Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Living Dangerously

Federal prosecutors have apparently asked a federal judge on Monday to send former Washington mayor Marion Barry off to jail. Reason? He apparently hasn't filed his tax returns for the eighth time in nine years.

To be kinda honest, two years ago....Marion was caught then, and was given time to "fix" his situation.

The curious thing here.....several of the Obama team members are tax issues, yet they don't get the same treatment as Marion. Or maybe its vice versa? Or is it vice-vice versa?

My curiosity over this? Man, how do you just skip eight tax returns in nine years......I'd like to try something like that.

Truth Commission?

In the past day, we had Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy....chairman of the Judiciary Commitee...strongly suggest that the U.S. should establish a "truth commission". The subject of such a commission? To investigate the Bush administration policies of course....to include various things (Gitmo, promotion of war in Iraq, detainee treatment and wiretapping without a warrant). The jest of this? To prevent future abuses...so he says.

So a word or two before I launch into the "truth" of this blog. First, truth commissions rarely establish the full truth. I realize that "experts" will quickly charge up and lay down several great examples, but lets be fully honest here. Truth commissions will only establish the truth, that they want to establish, and nothing more. If they choose to protect this person, or this group.....then they simply overlook the truth, and move onto the next topic. For every legitimate case that experts can cite.....you can dig into the text of the commission and find various people left unaccounted or various important facts that just simple missing from observation.

Second, in the end.....most people are still disenchanted over whatever the truth commissions produced. Some things are simply not explained like people think they should be. Some truths are not as bad as people thought. Some perceived truths are actually totally false, but then you can't convince people of that.

Third, people who run truth commissions....usually don't want anyone to start digging on themselves. Take a senator or two who might end up on such a commission.....who gave to their reelection campaign? Who arranged a great house purchase price for them? Who helped their wife get a job doing nothing but getting paid $75k a year? That golf trip to Colorado.....who paid for the Senator and his five friends for that weekend?

So, here we are.....at the point of discussing "truth commissions".

I've got no problem here if someone wants to advance on this concept, but why LIMIT it to the Bush administration? I'd like to get some truth myself.

First, who in major league baseball was pumped up on steroids and hit home-runs? Could we establish some truth here, and maybe strip homers from Barry Bonds?

Could we establish some truth over the SEC? Are they really this foolish and incompetent? Should they all be fired?

Did Barney Frank use congressional powers to ensure bankers got to screw themselves up royally? Did certain senators get juicy campaign contributions from bankers over the past twenty years?

Is Katie Couric as incompetent as she acts? Maybe we can establish some truth there?

Are the union guys for Ford, GM and Chrysler really screwing over the companies?

Why won't we build an entire fence around the southern border? I'd like to know the truth here.

Is Al Gore totally bogus? Surely a truth commission could solve this problem?

How about the real story on Blago? Did he do anything wrong at all?

The truth here.....is that you really don't want the truth. What if I could establish the truth once and for all on the Loch Ness sea monster? Would you really want to know? How about Bigfoot? How about the aliens they keep in the freezer in central Nevada? What about the grassy knoll and what group arranged for JFK's termination? The blunt truth is.....you don't want the truth.

So if Senator Leahy wants to bring on a truth commission.....more power to him.....but lets make this real interesting. In fact, I'll suggest the first question to answer....why did almost all of the 9-11 attackers have a Saudi connection? Wouldn't the public really like to know that truth?

Somewhere in DC tonight, Senator Leahy is sitting there.....knowing full well that a truth commission will likely never come. And if it does.....his life might be fairly miserable from the lack of truth it establishes.

Just a moment of truth.....you know.

BHO and Elkhart, IN

BHO showed up in Elkhart today.....mostly to sell his stimulus package, but also to pump hope into a area with 15 percent unemployed.

I kinda sat there....scratching my head. This was not the place for him to visit or to say anything much. Elkhart is the center of RV construction in America. At least, it was until last year, when sales started to slide.....mostly because of gas situation early in the year.....and then came the banking crisis. RV sales now? About as low as you can go.

So what can the President say or do....about RV sales? Nothing, absolutely nothing. He can't stimulus these guys out of their pit. He can't fix the banks. He can't invent massive government purchases of RVs. He can't even do commericals for these guys for RV sales.

So basically, Elkhart is going to have to stand there....and hold their hand out...and hope that the President just dumps a million or two into construction projects for the community, which might filter just slighly into their own pocket. Other than that.....there isn't much that you can stand and hope for. Having fifteen percent unemployment.....they really are on the deep end of the pool.

Will RV sales ever recover? For most guys who would have retired early and bought RVs and traveled around America with their $1 million in retirement funds....things are pretty dim. Their retirement accounts are at half the power it used to be....so they aren't going to be buying RVs and traveling. My guess is that the entire industry will be stalled. If you ever wanted to buy an RV.....this is probably the right time. In six years....maybe eight.....they might be back building half the RV's that they used to.

Meanwhile, a year or two from now....with no real recovery underway in Elkhart....their attitude and view of the future will be less than what it is now. Most remember the day that the President came.....and went. His speech will be joked about. In short, he probably should have picked a better choice for a town to visit.


I’ve decided to be the first in the nation, to crown the President with the FDR-like phrase….BHO. We will all eventually FDR-ize BHO and come to enjoy the fireside chats, the encouragement to have hope, and to unsaddle ourselves from Rush Limbaugh. BHO will come to represent the hope and future…..ever how far it is from reality….and the progression from here to there (an inch or a mile). So before CBS or Newsweek starts using the phrase regularly....I'll use it.

American Depression: 1933 versus 2010

Somewhere around the end of 2009 and the middle of 2010…we will all likely come to agree that we’ve crossed the line from recession to depression. Then the media will proclaim that there is “light depression, moderate depression, and hardcore depression”. We will stand there….kinda amazed that someone could measure in such methods, but then….what the heck we really know?

We probably will be standing there, on the back porch, the lawn, or the kitchen….gazing out into the distance…wondering how we can to be in such a depression. Some of us will be working and actually pulling in big bucks still…..most will likely be on our third job since 2009, and just making enough to cover all the bills. We won’t be happy, but we won’t be totally disturbed.
Then we will start to think about the differences between depression in America in 1933 and 2010. Things are a bit different.

First, the only true national media in 1933 was radio, and it was mostly for entertainment. The fireside chats of FDR were the moments of inspiration to the nation. In 2010, we have AM radio, TV, and the internet. The odds of people going long and far on fireside chats with President Obama are questionable. I’m guessing there are a dozen silver bullets in this fireside chat scene but after a while….today’s modern version of the depressed folks….won’t still be happy or thrilled, and will become very bitter over their situation.

Second, acceptance of life in 1933 was pretty high. People tended to find a solution, and simply get by for the time being. If you couldn’t afford a house, you didn’t buy a house. If you couldn’t afford anything special to eat, then you ate chicken. You could stay within your means and survive. In 2010, I don’t think this is possible. People aren’t willing to accept three steps down in life or the renting of an apartment compared to the $300k house they owned last year. I see more people on the verge of giving up and just committing suicide. The view of adjusting to your situation is likely half of what we saw in the 1930s.

Third, political friction was non-existent in 1933. FDR had absolute control and didn’t have to battle anyone. Today, the Republicans are firmly a part of the picture and could upset the cart in the next election period with wins in the Senate or House. This is a difficult situation to see how both function strongly and at the same time in a depression.

Fourth, TV. In 1933, there were subtle reminders day after day of your situation in life. The newspapers had a couple of articles and the radio might have had several mentions. But with 24-hour a day coverage by the TV news folks….will we be able to keep our wits and keep the depression in the background, rather than the foreground? If we had 88 reminders a day of the depression….would our mental toughness slide? If we constantly had images of someone on the streets of Chicago…homeless in nature….twenty times a day….make us more negative or positive? At some point, we would have to turn off the TV and get our life back in order.

Fifth and final, laws and taxes. In 2010, we have 1,000 percent more laws and taxes than we did in 1933. We have more police than in 1933. We have more government employees than we did in 1933. We have more problems to overcome today, than in 1933. We have blocked ourselves into corners, compliments of a highly and over organized government structure. Life and recovery will be more difficult in 2010, than in 1933.

I’ve tried hard not to sound dismal about the future. The truth is….we will mostly all survive this eight to ten year depression. Most of us will come out stronger than we are today. We will find that the little things in life are more important than the big things. We will come to find that family structure does make a difference. Friendships will come into focus as we find that we are all in the same boat. The test of life will be acceptance of problems and simple solutions. We will pass through this dark period eventually....on our own.