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We’re sick of the secrecy, Barry

February 26, 2010 6 comments

Check out this exchange between Senator John McCain and President Barak Obama, aka Barry Soetoro. (If you don’t know about Obama’s former name, please google it and learn a few things.)

ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/HealthCare/john-mccain-health-care-summit-obama-democrats-start/story?id=9952202&page=2) says there was a tense exchange between McCain and Obama when the longtime senator criticized Obama’s healthcare bill and his promise to televise healthcare discussions on C-SPAN, one which he did not keep.

“Let me just make this point, John, because we’re not campaigning anymore. The election’s over,” the president countered.

McCain today said he brought up the subject because of the closed-door meetings.
“The reason why I brought it up yesterday was not because of the campaign, but because the American people don’t like these unsavory deals,” he said.

What does Obama mean, “we’re not campaigning anymore”? As in, he can make any promises he wants to on the campaign trail, but once the “election is over”, he doesn’t have to follow through? I know we think this is “normal” for politicians, but would Obama really do this? I just want to point out yet another swig of kool-aid that many Americans were all too happy to drink in the name of Hope & Change, that has turned out to be a lie.

I’m not in love with McCain and his voting record, but he is spot on this time: “the American people don’t like these unsavory deals.” We are sick of the secret deals benefitting Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, ACORN, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, and everyone else playing politics on Obama’s team secretly hidden in the healthcare and bail-out bills. The American people have said they don’t want the current Senate healthcare bill, yet Obama is moving ahead with it and all the hidden benefits and political favors because he doesn’t have the votes to get it through the Senate again. If this passes, it will be a multi-Trillion dollar mistake we will be paying for many years to come. One small. enormous example: It has 6 years of benefits, but will take 10 years of increased taxes to pay off. Sound like good business sense to you? That’s Bernie Madoff accounting! What happens 6 years from now…and it’s time to pay for the next round of benefits? We won’t have any money because we’ll still be paying off the first set — for 4 more years!

Obama has filed over 90 lawsuits keeping personal information about his past hidden from the public. Why? When you and I go for a job, we expect people to check on our references and educational claims. There are more background checks going on for College Football coaches who have their resumes scrutinized than the President of the USA. When coaches’ claims are false, the institutions have no problem dismissing the coach straightaway. Yet we cannot even see Obama’s records from Columbia University. They are sealed by yet another lawsuit.

Investigative reporters have been trying to uncover anything about Obama’s time at Columbia. Many claim that he never attended the University. I don’t know either way – but my point is this: Why the secrecy? Obama has told people that he will be the most open President in US history, and yet he spent over $1million to hide his hospital birth records. Was this done to give his team more time to concoct their story and produce a forgery? Or was he really born a US citizen? I have no clue, but – if there is nothing to hide – why the millions to hide the record? If he attended Columbia, why hide the university records behind another court order?

We know less about this man than any President in US history. Most of what we know has been written by Obama himself, which should be a clue about something. The problems happen when his stories about himself are refuted. Like the one that Michelle Obama refuted. About his birth story.

Mrs. Obama has said that Obama’s mother was “very young and very single” when she had Barak, who she named “Barry.” http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=114259 which doesn’t jive with what Barry claims.

(Does this mean that I can call him a bastard if I want to? If Michelle is right, technically, it would be accurate.)

But back to the point: We the People are sick of the secrecy. Open the healthcare discussions to real debate. Give the legislators time to read and understand the ramifications of $1.5 Trillion worth of legislation. And then open your records Barry. Let us know who we have as President of the United States of America.

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Bailout Money and Spanakopita

February 24, 2010 10 comments

There’s a new term in America’s lexicon: “bailout money”. A friend said to me last weekend, “Let’s not go to that restaurant, that place takes ‘bailout money’.” As in expensive. Very. One of my favorite dishes, spanakopita, usually isn’t very expensive. It usually doesn’t take “bailout money” to buy spanakopita. Usually.

Speaking of the $787bln bailout, what happened to (y)our bailout money? There is evidence now that some of the companies that received our bailout money – Goldman Sachs, French company Societe Generale, etc. – were associated with the mortgage bankers that offered the high risk loans in the first place. Mortgage companies associated with these investment banks were offering loans to people without even verifying employment and income claims. In other words, they knew these loans were very high risk. And when they tanked, they received our money to get bailed out of the very problem they created.

Here’s how it worked. In a bit of financial hocus-pocus, Goldman Sachs, SocGen, etc. rolled up these high risk loans into something that people could invest in called CDOs. They were basically bonds, which have a guaranteed return. The return to the investors was supposed to be provided by the interest payments that people make on their mortgages. And it would have worked if people kept paying their mortgages on time. Before it blew up, however, there was a bit more hocus pocus: Goldman Sachs, et al. knew these CDO investments were super high risk. So they bought insurance policies. AIG decided to insure the debt of these high risk home loans with something called credit default swaps. Bad move. Once the people – the same people that never should have been offered these home mortgages in the first place – started defaulting on their payments, Goldman’s and SocGen’s CDOs were not making their expected returns. So, they called their insurance company AIG for a payout. There were so many bad CDO bonds (based on high risk loans) made by these and other banks, and insured by AIG, that when it came time to pay the claims, AIG went bankrupt…..well almost. Instead, the US of A decided to step in and bail them out. Just to make sure this is clear: Goldman Sachs and friends – unethically, or at the very least with conflicting interests – made the bad loans to begin with, which created the problem. Next, they purchased insurance without disclosing the true nature of the assets they were insuring. Then they were bailed out of their poor business decisions with our money.

What did AIG do with the money? First, they were forced to pay out their insurance claims *at full value* to Goldman Sachs, Societe Generale, etc. although everyone already knew by this point that the mortgages they had insured were worthless. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York ordered http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601087&sid=ax3yON_uNe7I AIG to pay them back at full value even though AIG was in the process of negotiating the payout at a large discount. The Federal Reserve of NY then hid this fact for more than a year from Congress and other oversight committees even though AIG wanted to publish the information. Conflicting interests, anyone? A year later, Goldman Sachs is paying out $23 billion in bonuses to it’s employees. Yes, that’s with a “b” for billion. That’s enough money to send 460,000 people to Harvard or buy health insurance for 1.7 million families. I wonder what the NY Fed Chair is getting. Oh, and in case you aren’t following, that’s your money they are paying out as bonuses to their employees.
http://rawstory.com/2009/2009/10/goldman-sachs-2009-bonuses-to-double-2008s-23-billion-could-buy-115-million-iphones-or-send-460000-to-harvard/

AIG received more than $182bln of our money. And this is only one example. The list goes on. A lot has been – and will be – said about the lying, cheating and cover-up in this bail-out scandal. I don’t have the space or inclination to delve further right now. Maybe later. I hope people like Darrell Issa www.darrellissa.com get to the bottom of this.

But my question is: why the slimy and secret cover-up from the Administration? Why cover up what happened to our $787bln if there’s nothing to hide Mr. Treasury Secretary Geithner? What happened to the transparency that was promised on the campaign trail? Where are the healthcare debates on C-Span that were promised on the stump? Where are all my friends that drank the kook-aid and insisted Obama would be different? Instead, we have his particular brand of Chicago politics at the national level. As US News & World Report claims, the stimulus program and healthcare are loaded with hidden political pork: Pelosi and Co. receiving $54M in earmarks to relocate a wine train in California; Reid and Co. arranging an earmark for a Los Angeles-to-Vegas high-speed train. The healthcare bill, specifically, was another fiasco of political corruption, with millions of dollars allocated to buy votes, such as those of Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu and Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson. Anger with that process and the bill it produced helped fuel the stunning election of Republican Scott Brown in Massachusetts. http://www.usnews.com/articles/opinion/mzuckerman/2010/01/21/mort-zuckerman-the-incredible-deflation-of-barack-obama.html?PageNr=1

Is this the Hope and Change we were promised?

But back to AIG and the spanakopita. Due to the bailout, the USA (that’s you and me) owns 80% of AIG. Now it’s coming out that – according to a German newspaper – AIG sold the same kind of credit default swap insurance policies on Greece’s national debt. http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2010/02/german-paper-says-aig-may-have-sold-cds-on-greece.html Greece is currently floundering in debt and is in danger of going bankrupt. The EU has already imposed austerity measures on Greece to ensure that they are able to pay back their mounting debts and keep their status in the European Union. Suddenly it appears that it is in the USA’s – I mean AIG’s – I mean the USA’s interest to keep Greece from defaulting. How? Well, remember that European vacation/home in Greece you have fantasized about? Well, it may very well be that the USA will be purchasing a whole bunch of mortgages & homes in Greece — with your money — but there’s a catch: the Greeks get to keep living in them, not you.

Speaking of Greece, Aristotle made a point in 350BC that still rings true today. Legislators and politicians that get paid a lot of money and can stay in office for a long time are a danger to the Society. Not only do they receive the honor of the State, they will soon start taking the people’s money. And this makes the people doubly angry. Not only do the politicians have the honor, but they make themselves rich off the work of the people. Aristotle also saw how it gets resolved: The people will not stand for this for very long before they revolt and change the government. It was true back in 350BC and it’s true today. We the People will not stand for this type of slimy highway robbery bailout, secretive behind-closed-doors healthcare legislation process, and cover-up much longer. This should not be taken lightly, but it might just be the hope and change we are looking for in America.

Glass Botto(n) Boats

February 17, 2010 5 comments

I spent 2 years in Mexico from Dec 1990 thru Oct 1992. I loved it. If you had asked me back then, I would have guessed that I would have been back many times since. Odd thing is I never went back. Until now. Twenty years later (actually 17 1/2) I went back to Mexico for the first time. And guess what? I still love Mexico. Why? The regular-Jose’s (Joe), the regular-Juan’s (John) and regular-Maria’s (Mary) in Mexico are some of the nicest people I have ever met.

Oh sure the Canadians are nice, as Rick Reilly points out here (http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/columns/story?columnist=reilly_rick&id=4906756). I have been to Vancouver and the surrounding areas (Abbotsford, Victoria, Surrey) many times – even Kelowna. I lived in Montreal for four months, and have visited Toronto, Mississauga, Windsor, etc. Sure the people of Canada are nice. But they aren’t Mexican nice.

I lived in Brussels for a few months too – and I’ve visited (multiple times) many European countries. Spain is wonderful. Friendly too. There was a different level of friendliness on the subways in Spain than I experienced in, say, Austria, or Germany, or Switzerland. Even French people are surprisingly nice if you try to speak a little French…don’t boisterously walk around like you own the place…and show a little respect for their wonderful country. The same could be said for Great Britain, the Czech Republic, BeNeLux, etc. But there’s something a little more open and warm about Mexicans: Kindness.

I went to a store in Mexico named “Soriana” (think of an enormous Fred Meyer or Dominicks or Wallmart.) After I purchased my  mangos, an older man approached me. He started asking me how to say certain things in English. Things like “I am a carpenter” and “I will fix your doors, your windows, tables”, etc. Where he lives, near Los Cabos, work has dried up, and lots of English-speaking people have built homes. He hopes to go door to door letting them know that he can do repairs or build them whatever they may need. He was having particular trouble with the word “fix.” The -cks sound at the end wouldn’t come off for him. But he kept at it. I wrote down some phrases for him on a piece of cardboard he was carrying. After we finished, and he had shaken my hand umpteen times, and invoked blessings from Heaven upon me, I tried to give him his pen back. He wouldn’t take it. He wanted me to have it. He said that I had given him help, and he wanted to give me his pen in return. Not in so many words, but the meaning was understood. A small gesture, to be sure, but one not lost on me.

Another time we took a taxi way out from the city. Past the pavement. Not only did the taxi driver come back for us on time; on our way back downtown, we realized we were out of baby wipes for our 10-month old. He took us way out of our way to get some more. He parked and went into the store and did some minor shopping while we did ours. Then he took us up and down a few streets to show us some interesting sites. And in the end he charged us the same fare as the first trip out of town. His reason? He said he wanted us to feel welcome in Mexico.

There was someone else in our group that needed to drive to a gated resort for a party, but didn’t have directions. She stopped and asked a Mexican guy on the street. He and his friends started talking – but realized there was no good way to tell her without getting her lost. So – he jumped in his own car and said, “follow me.” He drove her to the front gates. No pay.

I know Mexican people don’t have a corner on the kindness market. But how many of you can imagine these types of experiences in Germany, England, or France? It might happen. But it happened so often in Mexico that it appeared to be the rule rather than the exception.

I know we have major problems with Mexicans and the US Border. It drives me crazy and needs to be fixed. I also know there are little things that make us laugh a bit at Mexico. The many peso devaulations over the years. The crazy border crossing stories. The dusty roads and corrupt government officials. One snorkeling boat we were on was misspelled with “Glass Botton Boat” painted on the side. We saw “looby” for “lobby”, any many other funny signs.

These kinds of things make us laugh, and maybe cause us to look down on them a bit. It might even make us feel superior at times. But that would be a big miscalculation.

The people I lived among 20 years ago and for the last 2 weeks have one thing in common: they are helpful, cheerful and kind beyond measure — even in less than brilliant circumstances. I think having this kind of attitude toward our fellow human beings is one big lesson we can learn from them. Hopefully the lesson will not be lost on me.

Categories: Travel Tags: ,

New Border Concerns with Mexico

February 2, 2010 Leave a comment

A friend sent me this link today. It talks about how criminal organizations are helping terrorists reach their goals…for profit.  http://www.pacificfreepress.com/news/1/3445-the-d-companys-role-in-the-mumbai-attacks.html This one talks about how one organized crime group named the “D Company” helped organize the terrorist slayings in Mumbai, India, in order to make some much needed cash. His point is that soon this same thing may be happening in the US as crime groups branch out the services they offer — for money, of course.

His International Criminal Organizations professor said that US Federal law enforcement officials are worried about these types of groups in Mexico helping Al-Qaeda and Islamic terrorist groups plan and execute terrorist activities in the USA. The “simple fix”? Close the borders with Mexico.

I agree with the sentiment “close the borders with mexico”, but I admit to having mixed feelings about it. From a US perspective, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to protect that border now more than ever. We have laws, and they need to be enforced. I don’t know how “simple” it would be (as claimed), but it is a simple thing to say.

On the other hand, from a more compassionate point of view, or perhaps empathetic point of view, I can’t blame the guys for trying to get across the border to find a better way of life. Sure I wish they would do it legally, absolutely. And I am not against prosecuting repeat offenders or human traffickers. But I lived in Mexico for 2 years, and I met many people down there that can’t feed their families on mexican wages.  Often when they do have jobs they get treated like animals. One guy I met, named Juan, worked at a natural gas container facility 12 hours a day, 6 days a week. He got paid about the same in a month as I was making in a few days when I got home and started a part time job at a dental laboratory making dental devices. I wish I remember the exact wages he earned – but I can’t. Maybe I wanted to forget.

One of his compadres had two fingers cut off during the machining process one day. He wrapped the hand in a towel and kept on working. If he went and complained or spoke to the foreman, they would just kick him out and he’d lose his job…so he kept on plugging away. By the way Juan was a middle-aged man with a wife and three children, and he couldn’t read. He was forced to work at a young age in order to help support the family he grew up in. The Mexican government is raping the land of its natural resources and pocketing the profits, with the big telecom, gas, and other industries “nationalized” by the Gov’t. I have a friend, Carlos, that did an internship with Vicente Fox’s government in Mexico City a few years back. It’s such a pork party down there — just get in with the right guys and you are taken care of. But if you are not in…you’re out. I met people that have been paying taxes for YEARS and yet they have no running water, no sewage lines, no paved roads…and let’s not even talk about the rigged elections. Or the cops that get paid so little they take bribes in order to survive. I ask you: if you lived in a country like this, what would you do?

My point is this: Yes, I believe we need to fix the border problem. For sure. But if I were a Mexican citizen, trying to fight City Hall, and they kept laughing in my face, would I rebel? Start an insurrection? The government swiftly puts down even hints of talk of unrest with their active military, so you’d better be as well armed as the drug cartels if you are going to survive that. It’s not like the American Colonials that had their Mother Country thousands of miles away and the seeds of liberty were sown for decades before England noticed and permanent troops arrived. Mexico has M-16 toting soldiers all over its state capitals — at least four that I have been in — in the North. So what would I do? I would try to get across the border in order to support my family — no doubt about it. And, if I would do that in order to taste a little bit of freedom and justice, have a decent job where I could provide for my wife and children, I can’t really blame them for trying to do the same no matter what the cost…because I know I would do it too.

The solution is for Mexico’s government to change. They need to adopt and live more principles of freedom and liberty for their nation and people. Trust me, if the Mexicans that are pouring over our border knew that they could live and thrive in Mexico — even slightly better than current standards — they would choose to live in Mexico hands down. Since returning from Mexico I have made it a point of talking to Mexicans (and Central Americans from Nicaragua and El Salvador) as much as I can all over the western United States — California, Oregon, Washington, Utah — and they all have one story in common: They are just here to make some money and help provide for their families, and “one day” they are going to return to the “happy life” in Mexico. The “happy life” they are all hoping to return to is not the scenario I just painted of corrupt government, horrible jobs, and poor education. That is why they are here. The thing that they want to return for is the culture of community, of brotherhood that they don’t find here (obviously, as they are foreigners), but also one of non-Consumerism, slower paced, and sunny.

I wish there was something we could do in order to change their laws and government…cuz if you ever wanted to see a mass stampede heading South of the Border…that’s all it would take. Gee, I wonder if our CIA is busy tomorrow night…it’s not like they haven’t toppled regimes that are detrimental to the health of the US in the past…. Or, a simpler suggestion: Close the border. Let anyone into the USA that can pass an electronic thumbprint/electronic ID. If you have a felony or bad record, you don’t come in. If you don’t have a record, we get your thumbprint, issue an ID, and you can enter if legal.

The Great Global Warming….Religion?

February 2, 2010 3 comments

My first foray into speaking out against the global warming hoax was when I made CDs of a youtube video – the Great Global Warming Swindle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TqqWJugXzs) – back in 2006 and distributed them at my place of work in Portland, Oregon. It was a big hit. I did it anonymously on a bulletin board (the old school kind with cork and pins) and had fun listening to people talk about it in Cubicle-landia. A couple of people thought it was crap, but most of them – being software developers, engineers, and project managers accustomed to using logic and reason – seemed to enjoy the fact that they were beginning to understand the science involved, or lack thereof. Al Gore’s claims just didn’t add up, now matter how many inconvenient truths he claimed to have found.

I personally think that his biggest “inconvenient truth” was that the real-world data didn’t support his claims of impending doom, and he chose to ironically name his book on purpose. It was his way of getting back at the American People for not voting him into office in 2004. Some say.

Continuing in this personal vein, I have a brother who we lovingly refer to as “RESEARCH!” because if you ever want something found on the web, or anywhere else for that matter, he can do it. He even found a very hard to find clip of a soccer goal scored in an obscure indoor league in the upper Midwest of the USA after many others had attempted to do so and failed. Oh, and not only that, but he ended up with a new friend in the team’s front office. (Some people have it, others don’t.) But more on him in a second.

I made a discovery of my own recently, with help from my favorite British bloggers at the Telegraph, about the man behind a lot of the mis-information on Global Warming. Read about it here http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100020515/climategate-the-corruption-of-wikipedia/

Basically, the jist of it is that one man, Cambridge-based scientist and Green Party activist William Connolley, hijacked Wikipedia for his own Global Warming Doom Campaign. First, he edited thousands of articles to only include data that he and his political agenda agreed with. Then, he obtained administrator privileges on the site, and either removed articles or black-listed thousands of contributors that were trying to publish truly scientific information that was detrimental to his crusade. How is this possible on a supposedly open-community like Wikipedia claims to be? Furthermore, the company Connolley helped found, Real Climate, pumps out information about the realities of global warming, knowingly modifies and hides real scientific data, and vociferously attempts to discredit anyone who may disagree with their agenda.

You know, when I was a child, there were certain types of people that you trusted. The Police. Firefighters. Teachers. Parents. Pastors. And Scientists! These were the guys doing their best to understand our world, and make sense of it through true scientific discovery, uncluttered with politics and agendas. I remember idyllic trips to San Francisco, or the wetlands at the California coast, where we visited museums, planetariums, and marshlands to learn about new scientific discoveries. Well, we all know the dangers of Pastors now (thanks Catholic Church), and the Police (just type in police brutality on youtube). I’m not saying that we can’t trust them at all – of course not. But we need to be more wary than we once were…and, sadly, we need to add Scientists to this list. Why? Because of the politicization of the global warming debate, and any other debate where there are massive amounts of money to be “politicized” away from people like you and me.

Here’s a quick time line on the global warming debate over the last nine weeks, courtesy of … “RESEARCH!”

1.    World-leading British and US scientists get busted for fixing data, pressuring science publications, and breaking the law.  (They won’t be prosecuted because the events are more than six months old and British authorities are claiming action needed to be quicker.  The Brits are arguing about this now… http://www.climatechangefraud.com/politics-propaganda/6249-climategate-is-the-british-government-conspiring-not-to-prosecute

2.    Copenhagen Summit…TOTAL collapse.  Massive December snow storm that hasn’t happened there in ~13 years.  (see Gore Effect)  Russia leaves early.  Obama shows up at the meeting only to find himself late.  China, India won’t play ball…  The US Senate would need 67 Senate votes so this was all an exercise in futility anyway to placate Left-wing base…

January 2010

3.    An administrator in British climate office accidentally(?) blurts out in an email/blog that the way they test for warmest/coldest winter is to take the warmest 15 temperatures of the season. That’s “15 *warmest* temps”. Is this really the scientific method? C’mon….

4.    IPCC head (Rajendra Pachauri) admits the data for the Himalayan Glacier ‘facts’ are not based in science but on “comments” in a phone conversation made by a basic ‘nobody’ from almost 10 years before.
a.    Pachauri says he didn’t know about this Himalayan error
b.    Asian sub-team that wrote that section admits to knowing the data wasn’t there…but that they included for “political reasons”.
c.    Due to FACTS coming out that prove Pachauri knew about the Himalayan error BEFORE Copenhagen, he admits he DID in fact know about it…

5.    Last week…another ‘oops’:  IPCC section written about Andes mountains losing snow/ice is actually based on a student’s anecdotal interviews with hikers/climbers and is published in a HIKING magazine…not a peer reviewed journal.

6.   Just yesterday it came out (London Times) that the IPCC data ‘proving’ the S. American rainforests are in danger is bogus.  OOPS!

7.    Canada, Russia, New Zealand scientists have all come out this month saying the data collected in their country is probably ‘cherry picked’.
a.    Example: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/11/25/uh-oh-raw-data-in-new-zealand-tells-a-different-story-than-the-official-one/
b.    Example:  http://www.vancouversun.com/technology/Scientists+using+selective+temperature+data+skeptics/2468634/story.html

February 2010

8.    Published today…turns out the data from China used by an IPCC leading scientist – Phil Jones (see item #1 above) has been manipulated with, among other things, whole weather stations having been moved. http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/feb/01/dispute-weather-fraud

Combine these scientific shams with an obvious agenda that is being perpetrated by people like the William Connolleys and Al Gores of the world, and you have a massive mis-information propaganda machine. If you get stuck wondering what the propaganda is for, just think of the TRILLIONS of dollars that are going to be taxed, capped and traded! And to top it off, anyone that doesn’t believe in the “Religion” of Global Warming is a fool. Why religion? Where have you seen so much faith demonstrated in a world where participation in organized religion has fallen so far? It takes a lot of faith for the believers to believe in something that they cannot see, and the data does not support. The believers also defend their belief with a fanatical enthusiasm – in the face of mounting data against their claims. I wonder if the Christians that were persecuted for their faith in old Roman Empire times aren’t a little bit proud of the zealotry being displayed by the new “believers.”