CHOOSING A PRESIDENT

On November 8, 2016 we Americans will make a decision that will likely he one of the most important decisions of our lifetime: who to vote for to be the next President of the United States.  Many believe that politics is stupid because of all of the partisan bickering that goes on.  That may or may not be true, but it’s irrelevant…our next President will make decisions that will affect not only us, but our children and grandchildren as well.

The following criteria for selecting a President is non-partisan.  I came up with them after looking at everyone else’s and concluding that those criteria are inadequate.  My qualifications for doing this are: I followed politics for over 50 years, my Masters degree from the University of Pennsylvania is in Government Administration, and I’ve worked for the Federal, State and local governments for 44 years.  My 6  criteria for choosing a President are listed below and are prioritized and listed in the order of their importance, so #1 is the most important and #6 the least important.

1. INTEGRITY: one of the most important qualities but not so common in many politicians.  This is important because the President may ask us to go to war or to make some other sacrifice, so we need to be able to trust him or her and not think that whatever is being done is for political purposes.

2. POSITIONS ON ISSUES:  this criterium might also be called “ideology”  and is really the most important reason why one should select one presidential candidate over another.   The problem with it is that many politicians are adroit at lying, obfuscating issues and at pretending righteous indignation.

3. EXPERIENCE: there is no job exactly like the presidency but there are some jobs that provide relevant experience.  It’s not a coincidence that seventeen of our U.S. Presidents have been Governors of a State.  Being a Governor provides the best experience  for the presidency, however any executive or managerial experience is relevant and useful.  Legislative and legal experience is useful.

4. EDUCATION: A masters degree in either Business or Government Administration is probably the most relevant education a President could have.  A law degree is helpful.

5. OPEN-MINDEDNESS:  In U.S. politics, the politician is either on the left or the right and this ideology  can be constraining at times for finding the best solutions to a problem or dilemma.

6. PUBLIC SPEAKING and CHARISMA: for his “bully pulpit” duties, a President would be well-served by being a master of the spoken word…and if he or she is charismatic as well, so much the better.

You may agree or disagree with my 6 criteria or perhaps you simply may want to add a few more.  Whatever…but it is important to have criteria (or standards) to use, otherwise you’ might do what many people do: vote solely by political party, vote because of something irrelevant like age, gender, physical appearance, ethnicity, race, or emotions.  While most elections don’t matter that much, the upcoming Presidential election will determine if our huge $19 trillion National debt will  place us into the league of the great civilizations that eventually bit the dust by going bankrupt.

 

All Services

IF YOU’RE NOT A LIBERAL AT 20…; IF YOU’RE NOT A CONSERVATIVE AT 40…

WW II British Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “if you’re not a Liberal at 20, you have no heart; if you’re not a Conservative at 40, you have no brain.”  What exactly did Churchill mean and is it valid? That’s what this brief post is about.

At 20 years old, people are usually idealistic and usually believe what their mentors (teachers, professors) inculcate into them.  However, the parents of teachers and professors in most of today’s universities and colleges became Liberal in the 1960′s when draft dodgers fled there to avoid the Draft and Vietnam.  Consequently, students today hear only one side of  national issues and further, are discouraged to even listen to both sides, because the other side is characterized as being racist or sexist or whatever.

At 40 years old, people are usually much more mature, often with a spouse and children, and begin devoting much more time following public issues.  Moreover, they have lived long enough to become much better at recognizing  the lies and deceit engaged in by many politicians.  And because many at age 40 now have children, National issues take on much greater importance with the realization that many Liberal/Progressive policies not only don’t work, but actually do great harm to the people that they supposedly are intended to help.

I’m 50% Conservative and 50% Liberal.  That does not mean 50% Republican and 50% Democrat.  What’s Liberal or Conservative about $19 trillion in National Debt?  What’s Liberal or Conservative about health care that is a confusing, disorganized, and unaffordable the way Obamacare is configured?  What’s Liberal or Conservative about a weak military or a foreign policy that punishes our allies and rewards our enemies?

At 73, I’m in the last part of my life, and I’d love to leave this world knowing that the U.S. will be OK, but I’m not there yet.  Most young people scare me because they can vote but know less than nothing about the issues…less than nothing because much/most of what they think they know is misinformation.

I don’t mean to sound critical, because it’s natural for the young to spend their time pursuing mates, getting an education and starting a career.  However, on November 8, 2016, America will either turn around and become vibrant again, or finish its journey onto the trash heap of history.  Which scenario plays out might depend on the young, which is the group whose future would be the most devastated by another Democrat President controlled by big-government statists.

Another famous British citizen, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said it best:  ”The problem with socialism is that, sooner or later, you run out of other people’s money.”  The U.S. is very close to running out of being financially able to borrow more of other people’s money.

 

OBSESSED with RACE!

Mike Brown in Ferguson, Eric Garner in New York, etc., etc.   The first incident due to a policeman protecting himself from being killed; in the second incident, the police being overzealous and inappropriate in its enforcing a minor infraction of the law.  Both incidents had nothing to do with race, but months later the U.S. is still agitated from them, and other incidents,  to the extent that two New York City police officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu, were ambushed and killed for revenge while sitting in their police car. Why?

Americans are obsessed with race!   Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said that his dream was that one day his four little children will live in a nation where they will be judged, not by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.  In other words, a “color-blind” society was his dream.  The opposite has and is taking place even though race relations in the U.S. for most people have never been better.   Politicians and their minions call anyone a racist who disagrees with them on anything, whether or not it has anything to do with race.   Moreover, the government encourages discrimination in many, many ways including something so minor as requiring race and ethnic information in order to get medical care (I refuse to provide it calling it “racist” on the form).

My credentials for stating the above: while working for the Federal government for over 40 years,  I volunteered to perform three “collateral-duty” jobs that took up to 20% of my official work time, each for a minimum of five years.  Two of the three involved fighting racial, ethnic, and gender discrimination.  In one of my collateral-duty jobs, I was instrumental in increasing Latino employment by my Federal Bureau from under 1 % to 6% of the workforce (as the Hispanic Employment Program Manager); in the other collateral-duty job, I counseled about a dozen minorities and women in seeking remedies for alleged discrimination (as an EEO Counselor).  Each of these positions required extensive training which I was happy to take and I performed well, to the extent that I received EEO awards from my bureau and the Department of Interior.   These experiences, plus working at my father’s butcher shop (with a 99% African-American clientele) when growing up, working as a counselor at a camp with 50% African-American ”campers,” and attending a Junior High School with 50% African-American students, gives me a far better perspective than most white Americans in understanding race relations.

My perspective on race relations today versus throughout the past is that relations have improved significantly in the past 60 years.  But if my perspective is accurate, why is racism such a major concern today? Is it really politics as I stated earlier?  Author of the book, The Big Black Lie, Kevin Jackson, blames the Democratic Party in its attempt to convince voters that Republicans are racists.  In his book, Wrong on Race, Bruce Bartlett enumerates the Democratic Party’s history of racism.  Most recently, author of the book, Mugged, Ann Coulter, gives a very detailed account of racial demogoguery from the seventies to Obama.  My own experience and observations validate what I read and make me hopping mad.  The pain and suffering by all parties has been perpetuated for political gain.  I also agree with Dinesh D’Souza’s book, The End of Racism, that the American obsession with race is fueled by a civil rights establishment that has a vested interest in perpetuating black dependency.

Will this obsession with race ever end?  Only when the deception behind it is fully exposed and widely acknowledged.  Unfortunately, that day may never come.  What would Dr. King say?  Nothing…I believe he would be  in tears!

Let’s go back in time to when African-Americans were freed from slavery and see what Booker T. Washington, born a slave, who established the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama to educate and train African-Americans and was the most prominent African-American in his day (1856-1915), said in his book, “Up from Slavery”:  ”…the policy to be pursued with reference to the races was, by every honorable means, to bring together and to encourage the cultivation of friendly relations, instead of doing that which would embitter.”  What is happening today is the opposite of what Mr. Washington advocated and is being done mostly in order to keep 90% of African-Americans voting for the Democratic Party.

 

VOTER FRAUD IS RAMPANT!

THE PROBLEM: 1.8 million dead persons listed as voters;  2) felons in prison voting;  3) people voting more than once, some voting many times; 4) politicians pushing to eliminate all voter identification prior to voting;  5) voting machines in Philadelphia being abused when poll watchers momentarily leave to go to the bathroom;  6)voters in Philadelphia being intimidated by New Black Panther party members who were not prosecuted by the U.S. Justice Department (see J. Christian Adams’ book, Injustice);  7) U.S. Senatorial race being stolen in Minnesota by comedian Al Franken;  8) The U.S. Presidency being stolen in 1960 by Joseph Kennedy, President Kennedy’s father!  9)Men and women in the military routinely being sent ballots so late that it’s impossible for their votes to be counted in time;  10) ineligible voters listed on registration rolls in counties in twelve states (Judicial Watch investigation); 10) absentee voting becoming the voter fraud of choice because it doesn’t require voter ID; 11) countless other elections at the Federal, State and local levels being stolen; 10) 2.7 million voters fraudulently registered in two states, 68,000 voters fraudulently registered in 3 states; 12) Pennsylvania currently has no requirements for voter identification  (see February 2012 Pew Center issue brief;  see John Fund’s books:  Who’s Counting?: How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk; and  Stealing Elections: How Voter Fraud Threatens Our Democracy)

ANALYSIS: Who’s responsible for this National disgrace and travesty?  The governments at the Federal, State and local levels are the culprits!  It’s not due to incompetence but to dirty/criminal politics and it’s long overdue to be corrected before Americans lose all faith in the integrity of their elections.

Even in the Iraqi elections a decade ago voting was much more honest than the United States.  How can that be?  Iraq had a very simple but effective system which was devised by the U.S. military: when Iraqis voted they had to dip their index finger into a jar of indelible purple ink…and this was solid evidence that they had voted.  In the United States, on the other hand, registration proving that you’re eligible to vote is required first.   What evidence is required to register to vote?  In Colorado, a utility bill with your name on it was sufficient.  Of course this is ridiculous because you  don’t have to be a citizen in order to receive a utility bill…and in addition, if you have more than one home in different counties, you’ll have separate utility bills for each home (you get vote twice if you’re dishonest).

Many politicians say that they don’t want to place an undue burden on its citizens by actually requiring that they show a photo ID, such as a drivers license (which is even required of people of questionable age to buy a pack of cigarettes).  What a crock!  Does anyone except a naive child actually believe that lax registration standards have any purpose other than facilitating fraudulent voting?  It is important in a democracy for people to have faith in the process by which their leaders are elected, so care must be taken that it’s done honestly and that politicians are kept far away from the process.  Voter fraud is not new, but dates back to the beginning of our Republic (see Andrew Gumbel’s book, Steal This Vote)

THE SOLUTION: For now, a photo ID, eith in the form of a driver’s license or a State-issued photo ID should be mandatory.  Later, perhaps a slight revision and an addition could be made to the on-line E-Verify system created by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services in concert with the Social Security Administration that is currently used by employers to ascertain whether someone is in the U.S. legally.  Something like a “Voter Photo Authentication.”  Something must be done to prevent criminal politicians from continuing to corrupt our elections and it’s governments’ fault that it got this way and it’s  governments’ responsibility to clean it up.

CLIMATE CHANGE: REAL or POLITICAL PLOY?

Global warming, cooling, or climate change: terms that have been politicized to the extent that one has to question the sources of all data and facts cited to prove or disprove: 1) whether global warming, cooling or climate change even exits, and if it does, 2) is it man-made or caused by something else or a combination of both.  Further, if it does exist and is mostly man-made, 3) how bad is it and, 4) can anything be done to significantly stop it if it’s  bad enough to warrant being stopped.  If we can answer each of these concerns, then we’ll know what to do, if anything.   Here’s my analysis:

1) Whether the earth is warming, cooling or staying the same basically depends on the point in time you select to compare this year’s  earth’s temperature to.  For example, a few hundred years ago the earth went through a “Little Ice Age” (1280-1850 AD) so of course today’s temperatures would be  warmer than then.  You may cite the melting Arctic glaciers as other evidence of global warming.  OK, but you need to consider that glaciers wax and wane over time and when Arctic ice is waning, Anarctic ice is waxing.  In other words, climate constantly changes (there was a “Medieval Warm Period” from 900-1300 AD and it was a few degrees warmer than today’s temperatures).  Over thousands of years the Earth has cooled and gotten warmer and cooled and gotten warmer, etc.  In fact, the Earth has had 5 major Ice Ages over the past 2 billion years,  5 periods of serious global cooling.

2) In the last few hundred years some data suggests that the earth appears to have warmed and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions increased, so a case can be made for there being a correlation between the two.  Remember, however, correlation doesn’t mean causation.  Scientists do know that there is a significant correlation between Sunspots and weather on earth.  However, how much of the recent warming is due to CO2 and how much is due to Sun spots and Solar Flares is suggested by the fact that although atmospheric carbon dioxide has increased, the earth’s temperature has remained almost the same, which suggests that carbon dioxide has little or no effect on the earth’s temperature.

3) Is any global warming, cooling, or climate change cause for alarm and action?  Thus far, it’s been relatively minor and any slight increase in the earth’s temperature is probably a good thing…more crops, better weather.  Of course, the adverse effects  from the California drought, specifically the lack-of-water problem in California’s Central Valley is 100% man-made by President Obama’s policy of manipulating stored water for the Delta Smelt, a small fish on the Endangered Species List, rather than for the cropland and farmers that live there and for the thousands of migrant farm workers that help harvest their crops.  Insofar as extreme weather activity is concerned, the past half-century has seen fewer major hurricanes and extreme tornado activity in the United States.

4) Can anything be done about global warming , cooling or climate change if  it gets really bad in the future?  Sure, there are various ways to reverse global warming but not global cooling.  My preference is, if there is global warming,  the geoengineering proposals that seem preferable because they affect every country equally and do not harm any country’s economy.

So what should be done now, if anything?  ”Watchful waiting” is in order but everyone needs to endeavor to get global warming or climate change out of politics because it should be solely a matter of science.  The Kyoto Protocols were rejected by the U.S. Senate in 1997 by 95 to 0.  And well they should have been, those in the U.S.

Recall the “Hockey Stick graph” scandal in which a team led by a professor at the University of Virginia created a graph  that eliminated data depicting the Little Ice Age and the Medieval Warm Period  in an effort to support the global warming hypothesis.  Then the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) actually and unbelievably included the misleading graph it in its Third Assessment Report.  Therefore, I believe it prudent to be very skeptical of any data depicting global warming or cooling.

With help from the Sun, the Earth’s climate changes constantly and gets warmer and then cooler.  People might contribute a little, but for the most part it appears the Sun is to blame.  From my course in meteorology at Penn State University,  I  learned that “yes, climate changes all of the time…that is the very nature of climate…”  However, funds spent on projects that attempt  doing something about it are not warranted until there is solid evidence, and therefore claims of climate change are not only a  waste of money,  I believe: 1) they are a ruse to give climate-study contracts to friends who will pay back significant sums (“kickbacks”) to politicians, and 2) climate change is used as a rallying cry by which the Democrat Party attracts and holds young, idealistic people to vote for them.

Data indicates the world is about to enter into a 25-year period of global cooling due to weak Solar Cycles 24 and 25.  Read Cold Sun and Dark Winter by John L. Casey, and chapter 2 (“A Less Giving Sun”) of the book, Twilight of Abundance by David Archibald if you would like to see the research on this.

Is climate change political BS or fact and can anything be done about it to make a significant difference?  I think you now have sufficient amount of information to know the answers to those questions.

 

UNDERSTANDING AFRICAN-AMERICAN POLITICS (audio interview w. Kevin Jackson)

I decided to interview Mr. Jackson, author of the book “The Big Black Lie, How I Learned the Truth about the Democractic Party”, (25-minute audio of interview at the bottom of this introduction…click on the red writing below) because he is rare indeed…an unabashed African-American conservative.  Moreover, one won’t hear his views from traditional black leaders or the mainstream media and his views are worth listening to because they have a unique perspective and are interesting.

Mr. Jackson has degrees in Electrical Engineering and Mathematics, was a management consultant for some of the world’s largest companies, ran his own sales organization, and has his own Blog and radio show.  He is a dynamic and elegant speaker who is in high demand for his clarity of thought and expression.

The interview with Mr. Jackson focuses on African-American politics and explores why Mr. Jackson holds the views that he does. He has been on MSNBC, O’Reilly, and Cavuto,  among many others, and has a clear and studied loud message for African-Americans, as well as anyone else interested in the welfare of that community.

In the interview, Mr. Jackson tells us about:

  1. How blacks were sold out by the Democratic party
  2. How to criticize President Obama without being considered a racist
  3. How the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was far more supported by Republican Congressmen than Democratic Congressmen
  4. Why the Democratic Congress failed to revise welfare law even after Democratic Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan reported on how its “no man in the house rule” was destroying black families
  5. The origins of the financial meltdown, and much more.

To listen to my interview with Mr. Jackson’s, please click on the Red Link below.

Kevin Jackson-African Americans Audio

Interview by Mike Russo.

KEYSTONE PIPELINE UPDATE: PROS & CONS

When President Obama initially vetoed the TransCanada Corporation’s proposed $7 billion Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline (also known as the Keystone Gulf Coast Expansion Project),  it meant that 830,000 barrels of oil a day would not travel from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf’s oil refineries via a pipeline.  Though a politically popular decision with environmentalists,  it was very unpopular with construction unions, as well as most Americans.

To counter criticism, some from leaders in his own political party, the President made an appearance in Cushing Oklahoma on March 22, 2013  saying that he would fast-track any required permitting of the 485 miles of pipeline traveling from Cushing down to the Gulf.  That part of the proposed pipeline is on privately-owned land in the U.S. so the President couldn’t do much to stop its construction even if he wanted to.  Without the northern leg of the pipeline, however, the 830,000 barrels of much-needed oil/day wouldn’t be coming from Canada and this leg of the pipeline the President could and did stop because the pipeline would have to cross the Canadian-American border (and therefore required Federal approval).

TransCanada subsequently modified its proposed route through the environmentally-sensitive areas of Nebraska and resubmitted its application.  There was not much remaining that was controversial and the U.S. State Department  found it to have “no significant impacts on the quality of the human environment,” which is the wording and standard contained in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA).

The Keystone pipeline is not simply about oil, but also about  thousands of jobs (estimated to be 20-40,000  construction and 100,000 indirect jobs) and significant positive effects on the economy.  It’s therefore important to analyze the President’s decision to determine if it’s mostly political or based on genuine detriments to the environment.

It’s no secret that the far left is anti-fossil fuel because of what it perceives as unacceptable pollution.  To this end, the Obama Administration came out with 5 sets of anti-coal regulations which were estimated to cost the United States  the loss of over one million jobs.  In addition, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is zeroing in on anti-fracking regulations to control the utilization of the huge natural gas reserves (over a 100-years worth) in the U.S.; however,  the far-left contends that its opposition to the Keystone Pipeline  is mainly because of possible leaks from the line.  In addition, Energy Secretary Chu has stated that it would be desirable to have U.S. gas prices at European levels ($8-10/gallon), so that alternative fuels would be more price-competitive.

Carbon emissions in the United States have been drastically reduced over the past 50 years.  Autos emit only a tiny fraction of what they used to.  Coal-fired power plants have been cleaned up.  In contrast, China brings on-line  two new coal-fired power plants a week and these plants, unlike U.S. plants, emit lots of pollution.  Air pollution knows no boundaries, so it’s a lot less polluting to the earth for the U.S. to burn its coal rather than for China.

Solar and wind sources of energy only supply about 5% of the nation’s energy needs.  Hydroelectric supplies less than 10%, nuclear about 19% (France gets 80% of  its energy from nuclear).  So for the foreseeable future the U.S. still needs fossil fuels.  Therefore this dilemma is not really a dilemma at all.  If the U.S. cannot get the oil it needs from domestic sources and help improve the economy and create thousands of jobs at the same time, it will get it from foreign sources and give up to $500 billion a year of its wealth to countries that don’t like us and in some instances mean us harm, and to the detriment of the economy as well.

The United States is constantly improving  extraction and utilization methods for fossil fuels, while continuing to develop alternative sources of energy, including nuclear energy.  The potential for Keystone Pipeline leakage can be mitigated through built-in protective redundancies.  Even the original Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), prepared pursuant to NEPA, published in late August 2011 after three years of preparation, found “no significant impacts” from the pipeline.  If a pipeline oil leak did occur, it’s far easier to stop it and then clean it up, than if a leak occurred from an offshore pipeline.

There’s simply not enough alternative energy, including nuclear energy, currently available and it will be decades before there is, so for now we need fossil fuels and the United States has more natural gas, coal, and oil than any other country in the world, but it also has an array of laws and regulations preventing its access and use.  The pipeline could be raised off the ground, as was the Alaska pipeline, or it could detour around the major 200,000-square-mile Ogallala or High Plains Aquifer in Nebraska and other surrounding States.

If the United States does not build the Keystone pipeline, Canada will build an oil pipeline from the Tar Sands to its west coast and the 830,00 barrels of oil a day will be sold to China and an additional 150,000 barrels of oil a day from the Bakken Formation in North Dakota will have to continue to use trucks and rail to haul its oil south to Gulf refineries rather than simply using a safer Keystone Pipeline to transport it.  U.S. gas prices would have consequently been over $5 gallon by now except for the fact that the U.S. economy has been so weak and Saudi Arabia drastically reduced the price of oil by flooding the world market with it.   Contributing to upward price pressure of oil is the “slow-walking” of permitting of wells in the Gulf,  not allowing drilling in ANWAR and on most of the Outer Continental Shelf, and by OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries), who sets world oil prices based on world supply and demand.

The President delayed his decision  on the pipeline until after the 2014 mid-term elections, basically because a large Democrat donor (Tom Steyer)  pledged to donate over $50,000,000 to the Democrats if he did so (Steyer actually spent close to $80,000,000).  After the 2010 mid-term elections, the new Republican-led House of Representatives voted to build the pipeline but the still-Democratic-led Senate voted against it.  The 2014 Congress began in January 2015, and both the Republican-led House and now Republican-led Senate approved it, but the President vetoed it.

The TransCanada Corporation consequently has challenged the President’s decision in Court.  Stay tuned.

 

 

UNDERSTANDING DEMOCRAT PROGRESSIVE POLITICS (audio interview w. David Horowitz)

David Horowitz is a prolific author, speaker and political activist. He currently is the director of “The Freedom Center” which he created in 1988.  He went to Columbia University as well as the University of California at Berkeley and was the editor of the left’s leading magazine, “Ramparts.”  I believe Mr. Horowitz’ greatest asset is his insight into leftist politics.

In my interview with him, he explains why he changed from being a revered and high-level, left socialist from 1956 to 1975 to a conservative in the late 70′s, especially considering that his parents were members of The American Communist Party.  Mr. Horowitz tells his spell-binding and compelling story with names, dates, and places.  He tells what motivates the left and gives his views on leftist positions.

In the interview, Mr. Horowitz explains:

  1. Why and what the left hates.
  2. The anti-war activists’ change in their protests against the Vietnam war once the draft was ended in 1974, why many left leaders of the 70′s (John Kerry) have ”blood on their hands,” and much more.
  3. How and why he knows that the Black Panthers killed his accountant, Betty.

If you want to learn more about left politics, you should enjoy this interview.  Click on the red Link below.

David Horowitz – Political Left Audio

Interview by Mike Russo

GOOD-BYE DONALD TRUMP (or can he turn it around)?

THE PROBLEM

This presidential election year almost anyone other than Hillary Clinton could become president of the U.S., but it looks like Donald Trump possibly cannot.  The following explains why not.

Basically, it’s Trump’s ego!  When criticized, he fights back and then some.  He’s often not particularly careful in his “hitting back.”  His replies are sometimes not fitting for a President, and although voters are looking for anyone other than Hillary Clinton who’s suitable to be our next president, Trump at times comes off as possibly unsuitable.

Some prominent Republicans, like Mitt Romney, John Kasich, and the Bush’s have voiced their opposition to Mr. Trump.  In addition, about 88% of Republicans currently support him.  It’s important to note that Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election although he had the support of 93% of the Republican electorate.  In addition, Hillary currently leads Trump in the polls by 5 to 7 percentage points.  So what should Trump do to turn things around?  Here’s my advice to Mr. Trump, a fellow U. of Penn Wharton School alum:

THE SOLUTION

1. Name now the Cabinet Secretaries that Trump would select once he is President.  People like Chris Christie as Attorney General, Rudy Guiliani for Homeland Security, and John Bolton for Secretary of State.  This would reassure many voters that he knows what he is doing and would make a great president.

2. Start practicing now for the upcoming presidential debates.  Hillary has become a good debater.  Although it worked with his base in the Primaries, Trump’s debate style won’t work with a national audience.  He needs to not only clearly win on the issues, he must appear presidential.  He should practice debating with Carly Fiorina and have Roger Ailes, who prepared Ronald Reagan for Reagan’s very successful second debate with Jimmy Carter, help him.

3. Trump’s formal position papers have been outstanding and he therefore should continue having more of them developed to assure voters he knows what he’s doing.  In addition, his position papers help prepare him for the upcoming presidential debates.  See his economic and terrorism position papers.

4. Trump needs to come up with a simple and clear plausible explanation of why he said all of the confrontational and derisive comments he made previously.  I think the following to be his reason (not excuse):  “As you all know, it was only about a year ago that I entered politics.  It has taken me a year to learn how to control my instincts to hit back hard when I’m attacked.  I could not help myself but now I learned that I must stick to the issues and also to focus my criticism only on Hillary Clinton.”

5. If Trump makes controversial statements like, “Obama is the founder of ISIS,” he needs to quickly follow up with a brief explanation, such as “I call President Obama the founder of ISIS because of his refusal to negotiate a ‘status of forces agreement with Iraq’ which would have meant that at least 10,000 American troops would have remained in Iraq to destroy any terrorist groups, like ISIS,  from forming and growing.”.

6. Trump needs to make peace with Republican icons, like Romney, Bush, Kasich, Will, and Krauthamer to get their support and endorsement in an effort to significantly raise Republican electorate support from the current 80′s to the 90′s.

7. Mr. Trump needs to start behaving presidential so that voters can picture him as president.  Saying that he can be presidential isn’t good enough.  His weakest skill is language and rhetoric.  He is inarticulate and inartful in his public speaking.  Take it from one who was a member of Toastmasters International for 23 years and has given hundreds of speeches, as well as evaluated hundreds of others.  If Trump doesn’t shape up, he will lose to Hillary Clinton and be responsible for the disaster she will cause by her incompetence, corruption, and absurd proposed solutions to the U.S.’s problems.

8.  Stop tweeting!  Presidents don’t tweet.

9. Finally, Mr. Trump needs to spend the $1 billion on his campaign that he said at some point in the campaign he would be willing to spend.  He especially needs to create a robust ground game to get his voters to the polls as well as prevent voter fraud.

WHAT’S AT STAKE

If Hillary Clinton becomes President, the United States is in for some very bad times.  Our current National Debt of $19 Trillion is only sustainable because the Prime interest rate is near zero which means that the Federal government can afford to pay the present interest on it.   Mrs. Clinton would vastly increase Federal spending and the resulting increase in the National Debt to the extent that the Federal government could no longer afford the interest and probably have to default.  Get ready for bad times.  Accumulate some hard assets like gold and silver coins.

 

 

 

UNETHICAL OR CRIMINAL DEMOCRAT PARTY?

In the old days, political candidates would tell voters what they stood for and voters would vote for those who they agreed with the most.  With the advent of polling and the use of focus groups, politicians now know in advance what the voters want and most tailor their speeches and “promises” to tell voters what they want to hear.

Politicians usually refer to this as “spin.”  Up to a point, it is spin.  But many politicians simply lie about their real intentions before they are voted into office…and go far beyond “spin.”  This is deceit and unethical but many partisan political people are easily deceived, partly because they want to believe whatever “their” politician and political party is peddling.

How does one find out which politicians are telling the truth and which ones are conning the public?  Start with being skeptical of all politicians.  Look at their record because what they’ve done in the past is the very best predictor of what they’ll do in the future.  Finally,  look at what a politician actually does in office and don’t be fooled by the great and inspiring speeches.  We live in a sophisticated and complicated age where not much in politics is what it seems.  

“Okay,” you may say, but “do you have any current examples of “unethical politics?”  I do, but shouldn’t we first define “unethical?”  Let’s just jump in with specific examples and you, the reader, decide whether some behavior is unethical or not.  You should be able to verify every example I cite on the Internet. Let’s go:

The Republican Party or GOP (Grand Old Party) is also known as”The Stupid Party.”  The Democratic Party is also known as “The Treason Party.”  Here’s why…when it comes to political strategy, for whatever reason, the Republican Party is naive, but not stupid.  When it comes to issues related to national defense, terrorism, and the economy, the Democratic Party has demonstrated that it is not only very weak, but its policies actually make things much worse.  But these are superficial labels and characterizations, so let’s go deeper and more substantive so, for the sake of time and brevity, I’ll simply cite just a few examples that I consider unethical:

-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for not providing for the rescue of U.S. Ambassador Chis Stevens and other Americans in Ben Ghazi on September 11, 2012. 

-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for carelessly handling “Classified” information in her e-mails.

-President Obama for destroying affordable healthcare for millions of Americans by imposing huge deductibles and very high premiums.

-President Obama for not pushing for a “status of forces” agreement with Iraq and consequently not leaving a small contingent of American troops to protect the victory that we won there (and ISIS consequently taking over much of Iraq and Syria).

-Former Attorney General Eric Holder for colluding with the IRS to target conservative groups.

-Former Attorney General Eric Holder for the “Fast and Furious” operation that has led to many innocents being killed by assault rifles it provided to Mexican drug cartels.

-The IRS for targeting conservative groups almost exclusively for political reasons.

-The mainstream media for serving as an arm of the Democrat Party and thereby jeopardizing our democracy (see Bernard Goldberg’s books,  ”A Slobbering Love Affair,” “Bias,” and “Arrogance.”

-The Democrat Party for fabricating the phony “war on women.” (read Katie Pavlich’s book, “Assault and Flattery”)

-The Democrat Party for blaming climate change on carbon emissions rather than addressing the real upcoming global cooling which is due to solar flares and sunspots, specifically weak Solar Cycles 24 and 25 (read John Casey’s book, “Cold Sun,” David Archibald’s book, “Twilight of Abundance,” and John Casey’s book, “Dark Winter.”).

-The Democrat Party for its racist history starting hundreds of years ago and up to the present (read Ann Coulter’s book, “Mugged” and its phony “voter suppression” charges as a pretext to be against Voter ID efforts and legislation.

-The Democrat Party for its phony gun debate, thus endangering the lives of millions, especially women  (read John Lott’s book, “More Guns, Less Crime”).

-The Democrat Party for stealing millions of votes (see Andrew Gumbel’s book, “Steal This Vote,” and John Fund’s book, “Who’s Counting, How Fraudsters and Bureaucrats Put Your Vote at Risk”).

-The Democrat Party for constantly claiming that the rich don’t pay their “fare share” of Federal taxes when the fact is that the top 10% of the wealthiest pay 70% of the Federal taxes.

-The President, Democrat Party, and the “Left”  for trying to suppress free speech (see Kirsten Powers book, “The Silencing”)

-The Democrat Party for turning into a political-unethical organization intent on seizing and retaining power at any cost (see David Horowitz’ book, “The Shadow Party,” and Dick Morris’ book, “Power Grab”).

-etc., etc., etc.

It’s possible that any politician can become corrupted and lie through his/her teeth to the electorate.  America needs two major honest political parties.  Democrats need to do whatever needs to be done to return their Party to the honesty of their former Democratic President, John F. Kennedy.  The health of the United States and all of its citizens depend on it.

NOT YOUR FATHER’S DEMOCRAT PARTY!

I’m a Conservative but was not always: I remember discussing the 1960 Presidential election with my father after watching the T.V. Presidential debates, trying to decide who would make the better President, Richard Nixon or John Kennedy.  Both candidates had similar positions on issues. Though inexperienced, Kennedy was youthful, energetic, and good-looking, and came across  very well on television.  Nixon was more dour and did not look good on T.V.  However, my dad and I thought that Nixon’s experience trumped Kennedy’s and that this was the most important factor to consider.

Of course, Kennedy was elected President and governed well.  Although his father, Joseph Kennedy, bought the election for his son by buying votes in Cook County, Illinois, as well as in Texas, President Kennedy, aside from his womenizing, was basically an honest and effective President, and is consequently still beloved to this day by many millions of people.

Upon President Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, Vice-President Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President and served out the remainder of Kennedy’s first term.  His escalation of the Vietnamese war was unpopular but his Civil Rights legislation was (legislation that President Kennedy originated).  Johnson allegedly said that “this will have the N****** voting Democrat for 200 years).  African-Americans had been previously voting Republican for 100 years after Republican President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation (the Democrat Party was the party of slavery, the Klu Klux Klan,  and Jim Crow laws).

After Republican Gerald Ford became President when Richard Nixon resigned in 1974, Jimmy Carter became the next Democrat President in 1976.  Both inflation and interest rates skyrocketed under the Carter Administration and when Carter persuaded the Shah of Iran to allow the Ayitolla Khomeni out of exile in Paris and back into Iran, Khomeni quickly fomented revolution and took over the country.  52 hostages were taken from the U.S. embassy in Tehran, were held for 444 days, and only released 30 minutes after Ronald Reagan was sworn in as President.  Reagan reduced tax rates (which resulted in the Gross Domestic Product of the U.S. doubling in 10 years), strengthed the military (including the Strategic Defense Initiative (“Star Wars”), and cut back Federal regulations.  All of these got the economy booming.

Democrat Bill Clinton became President in 1992, governed as a moderate, and was considered a successful President despite his tryst with White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.  Under his Presidency there were 4 years of Federal budget surpluses, thanks mostly to Speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, and Budget Committee Chairman, John Kasich.

After George W. Bush served as President from 2000 to 2008, Barrack Obama became President in 2008 on a slogan of “Hope and Change,” after serving as a U.S. Senator from Illinois for 2 years, and moved the Democratic Party to the far left.  He was re-elected in 2012 and still serves as President as I write this post.  As President, Obama pushed through the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) that mandated very poor healthcare unaffordable  for all except those receiving subsidies,  the Dodd-Frank law that destroyed 40% of community banks, that shut down many coal-fired generating plants losing about one million jobs, that wasted the Federal budget billions by investing in failed “green energy,” “kick-back”plants like Solyndra, that emphasized man-made climate change instead of sun-caused  climate change, that increased the National debt from $9 trillion to $19 trillion, that decreased the strength of the military to its weakest in decades, that did not leave a residual military force in Iraq (10,000 troops) which resulted in terrorists regaining a strong foothold in the region, that negotiated a really stupid deal with Iran which is leading to nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and possibly a  nuclear war, and which did not take the threat from ISIS seriously, etc., etc., etc.

From Conservative Kennedy to Far Left Obama, the Democrat Party is no longer the Political Party that your father might have voted for.

“THE DEMOCRAT PARTY LEFT ME”

“The Democrat Party left me” is the rallying cry for many former Democrats!  Why?  When they’re asked that question, the replies are usually, “I was a JFK Democrat when my party stood up to the Russians over missiles in Cuba, and President Kennedy stimulated the economy to get the U.S out of a mild recession.”  JFK knew what to do.  Today’s Democrat Party is obsessed with expanding immigration for “undocumented workers” (illegal aliens) and racism, while its constant over-regulation and over-taxation of the U.S. economy is forcing it to do so poorly that it cannot create good-paying jobs for most new college graduates.  The civilian labor-force employment rate is consequently never been lower.  In addition, leaders voted into office from the Democrat Party have weakened the U.S. military and have not sufficiently helped  allies (Ukraine, Iraqi Kurds) protect themselves from Russia, Iran and ISIS.

The Party was not always this way although it does have a sordid history of supporting slavery, Jim Crow laws, the Klu Klux Klan, and segregation.  Every member of the Klu Klux Klan was a Democrat.  The fact that the Party has the support of about 90% of African-American voters is a testament to the extent of the deceit it has used to hide its positions on white supremacy and racism.  Hillary Clinton has brought the Party to a new low with her quasi-criminal activities, and Barack Obama, through his support of the false narrative of police misconduct, bears substantial responsibility for policemen being ambushed and murdered.

I voted for Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Bill Clinton in 1992 and 1996, but if the Democrat Party doesn’t clean itself up I’ll never vote again for a Democrat.

MORE GUNS, LESS CRIME?

Are you pro-Second Amendment or anti-Second Amendment or somewhere in-between where you’re for reasonable restrictions on gun ownership?  Where you stand on the gun issue really doesn’t matter much because most of the dialog surrounding this issue is simplistic and/or deceitful.

Why?  Because most of the measures which are being discussed and adopted have been proven to be ineffective.  John Lott, author of the book, More Guns, Less Crime, is the very best authority on what works and what doesn’t, but have you heard his name even mentioned in the gun debates.  His research over more than a decade is explained in his book and should be the foundation of gun laws, not the political posturing that is going on around the country aimed at voters and guaranteed to do nothing except make matters worse.  Most people are not expected to know who knows what they’re talking about and who doesn’t, but the media is expected to know, but they don’t.

The Second Amendment to the Constitution allowing an armed citizenry was adopted by the Founding Fathers as a safeguard against tyranny.  They wanted this because most democracies in the past commonly morphed into dictatorships and with a standing army in the United States, this was a real possibilty.  This is just one reason why today emotions are so high surrounding this issue.  Not many politicians will admit it because it sounds crazy, however, this is the heart of the issue: big-government Democrats wanting as much control of guns as possible and limited-government Republicans wanting the minimun amount of control possible. A significant reason for many gun owners is the capability guns provide in protecting oneself and one’s family.  Other reasons, of course, are hunting and target shooting.

Read John Lott’s, More Guns, Less Crime, and you’ll have the information you need to decide what needs to be done to help control gun violence.

LEARN PUBLIC SPEAKING: JOIN TOASTMASTERS INTERNATIONAL!

The very best way to learn or drastically improve your ability to speak in public is to join and participate in Toastmasters, International.  There are thousands of Toastmasters clubs in the U.S. and Toastmasters clubs in many countries around the world.  I was a member of Toastmasters for 23 years and gave about 300 prepared speeches and 500 extemporaneous speeches during my time there.  I know Toastmasters well.  I also have taken a variety of public speaking courses over my 40-year+ government career and therefore can compare participating in Toastmasters with other ways of becoming proficient at public speaking.

Toastmasters is by far the best way to learn how to speak in public.  However, it does much more than that.  Toastmasters also helps develop listening skills by having its members evaluate speeches.  In addition, it also helps develop thinking skills and leadership skills.

Members progress at their own speed, earning a “Competent Toastmaster” award after giving 10 speeches, and then silver, bronze and gold Toastmasters advanced designations, followed by the Distinguished Toastmaster award.  There are manuals that guide Toastmasters into developing speeches.  There are manuals on storytelling, on persuading, on giving presentations, etc.  There are 15 groups of manuals that instruct members on how to prepare and deliver 75 different types of speeches.  Individual Toastmasters select all of their own speeches.  The very first speech is  an “Icebreaker,” where the new Toastmaster talks about him/herself.

Besides the very valuable career skills you learn at Toastmasters, there is a very gratifying comradery and  that all Toastmasters clubs have.  Toastmasters is a wholesome activity which will help your career.  Clubs meet at hours that are convenient for working people and many companies and the government usually allow their employees to use “company time,” if needed, to attend meetings (because it’s training).

 

A DIET FOR LIFE

THE PROBLEM WITH MOST DIETS

Have you ever lost weight but later gained it all back?  Do you care how, what you eat and drink, affect your health and appearance?  Ninety-five percent of dieters regain all of the weight they lost!

Way back in 1993 the Denver Post reported on a study of 1,532 autopsies of teenagers and young adults who died from trauma in a dozen cities.  Early heart disease was found in the coronary arteries of half while 100% of the teens had fatty patches in the aorta, the body and the heart’s main artery.  In addition, a 1988 Harris poll conducted for Prevention magazine showed that 64% of U.S. adults were overweight.

Being obese, according to Prevention’s Giant Book of Health Facts, states that those things substantially increase the risk of colon, prostate, and breast cancers, heart disease, diabetes, and many other illnesses.

MY CREDENTIALS ON LOSING WEIGHT AND DIETING

What do I know about diets to be advising anyone on losing weight?  My first diet dates back to 1969 just after I had a large brain tumor removed.  During recuperation from my brain surgery, my wife cooked my favorite foods and fed me well to the extent that I became heavy at 210 pounds, which for me was a lot.  To lose weight I checked out all of the known diets at the time, which all seemed unhealthy to me…and any weight lost would be almost guaranteed to be gained back, like most dieters experience.  So I decided to create my own diet, based on the lowest-calorie foods of my favorites.  To be successful, my diet had to lead to permanent weight loss as well as being healthy.

CREATING A DIET 

It seemed to me that diets failed to result in long-term weight loss because the foods they were restricted to were foods that people did not particularly like.  Consequently, as soon as the desired amount of weight was lost, a dieter would return to his/her old eating habits and this would inevitably lead to gaining all of the lost weight back.  This phenomenon needs to be taken into account if your goal is permanent weight loss.  Keeping this in mind, a workable diet would use, to the extent possible, smaller portions of the dieter’s favorite foods but keeping high-calorie forbidden and restricted foods to an absolute minimum.  For my personalized diet, I looked up the caloric content of all of my favorite foods and concentrated on eating low-calorie foods, which were basically fruits, vegetables, lean meat, and 1% milkfat milk and yohurt. I also concentrated on nutrient-dense, nonstarchy foods so I avoided potatoes, rice, bread (to the extent possible), etc.  Finally, I weighed myself every morning but also used a full-length mirror to check daily how my body looked.

For information on good nutrition, I started by reading a book called, Everything you Always Wanted to Know About Nutrition but were Afraid to Ask, by David Reuben, M.D.  I also read about a dozen diet books, including Dr. Robert Atkins’ books on his ultra-low carbohydrate diet and Dr. Barry Sears’ diet books on “The Zone,”  which is based of Nobel prize-winning research.

For health reasons, I only used extra-virgin olive oil, used the no-calorie natural sweetener, “Stevia.” in place of sugar to the extent possible, avoided all foods made with partially-hydrogenated oils (trans-fatty acids), and also avoided foods with high fructose corn syrup.  In other words, no coffee creamer,  just whole milk to whiten coffee.  In addition, I only used mustard (13 cals./tbs) instead of mayonaise (100 cals./tbs). 

I limited eating meat to about 3 oz./day and tried to eat mostly chicken and fish.  Since I love animals, I even tried being a vegetarian for an entire year.  

Finally, I walked and exercised at home every day in order to change my “set point” and therefore burn more calories every hour, even while resting.

When I reached my seventies, I got Metabolic Syndrome, Syndrome X or Insulin Resistance.  This condition made it impossible to lose weight on anything other than an ultra-low carbohydrate diet which I modeled after a modified Atkins diet.

 THE RESULTS

Using variations of my diet from age 25 to age 70 I was able to maintain my normal weight.  At age 70 it became much more difficult for me to maintain a normal weight due to something that happens to most people as they age: Metabolic Syndrome or Syndrome X.  To counter this is difficult but possible. I used exercise and walking every day, a very low-carbohydrate (modified Atkins diet), low-calorie, smaller meals, green tea extract supplements, resveratrol supplements, and fish oil supplements.  I even used Metformin, a prescription drug for diabetics and pre-diabetics.

FINAL & MOST IMPORTANT WORD 

You don’t need much willpower to lose weight…you simply need to create an environment where you will lose weight no matter what!  Specifically, remove all high-calorie and unhealthy foods from your home so that, when you want to snack, your choices are limited to natural applesauce, celery, carrots, refried beans with corn chips, etc.  No ice cream or pizza in the freezer, no cookies, cakes, pies, chips or pretzels in your home or apartment.  If you eat at a restaurant, keep food simple with small portions.  Do all of this and you will lose weight.  If you have Metabolic Syndrome, you need to go on a modified Atkins diet (Atkins diet, but using only healthy fats, fish and meats, plus eat beans so a little more carbohydrate than Atkins allows).  Follow my recommendations for a lifetime and you’ll be thin for a lifetime (and you’ll add 10-20 years to your expected lifespan).  Good luck!

HILLARY CLINTON vs. DONALD TRUMP

The Clinton and the Trump campaigns are underway though neither Clinton nor Trump are yet their parties’ official nominees.  Currently, Clinton is doing better in the polls than Trump.  If this continues up to the Democrat National Convention, Hillary will be the Democrat nominee.  However, if Trump starts to significantly outpace Clinton in the polls, the Democrat Party will replace her in a nanosecond with vice-president Joe Biden.  This tactic of replacing nominees at the last moment has occurred a few times by the Democrat Party, once for a Senator, once for a Congressman.  How does this affect the presidential election?  It would increase the chances of the Democrats winning the White House for the next four years.

Multi-biilionaires, like Donald Trump, obviously don’t get to be wealthy by being stupid.  However, Trump is prone to rhetorical excesses. He does have a huge “trump card” which can win him the election anytime he desires.  Many of his supporters have said that he won them over and trusted him because he funded his (Primary) campaign.  If he does this in the General Election, it would cost him a billion dollars, but win him the election.

Hillary Clinton has a weak hand because she was President Obama’s Secretary of State, however she has developed into a good debater.  Therefore, there’s a good chance she could do very well in the debates and win the Presidency.

Over the past 100 years, whichever presidential nominee was more likable, became President.  Both candidates are deemed not very likable, so neither has an edge in this area.

On policy, Trump has the advantage because Obama’s policies have hurt medical care, foreign policy, the military, the economy, Israel, etc., and Hillary, as Obama’s Secretary of State, is closely allied with Obama’s policies.  On the other hand, if you only watch NBC, ABC, or CBS, you have’nt heard about these negatives about Obama (so Obama’s shortcomings don’t really matter that much).

Finally, the strongest reasons for supporting either Clinton or Trump…

o for Clinton: if you like Obama’s presidency, you’ll like Hillary.

o for Trump: he would appoint at least 3 conservative Supreme Court justices and the size of the economy (GDP) would grow to double its size within 10 years after his policies are put  into effect (which is what happened under President Reagan).

I’m a political junkie because much of my education and interests were about government and my jobs were with the Federal, a State and a city government where elected political leaders were in charge.  I know both sides of every issue and therefore know who is fabricating and twisting facts to support their policies.  Politics to me is an interesting “game” with very real and significant consequences.  For the sake of everyone on the planet I pray we make the right decision in selecting our next president.

 

BONNIE THE STREET CAT

 I believe that you have to have pets of your own to fully understand how we “animal people”, feel about them.  I also believe that even referring to “companion animals” as “pets” is somewhat demeaning. Two of the first pets in my adult life were my cats, Bonnie and her kitten, Jenny.  They were special and I’d like to tell you a few of the things that I saw Bonnie do that demonstrates how special she was. One incident was an act of compassion and the other a demonstration of love.  You be the judge as to whether or not I’m attributing human qualities to my cat, Bonnie, or that she really was as special as I contend.

I first met Bonnie when she was a one-year-old homeless street cat.  I put out food and water every day and evening in my backyard for the homeless cats in the neighborhood.  Bonnie was a regular visitor, except that, unlike homeless feral cats that had never been socialized with people, she was very friendly. Suddenly one day she simply stopped coming around.  Months later, Bonnie, who had no name at the time, came onto my porch for some food and water and I decided to let her into my home because it was freezing cold outside.

She walked just a short distance into my parlor, looked around and returned outside to the bitter cold. However, within 5 minutes Bonnie returned to my porch accompanied by a black and white bloated, very sick cat. Both cats ate some of the dry cat food and drank some of the water that I had on my porch, and then both came to my front door and sat on the door mat.

Anyway, when I saw Bonnie with her sick friend, I immediately opened the door and Bonnie’s friend entered my home but Bonnie walked away. I quickly put out some canned cat food as well as a cat bed, litter box and a bowl of water. The sick cat ate and drank like it was starved and terribly thirsty. Meanwhile, I didn’t see Bonnie around again for a few months.

However, when I did see Bonnie again she seemed very fat. She came around every day and got fatter and fatter. It finally dawned on me that Bonnie, whom I thought was a male, was pregnant. From that moment on I couldn’t sleep peacefully at night. All I could think about was Bonnie’s kittens being born in the freezing cold and dying within 5 minutes of birth from the cold.

So one evening, when Bonnie came by for some food and water, I tried to entice her into my home. When I failed to get Bonnie to come in, I grabbed the cat carrier and a can of cat food and ran out and followed her across the street to a parking lot. She was so happy to see me pay attention to her… her tail wagged from side to side just like a dog’s.  I put an opened can of cat food into the carrier and thereby was able to lure her into it and took her to my home and let her loose inside.  The next day the “Cat Care Society” took in Bonnie and found her a foster home where she gave birth to six kittens.

Eight weeks later the Cat Care Society brought Bonnie and her kittens back to the shelter from the foster home and gave me the “pick of the litter” of the kittens. I picked an angel-faced little gray and white ball of fur who my wife named Jenny. However, the Cat Care Society was very concerned about Bonnie. When they separated her from her kittens, she grieved and cried and would not eat but I couldn’t take her home yet because she had to be neutered and then needed a few days to recuperate. “Cat care” thought Bonnie might die. Meanwhile, I brought home Jenny immediately.

When I finally brought home the emaciated and grief-stricken Bonnie, she stealthily approached Jenny, sniffed her, and then began licking her. She was the happiest cat you’ve ever seen!  Meanwhile, for weeks after being reunited with Jenny, whom she discovered on the floor by my sofa, it broke my heart to see Bonnie call and meow all around the sofa, thinking that her other five kittens were there also.

Bonnie and Jenny are now both indoor cats and although Jenny is all grown up, Bonnie still preens her and plays cat games with her like “Stalk,” “Ambush,” “Wrestle,” “Chase,” and “Cat-in-the-Box.” Bonnie is just one of millions of homeless cats on the streets who suffer from starvation, dehydration, being run over, freezing, being attacked by dogs and other cats, and being mangled by auto fans and belts when they snuggle up to a warm auto engine in the bitter cold. Fortunately I was able to save Bonnie and by so doing also saved her kittens, including Jenny.  Bonnie and Jenny’s love for each other and for me, and the compassion that Bonnie showed for a sick cat friend by bringing her to my home for food and help was very touching and made me love her even more.

Do you see why we Animal People” feel the way we do about our “Companion Animals”?

 

IS CAPITALISM ETHICAL? DOES SOCIALISM WORK?

Bernie Sanders, celebrities and academia advocating Socialism, unemployment and underemployment, the National Debt increased by $9 trillion (to $19 trillion) during Presdident Obama’s 7 & 1/2 years, annual GDP growth under 2% for Obama’s entire reign, …ad infinitum.  Is Capitalism to blame for America’s woes or is it the solution to our Nation’s economic problems?

Let’s take a closer look, first with very brief definitions of Capitalism and Socialism so we’re all clear on what we’re talking about.  From the book, ‘isms and ‘ologies by Arthur Goldwag, Capitalism is the “free exchange of goods in a competitive marketplace.”  In that same book, “Socialism” is defined as the opposite of Capitalism.  Further, “In socialist economies, the means of production are either controlled by or directly owned by the state…”

Capitalism is fueled by a motive to make profits and it does this by providing goods and services that consumers want and at a price that can beat competitors’ prices who also provide similar goods and services.  This forces capitalists to constantly improve quality and undercut competitors’ prices.   Socialism eliminates the profit motive and therefore satisfies some people’s altruistic side and also attempts to redistribute wealth from the “haves” to the “have-nots,”  satisfying some people’s idea of fairness.  Because in Socialism there is no continuous need to improve efficiency and effectiveness, there usually is significant waste and inefficiencies.  Capitalists would argue that they earn their profits, attending college for many years and then working 70-80-hour workweeks… and it’s their taxed profits that enables government to have the money to help others.

Capitalism creates wealth,  which then is taxed and used to help the poor and needy.  Socialism makes equality of outcome most important, consequently leading to everyone being equally poor with no large sums of funds available for government and charities to help those in need.  Socialism takes away the incentive for people to work hard and excel to provide for themselves and their families.  The top 10% of the wealthy pay 70% of all Federal taxes.  The lowest 50% of taxpayers pay no Federal income taxes.

Government is usually the culprit behind much fraud, unemployment and economic downturn and  is responsible for our current economic woes.  Loans to people unable to repay them was the precipitating event that caused the 2007-8 economic downturn.  Quasi-government Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac forced banks, with threats of lawsuits, to make those bad loans.  Therefore, to have the government fully control the economy is insanity.  Government does not understand business, does not understand how jobs are created, does not comprehend how many of its regulations, especially “Obamacare,” are destroying the economy.

The Dodd-Frank Bill, proposed by and named after two of the most significant initiators of the 2008 economic downturn (Congressman Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd), is truly absurd.  For all of its harm to small banks and to the economy, it doesn’t even address the cause of the downturn, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

So, let’s answer our two basic questions, “Is Capitalism Ethical”, “Does Socialism Work?”  Capitalism is a huge engine for job creation and wealth to the extent that the Pacific Rim countries have embraced it, as well as China (and they are all becoming wealthy fast)…and there’s nothing unethical about making a reasonable profit for providing goods or services.   Socialism, on the other hand,  can be forced to work, but at the cost of civil liberties, prosperity, unemployment, and political interference in all aspects of your life.

Finally, how about some people becoming billionaires?  Is it ethical for anyone becoming that wealthy?  Huge wealth is certainly a possibility under Capitalism.  However, very wealthy people pay most of the taxes and also give much of their wealth, after providing for their families,  to charities, which use it more wisely than the government ever will. Finally, if you still have a problem with Capitalism, then call it “free enterprise” which means the same thing but is more descriptive and uncontroversial.  And if you’re still unconvinced if socialism works or has ever worked, just check out what’s happening in Venzuela.

 

 

BOTH SIDES: the Economy & Jobs

I watched Sunday morning’s political talk shows which made me sick at the inarticulateness  of some journalists and ignorance by many, of all aspects of the issues.  So I thought, as a mostly non-partisan, I’d toss in my two cents worth of analysis.  First, however, let me state both the Democratic and Republican arguments on the economy and job creation.  Here goes… 

DEMOCRAT ARGUMENT: 1. “The Tea Party has swayed the Republican party to its  its extremist positions…if they would support the President in what he wants to do, the economy would improve and job growth would increase.   A Republican Senator said a few years ago that their number one job was to make Barrack Obama a one-term President.  Democrats also believe that  the Tea Party is racist and it doesn’t like the President because he is Black.”

2. ”Many Republicans want to eliminate or reduce Social Security and Medicare while cutting taxes on millionaires and billionaires.  If we would increase taxes on the wealthy,  the U.S. would be O.K. plus the wealthy pay lower tax rates than their employees.”

3. “Through his 800 billion “Stimulus Package”, President Obama turned the economy around.  Things would have been much worse if we didn’t have the Stimulus Package.since the analysis I heard this morning was unimpressive.”

REPUBLICAN ARGUMENT: 1.  ”President Obama’s Stimulus helped a little but it was President Bush’s $700 billion “TARP” (Troubled Assets Recovery Program) that preceded President Obama’s Stimulus that fixed the financial markets (1/2 of it was spent by Bush, 1/2 spent by Obama.”)

2. “The Republican plan for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid simply makes these programs more efficient and this needs to be done because they are currently bankrupting the U.S. to the extent that soon they will no longer be able to afford them.  And these efficiences are minor  like raising the retirement age a few years for people currently under 55 years of age, turning the administration of Medicaid over to the States, and Medicare recipients given vouchers so they could purchase private insurance (and save over $6,000 per recipient from the resulting efficiencies).”

3. “No one’s taxes should be increased in our bad economy…it would make it even worse.  By millionaires and billionaires you are really referring to anyone making more than $250,00/year and this is not a millionaire but is an income level that many business owners fall into (and you’ll be hurting them, the job creators).  The top ten percent (over around $350,000/year) pay about 70 % of Federal income taxes.   Their tax rates are lower because tax on captal gains (from stocks) is lower and is lower as an intended incentive for investors to risk their money by buying stocks.”

4. “Republican Senator Mitch McConnell remarked that he wanted to make Barrack Obama a one-term President because he thought that this was the only way to fix the economy and create jobs…nothing to do with racism.  Morever,  the President is the cause of the continued economic problems in the U.S. (current 2% GDP growth vs. what it usually is at this point after a recession, 5%) with “Obamacare,” Dodd-Frank, etc.”

MY ANALYSIS

1.While the President says that he has tried to fix the economy, it  clearly has not worked and the Stimulus has added almost a trillion dollars to our national debt with very little to show for it.  No one even asked basic questions prior to the passage of the “Stimulus,”  such as, “is it worth the cost?”  The President needs to try other approaches.  He has added $9 trillion to the National debt in just over 7 years, which is now totals over $19 trillion.

2. I’m mostly non-partisan and as such believe that it might be a good thing for everyone to have health insurance.  Presently, the poor receive their health care at hospital Emergency Rooms since Federal law mandates that hospitals treat people for free who can’t pay.  The kindest thing that I can say about Obamacare is that, as currently configured, it is unaffordable to the U.S. (estimated to really cost up to $3 trillion the first 10 years).  However, it is much worse than simply being unaffordable,  but that’s  a separate article.   Obamacare is stifling job creation and really needs to be repealed and replaced by something much better.

3.  The recent Dodd-Frank bill that is forcing small community banks out of business and the small loans to small businesses disappearing with those banks thus stifling job creation.  This bill, authored by the two people most responsible for the economic meltdown, needs to be repealed…it didn’t even address the cause of the meltdown, Freddie-Mac and Fannie-Mae quasi-governmental mortgage lending institutions.

4. Many new regulations have been and are being created and implemented by the Obama Administration which have and will continue to kill jobs, hamper new job creation and seriously hurt the economy.  Others fortunately have been defeated, such as Cap & Trade, Card Check, etc.  It really does appear that the Obama Administration simply does not know how to foster job growth in our economy.

The above should be enough information for one to decide who has the better plan for creating jobs and fixing the economy.  You can easily verify on the Net any of the information in my analysis.  However, stay away from political websites if you want objective information and data.

DOMINION: animal abuse

The Bible says in Genesis 1:26 that God said, “and let them (mankind) have dominion over (animals)…”  Mahatma Gandhi said, “the greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

According to Daniel Goleman’s bestseller, Emotional Intelligence,  animals with a limbic system in their brain, have emotions.  All mammals, which includes most farm animals, have limbic systems and therefore have feelings and fear, are joyful and love.  Animals also have varying degrees of intelligence, but most importantly, they feel pain and suffer.  As such, what right do people have to support their being tormented, suffer and die gruesome deaths?

Former Beattle  from Britain, Paul McCartney, said “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be vegetarian.”  In plainer English, if people could see the horrific slaughter of animals, many would find it difficult to eat anything with a face.  I’m the son of a butcher who went with his father most mornings to a few slaughterhouses to purchase the meat we sold at his butcher shop. While there, I saw animals slaughtered, some humanely, some cruelly.  I therefore have firsthand knowledge of what happens in slaughterhouses.

Red meat (beef, veal, lamb, pork) is bad for your health, except that it is high in quality protein.  Chicken (containing antibiotics) and fish (containing PCBs and mercury) are not good routine food choices either.   So what should one eat for optimal health, nutrition, and ethics?   Joel Fuhrman, M.D., author of The End of Diabetes,  says basically “beans and greens,” and all other vegetables as well.  Meat should be used only for seasoning.

You may believe that farm animals are just dumb animals.  However, if that were true, how do you explain Priscilla the 3-month old pig, who in 1995 was inducted into the Texas Veterinary Medical Association’s Pet Hall of Fame for saving 11-year-old Anthony Melton from drowning by swimming to him, oinking to grab her harness, and then swimming with Anthony hanging on, to shore.  This story was reported in the book, Animal Miracles, and it is not unusual, it happens frequently.

In addition to slaughtering animals for food, we hunt them for sport, experiment on them causing needless suffering and pain, train them to fight each other for our amusement, do not neuter our pets to the extent that there are an estimated 100,000,000 homeless stray and feral cats alone in the U.S., most of which will eventually starve, freeze or thirst to death.  I had my own  cat shelter for ten years and “trapped, neutered, and returned” (TNR) about 100 feral and stray cats and therefore know of what I speak.

Many animal rights advocates are considered fanatics.  However, Abraham Lincoln, definitely not a fanatic, said “I’m in favor of animal rights as well as human rights.  That is the way of the whole human being.”

Finally, getting back to Mahatma Gandhi, if his assertion is correct that “a nation’s greatness is judged by the way its animals are treated,” is the U.S., or any nation on Earth, great?

 

CONSEQUENCES of PRESIDENT OBAMA’S ECONOMIC POLICIES

 

President Obama means well.  He sounds sincere and touts “fairness” as his primary concern in his governance of the nation.  However, it’s true that “the road to hell is paved with people with good intentions.”  In plain English, it almost doesn’t matter if the President is sincere  and means well if the results of his policies are to cause great  harm to hundreds of millions of people.  The percentage of Americans with full-time jobs (“Civilian Labor-force Participation Rate”) has not been as low as today (62% of civilian labor force) since the late seventies and if unemployment statistics were calculated the way they were in the year 2000, unemployment would be about 12%.  If they were calculated the way they were during the Great Depression, unemployment would be about 25%.  Below is my analysis of those major policies of President Obama that are destroying the American dream:

A. OBAMACARE/”AFFORDABLE” CARE ACT: This  law is a wet blanket on the economy. While I’m for good healthcare for all and for insuring people with pre-existing conditions as well as kids up to the age of 26 years-of-age on their parents insurance, Obamacare is a bureaucratic nightmare with much more expensive premiums for most people, and unbelievably-high deductibles and co-pays.  This turns most Obamacare policies into catastrophic care only because most people will never meet their deductibles and will therefore be paying out-of-pocket for most of their healthcare.  This turkey needs to go and be replaced with something created by a combination of Senators and Representatives from both major political parties.

B. IMPEDING ENERGY PRODUCTION:  A decision on the Keystone pipeline has been made for political reasons.  Oil production on government land is significantly down, basically because the environmental lobby is against all fossil fuels.  Meanwhile, America has more gas, oil, coal, and shale oil than all of the countries in the Middle East combined but government regulations prevent most of it from being developed.  The wealth created by all of this energy would pay off the National debt, the trillions in unfunded liabilities, and produce an economic boom the likes of which no country has ever seen.  And as thoroughly, scientifically, and irrefutably proven in David Archibald’s, Twilight of Abundance, the warming trend of the earth over the last century, up until 18 years ago when it stopped,  is due mostly to the Sun.  

C. DEFICITS/NATIONAL DEBT: The Federal government is still borrowing billions/month from the Federal Reserve so the annual budget deficit is currently about 1/2 trillion dollars/year.  Each year the Annual Budget Deficit is added to the total National debt and currently the National debt is over $19 trillion.  This amount of deficit spending and National Debt is unsustainable. The Federal Reserve  has the authority to print money and by doing so has been able to get away with this,  but doing so without the backing of gold and/or legitimate loans from other countries, simply inflates our currency.  The U.S. dollar is currently the world’s “reserve currency,”  but our borrowing and spending may change that.  When it occurs, the dollar will immediately decrease in value by about 30%, our credit rating dramatically reduced and interest rates on our borrowing dramatically increased, and our ability to borrow severely curtailed.

D. REGULATIONS:  Regulations are necessary in our society but government needs to be very careful in not over-regulating since this can and does add significant costs to the economy and reduces freedoms.  The regulations written pursuant to Dodd-Frank, the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and the Affordable Care Act  (“Obamacare”), among many others, are excessively burdensome to people and the economy.  ESA, for example, has caused the destruction of most crops in California’s Central Valley due to the Delta Smelt, a small fish on the Endangered Species list. Dodd-Frank is a financial nightmare that does nothing to prevent future bank problems.  Obamacare has and is destroying jobs.

E.  HIGH TAXES:  Money taken from the economy in taxes should be limited because it hurts the economy.  Tax money should be used only for legitimate purposes.  Higher taxes is a drag and drain on the economy so  government needs to be careful to spend it wisely.  Lowering tax rates on everyone who pays taxes in order to stimulate the economy is the preferred way of increasing tax revenues and growing the economy to pay for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, unemployment benefits, etc.

F. CORPORATE TAXES:  A significant Obama policy  that has unintentionally done  harm to many people is the retention of the 35% corporate tax, which is higher than any other country in the world.  This has led to the flight  of many U.S. corporations and businesses to other countries, and with this flight, the jobs and taxes that go with them.

G. PROLONGED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS:  Extension of the duration of unemployment benefits for more than  12 months is very harmful to the unemployed as evidenced by studies showing  the unemployed not even looking for jobs until a few weeks prior to their unemployment benefits expire.  One might ask, if there are no jobs, how can I be expected to work?  There are millions of jobs   going unfilled, but its more lucrative to receive unemployment benefits than work.  This is really bad for both the economy and the people that receive unemployment benefits for a very long time..

H., I., J.,K., L., M., N., etc.

In closing, most Americans were proud that the U.S. elected an African-American President 151 years after the Emancipation Proclamation freed  American slaves, even if they personally did not vote for him.  The Unites States inherited slavery from England when it took over the country in 1776 but had to temporarily retain slavery in order to form the Union to include Southern States (the “Great Compromise”).  At the first opportunity, the U.S. rid itself of slavery (in 1863).

The first African-American President unfortunately had no experience in managing anything or in guiding an economy and therefore the U.S. is badly hurting economically.  While I believe the President means well, he also still believes that failed liberal/”progressive” economic policies (“Keynesian economics”) are still the way to stimulate the economy and therefore turns a blind eye to workable economic policies.

President Reagan demonstrated how to get an economy working and the proof is the fact that the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States 1n the 10 years following Reagan’s implementation of his large reduction in tax rates (1983-1993) and curtailing Federal regulations, doubled.

 

 

WHY DONALD TRUMP? BACKBONE!

I’m sick of the media explaining that Donald Trump is doing well only because he’s an “outsider” and that “people don’t trust politicians”.  There’s certainly some truth to this, but I just can’t take hearing  this anymore and therefore felt compelled to write this post.

My credentials for saying what I’m about to say are simply that I’m a conservative, a graduate of U. of Penn’s Wharton School (but with a MGA , not an MBA), and have over 40 years employment with the Federal, a State and a city government;  I’m sick of many Republican politicians and am beginning to really like Donald  Trump.  I also believe that Trump supporters support  him for the same reason that I like him:  the man has a stiff spine and is not timid.  When he’s criticized by the Press or political opponents, he doubles-down and fights back even harder.  In addition,  Trump’s focus on illegal immigration, the $19 trillion in National Debt, weakened military, anemic war on terror, tiny growth in the economy, etc. has touched a nerve with the electorate.  He’s truly a “Blue-collar Billionaire.”

Mitt Romney lost the 2012 Presidential election to President Obama because he refused to fight back.  He was more than capable, as evidenced by his outstanding performance in his first debate with Obama.  When viciously attacked by the Obama campaign, he refused to fight back.  Romney’s poor performance came on the heels of Senator McCain’s poor performance in the 2008 Presidential campaign.  Moreover, it followed President Bush’s unwillingness to fight back when constantly accused by the Left that, “Bush lied, people died.”

I’m not advocating picking stupid fights that can’t be won and simply giving a black eye to the Republican Party, but I also believe in not backing off when Democrats make false allegations.  For example, I believe that Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, and Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, are often given bum raps when they don’t push a Bill in Congress that they know won’t pass.  However, there is a time to fight and Republican leadership doesn’t appear to have the stomach for it.  When there are good and rational reasons for not fighting, the Speaker and the Majority leader need to explain this on Fox News and other news outlets that are fair.

Donald Trump is a streetfighter and I love it.  ”Turning-the-other-cheek” is not for successful politicians.  Trump is improving  his messaging and appointing impressive people to help him develop his policies.  He just might end up having a landslide victory over whoever the Democrats eventually choose as their nominee, thanks to his strong backbone. We’ll see.

DEFENDING AGAINST THE KNOCKOUT GAME

There’s a very dangerous so-called “game” being played by young men in America.  It’s maimed hundreds and killed about a dozen people so far.  The object of this vicious “game” is to knock out someone with one punch to the face or head.  Most of the perpetrators are young black males and most of the victims are  white men and women of any age.  Racist?  Of course!

What’s behind this brutal “game”?  Some say that fatherless boys being initiated into a gang.  Others quote the perps as saying they just wanted something to do.  So who and what is to blame?  It’s complicated with lots of blame to go around.  But to even begin solving this problem, we must first understand it.  Let’s begin with the blame:

1.Single mothers can do a good job in raising their girls and boys up until they reach puberty.  After puberty is usually too late for boys but even then a good man in the house is essential to serve  both as a role model and a disciplinarian to boys.

2.Fathers who don’t stick around to be fathers to their children, especially to their boys.

3.Boys without fathers either join a gang or the Boy Scouts.  In poor socioeconomic areas, gangs are prevalent and single-parent homes are epidemic and are the breeding ground for sociopaths.

4.The Welfare System, which provides financial incentives for single-parent families and encourages, through its policy of providing financial assistance to mothers only if there is “no man in the house.”

5.The News Media for not reporting on incidents of the Knockout Game so that people are forewarned and know that they need to be more careful when walking around.

Okay, so what can be done to stop the carnage?  First and foremost is that the Media do its job of reporting all incidents of the “Knockout Game” so that the elderly and women will know what situations to avoid.  I’ve seen reporting of the Knockout Game on Fox News only and therefore I know that most people have not heard about it nor know what it is, and therefore are especially vulnerable.

The second thing that can be done depends on politicians and government officials.  In no government program should a “man in the house” prevent a woman from receiving welfare payments…because a good man in the house is usually needed in order to raise sons to become good men.

The third action that would help thwart the Knockout Game is to do everything possible to keep young men occupied…working, if possible.  Because raising the minimum wage to $10+/hour is estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost from 500,000 to 1,000,000 youths to lose their jobs because their employers could no longer afford to pay them, that idea should be shelved for now (or raised only a $1/hour for now).  Minimum wage jobs are entry-level jobs…About half of those minimum-wage employees are making more than that after 6 months on the job.  Many youth will never get that first job if the minimum wage is raised too high.

Since the Media refuses to do its job, clergy need to talk about it in their churches.  This is not ideal, but it would get the word out (forewarn) to many potential victims so they can take appropriate actions (avoid potentially-dangerous situations).

Politicians’ constantly beat the drums alleging racism/sexism  behind everything and agitate Women, Blacks, Latinos, Native Americans, etc. for political purposes and mainstream media will therefore probably never report insightfully and analytically. Politicians need to stop the “race-baiting.”

Local police and local judicial systems must fairly and justly put the perps away for a long time.

Potential victims need to keep distance between themselves and individual and small groups of young men.

The barbaric “Knockout Game” may never completely go away but hopefully it will diminish to the point where it won’t hurt many people.

 

HOW I KNOW GOD EXISTS

On a Sunday morning I thought it timely to say a few words about the Creator and explain how I know, not simply believe, that there is a God.  This question, plus the question concerning the existence of Heaven and Hell , become increasingly more important as we get older.  Since I’m old enough to be dead and have one foot in the grave, I thought I would pay my respects to the Big Guy/Gal/Spirit.

But since my Blog  emphasizes ”Independent Thought,’  I decided to make the case for God with no references to any of the World’s Religions or their Holy books.   Here goes…

I have many religious beliefs, some of which may not fit into any one religion, but they are beliefs, not  certainty.  But I do know one thing for sure,  that there is a God.  He or she or it may be called by many different names but so what,  it’s trivial,  though I acknowledge that some religions make a big deal of it.

How do I know there’s a God?  The unbelievable vastness and complexity of the universe alone convinces me, but you may need more than that.  I’ll explain how I personally know that God exists.  The following  are my additional reasons, each one of which by itself doesn’t make the case alone so one needs to consider them all taken together:

1. In the late 80′s, 90′s, and until about 2005 I lived on top of a 9000′ mountain in the Colorado Rockies with my wife and cat.  I received a letter in the mail one Saturday requesting a donation of $500 to help the community pave the dirt road I lived on.  I wanted to do my part, especially since my property values would increase a lot if the road were paved,  but I couldn’t afford it.  So I continued opening up my other mail, one of which contained a check for $520 from some investment I had made.  The amount and the timing were perfect but, of course, just a coincidence.

2.  Ten years later, I made a monumental blunder with my checking account, and somehow found my checkbook $1,900 short.  Two days later, in Monday’s mail, there was a check for a little over $1900 from some investment, another perfect amount as well as perfect timing.  Twice bailed out?  Probably just another really lucky coincidence.

3. I took care of stray/homeless and even feral cats…with food, water, and medical care as part of the nationwide “Trap, Neuter, Return” program.  One Saturday a homeless pitch-black and friendly “Bombay” cat, with a little stub of a tail (later I named him “Bobby-Tail” because of his bobbed tail) came by my yard with a bad foot, trying to walk but limping very badly.  I brought him in and took him to my veterinarian, who found a cut on his foot and treated him.  The cost was $91, which I paid but couldn’t really afford right then.  Two days later I received a check in the mail for just over $91 for some refund from something.  The amount and timing was perfect!  A third coincidence?

On these three occasions plus two more the amounts and timing were perfect.  All times the money I needed was not for my personal use and was totally unexpected.  I began getting scared…and after some thought  I became convinced that they weren’t coincidences at all.  However, a really frightening incident that was the “slam-dunk” for me concerning the existence of God happened back in 1968 and 69.  I even wrote a “first-person” article about it for Reader’s Digest but it was not published.  The weird but true tale follows:

4. I’ll skip the preliminaries;  afterall, the “Amazing Kreskin” has said that Quija boards only worked as a result of the unconscious mind that was actually moving the Ouija board pointer that spells out words as it goes from letter to letter and pauses between words.  Easy enough to test…I had the two board users face aside so they couldn’t see the board.   As I asked it questions,  the pointer continued to move and answer them until my girlfriend, Maria, became so frightened by Quija’s answers,  she refused to work the board anymore.  Here’s my exchanges with Quija lumped together:

“Quija, are you a man or a woman?”  ”SPIRIT”

“Quija, are you a good spirit or a bad spirit? “GOOD”

“Ouija, where do you get your power from?”  ”SATAN”

“Ouija, everyone knows that Satan is evil, therefore how can you be good?  ”GOODBYE”

“Ouija, when were you born?”  ”I AM”

“Ouija, why do you talk to people?”  ”PEOPLE NEED ME”

“Ouija, why do people need you?”  ”TO MAKE THEM SUFFER”

“Ouija, I feel very sorry for you, how can I help you?”  ”GIVE ME YOUR SOUL AND I WILL GIVE YOU THE ETERNAL POWERS OF EVIL”

I placed a set of Rosary beads onto the Quija board and asked: “Ouija, do you like me?”  ”YOU ARE THE ENEMY OF THE SPIRIT WHO CAN CAUSE  SUFFERING BEYOND REALIZATION”

One year later I had a large brain tumor removed and was fighting for my life.  Half of my face became paralyzed and numb as a result of the surgical removal of the tumor and my equilibrium and emotional state became really bad to the extent that my first wife, Maria, in a fit of rage at something stupid I had said/done, pushed me out of our apartment 5 weeks after my brain tumor surgery, and subsequently divorced me.  Since then I’ve had another few dozen surgeries.  I would say that I experienced “suffering beyond realization.”  With only 1/2 of my face working normally, deaf in my left ear, and barely able to walk straight, I no longer fool around with Quija boards. The point of my story on Quija is that,  if  in fact evil really does exist, then it follows that a good spirit (God) also exists.  You be the judge… (but I would not fool around with a Ouija Board since many cases of alleged possession started out with a Ouija Board).

I know in God  from my aforementioned experiences as well as the vastness of the universe.  I do have many more religious beliefs based on the world’s religions’  Holy Books.  However, many of my beliefs I consider details; the main thing is that, for me, there is no question that God does indeed exist.

PREVENTING ALZHEIMER’S, PARKINSON’S, ETC. (audio interview)

I decided to interview Dr. Michael Smith (25-minute audio…click on red “play” button at the bottom of this introduction) on this subject because the scientific literature shows that certain lifestyle choices and nutritional supplements can help delay and even prevent  Alzheimer’s, so I wanted to ask a medical doctor, who’s knowledgeable on the latest research in this area, what he thinks.

UPDATE SINCE INTERVIEW: 1) coffee given to mice, equivalent to 5 cups of coffee a day by a person, began to reverse Alzheimer’s in 5 weeks ,  2) scientific research conducted at MIT developed and tested Magnesium L-Threonate which allegedly doubles long-term memory and increases short-term memory by 20% by increasing the density in the synapses between brain cells;  3) a supplement called PQQ (Pyrroloquinoline Quinone) has been researched and allegedly found to foster the growth of new brain cells, something that had been thought to be impossible; 4) researchers have found that people who ate the most strawberries or blueberries delayed the onset of Alzheimer’s by 2 1/2 years; 5) to keep the brain from shrinking as you age, high-dose DHA (a transfatty acid in fish oil) or walking 6-9 miles/week are both effective; 6) methylene blue has been found to slow the progression of Alzhemier’s by 81% (and also is effective for Parkinson’s and Huntington’s); 7) there is promising research on reversing Alzheimer’s by an FDA-approved cancer drug, Bexarotene,  which reversed Alzheimer’s in 2 weeks in mice (note that a physician can prescribe a FDA-approved drug for any medical problem if s/he can justify its use); 8) taurine, an amino acid, has been  shown to promote the formation of new brain cells and enhance their connections (neurites), in laboratory studies; 9) Alpha-Glyceryl Phosphoryl Choline (A-GPC), a B-vitamin, is a precursor to the fat that is in brain cells’ myelin sheaths which cover and protect the connections between brain cells,  and is required to repair them (their deterioration leads to dementia); 10) follow the MIND diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay) to slow the rate of cognitive decline and protect against Alzheimer’s.

My interviewee, Dr. Michael Smith, is a medical doctor (MD) with specialties in internal medicine and radiology, and currently serves as the clinical information specialist with the Life Extension Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to researching and disseminating information on preventing diseases and medical disorders.  In this interview he discusses preventing neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, and mild cognitive impairment.   Dr. Smith received his MD from Southwest Medical Center at the University of Texas in Dallas and has been with The Life Extension Foundation for 8 years.

In my interview with Dr. Smith, various nutritional supplements and lifestyle choices are discussed as ways of helping prevent the onset of neurological disorders. You will hear about how nerve cell structure is the focus of prevention, not function, which traditional medicine focuses on.  You will hear about the benefits of phosphatidylserine, phosphoryl choline, coenzyme Q10, vitamin B-12 under-the-tongue lozenges, vitamin D3, fish oil, R Lipoic Acid, etc.  Also discussed are lifestyle choices such as your cookware, baking powder with aluminum in it, and more.

Neurological disorders are so devastating that all avenues must be pursued and traditional medicine has very little to offer with its few prescription drugs that don’t work very well and it offers very little on prevention. If you have any neurological disorders in your family, listening to this audio should be helpful.  Click on the red link below.

Michael Smith-Preventing Neurological Audio

Interview by Mike Russo

TALK IS CHEAP!

President Obama is a great speaker but his actions demonstrate that he is a poor manager.  Or is he?  If you like how the economy and his job-creation efforts are performing (lowest civilian labor-force participation rate since 1978), and like the declining strength of the military, and think our foreign policy has helped the United States, then you may believe that the President is performing well.

I hear many times each day that “Obama said this,” or “Obama said that.”  However, whatever the President says is irrelevant because his actions tell us better than any words how he and we are doing.  When the President says that he thinks about the economy every day but doesn’t meet with his “Jobs Council” for many months at a time, it’s natural to question the President’s sincerity.  When Obama suggests he “feels our pain,” but takes Air Force One to New York where traffic is stopped for hours so he and Michelle can have a “night out” in “The Big Apple,” this says a lot more about his true feelings.  Camp David in Maryland was developed specifically for our presidents…it’s a waste that  presidents don’t use it  for their vacations.

What about President Obama’s $800 billion “stimulus” the first year he was in office?  Wouldn’t unemployment be even worse without it?  Much of the stimulus was a waste of money…only 6% of it went for infrastructure projects within the United States though infrastructure was touted as one of its justifications.  Reality is that much of the stimulus went for failed so-called “green” projects, like Solyndra,  led by his friends and supporters.  The President can certainly “talk the talk,” but he obviously can’t “walk the walk.”  Of course, now the Federal Reserve is pumping billions/month into the economy with nothing to back it…which is why the Stock Market continues to rise though the economy is not doing well.

If you saw the movie, “2016″ you may think this is exactly what Obama wants…larger government, smaller and weaker United States.  I think the creators of that movie give the President far too much credit…it’s a lot simpler than that…he simply doesn’t understand how free enterprise works and that it not only leads to economic success so that a country can afford to take care of its poor and have an effective military, but it is morally and ethically superior to all other forms of government because it gives everyone an opportunity for the satisfying  ”earned success,” while taking care of the less fortunate.

The President talks a great game but it’s taking all of the mainstream media, most of Hollywood, most universities and colleges, and the Unions  to keep him from not having worse job approval numbers than he currently has.  The American public may not be paying too much attention, but if they ever do, I believe the only way the Democrats can win big in 2016 is by massive voter fraud and cheating, which goes back to “Boss Tweed” and Tamany Hall, which  is part of the heritage of the Democratic Party.

Talk indeed is cheap but many people believe it rather than their own eyes, ears, and mind.

 

ACHIEVING ENERGY INDEPENDENCE

Few would disagree that it is a worthy goal for the United States to achieve energy independence.  Most would agree that achieving this goal with little or no air or water pollution would be a good thing for the U.S. and for the planet.

In 2013, the U.S. spent 388 billion dollars to buy oil from foreign countries, some of which are using our money to fund terrorist activities against us…and money that could otherwise be used to help stimulate the American economy and create jobs for Americans.  At the height of the Arab Oil Embargo in 1973, dependence on foreign oil was about 35%.  In 2013, dependence on foreign oil was 32%.  In other words, our dependence on foreign oil has slightly decreased in 40 years.

So what can the United States do, if anything?  I see two sides of this issue: 1) does the U.S. have the oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, solar and hydroelectric power to be self-sufficient, and 2) can we access these energy sources in an environmentally responsible way?

From my research, it appears that the U.S. has over 100 years worth of natural gas, three times the oil stores of Saudi Arabia,  250 years worth of coal which the U.S. is now capable of burning using carbon capturing technology, with significantly reduced carbon-emissions.  Currently the U.S. gets about 18% of its energy from nuclear sources and a small amount from hydroelectric, solar and wind.

While the U.S. is furiously attempting to develop its solar and wind energy capacities, they won’t be significant sources of energy for at least 25 years.  We need to have sufficient energy now to fuel our economy, heat our homes,  as well as make gasoline abundant and affordable to power our cars and trucks (electric-powered cars run on electricity mostly generated by burning coal, the most polluting fossil fuel) .

There is no question that the U.S. is blessed with more energy than any other country.  Given the latest technologies, there’s also no question that we can extract and burn oil, gas and coal in an environmentally-sound manner.  The only hindrance is political.  There are a  number of people who believe that burning any fossil or carbon fuels, even the green fossil fuel…natural gas, is bad for the environment.  They have been effective in preventing oil exploration in ANWAR, in stopping the use of oil shale (although the oil from it can be extracted in-situ), and in preventing the licensing of new nuclear power plants (which are much safer than those old reactors in Japan, or the one in Pennsylvania (Three Mile Island… that had a partial meltdown in 1979). There are even prohibitions against drilling for oil even 1oo miles from our Florida and California coastlines.  Of course, China and Cuba are drilling  for oil 60 miles from our Florida coastline.  And of course the U.S. has loaned Brazil two billion dollars so that it can explore off of its coastline.

Finally, Canada was an economic basket case in 2009 and decided to get serious about drilling for oil because it needed the revenue.   It worked, and Canada is now doing very well.  Perhaps its neighbor to the south (the U.S.) can learn from it.  Or perhaps not.  Conditions might have to get a lot worse before enough Americans become convinced that it’s time for the United States to achieve energy independence.  It’s estimated that the U.S. dollar is losing its status as the world’s “Reserve Currency,” and that the process will speed up when the National Debt reaches $22 Triilion and when that happens the U.S. economy will take a plunge with very large inflation.  In other words, it looks like things will be getting much worse soon and this might lead to energy independence, but I wouldn’t count on it.

 

TRAP, NEUTER, RETURN” (TNR) PROGRAM FOR FERAL/STRAY CATS (audio interview)

I decided to conduct this conference call on TNR (25-minute audio of interview at the bottom of  written introduction) because it’s the answer to the feral and stray cat population explosion problem.  Ferals and strays starve, thirst,  freeze, are killed by dogs and other cats as well as by cars, and there are very few charitable organizations dealing with the problem.  Moreover, as a bonafide “catman,” who has trapped, neutered, and returned at least 100 cats, this issue is very important to me because I’ve come to know cats as the affectionate (if you feed and water them, scratch their heads, give them a name and talk to them ) creatures that they are.

If you love cats, don’t miss this discussion led by Mike Russo with Alex Mehn and Mark Rheinhardt on the very effective “Trap, Neuter, Return” (TNR) program for feral (afraid of people) cats.  TNR has been questioned recently concerning its effectiveness; however, we in the cat community have first-hand experience and knowledge that it works very well.  I took care of a 30-cat colony for about 10 years during which no kittens were born to any of my cats.

Alex Mehn, at the time of the interview, worked for the “Rocky Mountain Alley Cat Alliance” and its low-cost neutering clinic,”The Feline Fix,” as its TNR coordinator.  Mark Rheinhardt is an attorney on the board of the “Devine Feline” which operates a large van/mobile unit that travels around metropolitan Denver where its volunteers humanely trap feral and stray/homeless cats and have them neutered in the van by a volunteer veterinarian, and later returned to where they were trapped.

The discussion examines all facets of how a TNR program for caring for feral and stray-homeless cats could be implemented through local legislation (and uses Denver as an example of a city that needs TNR legislation and why).

In the TNR discussion, many issues are addressed, such as:

  1. How TNR helps prevent cat “hoarding”
  2. Feline aids and leukemia,
  3. Aggressiveness, zoonotic diseases,
  4. Curtails hunting and killing birds,
  5. The risks to catpeople without TNR, and much more.

To listen to this conference call, please click the red link  below.

Trap, Neuter, Return\” (TNR) program – Audio

 

MUGGED: racial demagoguery

I just read Ann Coulter’s book, Mugged, and learned a lot of new information from this lawyer and best-selling author.  None of the information surprised me but it was insightful reading Ms. Coulter’s relentless array of facts.

Basically, Coulter contends that very few of the racial incidents in the last 45 years have been racist (civil rights battles were mostly won before the seventies thanks to the Republican party); instead, they were racial hoaxes, perpetrated  by demagogues for various reasons and motives.

One of the most important facts that Ann Coulter shows in her book, Mugged,  is that all segregationists were Democrats and that the Democratic Party fought against Civil Rights legislation for 100 years going way back to Abraham Lincoln’s time when Lincoln and his Republican Party ran on an anti-slavery platform.  This is not news to we who know American history but is big news to the millions of Americans that have been deceived by Democratic Party leadership and now believe  the racist propaganda it advertises.

Another very important and horrific fact brought to light by Ms. Coulter is that a major consequence of every racial hoax is the slaughter of whites by young black hoodlums seeking revenge for what they hear and believe to be true about the (phony) racial incidents (Google: “Blackout Game,” “Polar Bear Hunting,” “Flash Mobs”).

Why do I believe the aforementioned to be true?  First, because I trust Ann Coulter in accurately portraying the facts.  Second, because I not only worked for many years assisting minorities in combating discrimination as a Federal collateral-duty EEO Counselor and then as a Federal collateral-duty Hispanic Employment Program Coordinator, but also have closely followed many racial incidents, including Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown in Ferguson.  In addition, because I have personally experienced discrimination for almost fifty years based 0n my physical handicap (left side of my face paralyzed, numb with left eye sutured shut and left ear deaf).  Since I did not have this malady for my first 25 years, I’m able to compare how I was treated by most people before I had a handicap to after I had a handicap.

“Mugged” gives the details of many racial incidents if you want to explore a racial incident, such as the Tawana Brawley rape hoax with Al Sharpton’s involvement.  Some racism still exists, but there are many politicians and race hustlers  exploiting race simply to get your vote.

HOW TO BECOME DEBT-FREE

If you become debt-free, you can save hundreds of thousands of dollars in interest payments over your lifetime and therefore have much more money to do those things you really want to do.  If you agree, how do you actually go about becoming debt-free?  That’s what this post is about.

Many people, including those with very high incomes, are simply conduits for money, receiving it and spending it, none of it staying with them after paying all of their expenses each month. Wealth is the money you have in the bank and in investments and other assets.  A high income can speed up your journey to wealth but only if you handle your money prudently.  However, most people that have accumulated wealth have average, or lower, incomes; basically their wealth came mostly from the appreciation of their home.  

One of the quickest routes to becoming poor is throwing your money away on credit card interest.  Therefore, one of the best investments you can make (for saving 8% to 30% interest every month) with little effort and with no financial training or education is to pay off your credit cards.  So before you invest money at today’s  pitiful rates, consider putting money you’d like to invest towards paying down and ultimately paying off your credit cards, starting with the highest interest rate card first.  Where do you find the money to do that?  You need to find an extra 10% of your income to then devote solely for paying down your debt each month.

After paying off your credit cards, focus on paying off your mortgage.  Since today’s mortgage interest rates are so low, why pay off a mortgage?  If you get from your bank a copy of the payoff schedule for your mortgage loan and compare  the principle of your mortgage loan against the interest due each month, you’ll see that even a small mortgage interest rate results in interest being most of each month’s mortgage payment, basically because you pay interest on the entire mortgage loan.  A relatively easy way to pay off your mortgage much faster is to pay at least an extra $100 or more towards your mortgage principle each month.

Finally, since most new cars depreciate by about 50% in only 3 years after purchase, you can save a huge amount of money by either buying used cars, or if you buy new ones, keep the car until it would cost more to fix it than the car is worth. I usually buy cars 8-10 years old.  Before the advent of cell phones, an older car could get you stuck in the middle of nowhere if it broke down.  But with an AAA card and a cell phone, you should be fine, unless your car ever breaks down in a bad neighborhood.  Moreover, older cars are generally safer than newer cars since older cars are much heavier than newer cars (that’s primarily how newer cars get better gas mileage).

For those with children going to college,  think seriously about your state college and compare its in-state tuition with tuition of other colleges.  Money should be borrowed only as a last resort with your overall financial goal being to live within your means.  Living within your means is not a goal in-and-of itself.  Living within your means is important in that it enables you to do those things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to do because you couldn’t afford to because you’re not wasting money on needless interest.

Because I didn’t have a mortgage, for example, I had the funds to achieve one of my passions while living in Denver, Colorado: trap, neuter and return (TNR) about 100 cats (in accordance with the nationwide TNR program), maintain a  ”come-and-go-as-you-please” cat shelter for feral cats, put out food and water for 30+ cats and a few dogs/day, and adopt and take care of 10 homeless stray cats, for a total cost of $5-10,000/year.

Whatever your hobby or passion, you’ll be much better able to pursue it if you are debt-free, as well as retire one day without being forced to live in near-poverty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

APPLYING THE FIVE FUNCTIONS OF MANAGEMENT

Planning, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling: do each of these well and with a sincere belief in the worthiness of what you’re trying to accomplish as well as a sensitivity to the employees who work for you and the people you’re serving and you’ll find it hard to fail. To use each of the five functions, we need to understand them.  Here’s my brief explanation of each:

1. PLANNING

It’s widely believed that the more time one spends planning, the less time is needed for implementation of the plan.  I go even further than that: better and more thorough planning should eliminate wasted time on implementing poor plans that end up not working. In planning, it’s a geat idea to solicit critiques and feedback from others prior to adopting the Plan, especially from those that differ with you.

2. ORGANIZING

After you prepare your Plan you need to organize your resources and determine how you intend to implement your
Plan.  Perhaps appointing a Czar to be responsible for implementing the Plan is appropriate. What do you do first, second, third?  The Plan may need to be divided into parts that can be given to managers to take control of to implement.

3 DIRECTING

Next comes the beginning of the implementation of your Plan by directing others to carry  out various portions of the plan, starting with the selection of a Czar to direct the Plan’s implementation.

4. COORDINATING

The more complex the Plan, the more important it is to coordinate with those charged with implementing its various components.  This is something that the Plan’s Czar does.

5. CONTROLLING

This fifth and final function compares the Plan with the results that were actually achieved and then make any changes necessary to ensure that the final outcome is what is desired, even if is was not what was exactly planned for.

 

CONCLUSION

Having  identified and briefly explained the five functions of management, I think it would be useful to go through an example that would illustrate how they actually work.  I thought something controversial would be fun, so let’s use comprehensive healthcare to build a nationwide system that provides more benefits than costs and is affordable and welcomed by all.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) or “Obamacare never had popular support.  It narrowly became legislation and only was able to do so because of underhanded actions.  Because of this, there was no honest debate on how to make it work well.  Although politicians on both sides of the aisle wanted to help shape the new health insurance law, this was not done because Republican legislators were not included.  So from its very inception. the ACA Plan was flawed.  Over 2700 pages in length, the ACA was poorly organized and not well-thought-out for disincentives in it to employers and to the economy.

The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services was in charge of the Plan’s implementation (“directing”)  and did a very poor job, starting with the selection of unqualified contractors to build the Federal website for people to sign up for healthcare that lived in states that did not participate in the administration of the ACA. The Secretary should have appointed a ACA Czar to be responsible for making it work well and smoothly.  The Secretary was also responsible for any “coordinating” that was necessary to make the ACA work.

Finally, the fifth function of management and acid test of all Plans is “controlling” or checking to insure that the outcome or results are what was intended, and then to make modifications that are necesary to make that happen.  The ACA is much more expensive than previously-held insurance and is only affordable to those receiving subsidies.  The co-pays and deductibles are ridiculously high to the extent that seeing a doctor is unaffordable to many.  The ACA is so bureaucratic and unwieldy that it is encourages fraud on the part of insurers, its administrators, and healthcare recipients.  It is so flawed that it is probably beyond repair, which makes me personally very sad because I believe in universal healthcare.  The President and both houses of Congress need to work together to replace the ACA with something much better.

Consciously use the 5 functions of management whenever you manage anything complex that you want to see done well.

 

 

USING A “TO DO” LIST FOR GETTING MORE DONE

For over 30 years I used time management strategy and tactics.  It began with my reading nine books on time management in the eighties, starting with Alan Lakein’s, How to get Control of your Time and your Life.  I subsequently taught an adult education course in time management, and have used it for the past 35 years, right up to the present moment.

Rather that quote what author said what, way-back-when, and give their time management tips, I’ll  simply tell what I found works well.

The basic time management tool that most experts agree upon is the use of a daily ”To Do” list.  My use of the to-do list evolved over the years but I still make out and use a  prioritized list every day and I carry it and a pen with me wherever I go as well as keep it and a pen on my night table when I go to bed.   When I was working for a paycheck, I attribute my lists for making me somewhat more productive.   Now that I’m retired, I estimate that I get at least three times more done than I otherwise would have without my lists, basically because retirement time, unlike a job time, is mostly unstructured and a daily list gives structure.

The items on your to do list should be prioritized, not simply listed.  The importance of this is actually the most critical aspect of “to do” lists.  Prioritizing the items  on your to-do list helps you answer “Lakein’s Question” which asks, ”what is the best use of your time right now?”  Of course, for meetings, appointments  and other timed events, I simply asterisk it on my list rather that give it a numerical priority.  Near the end of each day I prepare my list for that evening and the next day, carrying over unfinished items from the previous day.  The mere act of preparing your list each day helps you focus on what you need to do and how important or even urgent it is.

In the 1930′s, Bethlehem Steel entrepreneur Charles M. Schwab (see his photo in upper right-hand corner), paid management consultant Ivy Lee $25,000 for giving him the very simple idea of a daily “to do” list.  That $25,000 would be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars today.  I personally have found to do lists to be priceless over the past 35 years that I used them.

KIMMIE THE KAT

Many years ago, when I was young and foolish, I was under the mistaken impression that all a man really needed for true happiness was a good woman. But as I’ve gotten older and a little wiser, I’ve come to see the light: a real man needs a good cat! Now I can imagine that some of you reading this are skeptical so I decided to scientifically compare a good woman, my second wife, with a good cat, Kimmie.  My  statistician says that 4 examples will suffice. I’ll keep score.

Before Kimmie the cat came into our lives, my wife, Sharon, and I really wanted a dog but we lived on the fourth floor of a condo in downtown Washington, DC, so a dog was out of the question. Then we got 5-month old Kimmie from the cat lady of Reston, Virginia. When I brought Kimmie home she was dirty and full of fleas, so Sharon and I decided to give her a bath. Fully wet, Kim looked like a drowned rat but a cute drowned rat. Giving Kimmie a bath was a real growth experience for us. I’m sure you cat owners out there know what I’m talking about.

That was Kimmie’s last bath!!!… What did I conclude from this?  Comparing the woman I know best, my wife Sharon, to the cat I know best, Kimmie, I decided that although a woman can take an hour to bathe, a cat can’t bathe itself and also is a real terror to bathe, so in this respect a woman is superior to a cat. Therefore let’s give women one point.

After moving from Washington to the mountains of Colorado I was hoping that some field mice would visit our home so Kimmie could develop her stalking skills.  I even suggested to Sharon that I buy some white mice and turn them loose in the house, but for some unknown reason Sharon did not like my idea. However, the day finally arrived when an unfortunate little field mouse got into our home seeking food and shelter.  Kimmie instinctively chased the mouse and even caught it, but she put it down on the floor and let it run away. She played “cat and mouse” with the mouse for two weeks, catching it, letting it go, catching it again, letting it go again. Finally one night at about 2 am, my wife heard some crunching sounds and that mouse was never seen again!

Now Kimmie is an old pro at catching mice. A mouse only lasts one night and in the morning the mouse’s hind quarters are neatly laid out for Sharon and I to admire. While this might gross out most people, I feel like a proud parent. What does this tell me?  In comparing a typical woman to a typical cat, not only can’t Sharon catch mice, she’s afraid of them…so give one point to Kimmie. The score is now women one, cats one.

When I take kimmie to the vet each year for her annual medical checkup, I get a good laugh.  Kimmie is probably the most timid cat that ever was, but the vet is frightened half to death of her. I hate to ridicule, but if you saw how scared he was of this tiny, eight-pound ball of fur, you’d chuckle too.  Kimmie’s last trip to the vet included her being tranquilized to have her teeth cleaned. That meant she had to stay at the vet’s overnight so she wouldn’t hurt herself while under the influence. When I went the following morning to get Kim to take her home, the vet asked me to go and get her from the back room.  I guess he was tired of my telling him how gentle and timid she was. I went to Kim’s cage, opened its door and was confronted with a hissing, snarling little tigress. I said, “Kim, it’s me…cut the bull; sweet pea, it’s me.” nothing worked. Maybe the vet is not such a scared-y-cat after all. What did I learn from this? …, comparing Sharon going to the doctor to Kimmie going to the vet, Sharon, unlike Kimmie, usually tolerates going to the doctor so she is superior to Kimmie in this regard. the score is therefore women 2, cats 1.

Sharon sleeps late in the morning.  Therefore, when I’m not home, Kimmie goes hungry for awhile early in the morning unless she can get Sharon up to get her breakfast. Being a smart cat, Kim developed a routine where she wiggles her whiskers under Sharon’s nose to tickle her to wake her up. She then follows this by licking Sharon’s hand with her sandpaper cat tongue and then standing on Sharon and meowing loudly into her face. Finally, if Kimmie’s especially hungry and it’s getting late, she climbs to the top of the nearby armoire and leaps from there onto the bed where Sharon is sleeping. If you knew my wife, you’d know that getting her out of bed in the morning is very difficult and that these feline tactics usually don’t work, but Kimmie keeps coming up with new ideas so she can get her morning fix of Purina.

So what does this tell us… comparing Sharon to Kimmie, Kimmie gets up very quickly in the morning, though she does take a lot of “cat naps”. This point therefore goes to cats: the score is women 2, cats 2, a tie score.

So to answer my initial question: “does a man need a good woman or a good cat to be happy?” As a true “cat man,” who never met a cat he didn’t like, I’m glad I have a statistically valid reason for not having to choose between Sharon and Kimmie. On the other hand, Sharon is a true “cat woman,” therefore I’m glad she doesn’t have to really choose between me and Kimmie.

This man needs a good woman and a good cat to be happy!

 

OVERCOMING RACISM and DISCRIMINATION

Doesn’t it make you angry when someone treats you unfairly just because you’re black, brown, white, a woman, a man, homosexual, older, younger, disabled, bald, long-haired, short, fat, poor, wealthy, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. ?  Doesn’t it make you angry?  What would Dr. Martin Luther King say?

In 1790, George Washington said “The government of the United States …gives to bigotry no sanction, to persecution, no assistance….”  In fact, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended, and a few other pieces of civil rights legislation such as the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, outlaw discrimination based on: 1) race, 2) color, 3) sex, 4) religion, 5) national origin, 6) age, and 7) handicap.  However, there are many other bases for discrimination which are not illegal and are not obvious and therefore are much more difficult to deal with than those which are illegal.  Because I’ve had a lot of experience in this area I thought I’d share my views on how discrimination works and how best to deal with it.

My understanding of discrimination began in 1975 when I became a collateral-duty (side-job) Hispanic Employment Program Manager for my small Federal bureau, which took about 20% of my official work time.  For the other 80% of my work-time, I was a Environmental Planner.   With help from our Field Office employees, we were able to increase Hispanic-American employment in my small bureau from one person to 32 Hispanic-Americans so that my 500-employee bureau was 6% Hispanic-American when I left it.  I received awards for my work from the Director of my bureau as well as from the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior.

When I went to work for another small bureau in the U.S. Department of the Interior as a Program Analyst, I also took a collateral-duty (side) job as my bureau’s Collateral-Duty EEO Counselor, counseling about a dozen Equal Employment Opportunity complaintants, and received my bureau’s first “Outstanding Counselor” award in 1985.

Finally and importantly, at age 25 years, prior to both of those experiences, I had a large brain tumor removed which resulted in 1/2 of my face being paralyzed and numb. Suddenly I looked physically challenged and was easily-identifiable.  This situation gave me the unique experience of being able to compare how I was treated when I looked like most other people versus how I was treated when I looked differently and was easily identifiable as being physically challenged.Your Account

HOW EXTENSIVE A PROBLEM IS DISCRIMINATION

In the past, discrimination has led to lynchings because of race, national origin, religion, and other differences;  it has led to the torture and slaughter of six million innocent Jews by the Nazis and the murder of 3000 innocent Americans by Al Qaeda; and to many other atrocities through the ages, including right up to the present with “Flash-mob” attacks and the “Knockout Game.”  Today, however, allegations of racism have become politicized and  therefore many, though unfortunate, are false, like Mike Brown in Ferguson and Eric Garner on Staten Island.  A quick and easy way to determine most bogus allegations of racism is to first check if the accuser is a politician or a political adviser or pundit or works in the “race” industry…and if s/he does, then you can assume the allegation is false.  Racism and discrimination does still exist today but it’s a tiny fraction of what it was back in the 1950′s and before.

HOW DISCRIMINATION DEVELOPS

I believe that discrimination evolves because of three phenomena: 1) quick and easy identification of the group being discriminated against; 2) mind set; and 3) selective perception.

Easy identification is the reason why African-Americans, as well as women and most minorities, still are the recipients of some discrimination, though nothing like the situation was even 50-years ago.  The same is true of the fat, bald, unattractive, elderly, and disabled.

“Mind-set” I believe is the second phenomenon that enables discrimination to occur.  It develops when one’s mind , because of stereotyping or some other reason,   thinks along certain lines or is “set” to the extent that , even when new contradictory information is brought to light, it is discounted or simply not considered or even not perceived.  Another name for mind-set is “paradigms”.

Once a mind-set exists, selectively perceiving phenomena within the area of the “set” is called “selective perception”.  With discrimination, one would selectively perceive only those phenomena that reinforced the mind-set.

HOW TO HANDLE DISCRIMINATION

What should you do if you experience discrimination?  Getting angry at the injustice is a common reaction.  Some may even think that they now have the right to retaliate.  I can recall a number of massacres motivated by feelings of persecution and self-righteousness in seeking revenge.  However, when the retaliation avenue is pursued,  all parties become victims, especially those exacting the revenge.  To cite just one example, if you discriminate against me, and I become angry and/or vengeful, you would actually now be controlling my behavior by changing my attitude.  Therefore, a much healthier approach is to say to yourself, “People make the most absurd assumptions based on very superficial and erroneous analyses.  They aren’t thinking intelligently.”  Also, “people can think anything they want about me but if they act on their beliefs, then I’ll take appropriate action, from simply shrugging it off to considering the entire range of legal actions and implementing whatever is appropriate for the situation”.

FIRSTHAND EXPERIENCE

I have seen firsthand how easy identifiability, mind-set, and selective perception work.  For me they are not simply theories you might read about.  Up to age 25, when I looked like most others, I was treated one way.  After 25, when I looked obviously disabled, I was treated  differently, except from my family and friends.  And even though most people were not even aware of what they were doing, people’s good intentions didn’t help much.

CONCLUSION

Dr. Martin Luther King has told us to “judge people on the content of their character”.  If we do otherwise, we should remember how discrimination works so that we can prevent ourselves from unwittingly engaging in it.  Anyone who looks or is different is at risk of being the victim of discrimination.  The healthiest way to deal with discrimination is to try to understand and forgive those who wrong you.  This will make you a bigger person as well as add years to your lifespan.  To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Hatred can be overcome only by love”.

WILL EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) DESTROY THE U.S.?

Will the United States go from being the world’s superpower to being impoverished…like previous great powers through the ages?  Anything is possible, but I believe that Electric Magnetic Impulse (EMP) would destroy the United States unless it hardens its electric generation and transmission infra-structure (at a cost of $2 billion).

If you saw the recent version of the movie, “Godzilla,” you know a little about what EMPs can do.   EMPs are the greatest threat to the United States today and have been caused naturally, and is likely how the U.S. will be destroyed, with 90% of its population starved to death the first year following a major EMP.

If what I say is true, why haven’t you heard of it?  What is EMP?  And is there anything that can be done to protect the United States from EMPs, both those caused by nature and those caused by terrorists?

Electro-Magnetic Pulses can be caused naturally by Solar Sun Spots and Flares or by people using nuclear bombs exploded high above the land.  A lightning strike is a small  EMP.  There were EMP’s in 1859, when there was little electricity in use and therefore just telegraphs were affected; in 1989, in Quebec, and a near-miss in 2012 when the earth was just missed by a major coronal ejection of the Sun that would have devastated the earth’s electronics.

Three nuclear bombs detonated over the U.S. could cause EMPs of such magnitude that all electronics (in phones, computers, autos, TVs, radios, etc.) would be “fried” and the U.S. would revert to stone age existence with 90% of its population dead within one year from starvation and people killing each other over food.  Because the U.S. has submarines with nuclear weapons on rockets, the U.S. can retaliate against aggressors but some religious terrorists don’t care about retaliation.  In addition, to be effective in creating a EMP, a nuclear bomb would have to be detonated at least 25 miles above the earth, about in the middle of the United States.  Getting there undetected should be difficult, unless that lost Malaysian plane is somewhere in terrorist hands (and therefore could be disguised and used to carry a nuclear bomb above 25,000 feet altitude.

The SHIED Act, HR 2417, championed by Congressmen Peter DeFazio (R-OR) and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)  and the chair of the Electromagnetic Caucas, Trent Franks (R-AZ), is legislation that needs to be passed soon to get the government moving in protecting the U.S. from both naturally-occurring or  terrorist-caused EMPs.

 

THE CHRISTMAS CAT: a story based on fact*

Kimmie the cat lived a quiet and peaceful life in her home on top of a 9,000-ft.-high mountain in the Colorado Rockies.  As Christmas drew near, little Kimmie would sit on her favorite window ledge and watch the snow fall and pile higher and higher.  When it snowed continuously for three days in late December, she knew she wouldn’t see brown soil again until May.  Kimmie was happy and content with her lot in life.  Her number one person, Sharon, was very gentle and kind to her, petting her and singing her to sleep every night.  Her number two person, Mike, wasn’t as gentle as Sharon, but he had a good heart, looked after her, and made sure she had food in her bowl the mornings when Sharon was still sleeping.

On occasion, things would get wild and crazy in Kimmie’s home when a foolish mouse would sneak into it seeking food and shelter, and Kim would chase it and play with it.  But most of the time things were quiet.  However, Christmas was just around the corner so Kimmie was very excited.  You see, Kimmie loved Christmas as no other cat did, because it was around Christmas many years ago that her parents adopted her.

“What will Santa bring me this year?” she thought.  Kimmie usually received cat toys and edible treats for Christmas, in addition to a beautifully-decorated spruce tree that she would pounce on top of and slide down. Kimmie liked doing that even more than playing with a mouse.  Except for one thing, Kimmie had seen and done it all in her 15 years of life.  The thing she had not done was to go outside of her home without being in her pet carrier.  She never had the opportunity to play with a squirrel, rabbit or chipmunk.  But this Christmas she planned to change all of that.

The day before Christmas finally arrived and little Kimmie’s heart beated rapidly in anticipation of her journey outside of her home.  Kim had no way of knowing that a winter storm was headed her way.  She kept a careful eye on the doors when Sharon neared them.  She couldn’t miss even one opportunity because one chance is all she might get.  Finally, that fateful moment arrived when Sharon opened the side door that led directly outside.  Kimmie sprinted to the door as fast as she could.  She was so quick that she was just a blur to Sharon.  The next moment she was in the spacious outdoors with everything white with snow, especially the pine, fir and spruce trees.  She looked back at her snow-covered home and heard Sharon calling her: “Kimmie, Kimmie, come back.  It’s too cold for you out there.”  But little Kimmie had make up her mind…she wanted to explore the woods.  Besides, she could always go home later.  It was very cold outside; much colder than she thought it would be.  She found a trail behind her house and walked and walked for what what seemed like forever.  She could see for miles.  There were endless mountains and wilderness and not a person or a home around.  Kimmie’s little paws quickly became frozen; they were not used to walking on snow.  ”It is so beautiful outside,” she thought. “But it sure is cold.”  She came across a rabbit and chased it.  The only thing she ever chased in her house were mice!  ”A rabbit is much more fun than a mouse,” she thought.  Then a fox wandered by so she hid.  ”It’s my lucky day,” she thought.  ”That fox might have caught me and I don’t even have claws to defend myself.”

Meanwhile, back at home, Sharon was filled with grief and guilt and could not stop crying.  She blamed herself for Kimmie getting out.  She called Mike at work and he immediately came home so that they both could scout the woods around their house in an attempt to find Kimmie before the winter storm arrived or before a predator caught her.  They began by putting out dirty bedsheets on a outside clothesline so that Kimmie might catch their scent in the air and thereby find her way home.  Then they went tramping through the woods with Sharon calling, “Kimmie, Kimmie, come here little sweet pea.”  But Kimmie was nowhere to be found.

By this time Kim was feeling the effects of the relentless cold and began shivering and sneezing.  She hadn’t eaten or drunk anything since she left home early that morning.  Kimmie missed the warmth of her home, the abundant food, and her fluffy cat bed.  She was cold, tired, hungry and thirsty and just wanted to go home. Although she searched and sniffed the air, she just couldn’t find her home.  Meanwhile, Mike and Sharon were getting exhausted and were running out of places to look for her.  They could feel the air turning much colder.  Then it began to snow. They knew that it would be dark in a few hours and temperatures would go down to below zero and eventually to minus 30 degrees.

Then a fateful coincidence happened: Bear, a neighbor’s German Shepard, spotted Kimmie at a distance.  He knew who she was and she knew who he was.  Bear had never seen Kimmie outside of her house so he figured that she had run away and was lost.  He ran over to her and said, “Kimmie, you’re not an outside cat; what are you doing out here?”  Kimmie tearfully replied between sneezes that she ran away that morning to see the woods but now was lost.  Bear replied, “I’ll never understand you cats, you don’t make any sense.  Follow me you crazy cat; you’re far from home, but I know where you live and I’ll get you back there.”  Kimmie followed Bear.  She didn’t realize how far from her home she had traveled.  When her house came into sight she lept for joy.  Bear said, “just keep following me, mouse-eater, you’re not home yet!”  The snow was coming down really heavily now and temperatures were already down to zero.

When Kimmie and Bear reached Kim’s house, little Kimmie meowed loudly for Sharon or Mike to let inside. Bear just looked at Kimmie in amazement.  Then he said to her, “This is how you do it, fur ball: woof, woof, woof!”  Sharon heard Bear’s barking and came quickly to the door.  Sharon said, “what do you want Bear?  You know Garrison doesn’t like me to feed you!”  Then Sharon saw little frozen Kimmie as Kim meowed and sneezed on the top of her lungs.  She said, “Oh Kimmie, Bear found you and brought you home to me!”  Sharon then picked up Kimmie and hugged and kissed her, and said to Bear, “what a wonderful friend you are. You saved my Kimmie!  Come inside and warm yourself by the fire.”  But Bear just barked and went back onto the trail.  He had to get home before the winter snowstorm got any worse.

Kimmie was the happiest cat in the whole world and Sharon and Mike the happiest people.  It was Christmas eve night and the Colorado Blue Spruce Christmas tree hadn’t been decorated yet because Kim’s folks had spent all of their time searching for her.  Kimmie snuggled in Sharon’s lap and just purred and purred as Sharon petted her and talked ever so sweetly to her.  She had just eaten a can of Fancy Feast cat food and was nice and warm.  Only the day before she had been wondering what special treats and toys Santa would bring her for Christmas.  As she basked in love, affection, warmth and abundant good food, she thought to herself, “how naive I’e been.  I already have the best Christmas present anyone could ever have.  It’s a cold world out there away from family and friends.  Truly, there’s no place like home.”

*The only things in this story that are not true are: 1)Kimmie did not run away or get lost; and 2)animals can’t speak human languages.  All of the names, places, characters and descriptions in the story are real.

MINIMUM WAGE INCREASE: PROS & CONS

Who can be against a livable wage and why would they possibly be against it?  That’s what this post is about.   President Obama recently raised the minimum wage for Federal contractors from $7.25 to $10.10/hour.  It covers future Federal contracts only and therefore won’t affect many workers right now.  The President has urged Congress, however, to pass legislation to cover all minimum wage employees in the U.S.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has recently reported that if the minimum wage were to be increased to $10.10 nationwide, or a 40% increase, about 500,000 to 1,000,000 million minimum wage employees, from the current pool of 16,500,000 minimum wage employees, would lose their jobs because employers could not pay it and remain in business.  Recently, however, the new proposed minimum wage has jumped to $15/hour.  The specific effects of such a raise have not been officially calculated, but it would surely result in millions of “minimum wage employees” losing their jobs because many employers could not afford to pay it and remain in business.

So why do it?  The main argument is that it’s not a “living wage,” that no one can live on and raise a family on that wage.  Sounds like a reasonable justification but, of course, we need to look at other sides of the argument before reaching sound conclusions.  I already cited one of the primary reasons why not to raise the minimum wage too high…the loss of about 1,000,000 minimum wage jobs; however, another significant reason is that it would almost shut down the first step on career ladders for unskilled workers…to the extent that they couldn’t even get that first job, get their foot in the door…because their work would not be worth $15/hour.  In addition, since only 15% of minimum wage employees live in poverty households, raising it would do little to reduce poverty.  Finally, many businesses, like restaurants, are very sensitive to the minimum wage and when that wage is increased substantially, restaurant prices increase substantially, which hurts the business or makes it fail (so the end result may be the elimination of jobs).

It appears that labor union leadership and consequently the Democratic Party is the only beneficiary of dramatic minimum wage increases with everyone else being harmed; therefore, gradual increases in the minimum wage may be able to satisfy genuine concerns of the minimum wage argument.

The best way to raise everyone’s wages the most is to create a booming economy like they have in North Dakota where $15 is the starting wage in fast food restaurants because of the huge competition for employees that North Dakota’s great economy fostered.

 

WHAT YOUR DOCTOR DIDN’T TELL YOU

What you don’t know can hurt you, especially in the field of medicine. But in the words of a cousin-in-law physician, “doctors are healers, not teachers.” In fact, there’s a lot of information necessary for the maintenance or restoration of your health that you need to know, especially as you age… and you probably won’t hear it from your doctor unless you know enough to ask him or her very specific questions and then only if your doctor is up to speed on whatever it is you want to know. The average length of a doctor visit is 11 minutes… doctors simply don’t have the time to meet at length with patients.

What qualifies me to write on this subject? I’ve had 31 surgeries and a huge array of medical problems in my 72 years, and I come from a large family who collectively have had a lot of experience with the medical establishment. Consequently, I read medical literature and try to keep up with the latest developments in medicine, health and nutrition that traditional physicians can’t follow because they simply don’t have the time.  My Internist told me, “You’re the healthiest-looking sick person I’ve ever seen,” so I must be doing something right.

I listed the following ten categories of health tips below so that, if you adhere to them, you should be able to add 10-15 healthy years to your expected lifespan.  Of course there’s no guarantees in life but your likelihood for achieving much better health will be vastly improved: 1) Choose the best health insurance you can afford, 2) Eat a healthy diet, 3) Exercise, 4) Get adequate sleep, 5) Maintain good relations with family and friends, 6) Take dietary supplements and herbals, 7) Get tested, 8) Take responsibility for your health, 9) Get effective medical treatment, and 10) Keep up with the latest in health, medicine and nutrition. Read the rest of this entry »

SON OF HAMAS

I just finished reading a fascinating book by a fascinating and courageous person: Mosab Hassan Yousef.  Mr. Yousef gave up so much that he held dear to follow the beliefs of his new religion, Christianity.  His devotion to Christ led him to helping people, all people: Muslims, Christians, Jews, etc.  His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, was one of seven Palestinians that created Hamas in 1986, but Mr. Yousef was a principled and honorable man, unlike many of the other Hamas leaders and led me to conclude that he is mostly responsible for his son also being a principled and honorable young man.

Christianity opened young Mosab’s mind to compassion and forgiveness and enabled him to take a second look at the Israelis, whom he was taught to hate by the culture he was raised in.  At some point he thought that he could save many lives on all sides of the Palistinian-Israeli conflict by working with Israel’s Intelligence service, the Shin Bet.  In fact, he did save many innocent lives, including his father’s.

In the epilogue, postscript and afterwards, Mosab ends the book by telling about his encounters in America, which I found to be very interesting because by the end of the book I cared about what happened to him.

The book forced me to rethink Hamas and its true intentions: political power or a genuine concern for Palistinians?  It also gave me a better appreciation on how being raised in a culture where hatred is celebrated, and think about how fortunate I am for being born and raised in America.  If you are interested in the Middle East, care about the people who live there, and want to understand what is happening there, this book should help.

KILLING THE GOLDEN GOOSE (the U.S. economy)

The golden goose (the U.S. economy) is still hurting.   So what’s to be done, if anything?  There are many ideas on how to help the goose but what’s already been done hasn’t helped much.  The unemployment rate, while it has improved, is misleading because it computes part-time employees as employed and they currently make up about 3/4 of the newly employed.  In addition, people who are no longer actively looking for work, are not counted as being unemployed. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown about 2% in the past 12 months, which is pitiful compared to usual  U.S. economic recoveries, which normally are about 5%/year.  The Civilian Labor Participation Rate is 62.7%, the lowest it has been since the late seventies.  To arrive at an effective solution on how to help the economy, one must discover the reasons that initially caused, and are still causing, it to be lackluster.

The initial causes were finally spelled out clearly in the book, Reckless Endangerment, by Gretchen Morgenson and Joshua Rosner:  the quasi-government mortgage institutions, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Basically, they forced banks to loan mortgage money to people who could not repay them, and they did this because of the amendments to the Community Reinvestment Act that President Clinton pushed through and that Representative Barney Frank and Senator Chris Dodd, as Committee Chairmen in the House and Senate in 2006, would not allow to be changed to make them fiscally sound.

But that’s “water under the bridge” so to speak, or is it?  The Dodd-Frank bill, which was supposed to add regulations mostly on banks to prevent the economic downturn from happening again, does not even address Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  It does ensure the failure of small community banks by placing  reporting burdens on them that only large banks can afford to comply with and making the penalties to banks so severe (the government would  take them  over) that banks are afraid to make loans.  But Dodd-Frank is just one minor peg in the goose’s coffin.

Other factors hurting our goose is Obamacare, which is slowly going into effect.  Obamacare affects everyone in the United States.  The President said it was based on Romney-care, or the medical insurance system put into place under then-Massachusetts-governor Mitt Romney.   Romney-care, however, only affected the 8% of Massachusettes residents who were not covered by medical insurance.

Then there’s the huge increase in the National Debt which is bankrupting the U.S. and thrusting a knife into the heart of the formerly “Golden” Goose.  Positive,  job-creating actions, like the Keystone Pipeline, which would also provide much-needed oil, were defeated by the President.

I could go on and on and on, but I think you have the idea…policy after policy is each hurting the economy.  I think that  we went over the fiscal cliff on November 1, 2016, when we re-elected someone who does not understand how the economy works.  With the change in the Presidency with the November 1, 2016 elections, the prospects are excellent for significant improvement in the economy.

NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT: PROS & CONS

The National Defense Authorization Act was recently vetoed by President Obama because it prevented him from closing GITMO and he said it also contained some unecessary military spending.  The President and the Congress will seek to prepare a compromise bill that will satisfy both.

Each year, the National Defense Authorization Act is controversial.  In 2012, for example, it basically funded our military for the year but also was the first time it contained provisions for apprehending and detaining indefinitely any U.S. citizen suspected of terrorism without charging him/her with any crime or giving a trial.

It might be understandable why the President wanted such power, however, this was not in accordance with the U.S. Constitution and could have been a slippery slope, where a well-meaning law, eventually morphs into something sinister.  The President added a “Signing Statement” specifying when he might use the authority, but even if you take him at his word, opponents ask “how about future presidents?”  Might they use it?  The Authorization, however, was for only one year, so didn’t the provision expire at the end of the year?

What made this interesting was that the President stopped the U.S. using water-boarding and other interrogation methods because he said he thought they were unconstitutional, but his abundant use of drones in blowing up foreign combatants is OK with him.  Nearby innocent civilians, referred to as “collateral damage” are also inadvertently killed when an enemy combatant is killed with a drone.

Because the President can be so charming and is such a persuasive speaker, it’s hard to believe anything negative about him, so one must look at his actions  and not simply listen to his rhetoric.  A number of civil rights organizations, including the ACLU and Human Rights Watch, had denounced his signing the Bill into law.  To date, it appears that the President has gone even further in using this authority.  One well-known example of this is the imprisoning of the person who created the DVD that allegedly insulted Islam and the Obama Administration contended led to the rioting that led to U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans being killed at the U.S. embassy in Benghazi.  Of course we now know that the DVD had nothing to do with the rioting.

We have to wait and see how far the President goes in engaging in unconstitutional behavior and try to stop him politically if he goes too far.

 

 

 

UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES of OBAMACARE

It’s the unintended consequences that trip you up every time.  In the political-health insurance arena, the largest example of unintended consequences is in the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare.  Here’s how:

1. Obamacare covers full-time employees in companies that employ 50 or more people.  Because the implementation of Obamacare has been unpopular with over 50% of Americans, its full costs remain uncertain and businesses are therefore very wary of hiring additional full-time employees (FTE) and are, in fact, cutting back to under 50 FTE’s and converting full-time positions to part-time so as to keep FTE’s under 50.  So the number of jobs that the Federal government reports each month which consequently reduce the unemployment rate is B.S. because: (a) most of those new jobs are part-time jobs, and (b) the major reason the unemployment rate has lowered is because, after the unemployed run out of benefits, they are no longer considered looking for work and therefore taken out of the unemployment statistics that are calculated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Those statistics consequently then depict a lowered (phony) unemployment rate; but they have nothing to do with the creation of jobs.  An accurate portrayal of employment is the “Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate” which is currently at it’s lowest level since 1978.

2. Because Obamacare has deductibles as high as $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families, as well as high co-pays, most people with Obamacare that are not subsidized by the government, tend to not benefit from it because they can’t meet their deductibles.  In other words, Obamacare for many people is like not having medical insurance…and at some point many will find it cheaper to just pay the IRS a fine every year for not not having expensive medical insurance that ends up each year in not providing any benefits.

3. With Obamacare’s IPAD (Independent Payment Advisory Board) or “Death Panels” as Sarah Palin calls them, expensive state-of-the-art medical treatment is severely restricted under Obamacare, for the elderly.

4. Though sold to the American public as saving the average American family about $2,500/year, it’s turning out to be far more expensive to everyone except those receiving government subsidies.  There are many, many people paying at least double their previous premiums.  Some are paying as much as five times their former premiums.  Moreover, the Federal government has spent billions in rolling out the Federal and State websites and in providing subsidies.  When fully implemented, some forecast that Obamacare will bankrupt the country.

Obamacare or The Affordable Care Act is rife with unintended consequences, some of the major ones I cited above. But there are many more (tax on medical equipment, doctor shortage, etc.).  All of the unintended consequences were completely predictable.  I don’t think that revision of The Affordable Care Act will be sufficient to fix it.  I believe that it must be replaced after (this time) being carefully thought out and supported by both major political parties.

INCOME INEQUALITY

A hot political issue this political season is income inequality.  The heart of the debate is that it doesn’t seem fair for some people to make millions while others are living close to poverty.  The government already redistributes wealth through a variety of welfare programs, taxes, food stamps, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. but advocates want to see a lot more.  Is this fair?  Is it feasible? Are there unintended consequences for even more income redistribution?  Let’s check it out by first reviewing the scope of the problem:  according to IRS data for 2013, the wealthiest 2.4% of taxpayers pay about 48.9% of all individual taxes; however, they also make over $250,000 adjusted gross income.

The United States’ economy is fueled by free enterprise, also known as capitalism.  Being able to make a better life for yourself and your family motivates people to devote the time, energy and work necessary to become financially successful.  This system, however, does result in some being very rich and some being poorer.  Free enterprise, as practiced in the United States, contains economic safety nets to help ensure that no one is destitute.  Even so, some will still be bad off.  Here’s where charities play a large roll, as well as simple government policies, such as those that require that every hospital to treat people even when they can’t pay.

For average income Americans, the Social Security Administration recently reported that 51% of Americans make less than $30,000/year.  This poor record is the fault of the Federal government in over-regulating businesses, in having an absurdly high (35%) corporate income tax rate that forces U.S. companies to relocate overseas where rates are much lower, and having high individual tax rates (since many small businesses file as individuals).  All of these policies are advocated  by the Democratic Party, who, in the same breath, says they’re for the “little guy” and for the poor.

Free enterprise is not perfect but has moved billions of people out of poverty in India, China and other countries. The Federal government is taking the freedom out of free enterprise in the United States.

HOW MUCH VITAMIN-D DO YOU NEED, REALLY? (audio interview)

I decided to interview Dr. Michael Smith, MD  of the Life Extension Foundation (25-minute audio of interview at the bottom of this introduction…click the red link), because the tons of scientific research and findings on vitamin D is not getting out to the general public from the medical profession and this is leading to millions of excess deaths each year in the United States alone. I also asked Dr. Smith, the most important facts that you should know about fish oil, vitamin K and Co-Enzyme Q10 because these nutritional supplements are extremely important to heart health and you won’t hear much from the medical profession about them.

Dr. Michel Smith is a medical doctor with specialties in radiology and internal medicine, and, at the time of our interview, served as the clinical information specialist with The Life Extension Foundation, a non-profit organization devoted to researching and disseminating information on preventing disease and medical disorders.

Dr. Smith has been with the Life Extension Foundation for eight years. He received his MD from the Southwest Medical Center at the University of Texas in Dallas

If you listen to the interview with Dr. Michel Smith of the Life Extension Foundation, you will have the opportunity to know the truth about:

1. Why do you should take vitamin D and how much?…
2. Why and how much and what type of fish oil you should take…
3. The importance of vitamin K2 to your heart, arteries and bones and where you can get adequate amounts.
4. The value of Co-Enzyme Q10 and the type to take…

To listen to Dr. Smith’s interview, please click the  red Link  below.

Michael Smith – Vitamin Audio

Interview by Mike Russo.

TERRORIST SOLUTION: PIGS!

Let them eat pork!  Hogs are wonderful and highly intelligent animals…it’s a pity they taste so good.  But not only are they a symbol for good health around most of the world, they have been and could be again, extremely helpful in the war on terror.  In 1911 U.S. General John J. (“Blackjack”) Pershing stopped Islamic Terrorist attacks in the Philippines by using pigs as counter-terrorists.

When a number of terrorists were captured, Pershing arranged for their execution but did so in a manner to persuade them that they would go to hell.  He did this by having all of the terrorists except one dig their own graves, be shot with bullets that were drenched in pig blood and fat, have pig intestines and blood poured over their bodies in their graves, and by making sure that the one terrorist, whose life was spared, be set loose so he could inform his terrorist friends what happened…Muslims were being doomed to hell by being killed and buried with unclean pigs.

Can  anything be learned from this piece of history? Perhaps!

It’s probably politically incorrect to do something that is offensive to another’s religion, probably more incorrect than killing someone that is trying to kill you…but pork has worked in the past and therefore probably should be tried again.  Pigs are smart animals and make great pets…it really is a shame that bacon, ham and barbecue spareribs taste so good.  But even if worse comes to worse, and most Americans eventually decide to avoid swine, the tasty hog might still have a large role to play in fighting terrorism.

 

 

UNDERSTANDING OFFICE POLITICS

Conventional management education and training have become increasingly more sophisticated.   One area that remains to be fully explored by the academic and managerial communities, however, is office politics. Though largely neglected as an academic discipline, it is usually an essential component of job success, although competence and industriousness are equally important. As Marilyn Kennedy states in her book, Office Politics, Seizing Power, Wielding Clout, 75% of all firings in the business world are political executions.  In addition to its importance to the employee, office politics also can play a significant role in the success or failure of an organization. It consists of all of the interactions among employees in an organization. The fact that managers are frequently naive in recognizing and handling the political dynamics that exist among the staff impairs their ability to manage successfully.

Office politics is important to study because one must understand it in order to effectively handle the political games and power struggles that can interfere with employees careers and productivity.  In the July 10, 1984, Washington  Post “Federal Diary,” Mike Causey reported that of 800 senior federal personnel officers responding to a Merit Systems Protection Board survey, almost one in every five said that they had been improperly pressured by managers to save or fire employees during the 1981 reduction-in-force.

Good management and supervision include an understanding of office politics and power.  Because the phrase “office politics” has a bad reputation, even its beneficial and ethical aspects are not usually the subject of serious attention. Managers, supervisors and employees may not advance in their careers sufficiently because of their disdain for office politics and its prudent use.  If a manager is unaware of and not in control of the politics in his/her office, s/he will not be able to manage his/her employees and programs well. On the other hand, excessive involvement in office politics can drain the energy, time, motivation and productivity that should otherwise go into the job.  Dr. Andrew Dubrin, in his book, Winning at Office Politics, cites five levels of involvement in office politics, from the most political to the most naive. They are: Machiavellian, Office Politician, Survivalist, Straight Arrow and Innocent Lamb. For those who are interested, Dr. Dubrin’s book contains a 100-question test which will show how political you are.

The Types of Office Politics

I classify office  politics into three categories: clean, dirty and situational.  “Clean” (ethical) office politics comprises those things one can do to advance his or her career and get the job done at no one’s expense and without being unethical or immoral. Examples of clean office politics include loyalty to one’s supervisor and working in one’s own interest. “Dirty” office politics is immoral and/or unethical and is something which is done to the detriment of others. Examples of dirty office politics include backstabbing and stealing credit for another’s work. “Situational” office politics, as its name implies, is ethical or not depending upon the situation in which it is used.  A good example of situational ethical office politics is the “fait accompli” (accomplished fact). This tactic simply involves taking an action even though it will not be welcomed by the boss. Later, after reaping the benefits of the action, the employee pleads innocence if the boss questions him/her on it.  The employee tells the boss that s/he didn’t now that it would meet with disapproval. With some supervisors this tactic is sometimes necessary though not without risk. Another tactic is “going over the supervisor’s head.” If the tactic is used on a straightforward democratic supervisor, it is usually unethical; therefore it is considered situational office politics.  Another situational ethical tactic is “withholding information.” White collar workers are knowledge workers and information is their stock-in-trade. There are times, however, when it is ethical to withhold information, such as when a supervisor will take all of the credit for the information supplied and not give the employee proper credit.

CLEAN OFFICE POLITICS

Supervisors

No matter how high a level manager or supervisor you are, there is always someone you must answer to. Therefore, in your role as a subordinate, the keystone of office politics is your relationship with your boss. If you keep your relationship sincere and unmanipulative, you are using clean office politics. Your aim is to help make your boss look good.   There are many clean tactics which you can use to improve your relations with your boss. The simplest is showing your boss loyalty.  Loyalty is reporting only to the boss and not going behind his/her back to others; following and respecting the boss’ direction without grumbling or second guessing; disagreeing with the boss only in private; making efforts to instill the boss’ ideas, plans and actions in other employees; not disclosing secrets about the boss; and standing up for the boss when s/he is the subject of criticism.

While teaching an adult education course in “clean” office politics and power in Washington, DC over a six-year period, I’ve found that loyalty to the supervisor is the most difficult for people to understand, let alone accept and use. Students frequently volunteered opinions, such as “my boss is a fool, I know much more than s/he,” and “I don’t know how that idiot ever got his/her job.” Perhaps much of what I hear about supervisors and managers is true; maybe many of them are incompetent in managing work and people. Whether it is true or not is irrelevant here. The boss has legitimate power; s/he writes  your performance appraisals, has the responsibility for your work, and can either praise or discredit you to his or her superiors. If you and your boss don’t like, or at least respect each other, and there’s nothing on the horizon which may change the situation, you should consider changing jobs. Incidentally, showing loyalty to the organization you work for also makes good political sense, although personal and organizational loyalty may not be compatible at times.

Peers

The respect and cooperation of your peers is another essential component of clean office politics and obtaining power ethically.  A few tactics should help you achieve this sometimes very elusive goal: help peers when they need it; be trustworthy and friendly; back them up; don’t complain about all the work you have to do; and avoid pretentions. Incidentally, most dirty office politics occurs among peers, so the above is especially important if you want to minimize the risk of fostering their envy, and the malice, slander and sabotage that it can foster. Envious people try to downgrade the person and/or the person’s accomplishments of which they are jealous.

Subordinates

Finally, relations with subordinates have a role in office politics. Giving recognition for the good work of a subordinate is an outlet for genuine appreciation. Treating subordinates with respect because they are people first and employees second is both humanistic and, coincidentally, part of being a good manager. Finally, a supervisor should not take advantage of subordinates with his/her power.

The aforementioned clean tactics are referred to as political or interactional skills and are most important in judiciously using office politics and power ethically. Other clean tactics fall under the aegis of “visiposure.” This is a combination of visibility (seeing those above you) and exposure (being seen by those above you).       The following are some examples of ethical tactics you and/or your staff could engage in:

  • Staff promoting themselves by talking with you about their progress and keeping you informed of what they’re doing.
  • Staff originating and initiating new ideas, putting them in writing and giving them to you.
  • Staff getting to know the people in the organization by attending office parties, using the cafeteria at work and remembering names.
  • Staff developing a professional attitude by avoiding excessive emotionalism, dressing for success, not engaging in negative gossip about people and not being a clock watcher.
  • Staff speaking up at meetings because that is where they are sometimes seen by people who do not usually see them.
  • Staff asking questions because this is necessary to obtain the information they need to continually improve their job performance, as well as showing their concern for the job.
  • Staff doing things outside the confines of the job. This allows them to meet people throughout the organization.
  • Staff talking about their progress so you know that they have definite goals and want to get ahead.
  • Staff developing a support system through involvement in professional organizations. This provides them with a support system separate from the job and can be important if they run into serious political difficulty on the job.
  • Staff developing a specialty so they can stand out from the crowd and get the recognition they need to advance their careers.

DIRTY OFFICE POLITICS

Up to this point we have dealt only with clean office politics. Let’s look at the dirty side so that you can more effectively protect yourself and your staff from it.

Paranoia vs. Naivete

To consider dirty office politics rationally, one must endeavor to be completely objective about oneself.  Some people are absolutely convinced that someone is out to get them. Because people, on occasion, are really out to discredit someone else for various reasons, one needs to make a clear distinction between objective reality and paranoid thinking.  Paranoid thinking exists when the amount of fear, anxiety and concern is not justified by real danger. To illustrate, it might be considered paranoid to be excessively fearful of crime in a predominantly crime-free community, whereas, to be concerned about being mugged while walking along some sections of the formerly infamous Fourteenth Street corridor in Washington, D.C., at one o’clock in the morning is prudent, not paranoid, and should result in appropriate action. To combat paranoid thinking, if you believe someone is out to get you, ask yourself “how do I know this to be true-;” “what am I observing that leads me to that opinion;” and “is this sufficient to warrant my belief that someone is out to get me?” It often takes considerable thought to sort out all the relevant information and form a rational opinion as to whether or not you’re someone’s target.

On the other hand, though not bad in terms of mental health, naivete in office politics can be hazardous to your career. If you think that everyone’s out to help you, give yourself a naive-zero on the accuracy of perceptions scale below. Likewise, if you see a coworker’s power and influence rising as yours is descending and you do not get at least a little suspicious, score yourself once again near the naive-zero on the scale.  Another indicator that you may be an actual or potential victim of dirty office politics is when former enemies in the office suddenly become friends; they may have found a common enemy — you.  The graph below illustrates the distinction between being paranoid and being naive. It is intentionally simplistic to illustrate the point.

Accuracy of Perceptions Scale

0____________100____________0

N                                   R                                  P

A                                   E                                  A

I                                    A                                  R

V                                   L                                   A

E                                   I                                   N

T                                   T                                  O

E                                   Y                                  I

 

 

Slander differs from gossip in that gossip is not as malicious, persistent and purposeful as is slander. One defense against slander and backstabbing is not to allow the slander to damage your self-image. Another defense is to launch a small counterattack. by innocently asking associates on occasion why the slanderer is so unhappy. By knowing that someone is slandering you, you can more effectively combat it. The following are options you have to-combat slander: confrontation; exposure; retaliation; rewarding the guilty party to make him or her feel guilty, suspicious or confused; and eliminating the cause. Often people readily accept stories on the grapevine without verification. Most of the time these stories contain partial truths, misunderstandings, distortions or outright misstatement of fact. Clever slanderers, however, base their dirty work on real incidents; they simply define or explain the incidents in an intentionally distorted manner so as to make someone look stupid or incompetent. They also get to the manager first with their distorted version of an incident so as to “poison the wells” for any other versions that may follow. Since supervisors and managers must rely, in large part, on information from subordinates, they therefore have to be especially wary of the derogatory comments they hear about employees. Since the “reputation” method is commonly used by managers to informally assess staff, even if a diligent manager follows up on rumors and makes first-hand observations of an employee, selective perception may bias the observation, since s/he is starting out with preconceived ideas that were furnished when one subordinate gave the “lowdown” on another. To counter the tendency towards selective perception, a manager must suspend judgement until s/he has sufficient data to form a defensible opinion. Personally, I prefer confronting an employee and thereby allowing him or her opportunity to explain.

A devious tactic, less onerous than backstabbing and stealing credit, is using flattery (not genuine praise) to manipulate people into doing what you want them to do. Constantly raising questions concerning a peer’s judgement and providing misinformation (with some truth thrown in for plausibility) is another tactic practiced by clever unethical office politicians.

SITUATIONAL OFFICE POLITICS

Of the three types of office politics, “situational” is the most difficult to use wisely. This is because most people have an image of themselves as being good, honest, righteous, ad infinitum, and they therefore rationalize many of their actions as being warranted by the situation or someone else’s actions. Many atrocities have been explained and “justified” by situations. The most recent examples are acts of terrorisrn which killed or injured innocent people.

In addition to the fait accompli mentioned earlier in this article, “avoiding losers” is a situational tactic. If you lunch and socialize with other managers, supervisors or staff with bad reputations, it is likely that your reputation may be tarnished. If the person with a bad reputation is a friend, avoiding that individual solely because of his or her reputation is a situational tactic that only you can judge as ethical or not. Another situational tactic is the “red herring” which is useful for managers because of the desirability of handling tricky personnel problems without needlessly humiliating people. For example, a manager may not want to tell, for some legitimate reason, an employee the full story of why s/he is -being fired, but use a “red herring,” or explanation that diverts attention from the blunt truth.

Discouraging Unethical Office Politics

At this point you may asking yourself if there’s anything that can be done to dissuade employees from engaging in dirty office politics. It should be clear to managers that staff  are going to get involved to some extent in office politics and will not make the ethical distinctions enumerated here. There are, however, a few tactics that managers can use to improve the chances for ethical behavior and a more decent office environment to thrive:

  • Keep your staff busy. Employees engaged in meaningful work and achieving worthwhile goals don’t have as much time and energy for office politics, clean or dirty.
  • Keep your staff well informed. Communication is an important part of the manager’s job and lack of it will foster conjecture, which is usually much worse than reality.
  • Give your employees, to the extent practicable, separate responsibilities, to minimize jealousy and cut-throat competition. Sometimes overlapping responsibilities are necessary, and even desirable, but if an organization can be structured without it, there will be more peace and harmony.
  • Be non-judgemental in dealing with your staff. If you want them to listen to you, and take your advice when you really need them to, they must trust you. That means not only respecting their confidences, but also empathetically listening to their complaints and problems.
  • Trust your staff. Expect them to do the right thing and help them to do it. This should help curtail devious behavior. The German philosopher Goethe said “Treat people as if they are what they ought to be, and you will help them to become what they are capable of being.”
  • When interviewing job applicants for a vacancy in your office, look for compatibility with your other staff. An applicant’s resume should tell you most of what you need to know about his or her knowledges, skills and abilities to do the job. The interview should help you tell how friendly, cooperative, and loyal the applicant is.
  • Build team spirit to encourage mutual support and understanding. Meetings can be a useful tool in accomplishing this, but the attitude of the manager is essential.
  • Give your employees an opportunity to read about office politics. Often, people engage in unethical behavior because they cannot distinguish between what’s ethical and what’s not. This article has been written to remove that ambiguity.

POWER

Power and office politics go hand-in-hand. The more power one has, the more effective his or her office politics can be. Power is defined here as the ability to marshal the resources to get the job done. There are basically six sources of power: legitimate, reward, coercive, referent, expertise and charismatic. Legitimate power is the official power you have as a manager in an organization; you have reward power if you can promote; you have coercive power if you can fire. Associate with or have a good rapport with one or more of the leaders with power in your organization and you have referent power. If you’re an expert at your job, you have expertise power. President Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King are good examples of people who had charismatic power.

A manager automatically has legitimate, reward and coercive power. If you’re a good manager, you probably have some charismatic power. How does one obtain more power? You can develop referent power by becoming friendly with other managers. Many people who have very little legitimate power have enormous referent power. Secretaries are good examples of this phenomenon. Become excellent at your job and you’ll gain expertise power. Develop your verbal and non-verbal skills, dress for success, and develop desirable leadership skills through education, training, reading and experience, and you’ll be on your way to developing charismatic power.

CONCLUSION

Office politics is a fact of organizational life. This article has discussed clean, dirty and situationally ethical forms of it. The most useful political tactic, however, is one called “honest and straightforward.” It is not only the easiest to use, it does not cause ‘the anxiety that many of the other tactics do. Work would be far more pleasant if all interactions were of this type, however an awareness of the other types is essential.

If you are like most managers, supervisors and employees, you not only deplore office politics, you are absolutely convinced that you do not engage in any form of it, be it conscious, unconscious, clean, dirty or situationally-ethical. I hope that this article has accomplished three purposes: made you more aware of office politics and therefore better able to handle it; demonstrated that some forms of office politics can be ethical; and adequately described dirty office politics so that there is more certainty as to what is ethical and what is not. An awareness of all types of office politics can be useful to you in maintaining a pleasant office environment and in succeeding in an ever-more competitive world.

Mike Russo

WHITE PRIVILEGE

The concept of “white privilege” is an issue currently in vogue.  It forwards the theory that most whites have an advantage over most blacks and other people of color, simply because of the color of their skin.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that the “white privilege” theory reflects reality.  What can and does society and individuals do about it, if anything?  First, I believe, it’s necessary to acknowledge that it’s unfair.  Next, it’s important to determine if there’s anything that can be done to correct the situation.  Here’s my analysis of the white priviledge issue:

Life is not fair: some people are tall (an advantage), some people are fat (a disadvantage).  some ugly (a disadvantage), some good-looking (an advantage), etc., etc.  Since skin color cannot be easily changed,  minorities need to overcome this inherent disadvantage and everyone needs to be aware of any bias they might have against others.   I know from personal experience that my physical handicaps kept me from achieving my potential and that my great parents and Ivy League education helped prepare me to somewhat overcome my half-paralyzed face, closed left eye and very poor equilibrium that my first brain tumor left me with.  In addition, I learned that I had to try exceptionally hard in order to overcome the stereotype that my particular physical handicaps portrayed of me.

On the other hand, though much less common, black priviledge is sometimes an advantage.  Huh?  President Obama was elected President after serving only two years as a U.S. senator.  This was previously unheard of!  Why?  White guilt!  In addition,  Affirmative Action helps anyone of color, even members of wealthy African-American families. Is that fair to the very poor of any race or nationality?  Therefore, shouldn’t Affirmative Action help the poor of any race?

I believe that government can only do so much to correct the unfairness of life and that in attempting to do so, it often makes things worse for the people it is trying to help, through unintended consequences.  Good intentions count for nothing.  Only results matter!

Just one example will prove my point: prior to the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act  (ADA), about 53% of the disabled were employed.  Today, about 31% are employed.  Why?  Due to the ADA, it’s nearly impossible to fire someone who is disabled, so employers try not to hire them to avoid not being able to fire them if they don’t work out.

The only solace to the unfairness of white privilege, as well as other unfair things that life throws in our paths, is that success is that much sweeter when we overcome and prevail.

BENEFITS OF VITAMIN D, RESVERATROL, POMEGRANATE JUICE, DARK CHOCOLATE, GREEN AND BLACK TEA AND TESTOSTERONE (audio interview)

I decided to interview Dr. Smith (25-minute audio at the bottom of this introduction) because, although there is some information around about these foods and supplements, you don’t hear much from the medical profession…and the research I’ve seen suggests significant and substantial improvements to health and a reduction in medical disorders from them. Therefore, I wanted hear from a medical researcher and MD what the real benefits are.

The interview revolves around the latest research findings on vitamin D, resveratrol, pomegranate juice, dark chocolate, green and black teas, and testosterone.  Dr. Michael Smith is a medical doctor with specialties in radiology and internal medicine, and currently serves as the clinical information specialist with “The Life Extension Foundation”, (LEF.org), a non-profit organization devoted to researching and disseminating information on preventing disease and medical disorders. Dr. Smith has been with The Life Extension Foundation for nine years. He received his MD degree from the Southwest Medical Center at the University of Texas in Dallas.  In the interview, Dr. Smith makes it very clear that the only way to accurately determine: 1. The appropriate amount of vitamin D to take for optimum health (5-8,000 International Units), 2. What percentage of cocoa solids your dark chocolate should have for optimum benefits (70%), 3. How much green tea you need to drink each day (unless you take a green tea supplement…18 cups), black tea…the new green tea, 4. The benefits to the heart and prostate from pomegranate juice,  5. The benefits of proper levels of testosterone and how to obtain a physician who will prescribe testosterone for you (LEF Health Advisers will help you find a doctor in your area). To listen to this interview, please click on the following red link. Michael-Smith-LifeExt-Reversatol-DarkChoc-Tea-Testosterone Interview by Mike Russo.

HOW TO PAY OFF THE NATIONAL DEBT

The United States currently owes over $18 trillion, $9 trillion of which President Obama spent in the few years since he’s been President. That debt is an albatross around the neck of the Country and there is little likelihood that it will be even partially paid off anytime soon…or is there?

The richest country the world has ever seen, sitting on top of  huge untapped oceans of oil, natural gas and coal and we’re the beggars of the world owing trillions of dollars to China, Japan, many other countries, including our own Federal Reserve, which creates money out of thin air.  This picture doesn’t make sense but what can be done?

There are many proposals floating around to help address this problem, from a fair tax to a flat tax and the “Penny Plan”.  Ohio Governor John Kasich paid off billions of Ohio’s debt by cutting ineffective programs.  Wisconsin’s Governor, Scott Walker, cut programs and also stopped the Union practice of letting outragiously expensive Union contracts.  Former Florida Governor created many jobs and took Florida from billions in debt to billions in surplus.

Various plans have been tried, some with dire consequences, like the “Sequester” that President Obama suggested and Republican leadership agreed to.  The Sequester has been devastating to the military because it cut budgets across-the-board, both good programs and bad.  There are many Federal programs that are ineffective do nothing, have been around for a long time, and need to be terminated.  Some programs simply need to be revised in order to make them effective and efficient.  But any revising or terminating requires a strong leader.  That’s why the 2016 Presidential election is so important.

No Democratic Presidential nominee would cut government programs; but any one of the Republican candidates can and would do so

CAN REPUBLICANS TALK?

Conservative policies work well:  under Ronald Reagan, the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United States almost doubled in the ten years following the day his tax rate reductions went into effect; and Reagan’s build-up of the military and his “star wars” project led to the break-up of the Soviet Union.

The aforementioned are just two examples of many conservative policies that have turned around the U.S..  If you include the States, conservative policies have turned around the economies of every State where they were tried.  One need simply look at States with Democratic governors and compare them to States with Republican governors to see the drastic differences between the two.

Why, then, do Democrats win any elections?  It’s because Republicans can’t talk very well (except for some moments during the Republican Primary debates) and often are not politically astute.  How do I know? Twenty-three years in Toastmasters, International, giving 275 prepared speeches, giving 500+ extemporaneous speeches, 500+ speech evaluations, etc.  Morever, in my various positions with the Federal Government I’ve given scores of presentations.  In addition, as a teenager and young adult in the Boy Scouts and as a counselor and Unit Leader at summer camps, I’ve given hundreds of presentations.  I’m also a political junkie who loves and follows politics.  That makes me qualified.  Now let’s look at a few examples of what I mean by poor political Republican speech:

1)The Republican Party has “tax cuts” as one of the policies its candidates run on.  The Democratic Party turns this into a slogan that Republicans want “tax cuts for the rich.”  What should the Republican Party do?  My first suggestion is to modify the slogan to accurately state “tax cuts for everyone who pays taxes.”  And since 1/2 the country doesn’t understand why the government would cut taxes when you need more money, I suggest the slogan be “cuts of tax RATES for everyone so that commerce and its revenues to the government increase and grow.”

2)Most Americans don’t know the difference between budget deficits and the National debt.  So when President Obama talks about reducing the deficit (by raising it to over a $ trillion and then cutting it in half), Republicans need to be articulate by referring to annual budget deficits which are then added each year to the total national debt.

Looking to real examples…the recent Republican Primary debates in Cleveland hosted by Fox News, with help from Facebook, provide great examples of the adroit and articulate use of language in order to be clear in what you mean: Carly Fiorina in every comment she made, Marco Rubio in everything he said, John Kasich on explaining his views on gay Americans, Mike Huckabee in explaining why Social Security benefits should not be cut, Chris Christie shouting down Rand Paul on NSA surveilance, Donald Trump saying that you need a man like me to eliminate the $19 trillion National debt.

Republicans need to be articulate if they really want to win the 2016 Presidential election.

WAR ON WOMEN

Beginning with Betty Friedan’s, The Feminine Mystique, I’ve been following the feminist movement and now follow women’s issues.

Most recently I read Katie Pavlich’s book, Assault and Flattery, and now have a better understanding of how the Left has kept women down behind the scenes, while claiming that it is the champion of women.

Beginning as far back as 1920, Democratic President Woodrow Wilson and the Democratic Party opposed women getting the right to vote.  Today the Democratic Party constantly fights against Second Amendment rights which women (and men) need to defend themselves. President Bill Clinton was an accused rapist (by Juanita Broderick) and the accuser was very credible.  Of course this was just one of many allegations made by women against him.  Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy was a big philanderer and was responsible for the death of Mary Jo Kopechne at Chappaquiddick.  Then there’s Democratic President Kennedy who had numerous affairs while President.

You might reply, “you’re referring to their personal lives, not their policies.”  Okay, let’s look at Democratic Party policies.  For women receiving welfare, there’s a provision requiring that a man can’t reside in the house of the (female) welfare recipient, otherwise the woman would be removed from the welfare rolls.  This provision has led to 77% of African-American households with children and about 30% of white households being led by only one parent.  This is very important because most of societal  pathologies stem from boys being raised without fathers.

You hear Hillary Clinton often discussing women’s issues so doesn’t this show how much she cares?  Frequently, you hear her say that women’make 77 cents for every dollar men make.  I first heard this statistic way back in the seventies so naturally I questioned whether it could still be that amount 50 years later.  I read years ago that it was the disruption in service that most women encounter because of child-rearing.  In addition, I heard that the gap has significantly narrowed and that black women actually made more than white women with the same education and experience.

Finally, the abortion issue.  Most Republicans are only against abortions during the third trimester of pregnancy since the fetus is actually an unborn baby by then.  They also are against partial-birth abortion because it is a gruesome procedure.  Check out how Planned Parenthood traffics in baby parts while receiving $500 million/year from the Federal government.

 

 

IRAN: good deal or bad deal?

The U.S. has negotiated a deal with Iran in an attempt to slow it down in developing a nuclear bomb.  The proposed deal, among other things,  reduces the number of Iran’s centrifuges to over 6,000, curtails its “breakout time” to less than one year, and basically expires in 10 years.  In addition, it returns to Iran about $140 billion in assets that are currently frozen by the United States.  Moreover, inspections of nuclear sites in Iran would require prior authorization from Iran and could be delayed as long as 24 days (which, of course, would enable Iran time to move any facilities it did not want United Nation inspectors to see (U.S. inspectors…which are the best in the world…would be banned from inspecting Iranian facilities).  Moreover, in 5 years the U.N. embargo on the purchase and sale of conventional  weapons is lifted and in 8 years the U.N. embargo on ballistic missiles is lifted.  Is this a good deal for the U.S., Israel, and the world?  In addition, under the deal, the United States is obligated to protect Iran’s nuclear facilities from sabatage.

Question: Many countries  have nuclear weapons so why is the world against Iran getting the bomb?  Is everyone simply discriminating against this Muslim country?  The US has the bomb, as does Israel, Russia, China, France, England, India, Pakistan, etc.

Short answer: Iran has threatened to “wipe Israel off the face of the map.”  It has also made implied threats to the United States.  Moreover, the Iranian Mullahs have said that they are awaiting the return of the Twelth Iman, whom they believe will return when the world is in conflagration (from nuclear bombs).  In other words, they are looking forward to blowing up Israel, destroying the United States’ power grid, and hurting the rest of the world, while it is looking forward to Iran itself being blown up so that the Twelth Iman will come.

Since Israel is such a small country, it would only take a few nuclear bombs for Iran to make good its promise to “wipe Israel off the face of the map.”  And just a few nuclear bombs over the US would create enough Electro-Magnetic Pulse (EMP) to destroy all electrical devices in America and send us back to the Stone Age, resulting in a die-off of 9/10′s of the U.S. population within one year.

Time to get out the Bunker-Busting bombs?  The US now has nuclear-tipped Bunker-Busters which would be needed to destroy Iran’s deep-underground nuclear facilities.  The President, however, would never authorize their use and Israel does not have them.  Entire underground nuclear facilities would not have to be destroyed; just the entrances and exits to those facilities. and this could be done with conventional Bunker-Busters… Israel is militarily capable of doing that.  The President and Iraq would most likely not allow Israel to fly its jets, carrying the Bunker-Busters, over Iraqi air space in order to reach Iran (but it looks like other Arab countries would allow Israeli jets to fly over).

The world probably has less than a year before Iran gets the bomb.  Congressional-forced sanctions, but Obama-weakened sanctions aren’t strong enough to persuade Iran to stop developing nuclear weapons.  What might work is to stop all shipments of refined gasoline to Iran since Iran cannot refine most of the gasolene it uses domestically.

When the Iranian people stood up to its government in 2009 and were slaughtered in the streets, the US did nothing to support them.  Worse, the Iranian people even appealed to President Obama.  It would have been far easier to simply help the Iranians do its own regime-change back in 2009.  Now we’re talking about the necessity of a country possibly bombing Iran’s underground nuclear facilities to destroy its nuclear capability, a much more serious option.                                                    

The deal between the U.S. and Iran simply guarantees that, at the latest, Iran would have the bomb in 10 years (if Iran does,nt cheat…which it has done on every agreement).  When this happens Israel would probably be immediately destroyed.  Iran is developing Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) and will be able to reach the U.S. with them. ICBMs are not even part of the deal being negotiated with Iran.  Iran is by far the largest sponsor on terrorism around the world.  It’s naive to believe it would keep its word even for a deal in its favor.  I think it’s in the best interests of the U.S., Israel, and the world for the U.S. to walk away from this bad deal.  Many middle-eastern countries will buy/develop nuclear weapons if President Obama makes a deal with Iran; in other words an “arms race” in the most dangerous part of the world.

Without this deal, if Iran gets close to getting the bomb (as it already has), the U.S. should increase the sanctions against it and if this does not work, it and Israel should destroy their underground facilities (but not go to war!).  Israel has done this to nuclear reactors in Syria and in Iraq.

MADAME CHAIRWOMAN

This story is about the most charismatic person I have ever met, seen or heard.  She was the chairwoman of the Crow nation from 1990 to 2000, Clara Nomee.  I first met and heard Chairwoman Nomee speak while attending an all-day meeting in Crow Agency, Montana in 1991 and was so impressed with her awe-inspiring way of speaking from the heart that I’ve never forgotten my encounter.

It’s often said that “adversity builds character.”  Perhaps that accounts for Chairwoman Nomee’s charisma.  Up until 1976 Mrs, Nomee had a problem with alcohol.  During that winter both of her parents died within 3 months of each other.  Consequently, her drinking increased to the point where she reached a crossroad.  She asked the Lord to “take my life or change it.”  For the following 17 years she hasn’t had a drink.

In 1985 she married Carlton Nomee, who a year later became vice-secretary of the Crow Nation.  In 1988, Mrs. Nomee ran for the Office of Tribal Chairperson with only a few supporters.  While she did not win that position, she was elected Secretary of the Tribe.  As she became more insistent and questioned how the Tribal government operated, she was phased out of her job.  Because she had little money, her furniture and car were repossessed and her electricity was turned off.  Because she had been unjustly branded a trouble-maker, when she attended church, people walked out; and when she drove down the street, children threw rocks at her car.  Her dog was shot, the windows of her home broken, and her life threatened.  But Mrs. Nomee prayed every morning for the strength to perservere as she looked out over the Big Horn Mountains from her home. After praying, she cared for her brother, Rayphael, who had been paralyzed from the neck down from an accident 28 years earlier.  In addition to praying every morning, she attended every political gathering and eventually became the spokesperson for many.  Finally, in May of 1990, with the blessing of many tribal elders, she was elected tribal chairperson of the Crow Nation after a bitter battle between contenders.

Although it was not the first elected office Mrs. Nomee had held, it was the first time that the position of Crow Chief or Tribal Chairperson had been held by a woman.  Mrs. Nomee wanted to follow in her father’s footsteps, Chief “Henry Pretty-on-Top;” as well as other famous Crow chiefs, such as Chief “Sits-in-the-Middle-of-the-Land,” Chief Plenticoup and Chief Robert Yellowtail (see the photo).  As chairwoman, Mrs. Nomee became a role model for Indian woman and was an excellent example of how someone turned her life around.

The challenges she faced daily in attempting to obtain jobs and much-needed public facilities for her people mandated that she have all of her wits about her all of the time.  As Tribal Chairperson, she was in a position to do more good than at any other time in her 55 years.

She was instrumental in having a hospital built on the reservation and having the Crow Tribe once again authorized to negotiate its own contracts.  She planned to have the old, small  hospital renovated into a nursing home and worked hard to develop jobs for the large number of unemployed on the reservation using the Jobs Training Partnership Act.

Just as life was hard for Mrs. Nomee, it had been hard on the Crow and other Native Americans as well.  The Crow Reservation had covered 40 million acres.  Now it’s down to a mere three million.  The Crow served as scouts for the U.S. government over 150 years ago but have not had there loyalty rewarded.  Native Americans in the East taught American settlers how to grow corn, tobacco and cotton.  Native Americans on the Plains saw their food supply disappear in the mid-1800′s: tens of millions of buffalo were slaughtered by the white man for their tongues and hides.  Many millions were killed for “sport” from trains that traveled through the West.  As their hunting grounds became settled and taken from them, the way of life of Native Americans was destroyed by forcing them to become dependent on the U.S. government which shattered their self-esteem.

As I mentioned at the beginning of my story, I was very impressed when I heard the Chairwoman speak.  In addition to hearing Mrs. Nomee that day, I heard other Crow officials speak at that meeting in Crow Agency in 1991.  Listening to them was a moving experience for me.  I had never heard a people so open, honest and considerate of others.  Though they had good cause for being very angry at some in my agency, they not once raised their voices.  Although my testimony as a technical expert, who had prepared extensively and was ready to make fools of the managers in one of our regional offices and thereby handily win the day for the Crow, the Crow chose not to call on me because it would have certainly meant, at the very least, my getting into big trouble with my agency.  Later, when we broke for lunch, the Crow honored me by insisting that I sit at the head of their table.

Although the Crow have many problems, as do many Native-American nations, Mrs. Nomee made a difference.  Unemployment on the reservation ranges from 60-80%.  According to a local authority, 85% of Crow deaths are related to alcohol abuse.

My experience with the Crow has renewed my faith in humanity.  As I flew back to Denver from Billings, I thought of all I had seen and heard.  I concluded that the openness and honesty that I witnessed was how God meant people to be and I was fortunate indeed to have seen and heard the Chairwoman, a person of integrity, conviction and love of her people.

DESTROYING THE U.S. ECONOMY

When the U.S. dollar no longer is  the world’s reserve currency because of irresponsible and frivolous overspending, President Obama will blame the wealthy and Republicans instead of himself.  When this happens, and it will happen, there will be dire consequences to the U.S. economy and the standard of living of most Americans.

President Obama is able to overspend because the Federal Reserve is currently  loaning billions of dollars each month to the Federal government. In other words, the right hand is loaning money to the left hand. Where does the right hand (the Federal Reserve) get the money? It simply prints it because it has the legal authority to do so.  It’s backed by nothing…not gold, not borrowed money from China.  The logical conclusion of this practice is severe devaluing of the currency, which will wipe out savings that are in dollars.  Think how this will destroy lives. Does Obama care?  He’s doesn’t like the wealthy and this will make them poor overnight (along with many others), and therefore unable to continue to pay 70% of all Federal income taxes, which is what the wealthy currently pay.  But the President speaks so well and is funny and smart, right?  How can this be?

President Obama is a far-left Chicago politician who speaks well and moderately, but the unintended consequences of his policies are destroying America.  American  healthcare  is being destroyed as Obamacare is implemented. Moreover, it will help bankrupt the U.S. even faster. But doesn’t the President mean well and isn’t he trying his best?  I don’t know, but his real intentions are irrelevant.  He doesn’t know how to fix the economy and his policies are destroying it.

After Ronald Reagan’s Presidency I thought the issue of how to turn around an economy had been resolved.  By cutting selected taxes and burdensome and unnecessary regulations, the private sector was let loose to make tons of money and put people back to work, and consequently also increased revenues to the government (which were used to help the poor and strengthen the military).   But without overspending how could crooked politicians make money on the side?  Money needs to change hands, contracts need to be awarded, in order to swindle the big bucks…and that money helps buy elections.  The stimulus packages mostly served this purpose and President Obama’s “Quantitative Easing” from the Federal Reserve gave us funny money.

The United States is in for some bad times and the reason is President Obama’s misguided policies.

OBAMACARE UPHELD: Good or Bad?

The Supreme Court upheld subsidies to Obamacare recipients that did not use  State enrollment systems, though the Affordable Care Act clearly specified that only State-system enrollees would receive subsidies.  Jonathan Gruber and the other designers of Obamacare did this to encourage States to set up State systems.

Without subsidies Obamacare is unaffordable for most people.  Because it is so bad, many were looking for the Court to help kill it so that it could then be revised or even repealed and replaced with something much better for everyone.

I’ve been a supporter of universal healthcare since the year 2000 and, although I did not vote for President Obama, I was hopeful that he would make good-healthcare-for-all a reality.  It did not cross my mind that Obama  would promulgate legislation that would destroy healthcare for more Americans than it might help.  It also did not occur to me that healthcare premiums would double, triple, or even quadruple…and that deductibles would be in the thousands of dollars and co-pays double…and that all of these consequences combined would have the cumulative effect of destroying healthcare for tens of millions Americans.

Let’s give the creators of Obamacare the benefit of the doubt and assume that their hearts were in the right place, and that the passage of the ACA was not simply an attempt of government takeover of 1/6 of the U.S. economy.  The Affordable Care Act  has demonstrated that it is not affordable and is  pitiful health insurance…it was poorly and incompetently designed and executed.  It reminds me of  the homily that “an elephant is a mouse that was designed by committee,” but in the case of the ACA, designed by one political party in Congress.  Okay, so it’s time scrap it and start over.  No problem!  Right?  Wrong!

But wasn’t Obamacare  designed to be like Romneycare, which was passed by Mitt Romney when he was governor of Massachusettes?  That’s what the politicians say to justify Obamacare, but that’s “Bull”.  Romneycare only affected 7% of the Massachsettes population or about 6.5 million people.  Obamacare covers everyone except those exempted by the President, or about 300 million Americans.  Romneycare does not have penalties or mandates, Obamacare does. The very few good aspects of Obamacare, pre-existing conditions and coverage on parents insurance until age 26, can be simply added to other health insurance Federal legislation.

Although Obamacare  is clearly very bad and expensive health insurance, except for those receiving significant subsidies or exemptions,  the U.S. may end up being stuck with it. The reason is totally political.  One sixth of the economy is healthcare, soon to be controlled by politicians.  The ACA or “Obamacare” is a politician’s dream come true but the average American’s nightmare.  With thousands of dollars required for deductibles before reimbursement by insurance companies kicks in, Obamacare for most ends up being basically  catastropic care, which is important and necessary, but not something one should pay a lot of money for.  

The final opportunity for Obamacare to be either repealed and replaced or revised will come with the 2016 Presidential election.  Only if Republicans control the Presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives will Obamacare be revised or replaced with healthcare that is affordable and truly cares about people.

 

CREATE JOBS, FIX THE ECONOMY

After most recessions, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth comes back with  a strong minimum 5% increase/year.   But not this time…annual growth is still averaging around 2% and the Civilian Labor Force Participation Rate is 62.8%, the lowest it has been since 1978.   Moreover, the official unemployment rate is 6.3%, but would be about 12% if it were measured the way it was back in the year 2000, and over 20% if it were measured the way it was during the Great Depression in the 30′s.

So what’s wrong this time?  Why not the usual strong growth?  Business has a few trillion dollars that it’s holding onto, so why isn’t it spending its money to expand its operations and create millions of jobs?  There’s a lot of  reasons why business is being cautious in expansion…and we need to understand what the problem is in order to turn around the economy and foster substantial job growth.  Of course, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is filled with disincentives to job growth, especially full-time jobs so it’s largely responsible. The large number of new regulations and tax increases also adds additional burdens on job creators and that’s the other major cause.

But who am I to be pontificating on jobs and the economy?  Well, I do have a masters degree in Government Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.  And my degree is from the Wharton School in the U. of P., which is known for its econometric models of the economy.  To be clear, however, my education was in government, not economics, though I did need to have economics and accounting courses as well as a statistics course in order to graduate from Wharton with my MGA long ago.  I also worked for the Federal government for over40 years in various capacities, and have also worked for the state of Pennsylvania and the city of Philadelphia.

FORMER  SUCCESSFUL QUICK RECOVERIES

Let’s put aside education and experience qualifications because, from my observations, ideology trumps education.  I’ve seen PhD’s advocate  really stupid positions even in light of contradictory evidence.  So I tend to look at the real world, what actually happens when a particular economic policy is followed and practiced.

I’ll start with the policies used by President John F. Kennedy in the early 1960s.  When confronted with a recession, he cut tax rates which led to increased economic growth and recovery.  In addition, when President Ronald Reagan inherited the worst recession since the Great Depression from President Jimmy Carter in 1980 (unemployment over 10%, inflation 13.5%, mortgage interest rates up to 20%), President Reagan cut tax rates to the extent that GDP almost doubled in ten years and tax revenues to the Federal government greatly increased in the 10 years following the tax rate cuts.  President George W. Bush had a similar experience with tax rate cuts, revenues to the Federal government significantly increased.

PAST FAILURES

Let’s look at what actually happened when the opposite approach was used:  it is estimated that President Franklin D. Roosevelt doubled the duration of the Great Depression in the 1930′s by using the John Keynes economic model of increasing government (deficit) spending and the US still did not even get out of the Great Depression until World War II.   Moreover, when Japan’s economy went bust in the 90′s, it spent trillions over a 20-year period trying to stimulate its economy.  The huge deficit spending did nothing except give Japan a large debt.

WHAT PRESIDENT OBAMA TRIED

Which brings us up to today when President Barrack Obama spent almost a trillion dollars in his “stimulus” package in a effort to turn around the economy…and also devalued the dollar by having The Federal Reserve Bank print trillions of dollars with no backing through it’s so-called Quantitative Easing 1, 2, and 3.  He also tried other short-term Federal spending programs such as his “cash for clunkers” and engaged in huge annual deficit spending, the extent of which has never been seen before.  His economic policies, based on the discredited theories of economist, John Maynard Keynes,  have actually have made the economy worse by piling up huge government debt (over $17 trillion in total national debt which is greater than the annual GDP of the US), with very little to show for it,  and whose interest payments will be unsustainable when interest rates increase.

Let’s look at other factors significantly adversely affecting the economy, such as oppressive government regulations.  One of the reasons for President Bill Clinton’s economic success in the 1990s was his significantly cutting back many Federal Regulations (as well as the reduction in government employment through attrition) as part of his “National Performance Review” initiative.  President Obama’s policy, on the other hand,  on drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico, has resulted in 240,000 barrels/day less oil from the Gulf  which would have led to large increases in  gasoline prices were it not for horizontal drilling and fracking on private and State lands.  Another example is the Dodd-Frank bill, the purpose of which was to prevent future financial meltdowns…but it did not even deal with the cause of the meltdown, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac who threatened  and coerced banks into making housing loans to people who could not afford to repay them.  It also had adverse impacts on small banks and dried up loan money for small businesses that would have otherwise been available to them to expand.

Then there’s Obamacare that is being implemented which has been estimated to actually cost the government up to 3 trillion dollars in the first 10 years as well as lead to rationed and inferior health care.   Then, of course, there’s the new EPA regulations on carbon dioxide, which as we all know,  is an inert gas the chief purpose of which is to serve as food for plant life which turns the carbon dioxide into oxygen.  Moreover, let’s not forget how hundreds of thousands of farm hands were suddenly unemployed when the US Department of the Interior shut off the water to California’s Central Valley in an effort to protect the Delta Smelt (a small fish) that was on the Endangered Species list.  All of these things have hurt jobs.  Finally, extending unemployment benefits to 99 weeks actually increased unemployment because studies show that, on average, unemployment benefit recipients don’t even begin looking for work until 4 weeks prior to the end of their benefits.

IS CUTTING TAX RATES FAIR?

But cutting tax rates isn’t fair, is it?  Even President Obama said in an interview a few years ago, when confronted with the fact that cutting the capital gains tax rate would actually result in increased tax revenues to the Federal government, that he would not cut the capital gains tax rate because is wasn’t fair.

So is it fair to cut tax rates even though we know that the result would be to increase tax revenues?  The nation would then have more money to help the poor, not less, so why not do it?  I can understand the “equality” argument but  is it a good thing if everyone were equally poor as they are in many countries?   “So what?” if there are some super-wealthy people…we know that in the United States they will eventually give most of their money to charity anyway and do it much more wisely than the Federal government!   Winston Churchill said that  capitalism is a bad form of government except that it’s better than all other forms of government.

THE SOLUTION

Cutting  tax rates and regulations have always worked in the past and would simulate the economy and thereby create many jobs.   Political ideology is the only thing preventing our government from following these time-tested strategies.   Presidents Kennedy, Reagan and Bush all increased tax revenues by cutting tax rates for everyone.  The bottom 50% of earners pay no Federal income taxes…the upper 10 %, on the other hand,  pay 70% of Federal income taxes.  If you believe that’s not enough, how much is enough?  The U.S. corporate tax rate is currently 35%, the highest in the entire world and consequently has led to many businesses moving their operations to other countries and has caused the United States to lose many jobs.  It’s estimated that there is at least 3 trillion dollars off-shore that we could entice back to the US if we offered a zero corporate tax rate for the first few years and a contract stating that the businesses would remain in the US for at least another 5 years.  The US needs to put ideology aside and focus on solving the problem.  Although  President Obama can appear very friendly, his policies are really hurting the United States, so it’s time for him to 1)try approaches other than very large amounts of Federal deficit spending and to forget about raising taxes on anyone in this under-performing economy; 2)approve the Keystone pipeline and begin granting permits for oil wells in the Gulf and on Federal lands; 3(rein in the Environmental Protection Agency on over-regulations; 4)eliminate job and small business-killing regulations; and 5)cut corporate income taxes from their current 35% (the highest in the world) to 20% to lure back the large number of businesses that moved overseas to escape the U.S. confiscatory taxes.

CREATIONISM vs. EVOLUTION vs. INTELLIGENT DESIGN vs. NO GOD

I believe three sides are right…the Bible, Evolution, and Creationism!   For the religious, if God is capable of doing anything, then why could he not simply create the world through natural means…through evolution?  For the secular, how do you know that God is not behind the creation of the universe and all of the life in it using natural methods such as evolution (“Intelligent Design”)?  I see no contradiction.

I believe that Christians and Orthodox Jews  might say that Moses explains in the Book of Genesis in the Old Testament of the Bible that God created Adam and Eve on the sixth day.  The Bible did not specify the length of  a “day”.  So a day could have been 2.5 billion years and six of those days could be 15 billion years, which is the latest estimate of the age of the universe.  Moreover, when Moses wrote Genesis, no one would have understood anything as complicated as evolution.

For believers in evolution, how can you know that there is no God?   I have a Trilobite fossil that’s from the Ordovician Geologic period which was about 400 million-years-ago.  Moreover, dinosaur bones have been dated, using radioactive “half-lives,” as being about 60-million-years-old.  There’s simply too much fossil evidence that supports some form of evolution.  However, the universe is unimaginably vast and the human body alone so unbelievably complex…could these things evolved without an “intelligent design” by (you name it) God, Allah, a Supreme Being, etc?  I think it is more likely that there is God and that some interpretation of the Biblical story of creation, if you specify that God used natural means, is probably true.  There is no contradiction.  Incidentally, it’s now known that birds evolved from dinosaurs, which I think shows that God has a sense of humor.

Aside from the objective reality of whether God exists or does not exist, the idea of God is positive and uplifting and helps people get through the inevitable crises in their lives.  Moreover, God and religion are the foundation upon which ethics and morals stand.  Even for those that do not believe in God, the foundation of whatever ethics and morals they have, ultimately came from a religious family predecessor.

Anyone interested in exploring religion to discover one that is right for him or her should read M. Scott Peck, M.D.’s books on The Road Less Traveled.

HOW TO CHOOSE A SPOUSE

One of the most important decisions most people will ever make is who to marry, if anyone.   A good marriage can be very fulfilling, so if you marry,  you would want it to succeed, make both of you happy, and last a lifetime.   How do you do that?  Some marriage counselors have much  more than their share of broken marriages, and I have had two marriages and two divorces, but it’s true that you learn a lot more from your failures than from your successes, so I’m presenting my analysis.  But first let’s look at a few statistics on marriage:

o 50% of married couples will eventually divorce

o 60% of second marriages fail

o 31% of people in a marriage have had an affair

o 47% of people in a marriage are not sure they would marry the same person again

In an interview with Longevity magazine years ago, actress Zsa Zsa Gabor was asked, “do you think you’ll ever meet the right man?”  She replied, “I was very lucky because I find eight times the right man.”  Of course we want our first  and only spouse to be the right man or woman.  My experience with marriage/relationships comes from my two marriages, two divorces, living with a girlfriend for three years and reading everything I could get on marriage and relationships so that I wouldn’t ever have another divorce.  Here’s my advice for selecting a lifelong mate:

1. It’s very helpful if you and your intended are best friends before you marry, to the extent that you both can be yourselves and be able to joke around with each other and have fun in each other’s company.

2. Being honest with each other is very helpful.  Making “I” statements can make this possible, so you might say, “I think that…” rather than imperial statements such as, “that’s bad” or “that’s good.”  Be diplomatic in your honest communications with each other, and not lie…but do not be brutally frank or unkind.   Why is being honest important?  Because it fosters trust and intimacy.  Look for honesty in a potential mate.

3. Respect each other’s feelings about people, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and interests.  Of course, the more of these you have in common, the better, but you really need to respect your significant other’s views even though they may be very different from yours.  Does your spouse-to-be respect your feelings?

4. Resolving differences amicably is something that John Gottman PhD, marriage researcher and counselor, advocates as one of the most important skills for maintaining a good marriage.  My first marriage lacked this and was the underlying culprit responsible for its failure.  To check this out you need to be going together long enough to have at least one good fight or big disagreement to see if you both can resolve it amicably.  This ability might be more important than all of the others.

5. Dr. Gottman: “a healthy balance between positive and negative feelings and actions toward each other…really separates contented couples from those in deep marital misery.”  Further, “if there is five times as much positive interaction as negative between couples, the marriage is likely to be stable over time.”  Dr. Gottman then specifies that negative interactions are criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling.  To use this in determining how well you and your significant other might get along as husband and wife, look at your positive and negative interactions…is there a healthy balance?  If not, modify your behavior so that it becomes healthy.

Not listed above is the question of romance and sex.  Of course these are very important…in fact, I heard a marriage counselor comment that, “if the sex is good, the marriage is usually good.”

Even if you do everything well, there’s still no guarantee that your marriage will succeed.  To illustrate, Ellen Kriedman states in her book, Light her Fire, “while dating, a man usually has no problem talking, because he has a goal in mind.  He wants her to find him desirable, so he’s charming, witty and pays a great deal of attention to what she’s saying.  He wants to discover what her needs are so that he can fulfill them.  As a result, he has a woman who finds him irresistible.  Once this happens and she’s his forever, he stops talking.  In his mind, there’s less need to talk and listen to her than there was in the beginning.”  And, of course, the female partner might equally change after marriage, but in a different way.

Finally, it’s certainly a lot easier, after discussing your concerns with each other, to stop dating someone whom you think you would be incompatible with, rather than marrying him or her and eventually getting divorced after a few years of marriage and two children.  It’s far better to be single a little longer rather than getting married quickly and being miserable because your prince or princess turned out to be a frog, con artist, spouse abuser, philanderer, alcoholic, drug addict, gambling addict, etc.  Whatever your problems, things can always get a whole lot worse.  If you love someone even though he or she has serious problems, it’s important to consider what your heart says, but your mind must make final decisions…and keep in mind that few spouses, partners and significant others are better companions and more loyal friends than homeless stray cats or dogs that might visit your home for food and water, so you might want to consider adopting a stray for companionship and take your time before choosing a spouse.

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