Tuesday, January 27, 2009

He is the Man Who Makes My Cup of Tea Every Morning.

Note: The video may be a little shaky at times but I didn't have a tripod.

Saturday, we decided to drive to Danville, an hour away to see the celebration of U.S. Airways pilot Captain Chesley "Sulley" Sullenberg lll, the man responsible for ditching an Airbus 320 on the Hudson River and saving 155 passengers from the cold and frigid waters of New York – an amazing feat. After the plane landed, the pilot then walked the length of the plane twice to make sure there was no one left behind. We arrived in the city at around noon. Parking was difficult as throngs of people descended on the little town of Danville to welcome Sulley. As we arrived, we saw vans upon vans from different media organizations carrying huge satellite dishes erected atop each company's vehicle lining the streets that lead up to the Town Green. Thousands of people from all walks of life just kept arriving to welcome this unassuming hero.

The weather forecast called for rain all weekend, but the day turned out to be somewhat nice albeit a little cool. A small breeze blew among the crowds and a smattering of U.S. flags could be seen fluttering in the wind from different people with an occasional sign lifted high in the air with accolades of Sulley's heroism. At times, the skies became overcast, but the rain – try as it might – could not break through. From time to time, a little drizzle would dampen the ground, but in the end, the crowds remained relatively dry.

"He is the man who makes my cup of tea." Said Captain Sullenberg's wife as she introduced her husband. Captain Sullenberg rose, he spoke succinctly and to the point, "Thank you all. We were only doing our job."- true but as the mayor of Danville pointed out, "There are 155 people alive today at home with their families because of his heroic efforts."

Thousands of people cheered and chanted "Sulley, Sulley, Sulley". Fathers were lifting their sons and daughters on their shoulders so the children could get a glimpse of this man. Captain Sullenberg's feat will undoubtedly be written about in the pages of aviation history alongside Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart. Marching bands, color guards, bagpipes, and a former American Idol contestant singing the national anthem were all part of the celebration. Thousands of people cheered as Captain Sullenberg entered the stage. He was given a U.S. flag – Old Glory - that once flew over the Capitol of California and the keys to the city of Danville. Various dignitaries stood up to sing his praises. A pilot flew over the skies with his plane in deference to the man. Captain Sullenberg was deserving of the praises and accolades he received.

The chants of "Sulley! Sulley! Sulley!" could be heard among the crowd, and it was certainly a refreshing change from the chants that were echoed during the presidential inauguration in praise of the liberal's new god, "Obama! Obama! Obama!"

It was inspirational to watch this town honor this man.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was invited, but he was nowhere to be found. He was probably in Sacramento working on some global warming initiative to further screw California citizens.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Coronation of “The Anointed One”

I understand the historical nature of Barack Obama's inauguration. I understand the euphoria African-Americans must feel with a black man as president. I understand the wave of optimism sweeping the country because we have broken the racial divide. I can even understand some of the frenzy the media has showered over this man, but is it me or has this guy been elevated to the position of a god? Will he indeed calm the waters and part the red sea? I am beginning to wonder. Even the crowd during the inauguration shouted, "Obama, Obama, Obama!" President-elect Obama has even had a coin made in his honor before even becoming the president? What president has given several economic press conferences before becoming the president of the United States? A group of singers from Kenya were introduced in some of the festivities, and one of the singers said, "We in Kenya hope he is a good representative for our country." I couldn't help but think I thought he was representing the United States not Kenya. This inauguration is being transmitted to 240 countries, and it is estimated that it will be the most watched event ever on television. I understand why, but I am not interested in the pomp and circumstance of this man. I am interested in how Barack Obama can make this country a better country.

The slogan for the Obama campaign has been change we can believe in. Change in what? I have yet to hear what change he is talking about. Change can be deleterious to the country as well as beneficial. Is the change increasing taxes on the very people who create the jobs? Is the change instituting cap and trade schemes that will further crimp businesses? Is the change printing more money causing inflation or hyperinflation? Let's not forget that 58 million people did not vote for Obama. He won an electoral landslide, but not a popular vote landslide. These 58 million voters were not voting for John McCain so much as they were voting against Barack Obama. Barack Obama comes from the Chicago corrupt political machine with a line of nefarious relationships. Will all this come back to haunt him?

In President Reagan's inaugural address, he stated, "Government is not the solution to the problem, Government is the problem." In fact, if you read, President Reagan's inaugural address. It is a propos for what is happening in today's economic environment. But, Barack Obama believes that government is the solution, not the problem, a 360º turn from what this country was founded on and what Reagan stood for – individual responsibility.

Barack Obama's eloquence in his oratory skills is self-evident, but his rhetoric disguises an agenda that may cripple this economy even further. In order for Barack Obama to be successful, he will have to renege on just about every policy he put forward during his campaign. In Obama's inaugural speech, he said, "The market can't march along if it favors only the prosperous." What does that mean? It is code for the redistribution of wealth. This is the basic tenet of Obama's philosophy when time after time this philosophy has been proven to be toxic to the economy. Obama wants to increase taxes on the very people who create jobs. He wants to raise the capital gains rate and dividend rate. And, then he wants to send checks to people who do not pay taxes. This has proved counter to a growing economy.

President John F Kennedy believed that lower taxes were the answer to growing the economy. Kennedy in reference to his tax reduction bill stated,

There is no doubt in my mind in my mind that this tax reduction bill, in and of itself, can bring about an increase in the gross national product of approximately $50 billion in the next few years. If it does, these lower rates of taxation will bring in at least $12 billion in additional revenue.

Unfortunately, President Kennedy did not see the passage of his bill; he was assassinated before it passed. The Kennedy tax cuts caused the economy to grow rapidly in 1964, 1965 and 1966.

Four presidents succeeded Kennedy and all four, LBJ, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter enacted policies that were very destructive to the economy. LBJ began his great society to end poverty in America. This was the beginning of the social welfare state, an abysmal failure, which did not end until Bill Clinton. He then signed an income tax surcharge to help finance the Vietnam War and then instituted the infamous Alternative Minimum Tax, (ATM). Nixon enacted the Clean Air and Clean Water statutes which imposed costs far exceeding their benefits. He began the modern era of regulation giving super powers to the Environmental Protection Agency and which ended up crippling many blue-collar industries over the next decade. In 1971, Nixon took the dollar off the gold standard which maintained confidence in the US dollar. This was a major reason for the oil embargo and the surge in oil prices. It was also the beginning of a sustained hyperinflation until the Reagan administration. In 1971 Gold was 35 dollars an ounce. By 1980, gold was selling at 850 dollars an ounce. Nixon then instituted his wage and price controls which proved disastrous in a free market. Ford enacted a wind falls profit tax, a campaign promise that Barack Obama touts today. This was Ford's attempt to deal with rising oil prices – sound familiar? In addition he signed an energy bill with price controls and fuel efficiency standards for cars. These policies also proved to be ineffective. Then comes Carter. Carter opposed California's proposition 13 saying it would increase the unemployment rate – it did just the opposite. Carter believed in price controls and high taxes. Carter had no idea how to fight the raging inflation. In fact, he capitulated when he finally stated, "It is a myth that government can stop inflation." From the mid 1960s to 1982 (when Reagan's tax cuts began to take effect), the stock market and the economy were on a downward trajectory.

What is interesting to note is in every case when tax rates were cut, the stock market soared, and when tax rates were increased, the stock market has dropped. The stock market is reflective of the health of the economy. Ronald Reagan's tax cuts reversed the trend of the four previous presidents and caused a 25 year economic boom. When earnings grow, the stock market increases. We will always have recessions in good times and bad, but the trick is for the government not to overreact in economic downturns like it is doing today. Economic policy plays a major role in the health of the country. Interest rates on short term treasuries are currently -0- and the government keeps printing money to bail out every Tom Dick and Henry. This will only result in hyperinflation possibly similar to that of the 70s or worse. The stock market is down 272 points today sitting at 8004, 40% below its all time high. There is 7.2 trillion dollars in cash sitting on the side lines, but no one wants to put their money back to work with so much uncertainty in an Obama administration. I have been a net seller of stocks because I fear we are headed for rough waters. If Obama came out and said he was not going to raise capital gains tax, or raise the tax on anyone else or if he said he was going to cut the corporate tax and create incentives for business, you would see an economic revival. This has always proven to be the case. Even, President Coolidge understood this when he cut taxes, and which helped contribute to the roaring 20s which we have all heard of. But Barack Obama thinks more like Jimmy Carter or Franklin Delano Roosevelt, two failed presidents than Ronald Reagan or even John F. Kennedy.

Ronald Reagan said in his inaugural speech

The business of our nation goes forward. These United States are confronted with an economic affliction of great proportions. We suffer from the longest and one of the worst sustained inflations in our national history. It distorts our economic decisions.

The economic problems of the day distort the economic decisions of our day. My fear is Barack Obama is going to enact policies that will not work in the mistaken belief he is helping the economy. This was the case with both Hoover and Roosevelt during the great depression. An economic downturn that should have lasted a few years turned into the Great Depression by bad economic policy. By 1932, New Zealand, Japan, Greece, Romania, Chile, Denmark, Finland and Sweden began seeing industrial production levels rise again – but not the United States. Bad economic policy created the Great Depression that lasted until World War 2. In 1937 there was a depression within a depression. Will Barack Obama enact policies that will worsen the economy? The one caveat with the Roosevelt presidency is he understood the danger of Nazism. I am doubtful whether Barack Obama understands the danger of radical Islam. Obama has made the comment that he may not be able to enact all of his policies due to our economic crisis. Well if he can't enact them when the economic crisis is bad, why should they be enacted at all?

Barack Obama also stated in his speech, "We will warm back the specter of a warming planet" which of course is code for cap and trade schemes that do not work. France has tried it, and their CO2 emissions have actually increased. According to Rasmussen 59% of people do not believe global warming is caused by human activity. It seems Al Gore is losing his battle. Of course this won't phase the new Obama administration. His administration will enact cap and trade policies that will not work and further crimp economic activity, and make us less competitive on a global scale.

The idea of green jobs is also a myth. Obama wants to spend oodles of money to create jobs and his so-called green jobs. Hoover and Roosevelt tried public works throughout the Depression, and it did not revive the economy. The government does not create jobs. The private sector creates jobs. If you decrease taxes that incentivizes businesses to expand, it will cause entrepreneurs to take risks, and it will increase the flow of venture capital.

There is not one line that will be memorable in Obama's speech. Reagan said, "Government is not the solution to the problem, Government is the problem." Roosevelt said, "The only think we have to fear is fear itself." And Kennedy, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country." But in Obama's speech, there was nothing.

Our enemies must be salivating at the mouth with a Barack Obama presidency.

I hope I am wrong but the policies of Barack Obama seem to be headed in the wrong direction.

Sources: The End of Prosperity by Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter J. Tanous

: The Forgotten Man by Amity Shales


Monday, January 19, 2009

It's about time

This should have been done a long time ago, but it's better late than never.

WASHINGTON (AP) - In his final acts of clemency, President George W. Bush on Monday commuted the prison sentences of two former U.S. Border Patrol agents whose convictions for shooting a Mexican drug dealer ignited fierce debate about illegal immigration.
Bush's decision to commute the sentences of Ignacio Ramos and Jose Compean, who tried to cover up the shooting, was welcomed by both Republican and Democratic members of Congress. They had long argued that the agents were merely doing their jobs, defending the American border against criminals. They also maintained that the more than 10-year prison sentences the pair was given were too harsh.

rest of the story.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Police Shooting in Oakland

The killing of a young 22 year old African-American male in the Oakland Bart Station on Jan 1st was a tragedy of unprecedented proportion. When you look at the video of the shooting, you cannot but put your hands up in dismay and think that this was a premeditated murder where outrage was justified. According to the examiner, the police tried to confiscate video phones. Nice try – Doesn't just about everyone have a video phone these days?

There were over 100 arrests as riots broke out and vandalism spread throughout the city. Windows were smashed causing thousands of dollars in damage to shopkeepers. The next day, many shopkeepers boarded up their windows for fear of more vandalism.

An officer identified as Johannes Mehserle shot the 22-year-old on a BART station platform after responding to reports of men fighting on a train. Officers had pulled Grant and a few other men out of the train. The victim was lying face down on the platform when he was shot.

The shooting and events leading up to it were captured on amateur videos that have been broadcast on television.

Several days later transit officer Johannes Mehserle was arrested and charged with murder. Did the police arrest Johannes because of the video and public outcry? - Apparently so. But is there more to this story? Again - apparently so.

I never once thought that this was a case of police brutality on some defenseless African-American as much of the media and activist groups purport, nor did I think that the police officer was somehow callous in his disregard for human life. The first impression of the video is why did the police officer take the gun out of his holster in the first place? It is my contention that the police officer was a rookie with only two years on the force and his gun went off accidentally. Of course, this is speculation. I have a hard time believing that a cop would just pull out his gun and shoot an unarmed man.

However what is really disturbing is how activist groups exploit this tragedy. Instead of waiting for the wheels of justice to determine this officer's guilt or innocence, groups like www.ruckus.org and the Coalition Against Police Executions, (CAPE) brought in people from outside Oakland. On Ruckus' website, they claimed their purpose was to stop police executions, but the "police execution" logo was removed from their website. The people from these groups may have been responsible for much of the vandalism that occurred in the city. This shooting was an excuse to vandalize property. Peaceful protests are fine, but when it results in vandalism and riots, that is the definition of anarchy.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

24 – Jack Bauer is Back


Okay, I have to admit 24 is the best show on television. Well, there might be one other but it's in a different genre. It's Cuéntame Como Pasó produced by (Televisión Internacional Española) – Okay, so no one has ever heard of that show.

I digress

Jack Bauer is the quintessential person I want to see handling the war on terror or 100 people like him. Don't you love it when he tells the Senate off, "Please do not sit there with that smug look on your face and expect me to regret the decisions that I have made, because, sir, the truth is, I don't." There was just something about that statement. If we had Senate hearings like that, everyone would be glued to CSPAN. If terrorists thought that there were actual Jack Bauers in the world, I wonder how that would affect the war on terror.

As I was watching, the first episode, who do I see as an FBI agent, the far-left so-called comedian loon Janeane Garofalo. I thought that was bizarre. Janeane was asked why she was on the show. Janeane replied, "I got a call from (24 co-creator Joel Surnow). I was initially very reticent to do it, because I heard about the right-wing nature of Joel's politics and the torture-heavy scripts. And then I thought, 'I'm unemployed!' " Now, I am not a fan of Janeane's but that was one funny answer. I guess reality sets in no matter what political persuasion you are. And, to tell the truth, she is not a bad actress.

The first night, I was wondering where Chloe was but then the second night she appeared with the remnants of CTU. It looks like Janis Gold, (Janeane Garofolo) and Chloe will be battling wits in this age of computer technology.

So, 24 has begun with a bang, and if the show is good as it was the first two nights, then 24 will have a great run.



Monday, January 12, 2009

California – Paradise Lost

Santa Cruz is only about an hour's drive from where I live. I love to eat on the wharf with an ocean side view by the boardwalk. It is one of those many pristine places that beckons visitors who come from miles around to see what California has
to offer. I have posted several pictures. The first one is of the restaurant where

we ate, and the second one is of my daughter standing on the wharf. The others are various pictures taken from the wharf near the Santa Cruz beach boardwalk.

California is a beautiful place to visit, and for years it has been the "in" place to be. Of course, with the incompetence of the current governor and legislature, one has to think twice before settling in California. California is drowning in an ocean of debt. The current governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is a pompous, arrogant,
incompetent ass. Arnold's anti-business policies have caused an exodus of companies and the well-to-do in search of greener pastures. Millionaires in California dropped from 44,000 in 2000 to 29,000 in 2002. It's not because they are poorer – it's because they are leaving in droves. In addition, 1.5 million people have left California more than entered in the past decade. Liberals have said less people in California is a good thing, but then who provides the jobs and pays the bulk of the taxes. It's not the immigration from Mexico. In fact, it is this exodus that hurts the poor even more. I wonder how much tax California will collect once every productive citizen is gone.

If you look at the migration pattern from moving van companies, many more people leave California than enter. In fact, it is much more expensive to hire a moving van company to move out of the state than into the state. This is because of more people leaving than entering the state.

California has one half trillion dollars of outstanding bonds (voters keep voting in bonds even though the state is 40 billion dollars in debt, most recently a fast speed train to go from San Francisco to Los Angeles). California has the third highest income tax rate in the nation, 10.3% for its highest earners. The richest ten percent pay 75% of the income tax burden.

Recently on 60 minutes, Arnold blamed the recent California forest fires on man-made global warming. His ignorance on the subject is astounding. The massive fires in California were caused by environmentalists such as the Sierra Club preventing the cleaning of the forest floors and controlled burning. How can you fix something if you cannot even identify the problem? Schwarzenegger has begun a one man crusade against man-made global warming, a pseudo-science perpetuated by those with an agenda and the ill-informed. The terminator has in effect set up California as his own kingdom. He doesn't believe his anti-business actions will have any detrimental consequences to the state. Of course, the data shows that the converse is true. In 2007, California passed legislation to restrict carbon emissions on power plants, cement producers and oil refineries. Even if man-made global warming were true, you do not have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that California's legislation would have little impact on the world's greenhouse gases, and you don't need to be a hollywood actor to figure out how destructive it would be to business. Arnold campaigned on being pro-business, but he has been just the reverse.

Arnold campaigned to increase the minimum wage in California. California's minimum wage is already one of the highest in the nation. This further crimps business, and causes even more companies to shut down or leave.

One of Bill Clinton's successes was putting people on welfare back to work, but not California. California requires a five year time limit on welfare benefits. The cost to the state is 1 to 2 billion dollars per year. Because of this, California was one of the least successful states in reducing welfare in the late 1990s. Moreover, people have been drawn to the state for its welfare benefits.

Ten years ago the budget increased from 65 billion dollars to 130 billion dollars during the terminator's tenure and with less revenue. How is that for insanity? Of course, the time bomb is CALPERS, (The California Education Retirement System) with 26 billion dollars of unfunded liabilities, the teachers retirement system 20 billion dollars in the red, and health benefits another 48 billion dollars.

We are lucky that the terminator failed in his attempt to nationalize California's health care system. The cost of this program would have been 14 billion dollars a year. Employers that didn't provide health care to their employees would have been assessed a payroll tax – so take that businesses. Ronald Reagan once said when running against Jimmy Carter, "It is a recession when your neighbor is out of work, it is a depression when you are out of work and it is a recovery when Jimmy Carter is out of work." Will we have a recovery when the terminator is out of work? Can't he find employment in Austria? I can't wait to hear the words, I won't be back.

The electorate needs to revolt like it did with proposition 13 in 1978. California could become the place it once was, but the state has become so entrenched with inept politicians, one has to wonder when it will happen. This state is run by morons.

Source: "The End of Prosperity" by Arthur B. Laffer, Stephen Moore and Peter J. Zanous

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Learning Spanish with real life experiences

Learning a foreign language can be a daunting challenge, but it is also a rewarding experience. Certain words become seared into your mind because of some incidents that happen along the way. And, so it was with me….

I was in Segovia Spain during one of those wet and rainy nights common in Segovia the Summer of 73. I was accompanied by two Segovian ladies, one on each side. I carried the umbrella – the gentleman I was. Life couldn't have been more perfect.

As we trekked a little further towards the plaza de Azoquejo on La Calle Boceguillas (the name was later changed to La Calle Vía Roma to mark the bimillenium of the Roman aqueduct), One of the girls shouted in typical Castellian, "¡Marcos, ¡cuidado un charco! Or for the less erudite, "Mark watch out a mud puddle!" Well, at the time, I did not know the word for mud puddle in Spanish, so I turned and responded, "¿un qué?" The rain continued to spatter against the ground muffling most of our conversation, but I didn't have time to hear the response anyway. With my next step, I caught my foot against a pebble, and I began to fall in slow motion or so it seemed into a small patch of water, or a gargantuan lake as my mind would perceive. The water splashed against my clothes seeping into every little tear and crevice it could find making the umbrella just another vain attempt at keeping myself dry. Needless to say, I was one sopping mess. Out of the corner of my ear, I finally heard the response to my question as I looked up in embarrassment, "¡un charco!"

I learned the word, "charco" or "mud puddle" that day always grateful for that one indelible moment, and a rainy night in Segovia.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Al Franken steals the election.

Who says we aren't like Nicaragua? or any other third world country for that matter?

Minnesota Board Calls Senate Race for Franken - yeah right

Michelle Malkin also has the scoop.

The Wall Street Journal in a piece entitled Funny Business in Minnesota states the following:

Minnesotans like to think that their state isn't like New Jersey or Louisiana, and typically it isn't. But we can't recall a similar recount involving optical scanning machines that has changed so many votes, and in which nearly every crucial decision worked to the advantage of the same candidate. The Coleman campaign clearly misjudged the politics here, and the apparent willingness of a partisan like Mr. Ritchie to help his preferred candidate, Mr. Franken. If the Canvassing Board certifies Mr. Franken as the winner based on the current count, it will be anointing a tainted and undeserving Senator

Liberals are for fair and free elections if it is their guy otherwise cheat, cheat cheat.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Another year gone

Well, I decided to join in the fun and festivities and go to a New Year's Eve party with my brother.  His wife is from Mexico, so we went to the New Year's bash from her side of the family.  Her relatives and siblings total a small city.  The music was loud, and the food plenty. The music was so loud; you could not hear yourself think. "How are you doing?" one would ask in Spanish, "The weather is fine." Went the response, and the party would continue each pretending they understood what the other had said. Banda was the music of choice. I don't mind loud music but I hate banda. Give me some Rumba Flamenca from Spain, or Cumbia from Colombia or salsa from the Carribean, but banda has got to go. However, I did enjoy the company.

We had eaten at a restaurant beforehand since we already had reservations, and had made plans.  But that did not seem to matter.  When we said we had already eaten, the hosts ignored you, and they proceeded to tell you the menu anyway.  When you repeated the line that you had already eaten, they served you anyway.  So after awhile, you just gave up and let them serve you, but the food remained on the table untouched – we were full from the restaurant. It was just easier that way.

I looked at the clock ten minutes to midnight, the clock kept ticking.  It would soon be midnight. Party-goers would soon be lining up to wish you a Happy New Year. The clock struck midnight, and the revelry began. Gunfire shots could actually be heard in the background. This is not the good part of Oakland. In fact, it's that part of Oakland where you breath a sigh of relief knowing your car is lojacked. One by one, people who I really didn't know approached and hugged, kissed and shook my hand.  Mexicans do not have little parties - they have big parties.  Santiago, my brother's brother-in-law must have hugged me for five minute followed by a teenage boy whose name I do not recall who came over to hug me shaking me like one of his comrades. This went on for twenty minutes. It was exhausting to say the least.

And so ends another year. I hope the stock market does better this coming year and we see a better economy. We can only hope.

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