Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!



Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. ~ Benjamin Franklin

COTG wishes you all the best for 2009.
Health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Awesome Auto Technology

My son is home from college and he shared this video with me - so I thought I'd share it with you... it is some interesting technology from JATECH and it certainly is a whole different way to "bailout" of your car.... (pun intended)



also here were some highlights from the LA auto show in November 2008...



Question is, will anyone have any money to purchase these machines?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Bailout Ruminations


The government has stepped in yet again to extend taxpayer funds to a failing auto industry; and industry that is failing because of government regulation, union strangulation and generally poor and over-compensated management. They make good products that no one can any longer afford to purchase. Perhaps they ought to think about making their product affordable instead of everyone having to go into long term debt for the privilege of having transportation.

There is absolutely zero transparency as to where our money is being spent in the $700 billion dollars worth of TARP bailout money that Congress handed over to the Treasury Secretary "carte blanche". Government control of industries across the country are taking place with taxpayer money being used to buy equity holdings and other measures of control. It seems every sector is looking for a handout now that housing, financial and automotive are being propped up. We are truly mortgaging our children's financial future. It won't be long before we get hit with rampant inflation since the Government printing presses are printing more and more money. Money market yields are near zero. Savings accounts get little interest. There is no incentive to save. There is more incentive to borrow and spend.

But this economic problem that we are facing has deeper meaning and deeper systemic roots. Let me tell you a few stories:

My parents and their parents were children of the depression. They experienced it all first hand. They used to chide me for spending money and not saving more - they had a depression mentality that pushed them to use everything to the fullest and never waste a thing. They saved bags and wrapping paper and cooking grease and soap scraps. They saved aluminum foil and jars. They wrapped their sofa in plastic so it would last long and they didn't open the curtains for fear the carpet would fade. They really cared for all their possessions and they always bought good quality items. Everything they bought was meant to last.

Most of all, they loathed government handouts - which they called "relief". To be on "relief" was shameful. It demonstrated a weakness in not being able to care for yourself and provide for your family. Quite frankly they would rather do without, then live on "relief" or any kind of welfare.

I don't think my grandparents even owned a credit card. They bought their house and cars with cash. And while things admittedly were cheaper then, they were still relatively expensive given the level of wages and cost of living. When my grandparents got older, they did get Social Security, but they accepted it only because they had paid money into the system when they worked. To them, it was their own money that the government was giving back to them. That was in addition to the money they had saved up on their own. They lived very comfortably in their old age; certainly much better then they would have if they stayed in Europe.

My grandmother came here from Eastern Europe when she was 20 years of age, on a steamer ship with pretty much the clothes on her back. She cleaned toilets to make a living until she began cooking for hotels and delicatessens. Her siblings eventually came here to this country too, and those that stayed behind were eventually murdered by Hitler. My grandmother's brother also worked hard after he came to this country and he eventually made millions exporting clothing to Europe and Mexico. His story truly was that of the American Dream. He came here poor and died wealthy.

My grandfather worked in the furrier business in New York and he and my grandmother squirreled every penny away until they saved enough to buy the things that they wanted. They worked hard and they lived well, and for the most part they were happy and raised a decent family. They had no one to meet them with welfare at Ellis Island. They had to have sponsors when they came here and promise not to be a burden to the government or anyone else. They arranged for their own health care. They liked it when government stayed out of their life. They made it in this country by hard work and enduring tough times. They didn't even have a notion that anyone should take care of them except themselves. They expected no entitlements, nor did they want any. They never considered themselves poor. They never had a victim mentality.

That is probably the norm for many immigrants who came here legally in the 20's and 30's and became citizens and followed the laws. To them, coming to America was a chance to escape the fascism and anti-semitism they faced in Europe. This was a land of opportunity. There was anti-semitism here too, but not the kind that got you into a gas chamber or your town burned to the ground. My grandfather's family had a farm that had been taken away from his family by the Communists. His family was "allowed" to stay on the land. My husband's grandfather owned a department store in Essen until the Nazi's took it away from his family, along with the house they lived in. There is more to that story, but the bottom line is that in both instances relatives of mine and my husband's were outright robbed by their respective governments. Unfortunately, it's not much different from what we saw here in this country most recently with Susette Kelo, et al., in New London,and others who are subject to eminent domain abuses, but I digress.

My parents were a bit more "Americanized" in their ways. My dad was a WW2 veteran who had served in the Fiji Islands during the war. He did pretty well raising a family of 3 kids on one salary as a produce manager in a supermarket chain. He only had a high school diploma. Us kids were fortunate to be able to afford to go to college by saving money in summer jobs to pay for tuition. My parents were especially proud when I became the first in my family to graduate college. I was fortunate not to incur college loans. While my parents eventually accrued some consumer debt - they still did pretty well overall and paid it all off. They were able to buy a Florida condo with cash. They did ok in the end, and they never expected anything from the government. All they wanted was to get back what they had paid in. In terms of being able to buy things that were well made and lasted, they certainly had come into the age of "planned obsolescence". Washing machines and other appliances were built to fail in a specific period of time, and it was almost always cheaper to throw the item out and replace it rather than to repair it.

They and their parents were part of a generation that had a different perspective on self reliance, and government reliance. It is a shame that we have lost that along the way. Times have really changed and this country and it's society really have adopted an entitlement mentality. People expect the government to take care of them and "rescue them". They also have no qualms about borrowing money to buy things they really can't afford. We are encouraged to go into debt to consume. On 9/11 we were told to go shopping.

People put their faith in get rich quick schemes rather than persistent hard work and saving. People want to start as a highly paid CEO instead of working up from the mailroom. When they don't get what they want they litigate, and the court is more than happy to dole out a nice settlement. Most people's plan for retirement is Social Security, Lotto, and/or the promise of an IRA whose holdings are currently dwindling in the stock market.

We expect to buy things and throw them away instead of buying well made items that last. We expect the government and unions to be our parents. We as a society seem to be getting accustomed to "cradle to grave" intrusion of government. I think that as long as everyone "gets their stuff" - like cell phones, cable TV, a car, HD flat screen TV, satellite radio, - that they haven't a care what kind of government they live under - nor would they know. Socialist, Communist, Republic, eh... who cares ... as long as we have our "stuff".

What happened to our generation?
It sure doesn't look anything like my grandparent's world, or even my parents world.
Pity that.

Sure times were hard then, but in many respects they are probably just as hard now.

For all of our technology we have certainly lost a measure of value and virtue and common sense living.

I wonder if we will get any of it back. Let's hope so for all of our sakes.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Happy Hannukah!



Jewish version of the Christmas Song



and here is not much of a video - but great song!
Chipmunks Channukah

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Philosopher's Stone

Great warnings from Peter Schiff and Ron Paul. The question is, is anyone really listening?



Congress just voted against bailout money for the auto industry and yet the Treasury Secretary is making plans to give them TARP money - so doesn't that constitute taxation without representation?

Let's see - The Fed just dropped interest rates again - they want you to borrow more money to consume more.

How much more debt can we assume?

How much more of our assets will be sold off? and to whom? China? the Saudis?

Troubling indeed.

Obama Natural Born Controversy Continues Despite Wrotnowski V. Bysiewicz Application Being Denied


The questions continue to mount - and even an AOL poll shows that the majority of Americans question Obama's natural born status, or at least think the questions have merit.

The Supreme Court is obviously unwilling to get to the truth, and have denied hearing cases. That is very troubling, but then again we have seen the court system deteriorate with rulings such as Kelo vs. New London.

The Wrotnowski V Bysiewicz case (Docket #08A469) was denied by SCOTUS on Dec. 15, but it isn't entirely dead.

Regarding Docket #08A469 -- The application for stay and/or injunction addressed to Justice Scalia and referred to the Court was denied. However, the Justices denied the "stay" but have retained the "certiorari". One must understand that Judicial review is allowed only after the Electoral College vote and Congressional Certification. The way the system works is that Obama is not technically President Elect until after the Electoral College "elects" him (no matter what his little placards say at the lectern when he speaks - there is no "office of the President Elect" either) and after that the Congress must approve the Election. It is time to contact your Congressman and express your concern over the issue of Obama's natural born status.

Demand that they, Congress, require Obama to unseal his birth document and prove himself to be natural born. How come no hospital in Hawaii has a record of his birth? Ask Congress why Obama has spent over $300,000 to fight to keep his birth certificate sealed! There are questions that need to be answered. Just because the majority of people voted for Obama does not automatically make him eligible to serve.

From ObamaFile:
Mechanisms exist under the Twelfth Amendment and 3 U.S.C. 15 for any challenge to any candidate to be ventilated when electoral votes are counted, and the Twentieth Amendment provides guidance regarding how to proceed if a president elect shall have failed to qualify.

Issues regarding qualifications or lack thereof can be laid before the voting public before the election and, once the election is over, can be raised as objections as the electoral votes are counted in Congress.

Therefore, this order holds that the challenge presented by plaintiff is committed under the Constitution to the electors and the legislative branch, at least in the first instance. Judicial review, if any, should occur only after the electoral and Congressional processes have run their course.

The federal government does not take official notice of the presidential election until the current Vice President opens the ballots on January 8th; the court is simply acting on this legal fact.
There are other lawsuits still pending and Philip Berg refiled his lawsuit with the Supreme Court as well.

Susan Bysiewicz, Connecticut Secretary of State, and CT Attorney General Richard Blumenthal are obviously more interested in promoting party politics than protecting and upholding US Constitutional law. It's a disgrace, but not a surprise.

Connecticut Secretary of State Susan Bysiewicz put out this press release:
“The Supreme Court of the United States has appropriately decided not to intervene in a case with very little, if any legal merit. Clearly, President-elect Barack Obama is a born citizen of the United States over the age of 35 and won a majority of the votes on Election Day November 4, 2008. Therefore, he meets the constitutional requirements to serve as President of the United States. Following yesterday’s vote, President-elect Obama won 365 Electoral votes – plenty more than enough to be sworn in as our country’s 44th President. This legal challenge was based on erroneous information and was legitimately dismissed at the state level. I am relieved that the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court found no reason to question the view of our own jurists in Connecticut, who found that President elect Obama was eligible to become president and as such had every right to be on our state’s ballots and certified as the winner of Connecticut’s 7 Electoral votes.”
Ms. Bysiewicz and AG Blumenthal - have you actually seen Mr. Obama's vaulted and sealed copy of his birth certificate? My guess is NO. Can you be absolutely certain that Mr. Obama is natural born? My guess is NO. Ms. Bysiewicz has NOT done her job, and neither has our Attorney General. The legal challenges ARE NOT based on erroneous information at all. The facts surrounding Obama's birth are being hidden. Ms. Bysiewicz might also do well to ask why her office also registered Mr. Calero (Socialist Workers Party) as a registered and validated write-in candidate for president when he wasn't even born in this country! He was born in Nicaragua. Obviously her office didn't care and they do not even check to see if the person has qualifications when they register. In fact, a friend of mine ran for Congress in CT and no one ever asked to see his birth certificate (or any documents such as naturalization papers) to see if he was a citizen! Everyone just makes assumptions. The Secretary of State's office doesn't even require proof of citizenship when you register to vote, even though the law requires on be a citizen to register!

Our elected and appointed officials are clearly not doing their job, and are more concerned with partisan politics. Is there anyone serving who has integrity or who cares about the oath they took to uphold the Constitution? Obviously not.

Mark my words, this issue will not go away until there is transparency, and Obama's documents are produced. Chicago shady politics has come to Washington, and perhaps that is the Change America will all be subjected to. They will want us to show them our documents and abide by the laws - but they will all be above the law.

Mr. Obama walk the walk, or keep your Change.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Billboards Reading You

File this under "creepy stuff".

In Japan, NTT is testing a digital billboard system that watches back.

When trials begin in Japan for a technology test being run by NTT Communications in January, cameras will scan travelers to see how many of them are taking note of a billboard.
"On many street corners and railway stations there are many digital signs," said Tetsuya Kinebuchi, a senior research engineer at NTT's Cyber Space Laboratories and developer of the system. "To automatically measure the effectiveness of the advertisements we can put a camera and PC nearby, and by using the image from the camera we can estimate how many people are looking at the monitor."
While this technology won't be able to identify specific individuals - it will be using imaging technology to determine if people are looking at it. Another camera will also be positioned for the purpose of counting the number of people who are looking at the ad.

Maybe it won't really be that long before advertising technology catches up to what we saw in the movie Minority Report.




(H/T - Jeff A.)

Madoff Made Off With Billions


Bernard Madoff's Ponzi scheme alledgedly swindled billions out of celebrities and non-celebrities as well and the funny thing is that they were more than willing to give him their money to manage. (Great article here at The Economist). People felt that they were in some sort of elite group to be allowed to enter into Madoff's circle. Everyone was "doing so well" until the economy went south. So I guess that along with the banks and Detroit, all of Madoff's investors will be looking for some sort of government protection. Hey, wasn't the Security and Exchange Commission supposed to be watching out for stuff like this? Looks like someone somewhere in the SEC has some 'splainin' to do.

So what is a Ponzi scheme anyway?
A Ponzi scheme is a fraudulent investment operation that involves paying abnormally high returns to investors out of the money paid in by subsequent investors, rather than from the profit from any real business. It is named after Charles Ponzi.

The scheme usually offers abnormally high short-term returns in order to entice new investors. The perpetuation of the high returns that a Ponzi scheme advertises (and pays) requires an ever-increasing flow of money from investors in order to keep the scheme going.

The system is destined to collapse because there are little or no underlying earnings from the money received by the promoter. However, the scheme is often interrupted by legal authorities before it collapses, because a Ponzi scheme is suspected and/or because the promoter is selling unregistered securities. As more investors become involved, the likelihood of the scheme coming to the attention of authorities increases.
Raising my hand from the back of the room....

"Excuse me but how is this any different than our Social Security system?"

Oh it really isn't. Money paid into Social Security now pays those who are in the system now. It's not like the money is put away for you when you retire. The system requires an ever increasing flow of money from current participants in order to keep the thing going. The system will collapse as more baby boomers get their benefits and less people pay into it through payroll taxes. That's the problem with Ponzi schemes. (also known as pyramid schemes) Some say Social Security Trust Fund is funded until 2042, others give it until 2017. (Cato Institute says that too)

You see, unfortunately the government has also been taking money out of the Social Security Trust Fund and replacing it with IOU's. It will have to start replacing the money to keep the fund solvent. The only way it can do that is by raising our taxes, increasing government borrowing, or cutting other government programs in order to use that money to pay back the raided Social Security fund.

But who cares.. it's just money, and the government can just print up a bunch more, just like they are doing now to fund all these massive bailouts.

I don't think Madoff should go to jail... they should give him a post in the government. He kept his pyramid going for a long time and convinced everyone - even smart rich people - that all was well. He is a prime candidate for public office, or for a post in the Treasury Department or even the Security and Exchange Commission.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Still No Answer From Obama Regarding His Natural Born Status

Given the state of Illinois politics lately - don't you think this deserves some answers?

WHY hasn't Obama produced and shown his vaulted long form of his birth certificate? WHY is he keeping it sealed? WHY isn't he sharing documents about his college applications? WHY are other documents being hidden? The people of our nation deserve the truth here. What is the problem with providing the evidence to put all questions to rest?

This is NOT about sour grapes that he won the election - it is NOT about disgruntled Republicans - This is NOT about some crazy "wing-nuts" - This is about possible fraud being perpetrated against our country. All that is necessary is for Mr. Obama to produce his birth certificate, just as you or I are asked to do when applying for a passport or other important reason.



We The People - Robert Schulz and Philip Berg at the National Press Club speaking about the facts regarding Obama's citizenship. (2.5 hours long)



Current lawsuits are listed here regarding Obama's natural born status.

On Dec. 11 the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it had denied bringing Donofrio v. Wells – one of several cases challenging Barack Obama's eligibility to serve as president – before a full hearing.

It looks like the Supreme Court is afraid to open up this issue for fear of a Constitutional Crisis that would have great impact on this country. They are hiding behind the notion of who has "standing" in this case. I think every American has "standing" in this case.

Furthermore - the media seems to be doing a good job of hiding the truth in this issue. Media reports have twisted the facts such as this as posted by We The People:
On October 31, undoubtedly in reaction to the growing number of lawsuits surrounding the issue of Obama’s eligibility, Chiyome Fukino, director of Hawaii’s Department of Health, issued a public statement regarding her office’s inspection of Obama’s birth certificate. In her brief press release she stated:

“There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obama’s official birth certificate. State law (Hawai‘i Revised Statutes §338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.

“Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawai‘i, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obama’s original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures.

“No state official, including Governor Linda Lingle, has ever instructed that this vital record be handled in a manner different from any other vital record in the possession of the State of Hawaii.”

At no point in the release does the Director of Health state or claim that Obama was actually born in Hawaii. She merely states she has personally inspected the original document in their possession and that it is being stored according to state regulations.

This omission speaks volumes, strongly suggesting that either something may not be right with the official documentation produced by the Hawaii Department of Health or that the 2007 documentation proffered by Senator Obama may in fact be fraudulent.
The media continues to say that Hawaiian officials have certified that Obama was born in Hawaii. That is simply not true.

Below is a message that is being sent to the electors who will meet on Monday 12/15/08 to cast their votes for president of the US. Let's hope that they at least ask the question and demand proof of eligibility prior to casting their votes.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Auto Industry CEO's Could Learn From America's Homeschoolers


Various CEO's in our national financial drama are coming to government with hat in hand and getting "strings attached" bailout money.

When strings are attached you lose your autonomy. Many of us homeschoolers know this - which is why the majority of us do not want, or seek, government money or resources in the form of tax breaks and scholarship money (etc.) and other programs, on the Federal, State and even local level. Most Homeschoolers do not think that what they do in their homes with their own children should be controlled by the State or by the Teachers Unions or by anyone else but the parents in charge of those children! (Read more about Sovereign Parental Instruction)

Homeschooling parents would rather make some sacrifices (and many do) than make concessions and succumb to be controlled by others. They also know that without government intervention, they and their children are free to educate children as they see fit utilizing flexibility and creativity in the process. Do some make mistakes? Sure, but the lesson is quickly learned and changes are made.

People, and businesses, should be allowed to make mistakes and correct those mistakes. The process usually allows for a better result. In the end, if the business cannot correct a mistake they can go out of business, or be bought up by someone else who can do a better job.

A homeschooling parent who cannot homeschool successfully will recognize there are problems and may work to correct them in a variety of ways. Most times it is to change the curriculum or learning approach. Sometimes it means networking with parents who have had similar problems to try to find a solution. Sometimes it means just sitting down with the kids and having a good heart to heart talk and trying to reach a mutually agreeable solution to the problems being faced. There is "in-house" problem solving that has to happen.

Sometimes homeschool families opt to put the child in a different education environment/model altogether. Sometimes that means placing the child in government schools, and sometimes that means enrolling them in a private program of study. I suppose it could be argued that if a parent places their child in the government school system then that is a type of "government bailout", because in the end they are abrogating their control and trading their autonomy so the State can deal with their child's education. They willingly accept the strings that are attached. Many times this is just the "easier" thing to do, especially if family circumstances change. My purpose is not to necessarily argue whether that is good or bad - but just to illustrate that when you do give up autonomy, you do have to accept the strings attached.

That is a lesson that could be applied to Detroit and Wall Street and any other industry looking for government "help" in the form of money. No one is "too big to fail". In fact there really is no "failure" - what there is is a restructuring. Perhaps Detroit has been put into such a bad situation by Government regulations and standards along with Union contract demands that they now have no choice but to accept government money with strings attached. Perhaps they have no means, or desire, to do more "in-house' problem solving. However, in reality - they will still have to restructure and now they will be doing it to someone else's directives. These companies in Detroit and Wall Street will ultimately have to change the way they do business - with or without bailout money if they want to succeed , otherwise we are just throwing good money after bad.

The plain fact is that government money has strings attached - it always has and always will because taxpayer funding means accountability. ALWAYS.

A homeschooling family's accountability regarding educating their children should be to themselves, just as the other aspects of their lives are. Educating our young has always been a parent's responsibility, just as clothing and feeding them is. It behooves parents to nurture and grow self-sufficient well-rounded children who will emerge as independent adults who can function on their own with a set core of values. THEIR VALUES, Not the State's Values.

I might also add that states which have more regulation regarding home education do not do any better than states that have little or no regulation. It just makes it more difficult, and adds cumbersome bureaucracy to homeschooling, and in fact is designed to discourage the practice. It really all boils down to control.

Can a Car Czar say what is best for Detroit? No. No more than the Education Secretary in Washington can say what is best for YOUR CHILD.

What a "Car Czar" sets up is control of a process by someone other than the person in charge of the process. What it sets up is loss of self-determination.

I don't care if you are head of a business or head of a household, the person in charge should be the one who has control. It isn't government's job to run companies or dictate how a child should be educated. When we abrogate our rights and give up control, then we become mere puppets in someone else's play.

We have seen what happens when government takes over business, and what happens when government controls education. (Read your history books!)

Neither is a pretty sight - nor is is good for America.

The CEO's of this country have obviously forgotten what their job description says as well as forgotten what the role of government is. They could take a lesson from autonomous homeschoolers, and others, who would rather fail and restructure their efforts, than to take government handouts with controlling strings attached.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Boston Tea Party 2008


The Boston Tea Party 2008 is happening this weekend in Boston.
Tickets prices are $17.76 (what else?)

Where: Fanueil Hall Boston, Massachusetts
When: 1:00 pm - 6:00 pm December 14th, 2008.
DOORS OPEN AT NOON

The theme of this years Boston Tea Party event will focus on setting up a Constitutional, sound money system at the State level, to compete with the Federal Reserve system.

Event Speakers include nationally renowned speakers such as:

Dr. Edwin Vieira
, perhaps America’s foremost constitutional scholar (also top of his Harvard Law class), who will be giving an important address with impeccable historical documentation and logic.

Dr. Rand Paul
, son of presidential candidate Dr. Ron Paul and last year’s key note speaker

Dr. Katherine Albrecht
who is leading the fight to stop RFID tagging and chipping. A new consumer goods tracking system called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is poised to enter all of our lives, with profound implications for consumer privacy.

New Hampshire State Representatives Joel Winters.

Monday, December 8, 2008

12 Days Of Christmas Now Costs $21,080


As if you hadn't had enough unpleasant holiday news.. The cost of the gifts for the 12 days of Christmas according to the Christmas Price Index has gone up 8.1% this year to $21,080 (Gee, for that much you could buy a car and make Detroit happy)

Apparently, the reason for the price hike is the cost of swans..
Every year since 1984, American investment group PNC Wealth Management has compiled a Christmas Price Index (CPI - geddit?) by pricing all the items in the song from the partridge right up to 12 drummers drumming.

While mainly just a bit of harmless fun, PNC also believes the index does have something to say about the wider American economy.

This year, PNC estimates the index has leapt 8.1% to $21,080, its second highest ever increase. That compares with the US government's Consumer Price Index (CPI) which has risen 3.7% this year.

But the bulk of the dramatic rise in the Christmas version is due to the cost of the seven swans-a-swimming which have risen by 33.33% to $5,600. The scarcity of swans has always made them one of the most volatile elements of the index.

Cutting them out, the index is $15,480.10 - a rise of 1.1% from the $15,307.25 recorded in 2007, and a figure that seems to echo the economic slowdown in the country.

"Omitting the Seven Swans-a-Swimming may be a tempting way for a True Love to hold the line on costs, but one would be advised to proceed with caution," joked James Dunigan, managing executive of investments for PNC Wealth Management. "Because our analysts can only measure the actual cost of this seasonal treasure, not its sentimental value, True Loves may want to budget a little more carefully this year in order to purchase all the items in the song."

...

The metal in the five gold rings, meanwhile, may have increased as commodity prices have soared, but retailers are heavily discounting items in order to get shoppers through the door. As a result a bargain-seeking True Love should be able to get them for $349.95 this season, down 11.4% on last year.

Changes in the labour market, meanwhile, have impacted on some of the other prices in the index. PNC reckons the eight maids a milking are the only unskilled labourers in the song and so qualify for the minimum wage, which increased for the second year running in 2008 to $6.55 an hour. As a result their services will set a True Love back an extra 12% this year.

The drummers-drumming, pipers-piping and lords-a-leaping have all been affected by the economic slowdown which has seen wage inflation kept in check by worries about job security. As a result their cost has increased by just 3%, which PNC says essentially keeps them in line with the rise in the cost of living. The price of the nine ladies dancing, however, was unchanged at $4759.19, according to PNC's sources.
MSNBC has come up with it's own estimate of cost

I know we are cutting back on gifts this year in our household, and I know for sure that it doesn't mean that we don't love each other any less than in prior years.

There are of course some other low budget ways to make your true love content... but we'll have to let you figure that out.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

A Date Which Will Live In Infamy - December 7, 1941



From Today In History:
At 7:55 a.m. Hawaii time, a Japanese dive bomber bearing the red symbol of the Rising Sun of Japan on its wings appears out of the clouds above the island of Oahu. A swarm of 360 Japanese warplanes followed, descending on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor in a ferocious assault. The surprise attack struck a critical blow against the U.S. Pacific fleet and drew the United States irrevocably into World War II.

The day after Pearl Harbor was bombed, President Roosevelt appeared before a joint session of Congress and declared, "Yesterday, December 7, 1941--a date which will live in infamy--the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan." After a brief and forceful speech, he asked Congress to approve a resolution recognizing the state of war between the United States and Japan. The Senate voted for war against Japan by 82 to 0, and the House of Representatives approved the resolution by a vote of 388 to 1. The sole dissenter was Representative Jeannette Rankin of Montana, a devout pacifist who had also cast a dissenting vote against the U.S. entrance into World War I. Three days later, Germany and Italy declared war against the United States, and the U.S. government responded in kind.
Dec. 7, 1941 - 67 years ago - 2,403 Americans, most of them service personnel, were killed in this attack. Much of the American fleet and air forces stationed in Hawaii were destroyed.

The next morning, an outraged United States declared war. That war ended less than four years later, and destroyed most of the Japanese empire and its military, and also brought on the advent of nuclear weaponry.

As a result of war being declared, my father joined the army and was subsequently stationed in the Fiji Islands. My mom was a war-bride. He was one of the fortunate guys who came home to raise a family and serve his community. My dad passed away in 1997, and I am proud to say he served his country honorably and bravely.

Let's take a moment today to remember those who fought for freedom and triumphed over the tyranny of their time.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Granny Might Be Packin' Heat


Gizmodo- the Gadget Blog shares some 2nd Amendment technology with us:
Thanks to the Second Amendment, even the elderly have the right to keep and bear arms. The problem is that many of the guns out there are a bit unwieldy for an older person to handle. However, the inventors of the Palm Pistol are planning to change all that with a weapon that is ideal for both the elderly and the physically disabled. The firearm appears to be a redesign of the classic "Chicago Palm Pistol" first patented in the US in 1883—the difference being that the modern Palm Pistol is a single shot device with a thumb trigger. According to the product site, "point and shoot couldn't be easier"
It's interesting that these weapons may be available to some of the most vulnerable people in our society - the elderly and the physically disabled. It would seem that anyone should have the ability to protect themselves or engage in target practice, especially if they have handled firearms in the past. One shouldn't lose the opportunity to own and use a firearm if they have developed arthritis or have other disabilities.

The truth is that palm pistols have actually been around for quite awhile.

The Palm Pistol website says:
The Palm Pistol is an ergonomically innovative single shot double action only defensive firearm chambered in 9mm that may be fired using either hand without regard to orientation of the stock. Suited for home defense, concealed carry or as a backup gun. It is also ideal for seniors, disabled or others who may have limited strength or manual dexterity. Using the thumb instead of the index finger for firing, it significantly reduces muzzle drift, one of the principle causes of inaccurate targeting. Point and shoot couldn't be easier.
The U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms has approved these palm pistols too.

So next time, don't mess with granny! She may not just hit you over the head with her handbag ... she might just be packin' heat!

(H/T Jeff A.)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Homeschooling Goes Mainstream


"Everybody knows somebody who is teaching a child at home"

The Hoover Institution just put out this pretty decent article about homeschooling, by Milton Gaither .

Milton Gaither is associate professor of education at Messiah College and author of Homeschool: An American History, from which the article was adapted. His blog reviews recent research on home schooling.

What he has to say in the article is something that I have known for awhile. Homeschooling has become popular, and it works, and parents and tutors have been teaching children in the home for centuries. It's nothing new. Many different kinds of people do it, and they do it in a number of different ways. Additionally homeschooling enjoys a very strong grassroots organization and networking component, which effectively has helped many homeschoolers avoid restrictive legislation when it rears its ugly head.

Although I dispute the notion that homeschooling wasn't legal in every state before the 1990's, Gaither mentions some of the legal issues regarding homeschooling in this sense:
By the early 1990s they had won the right to home school in every state. Some home-school advocacy groups have attempted to secure a federal law or Supreme Court ruling that would establish uniform national guidelines grounded in First or Fourteenth Amendment rights, but to date such efforts have failed (to the great relief of home-school advocacy groups that oppose this strategy). Home schooling thus falls under state law, and these laws vary widely. A complex matrix of specific statutory language and judicial interpretations emerged out of the maelstrom of political activism over the issue that started in the late 1970s. In Indiana and Michigan, for example, there are virtually no restrictions on home schoolers and very little accountability to government. Home-schooling parents are not even required to register.[Gaither can add Connecticut to that list too] In Pennsylvania and New York, state agencies oversee and regulate home schooling in a number of ways, from curricular requirements to parental qualifications to mandatory home visits by certified personnel to obligatory standardized testing.

By the 21st century, state laws were well established and uncontested, though nearly every year state legislators or judges, especially in the most permissive states, seek to increase regulations on home-schooling families in the name of accountability. Such initiatives nearly always fail due to the astonishing grass-roots organization and political mobilization of home schoolers.
Legislators get thousands of phone calls and emails if they even bring up the subject. CT legislators can attest to that, so can Californians, etc.

Gaither also mentions the reasons why homeschoolers choose to do what they do. It isn't just about religious reasons anymore. There has also been an increase in minorities who are homeschooling because the government school system has been such a failure for their kids.
Gaither says:
Several nationwide support groups have been formed by African Americans to build momentum; the newest and largest is the National African-American Homeschoolers Alliance, cofounded in 2003 by Jennifer James. By 2006 the organization had 3,000 members. James learned of home schooling by watching the success of home schoolers at the Scripps National Spelling Bee and embraced it for her family. “Families are running out of options,” James told the St. Petersburg Times in 2005. “There’s this persistent achievement gap, and a lot of black children are doing so poorly in traditional schools that parents are looking for alternatives.” Home schooling is becoming the method of choice for many, and as such “the Black homeschool movement is growing at a faster rate than the general homeschool population,”
Other minority groups have also begun to make the move to homeschooling. We have seen this even in our homeschool groups here in CT. The diversity is rich, and people come from all backgrounds and ethnicities. There are all sorts of homeschool groups too.
Gaither writes:
Growth in home schooling can be spotted among other ethnic and religious groups as well. Native Americans in Virginia and North Carolina have founded home-school organizations in an effort to escape assimilationist public schools and preserve their traditional values. Hawaiian natives have found home schooling to be the solution to the gulf between tribal ways and public education. Jews, especially those who follow the Orthodox tradition, have been home schooling in much greater numbers in recent years.
Then there are families with special needs children. Their needs are also not being met by government schools. Parents are now choosing to educate their children at home where they can really concentrate on specifics and get the resources they need.

Another group that is big in homeschool circles are kids who have specific sports or talent related aspirations. I have known kids who homeschool because they are training for the Olympics or are concert musicians. The freedom and flexibility that homeschooling affords these kids is absolutely critical to their success in their fields of expertise.

Gaither writes something that I have also known for many years:
In short, home education is now being done by so many different kinds of people for so many different reasons that it no longer makes much sense to speak of it as a political movement or even a set of movements. Make no mistake: the veteran political movement is still going strong, as legislatures that attempt to increase regulations quickly discover. For a growing number of Americans, however, home schooling is just one option among many to consider, for a few months or for the entirety of a child’s schooling.
Gaither also offers some interesting perspective on the types of methods followed, but basically people use all kinds of curriculum and kids are pretty much able to transition back into government schools if necessary or desired. Overall, the kids fare very well. So well in fact that he states,"School districts around the country are experimenting with programs that allow students to home school for part of the day but take certain classes at the local public school."

Mostly government schools are looking to get those kids back into their system because they are losing funding when kids are not in the system, as evidenced by Gaither's data:
School districts with high rates of home schooling have seen significant drops in funding, tied as it is to per-pupil enrollment. The Maricopa County school district in Arizona, for example, had by the year 2000 lost $34 million due to the exodus of 7,526 home schoolers. In an effort to win some of them back, the district began offering à la carte services through satellite campuses at strip malls and other locations.
There is in fact a real problem with school co-opting the term "homeschooling". It should be clear that doing a government curriculum at home while being enrolled in government schooling is not really "homeschooling" in the traditional sense. This controversy about this hi-jacking of terminology has been brewing in the homeschool community for a while now.

Bottomline here is that many people are finding homeschooling the way to go for their families - and they accomplish educating their kids in a variety of ways. There has been some "hybridization" in education, because government schools and education businesses are trying to cash in on the desire of families to have control and flexibility when it comes to educating their own. Homeschoolers are an important demographic, and they can see that money can be made on the thousands of homeschoolers across the nation. Most homeschoolers know that curriculum can be simple and achieve great results. There is so much available through libraries and the Internet that one really doesn't need government school curricula or special programs. It really all depends on what you are looking for for your child.

Gaither ends with this:
A movement born in opposition to public schools ironically might offer public education its most promising reform paradigm for the 21st century.
Maybe parents are also just fed up with the poor performance of government schooling and the stranglehold of unions which often put children's needs last.

For my family - homeschooling has worked and I am ever so grateful for those who helped me network and gave me advice when I started out 11 years ago. My kids can also be given the lion's share of kudos for their commitment and perseverance and dedication to the learning process, which they now realize is an intrinsic part of every human being. The desire to learn and know and grow and find one's way in the world is something that is totally theirs. I was just a facilitator to help them along their paths.

I have also seen that when government stays out of the way, homeschooling can be even more successful.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Obama - A Real Man Of The People (NOT)


While everyone is suffering in this recessionary economy it is nice to know that Mr. Obama is helping someone's economy by buying his wife a diamond bauble as a "thank you gift" for her undying support.
Michelle Obama is to receive this £20,000 thank you from her husband for her support during the election.

The Harmony ring is made of rhodium - the world's most expensive metal --and encrusted with diamonds. It is being hastily made by Italian designer Giovanni Bosco in time for January's inauguration ceremony.

Only about 25 tons of rhodium are mined each year, mostly in South Africa, and as a result its price is typically around £5,000 an ounce.

It is a very select precious metal and because of its value and association with wealth, rhodium was chosen as the material for the disc presented to Beatle Paul McCartney for being history's all-time best-selling songwriter and recording artist.

Several luxury items such as the world's 'Most Expensive Pen' or 'Most Expensive Board Game' also contain rhodium while the Crown Jewels worn by the Queen are also rhodium plated.

Yeah, it looks like he isn't spreading his wealth around much, except to his wife. It's an ugly ring if you ask me.

Look for the sequel to his book entitled, "The Audacity of Elitism in a Crashing Economy".

When Bringing The Troops Home Has A Different Meaning


Some people may view this as good news..
The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.

The long-planned shift in the Defense Department's role in homeland security was recently backed with funding and troop commitments after years of prodding by Congress and outside experts, defense analysts said.

There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.

But the Bush administration and some in Congress have pushed for a heightened homeland military role since the middle of this decade, saying the greatest domestic threat is terrorists exploiting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, dedicating 20,000 troops to domestic response -- a nearly sevenfold increase in five years -- "would have been extraordinary to the point of unbelievable," Paul McHale, assistant defense secretary for homeland defense, said in remarks last month at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. But the realization that civilian authorities may be overwhelmed in a catastrophe prompted "a fundamental change in military culture," he said.
Sorry guys, but the US military really has no business in civil affairs. We have a National Guard and a civilian police force and countless others that should do the job if we need to have one done. If the National Guard and the first responders cannot handle what the Pentagon is somehow predicting in terms of terror attacks or civil emergencies, then they need further training and funding... we don't need the US military going house to house or searching civilians or patrolling streets with M-16's. Apparently they are training to do just that. That to me is a concern.

It is interesting to me that terrorism is tearing our country away from our founding principles. We as a country are being goaded into giving up our freedom and liberty for some imagined sense of "security". We seem to be wasting our "blood and treasure" on counter-terrorism measures which are actually eroding our liberties and bankrupting us in the process. Truly we have seen the human and monetary costs associated with various state-initiated endeavors "to protect us" to continue to grow. The more frightened we all become and the more frightened our leaders suggest we should be, the more we are choosing to move away from our Constitutional Rights. That in and of itself is pretty frightening. Governments over the millennia have always taken advantage of the ability to seize more power when strife and fear are created.

Are there evil people in the world... sure ... Mumbai just proved that. Are there threats... sure there are... just as there are Pirates in Somali waters. My point is that we cannot allow fear to overtake us and cloud our thinking. We cannot allow ourselves as a nation to trample the very freedoms so many people fought and died for, all in the name of "security". If anything, our citizenry should be taught how to take care of themselves in a "domestic catastrophe". Hurricane Katrina should have taught us that.

Posse Comitatus is a very important law. Posse comitatus is a U.S. law that prohibits the use of federal troops from conducting law enforcement duties on domestic soil unless approved by Congress. There was a specific and thoughtful reason as to why it was established.

I don't think the U.S. Military should be used to "keep the peace" or diffuse protests or direct their efforts against U.S. dissident groups. I don't believe the U.S. Military should be involved in control of civil unrest. The U.S. Military is meant to protect us, not silence us.


Bring them home - yeah - but not to make U.S. civilians their next concern.


(H/T Bob C.)

Like It or Not The Question Is Still There


Does Obama meet the citizenship qualification set forth in the US Constitution? If he doesn't, what will happen?

Now, I don't care much if some of you out there think I am a lunatic for bringing this up... and this really has less to do about, "right wing crazies" trying to subvert Obama's election, or even about Mr. Obama's politics, and more about adhering to our founding document... but the reality is his Certificate of Live Birth that is "on the Internet" has been proven by many people to be doctored, and that goes for his selective service card as well. He has refused to unseal his vaulted long form copy that is sitting in Hawaii. Why is that? All I, and many others, want to see is proof. It's really that simple. Why hasn't Obama shared some very important documents with the American people?

I am not going to rely on SNOPES or the Annenburg Foundation FactCheck...they are not the definitive authorities with regard to these documents. There needs to be full access to Mr. Obama's documents so that they can be examined and verified by forensic experts.

There are several lawsuits pending on this issue, and electors to the Electoral College) all across the country are being asked to verify Obama's "natural born status". Quite frankly - all that would go away if Mr. Obama just showed us the papers. Why hasn't he and the DNC done that?

The media has refused to pick this up in any meaningful way because they have supported Obama all along. In any case, there have been a few papers to pick up stories of the lawsuits, like the one about Candidate Alan Keyes, (AIP leaders Sue To Obtain Obama Citizenship Proof - Breaking News: The Post Chronicle)

Because media reporting has been so lacking it has forced individuals and organizations to take their own action.

There is a letter being placed as a full page ad in the Chicago Tribune by "We The People Foundation". Here is an excerpt:
December 1, 2008

Dear Mr. Obama:

Representing thousands of responsible American citizens who have also taken an oath to defend the Constitution of the United States of America, I am duty bound to call on you to remedy an apparent violation of the Constitution.

Compelling evidence supports the claim that you are barred from holding the Office of President by the “natural born citizen” clause of the U.S. Constitution. For instance:

• You have posted on the Internet an unsigned, forged and thoroughly discredited, computer-generated birth form created in 2007, a form that lacks vital information found on any original, hand signed Certificate of Live Birth, such as hospital address, signature of attending physician and age of mother.

• Hawaii Dept of Health will not confirm your assertion that you were born in Hawaii.

• Legal affidavits state you were born in Kenya.

• Your grandmother is recorded on tape saying she attended your birth in Kenya.

• U.S. Law in effect in 1961 denied U.S. citizenship to any child born in Kenya if the father was Kenyan and the mother was not yet 19 years of age.

• In 1965, your mother legally relinquished whatever Kenyan or U.S. citizenship she and you had by marrying an Indonesian and becoming a naturalized Indonesian citizen.

You have repeatedly refused to provide evidence of your eligibility when challenged to do so in a number of recent lawsuits. Instead, you have been successful in having judges declare that they are powerless to order you to prove your eligibility to assume the Office of President.

Incredibly, the judge in Hawaii actually said it would be an invasion of your privacy for him to order access to your original birth certificate in order to prove your eligibility to hold the Office of President.

Before you can legitimately exercise any of the powers of the President you must meet all the criteria for eligibility established by the Constitution. You are under a moral, legal, and fiduciary duty to proffer such evidence. Should you assume the office as anyone but a bona fide natural born citizen of the United States who has not relinquished that citizenship, you would be inviting a national crisis that would undermine the domestic peace and stability of the Nation

...

In addition, I ask that you deliver the following documentary evidence to the National Press Club in Washington DC by 10 am on December 8, 2008, marked for my attention:

• A certified copy of your original, signed “vault” birth certificate.

• Certified copies of your reissued and sealed birth certificates in the names Barack Hussein Obama, Barry Soetoro, Barry Obama, Barack Dunham and Barry Dunham.

• A certified copy of your Certification of Citizenship.

• A certified copy of your Oath of Allegiance taken upon age of maturity.

• Certified copies of your admission forms for Occidental College,Columbia University and Harvard Law School.

• Certified copies of any legal documents changing your name.

Each member of the Electoral College, who is committed to casting a vote on December 15, 2008, has a constitutional duty to make certain you are a natural-born citizen. As of today, there is no evidence in the public record (nor have you provided any) that defeats the claim that you are barred by law from assuming the Office of President because you fail the Constitution’s eligibility requirements.

All state Electors are now on Notice that unless you provide documentary evidence before December 15, that conclusively establishes your eligibility, they cannot cast a vote for you without committing treason to the Constitution. .....
There was also a full page ad placed in the Washington Times Weekly on November 17.

There are calls being made to Congress.
(Toll Free 800 numbers, 1-866-220-0044, 1-877-851-6437, 1-800-828-0498)
One can call Washington D.C. Capitol Hill Switchboard 24/7 and ask..."Please transfer me to the Republican House Judiciary Committee" and when transferred you can speak to someone about this issue or leave a message requesting that congressional hearings be held to "investigate whether Barack Obama meets the basic constitutional requirement for the highest office in the land"

There are people contacting their Secretary of State to ask who their electors are to the Electoral College and they are contacting them directly to request that these people verify Obama's eligibility before they cast a vote on December 15.

So maybe you think this is hokum. Ok, that's your prerogative.. but there are people like me who just want to make certain that the person who assumes the highest office in the land is absolutely qualified to do so, as set forth in our US Constitution. Since there is a growing body of evidence out there that suggests otherwise and raises doubt... Mr. Obama just prove that you are "natural born" .