Monday, February 28, 2005

‘Butterflies Are Free’



There I was… in a good writing routine for several months and thinking I could keep it up forever.

But, sometimes, life gives us twists and turns from left-field and our plans change accordingly.

I told you about our car issue and the District 60 issue we were facing before. But, there has also been some good news…

We got our car issue settled and are now mobile again. District 60, through their crookedness and incompetence, is in full retreat.

At the same time my wife’s coupon-clipping service, Frugal and Free, has taken off suddenly. I’d like to say it was through my marketing genius but it was really a by-product of my feeble attempts at marketing… with a lot of aid from the man upstairs.

In any event, the site is now getting many targeted hits and Michelle is receiving a steady stream of orders.

The coupon madness has kept me very busy over the past week, and I’ve had time for little else except html, additional marketing and even clipping the coupons for orders… all of this through the afore-mentioned trials with the Bush-Mobile and having to deal with the gnarly little centipedes at our local school district.

None of this did I expect.

Before the site’s sudden success I had mentioned here and to my wife and son that, perhaps, we should be hoping George W. Bush won re-election, as there would be more people needing to use grocery coupons.

I hadn’t realized how prophetic that statement might be.

The other day, in the midst of additional hits and orders, with the entire household now working for the site, I reminded my son of what I had said before… to which he remarked, “Well… at least Bush is good for something.”

Out of the mouths of babes…

It’s been a long two weeks; car problems, paperwork games with the school district, some business success and even some computer problems.

But…

I’m a methodical sort and always manage to work additional tasks into my safe little routines. I go chaotic a bit when those things from left-field come flying at me but I usually recover enough to leave the things I enjoy in place — and I enjoy writing on this blog very much.

So, as for posting and the audio show… I’m back in the saddle again. My horse is even looking a bit better than that nag the president had me riding before.

As for anything resembling “fate” or “dumb luck”… I give God the credit for that. I also give God the credit for my marketing genius and for us being able to battle the dark forces aimed against our family.

The president gets credit for making the economy ripe enough to launch Michelle’s coupon site.

Friday, February 18, 2005

‘The Longest Day’

Over the years my wife and I have made jokes about being “under assault” from the dark forces of evil (i.e. Satan). This is how we’ve explained to ourselves a series of unfortunate instances. We’re not religious fanatics or anything but this is how we’ve explained these things to ourselves.

After this past week I’m not so sure we were far off the mark in that analysis.

We’ve all had them… a series of challenging events that tests our faith and, in most cases, reveals the true characters of those around us… either for good or bad.

At my last entry I mentioned the problems and potential problems my wife and I were having with our local school district, Colorado’s District 60. Shortly after I posted that entry the kids and I hopped into the Bush Mobile and headed off to fetch Michelle from work.

As we were passing through the Pueblo Community College I heard a barreling-type noise coming from the engine. The headlights began to flicker and the engine sputtered. As the Bush Mobile went dead we drifted off to the shoulder. The children and I were too shocked to say anything for a few moments as the weight of the event hit us.

Our only vehicle — a 1988 Plymouth Grande Voyager — had decided to park along the street at the college at 6:25pm on Friday evening.

Having no cell phone (mostly because nobody ever calls us) we could only walk the half-mile back to the house and wait for Michelle’s “where are you?” phone call. Michelle ended up taking a cab home.

I suspected that the Bush Mobile’s alternator had conked out. But, absolutely nobody does anything on the weekends in Pueblo and we were short on cash with a week or so to go before Michelle’s payday and our income-tax refund. We weren’t sure we could even get the van towed off the campus before the campus security people and the Pueblo City Police decided to remove it themselves.

Early on Saturday I tried to contact the college campus’ security but couldn’t get hold of anyone. I called the city police, explained the problem and learned that I would have 72-hours to retrieve the van after it was “red-tagged.” Naturally, since I had no idea when we could afford a tow, my mission was to delay the tagging of the van for as long as possible.

In the meantime — if we wanted or needed anything at all — we would have to hike over a mile to get it or call a cab. Michelle would need to get to work and back by cab for the duration.

It’s that old capitalistic principle: “The less you have, the more you pay.”

LA’s upcoming Boy Scout camping trip was questionable as there might not be a way to get him across town to the pre-camp meeting place. Sheyanne was also anticipating her piano-lesson recital and could miss that if we could not afford taxi fare. Not to mention, since cash was low, Michelle’s job could be in jeopardy if she had trouble getting to work.

All of this was powerful and stressful stuff.

We live in town but there isn’t a grocery store or much of anything anywhere close. The only business that is close is an auto-repair shop two blocks from the house. But that isn’t open on weekends.

Our only “family” in town is Michelle’s useless brother, who causes more trouble in troubling situations and who hasn’t even spoken to Michelle for over two years because she had the nerve to question his behavior in front of our children. We know a few other people but not well enough to ask for transportation favors.

Over the past several months Michelle has become “friends” with another avid coupon lady in town… or so Michelle thought. We are naturally independent — and rarely impose on others — but Michelle did tell this lady “friend” that we had a problem with our van and were without transportation. All Michelle asked her was whether she’d be willing to pick up a can of coffee and a loaf of bread for us in her couponing travels, if we paid her when she dropped it off.

But, sadly, the lady simply ignored the request and topped that off by calling several times — totally oblivious to Michelle’s situation — to ask Michelle if she knew of any “deals” at the stores.

God bless her… Michelle remained polite through it all — even after she walked across the street from work, after her shift, to get a couple of things we needed at 7-11 (with our fledgling PayPal card) before she then called a cab to bring her home, only to get a call from this nitwit asking about “deals” and bragging about her own couponing conquests.

So we languished in our money and transportation fears over the weekend.

Saturday afternoon, to delay anyone else but me getting the van towed away, the children and I walked down to the college campus to visit with security.

After stopping by four or five of the campus buildings it became evident that finding the security people would be a trick, as there was no legend, map or directions to a “security” office anywhere.

We asked the few people we encountered but they didn’t know anything. Finally, a campus security car was spotted and we went to that building. A dubious-looking gentleman standing outside the building took us up two flights of stairs to another man wearing a badge and standing in front of a large conference room.

This man informed us that he was “security,” but not for the college. He was providing security for the “Pow Wow” in progress at the room we found ourselves at. I explained the van situation and “Edward” whipped out a cell phone and started calling for another guy named Marty, who was the guy Edward said was in charge of campus security.

While Edward was trying to reach Marty we noticed many Native-Americans entering the conference room around us dressed in full garb and headdress. We then heard drums and saw several of the Indians take the stage and begin dancing.

For some reason Matthew was uncomfortable around the Native-Americans and started crying. He wanted to “go home” (After the “Pow Wow” we walked a mile to Pizza Hut — and past an Hispanic youth gang — where we got Matthew a mini-pizza with a certificate he had earned in Reading last month. This made him much happier).

Edward never heard from Marty. But another guy called him back and told him to tell us to put a note in the window of the van.

Edward asked me if I would tow the van on Monday. I said “sure.” Although I had no idea if I could pull that off without any cash.

I left the college campus unsure whether I had bought some time or alerted some guy on a cell phone named Marty that he could call the police on us if the van was not gone by Monday afternoon.

Sunday came and went with much less excitement and possibilities than we had on Saturday. An inventory of supplies for the coming week revealed that we had plenty of stuff in the house because of Michelle’s couponing… only we didn’t have staples like milk, coffee, meat and bread. We also had no immediate prospects of securing these staples, except by taxi.

The coming week was chock-full of disturbing possibilities: What if the van’s problem was fatal? What if nobody would tow it and bill us? What if the repairs were more than Michelle’s next check? What if the tax-refund didn’t show up soon? What would happen if the repairs were done before we had any money? How the heck would we get groceries? What stupid, callous, crooked and impersonal thing would District 60 do next?

Uncertain of anything and at the mercy of fate we steadied ourselves for just about any possibility.

Michelle took a cab to work on Monday, as I stopped all activity to deal with the van issue and fend off the District 60 people… who were expecting their paperwork back no later than Monday.

After Michelle left for work, via taxi, on Monday morning, I decided to email Matthew’s school, Branson Online, to explain my stance regarding the questionable District 60 paperwork. That’s when I started having a computer problem. I’m still not sure what went wrong but the ancient Dell began refusing to load anything.

Monday is when we get a weekly call from Matthew’s teacher. So I spilled my guts to her about the paperwork and she contacted the other workers at Branson who were running Matthew’s evaluation.

In between calls I contacted a man named Dennis down the street at the auto-repair shop and told him of the problem. That’s when we got our first break. Dennis said the problem sounded like the alternator to him too but he couldn’t be sure of course until he took a look at it. He said he would retrieve the van and bill us for it.

This was a huge blessing.

The lady at Branson Online called me later in the day and sided with me against the District 60 people. I was given her permission to refuse the “questionnaire” form and any questions on it.

On Tuesday Michelle again took a cab to work. My computer miraculously began to work normally again. LA spotted the van at the auto-repair place (a relief). I received a call from the District 60 social worker who wanted the “questionnaire” back. I told him nothing about Branson’s decision and stalled him on delivery of the paperwork (the less they know, the less trouble they can cause).

On Wednesday I got brave and called Dennis at the auto-repair shop. The repairs would be less than Michelle’s paycheck on Friday. Although the cost would be about twice the van’s blue book value and would also leave us with about $27 survival money for the next two weeks, unless more miracles were forthcoming.

On Thursday I got another call from the District 60 social worker. He “related” to our transportation problem but wanted the paperwork back. I told him I would get to it when I could but that I wasn’t planning to take a taxi to deliver it. Fortunately, in District 60, one bureaucrat doesn’t know what the other is doing and this guy, Rudy, retreated when he discovered I knew more about Matthew’s evaluation process than he did.

Actually… Thursday would see most of the forces of darkness begin to retreat, as we battled against their attempts to rub us out. Michelle had Thursday and Friday off and, after checking our bank account online every 20-minutes or so for the tax-refund, she discovered a $300 mistake in our favor.

Dennis called to tell us the van was repaired and that we could come get it and pay for it on Friday (is that incredible or what?). Michelle also heard from an email friend outside of town who had a newer van we might be able to purchase with part of our income-tax refund.

We celebrated Thursday night by ordering pizza and hot wings. Michelle drove the Bush Mobile to the store to acquire milk, coffee and bread (and, yes… a cheap 12-pack).

This morning, before I went down the street to pay Dennis for the car repair, I checked the online bank account and discovered the refund had arrived.

We will travel to the Mexican restaurant for our annual tax-refund dinner.

As much as Michelle and I are convinced there are dark and oppressive forces that attack the mind, body and spirit, we are also convinced that there are forces for good.

We’ve seen it ourselves over this past week and in other situations.

This has been a long and stressful week. That’s why there have been no articles or an audio show.

But, I am much better now. I’m back in a position to cause trouble again.

I think I’ll make District 60 wait a while longer for their abbreviated paperwork.

Friday, February 11, 2005

‘Back to School’

Homeschooling is tough but the public school system was outright ridiculous sometimes… at least it was to our family.

We still have had to deal with District 60 in Pueblo to a certain extent; we still have the older two children privately evaluated each year and turn in the results to the district every other year as required.

Where my youngest, Matthew, who is Down Syndrome, is concerned we haven’t had to deal with the district at all the past several years and haven’t had to report to them because Matthew is in a charter set-up with a school called “Branson Online.”

There is some backstory here; when Matthew was at a public school, here in Colorado’s District 60, a few years ago, he was coming home with many glowing progress reports from his teachers. What we noticed, after a while, was that Matthew could not duplicate the work he was bringing home completed.

To make a long story shorter we determined, over time, that the progress was being forged and — rather than continue to deal with the people involved — we pulled him out of the school. Our other two children were being homeschooled anyway, and Matthew wanted to be at home with the rest of us (he’s learning quite well now, by the way).

In transferring Matthew over to Branson Online we stumbled across a District 60 file where it was revealed that Matthew’s former teacher, principal and a couple of social workers had held an “IEP” meeting behind our backs… a big-time no-no, where they agreed (and we agreed by their proxy) to waive Matthew’s funding for services through the district — something he is entitled to by law. My wife and I were referred to in the paperwork — without ever being notified before or afterward — as “not in attendance.”

Rather than allow this to go unchallenged on the record we pushed the issue and forced the district to allow the record be amended. Subsequently all of those involved in the IEP meeting, the forging, the lack of compliance with federal law and the lying were reprimanded and the school lost its Special Ed contract.

This week Branson Online has set up a series of evaluations with District 60 personnel (where they merely act as facilitators), in order to prepare for their next LEGAL IEP meeting with my wife and I.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the people at District 60. I do not trust them and they aren’t used to this process (we’ve learned that they resent it actually), as it is a new way to educate children. They certainly aren’t happy about providing this legally-mandated service to something like Branson, which is an entity they do not control.

But I’m sure Matthew’s folder at the district now has a big red check mark on it and they have, for the most part, been cooperative and friendly.

District 60 is only a participant in this process as a “facilitator” and NOT as an actual decision-maker that has a say in the IEP process. But, apparently, they could not leave it at that alone.

Tucked away inside the federal paperwork they gave me today was a “questionnaire” from District 60 itself. This paperwork is not part of the process of this current evaluation, plays no part in the upcoming IEP and, in fact, asks no questions at all that pertain to Matthew’s ability.

There isn’t any reason whatsoever for them to need this information or ask us to provide it. In my humble, yet experienced, opinion filling out this District 60 form is to give tacit acknowledgment that they have any say in our lives AT ALL.

The questions on this form preclude the notion that there is a “problem” with Matthew’s home environment and acts as an information-gathering tool toward a “determination.”

My concern is that, after filling out this form, we’ll find ourselves at a “hearing” next… that is, if they invite us to be there.

In the form (disguised as a “health history” record) they ask about everything in our personal life; our ethnicity, who our friends are, our friends’ ethnicity and THEIR level of education, home addresses and phone numbers, the same about all our relatives, “previous marriages” (if any) and the ethnicity, names, numbers and addresses of former spouses, our methods of discipline for all our children in the household, detailed information about how we educate and discipline our other two children… absolutely nothing that pertains to Matthew’s medical history or his ability in his current curriculum.

We’re not supposed to be smart enough to understand that the form is not only an invasion of our privacy but is aimed at the privacy of everyone we know. There is only one reason anyone would want information about friends and family: To attempt to find something “wrong”… anything at all.

At first, after looking through the paperwork, I was perplexed by the sort of information Branson and the federal government thought it needed. Then I saw the District 60 stamp and the “Social” department the form originated from… a cabal of crooked District 60 social workers whose purview Matthew is not under.

The workers I saw today were a bit disappointed I did not fill everything out right away. That's too bad. After a quick glance at the paperwork they appeared to be drooling over I preferred to consult with the one person whom I trust more than anyone: My wife. So they, hesitantly, “allowed” me to take the paperwork home.

Several years have gone by since our problems with the district but, apparently, there is someone in the district who holds a grudge. My feeling is that they want us to complete this form — which has no bearing on this IEP evaluation process — in the hopes that we might provide a nugget of detail that they feel they could use against us, inserting themselves into the process and our lives.

The form may very well be redundant information gathering and may even be benign. But something (I believe the hair standing up on the back of my neck) has signaled a warning sign.

As of this writing my wife has not yet seen the form. In the belief that my assessment of this “stealth form” could be mistaken and sourced in both my natural and well-earned paranoia (courtesy of District 60 itself)… I’m going to simply give the paperwork to Michelle and see what happens.

I’ve employed this system of checks and balances before and it has never failed me.

Michelle is at the point where she trusts the public school system — and the district especially — even less than I do. She’s pretty smart too. My guess is that she will notice the same problems I have. That’s how I’ll know my instincts are the right ones.

I suspect that we will not provide this sort of information to the same people we could not trust to educate Matthew or even tell the truth to their own superiors, the state and the federal government.

I’ve written about all this before. I’ve also had responses from people who say good things about the public education system and have expressed shock at what happened to us.

I understand that our experience with District 60 in Colorado is, mostly, an aberration…

I just don’t want them to be our aberration.

Update: After she looked over the form from District 60 Michelle’s response was “they can suck eggs!”

Ah… instincts.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

‘Callous Sentiment’



Every slight decrease in the number of jobless claims, during the past several years, is heralded by the administration as “progress.”

What isn’t taken into account — ever — are the facts that many people have even stopped looking for work as their unemployment insurance runs out, that the few jobs created (always woefully short from month to month of the number of people entering the job force) and that the “new jobs” are, for the most part, part-time and for less pay.

For all of this we have several practices to thank; the outsourcing of good jobs and the moving of American factories to foreign countries, where slave labor is practiced, the importation of foreign workers who work for much less, partially subsidized by the federal government, and the growing invasion of illegal aliens, who are hired illegally and work for less pay and benefits… a practice the Bush Administration wants to make “legal” (not that the illegality of the current situation is enforced by the administration… it isn’t).

While we wait for American corporations to begin “trickling down” their good fortune — and unprecedented profits — by increasing job starts and opening new factories and such many who had decent jobs in industries before Bush are desperately settling for newer and part-time jobs for close to minimum wage and no benefits. Many with degrees are working in several of these types of jobs just to make ends meet… if they can find them at all.

The essence of the problem, to be sure, is a decided greed by corporations, via the Bush Administration which acts simply as a conduit for their self-interests, but there is also another attitude at work…

“Callousness.”

At the same time the administration supports, aids and enables corporations against American workers, while espousing theories on “job creation” and a purported belief that uninhibited companies will “trickle down” their profits to the economy, it also talks about “retraining” and “further education” where jobs have been outsourced, eliminated or have simply disappeared.

When entire small towns are thrown out of work and those who have trained in various fields are met with closed factories and relocated industries — because of Bush Administration policy — the administration stammers that these folks need to “re-educate” themselves for the “global economy.”

Not only does the Bush Administration help the corporations outsource American factories and jobs and further aid the elimination of decent-paying jobs, with the aid of cheap foreign labor, in the name of corporate profits and “trickle down” economics, but it also callously insinuates that the result is the blame of the American workers themselves who, somehow, chose the wrong degree or industry on which to build a career.

But, the callousness goes even further…

While times are good for corporations and the executives who decide how millions will live, as they have their proxy in this administration, the Bush people are pleased about it all and display their pomposity directly toward the workers… who attempt to help themselves but find their options increasingly limited.

It was only one incident of many such displays of this arrogant and disgusting attitude toward the people he purports to represent, from someone who is supposed to be concerned about the plight of people affected by his policies but cannot be because of his lack of empathy and a decided callousness…

Last Friday President Bush — who represents the American people and, in fact, “loves” them — was promoting his “two Social Securities” plan with “regular” citizens in Omaha, Nebraska, President Bush walked into one of his often awkward and unscripted moments in which he stated that carrying three jobs at a time is “uniquely American” (supporting a family with one income and then two full-time incomes used to be “uniquely American”).

While talking with audience participants, the president met Mary Mornin, a woman in her late fifties who told the president she was a divorced mother of three, including a “mentally challenged” son.

The President comforted Mornin on the state of Social Security, stating that “the promises made will be kept by the government.”

But without prompting Mornin began to elaborate on her life circumstances and the following exchange occurred…

MS. MORNIN: That's good, because I work three jobs and I feel like I contribute.

THE PRESIDENT: You work three jobs?

MS. MORNIN: Three jobs, yes.

THE PRESIDENT: Uniquely American, isn't it? I mean, that is fantastic that you're doing that. (Applause.) Get any sleep? (Laughter.)

Naturally, the president did not follow up on this exchange. In fact, he sounded pleased (hence his joke about “sleep”). Was Ms. Mornin working three full-time jobs or three of the president’s new part-time jobs? Why was she working three jobs at all? Could it be because two were not enough to make ends meet? Were benefits included in any of these jobs?

Has the president himself ever been in a situation like this where he was required to be “uniquely American”?

Not likely.

This is simply typical of the callousness of the Bush team about American workers in positions of disadvantage because of greed by Bush’s buddies in industry.

Is Ms. Mornin — and millions like her — a beneficiary of Bush’s “trickle down” way of thinking, or is Ms. Mornin — like millions of others — being “trickled on”?

I know several people like Ms. Mornin, who work hard trying to keep these new and disposable jobs in this new “global economy.” I know others who work right alongside people like Ms. Mornin… people with degrees in industries long gone to China and outsourced to India… people who take these rare and new part-time jobs for well below what it cost to obtain their degrees in the first place, if they can find the jobs at all.

These same people aren’t laughing about any of this. They are struggling to find their own slice of things “uniquely American.”

There was a time when one American full-time job could support a family. Over the past 25-30 years that changed into two full-time incomes per household supporting an American family.

As we are seeing this slip away — especially during the Bush years — we are learning that those two full-time incomes were actually a luxury, as they are being replaced, in a variety of creative ways, by new part-time jobs for less pay and no benefits by Bush’s like-minded, greedy and callous buddies in American business.

And… as we can plainly see from this uniquely “un-American” attitude…

We can expect more “trickling.”

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

‘Walk the Talk’



With the presentation of President Bush’s latest budget one thing is clear: It’s no longer useful to be a “fiscal conservative.” The term is moot.

When a “conservative” president comes up with a $2.6-trillion budget — a budget more than one-third bigger than the budget he inherited four years before — without batting an eyelash… the word “conservative” doesn’t mean a thing anymore.

With the past four years of unprecedented spending, by this administration, and this new budget, the pretensions should be dropped entirely.

The two parties running our government both believe in big spending… they simply disagree on how the money should be spent; the Republicans believe that services should be cut and that the money should be spent on wars and social change in foreign nations, while giving corporations every break possible against American workers, and the Democrats believe that the money should be spent on human services in this country and nanny-like structures of control.

We’ve seen this sort of budgeting from “conservatives” before… during Reagan’s presidency. We are even hearing similar stories, from “conservatives,” about why the deficit is growing, the budget is increasing and some services are being cut.

The theory has been and is once again this: If the president operates the budget at a deficit and spends more money then he can also guide the government toward reducing itself in size by cutting programs and whole departments.

In other words, we can cut the government by increasing the size of it.

Ingenious, right?

Well… perhaps it would be if it were true.

The problem is that, during Reagan’s presidency, when this same sort of “voodoo economics” was practiced the deficit continued to grow, departments went untouched and the budget got out of control, ending up with Reagan growing the government by one-third overall.

And Reagan DID veto spending bills!

Bush is the first president since Martin Van Buren to spend an entire term in the White House without vetoing a single bill. In his latest budget bill Bush has slightly cut the cost of some services while INCREASING the budget.

George W. Bush is no Ronald Reagan. Bush doesn’t even employ the rhetoric against a growing government that Reagan did. Bush doesn’t combat any sort of spending on the government’s part as “wasteful” or “unnecessary.” Bush signs every single increase in spending and, in fact, proposes even more spending.

Keep in mind that Bush’s $2.6-trillion budget is a “proposed” budget. When the budget is debated by those in the House and Senate the chances are that it will actually increase in size, with any number of additional spending measures attached. Bush’s history shows us he will sign it.

George W. Bush is not a “conservative,” fiscally or socially. The description of him by conservatives as being a “conservative” continues to drive this writer nuts.

Bush’s latest budget promises to “cut the deficit in half by 2009.” We should remember that there was not a deficit but a surplus when Bush took office. We should also remember that Bush promised his tax cuts would “reduce the deficit” he created “by half” in his first term. We should also remember his reasoning on how this would be accomplished: that the tax cuts would lead to job growth… something we are still waiting on from one month to the next for going on five years now.

The very idea that “conservatives” are in control of anything is absurd on its face.

President Bush is not only a big-spender when it comes to handling tax money but he’s a destructive and reckless big-spender in that he doesn’t even support helping Americans with the spending.

Charity doesn’t begin at home with this guy… it begins in India, China, Afghanistan, Mexico, Iraq and “Palestine.” Sadly, it ends with Cheney and Halliburton and other buddies running the corporations (and the government by proxy) that are ruining any chance of reducing government growth and reigning-in the deficit while also ruining Americans’ chances at leaving a responsible, fiscal legacy to their children.

Support the president all the way. Holler in favor of everything he does while in office. That’s okay with me. You’re entitled to do this.

Call what President Bush does anything you want to call it…

Just, please, I beg you… don’t call it “conservative.”

Monday, February 07, 2005

‘Born to Win’

Friday, February 04, 2005

‘Sweet Liberty’



As covered here, over the months, I’ve mentioned that there are differences between what a “conservative” is today and what the term used to mean.

“Conservative” used to mean that a person was for DECREASED government spending and LESS government control. But this is no longer applicable to what “conservatives” and their major party — the Republican Party — say “conservatism” is now days.

These days, “conservatives” support larger government and more control over people. They support larger government in every spending bill they pass and they support control in every law that President Bush signs.

They have their reasons to be sure… but this is what they do.

Therein lies the only distinction between the two major political parties, in modern times, as they govern after being elected: The Republicans support government growth and control in favor of business and to the detriment of the people and Democrats favor larger government and control in favor of people and, mostly, to the detriment of big business.

In campaign rhetoric both philosophies sound worlds apart. In practice they are quite similar in that they both grow and further empower the government. Only one of the parties’ philosophies has any merit, and that is the philosophy of the Democrats… as they are the only ones who want to spend money to benefit the people they serve.

But, in the end, even their efforts are destructive as more tax dollars are used to help less and less people.

In reality both philosophies are destructive, as a growing federal government that spends, eats and wastes more and more tax dollars each year can only serve to further entrench itself in the lives of citizens as it hungers for more money to spend and more control in order to tax and spend it.

The Founding Fathers knew this about government. They put our Constitution into place not as a starting point for a government that needed to grow but as a limit on what the government was allowed and not allowed to do.

The government they established — in no way whatsoever — resembles the government we have today. This is not because of an intended “natural growth” of our government desired by the Founding Fathers but because of an unintended, destructive and greedy grab for power BY the people who run our government.

The fear of this tendency by the federal government was warned about before and during the establishment of our Constitution and observed in practice, by the Founding Fathers, after they established the Constitution and before they passed on…

“They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759

“[D]emocracy will soon degenerate into an anarchy, such an anarchy that every man will do what is right in his own eyes and no man's life or property or reputation or liberty will be secure, and every one of these will soon mould itself into a system of subordination of all the moral virtues and intellectual abilities, all the powers of wealth, beauty, wit and science, to the wanton pleasures, the capricious will, and the execrable cruelty of one or a very few.”
John Adams, An Essay on Man's Lust for Power, August 29, 1763

“But a Constitution of Government once changed from Freedom, can never be restored. Liberty, once lost, is lost forever.”
John Adams, letter to Abigail Adams, July 17, 1775

(For the record… I disagree with Mr. Adams on this one).

“That, as a republic is the best of governments, so that particular arrangements of the powers of society, or, in other words, that form of government which is best contrived to secure an impartial and exact execution of the laws, is the best of republics.”
John Adams, Thoughts on Government, 1776

“All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.”
James Madison, speech at the Constitutional Convention, July 11, 1787

“An elective despotism was not the government we fought for; but one in which the powers of government should be so divided and balanced among the several bodies of magistracy as that no one could transcend their legal limits without being effectually checked and restrained by the others.”
James Madison, Federalist No. 58, 1788

“For the same reason that the members of the State legislatures will be unlikely to attach themselves sufficiently to national objects, the members of the federal legislature will be likely to attach themselves too much to local objects.”
James Madison, Federalist No. 47, February 1, 1788

“One hundred and seventy-three despots would surely be as oppressive as one.”
James Madison, Federalist No. 48, February 1, 1788

“There are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments of those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations.”
James Madison, speech to the Virginia Ratifying Convention, June 16, 1788

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide.”
John Adams, letter to John Taylor, April 15, 1814

“At the establishment of our constitutions, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account.”
Thomas Jefferson, letter to Monsieur A. Coray, Oct 31, 1823

(Although Jefferson was citing one example about the judiciary… his words are prophetic with respect to all branches of government today)

“The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse.”
James Madison, speech in the Virginia constitutional convention, Dec 2, 1829

Notice the distinction, in these quotes, on the type of government the Founding Fathers themselves say they created and compare that with what modern-day politicians say we have now: A “republic”… as opposed to a “democracy.”

The Founding Fathers considered “democracy” as a possible form of government at the establishment of the Constitution. The thought of it was dismissed entirely by them all, as they held that form of government beneath contempt.

The Founding Fathers understood that democracies — by their very nature — only grow and consume more of the country’s wealth, while constantly plying more control from the people they govern until they ultimately collapse.

This is not understood by most people. But… it was understood by the people who established this country in the first place. What we have today is exactly the government the Founding Fathers did not want and also feared might come about.

So… our “Republic” is gone and now we have this ever-growing and always greedy “democracy” government that the Founding Fathers feared and attempted to avoid.

But, can we ever once again place government back into the limits established in our Founding Fathers’ Constitution? Several of the Founding Fathers did not think so.

Is it possible to change this monster with the help of the Republican and Democratic parties? Can these parties be “changed from within,” as so many who belong to them claim they can be.

Not likely.

I refer you to one man who tried: Ronald Reagan.

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it was once like in the United States where men were free.”

“No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!”

“To sit back hoping that someday, some way, someone will make things right is to go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he will.”

Reagan — by word and deed — DID attempt to change things from the inside. But, sadly, it didn’t take.

Since the two major parties are the ones that grew the monster in the first place and are now thoroughly entrenched and corrupted they cannot be trusted to bring about the needed change.

The platforms of both the Republic Party and the Democratic Party hold admirable and, in fact, valuable ideals which should be practiced. But, in practice, neither political party has anything in common with its own supporters and BOTH are at odds with their own rhetoric.

As we’ve been warned before, “power corrupts” and “absolute power corrupts absolutely.” This is where we are today… with two powerfully-entrenched political parties that not only do not have the courage of their convictions but no convictions with which to have any courage.

Competition and change is necessary. This can come about only if people realize what was intended by the Founders, how far removed we are from these principles and also what is at stake if nothing changes.

The only way to create change, at this point, is with other political parties… ones that would return us to a republic and Constitutional government and turn us away — by word and deed — away from this “democracy” the politicians in control continue to feed and empower… the very government the Founding Fathers dreaded might come about — with politicians who claim to uphold the ideals the Founding Fathers set forth.

To be sure… the two major parties are a central part of the problem in government today.

But… if you are one of their adherents who believes that either party can be changed from the inside, or believes these parties may change themselves, or if you claim “when a new party comes along that starts getting enough votes, I’ll join,” while at the same time acknowledging the obvious problems in the system to date…

Then YOU are a bigger part of the problem.

(Recommended reading: Libertarian Party Platform, Constitution Party Platform, America First Party Platform)

Thursday, February 03, 2005

‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’



I’m home all the time with the children. So… I kind of count on a reprieve every now and again. No reprieve would be “slavery,” wouldn’t it?

I don’t do things like I tried to do today all the time. But, every now and again, when Michelle is home for the day… the temptation is too great.

Since Michelle has two days off this week, so we can do taxes (yay), and I also have to begin assembling Matthew’s paperwork for the month to send to his teacher on Friday, Thursday became the perfect day to play… The Game.

I started playing the game last night, after Michelle got home from work.

Since I’m the obsessive sort, when I’m in a mood like this, I have to have something else to… well… obsess with. For this I chose John Madden 2004 (we don’t have the latest version). I have been playing this version of the game only a short while and have not yet mastered it.

Last night I could not get the New England Patriots past the damn Miami Dolphins. Tom Brady kept getting intercepted and then Miami would run that doper Ricky Williams for a touchdown.

But… I kept saving the game every time I made a bit of progress and also started over if something disastrous occurred (yes, I’m aware this is “cheating”).

Every time I’d score I’d change channels to catch a bit of the president’s speech…

“Social Security”… “disaster”… “Social Security”… “Bwahahaha”

Click.

“4th down and 53 to go for the New England Patriots, John.”

Finally, with the aide of creative cheating, I had the Pats up 30 to 10 late in the third quarter. So, I saved the game and relaxed for the remainder of Bush’s speech…

“Iraq”… “Iraq”… “Iraqi people”… “Iraqi people”… “Iraq”

“Zzzzzzz.”

Usually, when I get up, I head straight for the computer but this morning I blew off the article, the audio show prep, the Frugal and Free marketing and the laundry and headed straight for the PlayStation.

After banging on the almost four-year-old machine and cussing at it for a while the game finally uploaded.

I was shocked to discover that my game-save had been tampered with (the kids used the machine after Bush put me to sleep). The Pats were no longer leading 30 to 10. I was forced to play the Dolphins again.

No matter how much I cheated… they kept running Ricky Williams and kicking my butt. Brady kept getting intercepted.

Finally, I simulated the game in the hopes the Pats could win that way. But, they lost 43 to 3. I sucked it up and moved on to the next game.

During a first-half ass-kicking at the hands of the mighty Cleveland Browns — and more Brady interceptions — Matthew got up, so I started him at his computer with his schoolwork.

I hollered instructions to him between plays.

After a while the other two children got up. My game play was beginning to suffer even more, so I told the kids to “check on Mom.” Naturally, they woke her up and I was able to keep playing.

In the 3rd quarter of the Browns game we discovered that Matthew’s printer was out of ink and could not, therefore, be used to print off his worksheets. I had LA “tell Mom” and, so, Michelle started printing Matthew’s schoolwork from her computer and printer over coffee… while LA instructed her on which courses to click.

I told Matthew to take a break. Naturally, he went to my bedroom to see Michelle, leaving me alone with the Pats in the Living Room.

Meanwhile, back at the PlayStation, after the distractions had ended and after my humiliating loss to the Browns, I began to make some progress. I creamed the Broncos, Cowboys and Colts in short order and barely got past the Texans.

I went from being 4-3 to 8-3. The Super Bowl was not out of reach.

I could hear Michelle and LA arguing over Matthew’s schoolwork in the bedroom. I was hoping everyone would keep each other and Matthew busy while I marched to the Super Bowl. But, I guess the bickering and screeching I heard from the bedroom made me a bit overconfident that Michelle was too distracted to interfere with my game-play.

Like my opening drive against the Jags… it wasn't meant to last.

There were too many conflicting priorities building to a crescendo… not the least of which was Michelle’s wrath; Matthew wanted to watch TV in my room instead of doing schoolwork, LA wanted to get to Matthew’s computer but was bogged down with his brother's paperwork, Sheyanne was complaining of an upset stomach, I wanted to goof off and Michelle… well… she actually was trying to do Frugal and Free coupon work in between printing schoolwork pages, while fending off me and the kids.

I’m not sure what she had to complain about though; I had let her sleep-in for over a half-hour before I sent the kids to wake her up so she could make coffee.

I have to hand it to her though… she pulled things together better than I did against the other teams in the Pats' own division.

At any rate, after she had a pot of coffee and finally got to the end of printing Matthew's schoolwork (slightly more than a quarter of a season in Maddenland), Michelle started to wise up to the situation. She began to give me that rapid-fire “honey-do” stuff (you married guys know what I mean).

She began to rifle off a litany of things I was neglecting; laundry, a letter to Branson Online to get Matthew out of CSAP tests for the year, etc. Madden 2004 began to stay on “pause” more and more as Michelle counter-punched.

When I had barely gotten the first “honey-do” or two out of the way (scowling demands, actually) she hit me with a biggie… kind of like an uppercut after a great jab. It seems she had received several 10 cent orders from customers on Frugal and Free.

When customers do that she loses 70 cents per order.

Can't have that. Noooo.

This task, of course, could not wait until the end of the game against the Jags… so I was instructed to change all the pages at Frugal and Free to reflect her new policy of $1 minimum orders.

At that point… my march to the Super Bowl ended and I was forced to save the game and turn off the PlayStation.

Like I said, I don’t do this all the time… but I HAVE been doing this for a long time. I thought my game play was sharper than how I was able to perform today.

No. Not Madden 2004…

The other game.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

‘Dollar Mambo’



Conservatives everywhere have reason to celebrate… the president’s economic plan is working!

In fact, month after month, report after report, the numbers are showing consistency. Consistency is not what is needed, of course… “growth” is what is required, but we can all be ecstatic that the numbers are at least “consistent,” right?

Yay!

Employers announced fewer layoffs in January than they had in the previous four months, according to a job placement firm that tracks the staff cuts.

Phenomenal news! Whoo hoo!

The report shows 92,351 job cuts in January, the first time the total was below the 100,000 level since August, when 74,150 cuts were announced. The survey also showed more hiring announcements by employers in January, with the month seeing plans to add 29,832 jobs, up 40 percent from 21,262 in December.

So January’s numbers only show a loss of 62,519 jobs!

This means that the Bush Administration was right all along; outsourcing jobs IS good, the president’s tax cuts ARE working, foreign workers and illegal immigrants DO boost business, corporate greed and the closing of factories in this country DOES help the economy.

What else could we possibly conclude?

If these numbers hold firm it could also mean that the corporations have squeezed every dime possible from the American workers and consumers and could mean a reversal of the trend in the loss of jobs.

I’m tearing up here.

But, of course, we cannot allow the upward trend to begin until we’ve helped corporations and what’s left of American-based companies squeeze, as one would squeeze blood from a turnip, every last dime possible from the American workforce and the American consumer.

To this end… I have a few suggestions…

I just want to help get this recovery going, okay?

The president is giving his State of the Union speech tonight, right?

I’m emailing the following proposals to the president. Perhaps he can incorporate (sorry) these corporation-aiding suggestions into his speech. I mean… the report’s numbers DO suggest that corporations are reaching the boundaries of profiteering, with the aid of the Bush Administration. Much more is needed now…

The Corporate Zero Initiative

As we all know, corporations pay way too much in taxes, necessitating them to hire attorneys to find loopholes and place money in offshore accounts and such. This is ridiculous. Corporate taxes should be eliminated completely. All that needs to be done is increase the federal debt an additional two times a year to make up some of the difference. What the hell? We aren’t paying for that anyway… our children are!

The No Pencil and Pen Left Behind Act

It’s well known that worthless and expendable American employees steal pencils and pens from companies at an incredible rate. What’s needed is an expanded law, beyond prosecution… one that empowers the helpless corporations. Let’s also make it legal for corporations to seize employee assets (should they have any) times 20 in punitive penalties. This law will not generate a huge some of money. But, along with the other proposals here, it WILL aid the squeezing of every dime possible.

The “Who Needs a Vacation’ Act

Pesky federal laws require employers to provide idiot workers with vacation time. This has always been inconvenient for companies. This situation has required companies and corporations to hire additional lawyers to try and circumvent these laws, much the way they have had to do so concerning health benefits. Let’s strip this hindrance to profits by eliminating these laws in favor of corporations. After all… companies know what their employees need, right?

The Corporate Parking Profit Law

Companies across the country are, in some cases, required to provide a parking area for their employees. This is completely unfair. Let’s allow corporations and companies to charge their employees for this. We can further aid the corporations by placing no limit on this method of income.

The Corporate Benefit Lotto

One thing corporations suffer from is the fact that they do not have a concentrated effort behind their profiteering. A mandatory and federally-controlled benefit lotto could bind them together against the worthless workers. Employees are required to buy at least five $10 tickets per pay period. One lucky worker is chosen to receive free medical benefits for the month (less a $500 deductible). The feds (the house) rake 10 percent of the proceeds off the top and the companies split the rest.

Of course, the above proposals would work best if coupled with the continuing effort to outsource American jobs and the continued importation of foreign workers.

The raising of prices for basic needs, in areas where one company has a monopoly, i.e., gas and electric, can help some. The further cutting of portions on products, along with an across-the-board raising of prices can help as well.

But, in order for Bush’s economic plan to work properly, less hindrances to corporations and more laws favoring them is what is really needed at this point.

Every little bits helps, you know.

At any rate… I’m excited about the continuing progress of the economy.

With Bush’s economic agenda moving full steam…

That “recovery” should be coming any time now.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

‘Punch-Drunk Love’



I’m fascinated when George W. Bush talks about his “love” of the “American people.”

There isn’t anything President Bush won’t do for the American people… right?

Most people don’t doubt this is true. Certainly most Bush supporters don’t doubt this.

I feel bad about it. But… I doubt it big time.

I haven’t seen President Bush do one, single thing for the “American people” in his entire presidency, although he talks about them with such reverence and affection.

What I’ve seen — especially — is President Bush doing things, mostly, for NON-Americans… at the EXPENSE of the “American people.”

Perhaps you’ve had occasion to call tech support for your computer or computer program lately. If so, you’ve likely ended up talking to someone in another country. Chances are that country was India.

This is because companies now get tax breaks for outsourcing jobs that were once located here to other countries. These product phone support jobs mostly are going to the country of India.

I like how the companies make them use American-sounding names like “David” or “Rebecca.” Likely we couldn’t pronounce their real names any more than they could communicate in English.

Another aspect of these outsourced jobs is the companies that are shipping in immigrants to replace American workers HERE IN AMERICA… something also being done with tax breaks and logistical and legal support from the Bush Administration. Hospitals are laying off American nurses and support staff in favor of these corporate-backed foreign workers to save several dollars per hour on employees.

President Bush sure does love Americans, huh? He loves them so much that we are spending billions to pump up the economy in Iraq and spending billions for public schools, hospitals, police and firefighters there. Meanwhile we are cutting these vital services in America.

President Bush has also demonstrated his “love” of the American people by creating lopsided trade deals with China, which has thrown many Americans out of work and caused businesses to shut down here.

Then there is the proposed “guest-worker” initiative. Bush is demonstrating his “love” of the American people by making illegal immigrants “legal,” allowing them to work in the US for far below the going wages for jobs and throwing Americans out of work and causing them to lose benefits.

But President Bush’s “love” of the American people extends much further; he has shown much respect for the American people and his protection of the Constitution — something he has sworn before God to protect — by increasing the power of the federal government over their daily lives.

Symbolism is everything to President Bush.

This past week we learned that Bush “loves” the American people so much that he will now outsource the building of the presidential helicopter fleet to the Anglo-Italian helicopter maker AgustaWestland, dealing a blow to American builder Sikorsky, which has flown the president since 1957. The move will likely cause more layoffs for Bush’s “beloved” American brethren.

Rest assured that, when he isn’t encouraging the outsourcing of American jobs or pouring billions into the economies of other countries, our great president is doing everything he can at home to show his “love” of the American people… like outlawing the procurement of cheaper drugs across the northern border (I guess that “global economy” doesn’t necessarily work both ways, huh?), or using federal agents to stop landowners from protecting their own property from illegal aliens along the southern border.

President Bush sure does “love” the American people. Tomorrow night he will lay out his plans on how he will “love” us for the next year or so.

I never thought I’d feel this way about “love”…

But, I sure wish he’d love us a little less.