Sunday, December 13, 2009

The bleeding of America in Afghanistan

Once again (and always it appears), the all powerful Military Industrial Complex has prevailed. President Obama's announcement of his decision to escalate American military involvement in Afghanistan virtually assures that the "bleeding of America" will continue for many years to come.

Our President has buckled to the wishes of the MIC by somehow being maneuvered into believing that more troops to basically protect the troops already in country will result in a "win". It won't because we are battling an enemy that knows nothing else but conflict and chaos and death is expected. We are not fighting Al Queda there because that group is almost a ghost. They have no physical roots and will move and regroup no matter what we do in Afghanistan. Pakistan is more threatened by their influence than Afghanistan. This begs the main question. Why are we in Afghanistan and what are we trying to accomplish?

When our President and others say that our primary goal is to suppress and beat back those who oppose the established government of Afghanistan and to assist in creating a stable and functioning country it "sounds" good to many here who only know a nation (America) with an established government and a functioning nation (America). The problem with these goals are many. A primary one is that to many Afghan citizens WE are just another in a long line of foreign invaders and this fact gives the Taliban or other factions a powerful tool to convince and intimidate the average Afghan citizen. A second and also important "problem" is that the "established government" is an illusion that has little impact in most of Afghanistan. There has never been a truly established government and our "goal" of creating one has been crushed by the continual corruption (nothing new at all) by many "in power" who have stolen large sums of money meant to help the citizens. WE must keep in mind that the Afghan people are one of the most uneducated and poor groups on earth. It is essentially a destitute country ruled by local tribal leaders that have almost nothing to do with the so-called "established government" in their capital. Their cooperation with their government or America is very much dependent on how much money or goods they receive. The shifting alliances by these tribal leaders and the people themselves will continue no matter what WE try to do there. There is a reason why the American people (in general) do not get to see just how depressed Afghanistan actually is and that is because if we did we might begin to realize that WE will never be able to leave behind a stable functioning country.

When President Obama told us last week that he was authorizing an additional 30,000 troops to join the fight he may as well have said 50,000 or 100,000 or 200,000 because it will not matter. We will not bring the "enemy" to their knees (as so many have tried before). The best we can hope for is that our courageous military will achieve some minor push back victories (that will be hailed here at home) and the Taliban or others will retreat (temporarily) but in the end there will be no lasting "win". The "bleeding of America" will continue and the people of Afghanistan won't be much better off when we finally leave.

When President Obama told us that his "goal" is to begin bringing our troops home beginning in July of 2011 it was more a statement to pacify his base than it was an actual goal. The "leaks" by many in the military community in the weeks prior to the troop announcement should have created much more White House outrage for many reasons but mainly because they created much public pressure and put the President in a poor position. The MIC wanted this of course because it is always very difficult for a sitting President to give the appearance of failing to support the troops. President Obama should have taken control of the situation much earlier by being prepared with a "short term" strategy for Afghanistan BEFORE being put under the political pressure because of the leaks. If the General in charge of our forces in Afghanistan went public with his opinions and requests for troops without the full and complete approval of his commander in chief then he should be immediately removed from his position. Those above him in the chain of command all the way to the Secretary of Defense must be held accountable for these lapses as well. General McChrystal asked for more troops indicating that if he didn't get them the "war" would probably be "lost" and if he got them it would help but would not necessarily result in victory. Perfect. McChrystal knows as do all the generals above him that full and complete "victory" in a military sense is not going to happen. He noted in his supposed "confidential" report that it would take 500,000 troops and at least five years to obtain a full military victory. The "bleeding of America" will continue. It is a slow bleed (because that has become acceptable to American citizens) that will continue because the MIC is designed for the long term. American oil and pipeline interests have been involved for the long term as well. We must remember that way back in the late 1990's there were intense negotiations with the Taliban leadership to secure plans for an oil pipeline through Afghanistan. The Taliban would not "cooperate" and the last meeting of the parties took place in August of 2001 (yes, BEFORE the 9/11 attacks and incidental to Osama Bin Laden) and a U.S. State Department official, Christina Rocca, at this last meeting is quoted as telling the Taliban, "Accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs".

When "we the people" are told that our attack on Afghanistan was in response to the 9/11 attacks on American soil IT IS NOT TRUE! Military plans had been in the works for a long time before 9/11 (which answers a nagging question about just how we were ready and able to launch our invasion less than one month after the 9/11 attacks while it now takes 3 to 6 months to fully deploy the new 30,000 troops) and those plans had nothing to do with 9/11 and almost everything to do with getting rid of a leadership (the Taliban) that would not yield to our wishes to build oil and gas pipelines! This is no different than our primary motive for invading Iraq. It is always about the oil interests and the MIC is more than happy to "help" because it keeps their agenda going as well.

The situation now is that we have occupied Afghanistan for 98 months now and with this new announcement we have pretty much committed ourselves to at least another 2 to 3 years and it could very well be 5, 6 or 10 or more years of American military troop commitment in the wasteland that is Afghanistan. Of course in keeping with the need and desire of the Military Industrial Complex even if President Obama were to announce in the second half of 2011 that there has been significant improvement in Afghanistan (which will be a vastly overstated report), the situation in Pakistan will have reached critical mass by then and Pakistan will be the next in line for U.S. military troops. This will be justified by the need to protect Pakistan's nuclear weapons (at all cost) and to keep Pakistan a viable U.S. partner in the region. Or, we will be told that "conditions on the ground" simply prevent the beginning of troop withdrawal in July of 2011. Also, Iran is waiting in the wings too. So sorry folks but the beat will continue. It is interesting to note that Syria has dropped off the radar as an imminent threat. Hmmm....

Our brave troops will of course continue to engage when ordered and will do so "forever" if necessary because that's what they do. American families will continue to be devastated as the "bleeding of America" continues with more and more having to deal with the death or injuries of their beloved soldiers. Families will continue to deal with the emotional toll as well. After all it's the patriotic thing to do, right? Supporting the troops is all important, even if it means giving them up to interests that are not in the best interests of the troops themselves. The sad reality is that whatever the stated result is in Afghanistan IT WILL NOT put an end to "threats" to America. There will ALWAYS be the next threat in the next geographic area of the world. The use of so many assets by our government during the past now more than 8 years is creating a huge long term problem and doesn't even consider any future threats by potential enemies (China and yes, again Russia) who would pose a much greater problem for American troops than the roaming bands of fighters we are currently chasing around the mountains of Afghanistan or the ethnic factions we "battled" in Iraq. Supporting and protecting American troops also means ONLY putting them in harms way when it is absolutely critical to their survival or the imminent survival of America herself. A "volunteer" military is struggling to keep necessary recruitment levels in large part because when it is pretty much assured that when one volunteers now they will be sent to combat as opposed to the many years after the draft was abolished when military service was viewed by many as a few years of "training" and assignments on a base with little combat expected in order to gain the GI benefits. The real world possibility that death or major injury has become the reality will no doubt change minds about enlisting.

America is at one of its cores a warring nation and has been for well over 100 years. There have been times when war was the only option but there have also been many conflicts (Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan to name a few) that have been initiated and waged and supported (for a time) by convincing a majority of the American people that it was imperative to stop things like communism (Korea and Vietnam) or Islamic extremists or despotic leaders (at least those with oil under their soil). The "protection" of America here at home has been a process mired in politics and has not resulted in actually protecting "we the people" by securing our borders and ports (to the extent possible) or changing our legal immigration process to close the loopholes that allow extremists to enter and breed on American soil. But we Americans always like to hear that the "threat" is somewhere else. We certainly wouldn't want to upset the economic engine any further by focusing too close to home.

Yes, the "Bleeding of America" will continue.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I will start this post by repeating the title. Please Mr. President. Anyone who may have read my postings during the past four years plus may have the impression (unless they read all of them carefully) that I simply blast away with criticism for the GOP. I have been blunt at times but mainly because I am above all interested in the truth and in a deep sense that Government actions that directly affect the ACTUAL lives of American citizens (military or not) and civilians in other places on the planet should not be carried out for "political" reasons or for any agenda controlled by corporations (oil being the main influence carrier and our own military industrial complex as well).


The attack carried out against America on September 11, 2001 was without question a horrendous act and all Americans should have been outraged. But, this was hardly the first attack but rather a continuation of sporadic actions against America and her interests and allies that has been going on for decades. Too few of our citizens understand the history of America's actions across the middle east region or understand the reaction from many in that region to what they perceive as a long standing invasion by the West on their land and their culture. This posting is not strictly about that aspect but I only wanted to expand the horizon of thinking about what is at its core a cultural issue as much as it is about oil (well, maybe not that much).

When the "news" that the attacks of 9/11 were carried out by the group known as Al- Qaeda and that Osama Bin Laden was responsible for funding and planning the attacks, although 15 of the 19 terrorists were Saudi Arabian citizens (how did our Government publish complete dossiers on all these men so quickly after the attacks?) or actual conclusive evidence has yet to be presented (many terrorists individuals or groups like to take credit for deadly attacks whether they themselves did the act or not). There are lots of questions still on the the table about Osama Bin Laden and in fact the relationship between the powerful Bin Laden family in Saudi Arabia, The Saudi Royal family and the United States (or more specifically, ties to oil interests here and some powerful Americans), but that is just another area not for this posting.

The fact that Osama Bin Laden was allowed to use territory in Afghanistan (after the heat became a little too much in the Sudan) created the perfect opportunity for a double retaliation by the United States (through a military strike). A little background first. During the Afghan-Soviet Union conflict of the 1980's America was covertly (meaning unofficially) involved in providing critical weapons and intelligence support to the "freedom fighters" battling for control of their country against the "evil empire" (to quote former President Reagan). For more than 10 years, these tribal warriors (along with a large group of "freedom fighters" from neighboring areas) finally prevailed and the mighty Soviets withdrew. The scene that remained in Afghanistan was chaotic with the nation in ruins, hundreds of thousands dead or wounded and no real form of central Governmental control (has that country ever actually had a central control?). Afghanistan sank into a civil war but war and conflict is certainly nothing new to the modern heritage of the country or its people. It was 90 years ago following the THIRD Anglo-Afghan war (the first back in 1839) that Afghanistan finally regained it's status as an independent nation from the United Kingdom (just another western invader). There have been Kings and assassinations and coups and foreign influence from countries close by and far away and through it all there have been the tribes and their fighters, who have been labeled at various times as "freedom fighters" or hired guns or terrorists or just dedicated citizens of their country always willing to fight for their beliefs. No doubt the primary reason for American involvement in the Afghan war against the Soviets was motivated by the continual struggle to win the cold war or cripple the Soviets at every opportunity (much as covert Soviet support was used to aid our "enemy" in Vietnam). The Afghans were mere pawns in a much larger battle and many in that country have realized this fact over the years. But, American involvement in Afghanistan has always had another motivation which was and is to develop and protect potential oil and gas pathways in the region. Please Mr. President, be the first to actually stand up and be honest about that fact!

As I mentioned, following the Soviet conflict, Afghanistan was a nation in ruins and the mighty United States (having succeeded in their immediate geopolitical goal) walked away and did very little to assist this devastated nation and its people to try and rebuild their country. But the Afghan people are, if nothing else, a strong and determined group with long memories. They have been attacked and conquered and manipulated for literally thousands of years. It is part of their culture and something badly under estimated by the United States for decades most recently by former President Bush but now President Obama appears to have fallen into the same sinkhole. Please Mr. President, think this through. I have to believe that our new President (and probably those before him) has been counseled or at least studied the history of Afghanistan in much more depth that I and MUST realize that the task of bringing "our" form of government or religious beliefs to the people of Afghanistan is an exercise in "unreasonable expectations".

Mr. President, you waged a campaign with a main theme of ending our involvement in the debacle that the previous administration got us into in Iraq which as we know had nothing to do with the attacks of 9/11 but somehow morphed into a major battleground for the "War on Terror" and has yielded thousands of American dead, tens of thousands of wounded and hundreds of thousands of family and friends here at home to bear the tremendous burden this so-called war has caused, not to mention the hundreds of billions of dollars spent during the past six and a half years. The Government of Iraq and the majority of the Iraqi people decided even before our 2008 elections that it is time for the Americans to leave and at least we are in the final planning stages for getting out. The situation (once we blasted out the regime of Saddam) became an internal struggle for control of a sovereign nation and it will remain so after we leave. Iraq, like Afghanistan has been an area invaded, dominated, used and abused for a very long time and there was no chance that we were going to fundamentally alter the religion or cultural structure there.

The new administration, President Obama in particular, at the very least, should finally be the one to be honest with the American people with respect to our ever increasing commitment in Afghanistan. WHAT IS THE PLAN??? What are we trying to do? We hastily invaded Afghanistan a scant six weeks after the attacks of 9/11 (we sure seemed to be gearing up for the invasion even before 9/11, didn't we?) and "if" our plan was to capture or kill Osama Bin Laden why, oh why did we not cutoff the exit routes into Pakistan BEFORE we invaded. The mission (if we wish to call it that) appeared more about toppling the Taliban than dealing with those we believed responsible for the attack of 9/11. Why? I believe that answer goes back to our "relations" with the Taliban well before the attack on U.S. soil.

I mentioned earlier that following the Afghan-Soviet conflict, America and its allies basically walked away from that poor and destroyed country. This led to the rise of the Warlords in various regions of the country (of course armed with "modern" weaponry that WE provided) and the country descended into numerous internal struggles leading to even more civilian deaths. By 1994, the Taliban (with the backing of Pakistan) began to take political and geographic control and by 1998 they controlled about 95% of the country. The Taliban instituted severe restrictions of the "freedoms" that we hold dear and created an oppressive fundamentalist environment. WE didn't show the outrage that made it way to the surface years later for two main reasons. First, we didn't really care and second and most important to understanding what all this is really about, America in concert with a few of our oil giants still held out hope that we could negotiate with the Taliban to gain access to the territory to build oil and or gas pipelines. During 1999 and all the way to 2001, the Taliban resisted our overtures and America has never liked it when another country denies us our "rights". My contention is that as soon as Bush became President active plans were being made for the military overthrow of the Taliban and the fact that Osama Bin Laden (former "freedom fighter" supported by the United States) had been given refuge there and then the timely attacks of 9/11 provided the perfect situation fully supported by American outrage (why weren't we outraged to that point following the 1998 Embassy bombings or the attack on the USS Cole in 2000?) to invade and eliminate the uncooperative Taliban. Of course, once again we under estimated the situation. Did we really believe that by bringing in a "puppet" Government to control the Capital and building some schools and a few roads (this was already tried and it failed then as well), we were going to win the "hearts and minds" of a nation steeped in the history of conflict and betrayal? Did we really believe that the Taliban minded people were just going to go away or become enlightened about the benefits of a free and open society? The underground involvement in Pakistan (another storm on the horizon by the way), the scattering out to the territories by the Taliban faithful to wait out our firestorm, and the tribal lordships present throughout Afghanistan provided virtual assurance that any central Government inserted in the capital was doomed to irrelevance at best and complete failure at worst. When the Bush Administration made the fateful decision that Afghanistan was simply not enough to feed the appetite of our awakened military machine and set their sights on Iraq (and of course all that oil under that soil), it created a perfect opportunity for the Taliban to regroup and slowly gain their control back. The most recent estimate is that over 70% of the country is now under Taliban control once again.

PLEASE MR. PRESIDENT slow down our recent escalation of troops being deployed to Afghanistan (already double the number since you became President!) and THINK THIS THROUGH! Again, what is the plan? At the very least you owe a full and honest explanation to the American people, before the KIA numbers from Afghanistan spiral upward. ANY more death is unacceptable without at least convincing yourself and the rest of us that there is a CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER to the United States. The American military should not be placed in harms way for the purpose of nation building (something many of our former leaders always insisted we wouldn't do, but always seem to do anyway) or other economic agenda pushed by large business interests.

The "fight" against Islamic extremists or other individual enemies we may have will never be defeated by using our traditional military assets and especially not by flooding a country like Afghanistan with more and more troops who simply become targets for potshots and roadside bombs. These brave men and women are in harm's way TONIGHT, Mr. President! It was probably nice that you were able to have some quiet vacation time with your family this past week or that the Vice-President was able to attend the Little League World Series today or that our entire elected Congress (and their staffs) have been able to take an entire month off (during a time of "War" and other National crisis) but during all of that rest and relaxation, American lives have been lost because our military has been ordered to combat by their leader. Eight months into your term of office, you no longer have the luxury of our involvement in Afghanistan (or Iraq) being blamed on the former President. Yes, he got us into it but you sir, and only you, now have the power to get us out! Please do not begin to use the "excuse" that to leave Afghanistan would somehow dishonor those that have already fallen. It wouldn't at all. I suggest that a decision by you, Mr. President to remove our troops from harms way (except for a few elite squads with the sole mission of finding and taking out Osama Bin Laden) would be not only the correct thing to do but would also honor our military men and women. They will continue to fight and die, as ordered because that is their job. YOUR job, Mr. President (as I posted to former President Bush on numerous occasions) is to protect this nation from immediate threats and to protect the members of the armed forces that you command. The "threats" to America are many and could come from almost anywhere, Former President Bush talked often about protecting America and its people yet he never did manage to close the holes in our borders that at this moment could be the avenue for "terrorists" or weapons of great harm to gain entry into our country, nor did he ever fully implement a full system of checking our ports to eliminate the possibility of items that could kill American citizens here at home. Will you, Mr. President?

I realize the economy and now the issue of health care has dominated the national discussion and those are very serious subjects as well and need thoughtful attention and decisive action, but please do not let those things distract you from making the necessary decisions with respect to our foreign military engagements. The lives of our troops and the numbing effect ANY death has on their families must be more important than the price of a house or the failure of a bank or almost anything else I can consider. We have somehow let the reporting of casualties become little more than a report of numbers, like the stock market ticker or the upcoming weather report and that is not acceptable!


Tuesday, June 02, 2009


The democrats should be careful before getting too much deeper into the government bailout and government ownership business. At some point the "talk" from the GOP about the excesses of too much Government will become a reality. We the People always express a desire for "change" and the winning Party always "promises" that they will be the ones to deliver that change. The reality though is that the change that occurs almost always falls short of the expectations of the voters. The best policy for the Federal Government moving forward will be to move the issues that belong in the States back to the States and stop trying to micro manage the entire country from the oval office or the U.S. Congress. It is NOT the duty of the Federal Government to attempt to control every aspect of State business and the lives of all the citizens. The individual States and the individual cities and towns throughout this country had better reclaim their rights and quit looking to the Federal Government to solve all the local problems.

Citizens had better stop looking to the Federal OR State governments to "fix their lives". It won't happen. If you lose your job, go out and get another one! This is what you did in the first place, right? If you cannot afford the house you purchased (for whatever reason), let it go and start over. Getting into fruitless reorganization schemes will only bring you back to the same spot again very soon. THINK things through and make an honest and realistic plan and then, along with your family, begin to make the plan work. You do not need the Government to "give you a life", nor should you want them to.

Nothing of value is ever easy and that fact hasn't changed in all of history. I've been up and down and down and out many times and I found the only thing to do was to acknowledge whatever the current situation is and then go out and make it better.

If the collective "we" keeps putting out hands out expecting the Government to keep giving us things, we will become the dependent, socialist nation in a short period of time.

Help yourselves. Help your neighbors. Help your towns and cities. Do it from the streets and before long your children will learn the lesson of honest effort and compassion and perhaps the next generation will not be struggling with the very same issues that were being discussed 100 years ago!

Friday, April 17, 2009


The recent push by the GOP to bring about a "grass roots" (and let's not pretend that the GOP is anything but the roots under whatever grass there is) by sponsoring "tea party" rallies and promoting the idea that Government must go away is a mildly interesting idea. Let's explore it beyond the hand made signs or the sound bites being thrown around by the people not "in power" at the moment.


The message being promoted is that "we the people" want an end to taxation of any kind (if one follows the logic of the position). The message is that "we the people" do not want a Government at all (if one follows the logic of the position). The message is that "we the people" want our situation to be "everyone for themselves". We either make it on our own or we simply perish (if one follows the logic of the position).

A first important question is whether or not the thousands of American citizens who attended the recent rallies or felt like they at least supported the rant actually understand the message. If these individuals truly understand the ramifications of trying to continue as a "united" group of States without a Federal or State Government in place then; WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY?

There is absolutely no doubt that having a Government (any Government) will always involve a level of intrusion on the lives of the individual citizens of this nation. This is also little doubt that a degree of frustration will always be present with respect to the policies of our elected representatives no matter who they are. A certain level of dissent from opposing groups is not only acceptable but is a sign of a free and open society. All of these things narrow down to a matter of degree and in the end a matter of opinion.

If there is a collective opinion that there should be NO Federal Government and NO taxes that's fine and is certainly an opinion. If "leaders" like the current Governor's of Texas, North Carolina, Louisiana, Alaska, Nevada and a few others truly believe the words of their recent speeches, WHY NOT GO ALL THE WAY?

I would suggest that they be open and honest with ALL the people that reside in "their" States and fully explain their position. Do they actually want a nation that has no central Government and no taxation to fund it? Or, is their opposition centered around the current leadership rather than the institution itself? Care must be taken when attempting to "convince" the masses of the inherent evils of an organized Government. We the people may start to believe the inflammatory words to the point where we are willing to take physical action to eliminate all Government at any level.

Those expressing dissent and opposition to the level of Government spending, Government taxation and Government debt (whether it be at the Federal, State or local level) have every right to their frustrations. I feel them as well. There certainly is ample need for more prudent spending in many areas but unless there is an actual understanding of what the spending involves and unless "we the people" get the actual facts (as opposed to the typical "spin") we will never be able to obtain an informed opinion about the true state of our union. But, back to the central theme of this posting.

After all the speeches and sound bites a few fundamental questions must be addressed. If the State leaders that have promoted the call for an end to taxation or and end to Federal Government involvement in the affairs of their States let they should be willing to put these opinions to the test by conducting a vote of the citizens (who after all are the people that would be affected, right?). The "ballot" would not have to be very complicated. Just ask in a "yes" or "no" format, "Do you, as a citizen (or resident) of the State of ------------- want any and all Federal funds currently allocated to this State from any Federal agency and for any purpose to be discontinued?" The question is straight forward but should require some serious consideration by the voters. The current involvement of the Federal Government in the affairs of the individual States is complex. Highways, law enforcement, border security, health care, education, social security, disaster assistance, are among some of the areas that our Federal tax money provides and perhaps the Federal Government doesn't need to be involved with those things in the individual States. Of course, unless an exemption can be approved, the requirement for Federal taxes collected from the citizens and businesses of any States wishing to terminate all Federal funding and assistance would remain in effect. A secondary question would be; "what percent of the voters should be required to opt out of Federal Government funding or assistance to an individual State? A simple majority? Two thirds? Three fourths?

Perhaps the message of intrusive Government or excessive taxes or spending isn't actually meant to promote the elimination of the Federal Government or the elimination of ALL taxes or ALL spending. Perhaps the message is simply an expression of opinion by the political party not "in power" at the moment and isn't actually a call for an end to a centralized Government. I find it interesting that the level of national debt would be an anchor of the GOP ship. For the record, during 20 of the past 28 years we have had a republican occupying the executive branch as President. When Ronald Reagan took office the "National Debt" was just over 900 billion dollars. At the end of Reagan's two terms the National Debt had expanded to 2.6 TRILLION dollars or an increase of almost 300%. Following the four years of George H.W. Bush our National debt had expanded another 56% to over 4 TRILLION dollars. Eight years of President Bill Clinton brought the National debt up to 5.6 TRILLION or an increase of almost 40%. Then during the past 8 years under the administration of George W. Bush our National debt exploded to a total over 10 TRILLION dollars (or an increase of almost 77%). The point of posting these figures is to show that the "sudden" outrage directed at the current administration over the National debt and its expansion is simply a large distortion of the historical facts. The reality, if we are truly concerned about the "debt" to our children and grandchildren, is that "WE" allowed that situation to exist and grow to "Monopoly money" levels during the past 79 years when in 1930 our National debt stood at a mere 16.2 billion dollars. So, enough with the blame game with respect to our National debt. It has been a collective effort of all political parties and all of us.

It is "Time to Think Again" about the motivations and about just how much each of us believes in the collective of these United States. I suggest that each of us should make the attempt to learn the facts about our Federal budget and just how our money is spent and then make an intelligent decision about our future as a nation. It's always easy to complain but the process as stated at the beginning of the United States Constitution; "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America", need to be read and understood for its meaning. Of course, this has been an ongoing battle of opinion for the over 220 years. I believe the document was designed by a group of educated property owners who were primarily guided by self-interest who kept many of the principles vague because they recognized that the future world would be markedly different that the one they inhabited. Keep in mind that the draft of the Constitution completed at the Constitutional convention and submitted to the individual States for ratification DID NOT contain the "amendments" that followed that have come to be known as "The Bill of Rights" (amendments 1-10) and were added during the ratification process at the insistance of a few of the States and the input of Thomas Jefferson (then an ambassador to France), George Mason and others. Interesting!

Keep in mind, that EVERYTHING involving our Government and the extent our lives are affected by it is and always will be a matter of opinion.

Sunday, March 08, 2009


It is time to stop the music and quit dancing around the earmark (some call pork) and spending bill now being considered in Washington. President Obama committed to all of us that he would not allow "earmark spending". Well, it should not matter how or why or when the "earmarks" got into the current spending bills they should not be allowed if President Obama truly wants to keep his promise. Having said that, the term earmark has been demonized to mean "pork" or "wasteful" and this distortion drives the media and other critics to "show that our Government leaders are totally irresponsible. The whole concept of listing spending for specific projects in specific States and requested by specific legislators is supposed to make them all accountable and provide "we the people" to know where and how our money is being spent. This is a good thing in theory. The problem is that there will always be someone that can and will attack virtually any spending on anything if they feel they can score political points.

The minority party screams about close to 8 billion dollars of "earmarks" and "pork" and "wasteful spending" (out of a 417 billion dollar spending package) and somehow do not seem to acknowledge or recognize that 40% (or close to 3.2 billion dollars) of these earmarks are being requested by their own party. Sorry, but you cannot make an argument about the 8 billion dollars unless and until you remove your 40%. Until the minority party is willing to do this they will not gain the high ground.

The majority party cannot talk about being responsible "moving forward" or "next time". They are the Party in power NOW. Unnecessary "earmarks" or other spending should be removed from this or any other legislation. If not, the credibility of the message of change simply drifts away with the breeze.

So, the challenge with this spending bill or any future spending will (as always) come down to defining "wasteful spending" and further the definition of "earmarks". Are all earmarks wasteful spending? Are all earmarks "pork"? If our leaders want to insure the acceptance of the spending of our money they need to convince "we the people" that the spending is, in fact, necessary and not wasteful and will be a productive use of public funds.

The members of BOTH political parties need to stop dancing around (the music has stopped) and be willing to justify their own spending requests. If they cannot individually do this, the President must insist or refuse to sign the bill(s). That is his responsibility.

Is President Obama going to show the political courage to take on the members of not only the minority party but his own Party?

Is the majority Party going to live up to their collective promise to bring change and responsibility to this process?

Is the minority Party going to prove that their criticism is correct by removing, at least their own requests for what they condemn as "wasteful spending"?

Is anyone going to do the correct thing or after all the "spin" and all the talking will it just be business as usual?


Friday, March 06, 2009


Is the dream over? The American dream that so many millions have grown up believing in appears to be nothing more than a frightful nightmare as we have been forced to wake up from our slumber.

The "book" on the American dream has been revealed has a work of fiction after being accepted as truthful by so many for so long is a difficult reality to face.

For well over 200 years our country has grown and developed through countless trials and challenges. This has all been done with (or despite) a vast growth of Federal, State and local Government. At times the Government has over reached and at times was irrelevant. American commerce grew and expanded because of the efforts of her people and the reward for those efforts was supposed to be our ability to live a fruitful live and be protected from our enemies from within and outside our borders. In good times we all want Government to go away and leave us alone. In bad times we want Government to come to our rescue. What do we actually want?

How did the country get into this mess? The simple answer is greed. Historically, the economy of business and individuals has grown at a moderate (if not slow) pace. This was true for most of our history until insanity set in about 25 years ago. My parents purchased their house in 1953 for $19,000. In 1970 the house was "worth" about $45,000. This showed an increased "worth" of $26,000 in 17 years or just under 5.5% per year. That rate of "worth" increase stayed pretty much the same throughout the 1970's and into the 1980's until the insanity began to show itself. The perception of "worth" began to escalate so that between 1970 and 1994 (24 years) this modest house that my parents bought in 1953 (built in 1940) was supposedly "worth" $230,000 or a rate or "worth" increase of over 7.5% per year. The real insanity set in during the years from 1999 to the end of 2006. In 1999 my parents home was supposedly "worth" $253,000 and in just 7 years this house was supposedly "worth" a staggering $900,000 or an increased "worth" of 355%!! The actual belief that a 1450 square foot home (granted with a pool) built in 1940 could possibly be "worth" $900,000 is truly an example of a delusional mindset. Since reaching that lofty "worth" level the most recent "worth" estimate is down to about $650,000 which in one way could be considered a "loss" of $250,000 to my 90 year old Mother (who still lives in that house) and her heirs. In another and more realistic way even the $650,000 "worth" estimate is stunning and still represents a "worth" increase of $400,000 just during the past 9 years. The questions must be; "has my Mother actually "lost" $250,000 since the end of 2006 or was the $900,000 "worth" attached to her home at the end of 2006 a completely insane number?" Is a 69 year old, 1450 square foot house (granted with a poll) actually "worth" even the $650,000 that estimates currently show?"

The point of the above example is that it can be multiplied by millions of homes across the country and the roots of our current financial collapse become very clear. National insanity affected virtually everyone and every sector. Homeowners (those who like my Mother) who already owned their homes before "worth" became so unreal suddenly found themselves living in a pot of gold. For my mother and many others the "worth" doesn't really mean much because she has always intended to live out her days in her home so she will never see the financial benefit of any amount or perceived "worth" (real or not). The effects of the unreal "worth" on so many people who have always intended to simply live in their homes has been a massive increase in property taxes and homeowner insurance premiums which has lead to greater revenue for the States and insurance industry at the expense of the homeowner. No surprise there, right? So, the government basically turned their backs and encouraged the insanity by promoting home ownership to virtually everyone, whether they could afford it or not. This, in turn "created" the supply and demand factor to kick in and led to an insane amount of building to accommodate this growing demand. All of this appeared great for the economy because people were working and the "worth" of homes kept exploding so why think about the reality, right? Well, the banks and investment firms wanted in on the action as well so they created a massive pyramid of mortgage loan packages (based on unreal worth of homes) and then sold them to anyone who was willingly to blindly buy them. There was plenty of profit to be made and greed took over as it usually does. Lenders relaxed virtually all reasonable qualification requirements to bring as many loans into the loop as possible. The result was that millions of people got mortgages they simply could not afford. Some now feel they were somehow "tricked" because they did not understand the interest and payment structure that was in the contract they signed. Well, that, sadly cannot be used as an excuse or a reason for a rescue by the taxpayers. Some (like my brother) took a different route. He purchased his home about 1980 for about $48,000. When the "worth" insanity set in my brother chose to begin a series of refinances and equity loans beginning in the mid 1990's in order to take advantage of the exploding value of his house. He took almost $600,000 from his house during the past 15 years through this process and was allowed to do this by lenders who continued to perpetuate the "worth" insanity. It became a computer program game and as long as the "worth" entered into the computer continued to be within the programmed relationship of debt to value my brother continued to get refinancing. Of course, throughout all of this, his monthly payment kept increasing (to a current payment of $4560 per month not counting property tax or insurance) and worse is the fact that the policy of not verifying income or other ability to repay was still being ignored. Multiple this situation by tens or hundreds of thousands and you find a whole group of homeowners who have created current loan balances from a low starting point to an insane number now. When the housing bubble began leaking in 2007 and has now burst, the ability to subsidize lifestyles through the equity refinance process went away. The equally insane credit card limits were quickly used up to try and cover this problem and of course that has led to an inability to make the mountain of payments due each and every month. In the end, many, many people (including my brother) find themselves with a mountain of debt and little ability to repay it. Should these people be able to receive taxpayer dollars to fix their careless decisions? I think not. The fact the "worth" insanity showed that my brother's house increased in "worth" from $48000 in 1980 to $875,000 (almost 1800%!) in early 2007) should be a perfect example of why this segment of homeowners is now is deep trouble. Now multiple this by tens of thousands.

As the "worth" insanity exploded the need for new borrowers grew as well and lenders (with the support of Government) disregarded most qualification guidelines in order to keep the system moving. After all, if people were unable to get loans simply because they couldn't afford them the whole process would be slowed down and collective greed would not allow that to happen. I bought my first home in 1972 in West Covina, California for $24,000. It was brand new and had four bedrooms and 1600 square feet which I needed for my wife and four young children. I earned about $13,000 a year back then as a manager in an envelope company. I qualified for that home because I put 20% down and did not (at the time) have any other major debt. My payment was just over $200 per month and that stretched the budget when trying to also raise four kids. Well, life happened. My wife began a lifelong series of illnesses which ate into the family budget for many years. Those were the days where insurance coverage was the 80/20 plan. I would end up with close to $200,000 in out of pocket medical bills during the next 14 years aside from everything else. So, I began working at second night jobs, and other ways to generate cash. I relocated several times (first in 1974 after selling my house) for the opportunity to make the needed money (at the emotional expense of my kids) and it would be 24 years before I was able to buy another home and well after my children were grown and gone and my wfie had become my ex-wife and after a triple bypass surgery and two heart attacks in the mid 1990's as my "reward" for a lifetime of stress. Throughout all of it, no bailouts, no whining. Life reveals itself it ways we do not always expect. I worked. I struggled. I paid everyone every cent I ever owed and I did it with a refusal to give up or rely on the Government to come to my rescue. Many people have similiar stories I am sure. Since my "medically forced" retirement I still survive. I have "given" my own children virtually all I had to try and assist them in their struggles with daily life but that's been my assignment all along. The message is, if you cannot afford the bills you have, then you must get rid of the bills and that means your house, your boat, or whatever. The only thing to do is to look in the reality mirror, face it and do what you have to do for yourself and your family. No one said life would be easy or that anyone would be passing out relief to any of us. That is just a fact.

For those who bought homes within the past five years I would ask; "Could you afford the house and the resulting payments?" "Did you buy the home to live in and raise your family for the long term?" Are you still able to make your mortgage payments or are you in trouble because of "other" debt?" If you are upset because the current "worth" of your house has decreased over the past 18 to 24 months you must accept that reality as well and realize that the inflated number was never real anyway. If you are still able to stay in your home and your original intention was always to live in it and raise your family then, in the end, the current "worth" does mean your dream has been destroyed.

For those who purchased homes simply for the investment and potential of profits the current "worth" decline is nothing more than the basic risk of any investment. The shock to you is that the insanity finally began turning around and the thought that this could happen rarely occurs to us as long as things are on the upswing. Reality sometimes makes an appearance. Bailout for you? I think not.

For those who purchased homes that had they really looked into that "reality mirror" knew they actually could not afford the commitment and did it anyway, while unfortunate, is in the end, a poor decision and if you now cannot continue to make the payments you should and you must give up the house and start your quest of the American dream again. Bailout for you? I think not.

For the of you who played the game correctly, meaning you worked hard, saved your money, did not get into mindless debt and invested in your new home (15 or 20%) down and got a proper loan without all the fancy inclusions that lenders had been offering, but now find yourselves unable to make your payments simply because you have lost your job or have experienced some personal calamity, the most sympathy for assistance goes to you. If temporary Government and or lender assistance should be made available it should be to this group. The main reason is that this group is the most likely to work their way out of their current situation if they can just get back to work. This group has not been the ones who continually seek taxpayer help but truly need it on a temporary basis. But, even this group must face the possibility that whatever has happened (even through no direct fault of theirs) is still not, utlimatelt the responsibility of the Government and the taxpayers. For the people to commit to keeping people in their homes (without direct intervention and authority over their entire budget) can be a slippery slope indeed.

For the banks and lenders who issued all the mortgage loans (both proper and improper) these loans were always a matter of choice and your own business model and have always had inherrant risks. The interest earned on these loans are the reward for taking the risk. The fact that so many loans have gone into default or are about to is basically not the publics business and since the public (all the public) did not receive a monthly portion of the interest earned during the time payments were being made the banks and lenders should not expect the people (through Government taxpayer dollars) to bail them out now. Like any other business if you cannot survive because of business decisions or market conditions then the business must fail.

The main problem with this, of course, is that the people are deeply involved with the results of bank and lender decisions because of stock investments and other funds which have a direct bearing on individual retirement plans or other forms of measuring "worth". The people are deeply involved because our Government (approved by our elected officials) have made assurances of Government backing to banks and lenders and (in our names) assumed a porion of the loan risk and thus lessoned the risk to the banks. To make matters worse and because of the business and certainly the poltical rewards the Government allowed regulations to either expire or to be ignored as the whole financial system joined in the insanity to make the "house of cards" much too high to survive. In other words, everyone is at fault and now everyone will suffer as the country and the world faces the grim reality of our greed.

If there are those who might actually read this piece who might be saying; "But wait, I didn't do anything wrong, why should I have to pay because someone else made a poor decision?" The quick answer is that everyone allowed this "worth" insanity to expand and those with "no problem" now (still a majority) certainly have had no complaints as they reaped the fianancial rewards for many years with at least one blind eye and in the end the fact that the "worth" is now reduced for so many is just the end result of greed and trying to get to the American dream by taking unsafe shortcuts.

The question now is whether or not the collective "we" are going to take responsibility as a whole nation and work together to bring ourselves out of this mess or are "we" going to continue to bicker and divide ourselves even further for the sake of our selfishness and greed for power.

If nothing is done as it relates to efforts to "bailout" banks, businesses and individuals (and I basically do not agree with that tactic either), then America and its people must be willing to endure an even deeper collapse of our economy that we have already seen. There may, in fact, be no complete solution at this point but doing nothing and walking away from the problem just doesn't seem to be the American way that I grew up in and if you're not part of a possible solution you're just part of the problem.

If you believe in saving America and whether you agree with current proposals or not, dig in (hold your nose if necessary) and let's get this nation moving again. Opponents can always come back later and change things. We have certainly done that throughout our history.

Good luck, America.

Monday, March 02, 2009


"We the People" are certainly receiving a rash of confusing messages these days. I, for one, am trying to grasp just a piece of truth and reality from the onslaught of negativity and partainship that just will not subside.

During the entire administrations of George W, Bush the message from the Republican Party was "trust us we know what we are doing and we will protect and defend the United States of America". We were asked to ignore many assaults on what we had assumed were protected "rights" enjoyed by American citizens with respect to privacy and our right to question and object. We were told that if "we" didn't fully support the "Bush Doctrine" as it related to pre-emptive invasions of sovereign nations, then "we" were anti-American. "We" were told that virtually any dissent was unacceptable and possibly even a basis for arrest or at the least aggressive monitoring by our Government. "We" were assured over and over again that the "most important goal of the Bush Administration was the protection and security of America and yet throughout most of the past 8 years our nation's borders and ports remained basically unprotected while hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars and ten of thousands of American lives were lost or ruined in foreign lands waging a futile "war on terror" against a basically invisible enemy. I will not diminish the (hopefully) positive effect our military actions have had on millions of Iraqi and Afghan citizens but at some point we must view the results through the "reality mirror" and make truthful conclusions about the effect these engagements have had on reducing the number of groups or individuals throughout the world that wish America harm. The point is, for the most part, the majority of Americans went along with the foreign policy program of the Bush Administration mainly because the administration was always able to use the "support the troops" as a successful political tool. To oppose the policy was to oppose the troops, right? I disagree completely with that logic as I believe supporting the troops would have been to NOT place them in imminent danger for over seven years without ever having a clear cut, obtainable mission to fulfill.

"We the People" must also not simply overlook or downplay the economic facts of these past eight years. The fact is that our National Debt that is suddenly such a concern for the Republican Party INCREASED from 5.7 TRILLION dollars at the end of fiscal year 2000 to just over 10 TRILLION dollars by the end of fiscal year 2008. This astounding increase occurred under the Republican President (G.W. Bush) and for six of the past eight years, a Republican controlled Congress. One should consider this while listening to the suddenly born again fiscally responsible Republicans now flooding the airwaves. Quite the confusing message!

The Democrats should not be let off the hook either. In the usual process that is Government accounting, our National Debt under the Clinton Administration increased from 4 TRILLION dollars to 5.7 TRILLION dollars while toward the end of that administration the annual budgets had begun operating in a surplus of billions of dollars.

It must be noted also that the proclaimed King of fiscal responsibility and modern conservatism, Ronald Reagan, was the man in charge of an 8 year period (actually a 12 year period when the George H.W. Bush Administration is included) saw an increase in the National Debt of almost 450 PERCENT from ONE TRILLION dollars to 4 TRILLION dollars! A review would also show that the extent of Government involvement in the lives of Americans and American business was every bit as much under Reagan as is being proposed now under President Obama. I suppose it is (as always) a matter of opinion.

Feeding from the "spending trough" is not, not has it ever been limited to any one political Party and any claims by either main Party to the contrary is just a partisan lie that continues to be told to "we the people". The spending philosophy of our Government has certainly not been ignored by American citizens. The collective "We" have managed to spend ourselves into near financial ruin during the past two decades. Our financial institutions and retailers have been more than willing to relax the rules (with the blessing of our Government) and create an irresistable candy dish of irrational spending and borrowing that inflated the value of homes and stocks to almost silly levels. This has not been the private playground of Democrats or Replublicans but rather the actions of a greedy and irresponsible society. WE need to stop trying to blame the Government or the Banks or our employer and focus on individual responsibility.

The message that the new Administration continues to deliver about the critical need to "stimulate" the economy by encouraging us to go back to spending money and for the Banks to hurry up and start lending again appears (at least to me) to be confusing at best and destructive at worst. I cannot understand how it make sense for American citizens who are currently in deep trouble to keep digging their financial hole they have dug for themselves. I should note here that not everyone or every family is in financial distress. With a national unemployment rate approaching 8% it still means that 92% of American workers ARE employed and that means that there should still be an abundance of spending throughout the country. If an approximately 3% of mortgages are in jeopardy that means that 97% ARE NOT. The negative effect on home valuation on the homes not currently in mortgage difficulty is certainly real and potentially very harmful to homeowners who purchased their homes during the past 2 to 3 years when home prices were at their most inflated levels, but as with any investment, there was always that risk. For the homeowners who bought their homes to actually live in over the long term and who are able to continue to make their payemnts (which is still the vast majority) the "reduced" valuation of their homes should actually have little effect on their day to day lives. History has shown that, at some point, home values will rebound (though hopefully not to monopoly money levels), so just be patient and live your lives responsibly. For those who made the decision to "buy" homes that they MUST have known were more expensive than their means (no matter what the real estate agent ot lender told them), sadly, the price for those decisions must be to give up the home, start over and hopefully not make the same mistakes again. For those who purchased homes (at inflated prices) strictly for the investment and now find themselves on the losing side of that investment but face the reality that when it comes to investments, sometimes you profit from them and sometimes you do not. For the banks and lending institutions who created the "candy dish" for borrowers and home buyers must also now bear the responsibilty of their actions. Whatever loss they now face (even if it means losing their business altogether) must be faced and it must be done without further damage to "we the people" in the form of Government subsidies. Capitalism was not designed to be a one way street.

So, my "message" for the Republican Party is;

Stop whining!
Stop perpetuating the image of the imminent collapse of the United States of America because you are not "in power" at the moment. It is an especially weak position when one considers the Republican controlled results of most of the past 28 years.
Stop being "anti American" (yes, I said it!) and leave your insane partisanship behind during our current national crisis. We have always tried to have the policy that politics are left at the shore when it comes to our foreign policy and it now critical that you leave your partisanship in the closet during this extreme domestic crisis.
Stop distorting the facts and cherry picking everything that is proposed in your attempt for ratings or votes and for once do the right thing for the citizens of the United States. As more and more people become educated and aware of the facts, these distorations are being exposed. There are simply too many ways to verify your lies and spin to keep passing them off as facts. Just because you say it doesn't make it true.
Stop the hate speech! You are only inflaming desperate people and causing them to be more desperate. The result will most likely be even more hatred between American citizens and an unnecessary increase in violence and mistrust of everything and everyone. This is not only destructive to our country but just plain wrong.

My message for the Democrats and President Obama is;

Stop trying to move too quickly. The American people, although they are looking for change and better days, may not be able to absorb too much too fast and the negativity being projected by the opposing Party appears to be confusing too many people. Keep it simple.
Stop giving the impression to the American people that you are fully able to correct all the ills of our economy and make all our dreams come true. You must know that cannot happen and the message (that was given at last weeks speech by President Obama) needs to be expanded and promoted by all those in the Administration and Congress and leaders of the individual States. It is very dangerous to give too many people the impression that the people themselves are going to be rescued and that all they have to do is wait.
Stop the bailouts! In spite of the amounts already allocated and in spite of the pontential effects on large firms, these bailouts have just become too much. Again, Capitalism was not designed to do this. We cannot get to the bottom of our problem until we let the bottom develop. Only then, will everyone know the real situation and begin to rebuild this great country. The real pain involved is a sad necessity but we must endure it in order to get well.
Stop engaging in "sound bite" politics and offer more substance. You must stop over reacting to all the critisms and be committed to your plans by allowing them to be implemented and then live with the results. You have a major advantage now in that your opposition seems only prepared to be totally negative and can only spew out the words; "tax cuts" as their only idea while offering no alternative plans of their own.
Stop making the suggestion that our economy will recover only through a return to spending without making the clear distinction that those in severe financial distress should not be part of that spending until and unless they get their financial houses back in order. For the majority of Americans (yes, it's still the majority) who are not in severe financial distress, the message should still call for prudent spending. I have no doubt that the economy will find its proper level and be successful if the spending is real and not falsely inflated by credit card debt and home equity loans that have driven our economy for far too long.

The popular campaign message of "YES WE CAN" needs to be changed to "YES WE WILL". This is, after all, America, and I still believe that "we the people" can and will overcome any obstacle, even the unnatural actions of too many of our fellow citizens that have refused to join in the effort.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


It's the principle of the thing, right?

IF every single Republican House of Representatives member voted NO on the recent economic stimulus legislation based on their PRINCIPLES why aren't every one of them lobbying their State Governors to refuse to accept any Federal funds that would be scheduled to be distributed or spent in their States?

IF all but three Republican Senators voted NO on the recent economic stimulus legislation based on their PRINCIPLES why aren't every one of them lobbying their State Governors to refuse to accept any Federal funds that would be scheduled to be distributed or spent in their States?

IF a number of Republican Governors who were so much against the legislation as it made its way toward passage based on PRINCIPLE then they should formally stand up for their principles and respectfully decline to accept Federal funds generated from the stimulus bill.

Come on people, you either have the PRINCIPLES or you don't! It takes courage to follow your core beliefs and principles. Do all these Republican "leaders" have it or not?

Since all these Republican leaders have voiced their opinion that the Economic Recovery Act is completely wasteful and will only make our national situation more dire it is only logical that these Republican "leaders" should not add to the national disaster by accepting any of this "wasteful spending".

There have been a few extremely hypocritical House members on the Republican side of the aisle who, within days of the Bills passage, actually went back to their States and attempted to take credit for the bills passage and praised themselves for bringing money, through the stimulus programs, to the people of their States. Amazing!

Again, if the money that will be appropriated from the Economic Recovery Act is SO wrong and SO wasteful, DO NOT TAKE IT. This would certainly be one way to reduce the final price tag of this "ill fated" legislation.

Of course, a principled refusal would also come with the need for a full and acceptable explanation to the voters (ALL the voters). about how NO assistance is better than at least the attempt for recovery. I wonder if; "Just because" or "Tax Cuts" or "It's against our principles" will work with all the desperate citizens back home.

But, by all means, go for it. After all, it's all about standing up for your principles, right?

Excuse me, but I have yet to grasp the logic that the GOP has adopted that a full blown national meltdown is somehow better than at least the attempt to engage the problems and fight for our survival. You (meaning the Republican Party) have made your goals fairly clear. You win if the country fully sinks into a DEPRESSION instead of the deep recession now plaguing America and the World. The attempts to convince the American public of this logic illustrates the basic fact that our "leaders" actually have an agenda that has little to do with the health of America or its citizens.

To be sure, the Economic Recovery Act or the attempts to shore up the housing market or the financial markets may not be successful. The risk and possibility of failure is certainly present. The critical question that must be asked and answered is whether America and its citizens are worth the risk.

If the GOP is correct in their gloomy predictions I suspect that Americans will be in such deep trouble that the all mighty elections of 2010 or 2012 will be irrelevant. If the American people collectively fight and work very hard to bring our nation back to some level of stability during the next few years (which I believe can and will be done), the GOP itself will become more and more irrelevant in the next few election cycles and they will deserve that result.

Buckle up it's going to be a rough and partisan ride!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There is deep water ahead for the Obama Administration and the Democrat controlled Congress and extreme care must be taken to avoid overloading the ship. The idea of change was the most appealing catch phrase during the election campaign and that idea created the victory the Democrats were seeking. But, did "change" mean that the Government was to become THE answer and solution to all the problems and negative decisions made by everyone during the past ten years?

The economy is in free fall to be sure. The blind optimism of business and citizens during the past 10 years created a sense of mindless spending and paper wealth that broke the barriers of reality. Too many people believed that the unreal appreciation of home values was just going to continue forever. This created the feeling by too many that they could just spend and buy without regard to their debt level because many were able to leverage the "value" or "equity" in their homes through lines of credit or refinancing tools provided by banks and lenders who fed the flames by making credit all to available for far too long. Well, as this happened and now EVERYONE is going to have to pay the price and regroup.

The new Administration has quickly accepted the responsibility for the years of excess by announcing that help has arrived and giving the false impression that the Government can and will fix everything. This will never happen and if upcoming policies are ruled by politics instead of pragmatic logic the Obama Administration will sink in the deep water of good intentions.

Some attempts at slowing down the economic disaster is warranted and necessary but the continual message to our citizens must be a combination of the hard truth and reality that the Government is only able to buy time and anyone who is in financial trouble due to a home buying decision or excessive credit card spending or job loss or anything else needs to use this time to make a plan for themselves and their families. Turn off the television. turn off the computer and the cell phones and sit down with your family and be honest enough to see the truth of your situation. Then begin to change the things that are causing your problems and begin to feel good about the fact that once you face whatever reality you have and begin to heal, things will improve. It's not going to be easy but it is necessary.

It's Time To Think Again

Saturday, February 14, 2009

GOP plays NERO

Remember the Roman story of how Nero sat and played his fiddle while Rome was burning? Well, during these past two weeks and especially yesterday, the GOP House members and Senators have renewed that story in America (with the minimal exception of 3 Senators) and have made the decision to take a huge political risk for themselves and their Party.

On the surface it appears illogical and somewhat anti-American for an entire group of elected officials to basically announce their belief and hope that the just passed stimulus bill will be a complete failure and that the economy of America and the plight of its citizens will worsen during the next 12 to 18 months. Why, you might ask. The simple answer is that EVERYTHING, in the end, is about politics and the Republicans have calculated that a deepening of the nation's crisis (meaning everyone will be in even worse shape down the road) is their best chance to regain lost seats in Congress and ultimately win back the White House in 2012. It should be noted that many of the Republican Congressmen and Republican Senators probably feel "safe" in their own States and Districts in the shrinking map that is colored red by the pundits. At least they have taken a stand even though fiscal responsibility, control of spending and especially, attention to our National Debt was certainly not a part of their agenda during the Reagan, or Bush administrations. A careful review of Government spending and the extent of national debt relative to which political party was in power will destroy the stubborn myth that the Republicans have been the Party of fiscal restraint.

This choice by the Republicans to walk away from the attempt to at least try something will either lead them to further ruin or allow them to regain lost power (always the main goal). Sadly, the only way for the GOP to "win" this battle is for America and her citizens to fall deeper into the abyss. If the Republicans and their minions on talk radio and cable news continue to assert that anything "the other side" proposes cannot be successful and continue the attempt to convince citizens that the sky is falling they will fully deserve the political punishment they should receive if there is any measurable or perceived improvement in the coming months. It is a huge political gamble but at least their intentions are clear. The Republicans are now forced to use whatever power they have left to undermine the efforts for improvement in the coming months and keep citizens in a negative mindset.

To be sure, the Democrats are taking a huge political risk as well. The new Administration inherited a disaster and the task of correcting the national situation may prove too difficult. The Republicans have thrown down the gauntlet by telling us that the Democratic leadership and whatever plans they try to implement will fail. So, the Obama Administration and the Democratic Congress MUST to ready, willing and especially able to accept this challenge and proceed without major mistakes and without the usual corruption and waste that almost always happens. THE most important result needed is the perception that the situation can and is improving. I have maintained for years that the Government cannot and should not be the answer to all the various aspects that make up the lives of American citizens. The ultimate success of America and its citizens is, in the end, up to each one of us.

I have no doubt that a portion of the spending proposals in the "stimulus" bill justed passed will include things that could be considered wasteful or that do not appear to directly stimulate or directly create a job and this part, sadly, seems to go along with any spending measures passed by any Congress. The point is that every attempt must be made to use these funds wisely and effectively at every level. The main reason for that is that the Democrats can be sure that there will be a task force of Republicans and other detractors just waiting to expose and showcase ANY misuse of the taxpayer money that is about to be spent.

The task of controlling the money will be extremely difficult since large portions of it will go to the individual States and the State powers will decide how to use the money. There are many areas that will receive funding during the next year or two and so there will be many areas to monitor and attack. This may turn out to be the biggest challenge for President Obama and his team. Remember, the Republicans have commited themselves to trying to undermine success at every turn and they will use everything at their disposal to reach their goal.

My message for the Democrats is to advise them to be VERY careful and to avoid the usual lack of oversight and control. They must make sure that there are actual and REAL results for the country and the citizens. They must create an atmosphere of optimism and also continue to tell us that WE are more a part of the solution than is the Federal or State Government.

I will write more on the individual and national pain that we must accept and endure before stability can be restored in my next posting.

Until then, now more than ever it is "TIME TO THINK AGAIN"

Sunday, February 08, 2009


Let us enter into a fantasy world that allowed the GOP to get what they apparently want. I say apparently because after listening to every single Republican representative in both the House and the Senate and every single talking head pundit on TV and the radio I have only heard two words being repeated over and over again. "Tax Cuts". They say these words as if they are magic, which they of course are not. I have heard NO ideas or proposals (other than the two words, tax cuts) presented by any member of the GOP to even begin to bring America and its citizens back from the cliff of economic ruin. Needless spending is not the answer either but the Republicans have decided that no idea or proposal or legislation presented by the majority party is acceptable and they have made this decision before, during and after the fact. The fact that they are and will be against ANY proposals made by the current administration or the current majority in both houses of Congress leaves any thinking person with a raw but simple truth. The Republican party and its elected officials have no dedicated interest in the welfare of this nation or its citizens. Even if proposals made by the Democrats turn out to be wrong or not as successful as promised it appears better to at least try.

But, perhaps not.

Let us pretend for a minute that the Republicans actually got exactly what they want. Tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts. If tax cuts are the final solution why not eliminate ALL taxes altogether. No more income taxes for individuals or business. No more capital gains or estate taxes. No more federal excise or gas taxes. No more sales taxes. No social security or medicare taxes, No more taxes, period.

I would like to know from Republicans or anyone else what their predictions would be for the condition of the American economy and American citizens if all taxes were completely eliminated. Since there would be no federal revenue coming in there would by definition be no ability for the Federal Government to spend any money. Military spending for America's defense? Sorry, no money. Social security benefits or medical assistance to American citizens? Sorry, no money. Money for the federal highway system or National Park system or border or port protection? Sorry, no money. Federal funds going to Education or any of the arts or science or medical research? Sorry, no money. The individual States of the United States of America would be on their own and so would all citizens. If the Republican Party is truly committed to cutting taxes until there are no taxes then they should stand up say it and also be willing and prepared to present a plan or at least an explanation or some survival tips when the Federal Government stops functioning.

The only good news with eliminating the revenue to the Federal Government is that there would be virtually no further need for the partisans that have flooded the chambers and halls of Government for so long. "We the people" would no longer have to listen to the stream of lies and ill conceived promises that spew from the mouths of "leaders: from both political parties. Oh, and the "special interest groups" would be forced to find a new group to try and bribe and influence.

Unless the Republicans truly believe that the above fantasy then one must assume that at least some of them will concede that there is and should be some form of Federal Government. The issue then becomes to what degree and the amounts rather than the principle of their rantings. The Republicans and the Democrats need to come to some agreement quickly or my advice is for them all to simply go home. We are weary of the gridlock and the bickering. DO SOMETHING one way or the other!

American citizens must realize that the Federal Government or their State Government nor any particular President is going to "save" them from their own decisions or mistakes or is the only salvation for an economy now facing the results of years of excess and false optimism. The collective "we" have let ourselves get buried by the mindless spending of money we did not actually have and fell into the trap of actually believing that debts could just continue to build without ever having to pay in full. "We" let ourselves be fooled into a false sense of security by the fantasy values that the market told us our houses we "worth" when it should have been obvious to anyone thinking about it that the numbers were not real. But, mortgage firms and banks fed the game by granting loans to millions who should never have gotten them and providing so called "equity loans" to many millions of homeowners that allowed those millions to go out and buy, buy, and buy, thus keeping the economic wheels turning. Well, now that game is over. The jig is up. The lending industry and millions of citizens made their decisions and enjoyed those decisions for a number of years. Now everyone must pay the price for those decisions and I, for one, do not agree that tax dollars should be used to bail out anyone or any business, period. Capitalism is designed so that if a business or individual makes prudent and proper decisions profit and survival are the rewards. If not, those businesses or individuals must be allowed to fail and then attempt to begin again.

If excess spending and illogical decisions are the root causes of our present crisis, how can it make sense to try and implement programs that involve even more spending and to encourage citizens who are in deep financial trouble to take whatever money comes to them in the form of stimulus funding and go right out and spend it thus creating the whole cycle all over again?

I believe that before this nation and its citizens can have any real hope of recovery or finding their way back to collective sanity, we must feel whatever pain there is and clear out our personal debt and begin to make decisions that will allow for individual and family growth in a manner that will prevent "us" from being in the same place and condition two, five or ten years from now.

It's "Time To Think Again"

Thursday, January 15, 2009


As we all watch the "dance" being performed daily by our Government and the banks and other financial institutions as they spin around and around scaring the public and presenting more and more "bad loans" in order to illustrate their dire need for funds to alleviate the problem and by the way the spin is so fast that the Banks and other financial institutions are not even required to disclose what the money will or has been used for and continue to avoid this critical element I believe it is "Time to Think Again" about this financial disaster and stop the blame game and focus on solving the problem.

A simple answer is that "we" are approaching the problem from the wrong direction. Congress, the Treasury and the Fed are listening to and then reacting to information given to them by the Banks and other financial institutions and basically trusting that this information is factually true and correct which is not only a huge mistake but actually irrelevant in solving the housing crisis or the credit crisis that has now threatened our entire financial system. No doubt there is much "blame" to spread around for the situation but none of that will create a recovery attitude on the streets of America or the world at large.

I devoted almost 30 years of my life in the arena of manufacturing and the quest to create efficient and profitable operations. I have devoted an even longer period of time in the arena of family and putting together plans to raise and provide for a family of four children, endless trials of illness with my wife and later myself and succeeded in both by never giving up and always developing a plan no matter how impossible the situation appeared. In other words, I've been there and done that as it relates to most problems business or people could present.

Back to the topic at hand. There is no doubt that hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of citizens (and their families) have entered into house mortgage agreements which they should not have and were never actually "qualified" to get in the first place. When requirements to qualify were allowed to become so lax as to not even verify the income of the applicant a mindless rush to live the "American dream" took over from both sides of the table. But, it happened and now people are where they are and the Banks and mortgage firms are where they are. When the floodgates were opened to so many previously unqualified individuals it also spurred a tremendous growth in the home and condo building industry which now that so many cannot pay the debt has left a huge surplus of unsold new homes and a rapid decline on the building of homes which, of course, has caused a quick slowdown of everything related to the industry including employment for all involved. Our Government was certainly a partner in creating the perception that "everyone" should and can "own" a house and provided insurance or commitments to lenders that the Government (we the people) would cover the risk and that allowing the current storm to brew off the horizon and out of mind to most of us.

I would also submit that a large percentage of the people who are in a "mortgage crisis" got there because of spending habits other than the mortgage itself. The pervasive attitude of spending and borrowing and buying things because they wanted those things rather then needed those things has ultimately caused the requirement for money going out to far exceed the money coming in which, if one continues to spend (and extend) enough will always happen at some point. All the talk about sub-prime or adjustable rate mortgages as being the culprit is simply not a valid reason or excuse.

What should be done now?

I will offer a plan and a change from the current approach in my next post. Stay tuned.