Sunday, October 31, 2010

Predictions On The Coming GOP Wave: House Yes, Senate No.

On Tuesday, November 2nd, to the surprise of no one, 
the Great GOP Wave will wash over Washington D.C.

Frightened Democrats and liberals are making headlines
with scare stories of a 60 to 70 seat Democratic rout in the 
House, and loss of control of the Senate as well. 

To the mainstream media , an epic repeat of the 
Disaster Of 1994 is in the works,  when the 
Democrats lost 53 seats in the House 
and eleven in the Senate to hand total 
control of Congress to an angry and motivated 

Is this going to happen again? I think not.

I am, however, predicting that the GOP will 
take control of the House, picking up a total of 
47 seats, with most of the Democratic
losses coming from freshman and sophomore
Representatives in districts that went for McCain
in 2008. A silver lining in all this for the Democrats
is that most of their key leadership is predicted to
return to Congress, which will give them some 
necessary "time in opposition" to impose discipline
and develop an ideologically coherent message.

The Senate, however, is a different story. To win the 
majority, the GOP would have to add ten seats to the
41 they currently control. This looks to be out of reach now.
As of this writing, the GOP will pick up three contested 
seats (Arkansas, Indiana, and North Dakota) and possibly
add another in Wisconsin, where Democratic incumbent
Russ Feingold is running behind newcomer Ron Johnson
(former CEO of S.C. Johnson Co.). That leaves six to go.

And these six states - Pennsylvania, Colorado, Nevada,
Illinois, Delaware, and Washington - have been closely 
watched ever since the primaries. My prediction: The
Republicans will pick up three, the Democrats will
retain three. Here's the breakdown:

1) Pennsylvania. Pat Toomey (R) and Joe Sestak (D)
have been battling neck-and-neck all summer for the
seat being vacated by defeated Sen. Arlen Specter (D,
formerly (R) ). It all depends on turnout in heavily
Democratic Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, 
as the rest of the State leans heavily Republican.
If Sestak's margin in the Philadelphia area is less
than 400,000, Toomey wins. My prediction: Pat Toomey
will be the new Republican Senator.

2) Colorado. Appointed Senator Michael Bennett (D)
and former Weld County D.A. Ken Buck (R) are battling
for the seat vacated by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar.
This race has attracted perhaps the most out-of-state
and 3rd-party money of any save the race in Nevada.
At this moment, the race is rated a toss-up by the media.

My take: Obama won Colorado narrowly in 2008 on the 
strength of Denver and Colorado Springs suburban liberals.
These folks have since been hammered by huge 
white-collar layoffs, and Colorado leads the nation 
in unemployment among educated, white-collar 
professionals. Outside of the Denver and Colorado 
Springs areas, the state is Red and getting redder.
Prediction: Ken Buck takes this seat for the GOP.

3) Nevada. Probably the most watched Senate race in the 
nation, this one pits Senate Majority Leader  Harry Reid
against exciting and outspoken newcomer Sharron Angle.
Early on, Reid was expected to "vaporize" the "extreme"
Ms. Angle and cruise to re-election. It hasn't turned out
that way.

Ms. Angle seized the initiative in their only debate, coming
across as both reasonable and energetic while Reid looked
and sounded every bit the tired, entrenched Washington 
insider. When Reid mumbled on and on about "markups"
and "Senate procedure", Ms. Angle told him to "man up"
and "take responsibility" for the disastrous condition
of both the local and national economy.

At that moment, the momentum switched to Ms. Angle.

Unenviably, Nevada leads the nation in unemployment,
foreclosures, and bankruptcies, and Reid and the 
Democrats have done precious little to turn things 
around.Even the endorsements of the large gaming
and mining interests (which came before Ms. Angle
even won the primary), have probably hurt Sen. Reid
more than they have helped. Ms. Angle has very
effectively painted Harry Reid as the candidate of 
big money interests, while she fights for the little guy.
My prediction: Reid fights Angle to a draw in Clark
County (Las Vegas), and loses resoundingly everywhere
else.  Sharron Angle goes to Washington, in what the
national media will term a huge upset.

4) Illinois. The race between State Treasurer Alex 
Giannoulias (D) and former Rep. Mark Kirk (R) for
President Obama's old seat has been watched for over 
a year. And this one is turning out to be a classic, with
The Chicago Democratic Machine  pitted against
conservative, downstate Republicans. Early scandals
involving Giannoulias with his family's failed bank
and disgraced ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich and convicted
"fixer" Tony Rezko haven't been reflected in the polls,
which show the Democrat with a slight lead.

My take: Kirk wins downstate, but the  Chicago machine,
now strengthened with the help of former White House
Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, does its usual "fixing".
Alex Giannoulias becomes the new Democratic Senator
from Illinois.

5) Delaware. This is the one state where the Tea Party
over-reached, nominating the unelectable Christine
O'Donnell over the pragmatic GOP moderate Mike
Castle in a very low-turnout primary.

All the national Democrats had to do was replay 
endless bits from Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect,
where Ms. O'Donnell was a frequent guest talking 
about  witchcraft and Satanism. Result? Game Over.
Chris Coons (D), the Yale-educated lawyer and former
New Castle County Executive, goes to the Senate.

6) Washington State. Sen. Patty Murray (D) has been
locked in a tight battle against newcomer Dino Rossi.
While Murray has not been exactly the most effective 
of Senators, she has been instrumental in keeping
Boeing (Washington's largest employer) from 
outsourcing more jobs either overseas or to lower-cost
Kansas or South Carolina, saving thousands of
high-skill, high-wage jobs.

Add to this the fact that Washington (like 
Oregon and California) has a large edge in 
Democratic voter registration and this race 
will go as predicted, with Murray winning re-election 
by a 53% -47% margin.

Bottom Line: The GOP will make significant gains,
but the gains in my opinion could have been
larger had the GOP campaigned more on policy  
and less on blanket opposition to all things Obama.

The reason they didn't campaign on policy 
is that the mainstream GOP is hugely beholden 
to Wall Street and Corporate America, and 
mainstream GOP policy calls for more outsourcing, 
more job exportation to the Third World, shredding
what remains of the the social safety net, and vast
reductions in the standards of living for everyone
except the very richest 1%.

And the Democrats?  Rather than preach Class Warfare
and the interests of ordinary Americans, they became 
the Party of Government and Business As Usual,
becoming the party of  favor-granting, ear-marking,
bailouts, spending and pork.
With the economy in tatters and poverty and desperation
increasing everywhere, The Tea Party, unruly and 
disorganized though it may be, has become the last best
hope for millions of disfranchised Americans abandoned
by both their government and their financial elites.

And this may be the last chance the "system" gets. Two
more years like the last two and there won't be "elections"
in 2012.

There will be a Revolution - led by a Nationalist
Strongman, probably from the military.

Move over, Argentina - here comes the U.S.A. !

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Endorsement: Sharron Angle For U.S. Senate

November 2nd  is shaping up to be perhaps the most 
crucial Mid -Term election in modern American history.

Facing what is unarguably the darkest  economic climate 
since the Great Depression, the choices facing Americans 
could not be more clear.

Either we continue on the same path we are on now - 
more debt, more spending, more government regulation,
or we use this crisis as an opportunity to make a clean
break with the past and begin anew.

And to begin anew, it is going to take more than just
new policies. It is going to take new people in the House
and Senate; new people untainted by the failed policies
and platitudes of BOTH parties which have placed us 
in the predicament we are in now.

And, here in Nevada, we have an opportunity to start
the national renewal process  that is so badly needed.

We can begin by sending Sharron Angle to represent us 
in Washington.

And why are we opposed to Harry Reid?  Because 
in 24 years in the Senate, good ol' Harry has gone
from representing Nevada in Washington to representing
Washington to Nevada.

We can begin with ObamaCare - the "healthcare reform"
that wasn't. The president had started with a good 
premise - that health care in the United States was both 
too expensive and inaccessible for the vast majority of 
Americans. The Bush years had seen an explosion in 
premium costs, vast reductions in coverage, and huge 
oligopoly profits for the health insurance industry. 
The system was irretrievably broken, and crying out 
for drastic reform.

Yet, when the "public option" was on the table, 
together with necessary cost controls on pharmaceuticals 
and the insurance industry, it was Harry Reid, more 
than anyone else, who bluntly told the president that 
anything that restricted the profits of the health insurance 
industry and Big Pharma was off the table.

Not only would true reform never pass the Senate, 
Harry said, but also that he personally could not support 
any bill that did not keep control of health care delivery
with the for-profit private sector.

And now we know where that has led us. Health care
premiums are rising at 25-30% rates, millions are facing
the loss of all of their health coverage through employer
plans, and costs are escalating through the roof.

If your employer is dropping your health coverage or
doubling or tripling your premiums or deductibles, you 
can thank Harry Reid for that.

And, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal points out, in 
its Oct. 3 endorsement of  Ms. Angle:

" As he has climbed higher and higher in the Democratic
hierarchy, he has veered further and further to the left,
becoming politically disconnected from Nevada and its
residents "

Truer word was never spoken. And on the other failed
policies of the past two years, on bailouts for Wall Street
and the auto companies, on the pork-laden "stimulus",
on "cap-and-trade" that threatens to sink the nation into 
permanent uncompetitiveness, Harry Reid has led the 
charge for it all.

Indeed, it can plausibly be argued that rather than"hitching
his wagon" to the Obama agenda, it was Harry Reid who
convinced the President that in order to succeed he needed 
to conform his program to  the Harry Reid-Nancy Pelosi 
agenda of  high taxes, intrusive regulation,and crony 
capitalism for Wall Street and the Fortune 500.

Finally, there's the issue of who supports who in 
this contest. Not only has Harry Reid obtained the 
support of the usual Democrat suspects (including 
the public employee unions), but he has also obtained 
the support of almost every private interest needing a 
government-granted "favor" in either 
Washington or Carson City.

Both the U.S. and Nevada Chambers of Commerce 
are supporting Reid. The gambling and mining 
interests  have loaded up his campaign coffers 
with most of the $25 million Reid is banking for this 
election. Even long-time Carson City GOP "fixers" 
and  "insiders" Sig Rogich and Bill Raggio
have signed on to the Reid bandwagon.

Against all this, Sharron Angle has only the people. 
And in this state, the people are, to put it mildly, 
fed up. Unenviably, Nevada leads the nation in 
foreclosures, bankruptcies, and unemployment rate.

And how has Harry Reid responded? If Harry Reid 
were any kind of Democrat Majority Leader, say on
the order of the late Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia, 
Nevada should be awash in federal projects, federal 
employment,  and federal dollars, and riding out the 
recession if not comfortably, at least  satisfactorily.

Instead, Nevada ranks 49th out of 50 states in overall 
federal dollars returned to the state. Fiftieth in federal aid 
to highways. A dismal 49th in federal aid to K-12 and higher 
education. Indeed, Harry has been so busy handing out 
special favors to everyone else he has completely forgotten
the home folks. For a Democrat, that's inexcusable.

Against all this, Sharron Angle represents a 
complete break from the failed policies of the past. 
A principled and unwavering voice for low taxes, 
less regulation, competition and free enterprise,
Sharron Angle will be a key player in making 
sure that a more conservative and more Republican 
House and Senate stay in line and on message.

And that message is NO to more spending, more
regulation, more debt, and more special favors 
and breaks to those corrupt private  interests who 
have done so much to bring this country to its 

And if that's a message you agree with, then the choice is clear.

Vote for Sharron Angle on November 2nd.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

The 9/11 Anniversary - Let's Be Thankful For What Didn't Happen

The 9/11 Anniversary has come and gone; thankfully, 
without any further violence to anyone.

Despite the "threat" of a misguided Florida pastor to 
burn copies of the Qu'ran, and the threat of total street
violence from the "Arab Street", the solemn day of 
remembrance came and went in what was, for the 
most part, a decent respect for the events and casualties of
that day nine tears ago.

It's as if both sides peered over the edge into the abyss
and said, "No Thanks". And that's actually a tribute to
the good sense of people of good will on both sides.

To be sure, there was a well-attended demonstration
at the site of the proposed Muslim "cultural center"
in Lower Manhattan, featuring anti-Islamic activist 
Pamela Geller and freedom-fighter and free speech 
activist Geert Wilders from the Netherlands. And there was 
also a small "counter-demonstration" by the usual coterie of
leftist nuts and peace activists. 

But both groups managed to do something right, which 
was to keep the Elected Politicians firmly at arm's length -
something which I am convinced helped keep both 
demonstrations peaceful.

And the Qu'ran-burning pastor in Florida? He called 
off his event after fellow clergy from both Christianity
and Islam gently reminded him that in Islam,
burning of the Bible is haram - forbidden - because
the Old Testament tells the story of the many 
prophets as revered in Islam as they are in Christianity.

And what both sides need to do now is to step back
and explore ways in which both communities might
better coexist with one another. 

Here in America, that's  not yet a large problem.
Muslim immigrants here tend to be either well-educated,
relatively secular professionals or hard-working taxi
drivers, shopkeepers, small business men of all kinds.
On balance, they are a net plus to society, even allowing
for the occasionally deranged lunatic like Ft. Hood's
Maj. Hassan.

The same, however, cannot be said of Europe. There,
unlimited immigration of millions of poor, uneducated, 
unassimilable Muslims has led to all sorts of problems -
problems which Europe's cowardly "politically 
correct" leaders have been both unable and unwilling
to take seriously. And we have the same problem here,
only worse.

Just substitute "Mexicans" and "America's cowardly
"politically correct" leaders " and you'll know what I'm 
talking about.

And if Europe's and America's leaders won't handle 
the problem, it will be handled for them - by Nationalistic 
peoples pushed beyond both anger and reason.

And trust me, no one is going to like that outcome.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Don't Underestimate the Power of Palin !

The last round of Republican primaries has established 
one thing: 

Don't Underestimate the Power of Palin !

Unlike any other Republican figure, Sarah Palin has proven 
beyond doubt to have the "endorsement power" that excites
voters and gets them to the polls.

The Great Corporatist Mitt Romney doesn't have this power. 
Neither do Mike Huckabee nor Tim Pawlenty.

After this last round, the Palin endorsement scoreboard is 20 Wins, 
10 losses - a 67% winning percentage. That's good ball in any game.

But when we go behind the raw figures and dig down 
into the details, it gets even more impressive. Most of the 
Palin-endorsed primary victories were won by Tea Party 
backed candidates; most of the losses were candidates 
backed by the Republican "Establishment". And this last fact 
is something you will not find in the Mainstream media, with 
the possible exception of Fox News.

Which leads one to ask the question: "Why did Sarah Palin 
waste her endorsement power on Establishment candidates?" 
Answer: Sarah Palin is a serious politician, who will either 
win the 2012 GOP Presidential nomination or decide who 
does. To get that power, she needs to get political IOU's from 
her party's mainstream, not just the "Tea Party". 
And, as the GOP's hottest commodity, she can literally 
make or break a candidacy with her support.

Think that's a little extreme? Just ask soon-to-be-ousted Senator 
Lisa Murtkowski (R-AK), who lost to Palin and Tea Party
endorsed candidate Joe Miller.

Until two months ago, Sen. Murtkowski was the picture of 
an untouchable Establishment Republican. The daughter of
former Governor Frank Murtkowski (whom Palin defeated
for Governor in 2006), Sen. Murtkowski had $10 million
in the bank, was 20 points ahead in the polls, and was 
cruising toward re-election. Then Palin and the Tea Party
stepped in. 

While Palin endorsed candidate Miller and recorded 
messages for him, Husband Todd and the Tea Party
sprang into action. Going door-to-door and village-to-
village in Alaska's remoteness, The Tea Party and Todd
Palin won the day for Joe Miller - and the reverberations 
were felt all around the country, most especially in Washington

Message delivered: If you are an Establishment GOP incumbent,
and Sarah Palin opposes you, you are not safe. And if you are
too closely identified with the GOP "Establishment", a Sarah
Palin endorsement may not save you.

And the details bear this out. Of the fifteen House Candidates
endorsed by Sarah Palin, 9 won and 6 lost. Of the winners,
seven were Tea Party Candidates, and only two were from
the "Establishment". Of the losers, two were Tea Party and 
four were "establishment" - including three incumbents.

On the Senate side, the results were a little more evenly
divided. Two "establishment" Palin-endorsed candidates
won (Carly Fiorina in California and John McCain in Arizona),
two Tea Party candidates lost (in Washington and Kansas),
and Tea Party bright lights Sharron Angle(Nevada) and Rand Paul
(Kentucky) won (and are expected to win in the general election), 
with the help of Sarah Palin's endorsement.

And with the always important Governor's races, Sarah made the 
difference in at least four of the nine contests she endorsed, saving
establishment candidates Susanna Martinez in New Mexico and
Mary Fallin in Oklahoma, as well as engineering the dramatic 
come-from-behind win of Nikki Haley in South Carolina.

Yes, that Nikki Haley - the daughter of Indian immigrants whom
a GOP Establishment figure called a "raghead" in public.

Bottom line - when Sarah Palin makes her run for the White House
in 2012, she'll have an awful lot of folks in the GOP, both in the
"establishment" and out, who will owe her big time.

And in getting her "IOU's" in early, on both sides of the GOP,
she's following in the proven footsteps of the Greatest 
Conservative of our Age, the 40th President, Ronald Reagan.

And she's looking and sounding more and more like The Gipper
every day.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Obama, Pelosi and Reid: Putting Government First

By Patrick J. Buchanan (Creators Syndicate) - Las Vegas Review-Journal

Where a man's purse is, there his heart will be also.

If you wish to know where the heart of the Obama party 
is today, consider: In the dog says of August, with temperatures 
in D.C. rising above 100, Nancy Pelosi called the House back to 
Washington to enact legislation that could not wait until September.

Purpose: Vote $ 26 billion to prevent layoffs of state, county 
and municipal employees whose own governments had decided 
they had to be let go if they were to meet their constitutional duty 
to balance their books.

Workers their own governments thought expendable, Congress 
decided were so essential it borrowed another 26 thousand 
million dollars from China to keep them on state and local 

A nation whose national debt is approaching its gross national 
product, that goes abroad to borrow to keep non-essential 
workers on the government payroll, is a nation on the way 
down and out. 
And anyone who thinks the party of Obama, Reid and Pelosi
is ever going to cull the armies of tens of millions of government
workers or scores of millions of government beneficiaries to put
America's house in order is deluding himself.

As long as this Congress and White House remain in power, a
U.S. default on its national debt is inevitable. The only question
is when.

Nor is this the first time the Obama Administration has rushed to 
save workers whose own state, city and county governments
were prepared to let go. Among the reasons the $800 billion
stimulus failed is that so little of it was directed to firing up 
the locomotive of the economy, the private sector, and so much
of it was spent to ensure that government workers did not have to 
share in the national sacrifice.

Why Pelosi and Co. felt compelled to return to D.C., to ensure
that state and local government payrolls were not pared, is 
not hard to understand.

Which party does the American Federation of Teachers, 
The National Education Association, and the American 
Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
usually contribute to, work for, vote for?
At which of the two party conventions are teachers 
and government employees hugely over-represented?

Consider too, the states deepest in debt and facing
the largest cuts in employee ranks, pay and benefits:
California, Illinois, New York.

In these states, public employees earn an average of 
$10,000 more a year in pay and benefits than the
average American worker who is bailing them out.

Hence, we have a situation where private-sector workers
in Middle America are being taxed, their children driven
deeper into debt so government employees who have 
greater job security than they do, and earn more in pay
and benefits than they will ever earn, can stay in Fat City.

And folks wonder why so many Americans detest 

In the same week that Congress came back to 
prevent AFSCME from taking a haircut, the
Wall Street Journal reported that in 2009,
only three of 52 metro areas with populations
over 1 million  saw "net earnings and the broader
measure of personal income both rise".

Are you surprised to learn that Washington D.C.
is #1 among the three?

That same day, USA Today had a startling report
on how, during the last decade, U.S. Government
workers, like Wall Street bankers, left their fellow 
Americans in the dust.

"Federal workers have been awarded bigger average 
pay and benefit increases than private employees
for nine years in a row, The compensation gap
between federal and private workers has doubled
in the past decade.

"Federal civil servants earned average pay and 
benefits of $123,049 in 2009 while private 
workers earned $61,051 in total compensation.
The federal compensation advantage has grown
from $30,415 in 2000 to $ 61,998 last year. "

Remarkable. U.S. government workers, who
enjoy the greatest job security of any Americans,
now earn twice as much in pay and benefits as the 
average American. This is not the D.C. some of
us grew up in.

Nor is all of this Obama's doing. For most of the
fat years of the federal work force came while
Washington was being run by Big Government 
Conservatives and a White House of Bush-Cheney

No wonder the Tea party is targeting both parties.

Nevertheless, it is impossible to believe that the
Obamaites, who intervened twice and massively
with bailouts to prevent minor layoffs of local
and state government employees, have the stomach 
to do the major surgery needed to cut the federal
monolith down to size.

For the vast majority of government employees
vote Democratic, as do the vast majority of the
scores of millions of beneficiaries of federal, state,
and local programs.

What Pelosi and Co. were saying with the $26
billion bailout was "We are going to protect
our own".

Which is why either Obama, Reid, Pelosi and 
Co. go, or we are Gone.


Saturday, August 14, 2010

Islam Dominant: The Ground Zero Mosque

The "Ground Zero Mosque" controversy isn't going away
anytime soon, no matter what our social and political
"leaders" say. 

But as is usually the case where there's a more heat
than light on a subject, the issues are not always
completely clear cut. To begin with, we should try to 
understand a few things.

First of all, religious freedom and tolerance are
uniquely part of the American experience - in contrast
to both Europe and the Muslim World. 

Had there not been brave people with the courage 
to flee religious persecution and discrimination,
there probably wouldn't be a United States of America.

And, unfortunately, the Muslims are only the latest
"other" religious group to face religious persecution
and discrimination here in the United States.

A quick history lesson. One hundred and fifty years ago,
waves of economic-based immigration brought tens
of millions of Roman Catholic Irish, Italians, and Poles
to our shores, to face immediate discrimination and
prejudice at the hands of the American Protestant

An entire political movement - The "Know-Nothing" 
party -  was built around anti-Catholic sentiment. 
And like today's Muslims, the Catholics were 
suspected of being a "fifth column" - part of a global 
"Papist Plot", to bring the United States - and all of 
Western Civilization - under the domination of the 
Pope in Rome.

Sounds familiar, doesn't it? And the language used
by the press of that time in describing the "Catholic
Threat" would never be allowed today, even in the
most fever-swamped screeds of the fringes.

In this light, it should come as no surprise that President
Obama took the time to remind the nation of its too-often
forgotten commitment to religious freedom and toleration.
And to a point, the President is right - Imam Feisal Abdul
Rauf and his followers do have a legal right to erect a mosque
in a location of their choosing, subject to local ordinances
and the like.

But all legal platitudes aside, the decision to build a
Mosque at this particular location is hugely unwise.

To begin with, it's a direct insult to the thousands
of New Yorkers whose memories of the events of 9/11
are indelible scars.

Second, it sends exactly the wrong message of Islam
Dominant and Triumphant - when the building is
complete, it will directly overlook two holes in the
ground where the World Trade Center used to be.
That's not too terribly helpful for the "War On Terror" -
in fact, it makes "terror" look like the winning side.
Look for Al-Jazeera and the rest of "violent Islam" -
(and there's really no other kind) to treat this as
a deservedly huge propaganda victory.

So, what would be the right decision? Go ahead
and build a Mosque - but anywhere else, just not
at this particular spot.

To his credit, New York Governor David Paterson
in suggesting this got it exactly right. To his
everlasting shame, New York Mayor and Mosque
supporter Michael Bloomberg got it exactly wrong.

It would be as if the Church of the White Aryan
Resistance decided to build a church next door
to the Mt. Zion AME Church in Harlem - and then
deck the place out in Confederate Flags and play
"Dixie" on Martin Luther King Day.

Or better yet, build it next to Temple Beth Israel
and fly the swastika and play "The Horst Wessel Lied"
every Friday at sundown.

Nobody in their right mind, of course, would allow
either such thing - but that's exactly what the mosque
supporters among our elites are doing.

And this whole affair just reeks of the contempt
of the Secular Liberal Ruling Elites for any opinions
but their own. Steeped in moral relativism, bound
by situational ethics, and hopelessly debilitated
by "political correctness" , the decision to permit
this ill-advised project is just one more blot on
a sorry and sordid record.

Whether the issue is Immigration, Islam, endless
war, trade, financial reform, or corporate greed,
our "Ruling Elites" have managed to be consistently
wrong every time, on every issue.

Always ready to excuse and forgive every crime,
every transgression, every bit of wrongdoing, our
"Elites" are like the Bourbon kings of France -
they learned nothing, and remembered nothing.

And we the people, in no mood to either forgive
or forget, may well decide to give them the same
treatment the Bourbons got in 1789.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bell, California: Followup.

The story on the public corruption in the impoverished
city of Bell, California just won't go away.

Thanks to the angry outcry of the citizens, City Manager
Robert "Ratso" Rizzo, Assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia,
and Police Chief Randy Adams have all resigned. Mayor
Oscar Hernandez, Vice Mayor Teresa Jacobo, and councilmen
Luis Artiga and Jorge Mirabal have followed suit by agreeing
to forgo their salaries for the rest of their terms.

Only honest councilman Lorenzo Velez will remain on the

At this point, I also want to point out something that initially,
both the L.A. Times and I got wrong . Both the Times and I said
that there were seven councilmen, including the Mayor and Vice
Mayor (who are also voting members of the City Council).

In reality, there are only five all told - it is Maywood, which
outsourced everything to save money, that has a head count
of seven.

Be that as it may, the other facts speak for themselves. These
miscreants loaded themselves up with salaries and perks that
made them some of the highest paid public "servants" anywhere
in the United States, let alone California.

But the big question everyone is asking is " How did they do it?"

Here's How:

Back in 1999, then-Gov. Gray Davis and the Democrat-dominated
legislature changed two things. First, the pension-calculating
formula for all State and general-law municipality employees
with pensions administered by CalPERS, (the state public
employee retirement system)m was made more generous.
Second, the guidelines for general-law municipality employee
compensation (as Bell was at that time), were changed to
bring managerial and exempt employee compensation in
line with that of employees covered by a collective bargaining

For the Bell boodlers, this meant substantial raises in
wages and retirement benefits. But the looting didn't stop

In 2005, following the examples of the neighboring cities
of Commerce and Vernon, Bell held a special election to
become a Charter or "Home Rule" city - meaning that
thereafter they could write their own rules with respect
to wages, benefits, and collective bargaining. It also meant
that they were exempt from state guidelines on property tax
assessments, subject only to those restrictions imposed by
Proposition 13.

At the special election, only 336 of 14,000 registered
voters showed up at the polls - and as it was a special,
not a general election, notice only had to be posted in a
"newspaper of general circulation" - meaning, the Legal
Notices section of the Times. Thus for all practical
purposes, only those with a direct financial
interest in the outcome voted.

And once the Charter was granted, the pay feast
was on. The sixteen "one minute a month" city
commissions were set up, with pay scales
to match.

And that's how "Ratso" Rizzo, the City manager,
managed to get most of his pay - taking his compensation
from a base of $186,000 to his final total wages of $601,000.
And the other $187,000? That's the cash value of unpaid
vacation and sick leave, housing allowance (Rizzo owns a
$2 million dollar home in Huntington Beach),
car allowance (he drives a Mercedes-Benz, as well as a
city-provided Cadillac Escalade), and a special bonus which
enables him to retire immediately at age 55 with 31 years of
credited service - which translates to a pension
of $600,000 a year for the rest of his life.

And the most depressing news? Despite the ongoing
investigations, and the special audit of city finances
ordered by Gov. Arnold Schwartzenegger, all of this
Wall-Street type looting is probably all legal.

The only hope for Bell at this point is that either Attorney
General Jerry Brown (yes, the former Governor running
again for his old job), the L. A. County District Attorney,
or The Public Integrity Division of the U.S. Attorney's
office can find some irregularity somewhere along the line.

Otherwise, they will all ride off into the sunset with the
loot, leaving the Bell citizenry holding the bag.

We're going to stay on top of this story, and we eagerly
await the outcomes of all three investigations.

Adult Education: Passing The Seven

The "new economy" has everyone looking to re-invent
themselves - and your correspondent is no exception.

The predicament has always been - re-invent yourself
to do what?

And it's not as if opportunity is around every corner.

"Retraining" the jobless for new careers is touted
everywhere as a cure for what has become endemic
and chronic unemployment. The only problem is
is that for the most part neither the old jobs the
unemployed left nor the "new" jobs they were
trained for exist any longer in this economy.

And I found myself in a similar predicament, in that
the field in which I worked independently was about
to go the way of the dodo. After all, what I did was
predicated on the existence of a REAL economy,
where people made, sold and transported real goods
the real people had a demand for.

Well, that's all so '80s and '90s. Has nothing to do
with today's "real economy" , which is trading contracts
and pieces of paper back and forth in the best bankster

So, I decided about a year ago, since I was reading and writing
so much about "traders" and "banksters", I decided to
become one.

First thing to do was to teach myself How To Trade. That's
relatively easy. There are all kinds of courses, either online or
on DVD, that can teach you how to trade stocks, options, even
commodities and currencies. There are other courses that teach
you how to use the major trading platforms provided by the
"trading" brokers, such as Scotttrade, E-Trade, TD Ameritrade,
and the like. Courses that teach you both fundamental analysis
and Technical Analysis (reading charts).

Being neither hugely rich nor loaded with plentiful free
time, I opted for the trading courses taught by College of
Southern Nevada and UNLV. I then bought some inexpensive
but thorough trading books and took up the least expensive
but most comprehensive stock charting program I could find.

So far, so good. Next step was to find someplace where I could put
all this knowledge to use. And I found that if you can pass Federal
and State licensing, plus fund a large enough account to put you
out of the "retail day trader" category, you can actually find
employment as a trader.

No Harvard MBA required. No elite old-school ties. And also
no magnificent salary. But licensing, some formal education,
and the ability to fund a trading account of $25,000 or larger
will get you in the door.

So, before I go forth to get "backers" the first thing to
do is to Get Licensed. And the process is very much like getting
a Real Estate license - study for several months, take a formal
class or classes, and then sit for the tests. In the case of Trading
in Nevada, there are two tests you must pass - the FINRA Series 7,
on the working and regulations of the financial markets, and
the Series 63, which covers the "Blue Sky" laws that exist in
every state. And you must first pass the 7 before you take the

Well, I got Step 1 out of the way. Earlier this week, I Passed
The Seven. Not with the greatest scores, mind you, but a
Pass nonetheless. Now, having sent in the results, I am awaiting
my permission to take the 63 - and I have 60 days from
Passing The 7 to do so. So it's back to the books.

The 63 is a much shorter test - two hours rather than all day -
but I am advised that what it lacks in length it makes up for in
difficulty - so no break there.

But still and all, it's worthwhile. Even if I ultimately decide
not to trade for a living, just passing the tests gives me some
credibility when talking about banksters, traders and the
like. In the eyes of the law, I am knowledgeable in things
like equities, fixed-income, options, even "derivatives".

With enough money, I could be a one-man Goldman Sachs.
Another Vampire Squid. Just what the economy needs.
How nice.

But in reality, the goal is to make enough to pay the bills
and support the other activities (such as this blog) that
make life meaningful and worthwhile.

And finally, I suppose that if you can't beat 'em, better find
a way to join 'em....

Saturday, July 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities: Maywood CA and Bell CA

Here's a story I've held off on posting until I had all the facts.

To my readers, I apologize for not posting sooner but I
wanted to be accurate above all else before I went to press.

What you are about to read should shock the daylights
out of you. It puts the tales of New York's Tammany Hall
to shame and makes Chicago's Democratic machine
look like the rankest amateurs.

And if that upsets you, it should - because this is a tale of
EPIC Public Corruption unlike any I am aware of in recent
history - a sad tale for the local residents involved, but a
cautionary one for the rest of us.

It is a salient example of what happens when a community
ceases to be vigilant about its governance. And just because
this story involves local government, it makes no difference.
The same thing can happen at the state or national level, far
more easily than we might imagine.

Here's the story:

It begins in the city of Maywood, California last May, when,
in the preparation of its annual budget for the 2011 fiscal
year, the city received a notice from its liability insurers
that its premium for liability coverage of its employees
(including the Police Dept.) would triple, to approximately
$1.5 million per year.

Now Maywood is a close-in suburb of Los Angeles, but let
me assure you, Beverly Hills it is not. It is a city of about
40,000 people, 90% Hispanic, 60% foreign born, with
a per capita income of about $36,000 per year - about
half that of Los Angeles County in general. Which means
that they're not exactly flush with cash.

So after first considering merely doing away with their
police department, which was facing several lawsuits
over "police abuse", they came up with an even better idea -
to do away with the notion of city employees entirely -
and outsource everything.

First, they outsourced law enforcement to the L.A. County
Sheriff's Department, saving approximately $ 4 million a
year in the process. Next came Public Works, Parks and
Recreation, even parking enforcement - all services for
which they found eager private sector bidders, saving
even more money.

The last thing the Maywood City Council did was to
contract out the administration of the city itself to
the neighboring city of Bell, at a monthly payment
of $50,000 - about two-thirds of the previous expense.

So far, so good - Happy citizens and taxpayers in Maywood.

But here's where it gets interesting. The Los Angeles Times,
no friend of outsourcing or the Private Sector in general,
decided to investigate and compare Bell and Maywood - two
adjoining cities with similar demographics, to see what
lessons could be learned.

And what they found blew the roof off.

The City Manager of Bell, one Robert Rizzo, was
being paid $ 787,000 annually - almost twice as much
as President Obama and three times the salary of
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Police Chief
Randy Adams was paid $ $457,000 per year - or twice
the salary of L.A. Police Chief Charlie Beck. And
assistant City Manager Angela Spaccia was paid
$ 376,000 per year - more than any other municipal
executive (except for Rizzo) in the State of California.
And it goes on from there.

The seven Bell City council members, who are part time
and paid $700 per month, also are eligible to sit on up to
sixteen different city Boards and Commissions - the City
Recycling Authority, the City Planning Commission, and
so forth. In return, they can earn up to $1,000 per month
additional for each different board they sit on.

But most of these boards are "ghost" authorities - in fact,
last year most of them met for only One Minute Per Month -
this according to California Public Records Act disclosures
which the Times uncovered. And six of the seven councilmen
occupied all these positions, making their total compensation
over $100,000 annually for part-time work.

Even so, the Times managed to uncover one honest man -
newly appointed Councilman Lorenzo Velez, who earned
only his $700 monthly for attending City Council meetings.

The reason he wasn't also on the gravy train? He replaced a
councilman who resigned after unspecified accusations of
wrongdoing, but who after resigning was given a full-time
city job at Bell's food bank and kept his membership on
six of the "ghost" commissions - this despite an ordinance
that specifies only sitting council members can be on these

The upshot? The Bell City Council meeting yesterday was
jammed with irate voters demanding the resignation of Mayor
Oscar Hernandez ( a part-timer making $150,000 per year), Rizzo,
Adams, Spaccia, and the entire council except for Velez. A group
has formed to circulate petitions for a recall election. Others
are preparing to file suit demanding an audit of city finances,
which hasn't been done for the last two years despite California
law to the contrary. And there's still more. It appears that three
of the part-time council members own businesses whose principal
function is contracting with the City for "unspecified services".

Both the Los Angeles County Attorney and the State
Attorney General's office are investigating, and late yesterday
came word that the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of
California will open an investigation for violations of the
Federal Public Corruption Act.

For the unfortunate residents of Bell, help can't come
soon enough. And it's even more galling that the
corrupt council members and city executives appeared
to be taking advantage of the "Patron" culture which
the mostly Hispanic and foreign-born residents grew up in.

In the Hispanic culture, the "Patron" or political leader, is
expected to be corrupt, and to lavishly line his pockets in
return for shouldering the great responsibilities of governance.
In return, he is also expected to disburse cash, favors, and
considerations ("Las Mordidas") to deserving members of the

But there wasn't very much flowing downward to the ordinary
people, it seems - just to the regular employees and their
unions, who regularly turned out at election time to keep
the incumbents in office.

Regardless of what ultimately happens, (and I expect that
some Bell city councilmen and managers will ultimately be
guests at the Crossbar Hotel or Club Fed), this should be a
warning. Where Government and Tax Dollars are concerned,
voters won't get what they expect - only what they inspect.

And the solution to problems like this? Not recall elections
and criminal investigations, but pitchforks and torches,
tar and feathers, and trees and boiled rope.