Thursday, December 31, 2009

Positive Airport Security Measures

Despite all of the hand waving and blame avoiding after the foiled Christmas Day terrorist attempt on Northwest flight from Amsterdam to Detroit, we should take some solice in the existing airport security measures.

Terrorists are down to stashing bomb-making materials in their underwear. If these body-scanning devices become ubiquitious, will terrorist be limited to inter-body stashing means?

After all is said and done, the airport security means work for the most part. The problem in this case is that the information regarding this terrorist was not properly correlated by the agencies that should have correlated it.

A father sharing his opinion about a son is a rare event and one that merits further investigation. It seems the CIA did its part in communicating this to the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). (I am sure the NCTC claims they did not get it soon enough.)

Connecting the dots is tough to do. It goes against each agency's natural instincts. The agencies have done a decent job protecting the nation against terrorist attacks since 2001. Do they have issues? Certainly. Is it perfect? Far from it. But the men and women mean well and seem to be heading in the right direction. They can anticipate most of the means of a terrorist attack but they cannot stop them all.

Their task is to understand the risks and to make conscienious efforts to minimize them. It is unworkable to eliminate all risks -- the costs and delays would be enormous if attempted.

Although many say it was 'systemic failure' that allowed the Christmas Day airline plot to occur, one dilligent man acted and stopped it. Sometime the policies cannot address everything and it comes down to seat-of-the-pants action by people not employed by a government. Thank goodness for the ability to think and act freely, without being told what to do.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Airliner Bomb Plot -- Existing Policies Fail, New Bad Policies Created

The Christmas day airliner bomb plot by Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, from Nigerian, trained in Yemen, is a perfect example of a broken system. Every thing should have been in place, from a policy perspective, to have intercepted him before he boarded the plane.

On a Northwest flight from Amsterdam, 20 minutes prior to landing in Detroit, Abdulmutallab tried to ignite a just-assembled-bomb based on PETN. A fellow-flier recognized the activity and pounced on the terrorist.

He was able to smuggle the chemicals inside his underwear, circumventing traditional physical inspection/screen mechanisms. However, there were other things -- flags -- that should have forced the authorities to pull him aside for further investigation:

Flag 1 - he was on a terrorist watch list (not on the no fly list)
Flag 2 - he paid for a one-way ticket with cash
Flag 3 - he had no checked luggage

There is no real issue with any one of these but collectively, they should raise concern.

It has been my experience that these flags are well known and established within the various national homeland security agencies. The problem, like most issues with bureaucracies, is execution. The policies exist, but the execution of the policies is lacking.

What happens next? Over-reaction from governments and airlines. Investigative committees and immediate status reports. Political opportunism. Political spin.

Hearing that the TSA is asking airline passengers to sit in their seat one hour before landing -- no bath room visits, no electronics, no knitting -- is expected. It is unreasonable and will do little if anything to thwart an attack. It is as stupid as forcing people to take their shoes off before passing through security -- all because one terrorist tried to bomb a plane with supplies hidden in his shoes. What happens if someone tries this with materials smuggled in their rectum?

The answers to these issues are not privacy-stripping policies. The answer are solid investigation, risk assessments and policy enforcement. Most of the TSA reactionary policies add delay and costs, but there is no evidence that any of this will make us safer. Government serves itself, not the people. Government will react, showing the people they are doing something, whether it works or not.

The government is always trying to address the last issue -- fighting the last war -- with reactionary solutions. Some things they should do, they will not do because it is not politically correct. For example, on the list of things to track, a person's nationality and religion should be considered as part of a collective. Just because a person is a male Muslim should not force any action, but add this to a long list of other things like past travel records, method of payment, baggage, flight plans, destination (hotel, family, friends), validated purpose, etc. Why we fail to acknowledge that almost every terrorist that has committed terrorist acts against America is an Islamic extremist is beyond me.

So we will have full-body ex-rays and will be forced to hold it for an hour or more prior to landing -- this after the airline feeds and hydrates us for the previous hours. Likewise, any heroic effort like was demonstrated on the Christmas day Northwest Flight 253 will not be allowed, according to the TSA, because you cannot leave your seat prior to landing.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

A Health Bill Becomes a Pro-Abortion Bill

A health care bill (aka: socialize medicine) coupled with health insurance (aka: the public option) is a dream come true for most Democrats. When government funded abortion is added to the mix, liberals are seeing the realization of a life long fantasy.

Only an idiot would have thought abortion would not be included in this bill. Any anti-abortion Democrat will mind their position in the party -- shut up and vote yes.

I can also promise you that illegal immigrants will also be covered by this health care program, most without having to pay a cent.

Give away free stuff to the lower ranks of society, you have voters for life, generation after generation. Look at how African Americans vote. Hispanics are following suit. This has worked all over the third world for decades -- Chavezism at its finest is being realized in America.

While we all know we have runaway medical costs, creating a massive entitlement program couple with a certain degradation in the quality of health care for most (over time) is the wrong thing to do in a recession.

Whereas some will argue that federal government allowed us to avoid a depression with their TARP and stimulus programs, none of the programs are designed to build confidence in business opportunities.

The bottom line is that businesses are uncomfortable about the impact the health care entitlement will have on them.

I know from personal experience that in our business, 2010 is being forecast similar to 2009, not 2008; and even then, with some reservation. There is hope that we it will not be as bad as it has been in 2009. My opinion is that 2010 will be 5-10 percent below 2009. I hope I am wrong.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Health Care Bill: Political Suicide or Real Value

The reason I am not a liberal is because I do not think government is the answer to most of society's problems. What the federal government is best equipped to do -- military and certain infrastructure -- they are less than stellar. Why don't they do a good job? Because they have no competition -- no compelling reason to excel.

In this latest health care maelstrom, the motivation started off with coverage for those not currently being covered by medial insurance, for whatever reason. This new proposal is not going to cover all of those insured. This is axiomatic.

Sure, there will be some people that will benefit, though certainly not the majority. What it will do is provide less quality health care with conscious rationing, discourage Americans from going into medical practice (not a good personal investment to time and money give the potential return), create an insurance system that will not be competitively fair (if their costs are greater than their incomes, which will occur, they cannot go broke like real firms). It will offer coverage for abortions and other political sensitive procedures.

Most reasonable people understand this. Event he politician behind it. This is not about better health care, it is about control and power. Likewise, the debating process that has gone on this past few weeks is not legislation, it is closer to corruption.

What Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) did was nothing less than corruption: holding out for wording in the bill that would only benefit Nebraska.

Many representatives have conscientiously elected to vote against the wishes of their constituencies, even if it cost them their position. They are liberals first, representatives second. They are willing to commit political suicide for socialized medicine.

Last week, the bombastic President Obama had the audacity of claiming that if we don't pass this health care bill, the federal government 'will go bankrupt'. Certainly we have a problem with runaway health care costs, but this socialized health care bill is not the answer. You can be sure it will direct us toward bankruptcy or poor health care for the masses. It is an entitlement on par with social security, trumping even the current Medicaid and Medicare programs. Obama's waggish ways have grown old. His jeremiad is woefully predictable.

Elections do have consequences. The Democrats will pay a price in November, but there is little confidence the Republicans that will fill the void will be able to reverse socialization. It is a desultory discussion.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Artificial Carbon Market

Most markets, in the traditional sense, are dynamic and not completely controlled by governments. Corn, pork, orange juice, gold, mobile phones, irrigation sprinklers, furniture, financial loans depend on weather, natural resource availability, consumer demand and effective service. Government have some control but not total.

The carbon market is 100 percent controlled by governments. They say how much pollution is allowed and how much is not. They control the CO2 permits. You cannot touch and feel the carbon market like you can most other markets.

The UN's Copenhagen discussions and negotiations this week are more about control than global warming. Getting 125+ nations to agree on a carbon emissions program is completely unrealistic.

The wealthier nations should not pay for the the less-wealthy nations' emissions control efforts. The less-wealthy nations should not expect the financial assistance from wealthier nations (but it does not hurt to ask). Nations whose people are more worried about where there next meal is coming from are so far removed from the fact/fiction, man-made global warming discussion. It makes little difference to them and their lives.

With the goal of the Copenhagen conference to find a way to rein in global emissions, whatever is decided, enforcement is all but impossible.

If nations believe that reducing their emissions will better their world, then each should strive to do so independently. Just because developing nations spread tons of CO2 into their breathing air and sky does not mean that every other nation should do the same.

When it comes down to it, this is an economical decision, not a climate one. Each country will do and should do what is their individual best interest.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

National College Football Awards & Heisman Trophy

Every year, the National College Football Awards Association and a number of other sponsoring organizations give out a series of awards for the year's best college football players. This list is well beyond event he most die hard fans. This year's winners are as follows...

- Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
- Biletnikoff Award (best receiver) - Golden Tate, Notre Dame
- Lou Groza Award (best kicker) - Kai Forbath, UCLA
- Ray Guy Award (best punter) - Drew Butler, Georgia
- Maxwell Award (best all-around player) - Colt McCoy, Texas
- Davey O’Brien Award (best quarterback) - Colt McCoy, Texas
- Outland Trophy (best interior lineman) - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
- Jim Thorpe Award (best defensive back) - Eric Berry, Tennessee
- Doak Walker Award (best running back) - Toby Gerhart, Stanford
- Rimington Trophy (outstanding center) - Maurkice Pouncey, Florida
- John Mackey Award (best tight end) - Aaron Hernandez, Florida
- Bronko Nagurski Trophy (outstanding defensive player) - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
- Rotary Lombardi Award (outstanding lineman) - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska
- Frank Broyles Award (top assistant coach) - Kirby Smart, Alabama
- Butkus Award (top linebacker) - Rolando McClain, Alabama
- Walter Camp Award (player of the year) - Colt McCoy, Texas
- Disney Spirit Award (most inspirational player) - Mark Herzlich - Boston College
- Campbell Trophy (Draddy Trophy) (player with the best combination of academics, community service, and on-field performance) - Tim Tebow, Florida
- Heisman Trophy - Mark Ingram, Alabama
- Lombardi Award (best lineman or linebacker) - Ndamukong Suh, Nebraska

The media tends to focus on the Heisman Trophy. While it is nice, it is more of an offensive glamor shot. A player on a poor team has no shot. A player from a non-BCS school has almost no shot. A defensive player has no shot. An offensive lineman has no shot.

These awards are necessary so the media outlets have something to talk about. And the players deserve the accolades, but there is usually little difference between the winners and the non-winners.

Not to take anything away from this year's Heisman winner, Mark Ingram, but Ndamukong Suh, defensive end from Nebraska, was clearly the best all-around, most dominating player in the country. Problem is that many of the voters never saw him play, and Nebraska was 9-4 and not in a BCS game. Toby Gerhard, RB from Stanford, was the best skill offensive player in the country, but he played on Stanford, an 8-4 team and not in a BCS game.

The Heisman Memorial Trophy annually recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity. But like many things, they evolve to suite the purposes of their supporters. I no longer watch the Award ceremony like I use to.

Realize also these awards are for college football. They have nothing to do with how they will do at the next level. Too often, they are over hyped and don't make it in the NFL (just look at the list of winners).

These awards are what they are: the voters for the awards' best guess at the best player for that designation given the voting guidelines. Someone's got to win; someone's not going to win. This gives us fans something to talk about, as worthless as that time is.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Stimulus #3 As Bad An Idea As Stimuli #1 and #2

I guess those elected to serve in government roles feel that the only way they can be effective is to create new programs. Programs that by the casual observer mean well on the surface but do nothing but help the few at the exclusion of the many without an actual cost:benefit analysis.

The Obama administration is contemplating a third stimulus program. Apparently Nancy Pelosi-Bush's Keynesian program #1 ($165 billion stimulus in February 2008) and Pelosi-Obama's Keynesian program #2 ($787 billion stimulus in February 2009) were not enough. Obama is contemplating program #3, looking much like the previous two, mostly ladden with infrastructure promises, but with some potential. He is proposing a hiring tax credit, zero capital gains on new investments in smaller companies, and enhanced expensing for small business.

It is being forecasted that TARP will cost less than expected -- that we will recover more than anticipated (losing only $42 billion). The problem is that the deficit is the highest it has every been and these programs do nothing to address that. They just compound the problem.

As was predicted with both stimuli programs, legislators see it as a permanent funding measure. A strong economy is a good way to address the deficit but not if government continues to spend more than it takes in.

Keynesian spending might make theoretical sense but it fails on practicality.

There is little hope that things will get better anytime soon. There are too many negatives, most created by the federal government. Extraordinary debt, a huge pending health care entitlement program, a pending energy policy that will add enormous costs to everything, two foreign wars with no end in sight, a government that is not a friend of business and capitalism.

Most people work for other people. These "other" people will take business risks only if they have a favorable chance of a reasonable return. If they are unwilling to make the investments, then there are no new jobs for the average Jane and Joe.

The federal government caused the recession and continues to prolong it with its stifling policies. Cut taxes on every one, incentivize new investment, growth and expansion. Put the stops on the next generation New Deal/Great Society social programs. Hope will be less government and less threats that government will intrude on the forces of capitalism.

I feel they current leadership will not do what's right because they want to do what liberals have always wanted to do: build and expand socialism.

I just wish we had politicians that built their platforms on truly reducing the size and scope of government. It just won't happen in mass.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Beer Can Collecting

Talk about nostalgia, when I read the Wednesday, 9 December 2009, front page article called Behold the Beer Can, Its Beauty Faded In the Eyes of the Young in the Wall Street Journal, I reverted back to my mid-teens.

Although a Mormon boy from Ohio, a friend and I were avid beer can collectors. He got me started. He had nearly 500 different beer cans. I built my collection to over 200.

I was probably 13-15 year old. I would make a point of digging through trash cans and dumsters in the large appartment complexes near my house. Saturday morning was a good collecting day, as was Monday, before the trash truck came.

Don't ask me why beer cans. It was actually a rather filthy hobby. The things we found in beer cans when we emptied and cleaned them of their content was rather disgusting.

I don't remember what I did with my collection. I can guarantee you that if I had it today, it would be worth something. I am not a pack rat, and tend to travel light. I just figured that it was stuff I really did not need; it would be too much hassle to deal with over the years as I moved all over the country.

I almost forgot about the hobby. The article made me remember it ... fondly, I guess.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Great College Football Games

In my opinion, today's conference championship games were as good of college football you could hope for. If you watch college football one day a year, this was the day.

In a snow storm in Pittsburgh, the #15 ranked Pitt Panthers (now 9-3) had the early advantage in this de facto Big East championship game. But after it was all said and done, the #5 ranked Cincinnati Bearcats (now 12-0) were able to pull it out. Despite 3 INTs, Tony Pike was able to throw 3 TDS passes including the game winner.

In the Conference USA Championship game in Greenville, NC, had #21 ranked Houston Now 10-3) playing unranked East Carolina (now 9-4). Despite over 500 years passing and 5 TDs, Case Keenham was unable to rally the troops and the Pirates beat the Cougars 38-32.

The game of the season, so they tell us, had #1 Florida (now 12-1) against #2 Alabama (now 13-0) in the SEC Championship in Atlanta. Alabama dominated; clearly the better team. They won going away, 32-13. Tebow (FL QB) was less than impressive. Ingram (RB - Ala) was very impressive. Alabama will now be ranked #1 and will play in the BCS Championship game in Pasadena on 7 January.

It looks like the Crimson Tide will be playing Texas in Pasadena. The #3 ranked Texas Longhorns (now 13-0) won with a last second field goal, 13-12, over the #22 ranked Nebraska Cornhuskers (now 9-4) in Dallas. A defensive game from the get-go. Nebraska clearly has the best player in the nation in their defensive tackle, Ndamukong Suh.

Taking place at the same time, the ACC Championship game was taking place in Tampa. It pitted #10 Georgia Tech (now 11-2) against unranked Clemson (now 8-5). This might have been the best game of the day. In a great performance, Tiger RB C.J. Spiller rushed for 233 yards and 4 TDs, but in a losing effort. The Yellow Jackets were able to score a game winning TD with less than 2 minutes to play; the Tigers were unable to answer, losing 39-34.

The BCS system is unfair and broken. But with games like this, I guess it does not matter. The bowl games, for the most part are anti-climatic, a road trip for the die hard fans. How does one tell which team is deserving of a shot at the championship game -- the one game? Alabama, Texas, TCU, Cincinnati, Boise State are all undefeated, yet only two can play in that one game. Texas lucked out -- Nebraska kicks off out of bounds, and latter horse-collars a receiver putting Texas in FG position. Then Colt McCoy had a brain cramp and almost ran out of time, even with a TO in his pocket. They put one second back on the clock (rightly so) giving Texas the shot at the FG attempt.

The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat on display today. It was great not having a horse in the race; just watching was very entertaining.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

A War to Win or Another Step into the Stygian Abyss

Obama was at his typical narcissistic best Tuesday night. We have waited months for his strategic direction for Afghanistan. A bombastic orator, he has dome something that might win elections but not translate into prudent governing.

When a politician tries to please everyone, he ends up pleasing none. Obama's home is in the hustings, not in actually making the tough decisions associated with position.

He did not mention victory. He sounded more like LBJ -- running scared, sounding like he wants success but presenting a coward's plan.

One cannot tell his opponent his strategy and hope to win. How do tell your opponent you will be done in 18 months and think that is a great idea?

It'll be 4-6 months to get the first new troops there and in 12-14 months start bringing them home.

We do not have the money. We never had the money. Afghanistan was a popular idea after 911 -- rah rah -- both sides of the aisle. Iraq was a so-called diversion.

Foreign wars with marginal strategic value are always bad ideas. They never end the way they were originally sold. They are hard.

Whatever we do in Afghanistan over the next 18 months will be okay in some ways but not worth the cost -- money, lives and opportunity costs.

This is another step into the stygian depths of a foreign quagmire, with Obama, the anointed one, leading the way.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Anthropogenic Global Warming Lacks Scientic Backing

Having spent the bulk of my professional career in the field of marketing and sales, I have learned a few things about what works and what does not. I have also learned that what is acceptable in one industry is not necessarily acceptable in another.

For example, in the consumer products world, if you build a new widget or better mouse trap, you can tell the world that is 'new and improved' or the best at doing this and that. Little verification is required; it is just an unsubstantiated claim. In the technology space, for the most part, the same thing. There are groups or individuals that actually do detailed analysis of the claims, but in general, we buy it because we think we like it, or it is fashionable, etc.

In the medical or scientific world, things are clearer -- more absolute. Scientific progress depends on accurate and complete data and on replication. A manufacturer cannot make claims without some scientific backing. Research and testing are required. If a medication is designed to lower blood pressure it a) should lower blood pressure in almost every case and b) should have limited side effects, and the ones it does have should be clear for the MD and patient to make an risk assessment. Just because a company wants a product to work or does as it was designed, if the science shows it does not, then the manufacture cannot market it as if if does.

The anthropogenic global warming (man-made global warming) consortia have confused scientific evidence with political will. For people belonging to the church of the global warming, scientific evidence supporting their claims is not quite where they want it to be. As such, they have done their best to squeeze dissenting scientists out of the peer review process. Only active 'church of the global warming' member need to participate. If you fail to hold the line, it will ostracize you.

A week ago, a hacker broke into the computers at the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit. He released a series of email damaging to the anthropogenic global warming crowds' legitimacy (as if it had any). Are stolen email and documents legitimate? One can argue either way. However, there is growing evidence to suggest that this is more of a political political argument than a scientific one.

If it were a scientific one, I really am not sure why a body of people want to turn the world's economy on its head through stringent government regulations. Prudence and reason should reign. Being good stewards of the earth is something all inhabitants should practice. However, teaching people that man is bad and the earth will be destroyed if the "enlightened ones" don't do something it, is pure rubbish.

It is clear that the anthropogenic global warming crowd (researchers) have gone out of their way to conceal information that counters their bias. At least one U.S. Senator is interested in following up with an investigation into "Climategate." Obama is pro-anthropogenic global warming, a key to his campaign. He could care less if it is based on any scientific evidence. He knows it is in his best political interest personally (not the nation's) because most of his supporters believe in this 'man-bad, earth good' diatribe.

The earth is going to be here long after we are gone. We all should make it a better place to live. But U.S.-based legislation or some global accord is not the way to accomplish this.

I will never get why these people think that if everyone in America drove electric cars, lived in solar and/or wind powered houses and recycled our own bath water, the world would some how cool down. The Asians, Latin Americans, eastern Europeans, Africans are not going to do anything about it.

And finally, why do anthropogenic global warmers believe that average temperatures of the earth over the pass 200 years are normal. Last time I looked, people like warmer temperatures.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Crossing the Mexican Border

I spent the day in Nogales, Mexico. Getting into Mexico is rather easy -- no lines -- they just want you to pay $23. that is the equivalent of a Visa but to for a specific company. (We have other facilities in Mexico that I can use this for, entering in another port of entry.)

Coming back was more involved. the guy I was with drives to-from Nogales once a week. He has a "fast pass" to expedite his crossings. He was able to drive through a special lane. right before crossing, I got out, walked around the corner to the foot-traffic line. It took about 5 minutes, met a US border patrol agent, he asked me a few question after looking at my passport, and wallah, back in the USA.

What I noticed or confirmed is that like most security, it is for the few. Most people pass back and forth for work. They do not have evil on the mind. It is the few -- the smugglers, the wanna-be terrorists, the disease-carrying chaff -- that merit the billions spent on security.

And it is the few that truly merit this expenditure in our to protect this nation.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Obama Warns of Double Dip Recession

This week, President Obama made his way throughout eastern Asia. On Wednesday, he issued a warning:
the US economy could head into a “double-dip recession” unless urgent steps were taken to rein in mounting public debt.

It is important though to recognise if we keep on adding to the debt, even in the midst of this recovery, that at some point, people could lose confidence in the US economy in a double-dip recession.
Is he repenting of his administration's recent economic sins? Or is he posturing for more bad news in the coming months and years?

He has spent like few administration prior, from Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to Cash for Clunkers and publicly-traded company takeovers. And now he is saying we need to rein in public debt.

He is encouraging a Democratic congress to pass a complete take-over of the nation's health care system and medical insurance industries, creating a entitlement program that will dwarf Social Security. How does this reconcile with his "double-dip" warning?

Housing does not look like it will rebound anytime soon. Consumer spending will remain stagnant for a long time. The stock market is looking more and more like a useless place to put money. Unemployment will remain at least at ten percent for a couple of years, probably raising to 11-13 percent because his administration's fiscal policies are destructive and discouraging to business investments and growth plans. His monetary policies are detrimental to the dollar, as it continue to buy less and less. The only saving grace for the average person, but not for some industries, is the stable price of energy. Could you image what it would be like if oil drifted back up to $4-5/gallon?

If Obama is warning about a double-dip recession, he is really showing his hand and is fearful of the future. If it were not so, he would be telling us how the government programs are bringing us out of this recession. We are dutifully warned. His policies will ensure this recession will get worse before it will get better.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gore Claims the Earth's Core Is Several Million Degrees

How is it that Al Gore continues to succeed despite his ignorance? The Nobel Laureate recently told Conan O'Brien that the Earth's interior is "extremely hot, several million degrees." That's more along the lines of the sun. The Earth's core is a few thousand degrees...just slightly off.

If the temperature anywhere inside the earth was "several million degrees," we'd be a star.

The demigod of man-made global warming continues to demonstrate that the Church of Global Warming is based on good intentions, not of facts. Facts just get in the way. So what if he's off by a million, his good intent was there -- man needs to harvest geothermal energy. (I wonder if he has a business investment in one or more geothermal enterprises? Duh.)

Most leaders of major causes, from cults and gangs to CEOs, have a basic understanding of the facts associated with their causes or businesses. They know when they don't and know when to keep quite. Algore has none of these qualities yet dorks continue to follow his rantings.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Replay Required for Soccer

I have written about this on multiple occasions: soccer, aka football, needs to embrace technology and use replays in certain situations.

In soccer, there is one referee and two line judges. There are twenty two players on the pitch. Is is asking an awful lot to think he can see all, especially in major matches.

This week, Ireland was eliminated from World Cup 2012 by France on a goal that clearly should not have been allowed.

France's Thierry Henry clearly handled the ball with his arm and hand two or three times while in the box, just prior to making a pass to teammate William Gallas for the go-ahead header. (France also had two players offsides at the beginning of series of events.)

Henry admitted his error. It was not intentional. He even felt that the game should be replayed. FIFA refuses to replay it. I disagree with those that feel Henry should be banned or made an example of. Henry was not a cheat; just because a player handles the ball with an arm or hand does not make him a cheat; does not make everything like this intentional.

There is talk of adding a goal referee behind each goal like in the NHL. That might be fine but there is no reason they should not use technology; e.g., video replays. Replays would help on free kick fouls, red cards, offsides on goals, etc. There are probably only five cases a game on average where replay would be used. Provided you can turn it around quick like the NHL and NCAA (most of the time) do and not the slow processes used by NFL and MLB. It would not slow the game down that much; the benefits would clearly outweigh the negatives.

There is too much on the line to allow something like this to go on given modern viewing and video technology. World Cup is bigger than the NFL and auto racing. It is the biggest sporting thing in the world. The Irish will forever be denied this opportunity to fairly qualify for South Africa.

World football succeeds despite FIFA. This is (FIFA is) frustrating for the fans and participants.

Climate Change Creating More Prostitution

Have you ever read such a ridiculous headline: "Climate change pushes poor women to prostitution, dangerous work"?

The article is based on here say and speculation. The authors state: "Climate change could reduce income from farming and fishing, possibly driving some women into sex work and thereby increase HIV infection." It is pure propaganda.

Apparently prostitution is a forced profession, that those that become prostitutes have no option.

He goes on to say "the sea’s resources are depleted due to overpopulation and overfishing, fishermen start losing their livelihood and women are forced to share the traditional role of the man in providing for the family."

Apparently overpopulation is caused by global warming and that because we over fish certain areas, the women must become whores.

The man-caused global warming idiots continue to show their stupidity.

What's the Deal with Vampires?

I have not read any of the Twilight saga books -- don't really need to in order to know what they are about. Young girl falls for a vampire.

I need to quote my brother in law made on Facebook to our relatives (that suck this stuff up, read the books, wait in the lines) that share a similar opinion about the vampire saga as I do:
Twilight triple sucks!!! Along with the shallow minded fools who have no interesting life of their own that feel the need to yearn to be vampires or shag vampires. In a nice mormon kind of way after you've married that vampire. Plenty of real life stories more interesting than this pantload.
There are just a lot of dweebs -- male and female -- that like dorky things, from Harry Potter, Star Wars and sci-fi characters, to Sex In the City and Twilight.

Some people have nothing better to do in life than waste it on absolute drivel. Some people prefer total escapism to real life. A bit is fine but in my opinion, excessive amounts are rather sad.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sarah Palin and Her Political Role

I don't mind Sarah Palin. I am okay with her politics but have no interest in seeing her as a national political leader. She writes a book that I have no interest in reading. She is not that smart. She has no original ideas. She is not well read.

As far as the Republican Party is concerned, sure she's a member but nothing more. She's not going to be the Party leader. She's not going to win the Republican presidential nomination in 2012, 2016, 2020, 2024, 2028 or 2032. She's not going to be a radio talk show host; she's not smart or witty enough. She's not going to be a conservative journalist or columnist; although Chuck Norris is, so maybe she'll just be a bad one.

She'll make some money with her book. She might be able to make some doing endorsements. But her political future, provided she's interested, might just be at the local level, as a Senator from Alaska at best.

I have nothing against her. But I do wish she'd just go back to Alaska, back to her family, back to her local political role. We always need good local politicians; that might just be where she'll make the biggest political impact.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stimulus Programs for Non-Existant Districts

This stimulus program is working so good that there are districts getting money....that don't even exist.
Vice President Joe Biden spoke with Arizona leaders at Sky Harbor Airport, regarding the success the stimulus has seen in Arizona, stating that it has created about 12,000 jobs.

According to recovery.org, the government’s website that tracks the stimulus funds, thirty jobs in Arizona’s 15th district were either saved or created with $761,420 in stimulus funds. The problem with this “good news” is that Arizona only has eight Congressional Districts.
Politicians love to talk about how great their programs are impacting the lives of Americans, whether it is true or not.
Arizona's page, for example, showed the state's 52nd, 15th and 86th congressional districts received hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus money, according to CNN affiliate KNXV. However, no such districts exist in Arizona, which has only eight congressional districts.
A report released Wednesday by the Franklin Center for Government & Public Integrity said it found such errors on pages for all 50 states, four territories and Washington, D.C. More than $6.4 billion in stimulus funds was shown as being spent -- and more than 28,420 jobs saved or created -- in 440 false districts, it said.
Why do they allow Biden out in public? The selection of Biden as a running mate should have disqualified Obama immediately. What was he thinking? Obviously he was not doing much thinking.

The idea behind government accountability is prudent, but not when they are the ones making the accounting. Why would anyone waste time looking at recovery.gov? Only those looking to find the jokes?

Monday, November 16, 2009

Disaster in Cleveland

The mistake on the lake has reared its ugly head once again. This time in the form of one of the worst major sports franchise's in America.

If you were one of the unfortunate ones to waste any of your time watching Monday Night Football tonight, you know what I am talking about. The Browns lost at home 16-0 to the Ravens, the team that bolted Cleveland for Baltimore many years ago. Cleveland has lost nine straight home games since 2008.

For 60 quarters this year, the Browns offense has not scored a touchdown. Tonight, they kept the inept streak in tack.

This is a team in total disarray. However, I will give the defense some credit: they play hard and do not give up, despite spending more time on the field than their offensive counterparts and knowing that they have to both keep the other team from scoring and score points themselves.

The Browns are one of a handful of teams never to have played in a Super Bowl. This organization is not going to get them there. They can't draft. They cannot put together a game plan. They cannot execute. This offense might be the worst offense in the history of the NFL.

As a life long Browns fan, I watch only out of duty. Why anyone pays a single dollar for a ticket is beyond me. It is bad enough watching them play in the comforts of your home on a wide screen HD TV, but to watch this team perform live... All I can say, alcohol must play some role.

It is rather embarrassing to claim the Browns as your team. I did not even wear any of my ten or twelve Browns shirts or sweatshirts. This is misery personified.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

And You Want to Be My Health Care Provider...

The CDC claims that H1N1 has killed 3,900 Americans thus far.
In an average flu season, about 36,000 Americans die and 200,000 are hospitalized with 90 percent of deaths and hospitalizations among people over 65.
This was not spun by the federal government and the media as just another flu. This was a pandemic. As such, they would gather up their experts, develop H1N1 medication, and get it to the nation.

We all know that did not quite work out they way they wanted. If you want a shot or want your children inoculated, you are pretty much out of luck. Who has the time to wait in lines? If you are not in the "risky" category, do not apply.

Get the government involved, you get FIMA's response to Hurricane Katrina victims; you get out of control spending -- stimulus programs, bailouts, corporate take overs -- that has only negative impacts on the economy.

The federal government wants to take over the nation's health care. It can't even get a real H1N1 inoculation program that they had plenty of time to address. Who actually thinks they can pull this off? Obviously some bureaucratic lunatics. It would be funny if it weren't so sad.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

False Impressions Regarding the Recession

We all have stereotypical beliefs about the economy, about financial matters, and about how the world works.

For the longest time, we were taught that an diversified investment portfolio must have owned and loaned equities. Compare a $10,000 investment in a stock or bond mutual fund made 10 years ago. That really has not worked out for most of us.

Buy a house because it will only go up in value. If you rent, you are throwing away money. We have learned by the school of hard knocks that cash rules. Working capital management, be it for you personally or for your business, trumps just about everything.

The recession will end, they all do. What is it in our economy that is going to drive investment? It is investment that creates growth, new opportunities, new innovations. It is investment that creates jobs. With the federal government's monetary policy of printing as much money as possible and its fiscal policy to deficit spend like never before, the federal government is handcuffing business.

The role of government is to secure the rights and freedoms of individual citizens. the less government get involved it the lives of its citizens, the better. the more they get involved, the less freedom we have.

The government and the Federal Reserve have created this recession. There is nothing in their plans that will pull us out of it. For the past 60 years, we have pulled of of these downturns -- the Fed-driven ups and downs. This time, they are going to have a tough time addressing the problems because they have gone too far down the socialist path. Ten percent unemployment might be the norm for some time; seeing it back in the five percent range will probably never happen again in this nation.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Nothing Like A New Job

I started a new job, with a new company, in a new city and state. I decided I needed a new start. The old thing was not working and it had not been working for five years. I gave the past business an enormous amount of my time and money. The financial opportunity cost was huge; the learning experience priceless.

I will be back into product management, this time in a more traditional form. The product managers (PMs) here own the product from start to finish with complete P&L responsibilities. Most technology PMs have product responsibility and lack the marketing roles.

The bad thing is being in a city far from my family, without the ability to return home as frequent as I'd like. We are in a buyers market for new homes but not in a sellers market for an existing home.

There is nothing like a new job. Getting out of a rut is something I needed to do. Goodbye Utah for a season; hello Arizona.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Landmark Health Care Reform Makes Us Worse Off

Speaker Pelosi, and those that share her ideology, must be on cloud nine. Last night, the House narrowly passed health care reform legislation along party lines -- 220 - 215. Obviously, there is a long way to go before it will reach Obama's desk -- three more votes including a Senate debate and bill and a combined bill that both legislatures will need to vote on.
The House legislation would for the first time require every individual to obtain insurance, and would require all but the smallest employers to provide coverage to their workers. It would vastly expand Medicaid and create a new marketplace where people could obtain federal subsidies to buy insurance from private companies or from a new government-run insurance plan.
It is not too late; it is not a forgone conclusion that this will become law.

Only a raving lunatic would tout this legislation along with the lines of Social Security in 1935 and Medicare in 1965 -- two entitlement program that are inefficient, financially broke and far removed from their original legislative spin.

Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and now government health care are based on fraud, redistribution of wealth and theft (the forthcoming cap and trade is likewise). It will burden this nation for decades and eventually break it. Centralized health care will cost every one more, return less, result in rationing, eliminate many medicines from the market, and disincentivizes investment in modern medical treatments and innovations.

Our government, based on the people we have elected, has taken another step forward in controlling more our our lives. It not only has taken control of our financial futures, it is trying to take control over our physical well-being.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Liberty and Tyranny

I just spent a few days at my dad's in AZ this week. He has four TV stations that don't really come in that clear, so he tends to read a great deal. I always get some extra reading time when I visit him. This time, I read Mark Levin's Liberty and Tyranny.

There is not station in Utah that airs Mark Levin so I rarely listen to him on the air. I am however familiar with his work, having read Men In Black. I think I have arrived at the point that I am going to minimize the number of conservative books I read. Why? They no longer educate me.

His book is good, don't get me wrong, but there is nothing new in it for me. His embedded Conservative Manifesto is worth a read, but again, not much new.

One thing I did like was how he uses "Statist" as his preferred term to refer to liberals as a whole.

Liberty and Tyranny is a solid summary of conservative principles. If you are little unsure about those points, then pick up his book. It'll take you a few hours to get through his simple-to-read 200-page book.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Please Read 'End The Fed'

Fiat money, Austrian school, moral hazard, easy credit, fractional reserves, the money printing press, boom and bust cycles, banking secrecy, statism, objectivism, Greenspan, Bernake, are all explored in Ron Paul's wonderfully written book End The Fed. Here are some thoughts...

The Federal Reserve -- the American central bank -- is "responsible for the boom-bust cycles; price inflation recession, depression and excessive debt."

"Only the Fed can inflate the currency, create new money, and credit out of thin air, in secrecy, without oversight or supervision. Inflation facilitates deficits, needless wars, and excessive welfare spending."

When government grows, liberty suffers, regardless of the justification. The Fed is core to this growth. Its design to protect profits and socialize losses is flawed at its core.

We need to forgo the idea that the government is to protect us from our individual poor decisions. This is a moral hazard. We allowed the government to dictate our personal financial decisions -- that we could afford a large house, multiple cars, second homes/vacation properties, motor toys, and all the other things we purchased with debt, using the notion that life is great and tomorrow will only be better than today.

Our trade balance is not solved by tariffs; they make things worse. Tariffs are taxes. The issuing of the reserve currency of the world gives us license to inflate. High taxes, excessive regs and over priced labor cause our jobs to be exported.

Americans including the politicians and bankers attempt to solve our messes with more of the same -- more spending, more deficits, more regulations, and more inflating of the currency. None help. They compound the problem. The people who and policies that got us into this problem are being tasked to get us out, when the truth is they will only exacerbate the problem.

We do not need more regulations and regulators to protect us in the traditional sense. Sarbanes-Oxley did nothing to protect us, it just created more expense and bureaucracy. Government sponsored enterprises like Fannie and Freddie tell investors and lenders that there is no real deal that can go bad because they will be there to cover.

Paul states, without the Fed we "would enjoy all the privileges of modern economic life without the downside of business cycles, bubbles, inflation, unsustainable trade imbalances and the explosive growth of government that the Fed has fostered."

There are more bank failures now than there ever have been in our history. It has nothing to do with lack of regulation but everything to do with too much government control. The free market works. We just do not have this. The Fed makes it so.

We all have heard the claim that we needed the government to act, to solve the financial problems we found ourselves in after this last 7-8 year borrow and spend season. Who benefits? Those that set the policies, not the people.

Lenin stated that the best way to destroy the capitalist system was to debauch the currency. The Manifesto asks for centralization of credit, a national bank with state capital and an exclusive monopoly.

The 1913 Federal Reserve Act's purpose was to "furnish an elastic currency to afford means of rediscovering commercial paper, to establish a more effective supervision of banking in the US and for other purposes." The premise is inflationary. Stretch money? How? By making more with nothing behind it. Only the Fed is responsible for inflation and recessions. All other participants are reactionary to the Fed's policies.

Through the central bank, power is solidified through deficits, taxes, fear and fiat money (legal tender with no intrinsic value nor backing reserves). It "funds" bail outs, stimulus programs and other wealth transfer efforts. The corporate welfare/warfare system can end with the phasing out of the Fed.

The Fed is "cheating. It is a tax. It is counterfeiting. It benefits the few at the expense of the many. It breaks the rules of contracts. It causes suffering and punishes the innocent. It enables world wars and vast payoffs to the powerful."

Monday, November 02, 2009

Obamacare: The Worst Bill Ever

So is the title of today's main WSJ opinion article: The Worst Bill Ever.
Yet at this point, Democrats have dumped any pretense of genuine bipartisan "reform" and moved into the realm of pure power politics as they race against the unpopularity of their own agenda. The goal is to ram through whatever income-redistribution scheme they can claim to be "universal coverage." The result will be destructive on every level—for the health-care system, for the country's fiscal condition, and ultimately for American freedom and prosperity.
This bill is nothing like it is being spun. Who in their right mind would believe any government prediction for costs? The spending to maintain this crappy program will be enormous, multiple times the current estimate. This program will fall, in part, to the states when the federal tax revenues continue to plummet.

This will expand Medicaid which is a government mandate to give lower earning people free health care. The providers bear 90 percent of the costs. This new-look Medicare, which is what this new Obamacare will be, will devastate those who provide medical services. It is a government-mandated program to force medical service providers to offer their services at rates lower than a business model allows.

The taxation rates on the wealthiest will increase 5.4 percent to 45 percent (federal tax only). Small businesses will be taxed 8 percent of their payroll is they don't offer insurance or pay 72.5 percent of their workers' premium. This will kill many small businesses.

The concept of insurance is to take in more money for premiums than is paid out in benefits. The government has never been able to run a business. Their monetary policy allows them to print more money, issue worthless bonds, and to participate in 'too big to fail' hegemony. The masses will have moderately expensive insurance in return for average to poor medical coverage. The few remaining insurance companies and private medical service providers will cater to the rich including politicians.
All of this is intentional, even if it isn't explicitly acknowledged. The overriding liberal ambition is to finish the work began decades ago as the Great Society of converting health care into a government responsibility.
Health care will be more expensive, quality will be diminished and curtailed, and this entitlement will bankrupt an already bankrupt nation. Rational politics is completely gone at the expense of national ruin. If and when the President signs this bankrupt entitlement program, mark that day down in history along with other devastating government actions like the creation of the Federal Reserve, the Bretton Woods system, the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, and the National Industrial Recovery Act.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Real Costs of Socialized Health Care In America

The CBO says the cost of the pending 1990-page (4 reams of papers) is $1.055 trillion. But what are the other costs that will not be calculated?
The $1.055 trillion estimate also does not include $245 billion needed to stop Medicare payments to doctors from decreasing, which the House plans to address through separate legislation introduced Thursday.

The costs of the bill are fully offset by cuts to existing spending programs-- including the Medicare Advantage and other programs--saving $426 billion through 2019, and by tax increases raising $572 billion over that time, CBO said. In fact, the combined impact of provisions in the bill would be a net deficit reduction of $104 billion in the next decade, according to CBO.
How many people will decide that the medical profession is too expensive to train for, given the cost of the education and the return on that investment?

How many MDs will decide to leave the profession because the new business model does not "add up"?

How many staff, assistants and nurses will be removed from the payrolls because of the new business model?

When the public insurance model takes root, how will most private insurance companies be able to offer a competitive product?

When less revenue is received by hospitals and clinics, how many will decide to close up shop, consolidate, lay off workers?

When malpractice occurs and the government is the care giver, who gets sued?

What cost is placed on a grandparent, parent, child, sibling, spouse, yourself who will not get a procedure because the return on the procedure is not justifiable within the new government healthcare model? (No real case for heart surgery for an 85 year old; they are going to die any way.)

Too bad no elected congressional rep, the president or 99.99999999 percent of the American people will read the back-breaker bill. They will approve a trillion dollar entitlement program that they will understand because someone else, a non-elected official, will them them what it says.

Pelosi thinks that this health care bill is the answer to the insurance model that has dominated American society for the past 30 years. There is a problem with the current model but this Pelosi/Reid socialized medicine program is not the answer.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Socialization of America -- Government to Do More

I stand amazed at the recent polls of Americans who feel the federal government needs to do more, that we need socialized medicine, and that we need a public insurance option run by the federal government.

The amazing thing is that, in general, there are as many in favor of bigger government as there are opposed. Pessimistic/optimistic, glass half empty/half full?

Do those that are polled actually know any of the details about what they oppose or favor? What bigger or smaller government mean?

What does it mean to send more or fewer troops to Afghanistan? How would Joe Six-Pack know the policy implications of one versus the other? He wouldn't.

In politics, it comes down to the economy for most voters. Do you have a job? Are you getting raises? Do you feel richer or poorer? Can you cover a mortgage? Do you want to or can you upgrade your standard of living? Do you have a reliable car? Do you have acceptable healthcare? Are your children getting the education you think they should be getting? Can they get the post-high school education they desire? What disposable income do you have to enjoy some of the better things in life?

The Democrats have and continue to try to make government bigger. Apparently almost as many as those that don't, like this. Do they really know what this means to the nation and to them specifically next year, in five years, in twenty years? The obvious answer is no. Too many are in love with the Robin Hood redistribution ideology because they view themselves as the have-nots.

A socialized America is not the America I desire and I bet not the one most people desire...if they only knew...

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

What Would We Do In A Real Pandemic?

The flu is no fun. However, there are bragging rights for some, it appears, who are sick, hoping they have the swine flu. I hear people tell me they have the swine flu when I know they are lying.

For some reason, I am assuming insecurity, some people take great pride in being sick especially with a "popular" condition. No one wants syphilis, cancer or shingles. But swine flu? If one is going to have the flu, let's just hope its the H1N1 2009 variety. Some people need some pity points, I assume. Or how about those people who ask you how you are doing and when you tell them, will try to one-up you on being sicker -- either themselves or someone they know.

Thankfully, many if not most medical facilities don't bother with a specific flu-strain diagnosis. Instead, the dorks will go to the doctor for the flu will pay their deductible, get their vitals taken, tell the MD what the problem is, he/she will tell them that they have the flu, that they should rest, drink fluids, yada yada, and bill insurance for their time -- as much as insurance will allow.

Does one really need to go the the MD for the flu? There are exceptions, of course, but the answer is no. Americans go to the MD way too often. And it costs us all more money as a result, in the form of higher premiums. MDs love when people come in because it allows them to bill for their time. They are not going to do anything most of the time. At best, they will give you some prescription for some medication that you probably do not need. The more patients they can see in a day, the more money they can make.

The human body is an amazing organism. It is able to withstand and recover from many ailments. Don't get me wrong, modern medical is great. We need this care when we are seriously ill. But too many people have hypochondriac tendencies.

This flu is not serious. The swine flu is not any more of a pandemic than the seasonal flu. Yet the federal health agencies and national and local new agencies do society a huge disservice by creating panic where none is warranted.

The problem with what they are doing is calling wolf when there is no wolf. An if there were, they would have failed in their attempts to cull the outbreak.

If you want to read about a real flu pandemic, read about the influenza that ran rampant in 1918, where between 20-40 million people died.

Again we see people in the drug manufacturing, public health and media industries trying to sell a product that governments will buy, medical outlets will sell, self-justification of organizations, positions and educational prowess, and the desire to sell news.

If America was hit with a real pandemic, it will probably do better than they did in 1918, but it would be nothing like this ridiculous, mock swine flu, non-pandemic of 2009. It is an embarrassment to all involved including those individuals that have their shorts in a bind over a non-issue. If you get the flu, you get the flu. There's a 99.99999 percent chance you will make a complete recovery without the involvement of a MD.

Update 11/2/09: I have had the flu since Friday. Did not go to the MD. Don't care what strain I have. Saturday and Sunday were a bit rough, but I think I am going to survive. I just see it as the on-going process of building a better physical defense.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Being a Fan of Marginal Teams

Utah is a marginal college football and NBA state. BYU, Utah and the Jazz are the extent of it. There are Bronco, Raiders and 49er fans. MLB and NHL are basically non-existent. People attend the AAA Bees games if there are fireworks afterwards. It is a typical small-market town.

So how do real sports fans in these areas select their teams? They elect traditional winners, big spending or big market teams. There are a ton of day-of-the-game fans of the Yankees, Red Sox, Cowboys, Patriots, Steelers, Packers.

You have to have a real reason to be a fan of a non-local team. You had better have a good story if you are a Yankee fan living in Utah: grew up back there, dad and grandpa were Yankee fans, etc.

How come there are no Royals or Rangers fans? No Texans or Lions fans? Because most people are bandwagon fans -- occasional fans that get involved if "their" team is doing well.

It is too painful to be a fan of teams that rarely make it beyond .500. I sit alone for most of my teams, not all.

On the good side, I am a fan of the Buckeyes and the Utes. I grew up in Columbus; spent every fall Saturday either watching or attending Buckeye games. I am a University of Utah graduate.

I love baseball. I listen to games on MLB.com all season long -- $15 for a full year's worth of all the games via local radio streams. I am a Reds fan. I grew up in Ohio during the 70s and the Big Red Machine. The Reds have not done anything since 1990. I also like the Twins (lived in Minnesota for five years) in the AL. I have a casual interest in the Indians, Cardinals, Rangers and Rockies (having lived in those towns) when they are not playing the Reds or Twins.

In the NFL, I am a Browns fan. I do not like the Bengals or the Broncos. I detest the Steelers. Being a Browns fan is very tough. They have never played in a Super Bowl. They always lose more than they win. When I was 10, I won a candy bar selling contest, selling the most bars on our football team. The prize? A trip and ticket to the Browns-Oilers game in Cleveland. I also like the Vikings in the NFC (four Super Bowls, four losses). I dislike the Packers.

I am not a big NBA fan, but pull for the Jazz. I might use free tickets, but I might not.

I am a big NHL fan, one of ten in Utah. Growing up in Ohio, we did not have an NHL team. I became a Red Wings fan (big Gordie Howe fan). I also like the Bruins (a Bobby Orr fan) in the Eastern Conference.

Finally, I like soccer. I follow FIFA World Cup from the qualifications through the tournament. I follow the UEFA Champions League. I follow La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga and the Scottish Premier League. I live for the English Premier League. And specifically, my personal emotions are a direct result of how well Liverpool performs (right now, not very well). I have a tough time with MLS, but don't dislike it. I will listen to and pull for RSL.

BTW, I do follow Aussie rules football (a St. Kilda fan who dominated this year but lost to Geelong in the Grand Final) as well as rugby and cricket when they are getting ready and playing their respective world cups. I like to golf but rarely watch it on TV. I am not an auto racing fan of any type, nothing against those that do, just does not interest me. I will follow the occasional cycling event like the Tour de France, but have lost interest over the years.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Medicare for Everyone A Bad Idea

It appears the House Democrats are looking at re-branding the public health insurance option as Medicare...for everyone.

Hospitals, clinics, MDs cannot survive on an expanded Medicare. Medicare reimbursements are smaller than most medical insurance reimbursements. Medical business models include a certain number of Medicare patients, just like retailers plan on a certain amount of shrinkage. But few opt to go Medicare exclusive.

(What's even worse is Medicaid. It is medical reimbursement for medical services provided to the poor, which includes students to illegals. Refunds are about 10 cents on the dollar.)

Medical businesses -- for-profit or not-for-profit -- are basically forced to see a certain number of Medicare patients a week, month or year. They know going into it that they are not going to cover their actual costs. Without government mandates, many would opt out. Many will continue to do their parts to help those that need the medical care but cannot afford to pay the actual cost.

As Obamacare unfolds, call it what you'd like, it will force medical organizations to provide medical services at the rates the government sets. Some will adapt. Medical service providers will see more patients over a given period of time (less time per patient). We will see decreases in salaries for office staffs as well as trained medical professionals like nurses and medical assistants. The MDs will most likely make less money. It is only reasonable to assume fewer people will decide to practice medicine -- medical education is not cheap and being able to pay back those loans will be more ominous.

It is a given that many medical service providers will go out of business. Some MDs will leave the practice. With less money in the space, medical device, equipment and drug manufacturers will see less opportunity and incentives.

Universal health care is typical Democrat touchy-feely. "Medical insurance for all" sounds so kind, compassionate and inclusive. It is until it is delivered. We'll be asking ourselves: "is this what we agreed to?"

The current insurance-driven model is broken but the pending Congressional replacement is worse. Medicare for everyone a bad idea for patients and providers. It is bad idea for the country -- for our businesses and individual taxpayers.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Happend to the Stimulus Jobs?

Seven months after a massive stimulus "investment", 49 of 50 states have lost jobs (North Dakota being the one success). Surprised?

Only a dolt would be surprised. Jobs cannot be created in a vacuum. Just because the government says there should be more jobs does not mean it will occur. Sorry Obama-as-a-deity worshipers. There needs to be real hope. Real hope is when an individual, group of individuals or established business investments time and money in a product and service that people want and will pay for, and that will generate an acceptable return for the investor(s).

In February, the White House projected the number of jobs that would be created by the 2009 stimulus law would be +3.5 million (through the end of 2010). As of September 2009, we are -2.7 million jobs. Sure we have another year to go but are we going to make up 6.2 million jobs?

Keynesian economics is and always will be flawed. The government can and should fund defense and infrastructure through its tax and spend means. We need safety. We need transportation. They are not ends unto themselves. They are there to allow us to realize life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The only way government can generate real jobs is to cut taxes and the burdens placed on businesses and individuals.

Think about what would happen if corporate taxes, investment gains taxes, personal tax rates were cut in half. Our government has been allowed to enslave us with excessive taxes and burdens. We can only blame ourselves.

We should not be forced to live for our new-fangled government and it wealth redistribution model. We have come a long (negative) way since 1776 where our Founders clearly stated: Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. In 1865, Lincoln reiterate that our government is of the people, by the people, for the people, [and] shall not perish from the earth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Healthcare Entitlement That Reduces Deficit?

It goes from bad to worse. How does one actually say with a straight face:
new estimates show a health care overhaul drafted by Democrats would reduce the U.S. budget deficit over 10 years and cost less than $900 billion.
To believe that fantastic claim, you have to ignore everything we know about Washington and the history of government health-care programs. What federal entitlement programs have ever cost less than what they initially claimed or have ever reduced government expenditures or the need for higher taxes? (2003 Medicare prescription drug bill is one.)

We can look to other nations and states that have tried this. They all offer crappy services and high costs.

The Republicans need to take on the Democrats, not by saying 'no' but by providing sound alternatives to our current private and public health insurance model.

It only makes sense to get the government completely out of the health care business and to favor a model based on health care spending accounts and catastrophic insurance. A true market approach to health care will control costs, reduce corruption and give people value-based options.

This Democrat-led Obamacare health plan will be disastrous for decades. Besides the costs and unavoidable crappy care, it will increase unemployment. How can medical institutes, insurance companies, and drug and medical device firms justify business risks? Who would want to invest the time and costs associated with preparing for a medical profession?

Why do the politicians think that they can create a brand new entitlement program that will not balloon and crash due to its cost, bureaucracy and incompetency? Are Social Security and Medicaid/Medicare not good hints?

Big social government programs always fail. Socialism is a failed ideology on a massive, heterogeneous scale. Politicians the world over continue to demonstrate their insanity by trying the same things over and over again, hoping they will turn out differently.

For many, this argument is about health care; but for a few, it is about control -- the means to an end. Socialized health care provides a little help for a few but at a huge cost to personal freedom and liberty to most.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Global Warming Trinity

Man-made global warming's imminent disaster. The global warming trinity.

Prudence says that man should be good stewards of the land. Foolishness is the cry of doom unless we do something, regardless of the cost, ... yesterday.

We truly live in an insane world when we hear the so-called "world leaders" claim that we must all come together to solve a problem that DOES NOT EXIST and IS NOT CAUSED BY MAN?

The level of arrogance to think that if we tossed out the combustible engine and built wind and solar farms (as long as "they" can't see them), the oceans and the climate would enter into perfect harmony .. with man and all nature. Utopia.

We have one group of people (baby-boomers, students and ideologues) who has bought into man-caused global warming that will cause catastrophic destruction and the other group (Gore, Moore, etc.) that sees how it can exploit the hysteria for financial gain.

Politicians are just being politicians. One party that knows how to milk its alliance, regardless of the facts, and another party that really does not know how to build a compelling and viable competing argument.

This topic does not merit any further discussion because it is so remedial. Cap and trade is just about the worst political idea of all time. Bad ideas, even stupid ideas are fine, but when they become government policy, that's where the danger is.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Left Fork of Huntington Canyon

What an enjoyable hike. The Left Fork of Huntington Canyon starts right off Highway 31, about 18 miles from Huntington, at the Forks of Huntington Campground. My daughter (12 years old) and I started about mid-day on a beautiful fall Saturday. We made sure we wore our blaze orange as it was the deer hunt opening weekend (she took her's off on the return trip).

We hiked the 4.5 miles up to the Scad Valley. It climbs about 600 feet in elevation -- up and down tributary intersections. We only saw 4 people -- all fishermen, as it is a popular fishing area. After a short snack, we walked back to our truck. The round trip took us 4 hours. At around 8000 feet in elevation, it can get cool quickly once the sun starts going down.

Dominated by Engelmann spruce, there are some interesting soil erosion barriers in a variety of places along the route -- mother nature getting its better hand in some areas.

A great trail to take young hikers. It would make a nice overnighter for a scout group.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Five Thousand Year Leap

I can't believe it has taken me 30 years to read W. Cleon Skousen's The Five Thousand Year Leap. I have always loved the Founding Fathers; I love them even more now. His 28 great ideas that changed the world (from the table of contents):

1 - The genius of natural law
2 - A virtuous and moral people
3 - Virtuous and moral leaders
4 - The role of religion
5 - The role of the creator
6 - All men a created equal
7 - Equal right, not equal things
8 - Man's unalienable rights
9 - The role of revealed law
10 - Sovereignty of the people
11 - Who can alter the government
12 - Advantage of a republic
13 - Protection against human failure
14 - Property rights essential to liberty
15 - Free-market economics
16 - The separation of power
17 - Checks and balances
18 - Importance of a written constitution
19 - Limiting and defining the power of government
20 - Majority rule, minority rights
21 - Strong local self-government
22 - Government by law, not by men
23 - Importance of an educated electorate
24 - Peace through strength
25 - Avoid entangling alliances
26 - Protecting the role of the family
27 - Avoiding the burden of debt
28 - The Founders' sense of manifest destiny

It is fascinating how the Founders viewed the role of religion. As part of a formal education they felt was essential for all Americans, they felt three subjects were of highest importance: religion, morality and knowledge. Religion and morality were not options; today they are off limits unless through a private school.

Ben Franklin described five fundamental religion points or beliefs that should be shared by all, the world over:

-- Recognition and worship of a Creator who made all things
-- The the Creator has revealed a moral code of behavior for happy living which distinguishes right from wrong.
-- That the Creator holds mankind responsibility for the way they treat each other.
-- That all mankind live beyond this life.
-- That in the next life mankind are judged for their conduct in this one.

Religion in American was a major cultural observation made by Alexis de Tocqueville. He said
"religion in America takes no direct part in the government of society, but it must be regarded as the first of their political institutions... I do not know whether Americans have sincere faith in their religion -- for who can search the human heart? -- but I am certain that they hold it to be indispensable to the maintenance of republican instutions. The opinion is not peculiar to a class of citizens or to a party, but it belowns to the whole nation and to every rank of society."
Oh how we have fallen. Thanks goodness there are tens of millions of Americans that love God, try to follow his commandants, and actively serve their fellow man. That's the hope that really matters.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Limbaugh and the NFL

Love him? Hate him? But don't make up things or talk about something you know nothing about, but pretend you do. (Too many people have opinions about Rush and have never spent anytime listening to him. I have been listening for over 15 years. I am a big fan.)

Rush Limbaugh was approached by Dave Checketts, current Real Salt Lake and St. Louis Blues owner, to be an investor on his team that is trying to buy the St. Louis Rams. The government | media complex decided that a conservative talk show host -- the biggest in the country -- should be dumped from participating. Checketts agreed.

So is one's political position now a test for NFL ownership? It is according to the government | media complex. Conservatives need not apply. Would be okay if George Soros, Al Gore or Michael Moore wanted a stake in the NFL ownership action? Certainly. We have actually seen the NFL approve Fergie as a minority owner in the Miami Dolphins. She is a well-established liberal. The NFL also okays king TV liberal Keith Olbermann as a member of its Sunday Night Football team.

The NFL is just part of the liberalization and excuse-me society. Certainly the leftists succeeded in getting Limbaugh rejected. Many liberals thank the free market for shooting down Limbaugh's participating as a potential Rams owner. Not all liberals agree though. One liberal blogger wrote that although Rush loses rams bid... rest of us just lose.

If rejecting Rush as a potential minority ownership in the NFL is free market, so be it. But let it work both ways. The 1st Amendment states "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

There is an obvious double standard in all aspects of society: liberalism is okay, conservatism is not. The NFL is an active participate, claiming it is just business. That has been proven wrong with Fergie and Olbermann.

Update 10/29/09: Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Limbaugh on McNabb vs Fergie's and J-Lo's public statements, songs, etc. Goodell looks very bad, ESPN looks bad; double standard obvious.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

FBI Citizens' Academy

I just completed the five-week FBI Citizens' Academy. We meet once a week in the evening for three hours at the FBI offices (mine was in Salt Lake City) and on one Saturday at the firing range (mine was at the Salt Lake County Sheriff's facility). One of the best training experience I have ever had. The curriculum consists of:

-- Practical problems involving evidence collection and preservation.
-- FBI jurisdiction and congressional oversight.
-- Structure and operation of FBI field offices and satellite agencies.
-- Fingerprint, forensic, technology, training, and other services
-- Policies and issues: ethics, discipline, communications, drug enforcement, civil rights, and future criminal trends.
-- Firearms training.

The Special Agent in Charge (SAC) and the Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) led the training; the actual Special Agents were the instructors. We covered white collar crime, violent crime, cyber crime, counterintelligence, domestic terrorism, undercover ops, victims, investigations, technology & tools, and careers. We got enter and see the gun vault (including a 1929 Thompson submachine gun) and play in the Firearms Training System (FATS simulator).

On Saturday, we saw a sniper demo: we were told roughly were he was concealed; he made four precise shots from 100 yards. None of us could spot him until he stood up. We saw an explosive demo; amazing what a little C4 can do. We shot four FBI guns -- 2 handguns and two semi-fully automatic guns. We even got to shoot the .45 Tommy gun. We participated in a SWAT team hostage training session (we were the hostages).

There is no doubt that the men and women we met -- Special Agents and support staff -- are second to none. They are very professional and personable. They are dedicated to their jobs. I was very impressed.

If you are interested in law enforcement, information security, investigations, forensics, homeland security, this is a must. It was a great experience for all of us. I want to thanks those that participated in the 12th Citizens' Academy -- Utah Division. I wish them the best, including the SAC who is transferring to the SE USA.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize Officially a Joke

Based on some past winners (Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Yasser Arafat), we always knew the Nobel Peace Prize was politically motivated, now it has become a joke.

President Barack Obama won this year's. He as been in office less than nine months and was only President for 12 days before the Nobel nomination deadline last February.

His career consists of community organizing, a convention speech and campaigning for President while a less than one term senator.

Here's what the NobilePrizes.com says for Barack Obama (2009): for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.

Maybe the committee felt that a person (a black person albeit) who got to the presidency by talking about hope and change (creating the "American Socialist Democratic Republic") and apologizing again and again for being American, deserved it.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

China, Dalai Lama or Tire Tariffs?

What is the seat-of-the-pants response to Obama's snub of the Dalai Lama? Busy? He dislikes Buddhists? Does not what to offend the Chinese?

The sad fact is: China owns America. It's China's world; we just live in it. Granted we need one another but the upper hand is moving east.

The Obama administration serves China by not meeting with the Dalai Lama. Small potatoes really. But it is interesting he has met with Hugo Chavez, Daniel Ortega, and Vladimir Putin. It's clear that Obama's definition of "engagement" leaves plenty of room to meet with dictators, but less for those who challenge them.

What's even more interesting is that he has imposed a tariff on tires imported from China. This is significant. It will not sit well with the Chinese but it will sit well with Obama labor union supporters.

Where are Obama's loyalties? Certainly with his local cronies and not with those he does not understand (but should).

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

LDS General Conference - Service

Active LDS Church members look forward twice a year to General Conference. Though it makes for a long weekend -- 10 hours of church -- it is rewarding, refreshing and renewing.

Conference is a personal experience. Everyone enters Conference with different problems, each coming from different places in life. What one person obtains from listening to the talks can be very different from another.

For me, what stood out was service -- the need to better serve our fellow man.

My wife is an example to me and our children. As a stay-at-home mom with only one child at home (7th grade), she goes out of her way to serve those in her neighborhood and community. From humanitarian service to hospice, from neighbors to extended family members, she has multiple things going every week. I'd be doing something if I got to a quarter of what she does.

Most people are silent in their suffering, silent in their needs. Finding opportunities to serve without impacting the pride of those that need service is a challenge.

True service is selfless. As it say in Matthew 22:
Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Sen. Hatch on Climate Change Legislation

I write my congressman (Matheson) and senators (Hatch and Bennett) on a regular basis. They all do a decent job replying. I was impressed with a letter I received from Senator Hatch's office last week on the topic of climate change legislation.

I was impressed with the writer of the 2-page letter, obviously way over the head of Senator Hatch. At least he has qualified staff capable of understanding and describing a meaningful position.

Hatch is against cap and trade as described in H.R. 2454 (which passed on 26 July 2009 with a 219-212 vote). The Senate should be addressing this any day.

Hatch is questioning the assumptions made by the UN Panel on Intergovernmental Climate Change (IPCC). His staffer describes historical Antarctica ice core and the assumption that CO2 is the primary driver of climate change.

An all-encompassing cap and trade program might decrease by nine-hundredths of a degree F.

The costs associated with it far out weigh any revenue. For Utahans, the average electric bill will increase 70 percent, the highest in the nation.

Cap and trade will hurt American competitiveness. Manufacturing jobs will continue to move abroad. Most other countries, at least those producing goods, will not bother with CO2 controls.

Hatch's staffer concludes: "rather than looking at ways to artificially control society through the creation of a false market, we should be tapping into the free market to reduce CO2. False markets simple redistribute wealth to the preselected winners and losers, the winners here would be the select few who control carbon credits and the rest of us would be the losers. Such an outcome is the natural result of mandatory cap-and-trade rules, for if you control carbon, you control life."

Well done Senate staffer.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Olympics: Are they Worth the Cost and Attention?

I admit I am a fan of the Olympics, both Summer and Winter. Every two years, if gives us an opportunity to view competitions that few of us see all that often or even know much about. Unless you are Canadian, few people appreciate a good curling match, but might be able to tolerate it for a few minutes on the world's stage.

Chicago is is a dog fight with Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Olympics. Madrid and Tokyo don't have much of a chance.

I am sure there is great data that describes the financial impact to a region. But I think more than anything, it is a very short-term gain, benefiting, primarily the key sitting politicians -- local, state or even federal. It puts a city/area on hold for years. Everything takes a back seat to showing the world what a great town you have. Chicagoans are evenly split on the bid, some anti's taking the protests to the streets.

Olympics benefit the well-to-do more so than the average bloke. When the Winter Olympics were here in Salt Lake City in 2002, ticket prices were astronomical. I felt obligated to attend at least one event (against my wife's better judgement) -- loser ice hockey teams at $100 per ticket. $500 for a a family of five plus the other associated expenses of attending, albeit a local event for me, was justified as a once in a life time thing. Most people I knew that came in from out of state bought ticket packages in the $2500-5000 range per person plus travel-related expenses (~$7000-10,000 total per person)

Global polls, are against Chicago getting the 2016 games. But never count out a group of people that have set the standard for corruption. If Chicago wants the Olympics, they will stop at nothing to win the bid. They are using everything including the loser President and his loser wife.

It is perfectly fine for them to lobby for the games with tax payer dollars, all in the name of ambassadorship.

Because Obama's name is associated with it, I find myself pulling for anyone other than Chicago. Certainly, Republicans are getting on the anti-Obama-to-Copenhagen-for-the-Olympic-announcement. But it seems un-American for a sitting president to do this. He and his cronies are so caught up in his so-called rock-star appeal. I only hope if backfires.

I have always disliked Obama for his politics, but this is expected and accepted. However, I have really come to despise the man due to his arrogance and out-of-control ego, politics aside. I hate the man more so than any one ever I have run across, including people that have stolen from me. Obama has become the biggest thief of all.