At the close of the Constitutional Convention in 1787, Dr. James McHenry, a Maryland delegate, followed Benjamin Franklin from Independence Hall. He recorded a question asked by a lady, directed at Dr. Franklin.

The lady asked, "Well Doctor, what have we got? A republic or a monarchy?"

"A republic," replied Dr. Franklin, "if you can keep it."

IN DEFENSE OF MINORITIES!

"The smallest minority on earth is the individual. Those who deny individual rights cannot claim to be defenders of minorities." - Ayn Rand

Friday, April 29, 2011

Do you Love the Federal Reserve?

h/t Dale

Well, it doesn't matter whether you love them or not, because the mandarins on the Federal Reserve set US monetary policy, not the President or Congress. It's a private corporation and it decides the fate of the nation. The US has struggled with national financing since before we were a nation. James K. Polk & Andrew Jackson had a record of firing the national bank and then dealing with the consequences.
“The dollar is clearly expendable under the Fed’s easing regime,” said John Kilduff, a partner at Again Capital LLC, a New York-based hedge fund that focuses on energy. “It’s likely further declines will advance oil and commodity prices in the coming week. (LINK)
Crude oil for June delivery has risen 57 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $112.86 a barrel so far this week on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Futures are up 36 percent from a year ago. (op cit Bloomberg) And that means there will be no relief in at the gas pump. The place to watch indicators is in the futures market as institutional and corporate buyers attempt to lock in future prices for oil. There is speculation in the futures market, but it's the best indicator that I know of.


Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke has signaled he wants to ensure the U.S. economy has achieved self-sustaining growth before the Fed starts to raise borrowing costs and trim its $2.69-trillion balance sheet. And what it really means is that the "recovery" isn't because it's predicated on false sets of assumptions. To have a genuine recovery from the depression that much of the nation is struggling through, would require a return to the Carter Years where home mortgage rates ran as high as 18% interest.

Every indicator shows that the economic situation will get worse before it gets better. The reason for this pessimism is the lack of resolve within the Obama Regime to deal with our debt issues. The American people can deal with pain in their wallets if the future has some promise.  And for you who don't live in the US - as goes American fortunes, so go the worlds. We live in a place where the big players like China, the US, Germany, the UK and Russia's fortunes are linked. The loss of the US as an economic powerhouse will please America-haters in the Middle East, (the White House), and in Europe, but in the long run, our MUTUAL financial strength through trade is what generates real wealth that we can all enjoy. It's a pity that the US Executive Branch of Government can't understand that.

 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Purpose of Entitlements



"The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public's money". 
--Alexis de Tocqueville

Friday, April 22, 2011

Global Cooling and Crop Failures

I think it's time to get the car out and drive around the block to create more greenhouse gasses to try and save agriculture... Have you wondered why the price of tomatoes has gone up 30% and the quality has gone down? Blame global cooling (LINK to REUTERS)!

"Mexico's No. 1 tomato producing state says up to 70 percent of its tomato crop was wiped out by a cold snap this month, potentially causing price rises in produce on U.S. grocery shelves..." (op cit Reuters)
It wasn't only tomatoes, but bell peppers, eggplant and corn crops were also more or less wiped out by the cold. Moreover, there are Mexican farmers who are very concerned about future failures of crops that may be attributed to the global cooling crisis. (Where is Al Gore when you need him?)

I've been discussing starting a business with Mexican tomato growers who are interested in hedging their crops by beginning hydroponic tomato and garlic growing operations in the US. A hydroponic farm can produce 450 tons per hectare (2.5 acres) where the best a standard farm can be expected to produce is about 1/4th that amount. They are interested and so am I. I don't know if it's going to happen, but let's think about this whole situation for a moment.

NOW, where would you site such a business? Pure water is necessary for hydroponic growing operations and so water studies would seem to be a first step. BUT the other issue is taxation. California is out. The price of land, wages and taxation have placed them completely off the map. Utah is a right-to-work state, which means that people won't be pushing for auto-worker level wages, there is available manpower and Utah's economic development plan allows for minimal to no state taxes for the first several years of operation if you meet the criteria, hire over 30 local people, etc. The Reno, Nevada area is also a possibility.  Utah is the front runner now because Southern UT is close to I-40, I-70 and I-15 transportation corridors. The Mexican grower/investors also hedge their bets with fuel prices skyrocketing. It's a shorter drive to market from the Southwest US than it is from the Mexico City latitudes.

How can it be that a business would choose to locate itself in an area with LESS taxes and MORE government cooperation (meaning less interference) with the development of a new business? What a concept, Barak!

Are people from UTAH crazy? How do less taxes on a business equate to job growth and prosperity? 

(1) Workers pay taxes, and they spend their money locally and those people pay taxes. Each earned dollar changes hands about 14 times according to the studies they've done so the taxes roll swell.

(2) Eventually the businesses will pay taxes once they're established and profitable.

(3) Agricultural businesses are good for the environment, they produce goods that people want, feeding us all, and as they grow and expand, they end up paying a LOT of taxes on their PROFITS.

(4) A business such as this one can sell its crops on the futures markets during summer months when the prices traditionally dip protecting the grower's price and offering a guaranteed supply to factories that make tomato products. This means more jobs, more prosperity. And more taxes are paid. 

I wouldn't understand a liberal or the president of the United States to grasp these few concepts of business generation, job generation or taxation.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

There is no financial "Recovery" underway

The mainstream media touts the burgeoning recovery, but I don't see it. The dollar fell for the third straight day today as record low interest rates and the crushing weight of the U.S. budget deficit pushed it closer to an all-time trough against major currencies. The euro soared to a 16-month high above $1.46 before easing to $1.4550, while the dollar fell 0.8 percent to 81.82 yen. The Australian dollar rose above $1.07, its highest in nearly three decades, as Australia's 4.75 percent interest rate and its role as a supplier of raw materials to booming Asian markets attracted investors.

The dollar's slide accelerated days after Standard & Poor's slapped a negative outlook on the United States' top AAA credit rating. The agency said a downgrade was possible if authorities can't slash the massive U.S. budget deficit within two years. (REUTERS)

Some investors fear a fragile U.S. economic recovery could sputter if the White House and Congress agree to cut the deficit with significant spending cuts or tax hikes. That would likely force the Federal Reserve to hold interest rates at record lows even as other central banks raise them. It's not a recovery if it's based on a false premise. 

"There is no clear sign that the U.S. is going to raise interest rates, and that is causing the dollar to depreciate by the day," said Jonathan Xiong, who helps manage about $30 billion at Mellon Capital Management in San Francisco.

The US Government must take stands on reducing entitlements and must make decisions on the sustainability of a military that is larger than all the other nations on earth (combined). Free medical care (MedicAid) and other programs will take a hit and we need to let it happen. We've been eating at a trough that we can't sustain. There will be no recovery until we come to grips with that.




Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Bloody Mexico - Drive a Bullet-Proof Car

In Bloody Mexico, when you're on vacation,  you should try to book a bullet proof car. I'm not saying that you have to, but it makes good sense to do that.


This Jeep Grand Cherokee belonged to Minerva Bautista. She survived an assassination attempt in Michoacan, Mexico because she had Level 5 armor surrounding her. This vehicle was hit by over 350 projectiles and she will live to drive down the road in Mexico again!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Union Greed, Government Incompetence and a few facts

I don't know if any readers here saw what I posted on Virtual Mirage yesterday, "PUBLIC EMPLOYEE UNION FIGHTS BACK" In that piece, we saw a county government intent on taking pension benefits (33% reduction) retroactively from deputy sheriffs who had retired as long as eleven years before. In some situations they would be taking that percentage from widows/widowers living on 50% of pension leaving them with just about enough to buy dog food in case lots from Costco to see to their nutrition needs.

Two trial courts dismissed the lawsuit, the Third District Court of Appeals ruled against the County unanimously and the California Supreme Court ruled against them 6-0. (COUNTY OF ORANGE v. ASSOCIATION OF ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS et al., Case #S191218) The members of the both appellate bodies are Republicans.

Today, the Orange County Retirement System Newsletter, At Your Service (Volume 10 Number 2 Magazine for all Members April 2011), reported:
"OCERS earned an investment return of 11.70% for the year ended December 31, 2010. Assets increased over the previous year by more than $900 million."
They netted 18.52% return on investment in 2009 and the retirement portfolio is at an all time high of about $8.7 billion as of January 31, 2011. For more on OCERS' investments and profit, visit www.ocers.org and click on Finance & Investments. The retirement system is adjudged to be healthy enough by the Board of Directors that they announced discretionary cost of living adjustment benefits to membership.

Egotistical Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach 

This begs the question of right and wrong. The rule of law clearly favors the Deputy Sheriff's Union. The County's pension system (separate from the California Public Employees' Pension System) is doing well, and nowhere did County Supervisor John Moorlach (the prime mover in this scandal) suggest any criminal wrongdoing on the part of county workers or the deputy sheriffs. 

County Supervisors ex-post facto decided to strip pension benefits from people who earned them and paid for them in an attempt to generate revenue. In so doing, Supervisor John Moorlach and his cronies will have racked up over $5 million in legal fees by the time the dust settles.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Queen of England Strikes Back (at Obama)!


The Royal Wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton:

On April 30, there will be Buddhist Monks, heads of state, strange Muslims and a panoply of charity workers, the head of PR for Audi, David and Victoria Beckham, assorted sheikhs, a Romanian count, parliamentary assistants from small European states, a Texas billionaire, Spanish tile company execs, a favorite Caribbean bartender, but NOT America's first family.

I can't blame the Queen for not inviting the cheezy Obamas. You'll recall that the Clintons didn't invite the First Couple to their daughter's wedding either. I wonder if Michelle steals silverware or passes gas inappropriately--I'm just wondering, I don't know that she does (or doesn't). Personally I wouldn't invite the Obamas to a family event like a wedding, either, unless they agreed to come dressed as court jesters or something like that. 

Obama - not a nice entertainer. He'll frighten the kids.

And who can blame the Queen of England for not wanting the American president or his churlish (and some would suggest, senile) Vice President at an event of state that will include people who are important to the Empire, such as bartenders, Buddhist monks, and Spanish tile merchants.

Here is the London Telegraph's Top Ten Insults by the Obama administration against Great Britain:
(don't consider this a complete list)

1. Declaration of neutrality over the Falklands

For sheer offensiveness it’s hard to beat last week’s incredible statementfrom the State Department on the Falklands dispute, not least considering the fact that 255 British soldiers died retaking the islands from Argentina in 1982. Here it is:

“We are aware not only of the current situation but also of the history, but our position remains one of neutrality. The US recognises de facto UK administration of the islands but takes no position on the sovereignty claims of either party.”

As I wrote previously, over the course of the last year, we’ve seen a staggering array of foreign policy follies by this administration, from the throwing under the bus of the Poles and the Czechs over missile defence to siding with Marxists in Honduras. But this latest pronouncement surely takes the biscuit as the most brazen betrayal so far of a US ally.

2. Downgrading of the Special Relationship

Barack Obama never refers to the Special Relationship, and has not even mentioned Britain once in a major policy speech, either before or after taking office. The Anglo-American alliance is barely a blip on Obama’s teleprompter screen, and he acts as though it simply does not exist. The Special Relationship has also been largely erased from the official lexicon of the State Department, and is not even used by US officials in London. Despite being America’s only major reliable ally when the chips are down, London is now treated in Washington as though it were the same as any other European power, albeit less charitably than either Paris or Berlin.

3. Support for a federal Europe

The Obama administration’s relentless and wrongheaded support for the creation of a federal Europe, from backing the Treaty of Lisbon to the European Security and Defence Policy, is a slap in the face for the principle of national sovereignty in Europe. While the Bush Administration was divided over Europe, the Obama administration is ardently euro-federalist, despite the fact that the likely next British government will probably fight them tooth and nail over it. British sovereignty is non-negotiable, and Obama’s willingness to undermine it is both insulting to Britain and self-defeating for the United States.

4. Undermining of British influence in NATO

Despite Nicolas Sarkozy’s distinctly unflattering opinion of Barack Obama, the president has gone to great lengths to appease French interests, even going as far as apologising to the French people in Strasbourg for hurting their feelings over the war in Iraq. The Obama administration has also done its best to give Paris a lead role in the NATO alliance at Britain’s expense, granting it one of two supreme NATO command positions – Allied Command Transformation (ACT). And this, despite the fact that France has for decades been ambivalent and obstructionist over NATO, and is failing to carry its weight in Afghanistan. And as I noted before, there is currently not a single British general in charge of any of the big five supreme and operational commands in the alliance (in contrast to two Frenchmen and a German), even though Great Britain provides more troops for NATO operations than any member apart from the United States.

5. Refusal to recognize Britain’s sacrifice in Afghanistan

It is particularly galling that the president cannot even be bothered to acknowledge the sacrifice made by over 250 British servicemen and women on the battlefields of Afghanistan alongside their American allies – especially evident during his lacklustre speech at West Point in December. Britain currently has as many soldiers stationed in Afghanistan – 10,000 – as all the other major European powers combined. In contrast to George W. Bush, who frequently thanked the British armed forces and people for their role in the War on Terror, Obama has spectacularly failed to do so.

6. Throwing Churchill out of the Oval Office

It is hard to think of a more derogatory message to send to the British people within days of taking office than to fling a bust of Winston Churchill out of the Oval Office and send it packing back to the British Embassy – not least as it was a loaned gift from Britain to the United States as a powerful display of solidarity in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. Obviously, public diplomacy is not a concept that carries much weight in the current White House, and nor apparently is common sense.

7. Insulting words from the State Department

The mocking views of a senior State Department official following the Prime Minister’s embarrassing reception at the White House in March last year says it all:

“There’s nothing special about Britain. You’re just the same as the other 190 countries in the world. You shouldn’t expect special treatment.”

One would have thought that this kind of hugely damaging gaffe would have resulted in at least a formal apology and a reprimand for the official involved, but unfortunately Obama administration apologies are strictly reserved for the French and assorted enemies of the United States.

8. DVDs for the Prime Minister

Readers of this blog will know I’m no fan of Gordon Brown, but whatever one thinks of his less than stellar leadership skills or his downright awful policies, Brown travels abroad not as a private individual but as the leader of America’s closest ally. He represents 61 million Britons including the Armed Forces, as well as a huge amount of British trade and investment with the United States. He was treated shabbily when he visited the White House last March, and denied a Rose Garden press conference as well as a dinner. To cap it all, the decision to send him home with an assortment of 25 DVDs ranging from Toy Story to The Wizard of Oz – which can’t even be played in the UK - was a breathtaking display of diplomatic ineptitude that would have shamed the protocol office of an impoverished Third World country. And we haven’t even mentioned Obama’s iPod for the Queen.

9. Refusal to meet the Prime Minister in New York

Not content with humiliating the Prime Minister with a bargain basement DVD collection, President Obama proceeded to give him the run-around at the UN General Assembly in New York last September in a farce worthy of an episode from Benny Hill, declining to meet with him privately after no less than five requests. I can understand why Obama might not want to spend much time with the dour and easily angered Brown, who was apparently mightily enraged over the whole affair. It is also the case that Brown himself has done a good deal to undermine the Special Relationship and shares much of the blame himself for this debacle. But it is insulting to the British people as a whole when the president of the United States is happy in principle to sit down and negotiate with tyrants like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but won’t hold a bilateral meeting with the leader of America’s top ally, when thousands of British troops are fighting in Afghanistan.

10. Robert Gibbs’ embarrassing attack on the British press

No list of Obama administration slights against Britain would be complete without mention of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ sneering rant against the British press (first reported by Politico) after spotting an article in The Telegraph he disagreed with. Here’s what Gibbs said:

“Let’s just say if I wanted to look up, if I wanted to read a write-up of how Manchester United fared last night in the Champions League Cup, I’d might open up a British newspaper. If I was looking for something that bordered on truthful news, I’m not entirely sure it’d be the first pack of clips I’d pick up.”

As I wrote at the time, this kind of attack would normally be made against the likes of the North Korean or Iranian state media, but in the current climate of “engagement” with America’s enemies the White House is far more likely to attack its own allies. And by the way, Gibbs, as my colleague James Delingpole noted in a superbly penned response, it’s the “Champions League” not the “Champions League Cup”.



Friday, April 8, 2011

Don't Drink the Water

The world inches toward crisis after crisis and you can only care so much about so many looming disasters, but highly resistant bacteria are a BIG problem. The Third World contributes to these problems regularly with exotic viruses such as the Bird Flu and the Pig Flu. Now India offers us the SuperBug.
The NDM 1 gene, which creates what some experts describe as "super superbugs", has spread to germs that cause cholera and dysentery, and is circulating freely in other bacteria in the Indian city capital of 14 million people, the researchers said.
NDM 1 first emerged in India three years ago and has now spread across the world. It has been found in a wide variety of bugs, including familiar pathogens like Escherichia coli, or E. coli.
No new drugs are on the horizon for at least 5-6 years to tackle it and experts are concerned that only a few major drug companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) and AstraZeneca (AZN.L), still have strong antibiotic development programmes.
And when Indian people carry bacteria in their intestines outside of the infected area, those areas where they excrete -- are exposed.  And if YOU ARE infected with one of those bacteria strains, there are no antibiotics that can be used to defeat them. 
Experts say the spread of superbugs threatens whole swathes of modern medicine, which cannot be practiced if doctors have no effective antibiotics to ward off infections during surgery, intensive care or cancer treatments like chemotherapy.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

KLOPPENBURG WINS!

Kloppenburg declares VICTORY for the her candidacy for the Wisconsin Supreme Court and for the public sector labor unions who funded the BIG WIN!



We know now that Prosser is roughly 7000 votes ahead of Kloppenburg, which shoves it out of recount range. Sorry JoAnne.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Will the UN 'dissolve' Israel?


I'm sure that the caption will make sense to some of this blog's readers. With the dissent in the Middle East from Tripoli to Bahrain, Egypt and Yemen, the Palestinians are pushing for the United Nations to "give the back" a large portion of the State of Israel. The New York Times weighed in on this and this article is worth reading (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/03/world/middleeast/03mideast.html?_r=2&hp)

Despite the present trend for the US to be in league with the United Nations, I feel that we are not well served by it in the long run. We use it's weak mandates as the cause (in and of itself) for our ventures onto foreign soil. While I don't necessarily oppose the US doing that, I find that a UN Resolution is not the vehicle that we should be using.

There seems to be growing support for Israel to return land to "Palestine".
(NYT - cited above) Germany, France and Britain say negotiations should be based on the 1967 lines with equivalent land swaps, exactly what the Netanyahu government rejects because it says it predetermines the outcome.
“Does the world think it is going to force Israel to declare the 1967 lines and giving up Jerusalem as a basis for negotiation?” asked a top Israeli official who spoke on condition of anonymity. “That will never happen.”
While the Obama administration has referred in the past to the 1967 lines as a basis for talks, it has not decided whether to back the European Union, the United Nations and Russia — the other members of the so-called quartet — in declaring them the starting point, diplomats said. The quartet meets on April 15 in Berlin.
Israel, which has settled hundreds of thousands of Jews inside the West Bank and East Jerusalem, acknowledges that it will have to withdraw from much of the land it now occupies there. But it hopes to hold onto the largest settlement blocs and much of East Jerusalem as well as the border to the east with Jordan and does not want to enter into talks with the other side’s position as the starting point.
Will Israel give up control of Jerusalem to the Hamas, the government of the Palestinians, if the UN tells them to?

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