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038-government-sucklers.jpg

A rare glimpse, not often revealed by the media, of government beneficiaries looking to the mother pig for their handout.

Don't worry everyone, your government bailout will come. Congress can't help but act. After all, whoever heard of a politician getting in front of a microphone and telling his/her constituents that, after long consideration, the best course of action is to do nothing.

"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves largesse from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most benefits from the public treasury with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, always followed by a dictatorship."

- Attributed to Alexander Tytler

Posted by Don | Comments (1) | TrackBacks (0) |

036-fdr-television-broadcast.jpg

This is a very rare photograph of President Franklin D. Roosevelt "FDR" giving his address to the American people after the stock market crash...or, at least that's what Democratic Vice-Presidential candidate Joe Biden would have you believe:

"When the stock market crashed, Franklin D. Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the, you know, the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what happened.'" - Joe Biden

Two problems: (1) the stock market crash was in 1929 when Herbert Hoover was President (FDR became President 4 years later in 1933), and (2) there were no televisions around at the time of the stock market crash. Televisions weren't commercially available until the late 1930s and even by 1942 there were only about 5000 total sets in operation.

Can you imagine if the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin had made this same mistake? We'd never hear the end of it! Oh, how clueless. How out of touch. No sense of history. Makes things up. Tells lies. Not fit for office. Blah, blah, blah. But, since it was a gaffe from the liberal media's Vice-Presidential candidate...under the rug it goes.

[Update: in response to a Kool-Aid drinking commenter]

Remember, the stock market crashed in 1929. From the sometimes useful, if it's not about something political, Wikipedia:

"NBC began regularly scheduled broadcasts in New York on April 30, 1939 with a broadcast of the opening of the 1939 New York World's Fair."

"It is to be noted that DuMont (and others) actually offered the first home sets in 1938 in anticipation of NBC's announced April 1939 start-up."

"The broadcast was transmitted by NBC's New York television station W2XBS Channel 1 (now WNBC-TV channel 4) and was seen by about 1,000 viewers within the station's roughly 40-mile (64 km) coverage area from their Empire State Building transmitter location." [Note that's 1000 viewers in 1939...not 1000 television sets. The number of viewers available for an experimental 1929 broadcast probably could have been counted on two hands.]

"NBC's experimental New York City station was licensed for commercial telecasts beginning on July 1, 1941."

037-fdr-first-television-broadcast.jpg

Here is an actual picture of the 1939 broadcast by President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the New York World's fair. I have found absolutely no support for the proposition that then Governor Roosevelt spoke about the stock market crash, or anything else, in 1929 on the highly experimental, 48 line resolution, very limited, television that was available at the time for which there weren't but a handful of receivers. If anyone has a citation to the contrary, I'd be very interested. And, even if you do, do you really think that was what Biden was referencing? Or, are you just trying to make some after-the-fact justification?

Posted by Don | Comments (12) | TrackBacks (0) |

[I wrote most of this post last year and so it starts out applying more to individuals, but it concludes and is, otherwise, equally applicable to corporations (no matter how big) and individuals.]

Two individuals, both make the exact same amount of money.

033-smart-guy.pngNumber One buys a house way under any idiotic here's-what-you-can-afford formula knowing full well that in 30 years before it is paid off there absolutely will be job changes, illnesses, disasters and/or other life altering events which affect his ability to make ends meet.

Number One lives well within his means, not buying the latest electronics, doesn't eat out every day, buys a used car, keeps it well maintained and drives it until it has over 200,000 miles, and a hundred other things that are not so much sacrifices as they are just being smart. Number One uses this money to buy plenty of insurance, stuff his retirement fund and put away funds for a rainy day.

Did I mention the two individuals make the exact same amount of money.

034-dumb-guy.pngNumber Two buys the biggest possible house the bank will loan him money for, since he's experienced increasing salaries and home values his whole life and such trends will naturally continue forever. Two is maxed out on his credit cards due to all the fun toys he buys for himself and all the partying he does around town. His credit is in the pits and he acquires transportation in the financially worst way by leasing a new car every two or three years. He has no savings and is depending on the government...you and me...to take care of him and pay for his health care and medicines when he retires.

And then something happens to both of the above individuals, a downturn in the economy, or an illness...or just the passage of time when Number Two's ridiculous mortgage is about to jump from a teeny-tiny teaser intro rate to a you're-screwed rate.

Can anyone tell me why the government should step in and stop Number Two from losing his home? Whenever the government comes to the rescue, all I see is people who live their lives making safe, risk-adverse, decisions being spit on.

I don't care what happens to the guy, his family, the bank that gave him the loan or the brokerage firm that invested in his loan. Let him lose the house, move into one he can really afford, or horrors of horrors an apartment, and let the businesses suffer the consequences and learn a lesson.

Let me emphasize...I actually don't have a problem with the choices Number Two makes. It's his life, he can live it any way he wants. But, when things go not as planned, he should suffer the consequences of his choices. Only then will others see that those choices truly are not the wisest ones to make.

People living their lives like idiots is not my problem...and by my problem I mean that it is not the government's problem. They need to stop being helpless little children, stop looking to the nanny state to suckle them through life and suffer the consequences of their choices.

035-no-bailout.jpgAnd, if tough love multiplied by hundreds of thousands or millions of homeowners means a downturn in the economy, plummeting stock market, devaluation of the dollar, collapse of billion dollar business and increased unemployment...so be it. The short run pain is a far lesser evil than the long run destruction that would result from another massive, inefficient, eternal, government program taking us another step...giant leap...towards socialism. Have we learned nothing from the short-term gain (which is disputable), long-term destruction, brought about by FDR's New Deal?

No bailout, no government assistance, no government program! DO NOTHING! That would be the hard choice. That would be the option that would take true moral courage. Let people and companies be responsible for their actions. In the long run...which is the only thing that matters...it would be best for everyone. But, don't worry, it won't happen. The government, both Democrats and Republicans, can't help but do something. After all, they think government is always the answer. So, bad behavior and poor performance will be rewarded and Americans won't have to take their medicine and suffer through any short-term discomfort. The best part of all, you won't be around when your descendants are asking how you could have sold them out.

Posted by Don | Comments (2) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 23 2008

The Catholic Vote

I am not Catholic. But, I married one and my wife and I are raising our two sons Catholic. Below is a very powerful issue ad. It does not support one candidate or the other and, in fact, treats the candidates absolutely identically.

If you consider yourself Catholic...if you truly consider yourself Catholic...I don't see how your vote could be at issue. For more information or to embed or share the video with others go to CatholicVote.com.

Posted by Don | Comments (3) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 21 2008

The Puzzlemaster

032-will-puzzle-master.jpg

Will has become quite the puzzlemaster and his favorite is his Sesame Street Elmo and Friends 24 piece puzzle. He has put it together and taken it apart a few dozen times now. We didn't think to give the puzzle to two year, two month, old Will because it is officially "Age 3+" but Will pulled it out of the cabinet the other day and insisted on putting it together. Around here, age appropriateness and serving size always seem a little over-estimated. (Except when it comes to Hollywood which has no clue what "age appropriate" means.)

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

031-boys-sleeping.jpg

Will and Drew sleeping in one morning. Do you think they might be related?

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |

The mainstream media is parroting the line that "there's plenty of blame to go around" for the recent mortgage and financial crisis. If you're at all familiar with the slant of the mainstream media, you'll immediately see this as an indicator that the Democrats may be primarily to blame. So, I set out to find the answer to the question who's to blame and this is what I found:

Jimmy Carter - 1977:
025-jimmy-carter.jpgIn 1977, Democratic President Jimmy Carter was in the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. They passed and signed into law the Community Reinvestment Act ("CRA"), which was designed to prohibit lenders from "redlining" unprofitable neighborhoods. The term "redlining" was coined in the late 1960s by community activists in Chicago. It describes the practice of marking a red line on a map to delineate the area where banks would not invest.

While redlining was real, it's origin had nothing to do with race, discrimination or anything malevolent or improper. It was solely about profitability. Banks weren't lending to people in certain locations because doing so was not profitable. If this weren't true, a company could easily come in, or start up, and open up branches in redlined neighborhoods and have a monopoly on the amazingly profitable business that was being ignored by the big bad old-time lenders. However, no such business came in, or started up, simply because there was no money, or insufficient money, to be made in such locations.

What could an innocent little law from 1977 possibly have to do with the mortgage and financial crisis of 2008? Actually, not too much. The lenders were able to either squeak out a little profit from the poor neighborhoods, break even or absorb their losses during the economic boom years brought about by Reagonomics in the '80s and the internet boom of the '90s. But, the CRA was a foot-in-the-door. After all, you don't boil a frog by throwing him in boiling water, you put him in room temperature water and slowly turn up the heat. You don't take more than half a man's earnings when you first pass an income tax, you just take a percent or two. You don't get paid family leave on the first try, you have to lie and tell the voters that small businesses won't be shackled with paying workers for 3 months of paid leave every year. Then, once everyone is used to unpaid leave, tell everyone how unfair it is that only the rich can afford to take family medical leave and that out of "fairness" we have to force businesses to pay people to sit at home and not work. Same thing with the CRA, it wasn't the worst piece of needless economic legislation the Democrats had ever hobbled the American people with but, rather, simply a foundation on which bad policy could be built.

Bill Clinton - 1993:
bill-clinton.jpgIn 1993, Democratic President Clinton was in the White House and Democrats controlled both houses of Congress. President Clinton initiated revisions to the CRA and regulatory scheme which substantially increased the number and aggregate amount of loans to small businesses and to low- and moderate-income borrowers for home loans. The revisions also allowed, for the first time, the securitization of CRA loans containing subprime mortgages. The first company to pool and repackage the loans into securities was the now defunct Bear Sterns.

White House Press Briefing by Clinton Administration Robert Ruin, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, December 8, 1993:

"In July the President asked the four banking regulators to reform CRA, to reduce paperwork in process and reward performance, and to get that done by January 1, 1994. We're delighted to report that that has been accomplished on schedule. And in conjunction with the President's Community Development Bank and financial institution legislation, which recently passed the House of Representatives, CRA reform will generate billions of dollars in new lending and extend basic banking services to the inner cities and to distressed rural communities around the country."

Clinton's strengthening of the CRA required lenders to find ways to provide mortgages to their poorer communities by loosening their underwriting standards. In other words, the banks had to make bad loans...officially called "sub-prime loans." So how do you give loans to people who simply don't qualify? Pursuant to the CRA, you get rid of objective color-blind criteria like the size of the mortgage payment relative to income, credit history, savings history and income verification. Instead, things like participation in a "credit-counseling" programs should be taken as evidence of an applicant's ability to manage debt. More on these bogus "credit-counseling" programs below.

George Bush - 2003:
026-george-w-bush.jpgIn 2003, President George Bush tried to pass what the liberal New York Times described as, "the most significant regulatory overhaul in the housing finance industry since the savings and loan crisis a decade ago":

"The new agency would have the authority, which now rests with Congress, to set one of the two capital-reserve requirements for the companies. It would exercise authority over any new lines of business. And it would determine whether the two are adequately managing the risks of their ballooning portfolios."

"The plan is an acknowledgment by the administration that oversight of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- which together have issued more than $1.5 trillion in outstanding debt -- is broken. A report by outside investigators in July concluded that Freddie Mac manipulated its accounting to mislead investors, and critics have said Fannie Mae does not adequately hedge against rising interest rates."

"The proposal is the opening act in one of the biggest and most significant lobbying battles of the Congressional session."

So, we have President Carter laying the foundation for disaster with Bill Clinton worsening the situation beyond which even the greatest economic engine in the world can sustain, all with the help of clueless and/or corrupt Democrats along the way. Finally, the supposedly "stupid" President George Bush attempts to bring a solution to what he knew was a major problem, but the Democrats blocked him.

Follow the Money...to the Democrats:
The New York Times also said there was a "lobbying battle" over Bush's proposal to reign in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac...so, lets follow the money! Over the last ten years, from 1989 to 2008, the top three recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac campaign contributions are...drum roll please: (1) Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd and Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, (3) Democrat Senator John Kerry. What about number 2 you ask? I think someone stepped in number two because, in less than four years in office, a certain inexperienced, junior Senator from Illinois somehow managed to rise to the number (2) spot in most campaign contributions received from the, now under Federal conservatorship, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac: Democratic Senator Barack Obama. Change!

Barack Obama - $$$:
027-barack-obama.jpgNow, why would these lending institutions spend such a disproportionate amount of money on a baby Senator? Because they knew it was money well spent and it all goes back to Obama's days as a community rabble-rouser, I mean, "organizer." The original lobbyists for passage of the CRA were hardcore leftists who supported the Carter administration and were often rewarded for their support with government grants and programs like the CRA that they personally benefited from. These included various "community organizations" such as "ACORN" (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). As mentioned above, it is groups like ACORN which, for a handsome fee, provide the bogus "credit-counseling" to poor borrowers to qualify for loans instead of actually having a way of paying back the loan.

Neighborhood organizations, like ACORN, also benefit themselves from the CRA through a process of legalized extortion. The CRA is enforced by four different federal government bureaucracies: the Federal Reserve, the Comptroller of the Currency, the Office of Thrift Supervision, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. The law is set up so that any new branch creation, branch expansion or bank merger can be postponed or prohibited by any of these four bureaucracies if a CRA "protest" is issued by a community organization. The delays and expenses associated with such a protest can cost banks huge sums of money, and the community organization not only understand this perfectly well, but count on it. The community organizations use the threat of protests to get the banks to give them millions of dollars in "donations" (read that as bribes) as well as promising to make a certain amount of bad loans in their communities. With his history as a "community organizer," the lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac knew Senator Obama was a good buy for their money.

Christopher Dodd - Friend of Corruption:
028-christopher-dodd.jpgIn 2003 Senator Dodd refinanced the mortgages on his homes in Washington D.C. and Connecticut through Countrywide Financial with below-market rates because he was part of Countrywide's VIP program known as "Friend of Angelo" - Angelo being Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. But, Dodd failed to disclose the preferential loans in any of his congressional financial disclosures. Completely unrealted to such preferrencial treatement, in June of 2008, Dodd introduced a bill in congress to bail out mortgage companies like Countrywide as the expense of hundreds of billions of dollars to the American taxpayers.

As recently as July of this year, Democratic Senator Christopher Dodd, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, the guy who should know more than anyone how these institutions are doing...if he wasn't corrupt and/or incompetent said the following:

"To suggest somehow that [Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] are in trouble is simply not accurate...the facts are that Fannie and Freddie are in sound situations...they have more that adequate capital." CNN - July 13, 2008

Don't forget, as detailed above, Democratic Senator Dodd is the number one recipient of campaign contributions from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I'm sure it was just a coincidence and not incompetence or corruptions that led him to believe that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were in sound financial condition and not in any trouble just two months ago.

Barney Frank - 2003 & 2008:
029-barney-frank.jpgBack to President Bush's attempted reforms of 2003, Barney Frank, then ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, said at the time:

"These two entities -- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac -- are not facing any kind of financial crisis...the more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing." New York Times - September 11, 2003
"I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness [in the regulation of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac] that we have in the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Office of Thrift Supervision. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidised housing." The Independent - September 25, 2003

As recently as August 25, 2008, this clueless turd told Money magazine:

"Fannie and Freddie are better off than the market thinks." Money Magazine - August 25, 2008

Such sentiments were echoed in 2003 by other Democrats who blocked President Bush's attempts at reform like Representative Melvin Watt, also on the Financial Services Committee: "'I don't see much other than a shell game going on here, moving something from one agency to another and in the process weakening the bargaining power of poorer families and their ability to get affordable housing."

John McCain - 2005:
030-john-mccain.jpgWhat about Senator John McCain? Well, in 2005, while Obama was just figuring out how to get his congressional parking sticker while taking his first bribe campaign contribution from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, John McCain (62 on the list of Mae/Mac recipients) was the co-sponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, which the Democrats succeeded in defeating in congress. On May 25, 2006, John McCain had this to say about the need for the legislation:

"If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system and the economy as a whole." - John McCain, 2006

And, just what would the bill co-sponsored by Senator John McCain have done? From the Congressional Research Service Summary:

"Sets forth operating, administrative, and regulatory provisions of the Agency, including provisions respecting: (1) assessment authority; (2) authority to limit nonmission-related assets; (3) minimum and critical capital levels; (4) risk-based capital test; (5) capital classifications and undercapitalized enterprises; (6) enforcement actions and penalties; (7) golden parachutes; and (8) reporting."

Liberals criticized the bill because it transferred oversight and eliminated certain minor, redundant or irrelevant reporting requirements. Their complaints ring hollow when asked how in the world Mae and Mac could have possibly been less regulated? Actually, reading the bill (63 pages and 31,000+ words in my version) reveals that it may very well have provided the necessary reforms to have, if not avoided, significantly lessened the current mortgage and financial crisis.

Sounds like Senator John McCain understood the economy and economic ramifications of uncontrolled Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac better than the Democrats ever have.

[If I have time, I'll add all the ex-Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac officials who were paid millions while they their drove their companies into the ground who are now advisers to Barack Obama's, on his vice-presidential search team and hold other close personal and professional relationships with Obama.]

[As long as this is, I've had to shorten it quite a bit and leave a lot out. There are a lot more bills, laws, corruptions and scandal involved. I've just touched on the highlights.]

[Rest assured, there is blame for heads of the companies involved in this crisis as well as the consumers (more on one or both of these in the future), but primary blame rests with legislators and regulators who created the rules by which the game was played.]

Posted by Don | Comments (17) | TrackBacks (1) |

124rafaelperalta.jpgYesterday, the Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter, announced that Sgt. Rafael Peralta will be posthumously awarded the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor for combat bravery by Marines, for his valor during combat operations in Iraq in November 2004.

CITATION:

For extraordinary heroism while serving as Platoon Guide with 1st Platoon, Company A, 1st Battalion, 3d Marines, Regimental Combat Team 7, 1st Marine Division, in action against Anti-Coalition Forces in support of Operation AL FAJR, in Fallujah, Iraq on 15 November 2004. Clearing scores of houses in the previous three days, Sergeant Peralta' asked to JOl.n an under strength squad and volunteered to stand post the night of 14 November, allowing fellow Marines more time to rest. The following morning, during search and attack operations, while clearing the seventh house of the day, the point man opened a door to a back room and immediately came under intense, close-range automatic weapons fire from mUltiple insurgents. 024-navy-cross.pngThe squad returned fire, wounding one insurgent. While attempting to maneuver out of the line of fire, Sergeant Peralta was shot and fell mortally wounded. After the initial exchange of gunfire, the insurgents broke contact, throwing a fragmentation grenade as they fled the building. The grenade came to rest near Sergeant Peralta's head. Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Sergeant Peralta reached out and pulled the grenade to his body, absorbing the brunt of the blast and shielding fellow Marines only feet away. Sergeant Peralta succumbed to his wounds. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Sergeant Peralta reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Unfortunately, there is some controversy as to whether Sgt. Peralta should have received the Medal of Honor instead of the Navy Cross. I don't pretend to know the arguments on either side very well or the standard on which each award is given. I only have two comments: (1) if Sgt. Peralta's actions don't warrant the Medal of Honor, what does? and (2) Sgt. Peralta could not hold any higher position of honor with my family.

Previously:
Sgt. Rafael Peralta: Act of Honor
Sgt. Rafael Peralta Documentary on the History Channel
Sgt. Rafael Peralta - New Photos
HERO: Sgt. Rafael Peralta

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 17 2008

Blog Upgrade

023-website.gifJust completed a significant upgrade to the blog which is now running Movable Type Pro version 4.21-en with Community Pack 1.6, Professional Pack 1.2, Better File Uploader 2.2.5 and TypePad AntiSpam 1.0. A discerning eye may be able to pick up on some of the outwardly visible tweaks and fixes. I think most of the little gremlins have been exorcised, but if you see or experience anything that isn't right, please let me know.

Many thanks to Dan Wolfgang of uiNNOVATIONS without whose assistance the upgrade would not have been possible.

The additional back-end functionality will allow me to roll out some new things in the near future, so stay tuned. Oh, and I should mention that I was this close -- thumb and index finger nearly touching -- to going to a three column format.

Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 13 2008

Advanced What Is It?

Previously, we played what was essentially beginner "What is it?" Now, it's time for the advanced version. Same set up as before, while cleaning out our parents home, my sister came across the item below. We have no idea what it is, nor do we even remember it. Since, we've never seen it, it's probably 30-40 years old and maybe older. It likely came from overseas, but your guess as to exactly where is as good as ours. China?

020-what-is-it-full.jpg

It's about 2 1/2 feet tall and made entirely of wood. It is far too fragile to be any kind of cane-like steadying device.

021-what-is-it-head.jpg

It has a two inch deep hole, which would fit a dowel rod or cigarette (but probably not a cigar), in the back of its throat. Given the shape of the top of the mouth, my best guess is that it was designed to hold incense. However, the ashes would not drop into the base, which would make it a very large, poorly designed, incense holder. I don't really think it's an incense holder, but that's all I can think of.

022-what-is-it-base.jpg

The off-center base. There are no tell-tale markings or anything anywhere which would give an obvious clue as to its origin or function.

Anyone have any ideas?

[Update: possible/probable answer in the comments.]

Posted by Don | Comments (4) | TrackBacks (0) |

My original YouTube video, "National Anthem: Star Spangled Banner," has now been viewed over 100,000 times! As of this post it has 100,923 views, 269 comments, rated 4 1/2 stars after 168 ratings and has been favorited 319 times.

From an October 14, 2006, post about the origin of the video:

This video was shot in September at Bricktown in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, during the Okie Blogger Round-Up 2006. I was on my way to dinner with Charles Hill and Michael Bates when I saw Bricktown's huge Old Glory waving against a perfectly clear blue background and just had to stop to take some pictures and video footage.
Posted by Don | Comments (0) | TrackBacks (0) |
Sep 11 2008

Never Forget

911-victims.jpg

NEVER FORGET

Collection of photos of all but 92 victims of 9/11 attacks from the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui convicted of conspiring to kill Americans, now serving a life sentence in the Federal ADX Supermax prison in Florence, Colorado.

Previously:
Remembering Mari-Rae
2,996 Project: Remembering Venesha O. Richards

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Drew (4 year-old on phone in Oklahoma): It's raining here.

Aunt Donelda (on phone in Illinois): Yes, and the storm is going to come to Illinois tomorrow.

Drew: Well, it has to go through Missouri first.

Will: First there was, "Meh." Then came, "Moe." And now, finally, "No!"
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A news article came out today which correctly declared in its title: "World Wants Obama as President." My response to which is, "Duh!" Barack Hussein Obama II is wildly popular the world over. Now, why do you think so many Europeans, third-world nations, communist countries and terrorist despots want Obama to be President of the United State so badly?

Is is because they all want to see the United State of American remain the sole super power, leader of the free world, military protector of freedom and democracy, with the strongest, most vibrant economy in the world, who doesn't kowtow to Euroweenies or seek the permission of global bureaucracies when it deems it must act in its own best interests? Umm...perhaps.

Or, could it be in Senator Obama they see a leader that will put American in its place, who will cripple its economic engine, scuttle its military, bow before the bureaucrats of Brussels, Strasbourg and The Hague and join the other nations of the world as a peer and forgo its anachronistic role as leader of the world? Naw...couldn't be that!

Of course the world wants Obama, the other team always wants you bench your star quarterback and play with an inexperienced, third-string, walk-on. Who do you want for President; the man who's best for Europe and the Middle-East or the man who's best for America?

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Two week ago, Drew started his first day of school...preschool/pre-k at St. Benedict. It's just three days a week for four and one-half hours. There are only eleven kids in his class and two teachers. We didn't originally intend to sign Drew up for preschool but it's been increasingly hard to challenge him and keep him from being bored around the house. We figured we'd sign Drew up at the brand new school that was just built within walking distance from our house, Jefferson Elementary, but there wasn't enough demand for a half-day program as all the parents want to put their preschoolers in full-day classes. How sad. So, Mary looked into all the private and parochial schools and we determined the preschool that happened to be offered by our church provided the best option. Drew picked out a Buzz Lightyear backpack to take with him to school.

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Will wanted to be just like his big brother and put on his little backpack to take Drew to school.

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At school, getting ready to go inside. Oh how they grow up so fast.

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015-the-scream.jpgElsewhere on the interweb, the question was asked, "What are you afraid of?" The responses seemed to mostly be about creepy-crawly things and only touched on what, to me, were real fears. I quickly penned the following off the top of my head:

I am afraid of my children being harmed by developing a health problem which I cannot do anything about or by some type of accident when I am not around to protect them.

I am afraid of not being as good a husband and father as I could be.

I am afraid of people whose lives are governed by their desires and passions rather than by logic and reason.

I am afraid of liberals and their desire to help people in the short run at the expense of doing great harm in the long run (nearly every government program ever created).

I am afraid of Supreme Court justices who decide cases by their feelings and what they personally believe is right rather than by the Constitution and what the Founding Fathers believed was right.

I am afraid of people who are ignorant and government schools whose very existence depends on perpetuating that ignorance.

I am afraid of radical fascist beliefs spread by the sword overwhelming a world corrupted by pacifists and appeasers. So many on both sides are willing to die for their beliefs but unfortunately it appears that it is those who have no qualms about killing for their beliefs who will ultimately prevail. There is a scourge on this planet and over the centuries and last few decades it has shown itself to only be growing.

I am afraid that liberal government's insatiable quest for money will one day turn to the largest pool of wealth in the world, private retirement accounts of hard working Americans.

I am afraid that it may already be too late for the United States to survive given our national debt of more than 9.6 trillion, otherwise known as $9,600,000,000,000.00, which is more than $31,000.00 for every man, woman and child, more than 124,000.000 for just my family alone. If that doesn't convince you we are economically doomed, then what about the fact that our federal government is additionally on the hook for $57.3 trillion in federal "entitlements" for Medicare, Social Security and other government programs. That's over $500,000 per household and doesn't even include state and local governments!

I am afraid when you combine the above two fears that the only solution is massive inflation so that the accumulated debt can be paid off with worthless dollars, all of which would render my hard earned saving stuffed away every month at great cost and sacrifice...worthless.

Shortly thereafter an individual deployed in Iraq posted the following:

Currently here I am afraid of IEDs, Insurgents, and the biggest fear Amry/AF Iraqis that decide to switch to the bad guys side.

To which I replied:

I'm going to put aside my list of fears for a while and just pray about yours.

Sometimes you just have to put things in perspective.

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Sep 6 2008

Spikey Hair

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After the boys take baths, they like to make their hair spikey.

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Fortunately, they don't like to keep it that way and much prefer to have their hair nicely combed.

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On one of our trips this summer to the clean out my grandmother's home in Goltry, we finally found my grandfather's handgun. It's a 1953 Star Second Model F Series .22 long rifle caliber.

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Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A., went bankrupt in 1997. However, a terrific website about Star Firearms is maintained by an individual which is an excellent resource about Star firearms. From the website, I learned the pistol is a Second Model F Series manufactured in 1953 as indicated by the marking in the right-middle above, as well as the meaning of the other proof marks on the pistol.

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I took the pistol to a trusted gunsmith who did a detailed disassembly, cleaned, lubed and test fired it. When I picked it up, he even politely offered to purchase the gun but, of course, it's not for sale at any price. I took it to a range and it shoots like a dream. My grandfather and I never got to shoot together, but holding and firing his handgun, it's almost like he's there with me.

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Earlier this summer the boys got a new bike which, of course, Drew gets to ride first.

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We agonized a lot over whether to get a cheapo Walmart bike or a higher quality Trek. I was originally pulling for a one size larger Trek but Drew really liked the Spiderman bike and he seemed more confident on its smaller size. Given the fact that Drew's growing like crazy and the Walmart Spiderman bike being less than a third of the price of the Trek, the purchase made since for a first bike that might not be ridden too long. It will also also allow Will to start riding earlier too.

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Will on his tricycle. Both boys know they always have to wear their helmets when they ride their bikes. Knee and elbow pads are optional...Will insisted on wearing them (they came with Drew's helmet).

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Drew and Daddy on Drew's first ever bike ride.

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003-schick-quattro-titanium-trimmer.pngEarlier this summer I received a free Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer provided to me with the hope, but no requirement, that I review it here on my blog. I spent over a month shaving with it exclusively.

To be fair, I'm probably not the best person to give something new to review. I'm very set in my ways and once I find something I like, I'm not very open to change. I think I've primarily used two different razors my entire life, a free model given to me when I entered college, either a Gillette or a Schick twin blade and my current Gillette Mach 3 triple blade. In other words, the potential exists that the new Schick Quattro might be better than my old Gillette Mach 3, but I wouldn't notice it.

The Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer has four blades which have a titanium coating that is supposed to reduce irritation. While good in theory, I can't say I noticed a difference between it and my current razor. The razor also has a single blade on the back side for getting into tight places around your nose or...we'll that's the only place I tried it. It worked pretty good, but I didn't find it a necessary feature. Finally, the razor includes a small trimmer built into the handle powered by a AAA battery. I shaved my annual goatee just prior to getting the razor and, so, was only able to try it out on my sideburns. While a neat feature for those with more facial hair than myself, especially for people who travel or want minimum clutter, I was unimpressed by the trimmer which I didn't need. The trimmer also adds a substantial amount of bulk and weight to the razor which really annoyed me from the start. There's an ideal heft and ergonomics to a razor and the built in trimmer causes the razor to blow past any ideal proportions. Although, it's probably not so bad that you couldn't get used to it.

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Now to the biggest, most annoying problem, with this razor. It's increased blade count and cartridge design causes the razor to easily clog and be difficult to unclog. The clogged blades in the picture occurred with almost every shave with the Schick Quattro. Through some combination of increased number of blades, decreased space between the blades and a horrible design which prevents water from washing though, the blades are very clog prone.

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In comparison, my old Gillette Mach 3 on the left, you can actually see light pass through between the blades which is blocked on the Schick Quattro. That means a quick swish under the faucet will clear the Gillette but not the Schick. Absent this design flaw, I'd recommend guys with mustaches or goatees to give the Schick Quattro Titanium Trimmer a try. However, it's propensity for clogging requires me to rate this razor: not recommended.

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We're back! It's been incredibly busy lately and there has been little time for blogging. Hopefully, this will resume normal semi-regular updates. This Labor Day weekend we all drove up to Chicago to visit Aunt Donelda. Thanks to her, we all got to enjoy a multi-million dollar pool complex all to ourselves before it opened to the masses.

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Drew perfected the Tigger Stroke in the three foot portion of the pool. What's the Tigger Stroke? Bounce...bounce...bounce...

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Will very much enjoyed riding on Daddy's back. Surprisingly, Will barely held on, he just semi-floated at the small of Daddy's back and steadied himself with his hands on Daddy's shoulders.

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Aunt Donelda got in the action and posed under one of the many splashing apparatus. Click "Continue reading," there are a lot more pictures after the jump!

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Drew in the midst of the water fountains.

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Will doing his best to grab a fountain.

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Drew and Will were great sports standing under one of the water buckets as it filled and then spilled.

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Drew taking a turn lifeguarding.

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Will also put in his time in the chair.

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Aunt Donelda and the ghostly four from Oklahoma.

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