the mass media spin on the presidential election circuit, I have to wonder -- are the media trying to "dumb down" the USA population? -- or are they being "used" by other outside entities to accomplish the same?

It boils down to who is using whom...

For example, take a look at the flagrantly obvious subliminal "dumb down" tactics employed by US WEEKLY today. Side by side covers, one showing Obama in the most delightful light and the other an outright attack on Palin:

Shame on you, US WEEKLY.

If you're a reader (or, God forbid, a subscriber) of US WEEKLY reading this, I say this: "Don't let them contaminate your brain cells with their contrived neuro linquistic programming trash. Don't let them do that to you."

Who owns US WEEKLY?

The obvious front owner is none other than Jann Wenner, also the proprietor of Rolling Stone and Men's Journal.

But, just a minute here... I found this link to CJR which reveals (as of 2006) 50% of US Weekly was owned by -- get this -- The Walt Disney Company!?!

Gag me with a spoon! Say it isn't sooooooo....

All those supposed "family oriented" films and toons my eight year old son LOVES to watch -- run by the same company that has a 50% stake in one of the most outrageous mind-control tabloids (in my humble opinion) that consistently dumbs down our population (or at least, anyone vulnerable enough to their tactics)... be it in your face or subliminally... plastering their hidden messages throughout supermarkets and newstands across the nation.

Makes you kinda wonder what's hidden in those Disney movies, doesn't it?

Sadly, the dumb-down tactics being deployed by many mass media outlets appear to be working based on the huge numbers of "blind" followers stepping up to drink the kool-aide being offered in most mainstream media spins. I wonder what the flavor-of-the-week will be next week?

To the people, I cry, "Wake up!"

Before it's too late.

Next, from the US WEEKLY site, one commenter provided this list of advertisers for the US WEEKLY tabloid. Here you go...

***Us Weekly Advertisers AND THEIR PARENT COMPANIES***
Cover Girl...Procter & Gamble - PG dot com 800-568-4035
Neutrogena....Johnson & Johnson - JNJ dot com 800-582-4048
Coca Cola/Powerade....thecoca-colacompany dot com 404-676-5009
Pepperidge Farm....Campbell's Soup - campbellsoupcompany dot com
Lady Foot Locker....footlocker-inc dot com Lady Foot Locker Marketing Director, Doug Smith - 212-720-3700
CW....CBS & Warner Bros - cwtv dot com
TRESemme....Alberto-Culver - alberto dot com
M&Ms....Mars - mars dot com
Olay...Procter & Gamble - PG dot com 800-568-4035 dot com
Jack in the Box....jackinthebox dot com
Glaxo Smith Klein...gsk dot com 888-825-5249
food network... E. W. Scripps Company - scripps dot com dot com 800.440.0680
Wrigley's...wrigley dot com
Special K....Kellogg's - kelloggcompany dot com dot com
NutriSystem....nutrisystem dot com
WalGreen's...walgreens dot com
Walmart Media Relations - 1-800-331-0085
Figi Water....?
and dot com
Toyota -
State Farm -
Proctor and Gamble -
LG -
Boost mobile -
Campbell's Soup -
Rhapsody -
Schick -
Converse -

So, the above support the dumb-down operation by their ad dollars, and we can choose to vote against them all with our pocket-books.

Next, what to do about Disney...???

I guess the first step is to find out if it's true. *sigh*

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Happy Birthday - NASA Established, July 29, 1958

Happy Birthday NASA

On July 29, 1958, passage of the National Aeronautics and Space Act gave birth to NASA.

NASA's motto is: "For the benefit of all."

NASA's Office of Education motto is... "Shaping the Future: Launching New Endeavors to Inspire the Next Generation of Explorers."

Life on the Moon

Yesterday, July 28, 2008, NASA awarded 12 contracts relating to the Constellation Program:
"These studies provide new ideas to help the Constellation Program develop innovative, reliable requirements for the systems that will be used when outposts are established on the moon," said Jeff Hanley, the Constellation Program manager at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. [link]

Notice the word "when" in the above quote. Not "if" ...but, "when" we have outposts established on the moon.
NASA plans to establish a human outpost on the moon through a successive series of lunar missions beginning in 2020.

In addition to the Constellation Program, NASA is also working on developing lower-cost access vehicles to space, in particular the Ares and Orion programmes, and thus make access to the International Space Station (ISS) independent of Russia.

New Frontiers for Both Russia and USA

Many recall NASA being established as a response to the 1957 successful launch of the Soviet Union's artificial satellite Sputnik. While NASA continues exploring new frontiers in space, Russia continues with their own desire to break new records in science...
Russian explorers plunged to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest lake, on Tuesday in a show of Moscow's resurgent ambitions to set new records in science. [link]

Last April U.S.A. and Russian scientists revealed that Lake Baikal, which contains more water than all the North American Great Lakes combined, had warmed faster than global air temperatures over the past 60 years. Many scientists are concerned that this could put animals unique to the lake in jeopardy.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

America's Most Important Gift

When I graduated 8th grade, heading into my high school years, our class held car washes, bake sales, collected/recycled pop bottles... everything we could do to raise funds for our Graduation trip to Minneapolis.

The highlight of the trip for me was when our entire class went to a live dinner theatre where we were able to watch an incredible cast and crew perform "Oklahoma" on stage. We were all seated up front and center, able to see the band pit and view the live action on stage.

It was a breathtaking experience for me as I had never been to a live theatre before. To this day, I can still recall some of the words to a few of the songs in this exhilarating performance. What a rush!

As an aside, I've also had a soft spot in my heart for Oklahoma for the warm memories the live performance invoked.

Last April, in my post "Pop E Quiz" I wrote:
This incredible country was united by a truly remarkable document known as The Constitution of the United States of America. It was quite possibly the greatest gift your ancestors bestowed upon you. Treasure it.

Little did I know at the time that at least one State here in the U.S.A. was actually in the process of protecting this important gift. I'm speaking about Oklahoma. Here's an excerpt from a recent article written by Walter E. Williams at
Oklahomans are trying to recover some of their lost state sovereignty by House Joint Resolution 1089, introduced by State Rep. Charles Key.

The resolution's main focus is on recovering - and preserving - the Constitution and its rights in the State of Oklahoma. Quote:
Now, therefore, be it resolved by the House of Representatives and the Senate of the 2nd session of the 51st Oklahoma Legislature: that the State of Oklahoma hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States. That this serve as Notice and Demand to the federal government, as our agent, to cease and desist, effective immediately, mandates that are beyond the scope of these constitutionally delegated powers.

Thus far, the Resolution passed in the Oklahoma House of Representatives with a 92 to 3 vote, but it has yet to pass through their Senate. Here's a link to the full story.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Terra Nova Dairy vs Wabash County BZA

Indiana CAFO News Update

How many have been following the CAFO news in Indiana of late? If you have, you might already be aware of the Indiana State Court of Appeals decision with respect to "Terra Nova Dairy, LLC vs Wabash County Board of Zoning Appeals" which upheld the trial court's decision.

You can find the details listed at: Indiana Appellate Opinions - Appeals

Or, if you would like a direct link to the pdf version of the ruling, go through this link.

Indiana State Court of Appeals Decision

To loosely sum things up, the Wabash County BZA denied Terra Nova Dairy (TND) their Improvement Location Permit (ILP) Application to build their CAFO. When TND was declined by the BZA, they took it to trial court. They lost.

TND then appealed the trial court decision and from what I understand, they based a large part of their argument on the point that the initial BZA ruling was based on an unlawful CAFO moratorium.

But the Wabash County BZA argued their decision to decline TND's ILP Application for the construction of a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in Wabash County was based on incomplete filing -- and the Indiana State Court of Appeals ruled yesterday in favor of the Wabash County Board of Zoning and the Wabash Court.

In my humble opinion, this really is a simple case of "No means NO."

But who knows if it will end here. Terra Nova Dairy still has the option to take this one more step -- to the Supreme Court -- if they desire.

And the word for the day is: estoppel

ESTOPPEL: A bar preventing one from making an allegation or a denial that contradicts what one has previously stated as the truth. [Obsolete French estouppail, from Old French estouper, to stop up, from Vulgar Latin *stuppre; see stop.] (def. from

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

seen the new jibjab video? Check it out

I chose the term jibber-jabber in yesterday's post without realising that jib-jab was coming out with a new flash video today.

Some might find it offensive but I thought it was hilarious.

Turn up your speakers and kick back to watch the new jib jab video - Time For Some Campaignin' - about the 2008 Presidential elections.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Color Me Purple - Oil

Quick Quiz/2-Part Question: What disaster happened in November, 20, 1980, that almost sucked away an entire lake within hours of it happening... and what tiny engineering error is believed to be the cause of the disaster? (See video below for the answer.)

This is the second in a series of "Color Me Purple" posts that I will be writing leading up to the November 2008 elections.

Energy - Part 2: To Drill for Oil ...or Not?

The whole oil thing kind of reminds me of a Shakespearean drama... "To be or not to be. That is the question..."

I sincerely doubt that any single one of us knows the whole back story and behind the scenes deals that have taken place -- and HUGE deals probably taking place at this very minute -- on the subject of oil.

The brief little news soundbites that we hear throughout the day mostly revolve around pain at the pumps. Regarding the big picture, few (if any) of those newscasts have been covering stories like these:
Supply On Demand -- This is an interesting short article about the backdoor deals being made direct with drilling companies that are taking oil (and other commodities) out of the global marketplace. Could this be a large part of that "shortage" refrain we keep hearing about? In other words, is demand outstripping supply mainly because more and more of that supply is no longer reaching the market -- even though it is still there?

The Whole Afghanistan/Iraq/Pakistan/Iran Thing -- Another interesting article that refers to the huge TAPI 1,680 km long pipeline project that will... "...export gas and, later, oil from the Caspian Basin to Pakistan’s coast where tankers will transport it to the west." Rather than tell you about the bizarre deals struck on this one, you're better off reading it for yourself here.

Oil and gas deals benefit from rising commodity prices - yet another type of "deal" that has proved to be lucrative for some, thanks to rising gas and oil prices. This is a side to the industry we seldom hear much about.

Drilling Rig Shortage - Is it an oil shortage, or a drilling equipment shortage? Even as Bush lifts the Federal ban on drilling, what good will it do when "the world’s existing drill-ships are booked solid for the next five years" as reported in this New York Times article.
Demand is so high that shipbuilders, the biggest of whom are in Asia, have raised prices since last year by as much as $100 million a vessel to about half a billion dollars.
Even though the report came on June 18, 2008... the story is not new. StockIndicator wrote about the drilling equipment (and experienced labor shortage) problem two years ago, back in 2006, stating,
"During the course of our three-month investigation, we found the labor and equipment shortage applied not only to uranium but also to coal, oil and gas, coal bed methane and precious metals exploration. ...For investors, the labor and drill rig shortage has a silver lining. As inventories dwindle lower, commodity prices will continue rising."
Well, we all know today how accurate that particular prediction became.

With all the far left and far right jibber-jabber on the oil topic, it's oh-so-difficult to wade through the hype and get to the real facts. Is it speculators jacking up the price? Is it dropping supply or just supply not reaching the marketplace? Is it really increase in demand... to the point that they truly don't believe ANY alternatives will exist by the 2012 or 2015 mark when new wells are expected to start producing? Is it groups who want to capitalize on current high prices to line their own pockets and take advantage of the perceived panic being stirred up on the issue?

I don't have the answers to any of those questions. And sadly, I doubt if I would believe the answers unless they came with irrefutable evidence -- proof that the answers I get are actually the truth.

And so, with respect to the question...

Should we open up drilling rights?

In short, if it's "PROVEN" beyond a shadow of a doubt that drilling needs to open up in areas previously banned, then I sincerely believe STRONG, IRREVOCABLE PRECONDITIONS need to be set.

CONDITION #1: Zero export condition. In other words... absolutely NONE -- and I mean ZERO -- of any oil produced from wells located in those previously banned areas can be exported in any way, shape, derivative, form, etc. Absolutely 100% of all oil and/or gas and/or other minerals would have to be sold exclusively within the U.S.A. and with the condition attached that it never leave our borders -- even after refining and/or being converted into other products (such as cooking oil, plastics, etc.).

Not a single drop goes off our shores -- period.

Furthermore, severe penalties need to be put in place -- right up front -- to ensure not a drop from these protected areas goes into the global pool.

Sounds pretty nuts, right? Maybe at first glance...

Take another look at the condition and, if the oil produced from those previously banned drilling areas couldn't be used in any way shape or form for export, how quickly do you see this condition having a positive impact on energy (even food) prices here at home? Makes me curious if it would have an impact.

Hmmmm... makes you kind of wonder how many of those companies eager to start drilling will still be in the picture if this condition were attached to the rights, doesn't it?

I'm guessing even fewer of them would stick around for this next condition...

CONDITION #2: 100% Accountability. I'm sick to death of hearing how the industry has improved and how they can do things today with little to no impact on the environment.

Therefore, I say, if they are that confident, they should be able to put up substantial performance bonds in trust and remain fully 100% accountable straight through 50 years AFTER they have ceased operations, dismantled their rigs/facilities and gone away -- LEAVING NO TRACE BEHIND. The bonds would be held in trust until that 50-year dormancy period has expired.

AND if, God forbid, anything should happen... the company has to pay for it out of their own pockets -- not the taxpayers' pockets -- and not through the performance bonds. No "name the blame campaigns" or "fingerpointing" or whatever -- just fess up and pay up. Also, if something bad does happen -- they lose their bonds. The bonds go to the taxpayers. If nothing bad happens -- the companies get their bonds back after the 50-year dormancy period mentioned above.

The above is a simplified approach. I'm sure the legal eagles can hammer out the full details of how it works to protect both environment and taxpayers while at the same time, hold companies fully accountable.

Now why, oh why, would such strong zero tolerance requirements need to be in place? Well, take a look at this video to see what can go wrong from one simple mistake. It's the answer to the QUIZ above, about the Louisiana sink hole that drained an entire lake.

Here's how one small mistake can have disastrous consequences:

CONDITION #3: Shorten "Rights" Time - They don't get 25 years. They don't get 15... They don't even get 10 years. Let's give 5 MAX and a penalty if they don't do anything at all. No sitting on the rights until the climate changes or the attached conditions can be changed by bribing (oops, did I say that?) a future administration... or whatever. Use it - or REALLY lose it - period. Once you've lost it, you can't ever bid on it again. You had your chance.

Now you might think, with the above three conditions (there are more, but those will do for now) that I'm against drilling.

Not entirely. I'm just thinking most of it is too little, too late.

With that said, I am against drilling if it's intended to line pockets of companies who think more about profits, less about this country, and least of all about the taxpayers who've had to help clean up a mess or two before. Do it right, or don't do it at all.

And do it for the reasons you "say" you want to do it, and not for some hidden agenda because maybe you've made a few backdoor deals that have supposedly caused demand to outstrip supply in recent years. Do it right AND do it for us, or don't do it at all. 'Nuff said.

So, this undecided voter has given her P.O.V. on the subject of drilling for oil.

Candidates -- don't give me the big spin on "if you're for or against it." Instead, tell me, (1) if we really have to do it first, and if so... (2) what conditions would you attach? And, for the record, (3) if we really don't have to drill, will you tell me the truth and not let them drill?

Bottom line is, what really say you?

Sidenote: For the record, I'm ALL FOR SUSTAINABLE energy solutions that do NOT require fossil fuels, particularly with respect to transportation.

As a mechanic's daughter, a retired mechanic who once owned a fairly successful company specializing in hydraulic repairs, I honestly believe there just HAS to be a better way to turn and stop a wheel. Surely the combustion engine has had it's day in the sun long enough. Surely there is a better, cleaner and safer way. I just can't believe that it still takes that many parts to I said... turn and stop a wheel. Take the need for transportation fuels out of the demand loop and we'll probably see a MASSIVE difference in demand -- and price.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Today's high oil prices may bring out some of the best inventions we've ever seen to date. Wouldn't that be nice? If demand suddenly fell off a cliff, then what would happen to price?

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Color Me Purple - Energy Part 1

Quick Quiz: What killed 1,700 people and thousands of cattle within a 25 km radius? The answer is below in this post.

This is the first in a series of "Color Me Purple" posts that I will be writing leading up to the November 2008 elections.

Color Me Purple = Undecided Voter (UV)

All UV posts will touch on issues (or parts of an issue) that I feel the candidates haven't clearly addressed, or haven't addressed at all... hence, my UV status. And so I begin with...

ENERGY - Part 1

If you know me, you know how I deplore wasteful Government spending -- and when it comes to the ENERGY issue, there's plenty of areas they tend to "p" away our money, flushing it down the drain on some of the most hair-brained ideas I've ever heard of... CCS being one of them.

CCS stands for "Carbon Capture and Storage," where you take the CO2 emissions from large producers of it (like coal power plants to name one source) and cram it 1.3 miles to 1.6 miles deep into the ground for permanent storage. Here's a pic to give you a better idea:

click for larger pic

It's kind of like sweeping the dirt under your rug. If nobody sees it, it must be clean, right? D'oh!

Here are two previous articles I wrote on the subject:

1. And the FutureGen Winner is Mattoon (Dec. 18, 2007)
2. FutureGen Update (Dec. 19, 2007)

You might recall one of my main concerns was the possibility of this stuff leaking out over the years. Even worse things are possible... which I'll get to in a minute.

Had the DOE not backed off on the project, we, the taxpayers, would be paying for FutureGen's insurance, plus waiving them of all liability (read responsibility) should anything leak (or worse) from the CO2 storage after a 10 year period -- AND, we would be paying (via the DOE) 74% of the costs to build the thing.

UPDATE on CCS -- It's Worse Than Even I Thought

Today, the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) sent out a press release on the CCS subject, with some additional facts which paint a pretty horrific picture of what can happen if -- only IF -- things go wrong at a CO2 storage site.
As long as CO2 is stored in geological sites, there is a risk of slow leakage or large scale escape that will impact the surrounding environment and negate the climate mitigating effect.

A natural example of the danger of CO2 escape occurred at Lake Nyos Cameroon in 1986 following a volcanic eruption, which released large quantities of the CO2 accumulated at the bottom of the lake. It killed 1,700 people and thousands of cattle within a 25 km radius. (emphasis added by me)

A 2006 US Geological Survey pilot field experiment was carried out to test deep geological disposal of carbon dioxide in a saline sedimentary rock formation in Frio, Texas. The researchers found that the buried CO2 dissolved large amounts of the minerals in the rocks responsible for keeping the gas contained. The CO2 dissolved in the salty water, turning it to acid.

The acidified brine dissolved other minerals, including metals such as iron and manganese, organic material and relatively large amounts of carbonates that naturally seal pores and fractures in geological sites.

Carbonate is also found in the cements used to seal abandoned oil and gas wells. Dissolving these carbonate seals could release CO2 into the atmosphere. The contaminated brine could further leak into aquifers and contaminate drinking and irrigation water.

The lead scientist in the field experiment Yousif Kharaka warned that the results are “a cautionary note” that calls for “detailed and careful studies of injection sites” and for “a well thought out monitoring programme to detect early leaks of CO2 into shallow potable groundwater or to the atmosphere.”

With all the other options available to us that are -- safer, cleaner, cheaper -- why in the world would our government be yanking money from our paychecks to pursue CCS? How much money?
CCS is diverting funds away from renewable energy options. The US DOE’s 2009 spending on CCS is $623.5 million, a 26.4 percent increase over 2008, at the same time that it is scaling back programmes on renewable energy and efficiency by 27.1 percent to US$145.2 million. (read more here)

Be wary of any candidate who chimes out he is pursuing "clean energy" initiatives without detailing what those so-called "clean" initiatives are... and knowing exactly who profits (and who pays).

In the case of CCS, I say scrap it. Take that $623.5 million and either give it back to us, or put it towards free energy and/or renewable energy. Heck, even the nuclear energy option sounds better than CCS (not that I'm in favor of it, yet). At least the spent uranium becomes neutral after a couple million (or billion?) years. But that CO2 just sits there, waiting for it's day in the sun.

Archeologists of the future beware. Gives a whole new meaning to the phrase "call before you dig" doesn't it?

Sunday, June 29, 2008

USA Fed Facing Embarrassing IMF Investigation?

For many in the USA during any typical work week:

You get up. You go to work. You earn your pay. You go home and finish the rest of your day... totally unaware of what's going on at the global level regarding the value of the dollars in that paycheck you're bringing home.

Show of hands: Before now, how many didn't know that an organization called the International Monetary Fund (IMF) exists?

Interestingly enough (or perhaps 'not surprisingly') some countries love the IMF. Some countries hate the IMF. And yet, most countries belong to it. (see link)

It's purpose?
The IMF describes itself as "an organization of 185 countries (Montenegro being the 185th, as of January 18, 2007), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty". With the exception of North Korea, Cuba, Andorra, Monaco, Liechtenstein, Tuvalu, and Nauru, all UN member states participate directly in the IMF. Most are represented by other member states on a 24-member Executive Board but all member countries belong to the IMF's Board of Governors.

The reason I bring this up now is because of a news article I found (quite by accident) which was recently translated (from German) into English reporting the following:
Officials with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have informed Bernanke about a plan that would have been unheard-of in the past: a general examination of the US financial system. The IMF's board of directors has ruled that a so-called Financial Sector Assessment Program (FSAP) is to be carried out in the United States. It is nothing less than an X-ray of the entire US financial system.

As part of the assessment, the Fed, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the major investment banks, mortgage banks and hedge funds will be asked to hand over confidential documents to the IMF team. They will be required to answer the questions they are asked during interviews. Their databases will be subjected to so-called stress tests -- worst-case scenarios designed to simulate the broader effects of failures of other major financial institutions or a continuing decline of the dollar.

Under its bylaws, the IMF is charged with the supervision of the international monetary system. Roughly two-thirds of IMF members -- but never the United States -- have already endured this painful procedure. (link to full story)

The article goes on to report:
For seven years, US President George W. Bush refused to allow the IMF to conduct its assessment. Even now, he has only given the IMF board his consent under one important condition. The review can begin in Bush's last year in office, but it may not be completed until he has left the White House. This is bad news for the Fed chairman.

When the final report on the risks of the US financial system is released in 2010 -- and it is likely to cause a stir internationally -- only one of the people in positions of responsiblity today will still be in office: Ben Bernanke.

It all reminds me of an old Johnny Cash tune called "Ring of Fire." I'm guessing we all know who the fall guy is going to be when the dust settles.

You know, with all this talk about strengthening our boarders, it's kind of wierd to me that we would be required to "open our books" to nations outside our boarders.

Makes ya kinda wonder how many other foreign powers are dictating how our country is run and who is allowed to rule it ...doesn't it?

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Oil Bubbles about to Burst?

There's an old expression that goes something like this, "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

With the price of oil and gas skyrocketing so quickly over the past 18 months, there are a whole lotta wheels squeaking -- and as usual, in Washington, a whole lotta finger-pointing, name-the-blame gaming and frankly IMHO, a whole lotta dumb ideas bubbling to the surface on how to correct the problem to quiet at least some of those squeaky wheels.

In Washington, the phrase should be more like this, "The biggest squeaky wheels get the grease."

Word on the street suggests one of those "biggest squeaky wheels" -- namely the financial lobbyists -- want to keep inflating the oil bubble... at least according to this Washington Post article.
Wall Street banks and other large financial institutions have begun putting intense pressure on Congress to hold off on legislation that would curtail their highly profitable trading in oil contracts -- an activity increasingly blamed by lawmakers for driving up prices to record levels.

Naturally, these squeaky wheels are playing the same old broken record "it's all about supply and demand" ...but, supply and demand of what, exactly?

Think about it.

Their industry runs on profits and losses. How do you show your clients a good return on their dollars when you lose one of your biggest money-makers? I'm talking about those cute surprise packages stuffed with sub-prime mortgages that are still reverberating shock waves through financial sectors. (It's not over until it's over.)

Back on point.

There is a bubble here, but whether it actually bursts will depend on who keeps blowing hot air into it. And, as it looks like the biggest squeaky wheels are getting bigger, they just might be allowed to continue doing that...
"Increasing regulation on what we do will not lower energy prices," said Greg Zerzan, head of global public policy for ISDA. The association, which represents all aspects of the multibillion-dollar practice of trading exotic financial contracts outside of formal exchanges, hosts a conference call every Friday in Washington to coordinate the activities of like-minded groups.

Its latest addition: the Financial Services Roundtable, the lobby for 100 of the nation's largest financial services companies. And now the Roundtable and ISDA are courting the nation's largest business federation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, to join their crusade. Chamber executives said they were seriously considering the alliance.

One thing about their industry they might have forgotten. They have to rely on the "trust" placed in them by the very investors buying their products. What happens when people finally stop trusting them, too?

Grab the popcorn. We're in for an interesting show.

Monday, June 09, 2008

REMC Elections Tuesday Night

It's that time of year again... and time to get involved with your REMC Co-op by showing up for the dinner/meeting Tuesday night (JUNE 10, 2008) with your BLUE CARD. Here are the details:

WHERE: Jasper County Fairgrounds

WHEN: Dinner from 5 – 6:30
Voting and meeting from 7 – 7:30
Comedian after that.

If you don't bring your BLUE CARD to the meeting, you will not receive a ballot, $5.00 bill credit, nor will you be eligible for the door prizes.

If you lost or misplaced your BLUE CARD, call Jasper County REMC at 866-4601

Also note -- if last year's super long line up is anything to go by, you'll definitely want to get there early this year.

SIDENOTE TO K.R.: There are 3 people running for elections that I know are passionate about trying to keep our rates low. Please vote for -- Leonard Richardson -- Danny Reese -- Shelly Conley

See you tomorrow night!

And PLEASE remember to bring your BLUE CARD.

PS: Yes, K.R., I got my computer fixed today.Whew! Thought I'd have to go buy yet another one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Salmonella In Your Salad

First lettuce, then spinach, and now it's tomatoes that have been identified as salmonella contaminated -- and causing the latest in a long string of salmonella outbreaks over the past few years.

Read this June 3/2008 news article: Tomatoes Eyed in Salmonella Outbreak

Elsewhere on my blog I posted links to several scientific studies providing plenty of evidence that shows how plants can actually uptake salmonella (and related) during the growth cycle of the plant. Indeed, one study revealed salmonella can actually thrive and, in some instances, multiply inside the fruit or vegetable for a considerable length of time after uptake.

Not to sound like a broken record here, but jeepers creepers, has the world forgotten how to farm?

Sustainable SAFE farming practices aren't that difficult to follow.

Certain Big AG practices on the other hand appear (to me) to be rapidly deteriorating the safety of our food supply, destroying water and land in the process.

I wonder how many "outbreaks" it will take to wake them up?


Jon... is that coming from YOUR side of the trees?

I've had to keep our little boy inside or away from our home these past two days in a row. Not a great beginning to his summer vacation from school.

The amonia was so strong it was actually burning my nostrils, ...thought my eyes would bleed!! And the stench -- well -- sheesh -- it was as bad as taking a drive through Fair Oaks, maybe even a bit worse.

The air conditioner, 2 huge ionizing air purifiers, one small HEPA air purifier and the like sure had their work cut out for them on Monday. You have no idea how hard it was to pop a few flower seeds in the ground. Thankfully we spent most of the day at the library yesterday to get away from it but coming home was no picnic.

If it was an accident, please clean it up right quick.

If it's just "business as usual" and this is what we have to look forward to for the rest of the summer, heed this: "Stop trespassing on my land!"

If it wasn't you, Jon, then I apologize for singling you out... but, maybe you can tell me who it was and where it came from?

Thank you.

PS: Where do I lodge my formal written complaints?

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Maxwell's Silver Hammer

Maxwell farms' Unionport Nursery in Randolph County has been slammed with a second bout of TGE (transmissible gastroenteritis) plaguing their 16,000-pig nursery, the second outbreak in 5 months, reports the The disease is HIGHLY CONTAGIOUS, although not a threat to humans according to the Indiana Board of Animal Health:
Denise Derrer, public information director at the Indiana Board of Animal Health said the risk of cross contamination is why the agency preaches the importance of sanitation. Operators of concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) usually require visitors to undress, shower and don clothing they provide when inside a barn. Visitors must repeat the showering procedure before leaving,

The state doesn't have an accounting of every case of TGE, Derrer said, as the disease often is diagnosed clinically, rather than with a laboratory test. But Derrer confirmed it is common, and said it's not a risk for humans. (Link to full article.)

Some of you might recall the controversy in Randolph County over CAFOs and CFOs and remember Maxwell Foods from the March 3 Muncie Star Press article:
"Maxwell Foods, one of the nation's largest pig producers, filed suit in Randolph County in early February, hoping to overturn the moratorium that would have blocked its local expansion," the paper reported.

You can read more about the mess happening over in Randloph County through this excellent article over at The Bloomington Alternative. It's a long article, but well worth your time to read.

Meanwhile, Kemplog provided an excellent update with respect to the Randolph County CAFO dilemna (link here).

There's another interesting (though much older) post over at the Berry Street Beacon entitled, "NORTH CAROLINA CORPORATION INVADES INDIANA TO CONSTRUCT CAFOs"

Pause for Thought: I wonder if there is any insurance coverage for situations like this Maxwell thing? If there is, I'm guessing that companies like Maxwell Foods are driving the cost of insurance sky high for all the other CAFOs/CFOs.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Food Price-Fixing by the Feds?

As the price of food goes higher and higher, you ever wonder if governments (such as ours) have had a hand in it all?

I'm not outright saying they have...

But, think back to their big ethanol push with respect to corn prices. Of course, there are opponents on both sides of the aisle -- one side claiming ethanol has caused the largest increase, the other side claiming skyrocketing corn (and other grain) prices have little to do with the ethanol push, that it plays a very minor roll in the big picture.

While they're debating the issue, I'm going to take you back to another article I wrote called "bailout nation" remind you of where a good chunk of our tax dollars went recently.

In the article I hinted that the Government would probably find a way to bailout the hog industry with our tax dollars, too.

Well, guess what?

Check out this article over at entitled - "USDA to buy pork for aid programs amid hog market woes"
WICHITA, Kan. | When Agriculture Secretary Ed Schafer announced the government's plan to buy up to $50 million of pork products for child nutrition and other domestic food assistance programs, it seemed to be a generous effort to help poor families struggling with high grocery tabs.

But what the Agriculture Department failed to mention in making Thursday's announcement was that the move was just what the National Pork Producers Council had urged Schafer to do two weeks earlier to reduce sow numbers — ultimately driving up pork prices for all consumers.

In my article, "Desparate Acts by Hog Producers," I had a feeling the bailout would be coming soon. Sure enough, the Feds haven't let me down. So predictable. Sheesh!

When you next consider The High Cost of Food -- think about all the price increases that have been caused, directly and/or indirectly, by Government policies and/or actions.

The price of food keeps going up, up, and up...

The price of gas keeps going up, up, and up...

Taxes keep going up, up, and up...

And, uh, we're paying them to do, err, what exactly?

Are you Fed up, yet?

Saturday, April 26, 2008

People love free money

If you thought this blog was about the "big Bush" tax rebates rushing into the hands of taxpayers nationwide, then you'd be wrong.

The title for this post is actually a quote from Senator Tom Harkin which was published by the International Hearald Tribune on April 24, 2008, in an article written by David M. Herszenhorn, titled:

On Capitol Hill, it's farm politics as usual - (link to full story)

Sen. Harkin must be feeling like a lone voice on Capital Hill, as he admitted there was not much he could do about the massive farm subsidies contained in the Farm Bill set to be passed at a cost upward of $300 billion because "I don't have the votes," adding, "People love free money."

My favorite quote actually appears earlier in the article, emphasized by me in this excerpt;
But even strong proponents of the bill, like Senator Tom Harkin, Democrat of Iowa and chairman of the Agriculture Committee, concede that farm interests are deeply entrenched and that there is little appetite for change among many farm state lawmakers, especially when it comes to the direct payment program.

The direct payments are based on the amount of land that certain farmers own, and Harkin, who has sought to eliminate the payments, said that many recipients of the money then use it to acquire more land and qualify for more payments.

"It's like the black hole in space that astronomers talk about, everything gets sucked in and nothing ever comes out," he said.

"This is the black hole of agriculture. It doesn't make sense, but farmers continue to get it."

Important points brought out in the article with respect to the new Farm Bill:

  • does little to address many of the most pressing concerns

  • will not change biofuel mandates that are directing more corn to ethanol and contributing to a global run-up in food prices

  • will do little to ease worldwide food shortages

  • demonstrated (by Ken Cook) that the farm subsidies it contains would mostly benefit a small number of wealthy crop producers

  • and, at a time of unprecedented volatility in the futures markets, it will not require tougher regulation

Indeed, many experts say the biggest step Congress could take would be to eliminate the direct payment subsidies in favor of a new revenue assurance program that would help farmers in times of need, but save money in boom years when crop yields are strong and prices high.

Let's pause and think about that comment a minute.

Did you happen to see this Globe & Mail news story out of Canada where Ottawa is planning to pay $50 Million for a swine kill owing to the massive surplus in the pork industry right now?
EDMONTON — In what is being called an unprecedented move, the federal government will pay Canadian pork producers $50-million to kill off 150,000 of their pigs by the fall as the industry teeters on the brink of economic collapse.

The animals are being destroyed at slaughter plants and on pig farms in a bid to cull the swine breeding herd by 10 per cent.

Most of the meat is to be used for pet food or otherwise disposed of, but up to 25 per cent of it will be made available to Canadian food banks.

“The value that the market is providing to hog farmers for their breeding animals has fallen to virtually nothing,” said Martin Rice, executive director of the Canadian Pork Council on Monday.

But, I digress.

Back to the Bush rebates (because I can't resist commenting on it)...

Recipients receiving their checks in the weeks ahead might want to think twice about using it to go on a shopping spree. Try checking out the product origins of the items you purchase and see how much of that money you'll actually be sending to China instead of helping to curb the recession here at home. Those "made in China" tags are mighty prevalent, wouldn't you say?

In my most humble opinion, I just can't resist applying someone else's quote to the situation.

"It's like the black hole in space that astronomers talk about, everything gets sucked in and nothing ever comes out."

But I don't want to go down that road of "torchture and politics" (link).


Monday, April 21, 2008

Pop E Quiz

Quick Quiz: How many times was the word "truth" delivered in the Pope's many pre-written public addresses given during his visit to the USA?

Think it's not significant?

In my humble opinion, in this day and age, it's sometimes difficult (at times, bleeping impossible) to get to the "truth" of anything. And the closer I get to the "truth" of some things, the more I come to believe that maybe... just maybe... we're not ready for the truth.

And that's sad in so many ways...


Because it means that those who are in full possession of the "truth" are marching the rest of us down the path they've chosen for us.

This incredible country was united by a truly remarkable document known as The Constitution of the United States of America. It was quite possibly the greatest gift your ancestors bestowed upon you. Treasure it.

I wish I could say more.

I wish I could tell you the 300 reasons why it's more important today than ever before. I wish I could explain, in 13 words or less, what I've discovered... and the 3 key areas that we need to rebuild to keep this great nation strong.

The good news is -- it's not too late.

The bad news is -- I'm concerned that too many people will continue to deny the truth, even when the evidence is all around us -- in plain sight.

How sad is that?

In His first public address on the Whitehouse lawn, the Pope referenced a quote from Pope John Paul II that goes something like this: "In a world without truth, freedom loses its value."

Think about it...

'Nuff said.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Indiana Tremors

If you were awake, like me, around 4:40 a.m. you might have felt the earth tremble slightly... it's not your imagination. It was an earthquake.

The desk and floor in my home office began vibrating, shaking the chair I was sitting on at the time. I heard light cracking sounds in the walls. Nothing fell off the cluttered shelves in my office, though.

It lasted about a minute.

Thinking I had imagined the whole thing, I went to the stairs and called up to my husband, "Did you feel that, too?"

He had just gone up to bed after a long night of work (nightshift at the plant) and hadn't yet fallen asleep. He said he had felt the whole bed shake and heard a few things clanking together up there. He felt a second, much lighter shaking happen about a minute after the first (while we were talking).

What an awesome experience.

About 15 minutes after the tremors stopped, we went online and checked the USGS site to see how big it was and where the epicenter occurred.

By that time there was only 1 event listed on the site, 19 miles SSE of Olney, Illinois -- a 5.4 magnitude -- and it had received only 139 reports in 114 zip codes with a maximum intensity of five (V).

There is a section where you can report your experiences after a quake has occurred in your area.

Naturally, I clicked the link, completed the form, and by the time I submitted my family's experience they had already set up a second event reporting link (21 miles SW of Vincennes, Indiana) which had received 3,752 reports from 1285 zip codes with a maximum intensity of 8 (VIII).

As I type this, there is now only the Vincennes listing -- downgrading it to a 5.2 magnitude quake -- with 8580 total reports. This may change since most of the data coming in is consolidated and revised every few minutes. You can check it out here.

That's another first for me, since moving to Indiana.

So far, I've seen my first small tornado whip right across our front lawn, my first eyewitness of a meteorite bursting into flames as it fell to earth (during the Superbowl between the Bears and the Colts) ...and now my first experience of an earthquake, even though the epicenter was quite a distance away.

It reminds me again of the awesome wonder and power of natural occurrences and the strong, yet at the same time fragile, nature of our tiny planet.

All I can say now is...