Includes thoughts and comments about energy needs, resources, conservation and their relationship to politics at home and around the world.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today, January 21, 2009 begins my 24/7 watch on President Obama.

Obama Appointments

Three of the new President's cabinet appointments are worrisome...Hillary Clinton, Timothy Geithner and Eric Holder. Clinton faces a surefire conflict of interest charge over the issue of foreign-source contributions to her husband's foundation. Geithner faces strong criticism over his tax problems with the IRS from his time with the International Monetary Fund. He didn't pay those taxes until he rose to the top of possible candidates for Secretary of the Treasury.
Hillary Clinton could well make an effective Secretary of State, but the influence of those foreign-source contributions in her husband's foundation would have to be returned before I would feel comfortable.

Geithner is a different story. Others have gone to prison for not paying their taxes. The Dems say Geithner is extremely important in solving problems in the financial community because of his many years of service in the federal reserve under several administrations. That may be, but no one can convince me there aren't other individuals in this country who pay their taxes and are qualified to do the job.

I'm not overjoyed with Eric Holder as Attorney General. Rush Limbaugh calls him Eric "Marc Rich" Holder for his involvement in getting Clinton to pardon Rich in 2000. Holder is also anti-gun and is a serious threat to do his utmost to take guns away from us in violation of the second amendment. Were he to be successful in doing that, government control of the country would be absolute, short of an open rebellion.

Gitmo Closing

There are something like 250 suspected terrorist prisoners at Guantanomo who will need transfering to another location if the prison compound is shut down. Where will they go? Here in the continental USA? Where in this country? Another country, and if so, what country? I fully agree the prisoners should be charged and tried, but not in a civilian court. These are military combatants and they should be tried in a military court. It might be appropriate to put the inmates in Pelosi's and Findstein's back yard in San Francisco (re-open Alcatraz?).

Investing in a Socialist America

BHO talked extensively during his campaign about a need for the government to "invest in the country". That's what is going on now with the bailouts and his plan to reinvigoate the economy. The government is already the major shareholder in the financial sector and will soon be the same in the auto industry. And the more our taxes are spread around in other sectors, the deeper will be government's ownership of what was once the private sector. We can then say goodbye to the United States of America as we will have become the Socialist States of America. As our freedoms are taken away from us one at a time until we are no better off than my father and his forbears were before they came here from Finland in the late 19th century.

The Bush Haters

True to predictions, the Bush haters are continuing their attacks on our 43d President. No doubt this will go on throughout Obama's administration. The haters are made up exclusively of leftwingers who thrive on their hatred because they have nothing positive to offer the American people. They avoid any honest discussion of the facts because they fear the truth.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

The Lessons of Life

I am now into my 82d year on planet Earth. Consequently, I probably don't have much more time here and I want to share with you a few observations about our country, its people and its future.

The American Dream

Those courageous Europeans and British who risked their lives to come to the New World early in the 17th century hoped to establish a better life than the one they were leaving behind. They sought the freedom to worship God in a manner of their choosing, not that of monarchies and other rulers who had forced them to bend to their demands. They wanted the freedom to pursue a life based on their own abilities and desires, not one based on the dictates and demands of others. They knew life was not going to be easy in a strange, undeveloped land. They swore to cooperate with their fellow shipmates in the interest of protecting one another and to achieve as a group what would be very difficult to do as individuals. Thus began the greatest experiment in governance ever known to mankind.

New World Lessons

  • Native Americans

One of the first challenges encountered in the New World was the native population. Relations with the natives were mixed. First contact between the Pilgrims and natives in what is now Massachusetts was on Cape Cod where the Mayflower first dropped anchor in 1620. There were several small tribes on the Cape, some reasonably friendly to the newcomers, others less so. The latter plus an apparent scarcity of fresh water caused the Pilgrims to weigh anchor and press onward across Cape Cod Bay to make landing in what became Plymouth.

Relations between the early Plymouth settlers and natives more or less stabilized. As the colony grew its need for foodstuff outgrew the boundaries of the colony. This led to another look at the Cape Cod area as an agricultural resource which it indeed became.

Eventually, of course, the population of the settlers grew resulting in what became the Westward Expansion and more contact with natives, much of it not friendly. Needless to say, the settlers were moving in on the natives' territory which made for delicate relations from the outset. By and large the natives were nomadic and did not view land ownership the same way as the settlers and those who followed. Still, they resented what they must have seen as an invasion of their space and relations with natives reflected that even into the 20th century.

  • The Fight for Territory

Native Americans were not the only problem settlers faced. There were also the French, British and Spanish explorers who competed for territory. This brought on the French and Indian Wars, the American Revolution and War of 1812 against the British, and the Spanish American War.

  • American Revolution

We were not yet a nation when the French and Indian Wars were fought nor were we when we began having increasing trouble with British rule. We were 13 colonies loosely held together in the Continental Congress when friction between colonists and the British finally ignited open rebellion. Not all colonists favored going up against the British, but there was enough support to move the fledgling country to ultimate victory with the help of George Washington's citizen's army, LaFayette and Hessian mercenaries.

  • The Pioneers

In the vanguard of those who moved westward were a special breed of people who sought to remove themselves from the growing hubbub of established cities and towns in the East. They chose to become pioneers because they wanted space and freedom. They wanted to live and work by their own rules, not someone else's. In a very real sense they were carrying on the same spirit and motivation felt by those early settlers of Plymouth and the original 13 colonies.

To me there is nothing to compare to the pioneering spirit and I believe that has been what made and has kept this country the strongest nation on Earth. My father's family came here as immigrants from Finland in the 1890s and pioneered in the Black Hills of South Dakota. Dad's mother practiced folk medicine throughout the area where she was known as the "Finnish Doctor Lady". In the long cold winter months, she went by skis and snowshoes to visit her patients well up into her 70s. Truly, she displayed the pioneer spirit.

Civil War

Public school children are taught that the Civil War was fought over slavery. Actually, the central issue was "states rights" and the usurpation of those rights by the federal government. Slavery became a major element in the conflict because of its practice in the Southern states that seceded from the Union to form the Confederacy.

Early in the war the Confederacy whipped Union forces at almost every turn. As the war wore on, the Union reversed those outcomes largely because of its industrial might which the Confederacy had very little of.

While the Union was victorious in that bloody conflict eventually, animosity between the North and South over the issue of slavery continued well into the 20th century. It still smolders in many places in the country and has morphed into racist attitudes between Whites, Blacks and other miniority groups such as Hispanic illegal immigrants and Southeast Asians. We pride ourselcves in this being the melting pot of nations, but friction continues nevertheless.

The Industrial Revolution

Until around the middle of the 19th century, the world consisted of mostly agrarian societies. The advent of the steam engine, electricity. internal combustion engines, oil and gas reduced the number of people in agriculture. By the beginning of the 20th century, the industrial revolution was well under way, especially in the northern hemisphere. People began a steady migration from the farm to the city and its factories. The transition was not always easy and still isn't for many. Working a farm was never easy but it did allow people a sense of independence and freedom that simply doesn't exist in most metropolitan areas.


The industrial revolution brought with it a clash between labor and management over safety, work hours, wages, minimum age of workers, and other issues. The concept of "guilds" for workers in different trades had begun in Europe and Great Britain before the revolution. Interest in forming guilds or "unions" quickly built up here as we entered the 20th century. Unions gave workers a more forceful voice in negotiating with management on the issues plus the ability to go out on strike if agreement couldn't be reached.

Union activities pose a two-edged sword for society. It cannot be denied that unions have succeeded in bringing about safer work conditions and the creation of sensible child labor laws. They have also succeeded in getting employers to pay reasonable wages and benefits aimed at helping employees pay for their living needs including health, savings and retirement plans. Those are the positive impacts unions have made, but there are some negatives as well.

For example, the United Auto Workers were so successful in getting the Big 3 automakers to knuckle under to their wage, employee and retiree benefit demands that it has put the carmakers in a non-competitive position with foreign automakers. That is especially true of those assembling their products here in the USA. Now, in the midst of the worst economy since the Great Deprsssion, the unions want the new administration in Washington to force the "card check" system of employee voting in their efforts to get in to currently non-union shops. That system runs contrary to the principle of voting in secret and makes it easy for umscruplous union leaders to coerce workers.

World War I

World War I started out between Central European countries early in the second decade of the 20th century. Initially, it was of little interest to most Americans except those who were related to people in the warring countries. The war spread and drew into it both France and Great Britain as allies and other countries throughout the area. German submarines began attacking and sinking allied shipping in the Atlantic including non-combat vessels like the Lusitania which ultimately brought us into the conflict as well.

Many naturalized citizens and first generation Americans volunteered for military service in France. That included my father even though he did not have to go because he had a wife and child. His unit, the 26th Infantry Division, saw considerable combat and Dad was severely wounded in July 1918 near Belleau Wood in France. Dispite his wounds, which kept him in Army hospitals until 1921, he never complained. He opposed the veterans' march on Washington that demanded payment of a bonus for service in France. He loved his adopted country and believed it was his duty and an honor to defend our freedom in that war.

The Rise of Socialism and Communism

Russia dropped out of WWI to fight a rebellion against the Czarist rulers which gave rise to communism and the establishment of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, or USSR. This brought together diverse ethnic populations under a new totalitarian rule predicated in the theories of Karl Marx et al ( i.e., from each according to his abilities, to each according to his needs). There would be no private property rights, all land would be owned by the government and the people would live in communes. Agriculture would dominate areas like the Ukraine while industry would dominate in other areas. All production would be owned by the government. The people would have very little say in the choice of education or their life's work. Not a very happy picture, to say the least.

The rest of the world would soon find itself in a deep economic depression brought on by a variety of factors. In Germany, it was a result of the terms of her WWI surrender to the Allies wherein strict controls were placed on all manufacturing that could have any tie to military force or warfare. Conditions there led to the rise to power of Adolph Hitler and the National Social Democratic Party, later to be known as the Nazi Party. The other Western European countries (France, Belgium, Netherlands plus Great Britain) also had depressed economies but not as bad as Germany, Austria and Eastern European countries (Czechoslavakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Greece, Italy etc.).

Economic depression became fertile ground for sowing the seeds of socialism and communism throughout Europe and it would soon find its way across the Atlantic. Socialism and communism got its foothold here following an international conference on the subject held in Moscow. Attendees, including a number of American educators, labor union leaders and others were asked to return to their home countries and infiltrate their nations' systems of higher education and labor forces. They were to encourage creation of "cells" of like thinkers to spread the word and ultimately to take over their governments.

Until now we've succeeded in slowing the conversion process, but the pressure for "change" continues unabated. Now we are in another economic crisis which could push the nation over the brink into a 100% socialist/communist state. The situation is further complicated by the growth of yet another non-democratic belief system ... Islam.

The Islamic Threat

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, including the flight that went down in Pennsylvania on its way to the nation's capitol, were planned and carried out by Islamic terrorists. Those attacks followed many smaller though no less deadly and terrifying attacks against us and other Western countries over several decades. While some may believe the attacks stem from our support of Israel, the problem with Islam goes much deeper than that. It goes to the very core of Islam ... the Quran. The Quran is less a religious treatise than it is the basis for spreading Islam all over the world as a harsh political force. Under that force women are property of the men and are treated as slaves. They have no freedom in the choice of their clothing nor are they permitted an education beyond Islamic primary and secondary schools. Only men can rule and death can come to them very quickly if they voice disagreement with the mullahs and imans. No thinking American would want that kind of life.

Barack Hussein Obama

As I write this, the 44th President of the United States of America has just finished taking the oath of office and presenting his inaugural address before hundreds of thousands of people in Washington. He is a great speaker but what he does now that he's in the White House will be how he will be judged. I admit I am concerned that he will only succeed in moving us closer to if not into a total socialist state. I hope and pray that my concerns are ill founded.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Troubles for new administration

President-elect Obama is still two weeks away from his inauguration and already embarassing events are beginning to pile up for him. Problems range from Illinois Governor Blagojevich and Obama's replacement in the Senate, to New Mexico Governor Richardson's withdrawal from his nomination to Obama's cabinet, to his appointment of Norman Panetta to become the head of the CIA, to the likely election of Al Franken to the Senate over Norm Coleman in Minnesota.

The Blagojevich matter adds to my concern about Obama and the influence of people like Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, Bill Ayers, Pleger and others of their ilk. Richardson did the right thing in view of his troubles with certain supporters but it still detracts from Obama' s image. Norman Panetta is no doubt a decent man but he has no experience in the intel community and the CIA directorship should always go to an intel professional. Al Franken is a joke in every sense of the word and his election sets back honesty in the election process a very long way.

The Madoff Securities Scandal

Ponzi schemes are not new. Our Social Security program is a good example. I sympathize with those investors who have lost their money with Madoff, but they should not be bailed out with taxpayer funds. Their failure was two-fold; not doing due diligence, and plain ordinary greed. Some blame the SEC for not discovering the Madoff scheme, but that's a stretch at best. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? A gambler learns to accept responsibility for his actions and so should investors. Madoff's assurances to his investors promising a minimum 8% annual return especially in shakey economic times was deserving of at least some second thoughts.

Economic Turnaround in 2009?

A few economists are cautiously optimistic about a possible turnaround of the economy this year. Others say that won't happen until 2010 or even further down the road. So much depends on jobs and consumer confidence, and the two are obviously tied together. Right now unemployment continues to rise and consumer confidence is still down around the floor.

I like Obama's interest in repairing the nation's infrastructure but it would be months before such projects would be felt in the economy even if we started now. The money for infrastructure projects is also a problem because of competing needs in righting the economy. Outright gifts of money to middle and lower income folks will help momentarily, but once the stimulus money is spent, what happens next? We need to work off a huge surplus in the inventory of private residential units and the same must be done in the case of automobiles. The same applies to recreational boats. That's not going to be easy even at low interest rates on mortgages, auto and boat loans because of the confidence and jobs factors.

Experience in past down periods in the economy would indicate that everything has to improve in tandem in order to achieve full recovery. Even then inflation will be a serious possibility which will force up interest rates on all lending.