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Blog Posts for March 2009

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On Failure

 

I once had a friend of mine who was planning to hurt someone. I mean he literally planned it out. He bought the materials, he coordinated his logistics - it was serious.

He came to me and showed me all of his prep work, and I looked at him in alarm, wondering why he would want to hurt another person and ultimately want to hurt himself. In his mind, he would wind up unscathed by the incident. Who would know that he did it? And his target - well, he might have gotten a little hurt, Mark told himself, but it shouldn't be serious. It was all about scaring his intended victim into changing behavior, not about really hurting him.

What did I do? I told someone in authority. The plot was stopped. While they couldn't prove his intentions with the flammable liquid in his possession, his excuse for it was sketchy enough that daylight put a halt to the whole escapade. Mark said later that he can't believe he was that dumb to have considered such a thing. He was glad that someone stopped him.

I wanted him to fail at his endeavor, and I helped him do so. It was the best thing I could have done.

It was the right thing to have done.

When someone is about to hurt themselves or others, don't you want them to fail? Of course you do.

Which is why I want Obama to fail. Socialism is cruel - to everyone. Nationalization ruins industries and jobs and the economy, as Hugo Chavez' Venezuela proves consistently. Teaching people that they don't have to be responsible for their own decisions and then making others pay for those decisions - how is that a positive?

It is irresponsible to allow someone to succeed in hurting others. It is selfish to not want to get involved and to not prevent disaster. It is callous to not care about those who will be damaged by the actions of the person who will injure others.

Bad ideas are bad ideas. It doesn't matter who it is... we should all want the perpetrator to fail.

I resent the hell out of being told that it's wrong to want Obama to fail in his aspirations.

If his ideas and intentions would actually help small businesses succeed, and help people who most needed it, I wouldn't have any problem supporting him and wishing him success. But no one can explain to me how what he's doing will help anyone, any business, or the nation's economy. The reason? Because what he's doing can't help, nor will it.

Socialism is cruel, and anyone with the intentions of implementing socialist policy is cruel. If you agree with that, then I ask: do you want Obama to succeed or to fail in his planned implemetation of socialism in America?

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/1/2009 8:27:31 PM
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Watch Out for that Anvil, Wile E.

 

Over at Glenn Reynolds' place, he highlights an ABCNews article that discusses productive professionals seeing how to reduce their productivity to avoid Obama's intended tax increases on their income.

A 63-year-old attorney based in Lafayette, La., who asked not to be named, told ABCNews.com that she plans to cut back on her business to get her annual income under the quarter million mark should the Obama tax plan be passed by Congress and become law. "Why kill yourself working if you're going to give it all away to people who aren't working as hard?"
That Obama... super genius. To save the American economy, he's discovered a way to encourage people to work less. Masterful!

Tomorrow - before breakfast, no doubt - he'll tackle cold fusion and perpetual motion.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/2/2009 9:33:32 PM
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Going Galt

 

Dr. Helen Smith has been going on for a while about "going John Galt." If you're unfamiliar with the premise, it's pretty simple: Ayn Rand writes in Atlas Shrugged of what happens to the world when the most productive in society decide to go on strike. The movement is led by a guy called John Galt. A great line from Galt's speech at the end of the book is this:

You did not care to allow rewards to be won by successful production - you are now running a race in which rewards are won by successful plunder.
There are a number of successful, productive people today suggesting that they will do exactly this. They refuse to pay for the missteps of adults and companies who now turn to the government like children who abused a broken toy and demand a replacement by tantrum from mom and dad.

"Productive," by the way, doesn't come with title. There are a number of executives with a "C" in front of their title who aren't worth a day's salary, much less their entire compensation. I wrote more about that a while ago, but I think a simple way to discern those folks is how quickly they turn to the government for money. In what I wrote back then, I mention the canned CEO of Home Depot, Bob Nardelli, and his unproductive management style. Is it any wonder that Chrysler, with that same Nardelli now at the helm, is drowning and begging for assistance from you, the taxpayer? Unproductive? Oh hell yes. He's a great example of how corporate America will hire an incompetent boob based on an undeserved resume alone. But I digress... sort of...

How do you teach people productivity? How do you teach people the necessity of strident self-sufficiency, except in extreme circumstances when the afflicted can ask for the free will benevolence of others? (Sidenote: who is it who really believes in mankind - the person who believes that people will respond as they can to a personal request for assistance, or those who seek to confiscate and reallocate so that they might ration help as they deem appropriate?)

How do you teach people productivity? Ayn Rand dealt with this conundrum by removing the self-sufficient. She believed that by showing the dependent that "business and earning a living and that in man which makes it possible - that is the best within us, that is the thing to defend." She aimed to show the world that the producers are not evil, but essential. Not greedy, but mentors - for those willing to listen and unafraid to work.

Capitalism is the pinnacle of liberation. You are free to be as productive as you choose, in any manner you choose, in any trade you choose - so long as there is a market for what you produce. No other system teaches the importance of productivity so directly. You are pulled along into greater and greater output by the rewards directly given to you through productive commerce.

Don't like your job? Switch employers or positions. Start your own business. You have choices. The productive know this. They thrive on it. They'll do what it takes, and go further yet.

How is that person not a role model to others? But somehow, there are people who have come into prominence who freely ridicule and heap scathing disdain on the productive.

Capitalism needs no defense. Its historical effectiveness in prosperity speaks to the lies of those who reject it. What it does need are the frank practitioners, unapologetic and open in what they know.

I'm not sure that Galt's solution is the best method of education, but I am sure that capitalists have no business cowering from the ill-informed words of those who want to plunder the achievements of the successful.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/7/2009 1:16:49 AM
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What, When, Where

 

A few years ago, I worked on a web technology based on a simple premise: wouldn't it be great to create a portal for events?

Yep. There's a lot of them out there. But they're all locked to the location they're in. Want events in Chicago? There are a few web sites for that, but they're not the same as the event web sites for Seattle. There is no single hub.

So back then, I worked on that. I almost finished my work on it, but ran into a snag in the form of a question: why would people have any incentive to load their events into the portal?

Loading events takes time. At that time, I couldn't come up with the right answer. As a result, I abandoned my effort. I had about 800 hours into it.

Recently, I stumbled across the answer. So in the last week, I dusted off my previous work and cleaned it up a bit. I've got more work to do - maybe 100 hours - but it's coming along fine.

I'm not going to divulge all of the reasons that the technology beats other efforts out there in the marketplace, but I've got hooks into the first channel where it has potential, and in dusting it off, I've set it up to be easily re-skinned for a vertical.

If you're interested, you can check out the two instances of the technology here and here. By the end of March, I should have it in polished form and hopefully a contract in the first vertical.

I'm in that late night mode, hyper-productive and not sleeping a lot.

(As for 247, yes, that's tracking well also. My partners and I are working up presentation material for demos that we hope to have sometime this month. Busy busy...)

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/9/2009 1:33:51 AM
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Galt's Truck

 

Saw this today while entering the freeway:

It asked, "Who is John Galt?"

Cool to see the meme in the real world.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/12/2009 8:53:52 PM
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Trends

 

From the state where he served, for all of you who voted for HopenchangeTM, here's what's bound to come your way (or your children's way):

Illinois Income Tax May Jump 50 Percent
Because when the government spends money, it must eventually pay it off.
Gov. Pat Quinn is reportedly considering raising taxes to deal with a growing budget deficit.
Can anyone tell me how spending money to get out of debt works?

By way of example, here's a riff on an old joke:

Trying to solve a bit of math, a child asked, "What's 2 + 2?"

He asked a mathematician, who answered, "4."

He asked a statistician, who answered, "Somewhere between 3 and 5."

He asked an accountant, who answered, "What do you want it to be?"

He asked a politician, who pocketed 3 and then answered, "1, of course."

The moral of my little tale: politicians are good at math. They just want to convince you that you aren't. This ain't rocket science, and common sense would tell anyone that if the budget is tight, you don't spend more. Especially on things that don't help anyone but the politicians and their buddies.

Super geniuses, those politicians in Washington.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/13/2009 12:23:28 PM
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Taking Her Seriously

 

Russia decided to take Hillary at her word and they've hit the Reset button:

Russia could use bases for its strategic bombers on the doorstep of the United States in Cuba and Venezuela to underpin long-distance patrols in the region, a senior air force officer said Saturday.

"This is possible in Cuba," General Anatoly Zhikharev, chief of the Russian air force's strategic aviation staff, told the Interfax-AVN military news agency.

The comments were the latest signal that Moscow intends to project its military capability in far-flung corners of the globe despite a tight defence budget and hardware that experts consider in many respects outdated.

Knowing full well that Obama has no intention of building up our military, and knowing full well that Obama pretty much defines pacificist leanings, Russia has no fear of American repercussions from these intentions.

That, and Obama and Putin share leftist Marxist similar political philosophies. Birds of a feather!

The extra bonus in this little play is that if the Russians do park their military 90 miles off our southern shore, Obama's relaxation of travel restrictions to the island nation means that tourists can go there and take pictures of the buildup. Sweet!

Don't you love the smell of HopenchangeTM in the air? The world just loves our president. So much so that they want to get closer to him.

The last time that Russia tried this, our president had actually served in and respected our military...

ETC: Inevitable...

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/14/2009 11:13:51 AM
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Randian Blogroll?

 

Found this guy today... he has good things to say :)

Is there a Randian blogroll?

I'll check it out and post it if I find one.

ETC: Started rounding up a list...

http://fixnwrtr.blogspot.com/

Some blog at Yahoo

http://www.sean-malone.com/blog.html

http://theobjectiveeye.blogspot.com/

http://freelibertarian.blogspot.com/

http://johnnycaraveo.com/

http://southparkrepublic.ning.com/

http://www.lpnova.blogspot.com/

http://www.acta.us/

http://realityandreason.blogspot.com/

http://thinkfuture.wordpress.com/

http://www.mavsolve.com/?page_id=104

http://williameastman.blogspot.com/

http://1144.livejournal.com/

http://objectivistindividualist.blogspot.com/

http://jimwoods.thinkertothinker.com/

http://danedgeofreason.blogspot.com/

http://jeffmiller.tumblr.com/

http://www.positiveliberty.com/

http://franciscogutierrez.blogspot.com/

http://www.objectivists.org/

http://joeduarte.blogspot.com/

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/14/2009 12:31:42 PM
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Drink Deeply

 

(Via Free Libertarian.)

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/15/2009 10:55:33 AM
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Representative Leonard Boswell's Questionnaire

 

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/16/2009 2:12:54 PM
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Because Actual Business Experience Counts...

 

Asinine!

Wells Fargo Co. Chairman Richard Kovacevich criticized the U.S. for retroactively adding curbs to the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which he said forced the bank to cut its dividend, and called the administration's plan for stress-testing banks "asinine."

When the U.S. Treasury persuaded the nation's nine biggest banks to accept capital investments in October, it signaled the whole industry was weak, Kovacevich, 65, said in a March 13 speech at Stanford University in California. Even though Wells Fargo didn't want the money, it must comply with the same rules that the government placed on banks that did need it, he said.

Kovacevich joins a growing list of bankers who are chafing at restrictions imposed by the TARP program, which affect lending, foreclosures, pay and perks. Lenders including Bank of America Corp., U.S. Bancorp and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. have said they want to give back the money.

I hope these businesses force the government to take the taxpayers' money back. Good for these business leaders(!) to stand up and tell it like it is. It's a shame that the administration and Congress hate business. Where do you suppose jobs and tax revenue comes from?

Politicians in Washington: Super Geniuses.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/16/2009 9:58:14 PM
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Despicable

 

Obama wants to force war-injured veterans to pay for the treatment of their own war injuries through private health insurance?!?

Smarmy. Utterly, despicably smarmy. To even think such a concept exhibits a low, classless consideration of our military. The face that first spoke it should have been slapped. Hard. Twice.

Smarmy. It's the only word for allowing this proposal to get any air whatsoever. Soldiers deserve far better.

What a disgrace.

ETC: Normally, I try to find some sort of humor in what Obama does, because a lot of his/Pelosi's/Reid's/Dodd's/Frank's plans are just plain laughable, even when they're harmful. But this crosses a line, and even if they planned to use it as a negotiating tactic by proposing the outrageous to then recall it later in exchange for some lesser concession... it's smarmy.

Of course, this comes as the Commander-in-Chief's wife decides that she'll make military families a mission of hers. If that's true, it's too bad her husband won't.

 

5 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/17/2009 11:52:56 PM
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The Lab

 

Barney Frank has never run a business in his life. He's never had to create a desirable product or spitshine a service that attracted customers to it. He's a lifelong politician, from the moment he emerged from Harvard in the 1960's.

Regarding AIG, he says that "it's time for us to take over the company."

Frank wants the government, which thanks to the $170 billion bailout issued to AIG last fall has an 80 percent stake in the company, to assert its ownership rights.
There are a few problems with that:
  • When the government has "ownership" in a company, it writes legislation that protects that company - until it becomes a monopoly in its industry. It uses taxpayer dollars to prop up the company when it fails to make money. Fannie and Freddie are stellar examples of this very problem. How solvent are they?
  • Very, very few politicians have a track record in succeeding at business. Most are lawyers (government is all about law, after all) and have no idea how to succeed at banking, retail, insurance, etc.
  • The more businesses they "take over," the more businesses they're likely to "take over." See Venezuela.
This whole purported outrage over AIG in Washington is a deflection. It's an attempt to get people to ignore how politicians greased the skids for what's happening right now. Fannie and Freddie started this mess by giving out bad loans and ballooning the housing market, AIG was given money by Bush and Congress, and Obama and Congress want to continue this doomed-to-failure enterprise of government meddling in private business.

I don't want Barney Frank taking over anything. He hasn't proved himself to be competent at anything. Nor has he proven to act transparently, honestly, or in the best interests of the American people. Instead, he's excited for acquiring more power in this great experiment of his and his comrades in DC.

That's where our anger ought to be placed, and not at AIG. Big deal. If the company fails, it fails. Let it go bankrupt. Let it fold, if necessary. Let its competitors step in and take care of its customers. That's healthy.

Throwing taxpayer dollars at a failed business is not healthy. But the more that Barney Frank and his comrades convince you that you own the company, the more likely they are to take this insurer and nationlize it with your blessing. And what do you think that will lead to?

ETC: King Barney, where everything he touches turns to debt.

 

2 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/18/2009 8:59:07 AM
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Do You Like the Des Moines Farmers Market?

 

Tamara and I love the Saturday morning Farmers Market. Wouldn't miss it.

So, who would oppose the creation of a Food Safety Administration? Everyone wants safe food, right?

Here's a terrific example of how the best intentions of politicians can overreach and screw up your life. In fact, if HR875 is passed, the Des Moines Farmers Market might become a thing of the past.

I went and did something that members of Congress rarely do and actually read the bill. [HR875] was introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT 3rd) and, as of this writing, has around 36 co-sponsors including my Congressman, Andre Carson (D-IN 7th). It immediately strikes me as being terribly bad legislation.

Under a heading described as protecting the public health and ensuring the safety of food it creates a "Food Safety Administration" within Health and Human Services.

(14) FOOD PRODUCTION FACILITY- The term 'food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation.
What it essentially does is place a tremendous regulatory burden on all of these organizations and individuals by requiring them to have "food safety plans", consider all relevant hazards [note: I wish Congress would consider all "relevant hazards" or unintended consequences of everything THEY did], testing, sample keeping and to maintain all kinds of records. The bill also allows the government to dictate all manner of standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, packaging, temperature controls and other items.

This massive bloat in government regulation (and taxpayer expense to support it) would add additional cost and headache to every farm, some fishing boats, slaughterhouse, processing plant, CO-OP and anyone else associated with growing, storing, transporting or processing food. The bill authorizes fines of up to $1,000,000 (one million) dollars for "each act" and for "each day" of a violation.

Who knew that the family garden was such a threat as to require regulation by bureaucrats. Fresh produce to market by local vendors? Come now - learn to love your nanny overlords. They will take of you... pay your mortgage, keep you employed, and allow lawyers to sue the crap out of anyone who might cause you any offense whatsoever.

Super Geniuses, these politicians in Washington. Don't you just love the era of Big Government?

ETC: By the way, while Republicans can be equally stupid, this is an all-Democrat sponsored bill. Expand the link near "Sponsor" and you'll see.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/18/2009 10:18:45 AM
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Cute Name, But Where's the Beef?

 

I've never understood the attraction of Fannie Mae to an investor. In fact, I don't really get its appeal as a business model.

I'm gonna keep this simple...

Today's going rate, per Wells Fargo: roughly 5%.

To fund a loan, Fannie borrows money from the US Treasury at about 3%.

That leaves it with about 2% after paying the Treasury.

So how is it that Fannie can offer its shareholders a dividend yield of 4.7%?

From Motley Fool in 2004:

Want to know why Fannie Mae is in trouble? It's simple enough: This company, more than any other in America, is run by, in the interests of, and with the protection from politicians, not businesspeople.
The advice at the end of the article: "Many people are getting interested in Fannie Mae for its rising dividend yield. Don't make this mistake -- that dividend is very much at risk." Again, this is from 2004.

Fannie still hides under government protection, it's still not run by businesspeople, and its accounting is a massive shell game. Rather than approach the problem squarely with accountability and transparency to strengthen our economy, politicians in Washington screech about bonuses to a few executives. They do this to obfuscate their role in this mess. Don't look at them stab the taxpayer... look at those greedy executives instead!

I ask you: what non-governmental entity competes against Fannie?

Answer: None.

Why is that? Because Fannie's impossible "business" model operates at a loss to give the power to Washington, creating a monopoly that is uncompetitive.

AIG is in insurance. That's the next industry. And Washington's acquisition will yield similar catastrophic results.

This is so not about bonuses.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/18/2009 4:39:55 PM
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Commander Emily Litella

 

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/18/2009 8:33:54 PM
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Seriously?

 

This is a joke, right?

Some detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay could be released into the United States, while others might face criminal trials, Attorney General Eric Holder told reporters today.
Yeah... the guys held at GBay have no chip on their shoulder or ill intent toward the US. Not to mention that some of them might just find that the fastest and surest way into the US is through Cuba.

HopenchangeTM! Live it - love it! Just don't live next to it.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/19/2009 10:09:03 AM
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Stride

 

Earlier this week, I started work for a new client. Without going into revealing detail, they want a decision engine.

They hired a firm to do the work, and the firm piddled around for two months, charged them thousands of dollars, and got nowhere.

The reason they got nowhere with it is that instead of trying to understand what they were building, they looked solely at the current process. Said another way, if the client wanted a trail cut through the woods, rather than build a device that clears trails and can be reused again and again, the firm went to work chopping trees and clearing brush. And got five feet into the thicket.

A decision engine, properly constructed, is really several things at once. It can be used to poll people, where each answer leads to another logical question, and the path can diverge based upon the answers you give. It can be used to help route people to the right solution, based on a series of narrowing questions. It can be used to quiz people and test their knowledge. But to see all of that, you have to climb on top and ask the question: what is this, really?

The beauty of a decision engine is that it shouldn't follow a rigid path hard-wired into the system, but should let the client re-imagine and re-tool, as needed. It should allow them to manage and map and manipulate the myriad paths to arrive at what is best for their customers, who will eventually use this system.

I'm having a great time with it. I love a good challenge!

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/19/2009 7:24:38 PM
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The Founding Fathers and God

 

Go here for the whole thing, but this is the skippiest treatise I've read about the notion of these United States being a Christian nation in its origin.

In sum, not so much:

The myth that the United States is founded on the "Judeo-Christian Bible" persists and prospers despite readily available evidence. Contrary to popular belief, the Founding Fathers rejected the biblical model in favor of a secular model of government.

The authors of the United States Constitution had first-hand experience with governments created and supported by God. Preaching at the coronation of King George III, the Archbishop of Canterbury argued that the new monarch ruled by "divine appointment" which required his subjects to submit entirely to his authority.

The Archbishop saw the King's authority as an extension of God's sovereignty and George III in the role of Moses, Saul, David and Solomon.

To lead successfully a revolution, the Founding Fathers had to reject the biblical model: God did not create and maintain governments. Rather, they endorsed a revolutionary view of government that has its origins outside of the Bible in English common law and the Enlightenment.

Men, not God, created governments. The success or failure of the government rested with men, not God. God's role in human affairs was limited to bestowing liberty to individuals, and they were free to criticize their own creation and make their own decisions.

It finishes solidly with this:

"Faith in God and individual liberty flourishes when governments keeps their hands off religion. Faith in God and freedom diminish when politicians use God to limit an individual's conscience."

Can a brother get an amen?

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/19/2009 8:47:17 PM
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Obama Does Leno!

 

Or, this could just as easily apply to Obama's message to Iran.

Or, getting mad at AIG for the, er, bonus protections that Treasury Secretary Geithner and Sen. Dodd wrote into the bill signed by Obama himself.

But Obama's got time to practice his bowling regularly! Just not his non-teleprompter schtick.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/20/2009 12:33:17 PM
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Do You Love Children?

 

If you do, then don't vote for politicians who increase government debt. Guess who gets to pay for all that debt someday...

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/21/2009 9:20:51 AM
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The King of Incompetence

 

Drudge has this headline at the moment:

Obama will call for increased oversight of 'executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies' as part of sweeping plan to 'overhaul financial regulation', NY TIMES reporting Sunday, newsroom sources tell DRUDGE... REGULATE!
It is none of this president's business what private companies pay their people. None.

Many banks wanted nothing to do with the money forced their way last fall, but now that the government forced them to take the money - OR ELSE - Obama wants to use this to regulate pay. And not just at financial companies. We get "possibly other companies" as well.

Isn't this America, where the only limit to the ceiling on my income is me?

But it's not America any more. It's a leftist canvas, on which they can paint the rules as they see fit. I call bullshit on that.

I went to a town hall this morning, and people never before involved in the process of politics are pissed and they are getting involved. At one point, I asked an elected representative if there is a chart of expenditures - to easily see where all this money is going. Long answer short, no, not really. It's convoluted, I was told. He'd wanted to get the same information when he started, but it's a mess. Another person suggested that we might have to wait until next year before we can get the transparency we seek.

Screw that. The data's public. I'll get it and chart it myself. And then make it public. And I'll get the charted data into the hands of the legislators who want to stop this crazy train wreck of irresponsible, control-seeking spending.

I wasn't alone. Others there were equally pissed and animated to do something. Passionate people change the world. We are tired of the incompetence - from the political top on down - and we are sick of the limits on freedom. I still believe in America, and I'll work to wrest it back from the lefty loonballs who think capitalism is just this horrible thing that is horribly unfair. Their thinking, like their work ethic, is lazy.

If you're one of them, heads up. You don't have the right to tell me what I can do, what I can make, what I can keep, how much is enough, or what I should say or think.

If politics is a free market where competition takes place, get ready for a whole bunch of that. Community organization? Bring it on... because I tend to think that most of America wants to earn its own way, expects individual responsibility, and doesn't actually expect that electing the right politician is a lottery ticket that purchases lazy welfare. And I think that the Achievers in life have had about enough of political corruption and theft.

We crowned an incompetent man, who believes himself to be king. There's a whole bunch of us working toward his irrelevance, and toward the irrelevance of the other politicians who want to chair the central planning committee.

Unfortunately, this is necessary for now because normally, government is just stupid bureaucracy and we could just ignore it all. Not no more.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/21/2009 3:35:10 PM
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Since We're Feeling All Governmenty

 

Over at HotAir.com, in a thread of comments, a fella named Theophile makes a suggestion:

1. From this point forward, the annual budget of the Federal Government cannot exceed 10% of the Gross Domestic Product for the previous calendar year. This includes all spending.

2. The government cannot tax at a rate of higher than 15% of the Gross Domestic Product. Once the government has used the excess of collected taxes to pay off the debt and set aside no more than three years worth of budget as an emergency fund, then the tax rate must drop to 10%. Should an excess of taxes be charged any particular year, then the excess should be returned to each taxpayer para pursuant to the taxes that they paid.

I like that. It's smart and responsible. Which means it won't happen any time soon, but it's a good idea, and worth pushing toward.

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/21/2009 6:34:37 PM
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Des Moines Tea Party

 

The location for the April 15th Des Moines Tea Party has changed to the Capitol Building! Des Moines is having a Tea Party Protest on April 15, between 11 AM and 2 PM at the west side of Capitol Hill.

Bring numbers...

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/22/2009 12:14:01 AM
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Bankruptcy

 

"The ship's hull is intact for now, sir. But about that iceberg directly in front of us..."

So reports Sen. Judd Gregg, Obama's previous choice for Commerce Secretary, in his discussion on CNN's State of the Union.

Reports the AP:

The top Republican on the Senate Budget Committee says the Obama administration is on the right course to save the nation's financial system.

But Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire also says President Barack Obama's massive budget proposal will bankrupt the country.

Gregg says he has no regrets in withdrawing his nomination to become commerce secretary. He pulled out after deciding he could not fully back the administration's economic policies.

The senator said Obama's spending plan in the midst of a prolonged recession would leave the next generation with a country too expensive to live in.

Lefty NY Times columnist Frank Rich calls this Obama's "Katrina moment." Fellow lefty NY Times columnist Paul Krugman also dumps on Obama, saying, "it's just horrifying that Obama - and yes, the buck stops there - has decided to base his financial plan on the fantasy that a bit of financial hocus-pocus will turn the clock back to 2006."

That iceberg is all the spending Obama plans to do.

Do you love children?

 

0 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/22/2009 10:26:39 AM
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A Beauty Timeout

 

My favorite artist is Charles Sovek. Love his work. As I've evolved as an artist, his work with color and how he sees things has had an impact on me.

This is one of my very favorite of his paintings, one he did of his living room. Charles worked hard to see not objects, but patches of color. He painted what he saw, and he did it with so much vibrancy of color.

In a colorless world, where the individual and achievement are threatened, this painting moves me greatly. In fact, it's the background on my phone.

Art is a good thing... beauty is important.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/22/2009 3:32:50 PM
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The President's President

 

I'm sure I've been dense, but it just occurred to me why Obama thinks he can tell companies how to run their business, whether they took government money or not.

He's thinks that being president of the United States makes him the president of the president of any company. He's the boss' boss, in his mind.

That's key. Your company's org chart is incomplete, as drawn today. If you own the company or if you are CEO, you report to Barack Obama. You have to justify your stewardship of the company to him, from operations to salary.

In short, all companies are already nationalized in his mind. It's just that the legal paperwork hasn't been completed yet.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2009 2:12:25 AM
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Prime Directive

 

"No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else's draft." - H. G. Wells

Some people seem addicted to telling others how they ought to live. "If it were me, I'd do it this way..." They want to change the world not through influence, but through coercion.

Strength, I believe, is in allowing others to run their own affairs, make their own mistakes, find their own way to do things. There was a lot of wisdom in Star Trek's Prime Directive of "Non-interference." It originated from Westphalian Sovereignty, which was responsible for bringing peace to much of Europe in the mid-1600's.

International relations theorists have identified the Peace of Westphalia as having several key principles, which explain the Peace's significance and its impact on the world today:
  • The principle of the sovereignty of states and the fundamental right of self-determination
  • The principle of (legal) equality between states
  • The principle of non-intervention of one state in the internal affairs of another state
These principles are common to the way the "realist" international relations paradigm views the international system today, which explains why the system of states is referred to as "The Westphalian System".
Now substitute the word "state" in that list of principles with the word "individual."

Want peace? Leave people alone to determine for themselves the direction of their lives. Adopt a policy of non-intervention into the affairs of others. Let them be who they are as they choose. Let them earn their own way, be responsible for their own state, succeed, fail - live.

On the flip side of this wisdom that brought over 200 years of peace to Europe, there is the Gladys Kravitz theory of relations, where you think it is absolutely your business to know what's going on in the lives of others, and that you have every right to tell them how to live, and that you might even force them to do as you think is best.

That is the surest way to bring conflict - meddling in the affairs of others. If you do that or have the instinct to do that, you're a lousy neighbor.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2009 9:24:59 AM
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Communication

 

I'm a hack at communicating through pictures. It's a skill I'm trying to achieve, but as an example of mastery, I give you Chris Muir's artwork:

"Brevity is a great charm of eloquence." - Cicero

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2009 9:34:29 AM
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Solving Problems for the Poor

 

I first wrote about this last year, but India is now selling the Tata Nano.

This is a great example of how private industry works to solve problems and improve life for the poor.

This is also a great example of why the American government would get in the way of this kind of innovation through its nannyish tendencies. The car has no airbag, no other big safety features, only goes to 43 mph.

Government is no friend of the poor. Business is.

Question: what cost would unions bring to car production like this? Doubling the cost? Tripling the price tag?

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2009 10:10:21 AM
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Lincoln's View of Liberty

 

Heard this today:

We all declare for liberty but in using the same word we do not all mean the same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor while with others, the same word many mean for some men to do as they please with other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name - liberty. And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called by two different and incompatible names - liberty and tyranny.
This said to me by Mark Levin, who quoted a little known speech from Lincoln, given in 1864.

Does Obama know Lincoln? Not even close.

Does Obama have any claim on Lincoln's legacy? Not even remotely.

In fact, to the degree that Obama and Company believes that they have a right to pilfer your life's income and achievements is the degree to which they want to reinstate involuntary labor - work done for the enrichment of another person not of your choosing. Lincoln, I think it can be argued, didn't look kindly on involuntary labor. Obama's intentions are the antithesis of everything for which Lincoln stood.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/23/2009 11:34:38 PM
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What are You Doing Wednesday Mornng?

 

There's a Tax Day Tea Party meeting at 7:15 AM on Wednesday morning at the Machine Shed Restaurant on Hickman.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/24/2009 8:37:51 AM
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Reducing Incentives

 

I didn't choose the boredom of watching Obama TV last night, but two items from that caught my attention via diane at the All Sides Political Forum. Obama wants to cut the interest rate tax deduction for mortgages, and he wants to cut the tax deduction for charitable giving. Pay attention to what I've set in bold.

QUESTION: Mr. President, are you -- thank you. Thank you, Mr. President. Are you reconsidering your plan to cut the interest rate deduction for mortgages and for charities? And do you regret having proposed that in the first place?

OBAMA: No, I think it's -- I think it's the right thing to do, where we've got to make some difficult choices. Here's what we did with respect to tax policy. What we said was that, over the last decade, the average worker, the average family have seen their wages and incomes flat. Even in times where supposedly we were in the middle of an economic boom, as a practical matter, their incomes didn't go up. And so, well, we said, "Let's give them a tax cut. Let's give them some relief, some help, 95 percent of American families."

Now, for the top 5 percent, they're the ones who typically saw huge gains in their income. I -- I fall in that category. And what we've said is, for those folks, let's not renew the Bush tax cuts, so let's go back to the rates that existed back in -- during the Clinton era, when wealthy people were still wealthy and doing just fine, and let's look at the -- the level at which people can itemize their deductions.

And what we've said is: Let's go back to the rate that existed under Ronald Reagan. People are still going to be able to make charitable contributions. It just means, if you give $100 and you're in this tax bracket, at a certain point, instead of being able to write off 36 percent or 39 percent, you're writing off 28 percent.

Now, if it's really a charitable contribution, I'm assuming that that shouldn't be the determining factor as to whether you're giving that $100 to the homeless shelter down the street. And so this provision would affect about 1 percent of the American people. They would still get deductions. It's just that they wouldn't be able to write off 39 percent.

In that sense, what it would do is it would equalize -- when I give $100, I'd get the same amount of deduction as when some -- a bus driver who's making $50,000 a year, or $40,000 a year, gives that same $100. Right now, he gets 28 percent -- he gets to write off 28 percent. I get to write off 39 percent. I don't think that's fair.

So I think this was a good idea. I think it is a realistic way for us to raise some revenue from people who've benefited enormously over the last several years. It's not going to cripple them. They'll still be well-to-do. And, you know, ultimately, if we're going to tackle the serious problems that we've got, then, in some cases, those who are more fortunate are going to have to pay a little bit more.

QUESTION: It's not the well-to-do people. It's the charities. Given what you've just said, are you confident the charities are wrong when they contend that this would discourage giving?

OBAMA: Yes, I am. I mean, if you look at the evidence, there's very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving. I'll tell you what has a significant impact on charitable giving, is a financial crisis and an economy that's contracting. And so the most important thing that I can do for charitable giving is to fix the economy, to get banks lending again, to get businesses opening their doors again, to get people back to work again. Then I think charities will do just fine.

For Joe Biden, over 10 years time, he and his wife gave a whopping $3,690 to charities, despite nearly $2.5 million in income. Obama was similarly stingy until he became a senator. I'll get to the mortgage tax deduction reduction in a minute, but for all of those folks who work at charities who voted for Obama, still feeling the love? I'm telling you, Obama doesn't care about anyone except his own acquisition of power. There's no rationale to go after charitable contributions.

And the mortgage interest tax deduction: can you say rent? The mortgage interest tax deduction is one of the main reasons why people buy a home. As diane smartly said, "Many people will buy a house rather then rent because of the benefit of a tax reduction of the mortgage interest. That's why my kids quit renting and bought. Now the housing market, especially in my state is already in the toilet, remove any incentive to buy and things will only get worse. Now my son has talked of selling his house and going with a rent to buy option in a really chi-chi neighborhood here where the pricey homes have really been reduced in value and people are desperate to get out from under. His plan was should the housing market rebound, he'd commit to buy and end of with a really good deal. Take away the incentive for mortgage deductions, and someone like him would be a permanent renter."

As Obama says, these proposals of his won't "cripple" anyone, so he's quite comfortable getting as close to it as he can.

HopenchangeTM!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 7:56:34 AM
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Do You Care about Childrens' Futures?

 

This is the projection of Obama's deficit spending for the country. Debt. Massive, deepening debt.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 10:05:39 AM
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Non-Profit Political Endorsement

 

Coming soon? The Newspaper Revitalization Act?

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

Riiiiiiight. If newspapers will be prohibited from political endorsements, then newspapers - in general - would have to shut down their presses anyway. The leftist bias in newspapers is constant, on every page. It's all a political endorsement.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 10:34:28 AM
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Conservatives in Iowa?

 

My goodness, but this morning I attended a conservative breakfast. Easily 50 - 60 people at 7:15 in the morning. And through it, I discovered another conservative blog, The Conservative Reader. I look forward to getting to know those guys better. This evening, there's a Tea Party organization meeting. Sweet!

One fella got up this morning and spoke, saying something to the effect of: "I came here today - my first time being here - because I'm mad. I'll be at the Tea Party on April 15th. I'm going to start getting involved. A lot. And if you want to know what to do, just follow me. I'll lead."

Yep... welcome to the fight, buddy. We love this country too much to watch a bunch of statists - those who think government needs a bigger place in our lives - take over and ruin our liberty and strangle capitalism.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 11:02:44 AM
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Do You Like Europe's Opinion Now?

 

Remember when people were anxious about Europe's opinion of us during Bush's tenure?

The president of the European Union slammed President Barack Obama's plans to have the U.S. spend its way out of recession as "a road to hell," underscoring European differences with Washington ahead of a crucial summit next week on fixing the world economy.
Do you suppose that matters to those folks now?

(By the way, "right-winger" Bush so turned off the Europeans that the French and the Germans voted right-wingers into leadership in the persons of Sarkozy and Merkel.)

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 11:30:18 AM
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Can We Import This Guy?

 

Spanking Britain's leftist Prime Minister... hard.

I want this guy to be our Minority leadership.

ETC: Did you notice? No teleprompter, and no big TV in the back of the room to read from.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/25/2009 12:00:45 PM
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Des Moines Tea Party

 

If you would like to help organize the coming Tax Day Tea Party at Iowa's Capitol, visit the web site and sign up!

Spread the word!

 

3 Comments
by Brett Rogers, 3/26/2009 2:43:41 PM
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Hope

 

Hope is finding out that America is reading some solid books:

Five of the top twenty are conservative books, promoting freedom and the way of the origin of this country.

I got my copy of Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny, which as of yesterday had a printing of 512,000 - and that's just two days into its publication. I bought my four oldest children their own copy as well.

I quoted Levin's quote of Lincoln from the back of the book the other day, which is also the source of its title. Here's another quote, this time Levin himself, describing this country's founding principles:

A free people living in a civil society, working in self-interested cooperation, and a government operating within the limits of its authority promote more prosperity, opportunity, and happiness for more people than any alternative.
I love that... "self-interested cooperation." It's a terrific picture of how people can respect each other's property and work with one another, and how government, properly positioned in the background of society, can partner with the free individual to work for the individual's pursuit of happiness. Not by interference or intervention, but by wisely limiting itself to self-restrained authority.

Government doesn't have to be evil, but when it overreaches and when it encroaches on the freedom of the civil individual, then its politicians become tyrants and government is no longer a partner for prosperity, but an adversary to be fought. And that is what we have today. And that is precisely why America immerses itself in re-learning the principles of freedom and capitalist productivity. It is that roused self-interest that gives me hope - not the false hope of a managed society centered on the leadership of one man. Such false hopes are childish, naive, and - for the power they bestow upon such leadership - dangerous.

Get informed, and then get busy.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 12:15:27 AM
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Schiff!

 

My friend, Kelly, sends me the link to Peter Schiff, the economy guy who runs rings around every member of Obama's administration. He is being urged to run against that doddering old corrupt fool, Chris Dodd, for the US Senate in Connecticutt. This grassroots effort to recruit him to the cause is emblematic of what people are doing to wrest power from the ineptitude and corruption in Washington.

Real Change!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 12:26:56 AM
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Smart Meter

 

By the way, regarding Obama's Smart Meter technology initiative...

The idea that a Smart Meter, a device that allows the consumer to more easily comprehend their peak energy usage, will invigorate the economy and job creation...

A couple of points:

Let's take a real-life example. Georgia Power is spending $254 million to replace 2.25 million business and residential meters. That's a cost of about $112 per replacement. From the article, "the meter will be able to help customers manage power consumption by telling them their usage during high-demand times of the day."

Does that save energy - by telling me that I'm using a lot of energy? Would that knowledge change my usage?

Georgia Power is installing these because it makes reading the meter easier, not because it saves a bunch of money. Well, I take that back. No more "meter man." That job disappears. Cost savings for Georgia Power there...

My energy bill for my home here is about $220 a month. I can't imagine that I'll change my lifestyle to consume less electricity for a savings of $20 or $30 a month. Why would I? It's not breaking my bank to consume as I do. In fact, it's worth it to me to consume as I do. Obviously... or I wouldn't do it.

So where are the jobs created from this? From Obama's interactive press conference:

We could set up systems so that everybody in each house have their own smart meters that will tell you when to turn off the lights, when the peak hours are, can help you sell back energy that you've generated in your home through a solar panel or through other mechanisms. All this can be done, but it also creates jobs right now. Our biggest problem, we don't have enough electricians to lay all these lines out there.
Ahem... Georgia Power has already replaced about 1 million customers' meters. They're scheduled to be done in 2011. Project managed. So evidently we have enough folks at the power companies to do this already - it's well underway.

Also, this kills jobs. The meter man is replaced. Gone.

Why does this guy get away with outright lies?

I mentioned in a previous post that what creates jobs is increased productivity and greater profitability. Is turning down electricity during peak usage going to increase productivity? The few bucks saved by the few individuals who will change their consumption because of these devices - will they run out and start companies with their savings? Oh, wait... that would require energy consumption. Kind of defeats the purpose... so probably no jobs there either. And of course, taxing the high income earners won't encourage job creation...

What a head-scratcher, these magical jobs. No doubt traded for a cow on the way to his presidency. But then cows are a source of methane and carbon dioxide, so maybe by getting rid of the cow and acquiring these magic jobs he'll find golden eggs and we'll all be rich.

Or maybe it's just a fairy tale.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 1:55:25 AM
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Generating Revenue

 

I read this today:

President Barack Obama is putting former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker in charge of a tax-code review aimed at closing loopholes, streamlining the law and generating revenue, budget Director Peter Orszag said.
Just to clarify... government never "generates revenue." Government doesn't have a product or service that would attract people to purchase it freely. That's how you generate revenue - you create something that others crave so that they would part with their hard-earned money to have it.

Generating revenue? Bullshit. It's confiscation. That's why Obama is nothing more than the Thief-in-Chief. HopechangeTM!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 9:00:55 AM
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Secretary of Mamby Pamby

 

Hillary Clinton, our nation's Secretary of State, was on Greta last night - and begged North Korea to please oh please just talk to us.

VAN SUSTEREN: Back home, headlines now about North Korea, and so I'm going to try to pry some answers out of you on North Korea. What are we going to do about North Korea?

CLINTON: Well, you and I were just talking before the cameras started rolling because you're one of the few people I know who's actually been there and who understand that it is a -- you know, it's a different environment.

You've got to figure out how to convince them to act in what we consider to be, you know, the interests of the people of North Korea but also the interests of the rest of the world.

I have been very clear, President Obama has been very clear, we would like to get back to the kind of talks that led to the initial steps in their de-nuclearization. The six-party framework that involves all of the neighbors, each of whom have a stake in what happens in North Korea -- we have offered that. I sent word that we would like to have our special envoy for North Korean policy go to Pyongyang. They didn't want him to come.

So we're working hard. And if they're watching you, I'm sure that since you were there, you made a big impression, went to a karaoke bar in Pyongyang.

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: They probably still remember you. If they're watching -- if anybody from North Korea is watching this program with you, Greta...

VAN SUSTEREN: I do a mean Elvis karaoke.

CLINTON: I bet. You know, we'd love for them to begin to talk about what we can do together to fulfill the framework of the six-party talks.

Seriously? America? Begging North Korea to come talk to us on national TV?? Watch it for yourself.

I heard this on Rush today, and this is just so anemic. Is this what America's foreign policy has become?

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 1:00:55 PM
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A Beauty Timeout: March 27, 2009

 

I picked up this painting today from West Des Moines' The Great Frameup:

Lovely!

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/27/2009 10:12:18 PM
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Celebration

 

Tonight, between 8:30 PM and 9:30 PM, we're supposed to celebrate "Earth Hour." We're supposed to turn off all of our lights.

What an utterly ridiculous idea.

Instead, I'm with Glenn Reynolds and I will do what I usually do on Saturday nights, which is to be utterly productive. I'm working on a web site for a client. My wife lays nearby as eye candy for me on our couch, reading by lamp light. My sons are downstairs playing XBox.

Personally, I take great joy in productivity. What a silly notion to shut off my lights and do nothing for an hour. I do that when I sleep, resting from busting my tail.

Environmentalists hate people. Not me.

ETC: More proof that the apostle of all things environmental doesn't give a rip about his own cause.

The kicker, though, were the dozen or so floodlights grandly highlighting several trees and illuminating the driveway entrance of Gore's mansion.

I [kid] you not, my friends, the savior of the environment couldn't be bothered to turn off the gaudy lights that show off his goofy trees.

Perhaps you shouldn't be so alarmed either.

 

1 Comment
by Brett Rogers, 3/28/2009 8:15:07 PM
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Are You Paying Attention?

 

Remember when I wrote The President's President? About how Barack sees himself as the head of all companies in the US now?

I bet a few of you thought I was stretching a bit.

Do you now?

The White House: home to our time's Supah Genius.

ETC: Found this today...

In the first two months of the year, the number of buyers considering a GM or Chrysler vehicle fell 12% and 33%, respectively, according to CNW Marketing Research, which specializes in the auto industry. At the same time, Ford saw a 12% increase in consideration.
Government intervention is a recipe for failure. Ford is doing better because there are people, like me, who will never consider GM or Chrysler again and who appreciate Ford's stance to not rely on the government. Now that Obama thinks he owns the company, GM will likely tank more.

But I don't know... there are a lot of gullible people out there who think government is cool. I hope that they don't have to learn the truth the hard way.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/29/2009 6:31:05 PM
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Hot, Baby!

 

"Write from the soul, not from some notion what you think the marketplace wants. The market is fickle the soul is eternal." - Jeffrey A. Carver

In the past six months, I've undergone a kind of experiment. As some of you know, a big company reached out to me to do some marketing work for them. That's still supposed to happen - sometime in mid-April. But at that time, I ratcheted back on my public presentation of me. Sterilized it, if you will.

Not long ago, I changed my mind. I gotta be me.

And then something strange happened. I became busier and more in demand than I've ever been. It was like a switch.

Why is that?

Like Jeffrey Carver says above, the marketplace is fickle. I can't - and shouldn't - change me for some notion of what others want. I'm a fiery creature. Passion runs deep in me and when I'm on, I'm very on. And sometimes, that causes magic to happen. There are a few niches where my talents work very well. By continuing to put myself out there, as I am, I've either been noticed or have attracted others to what I do, and so good things are happening.

Which is true, I suspect, for everyone. That when they are true to their strengths and to their natural inclinations, they're firing on all pistons and woo boy - watch them go!

My involvement with the Des Moines Tea Party has me in the position of being a hub for communication through the web site (because I built it). One guy who wrote in said this:

I can certainly help with setup on the 15th, passing out flyers etc. I may need some help getting pointed in the right direction as I have never been a part of something like this before, but I will do what I can. Thank you and all your colleagues for putting this together. I am thrilled at the chance to have my voice heard for a change rather then sitting at home and getting mad at all the things I see going on.
I think that's it... passionately getting involved rather than sitting around. It's productivity. It's action. It's movement. And that feels good and right.

A friend of mine believes in the concept of "continued relevance." It's hard to have meaning in life when we're living life according to the perceived standards of someone else. The marketplace is fickle. The soul, on the other hand, is an eternal furnace of drive. Relevance, I believe, comes not when trying to get along with everyone (ask John McCain), but when sticking true to your principles and being fearless in the pursuit of getting shit done.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/31/2009 10:13:02 AM
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Too Far

 

For those of you all excited about HopenchangeTM, how excited are you about this?

In a little-noticed move, the House Financial Services Committee, led by chairman Barney Frank, has approved a measure that would, in some key ways, go beyond the most draconian features of the original AIG bill. The new legislation, the "Pay for Performance Act of 2009," would impose government controls on the pay of all employees -- not just top executives -- of companies that have received a capital investment from the U.S. government. The bill gives Geithner the authority to decide what pay is "unreasonable" or "excessive." And it directs the Treasury Department to come up with a method to evaluate "the performance of the individual executive or employee to whom the payment relates."
That's right. The government runs your company. Obama is your new CEO. He's the president, you know.

This is not America.

 

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by Brett Rogers, 3/31/2009 10:26:21 AM
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