Saturday, November 8, 2008

Lykke Li - Youth Novels

After listening to some tracks on Lykke Li Zachrisson's MySpace page, I decided to take a chance and get Youth Novels.

I typically don't go for synth/pop but from a brief listen I could tell Swede Lykke Li was doing something really different. So different, she released her debut on her own label (LL Recordings). Maybe this is what it what it takes to be interesting in a musically bland world? That's another post...

The product is great album that's almost a little too complex to be considered pop. Hopefully, Lykke Li will get some attention here in the States instead of being ignored like other great Swedish talent has been in the past.

Favorite track: Little Bit
Least Favorite: This Trumpet in My Head (I can't get this song out of my head)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Obama Economy

As I mentioned below, now that the election is over, the Dow is casting it's vote and it's off 10% or roughly 1,000 points since the election.

Lots of alternative theories, but we've been getting bad news on a near daily basis now since March. We saw a 1,200 point run-up before the election in spite of bad news as well.

In fact, this is the largest post-election Dow drop in history!

I've gotten into countless arguments with people who don't understand what the impact will be of higher (nearly double or more) capital gains for the "richest Americans."

There is a lot of big money in the market that now has one, maybe two tax years to escape without paying higher capital gains. The net result, as I predict, will be a slow unwinding in the markets, instead of a strong uptick once the current economic crisis is over. Obama's tax plans will punish investors for taking risk rather than rewarding them as the Bush tax cuts did after dot-com.

To put it another way; the market has to "price-in" an Obama Presidency.

Many are blind to this risk because "Obama promised my taxes won't go up" since I make less than $250,000. But in a market, we are all related in some way, shape, or form. Billions in private wealth leaving the equities markets (profit taking) to avoid being penalized for being successful is going to have an impact.

Sure, the little guy's income is safe, per Obama, but his 401k will be at risk when all the boats in the market sink together (how's that for a play?).

The Obama tax policy, as presented in his campaign, will not help our markets, but rather hurt them and the economy--hope the little guy catches on and positions himself accordingly.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Morning After

And no one brought us breakfast in bed!

John McCain's concession speech shows just what kind of man he is. A man too good for politics. I particularly liked the part at the end...

"I wish Godspeed to the man who was my former opponent and will be my president."

I'm not sure if this was a shot at all those liberals who, in 2004, declared Bush "was not my President" but I took it that way. It was also a call for Republicans to continue to be better than that and respect the new President given the mandate from the People.

President Elect Barack Obama's acceptance speech introduced a new tone that I hadn't heard from Obama until last night. Some choice quotes...

"It can’t happen without you, without a new spirit of service, a new spirit of sacrifice."

Service and sacrifice?!? What exactly will be sacrificing President Obama? You've promised us everything; tax relief, health care, education, etc... What is required of us?

People interviewed after an Obama campaign rally sounded like they just won the lottery. The idea of work and sacrifice was never presented! This was a campaign of something for nothing (taking from the evil rich) and was never balanced with contribution or work.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even in one term. But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there."

Managing expectations or signaling defeat? We haven't heard this before either. Obama was the "lightworker" who, in spite of lacking past achievement, was capable of anything.

"There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can’t solve every problem."

Then why is bigger government always your answer? On the campaign trail did we hear "government can't solve every problem?" No. We heard "yes we can!" The "we" is collectivism. "Yes you can!" is somewhat less inspirational to the masses convinced of their own helplessness, although it would be more empowering to the few of us who still believe in ourselves and each other.

In summary, the change in Obama's tone, while refreshing for someone who appreciates honesty, is concerning. It demonstrates that the policy we've been promised may not be the policy we get. The promises that won the votes may not be the promises kept.

I can only hope that the country will hold President Obama as accountable for his failures as they have President Bush.

P.S. As I type the Dow is down 450 points! Looks like the stock market is trying to put it's finger on Obama policy as well!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Are You Better Off Now Than You Were Eight Years Ago?

Democrats (taking a line from Reagan) are asking us, as we head off to the polls, if we are better off than we were eight years ago.

I've thought a lot about how I would answer this question and how other Americans would answer.

The answer for me is "Yes!"

Since Bush took office in 2001 I have increased my gross salary by 130%. I have been able to learn to some new skills and sharpen existing ones thanks to the opportunities in the job market. I now own an affordable home with a decent interest rate (the affordable part was a challenge). My non-mortgage debt is paid off (car, credit card) and I no longer use consumer credit.

But for other Americans, I know the answer is much different.

Looking back, many have already forgotten the challenges that President Bush was presented as soon as taking office (dot com bust and 9/11). We are quick to judge the President on the last year but overlook the crisis he handled in 2001 and 2002.

Bush's economic policy consistently did two things; kept interest rates low and kept taxes low (across the board). These two things gave Americans and American businesses an opportunity to grow and create wealth. Instead many Americans used cheap credit to overspend and American businesses used low taxes and low rates to increase their margins instead of investing in their businesses (Wall St and mortgage industry, for example).

I think history will show that President Bush's biggest fault, in the economy, was trusting the American people to use low tax rates and low interest rates wisely. In other words, the President was wrong for trusting America.

This same flaw was demonstrated in July when Bush got cornered by a reporter in a testy press conference on rising gas prices. The President was asked what the American people should do in response to $4/gallon gas. The response...

"They're smart enough to figure out whether they're going to drive less or not. "

The President had an opportunity to tell people what to do, but instead trusted that Americans would make the right decision given the choice. On gas he might have been right, we did cut back on our driving, on credit and taxes he was dead wrong.

So here we are in the 2008 election and I fear many Americans will conclude that they are not better off than they were eight years ago. They will not look at the decisions they made that got them to this point, but at Bush economic policy. Policies which, ironically, gave them the opportunity to make good or bad decisions.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Slippery Slope Revealed

Joe Biden reveals the slippery slope effect I noted below while campaigning. Obama has been adamant that if a household makes less than $250,000, taxes will not go up. First, Biden says the limit is $200k, now he says $150k.

Many are calling this a classic Biden gaffe but was it really a mistake or are they just covering?

Campaigns are very careful to review the talking points and keep everyone on the same page. How many times have we heard "if you make less than $250,000..." from the Obama campaign? There's a reason for this--it sells the tax policy to the grassroots who are likely to benefit from this limit. Imagine if the limit were $60k? A lot of voters would start asking questions! Thus the $250k limit is very important and so is consistency in communicating that number when talking about tax policy.

So did Joe Biden just transpose a number here or there, or do his comments give us insight into the "real" and ever-changing policy we can expect?

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Cult of Redistribution

New YouTube video from 2001 has Barack Obama on the record advocating the use of the courts for radical income redistribution. Never addressing that little obstacle called the Fourth Amendment, of course.

I am still beside myself when I see how much support these ideas have gained in America. People advocating their own unemployment and poverty. The only thing I keep going back to is how we have failed to educate for so long that Americans have no analytical skills or basic knowledge of history and economic theory. It was another charismatic man, from the 20th century, who said it best...

"It is fortunate for those in power that people do not think."

People are not thinking about how these redistribution plans will actually hurt their own middle class bottom lines.

When Obama pledges to "spread the wealth," he's talking about taking money out of the private sector. This is money that, no matter how spent/saved in the private sector, creates wealth. Yes, some of the new losers will be rich even "filthy" rich. Those filthy rich people create jobs. They save and invest. They use capital in their businesses to grow the economy. This activity is what gives the American middle class the opportunity to make a decent living. As a middle class American, from a very middle class family, I've always accepted that in order for me to make $xx,xxx that there were plenty of people making $xxx,xxx,xxx.

Money in the public sector doesn't create wealth, it creates entitlements. And thus we have the ultimate risk socialism thrusts upon us; it's inefficiencies break down the private sector's ability to create wealth while growing a welfare state that the private sector can no longer support.

The promise that the IRS will only target those making $250,000 or more is an empty one for this very reason, and as history shows, these types of socialist schemes create a slippery slope effect and leadership abandons all of the promises when the scheme starts to fall apart.

This will quickly snowball into a massive redistribution which will require both absolute moral authority (don't question the dictator) and a living tax code. By "living tax code" I mean a way to rapidly change the tax code to seize as much wealth as possible as we descend into poverty as a nation.

Progressive taxation, for "social and economic justice" will assure us several things in the short term...

- Higher unemployment (less capital)
- Lower wages (fewer raises + inflation = pay cut)
- Higher costs of goods and services (tax is a operating cost passed onto consumers)
- Prolonged Depression as wealthy Americans look for tax shelters instead of investing

In the long term...

- Abandon the dollar after complete debasement (taking wealth from tomorrow's Americans)
- Forfeiture of the "right to work" and the right to exchange labor for pay
- Prisons (gulags) to punish those who are unwilling to work without pay

In this chaos we can expect each of our rights protected in the Bill of Rights to be revoked either through judicial activism or emergency legislation. The country will be falling apart and the handful of architects at the top will be desperate to hold it together.

We've listened to people cry about Bush suspending Habeas Corpus for 200 terrorists. Will there be outcry when First Amendment rights are limited to state run media? How about an elimination of the Fourth Amendment to speed up seizure of private property? And let's not forget about that pesky Second Amendment either.

If only history could provide some insight and direction on any of this?!? Has socialism ever been tried before? Does it work?

People just aren't thinking.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Myth of the "Credit Crunch"

First let me say whoever invented the phrase "Credit Crunch" is a genius! The term implies pain, even to the layman, without requiring any measure of real failure.

I believe the Credit Crunch is a myth designed by a handful of banking/brokerage elites to avoid the consequences of imprudent lending. These consequences have found their way into securities (CDO/CDS) and have had broader impacts on the markets.

In short, the "crunch" is a scam to get Washington to socialize the risks of bad investments while Wall St. continues to make millions. Without the "crunch" (crisis) there would have been no bailout (intervention).

A simple Google search reveals the supporting evidence; deflation, precious metal liquidation, LIBOR rates, etc... But I'm also interested in the anecdotal that seems to go unnoticed.

Are banks paying double-digit interest rates to raise cash? No.
Are credit card companies soliciting less business? No.
Have the credit card companies arbitrarily lowered credit limits as feared? No.
How about consumer credit elsewhere? Still widely available.

And the there's this little gem I get in the mail a few days ago...

(interesting portions highlighted and no I don't drive a Saturn)

Here's the important text...

Anticipating the current credit crunch our company secured over $80 Million dollars in financing for out car buying customers.

The company is Phil Long and is a local car dealership chain. Interesting that they are able to come up with this kind of financing during this horrible credit crunch. Guess I better buy a new car now before all the credit is gone!

I also find the part about the option to "Walk away" interesting. Did they mean from my current car loan or from the appraisal/deal?

Anyhow, things are not as bad as we are being lead to believe.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why "Joe the Plumber" Matters

Over the weekend the media has created a shock and awe campaign against "Joe." You'd think that he's running for office as the Baby Killer Party (BKP) candidate. But he's just an average guy who had the opportunity to ask a couple of really good questions of Obama regarding his tax plan.

(Average guy, in average living room, with average looking furniture)

While both candidates have had excellent questions put to them while stumping, no one seems to have garnered as much attention as Joe. Joe has become more than just the two questions he was able to ask but rather a symbol, a symbol many are trying to destroy, to their own detriment--just how can you make this guy look evil and still be respectable?

In short, here's why Joe suddenly matters...

Joe is Grass Roots

The media does a great job sticking to Obama's talking points and isolating the public from the ill effects of the socialism he proposes, but Joe didn't get that memo. His questions illustrate there is a different reality in American that the media has worked hard to ignore. When you have a hard working guy in front of you asking why his success (labor) should be shifted to someone else, socialism gets harder to sell and it's victims have a face.

Class warfare has become popular in America. It's sexy, easy to sell, and aligns well with populist politics. But Joe has illuminated it's darker side and his questions, although very simplistic, show us the consequences of redistribution.

Ethics of income redistribution set aside, explaining how progressive taxation increases the costs of good and lowers wages for middle class workers isn't so easy. While this is something even McCain himself has failed to demonstrate, as a potential small business owner, Joe brings this impact back into the debate.

Many folks are starting to get this.

The Response to Joe

Citizens cannot question a dictator or his policies. A dictator's rule is absolute (absolute moral authority). The fact that the media (aristocracy) is going nuts over Joe gives us a grim glimpse into our future.

If we really believe in Democracy, then we have to be able to ask questions. Even perfect plans/policies should be questioned. Voters should be informed!!! But the questions of a few can lead to the dissent of many.

Until recently, American socialists had to accept debate and public discourse. Democrats used to say "count every vote," now they stifle the will of the people with voter fraud (ACORN) and go after anyone who asks the wrong questions.

This model has been employed many times throughout history and we're by no means ignorant of the consequences. The elimination of dissent (obedience) is a prerequisite for evil.

What does the future hold when one can't ask questions?

Saturday, October 18, 2008

RIP Summer 2008

With great pain and sadness I put the KLR away for the season today.

I had wanted to take more pics and post about rides, but there just weren't many. I started riding the bike again in June to save gas, which also should have a been a post, and found myself mostly commuting and running errands.

For some it might be a little early, but there have already been a few uncomfortable rides and even a little slide on a frosty October morning. On Friday I hit the reserve and knew today was the day.

Next year will require some new tires and more carb tuning. I've been struggling to get the gas mileage a KLR 650 should (55-60 MPG) and need to keep working on it. The bike was originally a Cali bike (lots of additional emissions controls) and has been jetted.

Sunday, October 5, 2008

iTunes 8 Remote Speakers Problem

Yesterday, I decided to upgrade to iTunes 8 to check out the new Genius functionality (which I'll try and review later). After thinking I had a good install and all was good, this morning I tried to play some tunes via my Airport Express and received this error message...

An error occurred while connecting to the remote speaker 'speaker_name'. An unknown error occurred (-3256).

After researching possible solutions for some time; opening up UDP ports, temporarily suspending Windows firewall and thirds party firewalls (anti-virus), nothing worked. There is a lot about this issue on Macs, but not much for Windows.

I finally stumbled on a post, which I've lost, with regards to a Mac, that suggested the Airport firmware be upgraded to the latest version. This resolved the issue!

To check the firmware version, open the Airport Admin Utility and select the base station...

The firmware version will be at the end of the description field, the latest version at this time is v6.3 (download from Apple).

Friday, September 5, 2008

Starflyer 59 - Fell in Love at 22 [EP]

This morning my iPod, on shuffle, was kind enough to serve up a track from Starflyer 59's 1998 EP Fell in Love at 22. A classic.

The really cool thing about having enough storage, which has become common and cheap, to take my entire music library with me is getting to hear some of the little gems that I've forgotten about.

The EP contains extra session material from The Fashion Focus also released in '98 with two tracks not available anywhere else; We Want It Bad and E.P. Nights.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

"Is this who we are?"

While Sarah Palin is uniting the Republican party, she is quietly dividing the left. The response from the left to her selection as John McCain's running mate as been interesting to say the least.

Most of the smears aren't fit to re-print or even link to. The worst is a blogger who is pretending to blog as Palin's special needs young son Trig. Us Magazine has gotten in on the action, the Daily Kos is out of control (user comments are even better), and even mainstream media has participated.

Perhaps the most level and thoughtful question concerns Palin's ability to take office and continue to care for her children. A question NEVER asked of female candidates from that other party, NEVER asked of male candidates (even if single parents) from either party, and certainly NEVER, EVER asked of any woman seeking a career opportunity.

All of this ugliness and hatred is leaving reasonable Democrats asking themselves an important question; "Is this who we are?"

The short answer: Yes.

The long answer: Democrats are demonstrating their party values (or lack thereof) by putting victory before integrity and [gasp] gender equality. If Democrats are really after "hope" and "change," how do they expect to achieve hope and realize change when they so readily result to the typical Washington mudslinging?

This self-realization isn't even the worst part for the left. What's far worse is that mainstream Americans see themselves in Palin and her family. They may not all agree with the ideology and many don't like the track record, but they identify.

By relentlessly attacking Palin with these below the bar shots, the Democrats are attacking Americans--the same Americans they expect to go to polls and vote for them.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Blood in the Water

Sarah Palin is officially McCain's choice for running mate and Vice President.

I'm still learning about Palin but so far everything I've read I like. Politics set aside, the overwhelming positive for McCain/Palin is that she really is America. Palin has had to juggle career and family while married to a blue collar worker, with five kids, and one son going off to Iraq next month.

I suspected McCain would pick someone on the outside as a running mate in true maverick form, looking to distance himself from Washington.

What I didn’t suspect was how Democrats would react to this choice.

Instead of being hung over from the intoxicating speech Barack Obama gave last night at Invesco, liberals are absolutely fuming over this pick. It has completely distracted them from the victory they so surely predicted and had already started enjoying. I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “landslide” from liberal co-workers/friends only to see them in complete panic mode this morning.

The race is back on and getting ugly!

Here’s a sample of an exchange I just had at work…

LIBERAL COWORKER (nearly screaming): “…and she was mayor of a town with only 9,000 people!!! How can she in anyway be experienced?”

ME: “Well you should be happy then since she’ll be easy to attack, right? And your guy already won, so why does the losing team’s VP pick bother you?”

LIBERAL COWORKER: “Because she could be the next VP!”

Ouch. I could feel the pain of that realization from two cubicles away!

The biggest irony is that Democrats will have to attack Palin with two issues equally challenging for Obama…

1. Lack of experience
2. Demographics (with Obama race, with Palin gender)

This is going to be interesting!

Friday, August 1, 2008

The Emergency Plan

Still reading through Obama's newly announced emergency economic plan. The plan creates a second stimulus payment to individual workers/families, but instead of taking money from the Treasury the money would be taken oil profit "windfalls."

I know the conservative reaction, I've read it. I find myself having mixed feelings about this one. It's really hard to continue to support the free market in light of the disparities between the consumer and the oil companies.

Conservatives will blame Americans for destroying the free market by supporting populist (socialist) candidates who in turn pander to the electorate with such measures. But to what degree is corporate America (not just the oil companies) responsible for the decline of economic freedom in this country?

It's getting really hard to support the corporations, many of whom pay their CEOs $MMs while laying off middle class employees. Brokerage firms/banks who have destroyed the life savings of so many while those at the top ride the golden parachute back down to earth. Then there's the Qwests, Enrons, Worldcoms, Tycos of the world who took the above to a new level with cooked books--as if playing by the rules didn't offer enough of an advantage.

I've noted before that with freedom, individuals have to accept negative consequences. So do corporations.

Corporate America had the freedom to do the right thing by the American people; decent pay/benefits for employees, keep price of commodities (energy) low, help low income customers. Instead, those companies have pushed the markets to the brink, even when it was against their own long-term interests to do so.

Americans have abandoned their ability to create change as individuals (as an employee or a consumer) and will instead made appeal after appeal to government for action. Our future is certainly filled with such grand "plans" until corporate America stops mistreating it's employees and gouging it's consumers.

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Welcome to the Third World!

Two news items of interest to me today...

Exxon Mobile posts another record breaking quarter making $1,485.55 a second!!!

More women donating eggs, not to help out those with fertility issues, but to get paid!

Without any context, you'd think these stories are coming out of Russia where such disparities aren't even newsworthy.

Meanwhile, McCain and Obama are busy worrying about who's campaign played the race card first, which really doesn't matter since the white guy is always the racist.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Things I like about Obama

It's a short list, but in the interests of being fair...

Acknowledges Progress in Iraq

This one required courage since his party has run on/against Iraq since 2004. There are still Dems calling for retreat, even though they have had the ability to de-fund the war themselves since winning Congress in 2006. This position may isolate those Dems, but the ability to modify policy in a changing environment is certainly a positive and shouldn't be overlooked. It also takes character to stand against the white flag waiving masses who were dead set on making sure Iraq was a complete failure.

I'm sympathetic to many arguments against the war in Iraq, debate set aside, it makes little sense to give up when we and the Iraqis are making so much progress!

Reality with Iran

The easy road would be refusing to discuss Iran and a possible preemptive strike by Israel. Recognizing the threat and consequences is leadership, or at least a first step. Although this won't sit well with many on the left who are critical of any tough Middle East policy, it needs to be discussed.

It's clear we can't just talk or "pretty-please" the Iranians out of their nuclear program. The Russians learned that even bribing them has failed.

Whoever the next President of the United States is, he has been handed a difficult legacy when it comes to the Middle East. If Obama wants any credibility on national defense he needs to continue to bring the Iranian issue front and center--it will likely be the next big defense issue.

Condemned Ludacris' Ridiculous Song

Or rather his "camp" did--I'll give Obama credit.

I don't want to get into the song itself except to say that it's disappointing Ludacris has any political sway. If I wanted to know how to pimp my ride, I'd ask him, but who to vote for... Don't think so.

Again, it would have been easy to let this one sit, creating support with the thug demographic while conveniently distancing himself from it (wasn't his song) should it become a liability. It took courage to condemn the song and the values and it was done immediately.

R.I.P. Free Market, Integrity, Responsibilty, Freedom, Etc...

The latest housing bailout, er I mean "rescue" bill, further takes the "housing crisis" and distributes it to each working class American on top of the record breaking national deficit of $482 Billion we'll be facing next year.

I could say a lot here about what a conservative President would do, but it's not necessary, since we don't currently have one in office.

While the bailout is politically intended to help out struggling homeowners in an election year, it will certainly be used by the banking industry and Wall St. to clear the books of bad subprime loans that originators knew homeowners could never pay. The $300 Billion will be used by Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac to buy up subprime notes after the banks write them down by 10%. This will cap the banking industries losses at 10% of "current market value," a subjective standard to begin with, while pushing the 90% back onto the backs of taxpayers. All after Wall St. has made billions banking on subprime. And yes, the banks know exactly which notes to unload and which ones they can safely continue to hold.

Enough about the banks, let's look at the values here...

If we are going to have a free market, then consumers must be free to make their own choices. With freedom comes accountability. When people are free to make their own choices we have to accept that some of them will make bad choices. This happens all the time and certainly isn't limited to housing.

If we are going to bailout people when they make bad choices, we will be removing the natural consequences thus encouraging more bad choices. It's the slippery slope and soon individual freedom becomes too expensive for the collective.

So while some Americans may receive some assistance to stay in the homes they could never afford and should have never purchased, we will all be left picking up the tab which will likely be passed to future Americans in the form of taxes, inflation, and market controls.

I can't wait for our next "crisis!"

Friday, July 25, 2008

Campaigning for the Presidency... In Europe?!?

If you've read the news over the past three or so days, you can't help but hear all about Senator Barack Obama's presence in Europe after visiting the Middle East. Many are applauding the Senator's trip and his openness with our European allies, many saying this is the kind of fence mending we need after Iraq.

I have another take; Barack Obama's visit amounts to campaigning (grand-standing for some), is of poor judgement and will have lasting negative consequences. Once again, a politician has put his own thirst for power before what is good for America and Europe.

Before I lay it out, let me say there is a marked difference between visting a foreign country on a campaign trail, to get to know the people/issues, and campaigning. The two are wholly different. Barack Obama's campaign has made a concerted effort to make this a high profile visit with speeches all along the way, this is campaigning. Had Obama gone to Germany to chat with Chancellor Angela Merckel, talk about NATO, foreign trade, etc... he would have won more respect but of course garnered less media attention.

Bad for Europe

In the Berlin speech, Obama worked his charisma and asked Germans to join with Americans on a series of issues. He opened by saying he was there to speak as a global citizen, not as a President (which is good since he hasn't been elected, although that is news to some).

The massive Berlin crowd showered Obama with applause, an obvious sign of approval. But what does that approval mean? Has Europe just been given legitimacy, or the perception of legitimacy, in the American political process? Obama spoke as a global citizen, the crowd was full of global citizens offering their collective global approval.

But Obama isn't running for President of the World, he is running for President of the United States of America.

Last time I checked, we didn't ask the citizens of any foreign country for approval on our Presidential candidates? Obama's visit creates the perception that we are indeed very interested in that approval.

If European (perceived) approval is now a pre-requisite for taking office, what will happen if the American people choose the other guy? Will Europeans respect our democratic process and our democratic choice for President? How will that impact our relations with Europe?

If we have a 2000 election scenario, would any of these countries to take a side with "their guy?" Will they acknowledge the lawfully elected President?

If we have a 2004 election scenario, can we expect any of these countries to file a complaint with the International Court to review our electoral college when it robs "their guy" of victory?

The entire world has a vested interest in who the next President of the United States will be, but they have zero right to any representation in our political process.

Obama's outright pandering to crowds in Europe has given Europeans the false perception that they have influence over our election process. Should that influence be tested, our relationship with our European allies will be significantly harmed.

Bad for America

The Presidential election is a special time for the country--one of the few times we get to come together are really decide an issue on a national level.

It is our time to be selfish.

For many, they will take that to personal level and vote for the candidate offering the most entitlements or other goodies. Some still believe in picking the candidate best qualified for the job.

While there are many in America who care more about how the world views us than the issues we face, most Americans will be nearsighted in their decision; and they should be!

Disregarding domestic issues, or what's in the best interest of the county on foreign issues, to win/maintain popular world opinion would be a crime against the American people. A President's first duty is to his country, his people, and the Constitution (and I'm not sure it's in that order).

When the media sells us this European endorsement of Barack Obama, and we buy into it, allowing this to weigh into our decision making process, we give up a bit of our sovereignty.

There are just too many issues facing this country to allow foreign opinion to further muddy the waters.

If Barack Obama wants to run for the office of Supreme Ruler of the World then he should continue the global politicking. But if Obama wants to be President of the United States, then he should have stayed at home and only offered his time, voice, and consideration to Americans.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

DNC Doesn't Pay Gas Tax

On Tuesday The Rocky exposed a deal the Democratic National Committee had with the City of Denver which enabled them to get tax-free gas at special city pumps. There was even debate on whether or not the DNC would pay the discounted wholesale rate Denver locks in on its fuel contracts or have to pay a market rate.

After being caught, the guilty party quickly agreed to pay "fair market" plus taxes for the fuel used. I can't believe how quickly this story has faded from the local and national media. It not only exposes the hypocrisy of tax-and-spend elites but also how un-green (uh, brown?!?) the convention will be.

There's a lot of analysis about this on the web from Mayor Hickenlooper trying to say the RNC got the same deal (which they didn't), to the outright hypocrisy, to theories about this being done to cushion the DNC budget shortage, and so-on. But I think there's a fundamental piece missing when it comes to the justification of such taxes.

Gas taxes are championed by the left as a means of curbing carbon emissions/consumption according to the following logic...

Higher Taxes = Less Consumption
Less Consumption = Better for the Environment
Higher Taxes = Better for the Environment

By this logic should anyone really be exempt from gas taxes?

Even with $4.00/gal gas, some are saying we should increase gas taxes to even higher levels to further limit carbon emissions. This, in a environment with stale wages, and an ever increasing cost of living, is crippling the middle class.

Progressive taxation, another favorite tool for "social and economic justice" would require higher taxes for higher incomes. In which case the DNC, with a budget in the millions, should be paying considerably higher gas taxes than the average Denver metro resident with a median household income of only $41,767.

But both Denver and the DNC thought $0.00 in taxes was a better number!

The Notwist - The Devil, You, and Me

Imagine a German version of a less edgy Kid A era Radiohead and you get Notwist's The Devil, You, and Me.

Just the right mix of rhythm, guitar, and synth. Favorite track so far is Gravity. This is the kind of album you put on, listen to every track, and feel empty when it's over.

This is my first Notwist album and I think I'm hooked. I tend to work backwards when I make these discoveries so I'll have to check out their prior work.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Xcel and LEAP

Yeah, long time no post...

So I’ve started a new thing; whenever I feel someone has slighted me in a business transaction, I give that amount to a charity (provided I can afford it). I’m not sure exactly how this plays out logically but it makes me feel much better about getting ripped off and requires much less effort than getting angry, filing a small claims suit, etc… Maybe I’m creating justice from injustice, or maybe I’m just demonstrating better character. Don’t know.

In Colorado we have an energy assistance fund called LEAP (Low-Income Energy Assistance Program) run by Energy Outreach Colorado
. I’ve been familiar with the fund for some time thanks to my monthly Xcel bill which encourages a one time donation or a recurring amount which can be added to my monthly Xcel bill. Xcel also claims to match customer contributions.

The LEAP fund came to mind after I read a story at 9 News about 47,000 customers in the Denver metro area having their power/gas cutoff for non-payment.

After doing some research on Xcel's website (digging deep) I found out that Xcel actually only matches the first $1M of donations for 2008. The fund already has an estimated $7M for 2008 (which does not mean they'll have enough to meet the need in the community according to their financials). Meanwhile, Xcel claims credit for "raising" the money that its customers donate to the fund over the matching limit.

So I decided to give directly to Energy Outreach Colorado via their website which checked to see if there was any available matching programs from Xcel or my employer (no, there wasn't).

Each time Xcel gets hammered in the local media for raising rates they are always quick to point to LEAP which I now know is somewhat dishonest since the customers are putting up the majority of the contributions. While $1M might seem like a large contribution, consider that Xcel recently gave $1.1M to Democratic National Convention for the convention in Denver. I make this comparison because the DNC contribution is party money, while LEAP funds help the low income, elderly, and disabled keep their lights on and stay warm.

Xcel obviously does not have its priorities straight.