Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The DNC Redux

Day 1 of the DNC

 Yeap, I watched the entire Democratic convention from the women who want abortion on demand at any stage of life to the elegant Michelle Obama who certainly knows how to deliver a speech, but I have heard it all before in 2008. I certainly understand why the faithful like her. But, it scared me in 2008, and it scares me more even now should Barack be reelected.

 Reagan once said, "Government is not the solution, it is the problem". And his policies set off two decades of economic growth. Barack has become the antithesis of Reagan, and it seems liberals have become even more brazen in their views with Obama as the head of the party than any other leader. We heard a lot about investment. Investment in liberal speak is just another term for "more government spending."

 Liberals (and I have many friends who are liberals) don't think deficits really matter. The 16 trillion deficit mark was reached last night during the DNC but not one word was mentioned. Before the dot-com crash, pundits were saying valuations don't matter. Before the housing crisis, pundits were saying house prices would never go down, Valuations always matter and bubbles always burst. So too, the deficit will come back to haunt us.

 Pay attention to what is going on in Europe. In Spain after prolific spending and disastrous policies, the entire leftist party was thrown out on its rear end. It has reached the point in Spain that no matter who is in office he or she will be despised because the country has almost reached the point of no return. Capital and Employers are leaving Spain for fear the country might return to the Peseta. Unemployment has reached a staggering 25%, 50% among the youth. There is even a station I watch RTVE from Spain which is a government station that has been subsidized by the government since the days of Franco, and now they had to delay much of its better programming due to a 200 million Euro cut. Its austerity measures have also included cuts to its social safety nets, but we sit blindly by and watch it happen while we head down the road of the same fate. Grant it we will not return to another currency, but the unintended consequences of this debt will be disastrous if nothing is done. And, we may see throngs of people in the street rioting just like we see in Spain.

 In a wealthy nation such as the United States we should be able to provide for the elderly, the disabled, the temporarily unemployed, and the temporarily impoverished. But, the error is assuming that government is the answer for every ill of society. Reagan had it right. This country will cease as a nation if we can't get our fiscal house in order. So, while we shower accolades over a failed president, discuss why government should be paying for contraception, debate why killing the unborn is such a necessity, and argue about a contrived war on women, we are headed towards a fiscal cliff from whence we may not be able to return.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A Critique of Rich Dad Poor Dad by Raeann


When my daughter Raeann had to write a critique for her critical writing class in college on the book Rich Dad Poor Dad. My first Thought was, "wow, what a great book for a critical writing class." This book has been used in companies like AmWay and other multilevel marketing to their neophyte sales staff to give them the motivation to sell their products. My brother became enamored of this book, but the book itself is based on a fraud.

By my daughter Raeann

A Critique of Rich Dad Poor Dad

Robert Kiyosaki’s self-help book “Rich Dad Poor Dad” is a mixed bag of sorts. It offers some valuable financial advice for the average investor, but the book is geared toward the risk-taker, and that is its major fault. It takes a certain type of individual to be able to incorporate the philosophy set forth in Kiyosaki’s book, yet he makes it sound as if anyone can implement it. But not everyone can take on the kind of risk Kiyosaki suggests. Although the author provides some valuable life lessons such as choosing the right friends and having good money management skills, he also appears to be anti-school and implies that his is the only way to become self-made, and as Robert Lang points out in the South African Sunday Times it also seems that his two “dads” are archetypes, not real people as he claims.

Kiyosaki tells us to choose friends wisely. He makes the valid point that friends can be important in the decisions one makes when he states, “I have friends who have actually taken the vow of poverty as well as friends who earn millions every year. The point is I learn from all of them, and I consciously make an effort to learn from them. ” (169). Kiyosaki explains that you can learn from your friends from all walks of life, and you must choose them carefully. There is a saying in Spanish: “Dime con quien andas, y te dire quien eres.” It means “Tell me with whom you walk and I will tell you who you are.” People tend to emulate the people with whom they associate, and Kiyosaki is wise to recommend to his readers that they attend to the significant influencing factor in everyone’s life. Kiyosaki makes a point that we should cultivate relationships from people who are knowledgeable about money because this is how one learns. But it can be confusing to the reader when he said that he actually sought out people who had money even though some had later become friends. It is understandable to want to learn more about finance and money, but continuously to try and seek out those with money would appear that money would become the all consuming motive for friendship, not the friendship itself. Friends can either have a good impact on life or they can have a negative impact, so choosing friends carefully is a good life skill to know and use, and this is good advice Kiyosaki gives, but money should not be the all-consuming motive. Kiyosaki also has some good ideas on money management.

Kiyosaki stresses the importance of financial literacy. Financial literacy is learning about money, assets, liabilities, cash flow, and stocks. It is very important to learn about money, especially from a young age, he implies, because this way the youth will make the right financial decisions that will last a lifetime, and not grow up living from paycheck to paycheck. A lottery winner will end up impoverished because of financial illiteracy he notes. He stresses this point when he says, “it is not how much you make, it is how much money you keep” (56). He talks about paying oneself first as a way of accumulating wealth. As time goes on, savings will increase and investments will grow with the magic of compounding at phenomenal rates. These nice pithy clichés sound nice to the unsuspecting reader, and his advice to become educated in finance is good but basic common sense, and for some strange reason, Kiyosaki also appears to be anti-school.

According to the author, school is no longer an important element in advancing a career. Kiyosaki seems to be under the belief that instead of making you rich, school often trains you how to make others rich when he says, “A problem with school is that you often become what you study…the mistake in becoming what you study is that too many people forget to mind their own business. They spend their lives minding someone else’s business and making that person rich” (87). By minding someone else’s business, he means working as an employee instead of being an employer or an entrepreneur. In fact, In Kiyosaki mind, schools actually steer individuals in the wrong direction. While this is true to a degree, Kiyosaki does not address the fact that not everyone is cutout to be an entrepreneur. Career oriented people go to school, obtain a degree, spend a lifetime working for an employer, build wealth slowly over time, and retire happily at 65. Kiyosaki tends to brush these people aside. He makes it seem as if the only way to be rich is to leave the vagaries of school behind and “mind your own business.” He doesn’t mention anything about the good aspects of going to school, which can be discouraging for some readers who have been successful and consider school to be a training ground in itself. And what better place to meet the kind of friends Kiyosaki would have his readers make? Just ask the founders of Microsoft, Google and Facebook about that! And when he talks about risk- taking it can be just as far-reaching.

Kiyosaki does admit that there is risk in his philosophy of accumulating wealth and that one even needs to overcome the fear of losing money. He goes so far as to say, by quoting his favorite Texas expression, “If you’re going to go broke, go big” (149). How many people are going to want to go broke? And while there are people that can recover from going broke - what about the people that cannot? What about the emotional toll that such a loss would have on the family? How many foreclosures have we seen in this economic crisis or stores boarded up and closed? Did any of these people decide to take Kiyosaki’s advice?

Any self-help book calling itself Rich Dad Poor Dad would seem to promise a lot, and self-made rich man Robert T. Kiyosaki's playbook does not disappoint. However, along with promise comes the presumption that every reader embraces risk taking and eschews formal education the way he does. Such transformative advice as choosing the right friends is not as much bad as it is obvious, impractical, and ingenuous. Having good money management skills is not bad advice, either, just time-worn. But really, who would be willing to follow the advice of an author who plays coy when it comes to identifying the two dads he uses to embody his claims? (Economy Business and Finance 1) Perhaps this book’s strongest point is that it personifies his philosophy so exactly. Instead of going to school or a job, use business terminology to write a flimsy book on the obvious, find some friends in the publishing business, and then watch as other people’s money moves from their pockets to his.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ten Years of Stock Investing


I don’t use Technical Charts. Buy and Hold still works, but temporary anomalies do occur, and sectors do fall in and out of favor. Right now, the Health sector and the Energy sector are the places to be.

From time to time, a stock investor should check how his stock picks have done. We always hear how this investor has made a killing on this investment or that investment, but we never hear about the bad investments. I decided I wanted to check out how I have done in the last decade on my stock picks. It was quite a chore, but here are the results.

In the last ten years, I have made a total of 82 stock picks, 32 which I still currently hold. I have made some great trades, and I have made some downright awful trades. My batting average has been 29 losses and 53 hits with a 65% success rate.

My Best Picks
McDonalds – up 217.20% Internal Rate of Return 19.25% (still holding for almost 7 yrs went up even during 2008)

Mastercard – up 410.65% Internal Rate of Return 89.23%

Activision - - up 287.26% Internal Rate of Return 54.51% held for 4,65 years

Chicago Mercantile Exchange up 383.19% Internal Rate of Return 383.19% continued to go through the stratosphere after I sold it.

Intuitive Surgical up 106.85% Internal Rate of Return 304%

My Worst Picks

Cemex - Down 77.29% Mexican Cement Company. Internal Rate of Return -77.71 Triple Whammy Mexican Devaluation, Housing Crisis, and Chavez expropriating Mexican cement in Venezuela

Ebay – Down 67.99 Internal Rate of Return -35.78 Poor Execution at Ebay

International Speedway Down 61.34% Internal Rate of Return -31.63% Downward trajectory since beginning of recession. Going to races considered discretionary spending by consumers.

Allied Irish Banks – Down 14.75% Internal Rate of Return -19.07% I put this one in because this could have been a disaster. Ireland was the paragon of the global economy, but it became embroiled in the subprime scandal. I purchased this bank in the 40 dollar range, and it is now trading around 3.50. it is on the verge of bankruptcy.

Washington Mutual – Down 97% - need I say more. We all know what happened to Washington Mutual with the banking crisis.

Bank of America – Down 53.79% Internal Rate of Return -50.03% bought after credit crisis, and it kept falling. Should have kept it but panicked and exited too quickly. Recovered after bailout. Should have waited until it fell further. This was a risky stock but should have understood that the administration would have never let the banks fail. Should have, could have, would have….The story of my life…

And then there is the story of Exelon where coincidence is just the beginning. I buy a stock that holds 24 nuclear plants, and then Japan happens, but it could pan out to a net positive for Exelon. Only time will tell. Meanwhile I hold my breath. Such is the world of stocks.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Propositions for CA elections – my vote

Proposition 19 - Yes -– The legalization of Marijuana. Marijuana essentially is legal in California anyway. The terminator just lowered the penalty for an ounce of marijuana to a mere 100 dollar fine. I have never been under the belief that pot will increase in usage or lead to other harder drugs. It will however lower incarcerations, and put competitive pressures on the Mexican cartels. It will be taxed and regulated, and therefore bring in money to the depleted tax coffers.

Proposition 20 -Yes - Redistricting of congressional districts, initiative constitutional amendment – When I look at some of these propositions, I look at who is against or for them. The Sierra Club is against it. That is enough for me to vote for it. Proposition 20 allows independent citizens to draw California redistricting lines instead of the politicians. Allowing the politicians to draw the lines allows entrenched politicians to remain in power. As Dr. Phil would say, "How is it working for you so far?" FAQs http://www.yes20no27.org/facts_yes20_QA.html

Proposition 21 - No – Establishes $18 Annual Vehicle License Surcharge to Help Fund State Parks and Wildlife Programs, Grants surcharged vehicles free admission to all state parks, Initiative Statute – You have got to love it, another tax on our vehicles in the guise of funding state parks. While State parks are important, why do you charge everyone a vehicle surcharge even if some may not use the parks. State parks should charge vehicles an entrance fee when they use the park. Not everyone should have to pay a vehicle fee, because not everyone uses the parks.

Proposition 22 –yes - Prohibits the state from borrowing or taking funds used for transportation, redevelopment, or local government projects and services. Initiative constitution amendment. This initiative is just common sense. If funds are dedicated for a specific purpose, that is where it should go. This initiative prevents the state from raiding certain funds into the general fund - similar to a "let's rob Peter to pay Paul."

Proposition 23 – yes - Suspends implementation of Air Pollution control law (AB 32) requiring major sources of emissions to report and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming, until employment drops to 5.5% or less for full year. Initiative Statute. I agree with Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina when they say the passage of AB32 will cause companies to leave California for more a more amicable business environment, and it will cost jobs. Brown is against suspending prop AB 32 – Why not? He was the one responsible for starting CARB, the California Air Resource Board which operates with impunity and no oversight. It has cost jobs, and responsible for the MTBE fiasco. California operates like a fiefdom which is part of the reason we are dropping into the abyss. We enact green policies that make it more difficult to operate in the once golden state, so businesses look elsewhere for greener pastures – not in California. Prop 23 suspends the implementation of AB32. The only problem is prop 23 did not go far enough, AB 32 should be repealed. At least, this is a start.

Proposition 24 – no – Repeals recent legislation that would allow businesses to lower their tax liability. Initiative Statute. You have to love the explanation on the ballot. It says it will increase tax revenues. Tax increases in this economy will cost jobs and cause companies to further emigrate to other states. Not sure how that will raise tax revenues. California is the highest taxed state in the union apart from New York. How has it worked for us so far? The California Teacher's association loves it hmmm.

Proposition 25 – no – Changes legislative vote requirement to pass budget and budget related legislation from two-thirds to a simple majority. Retains two-thirds vote requirement for taxes. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Why would I want to make it easier for the legislature to increase taxes? I think not.

Proposition 26 – yes – Requires that certain state and local fees be approved by two-thirds vote. Fees include those that address adverse impacts on society or the environment caused by the fee-payer's business. – Currently, the legislature can pass fees instead of taxes (they just call them fees) by a simple majority. This will stop that. I am for anything that prevents this legislature taking us further into the abyss, and this is one step.

Proposition 27 – no – Eliminates State commission on redistricting. Consolidates Authority for redistricting with elected representatives. You might wonder why this proposition is backed by incumbents like Barbara Boxer because it keeps them in power. Need I say more. Here is a good article on why. http://www.theunion.com/article/20101006/OPINION/101009874

Alameda County Propositions

Proposition F –no - – Alameda County Transportation Improvement Measure – adds a $10 local registration fee to vehicles. Soon our vehicle registration fees will be as high as our property tax (hyperbole) suppose to raise money to repair and maintain local streets – hey what happened to the stimulus money?

Proposition G –no – Ohlone college Job training / Quality Education Fund $349,000 bond to improve and continue affordable college education. – okay who is paying for the bond again?

City of Newark –

Proposition U – yes – establishes a 3.5% utility tax user tax for five years. I thought long and hard about this one. Had to recently go to the city council to prevent closure of Newark's parks. Newark is in dire straits, and it cannot afford to get rid of the police at Newark's schools. It also says it will close the Silliman Center (a recreation place in Newark.) The Silliman center has only been open for about five years, and now they want to close it. Personally, I can care less. It is cheaper for me to go to 24 hour fitness than to use the facilities at the Silliman center and for inferior equipment. They charge an arm and a leg. They have a youth program that my children never went to. So, in a word, they can close it for all I care.


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

Monday, March 22, 2010

Elections have consequences – now what? The ramifications of Health Care Reform


I haven't blogged for awhile, but last night's death knell to freedom prompted me to write this new blog entry.

Much of my wife's family came to the United States as political refugees escaping the corruption, socialism and the Daniel Ortega type of liberation theology oppressive style government that was and is Nicaragua. Little did they know that just shy of 32 years would their style of government be the type of government we now embrace in the United States. We are now witnesses to the change about which Barack Obama spoke. We are seeing the disappearance of what the United States of America was to the New United States of Europe. This is not a time for celebration; this is a time for mourning. We will enter the five states of grief Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and Acceptance as described by Kubler Ross. But once we enter that fifth stage, we must stand up strong, regroup and begin the fight. We cannot sit on our laurels, and let the inevitable happen. We must take back our country.

 Before the election of Barack Obama, few knew who Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi were. But, those of us who were paying attention knew very well who they were. We knew that this country would effectively be run by three people, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, and the newly elected Barack Obama - But what happened after Scott Brown won the election in Massachusetts. We thought the health care bill was dead, but not Nancy. On January 28th, Nancy said the following, "We will go through the gate. If the gate is closed, we will go over the fence. If the fence is too high, we will pole vault in. If that doesn't work, we will parachute in. But we are going to get health care reform passed for the American people for their own personal health and economic security and for the important role that it will play in reducing the deficit." She did not waver; she continued the fight. We need to learn from her example; we can take this country back.

 Make no mistake; this is the legacy President Bush left us. When Republicans lose their way, conservatism fails. When conservatism fails and becomes indistinguishable from liberalism, voters see no reason to keep the party in power. But, even after the election of Scott Brown, I sometimes wondered if Republicans were really getting it. Some did but some did not.

If this reform stands, what will happen? First the insurance industry will collapse. Insurance companies will not be able to make a profit given the new federal mandates. We will see larger insurance companies merge with the smaller companies, but that will not be sufficient. The entire insurance industry will be obliterated. Once the insurance industry is gone, Barack Obama will blame the insurance industry for its demise, and then say we needed a public option from the start, and the only way to pay for it is through more taxes. One tax which they are already looking at is a European style VAT (value added tax). The VAT is added to every part of the production cycle of a product thereby substantially increasing the price of consumer goods. This will have the added effect of lowering productivity. Companies will also look for other countries where it is cheaper to do business.

 Of course, the immediate effect will be to increase the unemployment numbers, because thousands of new people will become unemployed. The AP reported the following:

Caterpillar Inc. said the health-care overhaul legislation being considered by the U.S. House would increase the company's health-care costs by more than $100 million in the first year alone.

In a letter Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Republican Leader John Boehner of Ohio, Caterpillar urged lawmakers to vote against the plan "because of the substantial cost burdens it would place on our shareholders, employees and retirees."
Caterpillar, the world's largest construction machinery manufacturer by sales, said it's particularly opposed to provisions in the bill that would expand Medicare taxes and mandate insurance coverage. The legislation would require nearly all companies to provide health insurance for their employees or face large fines.
The Peoria-based company said these provisions would increase its insurance costs by at least 20 percent, or more than $100 million, just in the first year of the health-care overhaul program.


This is only the beginning. Companies will begin to layoff because of increased costs. Investor's Business Daily
listed 20 ways Health Care Reform will take away our freedoms. I believe there will also be a backlash against Mexicans. Barack Obama lied when he said, "Illegal Immigrants would not be covered under this health care reform." Barack Obama was a constitutional law professor. Constitutional attorney Judge Napolitano says this about covering illegal aliens, "There is no question that under the present law, Congress simply cannot pick and choose which "persons" to whom it will afford social benefits and to which "persons" it will not. How could the president not have known that?" When everyone's premiums begin to go up, the quality of care begins to go down, and taxes begin to increase, Americans will look for a scapegoat. Mexicans will be the scapegoat, because people will see that they are paying for healthcare for illegal immigrants. This is currently happening in France with the Muslim population. In 2006, the average unemployment rate among Muslims in France was 21%. The Muslim situation became so bad, that the French went to the polls and voted in a center right politician Nicolas Sarkozy. He campaigned in part to deal with the Muslim problem. I have a couple of friends in France, and both have told me that the average Frenchman is tired of the Muslims coming to France, using the social services and not contributing to society. Mexicans come to the United States to work hard for their families, and to earn a living they cannot earn in their own country. But, the fact remains that they will be covered under this so-called health care reform. The idea that illegal aliens are covered will not matter until the health care Americans receive goes down and until taxes begin to rise (which will be sooner rather than later). Americans will then look for someone to blame, and illegal immigrants will be the likely culprits.

 This is nothing less than a loss of liberty. The left believes they have won another big one towards complete government control over our personal freedom. Whenever you ask a liberal how we are going to pay for this, they always revert to the Iraq war somehow thinking that it is analogous to what Barack Obama is doing. It reminds me of a certain friend. The wife is the sole breadwinner. Her husband has not been able to find a job. They have five kids, rent and a car payment. The wife impulsively decides to buy another 33,000 dollar car. She doesn't make a lot of money, but for some reason, she buys a car knowing she cannot afford it. But, it doesn't seem to be a problem. It is like the bumper sticker that says, "How can I be overdrawn, I still have checks." This is the liberal mindset, and this is the way our government continues to operate.

 I fail to understand how any Christian who believes in the sanctity of life could ever have voted for the most radical abortion president this country has known. Stupak can no longer say he is pro-life. Phyllis Schlafly put it succinctly when she said in response to Stupak's "yes" vote,  "It is naive for any elected official, especially one who describes himself as 'pro-life,' to expect that a promise to issue an Executive Order that reasserts the intentions of the Hyde Amendment will be fulfilled by the most pro-abortion president to ever sit in the White House. Perhaps Mr. Stupak and his fellow pro-life Democrats forget that President Obama's first Executive Order was the repeal of the Mexico City Policy to allow for international funding of abortion." Trust Obama on the sanctity of life? – I think not.


 I was reminded of the fact that God continues to be in control. When it appears God has abandoned us, that is when He is doing His work, "
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go." Joshua 1:9 We must not be disheartened. This may be what is required to purify the party. This has to happen. This is a fight between good and evil, and we will eventually win. We have to persevere, but we must not rest on our laurels.

 If you are a conservative and value your freedom, get involved. Facebook is a great medium. Those who are most impressionable and who have not yet been brainwashed are the youth. We have to teach the youth. They do not remember the Carter years or the Reagan years. We must teach them. Make an impact on anyone who will listen. If you have determined the person will not listen and is wrapped up in leftwing ideology, move on. And, if you know how to communicate conservative principles, think about running for office. If you speak Spanish, get involved with the Spanish community, because there are currently no media outlets that reach the Hispanic community on conservative principles, and most of all if a person refuses to stand up for life, then go to the next person, because a person who refuses to stand up for life will not stand up for what is right. That is the way we effect change.

 

Monday, September 14, 2009

Pete Stark’s Town Hall Meeting


If it sounds too good to be true, it isn't true – Judge Judy

You muck up everything you get your hands on – Senior Citizen at Pete Stark's Town Hall Meeting.
"I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg, it wouldn't be worth wasting the urine" - Pete Stark to Senior Citizen, Town Hall Meeting

Don't blame Pete - He just can't help himself
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Imagine your representive saying to one of your Senior Citizens "I wouldn't dignify you by peeing on your leg." This is exactly what arrogant toilet mouth Pete Stark said to a Senior Citizen at the Town Hall Meeting on September 12. Why do voters keep this guy in office? Click on foul mouth for other incidents of Pete Stark. This is a pattern. He doesn't care about you the voter. He cares about power. The voter is a second class citizen.


Go to the fourth video for a high quality video provided by Steve Kemp.

Saturday, I decided to attend the town hall meeting of the feckless, buffoonish, foul-mouth, contemptuous, imperious and egotistical Pete Stark. The meeting took place at the Senior Center at Lake Elizabeth in Fremont California. Outside the Senior Center in front of the serene and calm waters of the lake, a group of Chinese men and women were practicing the martial art of "Tai Chi." I watched as the Chinese men and women stretched their arms and legs in carefully coordinated movements with such grace that they seemed to mimic the rolling currents of a river. An occasional quack of a duck could be heard in the background. This serenity was juxtaposed against the backdrop of our so-called representative Pete Stark who spoke and answered questions in the confines of the Senior Center about Barack Obama's Health Care Plan – a plan certain to remake America into Barack Obama's utopian vision of government control.

I have attended Pete Stark's meetings before, and the meetings are usually small, and more like a liberal love-fest where Stark speaks to his choir. This meeting was different. Parking was difficult to find, and there were people from all walks of life. As we entered the room, we were given a number, and Stark would randomly pick one from the myriad of people present. I thought this was actually a good idea. There were the occasional angry bursts and applauses for and against the bill. The meeting was dotted with a few Union Supporters wearing yellow tee shirts. The citizenry came prepared with information. It seemed that each individual seemed compelled to state that he or she was not part of an organized group, but just concerned citizens. They wanted to make sure they were not identified as some right-wing conspiracy group or card-carrying NAZIs as Nancy Pelosi would have you believe. These were as they would state "concerned citizens" who feared a government takeover of the health care system. In one instance, a high school girl went up with her question and asked how many people were against the health care plan sitting in the meeting. About half the group many of whom were seniors raised their hands. It was astonishing to see so many raise their hands in liberal Fremont.

I brought my Iphone 3GS and I took some video of typical questions or statements. I wish I had brought my video camera, because the quality would have been better. In any event, you can get an idea of how people feel about this health care plan even in the Bay Area.

What I believe is happening is that the people just do not believe the administration. It is simple as that. Why is that? – Because it doesn't make sense. What rational person actually believes that Obamacare will reduce the deficit yet this is exactly what Obama said on Sunday night's 60 minutes? Obama said, "Ironically, health care reform is critical to deficit reduction." He then went on to say that he knew that it was counterintuitive to think that health care would reduce the deficit. Counterintuitive? That is the dumbest thing I had ever heard. The CBO says that in the Senate version there is a 900 billion dollar increase in the deficit or the house version a 1.6 trillion addition to the deficit over the next ten years, and the CBO states there will be a deficit in its first ten years, and even worse the next ten years, (and considering that Medicare cost estimates was off by a factor of ten, you can imagine how off the CBO will be with Obamacare.) Obama flat out lied. Does he think the America people are stupid? He has to know these figures. Who in their right mind believes that Obama will be able to reduce the deficit by his so-called health care reform, and who in their right mind believes that Obama will be able pay for this boondoggle by the fraud and waste in Medicare? Well, the follow up question is if there is so much fraud and waste in Medicare, why have we not cleaned it up yet? And if there is fraud and waste in Medicare, who in their right mind believes we will not have the same fraud and abuse in a government takeover of the healthcare system? No one believes that adding 30 million or 47 million people to the health care system will not increase costs. None of it makes sense. None of it adds up. Obama has a knack for making his vision sound true, but to believe it, you have to be very gullible.

In his speech, the number of uninsured mysteriously dropped from 47 million to 30 million underinsured. Well, that is because he threw the illegal aliens under the bus. But, that doesn't mean they will not be insured because they will be. That is why the Democrats have blocked every amendment to verify the legal status of illegal aliens. There may be verbiage in the bill that says illegal aliens will not be covered, but there is no teeth in it. Moreover, Judge Napolitano on Fox News has said illegal aliens will be covered under a national healthcare plan, regardless of what wording to the contrary is added. He maintained that it would be ruled unconstitutional by the courts, in the same way the initiative to disqualify undocumented aliens from public healthcare in California, was struck down.

The following youtube videos are clips I recorded during the town hall meetings. I have included the transcripts since the audio is sometimes difficult to hear.




(begins at 5:55 seconds on Steve's video)
I am here as a concerned citizen. I don't represent one side or the other. I am here first of all to give praise to our great country. For us to be able to even be here today to speak what we want to speak…remember and realize why our nation is such a great nation today is because we have those freedoms. I want to make sure that we represent the US constitution. I believe that the government's role is to make sure that the constitution is upheld and not to put all these programs together. My husband comes from the automotive industry and has been out of work since December but we have scraped our pennies and things together and we are picking ourselves up. I come from good Midwestern stock and I have been taught to work hard and when times are lean you work harder and have been on very very lean times but I am not asking for a hand-out or a bailout. We work harder. Our family has not been without insurance. The group plan that my husband had through his employer was not as good as what we could have had myself being an independent business owner. So, we put our own plan together. We have options we got to choose what we want I don't feel that the government right now has shown us through any of their major programs and organizations over the decades that they have been successful in running any major plan, and the last thing we need to do is to ramrod this undecipherable program at lightning speed through congress without understanding the process. Now, Do I agree that reform and things need to happen – absolutely, because being an independent payer of my own health care for my family, the costs are exorbitant, they are outrageous, and it's going up. We just got a 250 dollar a month increase on our private insurance. Let's get down to the root cause of what the problems are. Let's talk about the physicians. Let's talk about all of this extra waste and spending. Let's approach the fraud that is going in through the Medi-Cal, Medicare, Medicaid…. Let's not make an immediate decision in 30 days because we have to. But what we want to do is let's take a look at those things. What I want to see right now especially for all of you Fremont-Nummi people I have very close friends many years working at Nummi my husband sold cars that were produced at Nummi and is now out of work- okay. What I want to see our government focus today on changing the 12.2% unemployment in this state and it's going up. That is where our focus needs to be, put money in our pocket so we can choose the insurance plans that we want. We are spending way too much time to put another layer on top. We are not fixing the root cause. If we put another layer, there is no fix to the root cause, and the fraud is going to increase, so Mr congressman I ask that you please take our message back and let's get to the root cause and what is the plan for addressing that and focusing more on our unemployment than the health care at this point.



(begins at 4 minutes and 22 seconds in Steve's hiqh quality video)

This is my second town hall and yes I have attended a tea party. I had to get up at 6:00 this morning so I wrote down some thoughts. The lightning and thunder woke me up. I am not here because I got a call from some organized group. I am here because I am a concerned citizen, and I am fired up. I am fired up not just because of the massive health care reform bill that is coming up for a vote, I am fired up about the government taking over our banking and financing industry. I am fired up because of the government taking over our American car industry.... 47 million people are going to be losing their jobs after the first of the year and tens and thousands of others are going in the area to be losing their job, and I am especially fired up because of the huge massive spending deficits that we are dealing with, yes Bush did leave us with a federal deficit of approximately 490 billion dollars. After eight years, the World Trade Center Bombings, a new homeland security department that has kept us safe, two wars whether we agree with them or not and the aftermath of having to deal with hurricane Katrina you know we have a sagging economy. I am a CPA. 130 million citizens got 600 to 1000 dollars in stimulus that he had to spend in order to try and get the economy back together. It didn't help too much. Obama in eight months has accumulated a deficit almost three times larger than what Bush did in eight months not eight years and no matter what you think of Bush, one man did not create these federal deficits ….. But you know what Republicans like their pork too and it is just awful. Now we are suppose to believe that the government is going to take over our entire health care system and make everyone healthier and save or cut (I'm sorry) our deficits. Our taxes won't go up one dime because the cost of this overhaul is going to be paid for by the insurance industry and 2/3rds of it from cost savings from Medicare…. If you have 60 billion dollars a year for ten years and deficits you know this pay as you go that you say I think savings for cutting fraud and waste are not pay as you go. You don't know if you are going to realize those. If I need to buy something, I need to save the money first, so let's cut the waste now. I think we need to break it down into four or five like many Republicans, Conservatives and even some Democrats Let's cut it down into sections. Deal with fraud and Medicare. Let's save those 60 billion dollars first. Cut it down… Let's create tort reform and let's create an insurance market that is competitive across the board.



Hat tip to Steve Kemp for providing the following video.



Stark: Social Security Card or Do you require that everyone has proof of citizenship? – followed by (yes yes). (this can also be seen about 1 minute and 40 seconds in Steve's video)

Starting at 1:04 on video: Mr Congressman, you answered part of my question a little while ago how this will affect Medicare. Medicaid is going to be available to more and more people.

…The question is President Obama's plan – he doesn't have a plan, Whatever plan is out there he talks about he is going to get half the savings for that from the waste in Medicare. That is all smoke and mirrors. He says he will raise taxes by ten cents, another smoke and mirrors. It is common sense. And If he can get this much savings out of Medicare, why isn't he doing it right now… Why didn't we do earlier. You got Social Security broke, you got Medicare broke, you got abysmal care for veterans, rats running around in Walter Reed Hospital, before they finally fired a couple of generals they finally got the message. Now, you muck up everything you get your hands on. Now why - Mr Congressmen Don't pee on my leg and tell me it's raining.

Stark - Thank you. I wouldn't dignify peeing on your leg. It wouldn't be worth wasting the urine. (Boos)

The San Francisco Chronicle says it this way:

Only a politician who assumes he has a job for life could behave so badly on a semi-regular basis by spewing personalized invective that might get him punched in certain East Bay taverns. Would-be challengers sometimes sense a whiff of opportunity, but the reality of taking on a 16-term Democrat in solidly liberal terrain is nothing short of daunting.

Surely there must be someone along the shoreline between Alameda and Fremont who could represent the good citizens of the district with class and dignity. It's not the case now.



Need I say more. These are the people who will be running Obamacare. Thank you but I don't think so.
.

Debra Saunder's makes a few good observations in her piece ObamaCare is too good to be true.

Michelle Malkin also blogged about Pete Stark's latest rant click here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Health Care Reform or Bust!


I have been having a lively debate on facebook with a former high school classmate of mine. He says he is a centrist, but for some reason unbeknownst to me, half the liberals I talk to say they are centrists. On his facebook profile page, his political view states the following, "Whatever causes the greatest good for the greatest number." I suppose that would be my philosophy too. I also suppose that that would be the philosophy of most. So, how will healthcare reform cause the greatest good for the greatest number. It won't.

Obama's presidential approval ratings continue to plummet. The latest Rasmussen presidential daily tracking report shows a presidential approval index of -12. In January, Obama's approval rating was +28. Democrat pundits will continue to decry those who are against Obamacare, "They haven't read the bill." "They are misinformed." "They are only repeating what Fox News and right wing radio have told them." The reason Obama tried to shove this bill down the throats of American citizens before the August recess in the first place was so Americans didn't have a chance to read and understand the bill. Obama was afraid that once Americans discovered what really was in the bill, they would reject it - so much for transparency.

No matter how Democrats try to paint it, if Obamacare passes, there will be rationing. It is the only way to decrease costs. It is the basic law of supply and demand. When you have a higher demand with the same amount of doctors (or fewer), the government has to ration. This has happened in the United Kingdom and It has happened in Canada.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr Anne Doig said this about the Canadian system, "We all agree that the system is imploding, we all agree that things are more precarious than perhaps running flat out, we're all just trying to stay ahead of the immediate day-to-day demands." Polls tend to be misleading whether or not Canadians like or dislike their system because until you need the healthcare, it doesn't really matter. What is more important is how Canadians perceive their healthcare vis à vis their U.S. counterparts. According to Gallup, one-fourth of Americans are completely satisfied or somewhat satisfied. This level of satisfaction is significantly lower in Canada, where 57% are satisfied with the availability of affordable healthcare including 16% who are very satisfied. The reverse is true however when it comes to the affordability of healthcare. In the end, Gallup concludes the following, "this dichotomy seems to support the hypothesis that private healthcare encourages high-quality standards, but may be a barrier to access and affordability." I concur with that statement. However, that does not mean there are not ways to decrease costs and preserve high-quality without a government takeover.

Spain has also been Obama's latest example of how well socialized healthcare works. But how well is Spain's healthcare working? Spain's government run healthcare is called, "la sanidad pública." In a report entitled, the decline of Spain's health care system, the journalist Francisco Rubiales of Spain writes:

The great paradox is that while the Spanish health system suffers from a shortage of health care providers, Spanish doctors and health specialists emigrate to work in the healthcare systems of Great Britain, Portugal, France and many others.

Perhaps the greatest example of the decline in the Spanish health care system can be seen in Andalucía where the PSOE (the Socialist party currently in power) has always used the public healthcare system as the standard of its government and symbol of the goodness of socialism. For decades, Andalucía has received the greatest and most generous investments in medicine… the quality of that magnificent Sanidad Pública is falling apart.

The media has not reported that hospitals lack resources or urgent medicines or that entire hospital wings are being closed, or that doctors are being pressured to send home the sick and that they don't prescribe too much medicine, or that doctors with valuable experience are leaving the health care system, establishing themselves in private hospitals or emigrating to foreign countries where they are able to obtain better salaries and above all better consideration and respect….

I have several friends in Spain, and I asked a few of them what they thought of their countries health care system. I wrote to an entrepreneur in Spain, and she sent the following response as she was trekking through Rome.

Our public health system does not work well. There are too many people, and the waiting lists for operations are enormous. Everyone even if they do not pay into it has a right to it including immigrants who bring relatives to be operated on and that has the effect of making everything even worse. (my comment - Spain has a huge immigration problem like France with illegal Islamic citizens coming over from Northern Africa)

 
 

It does however give you peace knowing that if you do not have anything a house or money you can still get doctors.

 
 

The people who have means, here, have private insurance and the private insurance carriers treat you differently. In those situations, there are no waiting lines, and the hospitals are like hotels with rooms.

 
 

One day Antonio and I went to the beach, I went to the doctor and the waiting line went around the other street. There were not enough doctors for everyone. I decided I wasn't sick enough to put up with this line and I left.

 
 

The following year Antonio had to go to the doctor, but he had private insurance his father paid for, and what a difference. The waiting room was air conditioned with very comfortable sofas, and in five minutes the doctor was seeing him.

 
 

That year we saw the difference between the two systems.

 
 

Now, fortunately I have private insurance.

 
 

With this economic crisis (my comment - Spain's unemployment is about 20%) We have noticed that since people do not have any money, the system is even worse. In a few years there will be a lack of medical personnel and a lack of medical technicians. With what is approaching, I really don't know what is going to happen. It sounds like a good idea to for the state to cover medicine for the people - at least you wouldn't die in a clean bed and then they could waste more on other things.

 
 

In Europe, private insurance is available, but only a small percentage can afford it. The pool of insured people is smaller making the insurance very expensive. Europeans will opt for private insurance if they can afford it, because it is a much better system.


 

In another email from a Spanish journalist, she writes in part:


 

We all have a family doctor assigned, so if I feel ill I just make a call to the health center to be checked or go to ER directly. The doctor makes the first checkup and then sends you to the specialist if necessary. Again, you have to wait days or months for the next visit, depending on the specialist you need. Of course, in the waiting rooms there are plenty of old people and immigrants. Some people just go to the family doctor to ask for prescriptions, because there the medicines cost much less even if you ask for a simple Ibuprofen prescription, so there are old people that waste 2 hours waiting to get their prescriptions filled. In my opinion, that is elder abuse. Big cities like Madrid or Barcelona health centers and hospitals are fuc**ing busy (sorry for the expression, but it´s quite worrying). And, I'm afraid, hospitals may have real problems when having to value who's first in the list of operations.

 
 

Are we happy with this system? Personally, I am, maybe because I don´t need to go to the doctor very often, but I don´t have to pay for it (the system is deficient, the taxes should be higher to cover costs), I'm certain I´ll be attended as soon as possible when I´m ill and we have competent doctors.

 
 

Each year Forbes magazine publishes its tax misery index. This is a compilation of all the taxes in a country to determine which country has the highest tax rate. The higher the tax rate, the more prohibitive one's life becomes as to his or her leisure activities. As taxes increase, the taxpayer becomes more of a slave to the state. France has topped the list for years because of all its entitlement programs. The more a country becomes a welfare state, the higher its tax misery index will go. Will the United States succeed in topping France for the number one spot? Only time will tell.


 

What do we know will happen for sure in an Obamacare world that we have learned from other countries with nationalized health care?


 

  1. There will be rationing that will affect the most vulnerable of society.
  2. The deficit will go up enormously not down as Obama claims.
  3. The cost of Obamacare will have been severely underestimated. Just today he announced that the ten year deficit is going from 7 trillion to 9 trillion. Trying to figure out where the deficit will be is like the global warming alarmists trying to figure out where the weather will be in a century from now.
  4. There will be long waits.
  5. Emergency rooms will be more crowded than they already are.
  6. We will become a magnet for illegal aliens since they will have access to our health care system.
  7. There will be corruption, fraud and waste as there is in any government system.
  8. Taxes will go through the roof (not just those who earn more than $250,000).


 

Barack Obama is trying to fundamentally change the United States. There is a reason the United States has been number one all these years. It is because the United States was founded on individual liberty, not on the nanny state. The liberal believes in a utopian world where everyone is equal and everyone is taken care of from cradle to grave. Before we used to talk about billions of dollars, now we talk about trillions of dollars. Before the dot-com crash, everyone said we have reached a new paradigm and valuations no longer mattered. In the world of stocks, valuations always matter. Before the housing crisis, houses kept going up in value, and we heard the mantra, "Real estate never falls in value." What goes up must always come down. Now we here the economist Barack Obama imply that printing trillions of dollars with nothing to back it up is no big deal, because he will reduce the deficit by the end of his term and somehow healthcare will not increase government deficit. Argentina gave a similar argument before the collapse of its peso If Obama succeeds in passing this healthcare reform, he will bankrupt this nation. If he succeeds in his cap and trade scheme, he will also fundamentally change this nation and not for the better. Both of these changes will be irreversible. Why are we not doing a test case? Why is Obama against tort reform? My classmate's political view is, "Whatever causes the greatest good for the greatest number" is a nice thought, but Obamacare will cause the greatest harm to the greatest number. Obamacare must be stopped before it is too late!!!!!!

Monday, August 17, 2009

Un Amor Sin Igual




This post is written in Spanish

Decidí encuadernar las cartas de Jeanine y yo que nos escribimos durante nuestro noviazgo cuando ella tuvo que regresar a Nicaragua y yo me quedé en California. Estábamos separados por un año. Escribí esta historia acerca de nuestro noviazgo y la puse enfrente de las cartas para que todos pudieran conocer la historia de nuestro amor.

Recuerdo cuán difícil fue en despedirnos en el aeropuerto. Las preguntas que pasaban por la mente, "¿Me esperaría ella?" "¿La esperaría yo?" Las preguntas que pasaban por la mente. "¿Podríamos perdernos uno al otro a la circunstancia?" Había las inseguridades, la naturaleza humana y una de cien cosas que pudieran pasar. Recuerdo cuando regresé a casa del aeropuerto de San Francisco en agosto de 1976. Entré en la casa vacía. Fui a mi dormitorio, encendí mi música y me puse a pensar en el último año y medio que habíamos pasado juntos. Recogí una caja de fotos que había tomado de Jeanine y yo, y empecé a escudriñarlas. Al rato, llegó mi mama, y entró en mi cuarto y me preguntó cómo estaba. La miré con lágrimas en los ojos y le respondí con dos palabras, "se fue."

Después de un año y medio ya no estaba. Aquí, les cuento esa historia, una historia de dos jóvenes enamorados, una historia que demostró lo profundo que fue el amor entre dos personas de dos mundos diferentes, y como, a pesar de un año de separación, y a pesar de lo que decía la gente, ese amor no solo sobrevivió sino creció más fuerte con cada nuevo amanecer.

Nuestro comienzo

La vida tiene sus momentos, esos instantes indefinibles de gozo y de alegría que vienen y se van con un abrir y cerrar de ojos. Si solo pudiéramos congelar el tiempo y mantener esos sentimientos y esos pensamientos con nosotros.

Nosotros tuvimos tal momento.

Fue a principios de los 70s. La guerra de Vietnam acabó. Debido a Roe v Wade, el aborto se legalizó. Los países árabes productores de petróleo embargaron el suministro de crudo a estados unidos y recortaron su producción – se formaron largas filas en las gasolineras. El "World Trade Center" fue terminado a un costo de 750 millones de dólares. Nixon dimitió en desgracia debido al escándalo de "Watergate." La bolsa se devaluó un 40%. La música disco estaba de moda. Fue el momento de nuestra juventud.

Estaba en mi segundo año en la universidad de West Valley. Mi carrera que estudiaba era en ese entonces el español, aunque más tarde, la cambié a contabilidad. Sin embargo, el español fue mi pasión y me interesaba cualquier actividad extracurricular que me ayudara a desarrollar mis estudios hispánicos. Me inscribí a una organización llamada ICSA, la asociación para los estudiantes extranjeros en West Valley College.

Durante los tres años que estuve en West Valley College, hice muy buenos amigos por medio de ICSA. Siempre estábamos juntos en alguna forma u otra. Tuvimos fiestas, picnics, presentaciones de los estudiantes extranjeros para la universidad. Siempre parecía que andábamos juntos. Durante los almuerzos o durante los descansos entre las clases, nos reuníamos en la cafetería donde comíamos juntos y platicábamos. Fue por medio de esta organización donde conocí a Jeanine.

La razón por la cual menciono esta organización es porque fue una mayor parte de mi vida durante esa parte de mi carrera académica, y fue por medio de ICSA que la conocí. Me refiero, por supuesto, a mi otra mitad, la mujer con quien me iba a casar. Obviamente, no lo sabía en ese entonces, pero con el tiempo los dos lo sabríamos.

Había tantas cualidades en ella que me atraían. Su nombre era Jeanine y estaba aquí en una visa de estudiante. Mientras asistía a la universidad, ella podía residir legalmente en los Estados Unidos. Sin embargo, cuando se terminaran sus estudios, se tenía que regresar a su país porque se vencería su visa.

Al principio, no hubo nada especial con nuestra relación. En realidad, no teníamos una relación. Me juntaba con ella en la cafetería cuando la veía con otros miembros del grupo. Yo le decía chistes, y jugábamos juegos de adolescentes. Yo le contaba de mis miles amores y travesuras. Todo esto, por supuesto, fue en broma. Y fue nuestro comienzo.

Un Dilema

En diciembre una amiga del grupo tuvo una fiesta en su apartamento. Jeanine y yo fuimos. Mientras estaba sentado en la fiesta llena de los estudiantes de ICSA, saboreando una cerveza, la miré. Ella era encantadora y tenía una dulce sonrisa. Mientras reía y se divertía con los otros allí, noté algo diferente en ella; algo que no puedo explicar en palabras. Esa noche, sabía que mis sentimientos por ella nunca serían lo mismo. No pude dejar de mirarla. Me di cuenta que mis sentimientos por Jeanine llegaban a ser más que platónicos. Se me presentaba un dilema – previamente, tuvimos una amistad frívola y acomodadiza. Por el último año y medio, nuestra relación había sido una de diversión y jugar juegos. Estaba listo ahora a llevarla a un nivel más serio. No estaba seguro como resolver este problema.

La manera más fácil, pensaba yo, sería hablar con Melba, la amiga más allegada a Jeanine. Melba es de Cuba, y sigue siendo una buena amiga de nosotros. Ella fue instrumental en ayudarme con la relación con Jeanine. Le dije a Melba que quería salir con Jeanine. Melba le preguntó a Jeanine si saldría conmigo, y Jeanine dijo que sí. Me doy cuenta que esta clase de comportamiento es como la de un niño en una primaria, pero ¡Qué más da! – salió bien.

La Carta

Jeanine y yo salimos en nuestra primera cita en marzo. Fuimos en una doble cita con otra pareja a "El Gordo's", un restaurante mexicano en el casco antiguo de Los Gatos. Después fuimos a una película titulada "Lenny."

La película que vimos en nuestra primera cita como pareja pudo haber sido la peor película que jamás había visto en mi vida. No solamente era en blanco y negro sino que se trataba de un comediante que usaba lenguaje grosero para decir sus chistes. Los chistes no eran cómicos, y sólo me puedo imaginar lo que pensaba Jeanine ya que siendo nicaragüense, lo más probable, fue que ella no entendía el humor norteamericano. Mi amigo y yo sólo nos miramos como para decir, "¿Qué es lo que estamos haciendo aquí?" No fue la película ideal de una primera cita, y sólo esperaba que no dejara una impresión perdurable en Jeanine.

Al mes siguiente, tuve una fiesta en mi casa para estudiantes extranjeros. Yo tuve muchas fiestas para estudiantes extranjeros en mi casa durante mis años de la secundaria y de la universidad.

Bailé con Jeanine esa noche a una canción suave que se tocaba. Era uno de esos momentos eternos. Jeanine parecía diferente al momento que la vi; su belleza brillaba. Mis mejillas frotaban contra las suyas, y podía sentir la suavidad de su piel con la mía. El olor familiar y fragante de su perfume francés, Fidji penetraba su cabello negro, liso y largo. Pudiera haber permanecido en esa posición toda la noche.

La música cambió a una canción movida, una cumbia pero Jeanine y yo seguimos bailando a nuestro propio ritmo lento. De pronto, alguien apagó la música y Jeanine y yo todavía seguimos bailando a nuestro ritmo lento.

"Se apagó la música" dijo Jeanine en una voz suave contra mis hombros.

Yo la miré y sonreí, "¿de veras?, pero todavía la puedo escuchar." Jeanine me devolvió una sonrisa y me dijo tiernamente "¡qué risita!" Palabras así guardadas en un momento eterno nunca se olvidan. Seguimos bailando. Éste fue el comienzo de un cambio en nuestras relaciones.

Sin embargo, todo no fue como un cuento de hadas. Hubo muchos obstáculos y temores que tuvimos que superar. Jeanine era de Nicaragua. Ella luchaba con nuestra relación y a veces me eludía, porque estaba confusa, y tenía miedo de enamorarse de un americano. Eventualmente, ella sabía que tendría que regresar a su país.

Dos meces después de nuestra primera cita, Jeanine planeaba unas vacaciones a Nicaragua y yo iba a tomar unas vacaciones a España para visitar a algunos amigos que había conocido allá cuando estuve en Segovia. También iba a ver a una chica con quien salía en mi último viaje.

Unas dos semanas antes de mi salida, Jeanine se portaba bien extraña. Por fin, un día fui a la biblioteca donde ella estudiaba con unas amigas suyas. Encontré a Jeanine con un grupo de amigas en uno de los salones insonorizados de la biblioteca. Cuando abrí la puerta, Jeanine me miró con asombro y le dije,

    "Necesito hablar contigo."

Jeanine me siguió y nos sentamos en una mesa cercana. Me fijé que sus amigas nos quedaban mirando desde el salón insonorizado. No recuerdo la conversación – sólo recuerdo el momento – otro momento en el tiempo que no se olvida.

Y allí, entre los estantes cargados de los tomos polvorientos de enciclopedias y diccionarios surtidos, rompimos nuestras relaciones. Jeanine suponía que ya que yo me iba para España y ella se iba para Nicaragua, no tenía ningún objeto seguir esta relación. Después de nuestra conversación, Jeanine se puso de pie y volvió al salón insonorizado. A medida que cerraba la puerta detrás de ella, la vi sentarse. Siguió estudiando con sus amigas. Me quedé sentado por un momento y sólo las miraba. Los labios se movían – pero no salía ningún sonido; una quietud y tranquilidad extraña me llenaba. Me puse de pie y salí de la biblioteca.

El avión aterrizó en Zurich, Suiza el 17 de mayo, y cogí un tren rumbo a Madrid, España. Cuando llegué a Madrid, eran las 11:00 p.m., pero no había cambiado nada de mi dinero a pesetas, la moneda corriente de España, (como dicen en España - no tenía ni un duro) por eso tuve que deambular por las calles oscuras toda la noche hasta que se abrieran los bancos.

De Madrid, cogí el tren de dos horas a Segovia, y me encontré con Alicia en la estación ferroviaria. Por los dos últimos años, Alicia y yo nos escribimos fielmente. Ahora, tenía la oportunidad de ver si los sentimientos que en un tiempo tuvimos el uno por el otro, todavía existían entre nosotros.

Alicia era muy amable pero al mismo tiempo, se comportaba muy fríamente. Yo tenía el presentimiento que todo iba a ser diferente.

Alicia me encontró un lugar donde me podía hospedar, una pensión durante mi estancia en Segovia. Una señora solitaria de mayor edad era la propietaria de la pensión. Ya no la alquilaba debido a ciertas tragedias que le habían sobrevenido durante su vida. Me alquiló un cuarto por un precio muy barato como un favor a Alicia. No hubo mucho que hacer durante el día en Segovia ya que era una ciudad muy pequeña. Así muy a menudo me encontraba en una de las varias terrazas salpicadas por la ciudad de Segovia tomando zumos de naranja o una caña esperando a Alicia.

Unos dos días después de mi llegada, nos encontramos en El Bar Showking, una terraza ubicada en la plaza de Azoquejo, una de las dos plazas más populares en Segovia. Ella quiso dar un paseo. Paseamos detrás del alcázar famoso de Segovia, el cual se usó en la película de Camelot (1967) con Richard Harris y como el diseño del castillo en "Disneyworld." Nos paseamos entre los árboles detrás del alcázar, el lugar que se usó como el bosque encantado de "Camelot." Descansamos sentados en un banco y meditamos con quietud sobre nuestro pasado. Las hojas de los árboles revoloteaban en la brisa, y el sol brillante segoviano titilaba entre el follaje encima de nosotros. De vez en cuando, una ráfaga de viento se llevaba las hojas y las dispersaba cerca del banco donde nos sentamos.

Mientras estábamos sentados, Alicia me miró. Ya me imaginaba lo que ella pensaba.

    "¿Quieres saber por qué me he estado comportando en forma tan extraña?"

     No dije nada; sólo esperaba para ver si respondería sin una respuesta directa a su pregunta.

     Continuó, "Cuando te fuiste la última vez, fue muy difícil para mí.

Sólo escuché. En realidad, no sabía que decir.

La cara se puso muy suave, "¿Me…..quieres besar?" preguntó con una cara tierna y vulnerable. Yo incliné la cabeza y nos besamos. Creo que los dos sabíamos que éste era un beso de despedida, un memorial a la relación que se había acabado entre nosotros.

La próxima noche, esperaba a Alicia en una de las discotecas de Segovia. Cuando ella entró, me entregó una carta que había recibido en el correo para mí (usé la dirección de Alicia para mi correo.) Fue una carta que tanto esperaba, de Jeanine. Con las manos temblorosas, leí la carta, y al final Jeanine escribió

"Marcos, yo creo que ya me despido, ya es un poco tarde casi la 1:30 de la mañana ya que voy tan dormilona, estos días me he estado durmiendo tarde, no sé porque. Antes de terminar, quiero decirte algo, sabes, te he extrañado bastante y pensado en ti. No sé si a ti habrá pasado lo mismo por lo que estás tan bien acompañado y tú sabes a quién me refiero. Pero, espero que aunque sigas con Alicia tan siquiera me escribas."

Mientras leía esas palabras, Alicia notó un cambio en mi cara, y con la intuición de una mujer, preguntó si era otra chica. Le enseñé la carta. Fue por esa carta, que me decidí a renovar mis relaciones con Jeanine.

La próxima semana cuando me fui de Segovia, recorrí por tres semanas Europa por tren y pidiendo autostop. No tenía mucho dinero, por eso me dormía en los trenes, o afuera, o en los hostales para estudiantes, y en las mañanas, les pagaba a los hoteles dinero equivalente alrededor de 20 centavos para poder bañarme. Me crecí la barba, porque era demasiado difícil afeitarme especialmente cuando no se encontraba agua caliente. Por cierto vivía una vida bohemia. Le mandé a Jeanine una postal de cada ciudad que visité. Sus papás se maravillaban a la cantidad de postales que le mandaba este gringo. Regresé a los Estados Unidos el 15 de julio, pero tuve que esperar un mes para que regresara Jeanine de Nicaragua.

Al mes siguiente, fui a otra fiesta con miembros de ICSA, porque sabía que Jeanine iba a estar allí. Yo estaba sentado en un lado de la sala y Jeanine estaba sentada en otro lado. Cada uno de nosotros estábamos hablando con un grupo distinto. Al rato, Jeanine levantó los ojos y me miró y yo la miré. Nos quedamos mirando y Jeanine se levantó de donde ella estaba sentada, se arrimó y se sentó junto a mí. La miré y podía ver en sus ojos esas inseguridades y esa confusión que aparentaban decir, "¿Debemos estar haciendo esto?" Le cogí de la mano y la apreté como para decir, "Sí, está bien." Nada se había resuelto, pero por el momento, todo estaba bien.

Jeanine y yo estábamos juntos otra vez. Éste fue el comienzo de un nuevo principio. Todavía había veces en que Jeanine estaba indecisa, porque todavía no sabíamos que podía pasar con esta relación. ¿Qué pasaría cuando al final se regresaba a Nicaragua? Y yo nunca le dije muy claramente mis sentimientos hacia ella. Pero ahora yo estaba decidido.

Nos estábamos enamorando.

Un nuevo principio

Desde ese día en adelante, atesoraba cada momento que pasé con Jeanine. El día de los enamorados llegó y Jeanine me regaló un perrito, (un juguete), el cual mantenía en mi tablero de instrumentos de mi coche. Este perrito es el tema en muchas de las cartas, porque Jeanine siempre trataba de quitármelo; fue un juego que jugábamos.

A Jeanine le encantaba sus jueguitos, como cambiar todos los canales de mi radio en el coche, pero esto fue parte de la diversión con ella. A veces, manejamos por El Camino Real, una calle muy larga, sin destino alguno. Ella me preguntaba que para donde íbamos, y yo le respondía, "Te voy a enseñar tu casita que te compré con una piscina, con unas sirvientas, y con un Mercedes-Benz." Pero nunca encontramos la casita.

En mayo, le compré un anillo de promesa, porque no quería comprarle un anillo de compromiso si no lo iba a aceptar, (yo era muy tacaño en esos días.) La llevé a un restaurante local en Los Gatos y pedimos un aperitivo de hongos antes de la comida. Es allí donde le di el anillo de promesa. Jeanine empezó a llorar, y por el hecho que estaba tan nerviosa se comió el plato entero de hongos y el plato no era muy pequeño.

Cuando llegó a su casa esa noche, le enseñó el anillo a su familia americana y le preguntaron si estaba comprometida. Jeanine no sabía, porque dijo que yo nunca hablaba muy claro con ella. Al día siguiente cuando fui a recogerla, me dijo lo que le preguntaron y yo le respondí, "diles que sí."

Un mes después, salimos Jeanine y yo a un autocine. Es un misterio el nombre de la película, pero no fue como si la viéramos de todas maneras. Llovía a cántaros y estaban anubladas las ventanas, pero eso nos tenía sin cuidado. Brindamos esa noche sombría con dos botellas de champagne. Me acosté en su regazo, y contemplé su cara tan bella.

"Pronto, te vas", le dije. Ella inclinaba la cabeza como para decir, "yo sé." Nos mirábamos con fijeza por varios minutos; fue una eternidad envuelta en otro momento. Podía yo sentir palpitar mi corazón como si quisiera saltar de mi cuerpo.

Por fin salieron las palabras

"¿Me esperarás?" Me miró y sin vacilar dijo "sí." En ese momento, parecía que desaparecieron todas mis inseguridades. Sabía que era mía.

Unos días después, le compré un anillo de compromiso en una cajita negra. La llamé por teléfono del hospital (donde trabajaba) y en medio de la conversación, le dije,

"Compré algo hoy"

"¿Qué? Me inquirió

"Está en una cajita negra."

"¿Qué es?"

"No te puedo decir."

Me encantaba jugar con ella estos juegos, porque era más divertido dejarla en suspenso. Ella persistía en sus molestias, tratando de averiguar lo que había comprado

Varios días después, fui a su casa a recogerla. Antes de tener la oportunidad de arrancar el coche, Jeanine dijo,

"Pues…."

"¿Pues qué?" le contesté simulando no saber de lo que estaba hablando.

"¿Y la cajita?"

Sólo me quedé sentado y le respondí y le sonreí por varios momentos. Nos quedamos sentados en la quietud de la noche. La miré y noté que la luz de la luna proyectó una sombra en ella e hizo aún más radiante su belleza más que lo general. Sus ojos me miraban y ella sonreía. Me imaginé que ahora era el momento. Nerviosamente, me puse las manos en el bolsillo de mi camisa y traté de buscar torpemente la cajita negra. La saqué y la abrí. En la cajita, estaba el anillo de compromiso. Cuidadosamente, Jeanine sacó el anillo de la cajita.

Jeanine quedó mirando el anillo. De repente, ella empezó a pensar que pronto íbamos a tener que despedirnos. Ella dejó de sonreír y se puso a llorar.

"Por qué uno nunca puede ser feliz?" Preguntó con los ojos húmedos de lágrimas.

No dije nada. Entendí lo que quería decir

"¡Ponémelo!" dijo con su acento nicaragüense.

Le tomé el anillo de su mano, y se lo puse en el dedo. Ella me quitó los anteojos como siempre solía hacer y nos besamos.

Jeanine me enseñó la mano con el anillo. Miré la mano y la cogí con incertidumbre, porque sabía que el tiempo de nuestra despedida se aproximaba rápidamente y me preocupó. Se nos acababa el tiempo.

En julio, Jeanine iba a tomar unas vacaciones de tres semanas junto con su familia americana a Wyoming. Los viernes en las noches siempre había un buen conjunto que tocaba en el "Holiday Inn", por eso unos miembros de ICSA decidieron reunirse en el "Holiday Inn" para darle una fiesta de despedida, porque después del viaje a Wyoming iba a regresar a su país. Temía nuestra separación venidera.

Pasé a recoger a Jeanine a llevarla al "Holiday Inn." No dijimos mucho rumbo al hotel, porque ambos comprendíamos el dolor que existía entre nosotros. Al llegar al estacionamiento del Holiday Inn, Jeanine dijo, "dobla aquí" – así doblé y me estacioné en un parqueo que no era del Holiday Inn. Sólo nos quedamos sentados allí por un minuto sólo escuchando el murmullo del motor. Apagué el motor y empecé a sentir algo adentro, y todas las inseguridades que sentía antes, empecé a sentir de nuevo. Volví la cabeza, le cogí de la mano y la abracé. No la quería soltar. Quería que este momento permaneciera para siempre. Si fuéramos al Holiday Inn, sería el fin. Ella me dejaría y el futuro sería incierto. No podíamos despedirnos todavía; eso sería demasiado final. No me importaba quien estaba en el "Holiday Inn." Yo quería a Jeanine para mí mismo.

¿Realizaremos de verdad nuestros planes, nuestros sueños? ¿Nos casaríamos de verdad? ¿Esperaríamos los dos? Quería decirle como me sentía y cuanto la quería. Pero, creo que ya lo sabía. Al rato, arranqué el coche y salimos rumbo al Holiday Inn donde los otros nos esperaban. A la semana siguiente, Jeanine y su familia americana salieron de vacaciones por tres semanas a Wyoming.

Ahora era agosto, Jeanine estaba en Wyoming, y yo había empezado un nuevo trabajo en el hospital de San José. Trabajé duro porque era necesario mantener ese trabajo para inmigración. La inmigración requería que yo demostrara que Jeanine no fuera a ser una carga pública del gobierno.

En mi posición de "camillero" llevaba un "busca" (beeper) y cuando las enfermeras o los médicos me necesitaban me llamaban por medio del busca. Así es que si nadie me necesitaba, pasé mucho tiempo en el salón de los médicos. El salón de los médicos estaba bien amueblado con sofás y televisores, pero nunca vi a ningún médico allí que usaba el salón. El salón estaba siempre vacio, tranquilo y quieto y siempre se tocaba una música suave al fondo. Allí es donde pasé muchas horas escribiéndole cartas a Jeanine, y allí es donde le escribí mi carta de despedida, trece páginas escritas a máquina. La carta en sí describía mis sentimientos hacia Jeanine y nuestros planes para el futuro. Le entregué la carta el día de su salida para Nicaragua en el aeropuerto de San Francisco.

Los padres de Jeanine pensaban, como muchos otros, que nuestros planes eran pura fantasía, porque yo estaba aquí y ella estaba allá y un año es mucho tiempo. Los padres de Jeanine no querían pensar que iban a perder a su hija menor.

Un sueño realizado

Hice un viaje a Nicaragua en abril durante la semana santa con el propósito de pedirles la mano de Jeanine a sus padres. Cuando llegué a Managua, Nicaragua, dos guardias subieron al avión y me dirigieron a la aduana antes de que todos los demás en el avión desembarcaran. Esto fue porque, el padre de Jeanine trabajaba para Anastasio Somoza Debayle, el dictador (o como decían los Nicas el presidente) de Nicaragua. Después de aliviar el miedo que al principio sentía por el susto que me dieron los guardias por quitarme del avión, me sentía como una persona muy importante.

En 1972, Managua fue completamente asolada por un terremoto. 40.000 personas murieron, y la ciudad nunca fue reconstruida. Toda la familia de Jeanine vivía en un lugar que se llamaba "casa colorada" ubicada en las afueras de Managua. Esta casa era la casa de veraneo. La familia perdió tres casas en ese terremoto, y todos los hermanos, hermanas, esposos, esposas, hijos e hijas, nietos y nietas se fueron a vivir en esa casa.

Fue allí donde les pedí la mano de Jeanine a sus padres. Al principio, vacilaban en dar su respuesta. El padre de Jeanine dijo que debo terminar mis estudios. Yo le dije que eso no era la costumbre en Estados Unidos – una mentira piadosa. Al rato, se pusieron los dos de acuerdo y dijeron que sí. Después de dar su consentimiento para que nos casáramos, el padre de Jeanine se recostó en su mecedora y por mucho que quería disimularlo, se le salieron las lágrimas porque empezó a darse cuenta que se marchaba su hija menor. En ese momento me di cuenta que nosotros íbamos a realizar nuestro sueño. Hubo tantas dudas y tantos temores. Siempre recuerdo esa sonrisa, esa belleza, y esa personalidad inigualable; las cuales me hicieron enamorarme de Jeanine.

Puedo seguir, pero estas cartas describen detalladamente nuestra relación, los obstáculos que tuvimos que superar. Es nuestra historia – una historia de una vida nueva que emprendemos nosotros dos. Las cartas que siguen enseñan el amor entre Jeanine y yo y los planes que trazamos juntos.



Alicia continua siendo una buena amiga. Ella es casada con un hijo y tiene un taller de pintura en la plaza mayor de Segovia.

Melba, la cubana que me ayudó también sigue siendo una buena amiga de nosotros y vive cerca de nosotros.

Monday, July 20, 2009

30 years of suffering for the Nicaraguan people





 

Speech given by Daniel Ortega at 30th celebration of the Nicaraguan Revolution July 17, 2009.

Because the truth is that our sister republic of Bolivia and Venezuela have come to the aid of the people of Nicaragua – that is the truth. We would be without energy in the entire country. There wouldn't be light in Nicaragua nor would companies be able to function if it were not for the solidarity of Hugo Chavez and Fidel who were the ones responsible for the formation of the ALBA alliance (a leftist Latin American Alliance). And when the United States decided to cut the last funds of the millennium, President Hugo Chavez immediately said we are going to help Nicaragua, and so we counted on Venezuela to generously give to Nicaragua 50 million dollars to defend itself in these difficult times.

President Hugo Chavez just called, and he sent a message that we are going to read and publish. In the telephone message that he just made, he called to send us his greeting. He is very happy for our 30th anniversary. He is watching thousands of Nicaraguans through channel Telesur. He congratulates Daniel and all the people of Nicaragua. He is sorry he could not be present because of sudden health problems at the last minute. Soon we will be together Long live the people of Nicaragua. Long Live Sandino, signs Hugo Chavez and the president of the Republic of Bolivia 1:30 pm Nicaraguan time.

July 17, 2009 marks the 30th anniversary of the Sandinista Revolution so says Ortega. My wife (who is from Nicaragua) and I used to travel to Nicaragua frequently before the revolution to enjoy its people and its culture. We have been back to Nicaragua since on several occasions, but Nicaragua is not the country it used to be. The destruction of its economy and the country can be attributed to one person Daniel Ortega, and Daniel Ortega's rise to power can be attributed to one man Jimmy Carter.

Ortega speaks of the 30th year of the revolution, yet for most of those years, the left in Nicaragua wasn't even in power.

I have followed Nicaragua since the 70s, so in commemoration of its 30th anniversary, I thought I would post a few pieces I wrote about Nicaragua.

What the elections in El Salvador mean (including Nicaragua) click here

Fraud in Nicaragua – Continuing Jimmy Carter's legacy click here

Obama's new buddy – Daniel Ortega click here

One of the traditions in Nicaragua, and only in Nicaragua click here

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Images from a Dallas Texas Tea party



37,000+ tea party goers in the 95%+ sweltering heat with Michelle Malkin.






















Michelle Malkin speaking
 
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