Sunday, June 28, 2009

Surviving on hope, prayer, and bribes

Detroit city council president pro tempore and "child of God" Monica Conyers faces a possible sentence of up to five years after her guilty plea last Friday on one federal count of conspiracy to commit bribery.

Ms. Conyers
, 44, long dogged by a bad temper, was so quiet in court the judge had to ask her to speak up. Maybe that's because she hadn't strapped on her political "gun" husband, U.S. Rep. John Conyers, 80, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. He was back in D.C. saving us all from global warming. His people released this statement following her plea:

"This has been a trying time for the Conyers family and with hope and prayer they will make it through as a family. Public officials must expect to be held to the highest ethical and legal standard. With this in mind, Mr. Conyers wants to work toward helping his family and city recover from this serious matter."

If you're weary of reading about Jacko's autopsy results and legacy, the Detroit Free Press has done an admirable job of covering the FBI's four-year probe of Detroit's pay-to-pay corruption.

Monica and John Conyers, center, with Rev. Charles Adams, l, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Conyers, who couldn't get on just her $81,000 annual salary plus perks such as a taxpayer-supplied Ford Crown Victoria, should spare the people of Detroit more entertainment and resign before she's forced out of the city council.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Call me Lucifer, a skeptic or whatever, but ...

I doubt Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), co-sponsors of the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, or members of their staffs actually wrote it. Few, if any, of the 219 representatives who voted for it or the 212 who voted nay had even read it. The full text of H.R. 2454 wasn't fully released until hours before the historic, transformational vote. Who was awake in D.C. when a 300-page amendment were dumped onto servers at 3 a.m the day of the vote?

Members of Congress knew little about the bill beyond what President Obama, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Markley, Waxman, and ex-vice-president Al Gore told them. If you think the cap-and-trade tax to reduce carbon dioxide emissions will only raise your household electrical bill $175 per year by 2020 as a Congressional Budget Office report claims, you also believe in the tooth fairy. The legislative and executive branches of our federal government have a historic tendency to botch estimates such as Social Security solvency, the cost of weapons systems, and Medicare and Medicaid subsidies.

In government I do not trust. It has a known track record. Legislation is crafted by lobbyists--in this case nearly 2,340 authors working for 770 special interest groups and companies. These groups spent nearly $90 million in 2008 for climate-change lobbying. Cap and trade taxes will eventually bring about a cleaner environment by making it too costly for "ordinary Americans" to live, work and invest here.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Call for Action

There's a whole lot of community activism going on in Chicago this summer despite the absence of the Gifted One. There's a need for blood donors. If one's in the vicinity and can spare a pint--particularly O-negative--call Lifesource at (847) 803-7943 or register online here.

Despite the high levels of activists and some of the most-restrictive gun laws in the nation, there's too much shooting and stabbing going on there. It's something activists, some who trained and organized with their first friend Barry, are expecting him to fix by more gun laws, stimulus funding, and magical words from the bully pulpit.

Fr. Michael Pfleger's distress symbol, St. Sabina Church, Chicago's South Side

The activists are trying to activate the chief hope-and-change re-arranger. It reminds me of verses in their Bible, Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals:

"Make the enemy live up to its own book of rules. You can kill them with this, for they can no more obey their own rules than the Christian church can live up to Christianity."

"One acts decisively only in the conviction that all the angels are on one side and all the devils on the other."

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Why should anyone care?

I don't care about Jon and Kate Gosselin's "life-changing announcement" scheduled for tomorrow. Until two or three weeks ago, I didn't even know they were on television. I can certainly understand why they get on each other's nerves and recently spent their anniversary 150 miles apart because I don't want to be in the room when they roll onto the screen.

Their kids should divorce them.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer breeze

This breeze wasn't a gentle one. It blasted out of the southwest at nearly 95 miles per hour about 10:20 p.m. yesterday. We lost three old trees, two of which were planted by my grandfather back in the 40s. All the buildings were spared. One trailer was knocked off its moorings but remained upright.

The straight-line winds and all the rain knocked out power in several counties and blocked roads with flooding and trees. One of the Sheriff's Department's patrol cars, which was parked, was blown across a road near here. Several buildings were flattened or damaged particularly in two small towns between here and the Missouri border. There are still nearly 5,000 people in our area without power. I've been refueling the generator every couple of hours. Everything's running but the air conditioning.

Ruby was clobbered by a propane grill that landed in front of her dog house. My son untangled her from the wreckage, and she took cover. She seems none the worse for wear today and kept an eye on me while I ran the chainsaw.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Who is the slut?

Broad Ripple High School grad and CBS late-night host David Letterman comes closer to the "slutty flight attendant" benchmark than Gov. Sarah Palin.

He earns nearly $40 million each year, almost two times more than Jay Leno despite Leno generating 1.3 million more viewers each night. Les Moonves isn't getting much bang for the buck. Letterman's late night show draws the same ratings numbers as ABC's Nightline. Disney is not paying anywhere near $40 million per year to cover salary expenses for riveting Nightline anchors Martin Bashir, Cynthia McFadden and Terry Moran. So Moonves should yank that latest contract extension Letterman's about to sign and spare CBS investors some change during this deep recession.

Letterman's long made money, some of which he then gives away via his American Foundation for Courtesy and Grooming, by playing johns--the television networks--against each other. He'll most likely pull it off again as NBC's post-Leno Tonight Show ratings nosedive.

CBS was once referred to as the Tiffany Network because of its fine programming quality during the tenure of its founder, William S. Paley. Under Moonves, Letterman has replaced Tiffany as a "defining icon" of the CBS network. When Letterman remained with CBS in 2006 after flirting with ABC, Mooves said of him, "His presence on our air is an ongoing source of pride, and the creativity and imagination that the Late Show puts forth every night is an ongoing display of the highest quality entertainment."

Les, Dave's a skank. And he's just rolled you.

UPDATE: Letterman squirms a bit while Conan takes a larger share of the late-night audience. Some wonder why he's treated differently than Don Imus.

Monday, June 8, 2009

How stimulating!

They're described in the news media and viewed by those in their circles as being brilliant: skeptical sexist and sometimes-napping Lawrence "Larry" Summers, tax-code-challenged treasury secretary Timothy F. Geithner, Council of Economic Advisers chairwoman and Obama economic recovery plan author Christina M. Romer, and so many other beautiful people.

These gifted people are steering this nation's, and even the world's, economic recovery from the depths of a recession that, according to President Obama, has been years in the making.

The nation's economic health is on the rebound. Only 345, 000 jobs disappeared in May, which is a signal we should continue to trust in the hope-and-change rearrangers. After all, it far less than the 504,000 jobs lost in April. Even though the unemployment rate has climbed to 9.4 percent and more than 6 million jobs have been lost since December 2007 when the Obama administration says the recession began, we're in good hands. The stimulus plan is working. It's going to be kicked into overdrive. And President Obama, who today promised he would make 600,000 new jobs this summer, isn't going to let its money to be wasted despite what Vice President Biden says.

Summers minus Diet Coke

I'm glad the president thinks there's still rich people out there who can be taxed to pay for my health care reform. There is an economic pump that can be primed by spending money that's created out of thin air--the president and his brilliant New Keynesian economic advisers believe it and therefore so should I.

Sticky prices and wages, menu costs, dynamic stochastic general equilibrium models, credit market imperfections--it's all very stimulating. No wonder Larry Summers is famous for fueling with Diet Coke and Ms. Romer urges the president to swat Larry instead of an insect.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The Facebook Question

I'm asked the question, "What's on your mind?" like millions of other Facebook users. Here's how I answered it today.

"Why should I attend a United Methodist church? It has bucked me off more than once. I'm tired of getting back on it. The cross-and-flame logo reminds me of slammed doors, an aching chest, a knotted brow, and annual-conference tears rolling down my cheeks onto my daughter's face as she looked up from her stroller. It's painful. That is what's on my mind this second Sunday of Pentecost."

Five generations of my family have attended a Methodist church two miles from our farm. My great-great-great-great grandfather was a Methodist circuit rider in present-day West Virginia. I was confirmed and joined the United Methodist Church at age 10. I'm married to a United Methodist pastor, an elder in full connection. I usually enjoy traditions and sharing stuff with my family. Is the Holy Spirit moving me another way, or am I simply drifting like the goats Jesus mentioned in Matthew 25?

Wonders in the grass

Ruby, my yellow Lab, and I toured the pastures and hay fields looking for the rascally Carduus nutans, or musk thistle, before sundown. Ruby loped alongside or behind me as I drove the Arctic Cat through handlebar-deep grass. I'd stop every so often to stand on the foot rests and search for the purple buds and stalks of those spiny, alien plants early-19th-century European immigrants couldn't leave home without.

There's a small basin almost encircled by trees near where my great-great grandparents built their first cabin in 1857. It holds a seep, so the grass is even more lush there compared to the surrounding hay fields. I was driving through the basin when I at first thought a woman had yelled behind me. I looked behind to my left to see a newborn whitetail fawn with its legs tucked up underneath it laying in the grass. The knobby rear tires must have brushed against the fawn's rear. It got up, helped out by a nudge from Ruby's sniffer, and wobbled toward dense brush. At the same time, a doe bounded the other way out of tall grass and trees 50 yards farther down the basin's rim.

Anyhow, no larger than that white-specked, still-damp fawn was, it produced a bleat loud enough to overpower the Arctic Cat's racket. I even yelled, "What?" and had started drawing my revolver before I saw its white spots.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I snagged some rarities

... from MidwayUSA today, 20-round MagPul PMAGs, after receiving an automated e-mail that they were back in stock. I've been waiting since October.

I'm still longing for 9mm or .357 bullets and small pistol primers. If the Grinch doesn't interfere, maybe I'll see them before Christmas.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Five secrets that aren't

Financial contributor Vera Gibbons and CBS talking heads Julie Chen and Harry Smith revealed the "dirty little secrets" your bank won't tell you this morning during The Morning Show.

Hint: Banks charge fees, particularly when you try to spend more than what you've deposited. There's nothing hidden or "sneaky" about them if you pull your head out, ask questions, read the information each bank is legally obligated to provide regarding fees, and keep track of credits and debits.

If you share the belief that banks should be service providers rather than a business "out there to rip me off", try taking up math and using a check register. Every bank I'd done business with since age 17 will pass out deposit slips, registers, fee sheets and even an ink pen when asked. If you're not happy, pick another bank, start your own or . . .

. . . hire a K9 personal finance assistant.