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This is my effort to share my thoughts with readers about concerns facing our country today.  I believe there is a good chance my grandchildren may be the first generation in the history of this great country not to have a better standard of living than their parents. If so, our generation is to blame. The clock is running out for damage control. .

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Monday
Apr272009

Obama's Promise to End Partisan Politics

Change. That's what got President Obama elected. One big promise in the campaign was to reach across the aisle and mitigate the partisan politics. The public was very, very tired of the infighting. Any plan to see this done would be welcome.

What steps has President Obama taken to fulfil this promise?

The first big step was to cram the Stimulus Bill down the throats of congress. No time to read the bill, just vote. Obama didn't read it either. Gee, it was only $700 billion, why bother? He did go up to the Hill and remind the dissenters "I won." End of conversation. That all did a lot to heal the wounds of partisan politics.

Then he took his campaign show on the road. Everywhere he went he blamed America in general and Bush in particular for everything that's wrong all over the globe. That seemed to help his opponents feel better about how well he wanted to reach across the aisle. It also made a lot of Americans who love our country feel good about Obama. 

Napolitano issued a policy release to all police departments that warned them to watch all veterans and virtually all Republicans as potential recruits for Far Right Radical groups that might be planning violence.

Then, to help his plan along he released the torture documents from the Bush administration. And, threatened trials for those involved. This has really endeared him to all Republicans, the CIA, the military, and all those involved with protecting our backs. 

Now, he asked the Democratic leaders of the senate to use budget reconciliation to push his health care plan through with a simple 51 majority. This fast track system is not only polarizing but pretty damned unethical. Democrats say they will pass this without a single Republican vote.

So, how do we grade him on reaching across the aisle. I give him an A plus for reaching across and making sure everyone on the other side will do everything they can do to make his term as miserable as possible. There will be a time when he can't get it done with only Democrats and he will get absolutely zero help because of his own conduct. Trust, once destroyed is hard to repair. A man with a big ego does very little repair work. That's above him.

Maybe he can get Raul Castro or Hugo Chavez to vote for his bills in two years.

Sunday
Apr262009

Constitutional Convention to Stop Federal Income Taxes-Tea Parties Phase Two

On 4-23-09 Randy E. Barnett wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal titled The Case for a Federalism Amendment. He writes that states can resist federal power short of secession which Texas seems ready to do. Article V provides that, "on the application of the legislatures of two thirds of the several states: Congress " shall call a convention for proposing amendments" To become law, it takes ratification of three-fourths of the states. 

Normally, it would work like this. States can petition Congress for a convention to propose a specific amendment. Congress can stop the convention by proposing the amendment to the states before the convention happens. Barnett goes on to say one proposal would be to repeal the 16th Amendment enacted in 1913 that authorized a federal income tax. The threat of this could move Congress to make radical changes in the tax code, like a flat tax, a simplified tax, a sales tax to replace income tax, etc. 

Is it a radical idea to think two thirds of the states would vote for a Constitutional Convention? Look at the Red and Blue states in the last presidential election. The two thirds are there if someone pushes to get  them to agree. It is the only leverage the rest of the country has against the East and West coasts. They have the population and the power to elect the president. They have the electoral votes, but the opposition has a  majority of states, more than enough to force a constitutional convention. 

The media and the Democrats think the Tea Parties were a bunch of fools. The next step for the Tea Parties should be to get the movement going for a constitutional convention to force a change in income tax laws at the Federal level.

Google the red states in the last presidential election and see who many you think might vote for a constitutional convention. Two thirds could be done.

Saturday
Apr252009

Commercial Mortgage Storm

When Peter Lynch was the guru of investments one of his tenets was to just  look around. He said he made many of his stock picks based on what he saw on the street, products he bought, and buzz from friends. 

If you want to know what's coming in the commercial mortgage market, follow Lynch's theory. The home mortgage problem didn't happen overnight. It started slowly and blossomed fast.

Near my home in Arizona is a strip shopping center that opened 7 years ago. It was built on the come. Growth was exploding in the area and as the area grew, the demand for this shopping center would come. Get in early while property values were lower and ride the wave. This shopping center has never been more than 50% occupied. Some growth came but it stopped. To compound the problem, two more strip shopping centers were built within 2 miles of this one. Neither of them has even been more than 25% occupied. 

Some banks are holding the mortgages on these three properties. Rents aren't coming in and interest is due. Someone is going to default soon on all three of these properties since the growth can't possibly come soon enough now to save any of them. Plus, the first one is now entering the maintenance phase. No money set aside from the depreciation to do the maintenance, means maintenance won't get done. 

And, the few tenants they have are all trying to renegotiate rents, since there is limited traffic in the centers and their business is suffering. 

In established shopping centers, vacant stores are cropping up every day. There is some hope for these centers if an economic turnaround comes. But, it need to come fast. A closed store is like a foreclosed house in a subdivision. It hurts the value of all the stores. Five closed stores and you have a very sick shopping center.

Banks aren't saying much about this ticking time bomb, but they have to be sweating bullets. Payments have to be falling behind and bankruptcies are going to happen. What strain will this place on banks that are already" tarped" because of the sub prime mortgages?

This is going to blow and blow soon. Like Peter Lynch said, just look around you. 

Friday
Apr242009

Janet Napolitano Goes Beyond Stupid

This blog began to attack the appointment of Napolitano as early as January 4th when she was named to head the Department of Homeland Security. The attacks continued when she set the dogs on Sheriff Joe for doing his job and arresting illegal aliens, a bill she signed into law. Those of us who spent any time in Arizona knew she was incompetent. Putting an incompetent in a job to protect our backs was incompetent in itself. Her claim to fame, she was early to endorse Obama for president. 

Now the chickens are coming home to roost.

First she puts out the bulletin to all police forces in the U.S. saying our returning veterans are subject to recruitment by far right wing groups that might cause serious problems here. Of course she went beyond that and named most non-democrats in that threat group. Then she issued a lame apology to our returning heroes. One that veterans have said was not acceptable. Her response: "that's all you are going to get."

Not satisfied with that, she goes on record saying the perpetrators of 9-11 entered the country from Canada. Now she's issuing a lame apology to Canada.

How much more damage can this woman do before President Obama says, enough?

I've asked before, are you sleeping well at night knowing we have a flaming idiot in charge of protecting us from future terrorist attacks?

I do think she's crossed the line once too often and she will go. It does beg the question, how many more incompetents are in this cabinet? We know most didn't pay their taxes. We know Geithner lied about the AIG language in the Stimulus Bill. We know Chris Dodd has no chance of being reelected as a result of his involvement with the bonus problem at AIG. 

Is there no integrity anywhere in Washington nor any accountability?

Thursday
Apr232009

Selective Environmental Oversights

I find it disturbing that some energy issues get a free pass from environmentalists.

CFL light bulbs, for example, no problem with that mercury. Batteries for electric cars, no problem with the disposal of those batteries when there are will be millions of them to dispose.Solar energy, no problem that they scrape the desert floor and destroy all plant and animal life. Usually, a square mileper farm. With hundreds in the plan. Woe to he who proposes extraction of oil from shale. It does too much damage to the earth and requires too much water. Excuse me, recent estimates say the solar plants in the U.S. will require 16 billion gallons of water per year to operate. Is water not scare in the Sourthwest United States?.

Lets' see, windmills kill 2.2 birds a day not to mention several bats. That's OK. Why is it OK?

There is a definite bias against all forms of fossil fuels, and nuclear as well as coal. That bias creates a blind spot when it comes to all other so-called green energy initiatives. Ethanol, one thousand gallons of water for each gallon of ethanol. No problem. More usage of ethanol is mandated with plans in the works to make it even more with 15% blends under consideration. 

It strikes me that we don't have an energy strategy in this country that hangs together.

Ultimately, there will be those who oppose the power lines to bring the solar from the desert. Already happened in California.There will be those who realize we have a serious water problem in the Southwest and we are going to use 16 billion gallons for solar power. There will be those who oppose the birds and bats and noise pollution for wind power. And, the power lines again.Someone will scream some day that all the CFL bulbs are polluting our neighborhoods and landfills with mercury.There will those who feel we have blighted out seascapes with windmills.

There will be a hue and cry that all the CFL bulbs come from China and our bulbs used to come from Kentucky.The solar panels and windmills now are  mainly produced outside the U.S. 

Eventually, reality will set in and the green projects that get a free pass will come under attack. When that happens, they will be stopped, just like fossil fuels, nuclear, shale, clean coal, and all others.

The nutcases that really run this country want our energy we need to move about, make things, heat , light, and cool our homes to come from Mother Nature. And, we all know it's not nice to fool with Mother Nature.

So, go back to course we've been on. Stop all forms of new energy and pray. Pray real hard, since it might be your ass that freezes, not the widows and orphans we froze in the past when we had government-made energy shortages.