August 31, 2007
to stem the rise of mortgage defaultsand asserts that
"government has got a role to play" in helping homeowners struggling to hold onto their homes.The blame for the problem of course lies with sub-prime adjustable rate mortgages.
The president singled out the popularity of adjustable-rate mortgages among subprime borrowers as "one of the most troubling developments." These types of mortgages start with low introductory rates that later rise sharply. As the higher rates kick in, some borrowers are caught by surprise and miss payments.But the President also said
"It's not the government's job to bail out speculators, or those who made the decision to buy a home they knew they could never afford," Bush said. (emphasis added)So the basic outline of the Bush sub-prime plan is to stem the tide of defaults by helping people who are not defaulting because they didn't buy a house they can't afford.
Here's an interesting fact the President might want to give a few seconds of thought. If your adjustable rate mortgage can adjust to a rate that you cannot pay, you bought a home you could never afford.
When you take out an adjustable rate mortgage, somewhere in the massive piles of papers you have to sign (many of them to satisfy government requirements) the terms and limits of the adjustability of the rate are spelled out. If you can't afford to pay the highest rate your mortgage can adjust to, you can't afford that mortgage.
I didn't see the actual press conference so I don't know if the part about borrowers being surprised by higher payments is the reporter's contribution or a paraphrase of something Bush said. I do know that being a financially illiterate moron apparently qualifies you for Federal intervention. Anyone who signed up for an adjustable rate mortgage and was surprised when the rate adjusted and their payment went up (again it's all there in the paperwork you signed) is an idiot.
The Democrats aren't all that thrilled with Bush's plan either. Not that they agree with me. No. They think he's not doing enough.
August 30, 2007
Here's the nasty little bit of socialism that Bush is planning:
The officials said Mr. Bush would call for the Federal Housing Administration to raise the ceilings on what it can charge for federal mortgage insurance, a move that they said would enable an additional 80,000 homeowners with spotty credit records to take advantage of the program, beyond the 160,000 likely to use it this year and next.The president is going to try to convince lenders to allow people to keep houses they cannot pay for. I'm not going to be surprised if somewhere along the way the Federal Government is going to compensate them for their losses.
Several other steps the administration plans to announce involve seeking legislative changes and what one official called “jawboning” of banks and other lending institutions to avoid foreclosing on distressed mortgage holders.
In addition, Mr. Bush is expected to endorse several proposals backed by Democrats in Congress that would raise the ceiling on the amount of mortgage insurance available for refinancing and to provide tax relief to those who re-negotiate their mortgages to their financial advantage.My guess is he's working with Teddy K on this, so you know McCain's probably in there somewhere too.
I like the way this works though. If I re-negotiate my mortgage to my advantage I can get a tax break on top of that? I think I'm going to try to convince the bank to forgive about 25% of the principle on my loan. That would certainly be to my advantage and that tax break on top of it sounds sweet. Maybe I'll take the tax savings and buy a boat. Or at least use it as a down payment on a boat loan.
Many of these homeowners are lower-income families caught in the squeeze of variable-rate mortgages whose cost is certain to spike in coming weeks and months even as the value of their homes declines. Many are considered likely to default, possibly increasing the global turmoil in the financial markets.Many of these homeowners took out adjustable rate mortgages while rates were at all time lows and now they are whining when the rate adjusted in the only direction it possibly could. But fear not imprudent borrowers. The all powerful ever expanding Federal Government is coming to your rescue.
The simple truth is people made bad financial decisions. It is not the job of the federal government to take my tax dollars to prevent the consequences.
August 28, 2007
According to the incident report, Sgt. Dave Karsnia was working as a plainclothes officer on June 11 investigating civilian complaints regarding sexual activity in the men’s public restroom in which Craig was arrested.This is kind of gross in a lot of different ways.
Airport police previously had made numerous arrests in the men’s restroom of the Northstar Crossing in the Lindbergh Terminal in connection with sexual activity.
Karsnia entered the bathroom at noon that day and about 13 minutes after taking a seat in a stall, he stated he could see “an older white male with grey hair standing outside my stall.”
The man, who lingered in front of the stall for two minutes, was later identified as Craig.
“I could see Craig look through the crack in the door from his position. Craig would look down at his hands, ‘fidget’ with his fingers, and then look through the crack into my stall again. Craig would repeat this cycle for about two minutes,” the report states.
Craig then entered the stall next to Karsnia’s and placed his roller bag against the front of the stall door.
“My experience has shown that individuals engaging in lewd conduct use their bags to block the view from the front of their stall,” Karsnia stated in his report. “From my seated position, I could observe the shoes and ankles of Craig seated to the left of me.”
Craig was wearing dress pants with black dress shoes.
“At 1216 hours, Craig tapped his right foot. I recognized this as a signal used by persons wishing to engage in lewd conduct. Craig tapped his toes several times and moves his foot closer to my foot. I moved my foot up and down slowly. While this was occurring, the male in the stall to my right was still present. I could hear several unknown persons in the restroom that appeared to use the restroom for its intended use. The presence of others did not seem to deter Craig as he moved his right foot so that it touched the side of my left foot which was within my stall area,” the report states.
First there is such a problem with sexual conduct in the men's room that they had to send in a plain clothes officer and that had been numerous arrests. I'm sorry but a public men's bathroom is probably the last place on the planet where I would want to engage in any sort of lewd conduct. Most of the time it takes an act of courage to use them for their intended purpose and you just hope you can finish before you pass out from holding your breath. Whoever came up with the saying that men are pigs did so after visiting a public men's bathroom.
The cop was sitting in the stall for 13 minutes before the incident with Craig began. Pardon the pun, but what a shitty job that is. Can you imagine your job being to sit on a crapper in a public bathroom waiting for guys to hit on you? To be sure there must be people who do this because they want guys to hit on them from the next stall - but to have to do that to earn a living. Tell me that isn't going to end up on the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs show.
Then we get to the part where Craig was nervously fidgeting outside the stall and stealing occasional at the officer inside. OK so the gross meter just climbed a couple of notches. Unfortunately the report doesn't indicate how long Craig had been in the bathroom before he started checking out the officer in the stall. Was Craig already in the men's room looking for action when the officer took his seat? Did Craig know that they guy had been in there long enough that he could reasonably think he was interested in more than using the facilities?
Then Craig took a seat in the next stall and put his rolling suitcase against the door. The cop assumed this was to help obscure any lewd activity. Of course it could just be that he had been asked thirty times over the course of his trip if his luggage had been in his possession at all times so he had to bring it into the the stall, and unless he was in the handicapped stall, space is at a premium. Or maybe the latch was broken.
Then Craig started tapping his foot. Apparently this is some of signal that he wanted to get a little action. I must have lead a sheltered life because I wouldn't have known what the toe tapping meant. I do know that if I ever find myself in a stall of a public restroom I will not be wearing my iPod.
Then Craig let his foot touch the officer's foot. Now that's really crossing the line. Seriously that's crossing the line between his stall and the cops. But I have to tell you, unless the gap between the floor and the stall wall is unusually high, without going into some serious contortions Craig's foot wasn't too far into the other stall before making contact. Did the cop move his foot? Did he intentionally place his foot close to the wall? Did he lead Craig on?
I suspect there's a lot more to the report than has been reported, because I don't see how anything Craig is reported to have done is criminal. A less than half decent lawyer could easily offer a different and altogether innocent explanation for every action Craig took. Heck I've offered several possible explanations for Craig's behavior and the extent of my legal experience is watching Sam Waterston on Law and Order re-runs. And yet Craig took a plea deal. So far all I can see that he is guilty of is asking the guy in the next stall if he wanted to have sex. Questionable judgement, and extremely unsanitary, but criminal?
John Hinderaker concludes the the Powerline post by adding
Freedom of speech: at some of our cable networks, you can't even buy it! We'll follow up with any response that may be forthcoming from NBC.Two sentences that mar an otherwise good post.
The freedom of speech of Freedom's Watch, does not trump the freedom of speech of MSNBC or CNBC. The right to freedom of speech held by Freedom's Watch does not come with the right to buy to broadcast time on any network it chooses. The right to freedom of speech held by Freedom's Watch does not create any obligation on the the networks to accept their advertising.
Expose them as hypocrites for selectively applying their advertising guidelines? Absolutely.
Expose them as having the liberal agenda we all know they have and that they fervently deny? Absolutely.
Stop offering to pay them money? Absolutely
Abridge the network's freedom of speech by forcing them to accept the ads? Absolutely not.
As for the response Powerline is waiting for, I wouldn't hold my breath. The only choices in a response from NBC would be more spin or just admit the truth of the bias we all know is there. Neither of which is in their interest.
August 26, 2007
If broken windows can bee seen as an effective predictor of a neighborhood's future, then it must also portend good things - when there is New Glass.
There at the first corner, I see it. New glass. Someone has put new glass in a shop. Someone only installs new glass when they think it won't get broken. New glass is confidence.
As we roll though Ramadi I see more stores and small shops open. And more new glass.As they say - Read the Whole Thing.
Apparently in parts of the interior west there is a serious unemployment problem.
Record low unemployment across parts of the West has created tough working conditions for business owners, who in places are being forced to boost wages or be creative to fill their jobs.If I understand the article correctly the problem is that unemployment it too low and employers are being forced to pay workers more to fill open positions. And this is a bad thing.
Of course if you prefer to look at it from more of a glass half full perspective, it means that more people are working - and they are getting paid more. Isn't that what we're supposed to consider a good thing? Wouldn't that make this the opposite of the worst economy since Hoover?
Or are we about to start hearing the left rant about the workers exploiting their employers and demanding ever higher wages and better working conditions?
I think the problem is that if more and more people are working and making more money doing so, there will be fewer people dependent on the
Democrats government for their survival. Independent individuals are harder to control than the dependent masses.
August 24, 2007
I worry that he may have inherited the athletic skills that lead his father to a successful career in graphic design with blogging as his primary hobby. His first chance to catch a pass didn't end well, but due only to a poor throw from the coach. He caught the second one.
Practice is at one of the local parks and there are seven or eight teams of different age groups having practice at the same time. Our team tried three different spots before any real practicing started. They moved around to find enough space with grass. We started out by the edge of one of the baseball fields. But a group of six and seven year old boys in cleats - in dirt - was not a combination that was going to produce a lot of rapt attention on the coaches. The only good thing about that spot is that there were bleachers to sit on.
The bad thing about that spot is that there were bleachers to sit on. It took about three seconds for the two guys behind me to get into a discussion about evil oil companies, corrupt financial institutions and how Halibushitler does their bidding. Somehow flag footbal practice became an offshoot forum of the Yearly Kos.
I held my tongue and let them prattle on as they complained about the salary of the CEO of Countrywide Financial. They seemed to have no idea who the CEO of Countrywide is, Angelo Mozilo. Nor did I get the impression that they had any idea how much he was paid ($57 million). I am certain they didn't know that he founded the company 36 years ago and has been the CEO for the last seven years. (Admittedly I did not know the exact amount of his compensation or the exact number of years since he founded the company until I Googled it, but I wasn't the one complaining about his salary either.) I wanted to ask these two if they owned stock in Countrywide. I wanted to ask them if they sat on the Board of Countrywide. I wanted to point out that the compensation of the CEO was set contractually between the CEO and the Board. I wanted to tell them that their opinion about how much the CEO of Countrywide was paid was worth precisely nothing. I wanted to tell them that if they didn't like the way the Board of Countrywide compensated executives then perhaps they should continue to not buy stock in the company, and that they should not do business with Countrywide. But I was here for practice not politics. And these guys were so thoroughly steeped in their mutually reinforced ignorance that the effort would have been wasted.
As for the boy child - it is looking almost certain that he will athletically exceed his father. Though admidedly the bar on that isn't too high.
UPDATE: They had a little scrimmage and the boy got a turn at quarterback. His first pass was intercepted and run for a tuchdown. But in his defense every boy there was in a different t-shirt and there was no way to tell who was on which team and the boy who caught it may have been on his team and just ran the wrong way. He threw a catchable pass, and that counts.
I am not a fan of Barrcak Obamma.
I am not a fan of Ted Nugent.
I am not a fan of this sort of over-the-top juvenile antics.
This is not about politics. This is not about the candidates. This is about a late-middle-aged teenager with no sense of decency and a microphone. (The linked video is foul and obnoxious. The choice to click through is yours.)
Actually I'm not really sure I want to give Nugent the advice of Laura Ingraham to "Shut Up And Sing." I've heard him do that and frankly it would be better if he just shut up.
August 21, 2007
But I did and happily it wasn't as bad as I expected. There were a couple of funny moments to break up the the endless lack of anything resembling a coherent story. And the kids had a good time, and that was what we went for.
I will give them props for one thing. They used footage from the original cartoon in the opening credits. I enjoyed sing that.
August 19, 2007
Currently the federal government guarantees sugar producers a minimum price for their sweet product. This doesn't cost the government a dime because import restrictions have successfully kept the price above the minimum. However a provision of NAFTA is about to change all of that and allow Mexico to export to the US as much sugar as it wants.
In the recent farm bill passed by the house there is a provision that calls for the government to buy up excess sugar and sell it to ethanol producers. This is an idea beyond even normal Washington Stupid.
First, what exactly is excess sugar? Is that any sugar above what is currently imported? I excess sugar the amount the government needs to buy to keep the price at its currently artificially high levels?
And who are they going to buy this sugar from? are the handouts going be paid to US sugar producers or Mexican producers?
And why would ethanol producers want to buy sugar from the government? The only possible reason would be because they can buy it at less than the market price.
So the government is going to buy sugar to drive up the price, so they can sell it for less than the market price they established.
The benefits go to the handful of US sugar producers, Mexican Sugar producers and ethanol producers.
The cost are born by anyone who purchases sugar for anything other than making ethanol, and all of us who have to pay higher prices for goods containing sugar while our tax dollars are being used to cover the government's losses in the sugar market.
Why not let the market set the price for sugar and leave it at that?
August 18, 2007
Then I heard a very interesting debate on Sean Hannity's radio program. (I know, who would have thought?) The guest was World Net Daily columnist Illana Mercer who wrote column not necessarily condoning Vick's actions but questioning from a property rights perspective if what Vick is alleged to have done should be illegal.
Human beings ought to care for and be kind to animals, but a civilized society is one that never threatens a man's liberty because of the callousness with which he has treated the livestock he owns. Members of a society in which peace and liberty are valued above all would have settled for boycotting Vick's games and merchandize. They might have urged the NFL to discipline, even fire, him. But they would not have called for his incarceration.Her argument came down to animals have no rights, and the dogs were Vick's property to dispose of as he wished. Hannity of course could not accept that. He went to the absurd length of then trying to equate dogs to children as an absurd exercise in reductio ad absurdum. Mercer shot that nonsense down fairly quicky. The problem for Hannity is that he could not get past the idea that Vick had just killed the family pet. The fact is that the dogs involved in this kind of fighting are not pets. They are purpose bred and trained livestock.
Dog fighting is cruel and the way Vick allegedly treated the animals that did not perform adequately is abominable and any person who would be a part of any of it is lacking any sort of fundamental decency. If the allegations are proven it should be up to the team he represents and the league he plays in to sanction him according to their rules. Barring that it is up to those who attend football games to decide if they want to pay money to watch such a person play the game.
The Federal Reserve spends it's days trying to figure out the best balance between money supply and inflation. One of their primary tools is manipulating the Prime Rate. This is the interest rate that the Fed charges on money it lends to banks. Banks lend that money to their customers and charge a slightly higher rate on those loans - that's how they make money.
(Note: I know that this is a vastly simplified explanation for how it works, but that is all that is required here.)
A few years ago interest rates for home mortgages were at historic lows. You could get a home loan for well less than 4%. This made home buying more affordable for a lot of people. It also made it possible for people who could afford to buy a simple modest home to buy something bigger and nicer. Real estate prices soared. Home ownership reached all time highs. Every one was SHiny and Happy.
The problem though is that most of those mortgages were adjustable - some had a three or five year fixed period before adjustments began. This is where basic stupid overreaching comes into play. If home mortgage rates are at all time lows and you sign on to an adjustable rate mortgage, where do you think it's going to adjust?
If you answered down, congratulations there's probably a foreclosure in future!
A lot of people over-borrowed thanks to the Federal Reserve driving interest rates so low. When rates started going up, and those temporary fixed periods of many mortgages started expiring, people were suddenly finding it difficult to make that monthly mortgage payment. They began to default. Lenders began to suffer. The housing bubble sprung a leak.
The response of the Fed was to lower interest rates again. I wouldn't have done that. I would have left the rate where it was and let the lending industry take the hit for their poor lending decisions. And shake some of the bad debt out off the economy. That's just me, and my predilection for letting people suffer the consequences of their own choices. Besides, I know a bit about this from the perspective of the Shiny Stupid People.
A few years ago we bought a new house. The house itself was well within our budget and it was a chance to move to a better neighborhood. Away from the high-traffic close-to-the-highway street we lived on previously. My wife and I both had great, well paying jobs so we set about making some changes to the house.
The biggest change involved adding a bedroom to the second floor and residing the entire house. In the middle of this, my wife went on long term disability due to very serious back problems. She was now bringing home 60% of her previous salary. We had financed the house for a very low adjustable rate, and when her disability began, we went making a the full payment to the minimum they would accept. This put us in a condition called "negative amortization." The difference between what we were paying and the full payment was added to the principal of the loan. If you've ever looked at an amortization schedule for your mortgage and been shocked to see how slowly the principal goes down in the early years of the loan, imagine looking at one and seeing the principal go up!
The rate on our loan had not gone up very much and we had little choice but to ride it out until we got past the three year early pay-off penalty. As soon as we could, we refinanced the mortgage and rolled into it the equity loan we had taken out to finance the renovations. We got a fixed loan, at a slightly higher rate than we would have liked rate, but as you can imagine, the whole negative amortization episode was not that great for our credit rating.
Now we have a fixed mortgage that is at the limit at what we can afford to pay. But it is fixed. We know what the payment will be every month for the next 30 (29.5) years. And for now our income future looks solid enough that each successive year the gap between our income and our obligations will widen and things will get easier. We did not go over the cliff as many who over-borrowed have, but we were standing at the edge checking out the view.
We made the sacrifices necessary to keep our home and to remain solvent. We have delayed purchases. We have cut back on "discretionary spending." We cancelled plans for a family vacation, and haven't made any for next year. We bit off if not more than we can chew, at least right up to the limit and have had to swallow hard to get through. Our shiny new fixed rate mortgage is a big part of being able to back away from the edge.
We don't have a market determined rate because the Fed insists on manipulating interest rates for the benefit of Shiny Stupid People. Maybe they should try putting the economy on a fixed rate for a few years.
Now, if you read that carefully, you know what went wrong. I walked into the kitchen to find a beautiful pot of nice hot water. The question then was try again, or go back to bed?
August 16, 2007
Ron Paul can buy you lunch.
There is a small private currency movement nipping at the fringes of the US economy that calls its currency Liberty Dollars. It is currency, both coin and paper, backed directly by precious metals. Or in the case of the coins, minted in the gold, silver and copper.
The way it works is - you send them a stack of they consider to be essentially worthless Federal Reserve Notes, and they send you gold and silver coins, or paper certificates redeemable for gold or silver. They even have liberty dollars you can use on the internet. I don't know if they are good on Amazon or if you can use them on eBay but I presume you can use them to buy this nifty Liberty Dollar Hat for $17.00.
Once you have your Liberty dollars, your next problem is you have to find someone who will accept them as currency. Be sure to tell them that no bank will accept them for deposit, and you can't use them to pay the mortgage and see how fast they leap at the chance to take them from you.
But this post is not really about the Liberty dollar per say. This post is about a very special Liberty dollar. The
x.php?cPath=60">Ron Paul Dollar. No other candidate for president, that I know of, has their face on a $1,000.00 gold coin.
You can have one of these beauties for a mere $1,000.00. And they are worth their weight in gold.
Of course the $1000 Gold Ron Paul Dollar speaks for itself. It also speaks for Congressman Ron Paul (sic) long-held belief and deep respect for the Gold Standard. His monetary ideals are shared with everyone in the Liberty Dollar community. For over 30 years Ron Paul has been a champion for the very values – both monetary and personal – that made America a great country. Nothing could better identify Ron Paul than the beautiful Gold Dollar. The $1000 Gold Ron Paul Dollar measures 32 mm and contains one Troy ounce of .9999 fine gold. The obverse die features the same design and ultra high engraving quality as on the $20 Silver Dollar. The reverse features the standard $1000 reverse die that is on the current Gold Liberty. The dies and minting are of the finest mintwork. Not many Gold Dollars are anticipated although the volume price is very similar to the US Mint Gold Buffalos and Eagles. To capitalize on the uniqueness of the Gold Ron Paul Dollar, each Gold Dollar will be individually numbered, hallmarked and encapsulated. Please order now while gold is down and get a low number. Gold Ron Paul Dollars are available from 10% to only 5% over Sunshine gold quote for Liberty Associates and registered Liberty Merchants. Otherwise it is $1000 each. Delivery could be immediate or take up to 30 days depending on available stock and size of order.
If you don't want to go quite that far, you might decide to get the Ron Paul $20.00 Silver Coin. Though for some unknown reason, you have to pay $25.00 to get one.
The $20 Silver Ron Paul Dollar measures 39 mm and contains one Troy ounce of .999 fine silver. The design of the obverse die is the same as the Copper Dollar but was engraved from custom hand sculptured masters and exemplifies the finest work. The reverse is also a special custom die with VOTE FOR TRUTH across the top. Together the two highly polished dies plus the minting in Brilliant Uncirculated condition has produced an outstanding product of unique value. The denomination on the reverse is $20 Liberty Dollars. Ron Paul Dollars will begin shipping in late August. Price: $25 eachFor those with only a casual interest in the Candidate, there is always the Ron Paul $1.00 copper coin.
The $1 Copper Ron Paul Dollar measures 39 mm and contains one Avoirdupois ounce of pure copper. It is the same size as the Silver Liberty and slightly larger than an old US Silver Dollar. The obverse die features Congressman Ron Paul facing left and commemorates his leadership and high regard for the gold Standard with the motto: GOLD STANDARD IN LEADERSHIP. The obverse also contains a list of the Congressman’s achievement: Good American, Father, Constitutionalist, Physician, Congressman, Veteran and Defender of Liberty. The reverse die is the same design as on the original Copper Liberty Dollar with the ONE DOLLAR denomination. Please note: The obverse and reverse dies are not the same outstanding quality as the dies used on the Gold and Silver Ron Paul Dollars. Now, while the seasonal “Summer slows/summer lows” keep the price of copper down, we are taking special pre-orders for the $1 Copper Ron Paul Dollar for the next 30 days. This is for pre-orders only. Additional orders will not be taken if the copper market roars back to life. Pre-orders will be shipped in November. Minimum order is ten Coppers. Maximum order is 100 Coppers.
If I could order just 1 I would probably do it. Just because. But I don't think I'm going to spring for $10.00.
Congressman Ron Paul can buy you lunch. Provided you can find a local independent merchant who will accept non-standard currency. Is there anything this candidate can't do?
August 13, 2007
The photo above (click to enlarge) is the approach to the Moses Wheeler bridge on I95 in Connecticut. I go over this bridge every day on my way to and from work. This photo, from the the DOT traffic camera, was not taken at rush hour but at midday when two southbound lanes of the bridge were closed for emergency repairs. Apparently, there's a HOLE IN THE BRIDGE.
Pictures from Chopper 8 indicate the 18" x 18" hole is at the spot of a previous bridge repair.
The I-95 bridge over the Housatonic River in Stratford was one of the 411 Connecticut bridges deemed 'structurally deficient' in a report released by the state following the Minneapolis bridge collapse.I'm generally not prone to panic and have a dangerously overdeveloped sense of my own invincibility but I may be taking a different route over the river for a while.
August 11, 2007
It's very official looking and there's a very serious fake stamp graphic that reads "CONFIDENTIAL DOCUMENT." The directions, that I am sternly advised to read first, say that I should complete my survey using a black or blue pen. I'm supposed to sign it and include a donation to the National Republican Congressional Committee.
Since I've never been good at following directions, I'm going to complete the survey on my blog. I guess my name at the bottom of the post could count as a signature. Contribution to the National Republican Congressional Committee? Not happening.
So on to my CONFIDENTIAL Ask America Survey.
WAR ON TERROR
1. Do you support President Bush in his efforts to wipe out terrorism worldwide even if the war on terror goes on for many years?
YesYes. I think as long as terrorists are actively trying to wipe us out, we should be actively trying to wipe them out. It's only fair.
2. Do you agree with Democrat Congressional leaders that the United States must set a deadline to remove American troops from Iraq?
YesLet's see. Do I think telling the terrorists "just wait until x-date and we'll be out of the way and you can rape Iraq and claim it as home so you can start training more terrorists" is a good idea. The would be no.
3. Some Congressional Democrats are threatening to cut off funding for the war in Iraq as a means to limit America's continued involvement in that country. Do you agree with this strategy?
YesI think the inability of "some Congressional Democrats" to recognize that the military action in Iraq is part of the larger war on terrorism is a fundamental danger to the nation and thus my family. I think their unwillingness to defend this nation and on some level to even acknowledge that is worthy of defending is tragic.
4. Do you feel America can better bring long-term stability to the Middle East by withdrawing our troops or having then stay in Iraq until their elected government gains stability?
Withdraw troops as soon as possibleIs this a trick question? Do I think the best way to bring long term stability to Iraq is to withdraw before there is stability? That's kind of like asking do I think the best way to put out a fire is to have the firefighters go home and hope the fire puts itself out.
Have them remain until Iraq is politically stable
5. Do you feel it is crucial for President Bush to get a broad agreement from Congress before settling on new Mideast policies?
YesNo. I think the President should determine policies based on his principles and what he determines is best for the nation. Then he should work to get Congress to come along to the extent that he needs their backing for funding etc. I think he should lead.
6. How concerned are you that we face potentially more terrorism within the United States and that it will directly impact your family?
Very ConcernedI am almost certain that we face more terrorism within the United States. I am absolutely certain that this terrorism will impact my family. I don't think the chances of anyone in my house being killed by terrorists are very high - particularly since they seem to be focused on very large high-profile targets and we tend to lead rather small low-profile lives. But terrorism has an impact on everyone - that's why they do it. Anyone who has traveled or attended a major event of any kind in the last 6 years has been impacted. Anyone who witnesses the senseless death of innocent people to further an insane religious/political agenda is impacted.
Not Very Concerned
7. How confident are you that the Department of Homeland Security will be able to keep America safe from future terrorist attacks and other catastrophic threats?
Very ConfidentI have zero confidence in the Department of Homeland Security. But for the most part it's probably not their fault. For instance, it's not really DHS's fault that Congress can't or will not pass legislation to provide for adequate border security. Not that DHS isn't part of the problem. I mean how many of us feel safer now that grandma isn't allowed to take more than 2 ounces of shampoo on the plane with her?
Not Very Confident
8. Some critics say that in tracking down potential terrorists, the FBI and other investigative agencies are infringing on individual's Constitutional rights. Do you think this is reasonable if it leads to exposing more terrorists in our country?
YesFirst things first - and this may seem petty, but it bothers me. We do not have Constitutional rights. We have individual rights that are Constitutionally protected. And they are protected from infringement by the government, and I certainly do not support the government infringing them. That said, I also don't see that they are. It troubles me though that the potential for abuse of current law is tremendous. And even if this this administration isn't trampling individual rights with every step it takes, we have only the courts to stop both them and future administrations. And given the unpredictability of the courts, that's not great comfort.
9. Do you think our government is doing enough to secure our borders against foreign terrorists?
YesThey're not doing enough to secure our borders against vegetable pickers so I have to go with no on that one.
10. Do you believe that all foreigners within the United States whose visas have expired should be tracked down and deported?
YesYes and No. I think there should be the possibility, within a very limited time frame and within very specific criteria, for people to apply for an extension or renewal of an expired visa. When that time has expired then yes, they should be subject to deportation and those who employ them subjected to punishing fines.
GOVERNMENT SPENDING AND REGULATION
11. How do you currently view government spending?
Government spending is increasing much too fastOn a gut level I want to answer this by combining two old sayings: "Money is the root of all evil," and "Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely." It's something along the lines of Government Money Corrupts Absolutely. I don't think the government should have and spend no money. That wouldn't be government, that would be anarchy. But I think the Federal Government spends a lot of money in a lot of ways on a lot of things it shouldn't be involved in. And when it does, it corrupts markets and generally makes things worse (think housing, education, insurance, healthcare, transportation).
Government spending is in line with where it should be
We need more government spending to solve our problems
12. Should Congress do away the current system of "earmarking," which permits individual Members of Congress to fund programs that benefit their Congressional Districts or a special interest?
YesYes. I think Congress should do away with a system of funding that allows them to use tax dollars to fund pet projects that are basically part of their campaigns to stay in office. Yes. I think Congress should do away with a system that basically allows them to pay off (i.e. bribe) other members for their votes on legislation.
13. Do you feel lobbyists and special interest groups have far too much say in how our federal dollars are spent?
YesI would refer you to the answers to questions 11 and 12. I think the entire system by which spending decisions are made is almost completely corrupt. And since the corrupt are the ones in charge I don't see much chance of there ever being any real change short of a complete collapse of the system. But then those in power would just use that crisis to assume greater power. So as dysfunctional as it is now - we may be better off.
14. Which political party do you "trust more" to keep government spending under control?
RepublicanThis is just a political version of the "blue pajamas question." For those of you without children this is where you ask your child if they want to wear the blue pajamas or the red pajamas when they go to bed. Your not giving them a choice to comment on the idea of going to bed. The only answer I have is none of the above. I distrust them equally.
15. Has the federal government grown more or less intrusive in your personal and business affairs?
More IntrusiveGovernment continues to get larger and more intrusive every year (month, day). Those who have power want more, and they have the means to take it. (Side note: I'm beginning to think I should just stop including the "no opinion" answer.)
16. Is President Bush right in standing up to the Democrats as they try to expand the size, scope and costs of the federal government?
YesI think it is absolutely right. It rings just a little hollow though as he did absolutely nothing for the six years his party controlled both houses of congress and worked relentlessly to increase the size, scope and costs of government.
17. How confident are you that America's economy will continue to grow in the next six months?
Strongly ConfidentI'd have to say somewhat confident. I don't trust the current Congressional leadership not to say or do something stupid that damages the economy, because a strong economy is not good for them in the next election. I also don't know what is going to happen with whole sub-prime mortgage and the housing market either. The economy is a big complex thing and it's tough to predict what it's going to do over the short or even long term. It's kind of like the climate that way.
Not Too Confident
Not Confident At All
18. Do you expect a Democrat controlled Congress to pass legislation that help or harm America's economic growth?
Help Economic GrowthAt this point I'm not at all sure I expect the Democrat controlled Congress to pass any legislation. If they do, I expect it to be legislation that is in the best interest of the Democratic Party. Just as the previously Republican controlled Congress passed legislation it thought was in the interest of the Republican party. Of course they turned out to be wrong as evidenced by which party is in control now. If the interests of the Democrats can be furthered by legislation that does harm to the economy - such as raising taxes - then I expect them to do it. Or at least try.
Harm Economic Growth
19. Which of the following do you feel is most adversely effecting our economy?
Burdensome TaxesThose are the options they gave, but I took the liberty or reorganizing them in the order I feel answers the question. I might have left off the last two except for the fact that a lot of the market distortions in the housing and energy markets are the result of the government, and the potential for them to really screw things up by trying to fix them is enormous.
Growth Of Government Spending
Severe Government Regulations
Threat of Terrorism
Unstable Real Estate Market
Unpredictable Fluctuating Fuel Prices
20.Do you favor a major overhaul of the current Federal Tax Code that would replace today's burdensome tax collection system with one that is simpler and fairer?
Yes Yes. I support scrapping the entire income tax system and replacing it with a consumption tax. The FairTax seems like a reasonable alternative. But short of that I would start by eliminating withholding. Most people probably have little idea how much they actually pay in taxes, but they can tell you how much they got as a refund last year. Second, I would eliminate the employer contribution to all taxes. If you are going to tax the income of individuals do it directly. Once everyone knows the exact cost of government I'll bet we'd start seeing a lot of reform in other areas.
21. Do you support permanently eliminating the Death Tax?
YesYes. I support any option that will reduce or eliminate taxation.
22. Should Congress provide more incentives for small businesses and job creation?
YesAbsolutely not. This kind of meddling only leads to distortions in the market place that we end up paying for later. Congress and the entire federal government should just get the hell out of the way.
23. Do you believe that it is imperative to modernize and restore fiscal soundness to Social Security?
YesI love the way they phrase this question. I mean who is going to answer "No I prefer and antiquated fiscally unsound system?" I believe it should be reformed with an eye toward meeting our commitments to those who were forced into the system and eventually eliminating it all together.
24. Do you support President Bush's proposal to allow individuals to choose to personally invest a portion of their Social Security taxes in order to build a stronger retirement fund?
YesYes. As I wrote above, I'd like to see the whole thing eliminated and this would be a good first step.
25. Do you feel it is imperative that congress acts today to ensure the financial stability of the Medicare program?
YesI believe that commitments have been made that have to be honored. I also believe that the Medicare program is part of the problems infecting out health care system. I think, like social security it should be reformed, privatized and eventually eliminated.
26. Should the current prescription drug benefits under Medicare be expanded?
YesI don't think they should even exist - which probably covers my opinion on expanding them.
27. Are you pleased with the quality of the health care you and your family currently receive?
YesYes. We have access to great doctors and top notch hospitals. We have this because we made choices in our lives and worked hard to get to a position where we live in great area, and I have a decent job with a company that provides decent benefits. I'm not overly fond of the government engineered system of employer provided health insurance, it's another one of those distortions of the marketplace created by government intervention, but that's system I have to work within. So I got an education, and worked hard in my career because other than living off the taxpayer, that's way its done.
28. Do you agree that there should be reasonable limits on punitive damages on the amount of money patients and trial lawyers can collect when suing doctors or HMOs?
YesYes. I also think there should be a loser pays system too. I also think that trial lawyers should not be able to collect fees based on punitive damage awards, but only on the actual damages. Punitive damages should go to the plaintiff.
29. How much of a role should the federal government have in an individuals health care?
Major RoleNo Roll At All. That's why they call it "an individual's health care."
No Roll At All
30. Do you favor Congress establishing policies that will eventually bring us to a government controlled national health insurance program?
YesLet's see. Do I want my health in the hands of the people who run the Post Office and Amtrak? I think I'll pass. Currently my health care decisions are made by people who actually give a damn if I live or die - Me, my wife, my doctor. I prefer to keep it that way.
31. Should states be encouraged to develop methods methods to test teachers regularly to ensure that they are proficient in the the subject they teach?
YesI don't think the federal government should be involved at all. I think that if states and cities and towns want to have teachers that actually know the subject they are teaching then they should. And when those states cities and towns show demonstrably better results than those that don't, they will attract more people. As states and cities and towns begin to lose population they will look and realize that maybe if they and math teachers who knew math, and science teachers who knew science people might be more willing to stay. And like, you know I like think that like it would really like good and stuff if the person teaching English you know like actually knew English.
32. Should a federally funded voucher system be established to allow parents to move their children from failing public schools to better performing schools?
YesI like the idea of a voucher system, but I dislike the idea of federal involvement. Federal solutions are one size fits all solutions. Local solutions can be tailored to local realities.
33. What do you see as the major challenge to improving education"
Complacent ParentsFrom the list I could probably check off almost everything, except possibly Not Enough Money. But all of the others basically fall under the category of being government created problems. Of course the list doesn't include the single largest thing blocking education reform. The Teacher's Unions. I guess they felt it was too dangerous to list them by name and that's why the put Other with a blank line after it.
Too Much Bureaucracy
Not Enough Money
Not Enough Discipline
34. Do you support President Bush's Effort to build a missile defense shield to protect America from nuclear attack from rogue states such as North Korea and Iran.
YesYes. But I would hope they would use it to protect us against missiles from any nation rogue or otherwise.
35. Is America doing enough to ensure our armed forces are prepared to meet the needs and challenges of the 21st century?
YesThe United Sates had the best most technologically advanced fighting force on the planet.
36. Some Democrats in Congress are suggesting we need to reinstate a military draft. Do you think a draft is necessary?
YesNo I do not. The volunteer military is working. The Democrats suggesting a draft are doing so because they believe a draft will make it politically difficult to use the military militarily. What they fail to see is that volunteering is kind of like voting. If there are not enough volunteers, there can't be a war. The left often complains that many volunteer because they have no other choice and no other opportunities. These are also the same people who want to raise taxes which will squelch the economic growth that might otherwise generate those other opportunities.
37. President Bush has been criticized for not working more closely with our traditional allies in setting foreign policy. How do you feel about this issue.
U.S. should work more closely with our traditional alliesHey, here's an idea. Why don't our "traditional allies" work more closely with us? I mean they became our allies when we saved their butts in the first two World Wars. You would think that would count for something. I say ask them - get their answer and then do what has to be done with or without them.
U.S. should recruit as many allies as possible before taking any future mikitary action
U.S. should act alone if there is a direct threat to America.
38. Should the United States work more closely with the U.N. in helping to resolve humanitarian crises such as the one presently occurring in Darfur?
YesI think we should step in where necessary and tell the damned idiots at the U.N. what to do. One thing Darfur should be clearly be showing the world is that the U.N. can do nothing on its own.
39. Which of the following do you think will have the "most impact" on America in the next five years?
The situation in IraqAll of the above, but I think North Korea, Iran, and China are the greatest long-term threats.
The instability in the Middle East
Threat of terrorism
North Korea and Iran's possession of nuclear wepons
The growing military and economic and military clout of China
Unstable economic markets in key areas of the world
40. Are you in favor of establishing a guest worker program that will allow people to enter the United States temporarily to fill jobs that Americans do not take?
YesYes. I think that's a fine idea but only it can only be in effect while U.S. unemployment is under 2% and temporary workers must be paid at least the federal minimum.
41. Do you favor increased funding for border control operations
YesGiven that are borders are basically open and any terrorist who can get to Mexico or Canada can get to America, yeah I'd say increasing the funding would be a good thing.
42. What do you believe is the best way to protect America's borders from a continued invasion of illegal aliens>
Building a fence along the entire borderI think all of options A and B would do it. Build the fence - the whole fence. Then back that up with the high-tech gadgets. Plus strictly enforced brutally punishing fines for anyone knowingly hiring an illegal alien.
Using high tech detection devices to protect the border
A combination of both of the above
SUPREME COURT/FEDERAL COURTS
43. How do you feel the current U.S. Supreme Court is positioned?
Too LiberalJust Right. There is a clearly defined Constitutional process by which Justices are seated on the SCOTUS. We, the people, elect a President who nominates justices to the Court. We the people elect the Senators who advise and consent on those nominations. All of the Justices currently sitting on the bench got there via that process. Therefore the composition of the court reflects the will of the electorate at the time a vacancy and nomination occurred.
44. Do you believe it is acceptable to apply "litmus tests" on key issues to potential Supreme Court Nominees?
YesAcceptable? I think it's necessary. A President must nominate justices who share his outlook on the rule of law and the role of the courts. If he does not test for that agreement, he is not doing part of the job he was elected to do. If he does not seek out like minded jurists he might as well just draw names from a hat.
45. Does the national news media accurately report the news without liberal bias?
YesI think the national media does not blow its nose without a liberal bias. I also think that is why they are becoming less relevant. I also think that is why we are hearing some on the left talking about bringing back the Fairness Doctrine to silence alternative voices on talk radio.
46. Do you support the President's plan to unify our nation around a comprehensive energy plan that protects consumers while producing more reliable, affordable and environmentally clean energy?
YesWow does this sound like a plan to massively subsidize corn growers or what? Of course this will create ripple of distortion throughout the economy. The price of food will go up as corn gets diverted to ethanol production. Soon there will need to be subsidies to cattle ranchers who can't afford to buy corn to feed beef cattle. Every product that contains corn syrup is going to get more costly as demand for corn rises. As more farmland is converted to corn by farmers seeking a federally guaranteed market there will be a shortage of other grains and products dependent on those will get more expensive as well. That's what happens when government steps in and tries to manipulate a market. Better they just got out of the way. Allowed companies to develop domestic sources of oil, and streamline the process for building nuclear power plants.
47. Should Congress authorize additional oil exploration in Alaska to help alleviate America's over reliance on foreign oil?
YesYes. And offshore all around the country as well. Drill it all.
48. Considering the massive amount of money spent in the 2006 elections by so called "527 independent groups" which were allowed to raise millions of dollars from a few individuals, do you feel that additional reforms are needed to our campaign finance laws?
YesTypical Washington thinking. They've been passing campaign regulations for years, and reforming them and tweaking them. And when they don't work, because they are unworkable and the politicians really don't want them to work, their solution is to do more of the same. It's like the guys who went out drain a swamp and spent all their time killing alligators. (I know they're called "wetlands" now, but swamp is a much better metaphor when talking about government.) The solution is simple. Candidates should be able to take any donation of any size from any donor who is a U.S. citizen, corporation or labor union. Any and all donations must be reported in full in an easily accessible public forum, i.e. the internet, within 24 hours. Politicians will always be bought and will always be beholden to their major donors. Wouldn't it be better to know who owned who before we voted for them?
49. Do you believe that all abortions should be banned?
YesNo. I believe they should be banned only in states whose voting population puts people into their legislature and Governor's office who want to ban abortions - in their state.
50. Do you think there should be a Constitutional amendment banning gay marriage?
YesNo. I think the Constitution and the amendment process are too important to waist on such trivia. Personally I don't care if gays marry or not. If it becomes the norm nationwide I might go to law school. That large an increase in marriages will undoubtedly lead to increased demand for divorce lawyers.
THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS
51. How do you rate President Bush's job performance?
ExcellentFair. And it took and effort of generosity to get to that level. I think he has been very strong in his will to fight Islamic terrorism, though not always good in the execution. Though he has done well on occasion he is not what you would call a "Great Communicator." Better communication would have served him well. The tax cuts were great but he agreed to making them temporary. When they expire it will be in my mind the Bush tax hike. But what really drags him down are things like No Child Left Behind, signing McCain/Fiengold, Medicare prescription coverage, immigration.
52. Do you have any confidence that the Democrats will put partisanship aside and work in concert with President Bush and Republicans in Congress to address our nations most important issues?
YesNo way in hell. I also have no confidence that President Bush and Republicans will put partisanship aside and work in concert with the Democrats in Congress. I don't really have a problem with that. Lately it seems that almost any effort that can be described as bipartisan simply means that both parties agree on the best way to screw the rest of us.
53. Do you worry that Democrats in Congress will be too beholden to the liberal special interest groups who helped them gain the majority?
YesNo. I don't think the liberal interest groups would have supported them if they didn't share a common outlook. I mean you don't exactly see MoveOn.org supporting a lot of conservatives. Interest groups support politicians who share or are at least sympathetic to their interest.
54. In your opinion, how does the government best function?
When one party controls both the White House and CongressTough call. Some good old fashion gridlock makes it very hard for the government to do anything to us, but it also makes it difficult to for them to do anything for us.
When one party controls the White House and the other party controls Congress
When Congress is split between both parties
55. What do you consider the most important steps the Republican Party can take in the coming months to help advance President Bush's agenda and win back a majority in Congress? (No multiple choice on this one.)
Get back in touch with the principles that got them a majority in the first place. I think the reason they lost the majority is that once they got it, the governed like Democrats. As for Bush's agenda through the rest of his term, I think the idea of him having a positive agenda at this point is a fantasy. His administration has done some good, what they need to do now is try to keep the current Congress from screwing it up too much.
(There is some space at the end of the form for "Additional Comments." I don't think I have any!)
August 10, 2007
Well Y2K apparently did cause widespread problems. The Y2K bug caused Global Warming.
Perhaps Global Warming is man made after all. Maybe the Y2K Bug created an editing error and the phrase should read "Man Made Up Climate Change."
August 09, 2007
August 07, 2007
Only a Ron Paul candidacy has any hope of focusing on fundamentals again, cutting through the web of confusion surrounding them, and eliciting any new, creative thought.
But only a Ron Paul candidacy has any chance of challenging and bringing into question the 'business as usual' attitude of the K Street lobbies, pork-barrel congressmen, and the spiraling bureaucracy.
Only Ron Paul has the ability to bring a new group of people into politics, people who are committed, like the Goldwater activists of 1964, to taking a different approach to government.
Only a Ron Paul candidacy has any hope of bringing new blood and new ideals into politics.
Only the candidacy of Ron Paul will open the debate on fundamentals, about who or what we want to be in the world, and about what America's role ought to be.
Only a Ron Paul candidacy will remind them (and us older immigrants) of the things that made America so great to begin with.
Only Ron Paul offers any ideals that could possibly overcome the racial, ethnic, and group-entitlement politics that are currently tearing us up.
Suddenly, the rest of the world will ask: has America given up its recent 'imperialism' and returned to the principles that once made it the beacon of liberty around the world? Only a Ron Paul presidency will allow the United States to write on a clean slate.
If Ron Paul were president, congressmen and senators would be less worried about what special interest is going to fund their next campaign, than whether they appear to be bought and sold.
Only Ron Paul can save Lindsay Lohan from her self-destructive ways and get her career back on track.
Only Ron Paul can prevent forest fires.OK I made a couple of those up and I probably went to far. I mean does anyone really believe that if Ron Paul were elected President, Congress would become spontaneously ethical?
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