I didn't like the way they were looking at me.

Saturday, May 30, 2009
I was sitting on my front porch this afternoon, drinking a coffee, when a fairly large branch broke loose and fell to the ground. It hit with quite a thump and raised a lot of dust.

I sat for a while thinking about a story somebody had told me once; a woman had gone out jogging and never returned. The search party found her body on the jogging trail under a tree limb that had fallen on her. A sad way to go.

After a while I started hearing creaking noises from the top of the tree. I also started seeing large shadows passing across the lawn. Puzzled, and by this point paranoid over falling trees, I stepped outside to see what was making the noise.

The tree, and all of the others in the area, were full of buzzards. There were a lot of them circling the area also. I snapped the picture to left of some of them in a tree top.

I read once that buzzards fly in a grid in the sky. When one sees something and drops to investigate, the ones nearest the hole in the grid it left move towards it to join in on any meal. Buzzards farther out then move towards the holes in the grid they've created, and that's how such a large flock of them arrive at a carcass.

I don't know what it was that attracted them, I hope not me.





Tea Party Draft Manifesto

Sunday, May 24, 2009
The outline is from the Contract With America. I'll add a NINTH regarding benefits for Congresscritters shortly.

* FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
* SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
* THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
* FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
* FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
* SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
* SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
* EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
___________________________________________________________________________________
SECOND DRAFT

* FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
CHANGE - * SECOND, the pension and medical benefits provided for Federal elected representatives shall not exceed those available to civil servants employed in the District of Columbia;
* THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
[this one needs names for specific committees to be eliminated]
* FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
[define limits]
* FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
* SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
* SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
* EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.
*NINTH Conduct a study, using independent audit firms, of all federal regulation. The purpose of the study is to identify duplicate regulation to be eliminated through legislative oversight.
*TENTH The costs associated with regulatory burdens shall be identified and a regulatory cost report issued coincidentally with approval of the annual budget.

Green Shoots

Saturday, May 23, 2009


On Monday, March 9th, the DJIA hit a low of 6,547. It has since risen to a high of 8,574 on May 8th, a rise of 31%. I have yet to see a convincing explanation of what triggered the rise beginning on March 10th but the full court press by the Obama Administration, including Fed Chairman Bernanke's unprecedented "Green Shoots 60 Minutes appearance on March 15th certainly provided fuel for a rally which appears to be based more upon wish than upon reality.

I've been trying to determine just what the "green shoots" to which Chairman Bernanke referred might have been. I've been through the BEA data on the GDP (through Q1 09), the BLS data on the employment situation, the Fed Flow of Funds report for Q4 08 in relationship to its current Consumer Credit report through March and the INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION AND CAPACITY UTILIZATION report, also through March. In an effort to try and determine where Bernanke saw some green shoots I even combed the Treasury Daily Statements in an effort to find a hint of green in the tax deposit data. I did note a brief rise in tax deposits beginning on March 6th but it was completely and badly reversed beginning on March 20th.

The data for the graph below were drawn from the Daily Treasury Statements.



The jibber jabber from the Obama Administation is completely understandable. They prove their incompetence every single day and the smoke they were blowing on March 15th was neither thicker nor dirtier than usual. Lying comes as naturally as breathing to them and the public is finally beginning to apply the appropriate discount to every word emanating from the administration.

The Federal Reserve Board is supposed to be separate from the administration. I'm going to find it very difficult to continue to believe that such a separation exists unless Chairman Bernanke clarifies his definition of a green shoot with attendant data provided regarding the period preceding his March 15th remarks. His apparent donning of a cheerleader costume does nothing to inspire trust. The economy is going nowhere until some degree of trust is reestablished by at least one player in this melodrama. The great cowards of Wall Street aren't up to the task and the gross incompetents within the administration, tax cheat Geithner in the lead, inspire confidence only that massive theft is occurring on a daily basis. It's going to be a very long haul if Bernanke slides into the darkness with the others mentioned.

As an aside - the Treasury tax data is, IMO, the set to watch. I'll believe we've hit bottom when that 63 day average flattens out. Demographics dictates that the recovery, when it finally begins, is going to be weak and 'thin'. The last of the Boomers turn 45 this year while the first are already swelling the number of Social Security recipients. That means that the key (wrt disposable income) 45-55 bracket will shrink just as the number of retirees, watching their spending very carefully, grows. Add the increase in saving occasioned by the huge number of people very close to retirement trying to replenish what used to be healthy 401Ks and the source of funds to fire up the economy really becomes a question mark.

Unalienable Rights

The conversation concerning the National Tea Party platform quickly moved to identifying and stating underlying principles. Americans are in the habit of referring to founding documents as 'source material' for underlying principles without close examination of the Founders' intent and rationale in developing the phrasing which we have come to revere. This is particularly true with regard to the Declaration of Independence and most particularly to the Preamble:
When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.


If the Preamble is stripped down to a rather harsh reality, this is what it looks like to me:
"People are entitled to commit treason by the Laws of Nature and Nature's God. The obvious truth is that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. Therefore..."


The Founders understood the need for a theological basis for overturning the divine right of kings as then commonly preached through sermons focused upon Romans 13
Romans 13

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God's ministers, attending continually upon this very thing.

Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.


They used a rhetorical device "We hold these truths to be self-evident" to assert an equality before God that is in rather stark contrast to the submission to "the minister of God" mandated by Romans 13. Had the rebellion failed, they would have been hanged by the minister of God and we would not be left trying to redetermine the consistency of our unalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

I believe it to be rather difficult to identify the core principles for the National Tea Party at a time when the populace is strongly divided as to the meaning (as well as the point at which unalienable rights are "granted") of Life, when concept of Liberty has devolved, among many, to the license of an unsupervised barnyard and the pursuit of Happiness has likewise devolved into "if it feels good, do it". Difficult doesn't mean impossible but proceeding to principles without defining (or redefining) words which have been stripped of the intent of the authors seems unlikely to prove particularly fruitful.

I have never seen an exposition of the probable position of the Founders regarding the question of when life begins. They were, in general, men who were very familiar with the Bible and very familiar with the core of the Western canon as well as being well versed in the intricacies of British common law. My understanding of each of those sources is that "quickening", the mothers awareness of movement by the baby, was a point of determination as to whether a separate life (and separate rights) existed.

I understand that the issue of the point at which rights pertain to an individual is a real thicket of thorns but can a reform party focused upon the usurpation of individual rights by overweening intrusion on the part of the government and its creatures succeed without such a definition? If one considers the result of abandonment of the pious justification "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights" in favor of "Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons." to have resulted in the Civil War then the serious nature of the question becomes apparent.

I do not believe that the productive citizenry of the United States will long tolerate mob rule having the aim of reparation and redistribution. If we are going to complete the revolution to "when in the course of human events" it would be wise to begin the return with clarity.

National Tea Party

Thursday, May 21, 2009
The following is an exchange lifted from comments at Just One Minute. I'll be editing it from time to time if interest warrants.
____________________________________________________________________________________

What do you think should be the first plank in the National Tea Party Platform? I've been wondering if formalizing the approach to rejection of the DC Thieves Club through a promise of denial of support might provide a vertebrae or two to some Washington annelids.

The Contract With America (LUN if Typhuspad remains dysfunctional) provides some ideas regarding form - possibly some content as well.

NOTE: Typhuspad et the whole comment when HTML was used. SixApart sucks like an industrial vacuum.

Posted by: Rick Ballard | May 21, 2009 at 08:10 AM



* FIRST, require all laws that apply to the rest of the country also apply equally to the Congress;
* SECOND, select a major, independent auditing firm to conduct a comprehensive audit of Congress for waste, fraud or abuse;
* THIRD, cut the number of House committees, and cut committee staff by one-third;
* FOURTH, limit the terms of all committee chairs;
* FIFTH, ban the casting of proxy votes in committee;
* SIXTH, require committee meetings to be open to the public;
* SEVENTH, require a three-fifths majority vote to pass a tax increase;
* EIGHTH, guarantee an honest accounting of our Federal Budget by implementing zero base-line budgeting.

Rick,

I actually think we would go a long way to fixing our problems if #1 were implemented. I swear all of this mess starts with political cronyism. The problem is, who would every vote for that?

I think we need to find people willing to run to buck the system - who of course will be systematically destroyed by all the ins who have all the money.

Posted by: Jane | May 21, 2009 at 09:15 AM

Jane, that is an excellent list. I'd like to suggest one more.

Every member of Congress has to sign off that they have read and understand each bill they vote on.

It would not need to be a burdensome procedure, just look at how one has to click that one has read info that web sites require you read when you sign up.

Posted by: pagar | May 21, 2009 at 09:26 AM

Jane,

I begin with the premise that there is not one of our 535 elected representatives whose immediate departure from this vale of tears would have any measurable impact on the republic. I have a very real doubt that the immediate departure of all 535 would be a net negative as well.

If I were design that first plank for a National Tea Party, I believe that I would clearly state that no incumbent who has served more than eight years would receive any support from the party. That would be a first step towards limiting the cronyism to which you refer.

The second plank would be that any candidate seeking the support of the National Tea Party must maintain a searchable database of all contributions. The database must be open to the public and the datafiles easy to download.

Then we could move on to the First, Seventh and Eighth planks listed.

Posted by: Rick Ballard | May 21, 2009 at 09:46 AM

If I were design that first plank for a National Tea Party, I believe that I would clearly state that no incumbent who has served more than eight years would receive any support from the party.

I love it Rick. I think the entire thrust should be limiting government in every way possible.

And I think we should really think about making government a part time, unpaid endeavor.

Posted by: Jane | May 21, 2009 at 09:59 AM

Jane, if you do that you'd put the bureaucracy in charge because it often takes years for Congressmen to learn the ropes.

I think not only committee staff should be cut but so should personal staff and budgets--way overdone and creating nothing but trouble.

Posted by: clarice | May 21, 2009 at 10:11 AM


Clarice,

My guess is with the brilliance we have here we could come up with a concrete platform and also probably work out the minutia. So let's give it a whirl. I nominate Rick to be in charge. And if we end up moving we also have a blueprint for our own government.


The first plank needs to echo RR. Let's affirm that the contractual terms of our voluntary association are laid out in the founding documents, that all rights are vested by our creator in the individual, except for those voluntarily assigned by individuals to the 50 States, and except for those limited rights assigned to the Federal government, either by the individual or by the states.

Then we can get into the nitty gritty.

Posted by: Old Lurker | May 21, 2009 at 10:49 AM

NINTH Abolish the congressional parking spaces at Dulles International.

Posted by: Danube of Thought | May 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM


We should also do what we can to re-enforce federalism. As I understand it the ability to force the entire nation to follow Calif emission rules is a direct outcropping of a decision to allow Cal to enforce more stringent requirements than applied elsewhere. If the Commerce clause means anything it means that states should not be permitted to set their own emission policies--the Calif market is so huge than in effect whatever the turkeys there wanted was thru market forces--and now by law--expensively imposed on us all.

In almost every other circumstance the left has used the commerce clause to exercise federal sway over what really should be local decisions.

Go figure.

Posted by: clarice | May 21, 2009 at 11:06 AM

I'm in on just about everything.

How about this for a goal. We develop an outline, contact our local tea party coodinators, send it to PJTV, aim for it to be adopted at the Sept 12th Tea party in DC.

We continue to fill in the blanks as we go along.

Posted by: Jane | May 21, 2009 at 11:31 AM


Jane--

I think the NTP idea has legs. The problem is avoiding being "Alinkskyized" for as long as possible. In other words, because the Mediacrat left has absolutely no answer to the right's ideas, it seeks to personalize everything and attack individuals directly. The more organized and hierarchical the NTP is, the more certain individuals become targeted. It's a bit of a Catch-22. Anyone have ideas for working around this problem?

Posted by: Fresh Air | May 21, 2009 at 12:49 PM

Fresh:

Well let's talk about how we expect it to play out, and then we can think about how to defend. One thing I would do is keep politicians out of it. Have it just be citizens. We should network on the internet and maybe not talk to the press until we are ready altho that could backfire.

We need a place to work on it. This topic is going to be hard to find soon.

Posted by: Jane | May 21, 2009 at 01:08 PM


Jane--

This topic is going to be hard to find soon.

What does this mean?

Posted by: Fresh Air | May 21, 2009 at 01:14 PM


When the world gets you down...

Monday, May 11, 2009
...it's time for some Heavy Metal Bluegrass.

So... who did whatever it was that was done?

Sunday, May 03, 2009

The picture to the right is of a 1943 police lineup in NY, NY. I don't know what the crime was, nor who, if anybody, was ever picked out of it.

Myself, I suspect the guy second from the left just 'cause he looks like a gangster should look.

It is from an interesting Flickr photostream called LeastWanted. The stream is composed primarily of old mug shots, although there are a fair number of old ID pictures, as well as some other stuff mixed in.

It is an altogether fascinating stream, with face after face, some defiant, some forlorn, some rather crazed looking, documenting long forgotten arrests.

That is of course the interest of nearly every old picture -- who are these people, what is the story behind the picture, and whatever became of them? Questions that realistically will never be answered and so we're left, if we care at all, to create a momentary scenario for them before we move on and forget them.

Below is one more picture from the stream. If nothing else, the hat certainly deserves its own story.