Sunday, December 07, 2008

"Big 3" Auto Bailout? How many mistakes can one Congress make?

A step back in History:

It's 1979, and Lee Iacocca, Chairman of Chrysler, has successfully convinced Congress to guarantee 1.5 billion in loans to the corporation, with taxpayer dollars, because this would help revive the all-American Corporation. There was even a specific plan - Chrysler's "K-Car" would catapult the company into profitability forever, and an american icon would be saved.


Today, the so-called "Big Three" - GM, Ford, and yes, Chrysler...are seeking billions more in assistance, using the same tired arguements and promsiing the same eventual victories if they could just get "a little help."

It is one of those cases where if you say things often enough, people believe it. "Big Three?" You can find this phrase repeated over and over in the media.

But here are October's auto sales figures:

GM: 168,719 units sold
Toyota: 152,278 units
Ford: 132,278 units
Chrysler: 94,530 units

Some Lessons:

1) They are NOT "the Big 3." Consumers have clearly spoken, and they've been saying "Toyota" for some time. Congressional action to prop up Ford is tantamount to using taxpayers dollars against the taxpayers themselves. We have already spoken: Toyota has given us what we wanted, at a price we want. Don't force us to bailout the companies we did NOT choose.

2) GM is the largest auto manufacturer world-wide. Since when does the Government seek to bail out the largest company in a competitive field? If GM can not make a profit when it has more car sales than any other company, it is time for them to radically change: split up, reorganize, bust the UAW - but dont seek tax dollars for "same old same old."

3) Ford, GM, and Chrysler ceded the small car market to Honda and Toyota. They lost, folks. That's what business is all about. In the 1500s, Spanish Monk-Economist De Albornoz wrote that "when businesses experience profit and loss, and since when they make a profit, they keep it, they must not transfer a loss to the people."

The Market has clearly chosen. Congress, the UAW, and the so-called "Big-3" don't like the results.

Too Bad. Live with it. Capitalism doesnt guarantee success, and neither should Congress.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Republican Party - Which Way Now?

The Republican Party – my party – has just been delivered a well-earned knockout punch. Reliable “red” States in the west and south have been taken by Democrats. Here in New England, there is not a single Republican Congressman and only one Governor left. And in New Hampshire, once a Yankee Republican bastion, you can count on the fingers of one hand the number of state or federal Republican figures left.

Republicans did not lose simply because of large numbers of young people and African-Americans voted. In fact, as a percentage of the total electorate, African-Americans and young people made up almost precisely the same percentage of the electorate as they did four years ago. No, Republicans lost because average Americans from all walks of life, especially self-described moderates and independents, and even some lifelong Republicans, turned to the Democrats.

Where did the GOP go wrong? And what must we do to rebuild?

The party needs a clear philosophy and vision. An entire generation of new voters came to the polls believing that the Bush administration represented Republican ideals. Republicans spent eight years defending sickening deficits, exploding budgets, and “big-government” programs that they would have railed against had they been proposed by a Democratic Administration. We were inexcusably silent as America, the great hope of the world, became represented by images of torture and Guantanamo Bay. Republicans should have been outraged…but instead, we defended “our guy” in the white house, and earned the public’s disdain. They grew tired of the Bush administration’s vision of America.

We must articulate in clear terms positive, pro-active solutions for the problems and concerns that the American people have. Access to health care and secure retirement provisions are national concerns: We cannot simply be ‘against’ universal health care or social security, we must present clear, pragmatic, appealing alternatives.

As these proposals are formulated, we must be careful not to fall prey to the idea that we must choose to side with either the “moderates” or the “conservatives” within the Party. A lukewarm, “me-too” version of the Democrats is not a solution, but neither is cliché-ridden pandering to a shrill religious right. Rather, Republicans must forge a new path, a path that is consistent with both the Republican philosophy and the American spirit, and which resonates with voters of all stripes: we must combine fiscal responsibility and social tolerance. The Republican Party claims to be the party of small government and maximum personal freedom. It’s about time we reclaimed that heritage in a consistent manner.

As we present our alternatives, we must eradicate the mean-spiritedness, the innuendos, the mud-slinging, and the anger from our speech. We must offer vision, hope, and a future to all. If we want young people, minorities, and immigrants in the party, then we need to really want them, not just tolerate them and accept their contributions.

In 1980, Ronald Reagan articulated a clear vision, and spoke in positive terms of hope and freedom for all. Americans responded, as disaffected Democrats and independents swelled Republican ranks. In 2008, Barack Obama rode to victory on those Reaganesque concepts. It should serve as a wake-up call to the party to reclaim its heritage of individual liberty and prosperity for all, delivered with clarity and compassion.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Why the Bailout is wrong.

Listening to some of our nations top political leaders, one gets an uneasy feeling that The Great Depression II is right around the corner, unless we entrust the federal government to engage in a massive 700 billion bailout plan that will ultimately save ‘main street’ from Wall Street’s mess. But if that’s the case, why have over 200 leading economists from Harvard, MIT, Northwestern, the University of Chicago, and other respected institutions signed a petition opposing rapid passage of this bailout?

In basic English, the argument in favor of the bailout goes something like this: banks and other financial institutions have purchased mortgages which, for many different reasons, are now worth far less than their purchase price. As a result, banks have lost money buy purchasing them, and they can’t convince anyone else to buy them. If they can’t sell their ‘paper securities,’ they can’t raise cash. This, in turn, means they have no money to lend, and credit markets will be so tight that ‘Main Street’ will grind to a halt: businesses will not be able to borrow funds to meet payroll or expand their enterprises, and consumers will be unable to purchase homes and cars or pay their college tuition bills.

This line of reasoning scares many Americans (as its meant to), but is faulty for several reasons.

First of all is the cost. What is not being revealed to the American public is that over the last 5 months, the Federal Reserve Bank has already provided over 1.1 trillion dollars to financial institutions, in exchange for paper securities, in order to inject cash into the banking system. The 700 billion bailout is in addition to that which has already been injected – with an accompanying bill of over $17,000 per American household before this is over.

Second is the risk. I asked a spokesperson for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston why Washington Mutual didn’t take advantage of the Federal Reserve’s Bank’s cash offer over the last few months. I was told that there were financial criteria that needed to be met in order to obtain that funding: in other words, the less credit-worthy, the less stable institutions were unable to partake. That means that the 700 billion Congress is about to authorize will be used specifically for those institutions whose paper is the most worthless, leaving the US Taxpayer with nothing in return for its “loan’ to these inept banks. Some commentators suggest that in reality, the taxpayer will make a profit on this paper, but if that was a realistic possibility, there wouldn’t need to be a government bailout: some enterprising institution would have purchased that paper already.

Third is the Moral Hazard created by helping the inept. No one is guaranteed success in a market economy. In the rough and tumble of competition, some win and some lose. If the most ineffective, negligent, inattentive and even fraudulent activities are rewarded by a bailout, what message does this send to the banks who were prudent in their decision–making over these years? The well-run banks ought to profit, and ought to be stronger and inept banks close; instead, we, the taxpayer will be helping the most irresponsible institutions stay afloat, and will pay interest for the ‘honor’ of so doing.

Fourth is the unfounded fear that credit will completely dry up. The fact is, banks do not lend their own money; they lend their depositors funds. Institutions may crash and burn, but their depositors funds are insured by the FDIC, and those depositors will simply place their funds elsewhere. Keep in mind that when Merrill Lynch was subsumed by Bank of America, there was no catastrophe: there was simply an efficient movement of resources. The Market worked without a taxpayer bailout. Similarly, when Washington Mutual ‘collapsed,” they opened the next day as part of JP Morgan. Not one depositor lost money, not one customer lost their line of credit – and not one dollar of taxpayer was required.

The Bailout is an unnecessary, expensive return to Feudal Britain, where the “Crown” owned title to all the land and used tax money to keep its favorite business partners afloat. This is precisely the time to allow the Marketplace to weed out poor investment firms and negligent banking facilities – and allow the rest of us to enjoy the prosperity that can be gained by resting secure in the knowledge that the best and brightest firms have been allowed to carry on financing activities

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Christian singer Ray Boltz Comes Out....

Popular Christian Singer Comes Out by Kilian MelloyEDGE Contributor
Monday Sep 15, 2008

Gospel singer Ray Boltz has come out of the closet.The singer gave and interview to the Washington Blade, which posted an article on Boltz’s disclosure on Sept. 12. Boltz, the article said, has had a devoted following within the Christian community, having sold around four and a half million copies of his recordings over a two-decade career. The article said that Boltz, who came out to his family in 2004, began to emerge from the closet more publicly last Christmas." I’d kind of had two identities since I moved to Florida, where I kind of had this other life, and I’d never merged the two lives," Boltz said in the interview.
For a long time--33 years--Boltz lived as a married man, a husband and father; the cost, however, was depression, even a suicidal turn of mind, the article said.Said the singer of his gay identity, "I thought I hid it really well."Added Boltz, "I didn’t know people could see what I was going through, the darkness and the struggle."After I came out to my family, one of my daughters said she was afraid to walk in my bedroom because she was afraid she’d find... that I’d done something to myself."And I didn’t even know they’d picked it up."Finally, in 2004, Boltz told his family his secret. As it happened, he came out to them the same day as a catastrophic tsunami was in the news.Said Boltz, "I thought, ’Well, I can just do what I always do and hide the truth or I can take a risk and be honest.’"Added the singer, "That day, with the tsunami, has become very symbolic in our family."Boltz sketched out a life of struggle and secrecy, saying, "I’d denied it ever since I was a kid."I became a Christian, I thought that was the way to deal with this and I prayed hard and tried for 30-some years and then at the end, I was just going, ’I’m still gay. I know I am.’"And I just got to the place where I couldn’t take it anymore... when I was going through all this darkness, I thought, ’Just end this.’"Continued Boltz, "You get to be 50-some years old and you go, ’This isn’t changing,’" the Washington Blade article said."’I still feel the same way. I am the same way. I just can’t do it anymore.’"Though he never officially engaged in any "ex-gay" programs, Boltz reckoned, "I basically lived an ’ex-gay’ life--I read every book, I read all the scriptures they use, I did everything to try and change."The Blade article said that Boltz’s inner turmoil came through in his songwriting.Acknowledged Boltz, "It’s there on every single record."Continued the singer, "That struggle of accepting myself and my feelings. There’s a lot of pain there and it connected with a lot of people. "They weren’t struggling with the same thing necessarily but we all suffer with our humanity."Boltz’s professional career as a Christian singer was only helped by a 1997 appearance before a crowd of over a million men who had gathered for a Promise Keepers event, the Blade reported.As a Christian married man himself, Boltz said, his family life was based on genuine love."Sex was based on the fact that we loved each other and I wanted to make her happy," he told the Washington Blade. "I had sexual drives as well. You know, it’s like I never had to talk myself into having a relationship with her or that I was going, ’Oh God, here we’re going to bed again’--it wasn’t that. "I loved her and we had a very full life; it’s just that inside, deep inside, it really wasn’t who I was."And that had an impact: said Boltz, "[H]ow can you truly be intimate with someone when you don’t know who they are, when they won’t reveal themselves to you[?]"Added the singer, "I thought, ’If I can’t say this to the people I love, then what kind of life is this?’"After he came out to his family, Boltz and his wife separated; he went to Florida, and that’s where the latest chapter of the singer’s story picks up.Said Boltz, "I had a lot of questions, but at the bottom of everything was a feeling that I didn’t hate myself anymore, so in that sense I felt closer to God."Added the singer, "If you were to hold up the rule book and go, ’Here are all the rules Christians must live by,’ did I follow every one of those rules all that time? Not at all, you know, because I kind of rejected a lot of things, but I’ve grown some even since then."Continued Boltz, "I guess I felt that the church, that they had it wrong about how I felt with being gay all these years, so maybe they had it wrong about a lot of other things."Eventually, Bltz found himself performing once again for Christian audiences, bringing his personal and professional lives full circle.However, "I don’t want to be a spokesperson, I don’t want to be a poster boy for gay Christians, I don’t want to be in a little box on TV with three other people in little boxes screaming about what the Bible says, I don’t want to be some kind of teacher or theologian," Boltz said."I’m just an artist and I’m just going to sing about what I feel and write about what I feel and see where it goes."The article pointed out that Boltz is the most successful Christian musician to come out, leaving it an open question how the demographic that once embraced him would respond to any future recordings.Said Boltz to the Blade, "This is what it really comes down to: If this is the way God made me, then this is the way I’m going to live. "It’s not like God made me this way and he’ll send me to hell if I am who he created me to be."Added Boltz, "I really feel closer to God because I no longer hate myself."Kilian Melloy reviews media, conducts interviews, and writes commentary for EDGEBoston, where he also serves as Assistant Arts Editor.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Palin, Pregnancy, & Puritanical Sexism

So Sarah Palins 17 year old daughter is pregnant.

So what?

Maybe I've been blind all these years, but I have never seen such a shrill marriage of Puritanism and Sexism in the media like I have in the last few days.

There are some who question whether she can properly divide her time between her family's needs and her Veep duties. I wonder how many men running for VP or President would be questioned that way?

Worse. I think, is the hand-wringing and scandalous gossip and telling and retelling the story of the "unmarried and pregnant." And the meda are using words like "scandal," and "revelations."

Well, I got news for you folks.

First, human beings have sex, and reproduce. Thats why there's several billion of us on the planet.

Second, at the age of 17, hormones and plumbing work well. In every human, everywhere around the world.

Third, No-Sex-Befre-Marriage is a nice, puritanical ideal. I challenge every individual reading this to guess just how many people (a) wait until marriage before having sex and (b) have sex with one person, for life. Everything we know about humanity tells us that a very, very, very tiny percentage of people can claim that. Why do we require some mythical, super-human standard of perfection from others that we don't requre (or desire) in ourselves?

Furthermore, what family in America can claim NOT to have a relative who has been in this situation?

Give it up, folks...all this proves is that Sarah Palin is just like the rest of us.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

There is an old bit of prose about how the Nazis came for the Jews, the Gypsies, gays, the handicapped, etc., and when they finally came for 'me,' there was no left to help me.

I have been vigilant in this blog about pointing out the eradication of free speech and civil liberties in this country. Earlier this year, 400 children were kidnapped by the government in Texas, and the 'outcry' was little more than ho-hum. After all, they were polygamists, so "it doesnt affect me."

Well, right now, in Minnesota, hours before the Republican convention, there is a wholesale trashing of the Constitution taking place. Will anyone care? Or does it not concern people because the victims are young, protesting, liberal college students?

The full, breaking, and constantly-updated story (with video) can be found at

But the crux of the matter is this: 25-30 officers, in riot gears, stormed houses, forced residents to the floor, confiscated computers, and handcuffed and detained people for 'fire code violations,' all because they had planned to protest the Republican National Convention. Using an obscure, never-used law against conspiracy to start a riot, the government has found an effective law that basically preempts any protest or speech it doesnt want to hear.

Is this Beijing? Tiannamen Square? Does anyone remember the Chicago Police Riots of the 1969 Democratic Convention? The Kent State debacle? Have we learned nothing?

I call on McCain, as the Republican candidate, to forcefully condemn what is happening in Minnesota.

NOW, Today. And I call on my fellow citizens to stop yawning, since it isn't 'them' being carried away.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

The Reasons for Rebellion: July 4, 1776

What follows is a partial list of the reasons set forth in the Declaration of Independence for our dissolution of the bands which connected us with Great Britain. They speak for themselves. Read them with Abu Ghraib, the Patriot Act, the Alphabet Soup Bureaucracies, anti-immigrant xenophobia, the suspension of habeus corpus, Guantanamo, Judicial litmus tests, Cuban embargoes, the WTO, the raid on ElDorado, IRS confiscatio of property, Kelo, the replacement of common law with stacks of rules, and military tribunals in mind.

Chilling Indeed.

"...He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people..."

Monday, June 02, 2008

Cyndi Lauper's "True Color Tour:" Great performances and clueless commentary

Yesterday I jumped in the car with my partner and drove down to Jones Beach Theater on the south shore of Long Island to see the True Color Tour. Headliner Cyndi Lauper was joined by the Indigo Girls, the B-52s, and Rosie O'Donnell (who was actually tender and poignant throughout, but then blew it as we exited the theater...more on that later). It was a great outdoor concert on the ocean with balmy summer breezes and fun performances. From a musical perspective, it rocked: Lauper jumping into the audience to sing, people dancing in the aisles as the B-52s wailed on Love Shack and Rock Lobster, and a lot of 'nostagia' as we sang along with the Indigo Girls.

The purpose of the Tour was to raise awarness of GLBT issues, and to encourage involvement in the political process to secure rights. From that perspective, the evening took on even more significance. Lauper should be congratulated for her heartfelt approach to the issue, which she did in a professional, non-partisan way that delivered a powerful message.

Unfortunately, not everyone was as professional as Lauper.

The Human Rights Campaign, a sponsor and strong presence on the Tour, states the following as its mission:

'The Human Rights Campaign is the United States' largest gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) civil rights organization with more than 700,000 members and supporters nationwide. HRC works to secure equal rights for GLBT individuals and families at the federal and state levels by lobbying elected officials, mobilizing grassroots supporters, educating Americans, investing strategically to elect fair-minded officials and partnering with other GLBT organizations. "

Taken at face value, thats a noble mission statement. But to listen to the night unfold as emceed by Carson Kressley....well, they might as well admit to being an Anti-Republican Propaganda machine. And this is where HRC and the Pink Mafia just don't get it.

Kressley is annoying in his own right. The fashion guru on "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," few men have so single-handedly reinforced the public's stereotype of gay men as flamboyant, arrogant, self-centered limp-wrists than Kressley. I admit I am no fan.

But fan or not, Kressley's 'jokes' in between each musical act were like nails on a blackboard. No fewer than four times did he make Republicans (or those who would dare to support them) the object of his ridicule. At one point, he was speaking of the diversity within the gay community, and mentioned various subgroups...and the punch line was that he mentioned the existance of "the Gay Republican." Yeah..singular....and he said it twice for emphasis. As he rolled along with his humor, he made it very clear that there was no room for Republicans in the Tour. Not once did he refer to Hillary, or Obama, or ridicule Democrats (who, he forgets, gave us "Dont Ask Dont Tell). He found a way to cheer California's court decision permitting gay marriage, (but conveniently forgot to mention it was a Republican court). At the end of the evening, as we were leaving the theater, Rosie O'Donnell belted out her final thought, as she shouted "Hey, DONT vote for John McCain!," a completely intrusive and unnecessary bit of partisanship.

The HRC just doesnt get it. Gay rights need to be won in millions of places: in town halls, in state legislatures, in county administrations...and there are lots of Republicans out there. You do not win your arguement by vilifying those you need to win over. The constant anti-Republican intimidation, along with a strange insistence on using the "F-word" for no apparent reason, and the needless jokes at the expense of straights (Kressey's reference to straight people as 'breeders' did *not* elicit the laughs he expected), do not help the cause, they hurt it, as they continue to isolate gays into a small 'corner' of the political spectrum.

Get this, HRC: There are Gay Republicans, Gay Independents, Gay Conservatives, and Gay Libertarians. We do not, and will not, march to your required drum. We do not all embrace every liberal cause under the ozone. And we *do* need to work with politicians and citizens of all persuasions if we are to win equal rights.

GREAT Concert. Cyndi, you're awesome!

POOR politics. Kressey, find someone else to represent. PLEEZE.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Shame on Dunkin' Donuts

I have been a Dunkin' Donuts junkie my whole life. Living across the street from one (on several occasions) helped develop and solidify my coffee addiction.
But this week's spinelessness has really made me second-guess patronizing them. In fact, I found myself driving right past THREE of them today, because I am so outraged at their lack of guts.
The above picture was an internet ad for Dunkin' Donuts, featuring Rachael Ray standing in front of cherry trees and the Oregon State Capitol Building. And oh my gosh, imagine this - she was actually wearing a Scarf!
Enter the Right-Wing Xenophobe wackos. Some bloggers (not to be edified by having their names repeated here) decided that this was an ad that glorified Palestinians, world wide jihad, and terrorism. The Oregon capital was questioned as an appropriate background (looks too much like a minaret, I guess). The Scarf was seen as Islamic (even though the pattern is Paisley, about as old-fashioned-American-Grandpa as you can get).
And Dunkin Donuts pulled the Ad.
Shame on them, and shame on the right-wing bloggers, for assuming terrorist symbolism. Perhaps some of these neanderthals need a lesson in Fashion.
Shame on them all for assuming that even if the actor was Arab, in Palestinian garb, that that is somehow an improper message. There are thousands of Americans of Arab or middle eastern descent, and they are just as much american as someone of German or African or Korean or English descent, and their traditonal garb *adds to* the smorgasboard that is America.
Shame on Dunking Donuts for caving in to racist, xenophobic hate-mongers.
I hope you can depend on these morons to buy your coffee.....because I will not.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Tyrant State runs Amock....

It just keeps getting worse.

Over 400 children, ripped away from their mothers and fathers and homes, and placed in foster homes.

No Charges filed against any of the parents.

No accusations of any of these particular children being abused.

No trial, no guilty verdict.


Just 400 children ripped from their homes because these people "aren't like us."

And the media spin begins. One imbecile on TV stated that the children were 'rescued' from the compound. Really? Rescued from what? What cedible accusation has been filed against any of their parents? What evidence of abuse has been put forth on any of these children.

Like the rounding up of American Indian children a century ago, we are witnessing another tragedy, and no one seems to care. And I don't understand why.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Raid on El Dorado & Government abuse of power: State-sponsored Kidnapping & Fishing Expeditions

400 children have been forcibly removed from their homes in ElDorado, Texas. Members of a Mormon-breakaway religious sect called the Fundamentalist Church of Latter Day Saints, they lived in a compound isolated from much of the outside world.

They're polygamists. Men have many wives. They exile young men to keep the competition down. They live an extremely closed lifestyle. Their days are filled with Bible-reading and quoting. Their women are subservient and wear plain clothes. Their beliefs are weird.


You don't have to like their beliefs about God, marriage, gender, or mainstream America. If you want to think they're nuts, fine. But under the U S Constitution, people have the right to be nuts, unmolested by government. They have the right to say things that are screwy, worship false Gods, and associate only with their own kind. All three of those rights are enshrined in the Bill Of Rights.

"But wait!"," you say, "There was sexual abuse going on!"

Really? All 400 women, boys, and children removed were abused?

It seems to me that the media has reported officials saying, "we have to find out if anyone was abused." In fact, there was *one* report, by a 16 year old woman who accused a man who has admittedly not been in ElDorado for a year. And the woman who made the report is mysteriously missing..and evidence now suggests it was a hoax call.

Does a single charge by one person mean an entire community can be raided, "just in case?"

Generally, as a society, we dont like fundamentalist polygamists. But lets' pretend instead that rather than a call from a Mormon camp, a girl placed a phone call to NY authorities claiming abuse. And lets say that that girl lived in one of the Hasidic Jewish summer compunds surrounding Ellenville NY. Let's even say that an ex-Hasidim claims that they saw a man spank his child. All in a fenced compound, where men wear black clothing and unshorn beards, where kosher law is kept, and women wear uniform housecoats)

Can you imagine the outrage if NY authorities decided that they should round up hundreds of Hasidic Jewish children, "just to see if they were all right?"

Or let's say that a report comes in from Pennsylvania Dutch Country, that a man abused a teenaged girl. What would the reaction be if PA authorities rounded up all the members of the local Amish community, "just to see if they were all right?"

Or suppose, after multiple complaints against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston for sexual abuse, Massachusetts authorities had descended on the Catholic Churches in Boston and left with all of the children "just to see if they were all right."

It is *possible* that the authorities in Texas acted with much more evidence than they are making public. But so far, the stated facts are thay they have no victims, no charges but a single one against a man who is not there, and they have used this as an excuse to rip almost 400 children away from their homes.

The Director of Texas' child protective agency proudly stated, "Since Thursday, authorities have been searching the 1,700-acre compound 40 miles south of San Angelo from house to house ... and we're getting close to being finished."

House to house? Government searching house to house, and stealing away any chidlren they find there? Just WHO is a greater abuser than the government itself in this case?! How horrifying and Nazi-like for people to be in fear of the government searching every house to take their children!

The most valid evidence they have are the existence of fifteen year old mothers. So why are mothers much older than that being taken from the compound? And why is that the majority of 15-year old mothers in America, who do NOT live in this compund but live among us, are not 'rounded up," along with their children and families?

Which is worse, living in a closed society, or being ripped apart from the safety of home by Government?

Yes, they may be wackos. They have the right to be wackos. And governent has no right to force them into comformity unless they are committing crimes. And so far, this seems more like a fishing expedition that a judicious use of government authority.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New Powers for The Federal Reserve?

The Federal Reserve System is arguably one of the most powerful (and least understood) institutions in America. Treasury Secretary Paulson's recent suggestions that "The Fed" should be granted even more power is a dangerous step.

And what's even more scary is that so many editorial writers are saying that Paulson's plan does not go far the 'debate' so far has centered on whether we give the Fed "New Power," or "Lots of New Power."

I would suggest we give it NO new powers at all, and reign in some of the power it currently wields over our lives.

By way of background: There are many tools available to an administration to jump-start or safeguard an economy. Over the years, the federal government has tried direct government spending (FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps), borrowing (every adminstration since then), giving tax rebates and cuts to consumers, deregulating business, cutting business taxes, increasing direct aid to low-income people (Bush's extension of unemployment benefits, Social Security) and building transportation infrastructure. Some presidents have attmpted policies that were dismal failures (Nixon's gas rationing in the 1970s). And of course, it is certainly arguable that Government should *not* attempt to regulate the economy at all, but should get out of the way and stop messing it up natural markets.

What all of the above approaches have in common is that they are *highly* political. They require the chaos of Congressional, Presidential, and Bureaucratic action to happen. They involve log-rolling, and compromise, and committees and all sorts of political machinations. And if you're looking for results, that's not a very effective way to run an economy.

The Federal Reserve System was designed to function quite differently.

The philosophy behind the Fed is to masage the economy through a professional banking system. The Feds, rather than responding to voters, have historically responded to numbers, and made objective decisions. This is the body that sets the Discount Rate (the interest rate at which they lend money to member banks, thus influencing general interest rates). They determine the ratio of deposits that banks must keep on hand in case of a 'run' on the bank. And in New York, the Fed buys and sells government bonds in order to inject cash into the economy or withdraw it to slow down easy credit. By all accounts, The Fed is a conservative, staid, professional group of bankers that responds to bottom lines, not the whims of voters who want goodies for their district or the passion of politicians seeking reelection.

In fact, the Fed is very, very insulated from politics. Their 7 member Board of Governors is appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate, but they each serve 14 year terms. One is up for reappointment every 2 years, which effectvely means that even a two-term president can not realistically change the makeup of the majority of Governors. Even if he could, it wouldnt matter that much, because the Regulatory functions of the Fed reside in something called the "Open Market Committeee," which consists of the 7 Governors plus 5 regional, private Fed Bank presidents (there are 12 District Fed banks. Each is a private bank, with its own Board of Directors). By design, there is NO Federal Reserve Bank in Washington, DC. All in all, it is a very decentralized system, independent from most government oversight, which operates within the banking community. Unless there is a crisis, they only meet once every 6 weeks (which they did during the Great Depression, and right after 9/11)

Under Ben Bernanke, the Fed has taken some 'wild' steps. In one case, it called two meetings only 3 days apart from each other. It has dropped the discount rate precipitously. It has stepped in to private markets to arrrange a takeover of Bear Stearns by Citicorp at a price of $2/share, destroying shareholders values (and their pensions). Fortunately, that deal that is unravelling now that Morgan Stanley has offered $10 a share. Bear Stearns is a private investment house, not a bank, and the Fed had no direct authority in the matter. .

And now, Secretary Paulson has made some 'minor' suggestions to give the Fed more such authority. His proposal would give sweeping new authority to Fed to collect data and regulate private investment houses in prder to 'stabilize markets.'

But the Fed was designed to stabilize the value of *currency* by regualting member banks. It was never meant to make decisions about business practices of non-banks, or regulate private stock transactions or financing instruments.

And that's a big, big change, and a problem for a country that calls itself a democracy.

The Fed has always walked a fine line: It's greatest strength is that it is non-political, so it can be an effective and efficient institution in protecting the economy. But its greatest weakness is that it is undemocratic, and unresponsive to the voters. It exists on its own, high above the fray. Therefore, it was given very limited authority. Paulson's plans destroy that balance.

First, it takes an institution which is the nations *only* non-political approach to the economy and drops it squarely in the middle of the political arena by giving it regulatory authority over private businesses outside of its own banking system. The political pressure on the Fed to 'save' certain companies 'assets' at the expense of others will be enormous.

Second, it gives increased regulatory authority over private transactions to an institution that is essentially unanswerable to the political process. In other words, we are creating a new branch of government, with power and authority, that is not answerable to voters, or to congress, or to any democratic process whatsoever; the Fed would become Power without any check or balance, Authority without any accountability to the citizens.

If Investment houses need to be regulated, an agency (The Securities and Exchange Commisson) is already in place. If Predatory lenders need to be more tightly regulated, all 50 state legslatures have the authority to do that, and Fraud statutes exist that can be used or strengthened through the legislative process. If poor business decisions cause a business to go under, taxpayers should not be forced to prop it up (Why is it that failing businesses always want taxpayer money to help them when they fail, but they never feel that their profit should be distributed to taxpayers when theymake a profit? Hmmm........)

Paulson's plan is not a 'small step.' This is the continuing eviscerating of the Republic's Constitution.

But then, we should have come to expect that from this administration.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

NY Governor Eliot Spitzer and a Prostitution ring....

I have never liked Eliot Spitzer. The Governor of New York was too much of a crusader, the kind who dribbles saliva from the mouth as he's torturing Evil Opponents. And for Spitzer, going after anyone who traded Securities or had a large bank account was his passion. He was dubbed "Mr. Clean" for being the Knight in Shining Armor. But no one knew the Knight was riding around bareback with the courtesans of the land.

His is, ironically, a common story.

- Governor Spitzer, "Mr. Clean," found paying a prostitute over $4,000 for a four hour session.

- Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals and anti-homosexual crusader, found paying for gay sex for over three years.

- Paul Crouch, founder of the world's largest Christian broadcasting outlet, the Trinity Broadcasting Network which also espouses a Gay-is-Evil message, currently locked in a tiff with the Reality Show "Lie Detector," as a former employee, Enoch Ford, submitted to a polygraph regarding a supposed gay sexual relationship witn Crouch...and revealing a $425,000 payment made to him after he was fired from the Network.

- Roger Clemmons, baseball hero, dogged and hounded by congressmen determined to know if he used steroids of HGH during his spectacular career.

- Cicero (Chicago area) Police Commander Wesley Scott, a 21-year veteran of the force who sent up many a young man for illegal drug possession, is himself charged with burning a marijuana joint (and a whole bag of the weed) after being stopped by another officer. (The department was kind enough to let him take four personal days before adminstering a drug test, to give him time to clean out his system. The Blue Code lives...)

There are *so many* issues to look at here:

1) WHY are we so obsessed with creating heroes that are unrealistic? "Heroes" are NOT perfect. They are human and fallible. Give me a movie hero who is uncertain, imperfect, and flawed, and you've got a real hero. Give me some self-righteous, pontificating know-it-all, and I want to throw up. Dubbing Spitzer, "Mr. Clean" was an impossible standard to throw at him.

2) WHY are those who are so damned strident in their crusades so often hiding the very vices they appear to want to eradicate? Do they believe that if they ruthlessely pursue all the 'other' bad guys, that they will not have to admit to themselves that, they, too, engage in the same activities?

Find me a man who is strident in his hatred of gays, and who knows every Bible verse condemning them, and is obsessed with preaching it, and I will show you a drowning man who is desperate to avoid the truth of his own orientation.

3) WHY do we revel in disaster? Why do we *love* it when the media build someone up to a point of being worshipped, and then enjoy the gossip, innuendo and tales that accompany their eventual destruction?

Thiry years ago, folk singer Phil Ochs wrote these words in his song, "Crucifixion:"

"And you say you can't believe it,
It's a sacriligious shame,
Now who would want to hurt
such a hero of the game?
But you know, I predicted it,
I knew he had to fall.
How did it Happen?
I hope is suffering was small.
Tell me every detail,
'Cuz I've got to know it all,
And do you have a picture of the pain?"

4) But most of all, maybe we should be looking *not* at the hypocrisy of these guys, or the Build-them-up, Tear-Them-Down sport of the media....but at our own expectations and requirements.

This country has been affected by a knee-jerk Puritanical streak since our inception. We put people in stocks and made them wear scarlet "A's," not because they hurt anyone, but because we didnt like their personal choices and to expose them to public ridicule.

Spitzer didn't steal anyone's money or property. He didnt assault, maim, or hurt anyone. Outside of his family relationships (which is his own private matter), who has been hurt by his dalliance with a prostitute?

No One.

Should Spitzer resign? No.
Should Clemmons lose his place in history? No.
Should Officer Scott go to jail for smoking pot? No.

Instead of pointing at their hypocrisy, maybe we should point at our own: We are a nation where a majority of a generation has smoked pot, and yet we put people behind bars for smoking pot. We are a nation where the majority has had multiple sexual partners, yet we consider it a 'disgrace' when it is brought to light.

Time to cast off our Puritanical ball and chain. Legalize recreational drug use, legalize prostitution, legalize all activities that hurt no one.

And then decide that its none of our business anyway who someone sleeps with or what drugs they take, and move on to more serious issues.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Re-thinking jails, prisons, and crime....

News Items:

"...More than one in every 100 American adults are in jail or prison, according to a recent study by the Pew Center for the States, which also found that about half of released inmates return to jail or prison within three years..."

"...The U.S. prison population, the world's largest, has grown nearly eightfold over the past 35 years and now costs taxpayers at least $60 billion a year..."

"A stunning one in nine black males between the ages of 20-34 is behind bars... Prison culture has become a norm in some urban neighborhoods, with more than 600,000 people a year returning home from prison and jails. They come back poorly educated, lacking job skills, and socially and legally disabled by felony records. One in 14 African-American children has a parent who is incarcerated..."

What should we conclude from these news reports? That Americans are law-breakers? That society has fallen apart and everyone is a thief and a murderer? We've gone to hell in a handbasket? How is it that there are more people living behind bars in America than in bigger authoritarian regimes like China?

Perhaps it has less to do with the activities of our citizens than with a societal inclination to 'throw away the key.' In other words, its not "them," it's "we" who are the problem.

From the earliest colonial days, we have had a penchant for making an example of others and punishing them for life choices. From sitting in the stocks for playing games on Sunday to wearing a scarlet letter for committing adultery, there has always been an undercurrent in American society (often based in religous belief) that

(1) 'Punishment' is the appropriate response to "bad actions;" and
(2) Morally "bad" choices are bad actions that must should be punished.

The circus surrounding the steroids-in-sports hearings is a prime example. There are no 'victims' if any of these guys used steroids, but many feel that such a 'moral outrage' must be investigated, dissected, and broadcast, and the users 'brought to justice.'

In the last decade, 6.5 million Americans have been arrested on marijuana charges alone. In 2006, 738,915 Americans alone were arrested for simple marajuana possession (constituting 81% of drug arrests), not some major hard-core mob operation. Even the Justice Department has determined that people sentenced for drug crimes accounted for 21% of state prisoners and 55% of all federal prisoners.

As states grapple with ever-expanding prison needs (and budgets), surely it is time to look at WHO is being incarcerated, WHY they are being incarcerated, and the RESULTS of that incarceration.

Have we created a situation where the costs of imprisonment outweigh the benefits?

And even worse, are the dangers to individuals an society from rampant imprisonment worse than the dangers from the "crime" committed?!

The criminal justice system is broken NOT because its 'too easy,' on criminals, but because

(1) It doesnt compensate real victims;
(2) it destroys the life of the defendent and his/her family;
(3) it jails those who have not hurt anyone simply because we want to impose morality on them (drugs, prostitution);
(4) it teaches amateur thieves how to be professional criminals,
(5) It burdens taxpayers with an enormous tax bill for prison construction and operation
(6) it has created a vested interest group (prison workers, and private and government-run prisons with vested interests in maintaining and expanding the system);
(6) It dumps men and women out on the street after their jail terms with NO skills, NO money, and a criminal record, virtually guarenteeing their inability to re-integrate into society.

A better system?

(1) No victimless crimes. It is time to end imprisonment for drug use and related crimes. A New Hampshire House subcommittee just voted 13-1 to recommend decriminalizing marajuana. If it passes, New Hampshire would become the 13th state in a growing movement to take this step. Interestingly, Rep. John Tholl (R-Whitefield), the police chief of Dalton, chaired the subcommittee and voted in favor.

(2) Where there is a clear victim, resurrect the old notion of BondService where appropriate (OK, "community Service" and "Working off your crime" sounds better. But its the same thing). The BondService "company" (this could be a private or a public entity) would pay the victim restitution up front; in return, it would assume 'ownership' of the criminals labor, and assume responsibility for his/her living conditions (a 'company' apartment, for which rent is charged, or house arrest are both options). This avoids taxpayer housing and prison construction expense. The 'company" would then train the convict in a skill, put him to work, and in the end release him with a skill and start up money. Since the victim is automatically compenstated in such a system, it may reduce the number of civil suits attempting to collect the same, this reducing backlogs in courts.

Sound pollyana?

Not if you've seen the Maine State Prison System's furniture outlet store in Thomaston, where inmates are trained in woodworking and other craftwork and earn money towards their keep while establishing a savings account for their own use upon release.

Not if यू've seen Norways system, which routinely combines home arrest and work-release training programs.

In other words, elements of this system are already in place and working. But we continue to lock up people that we think are 'bad'...and forget about them and the consequences.

Every prisoner is someone's son or daughter. And often someone's mom or dad. They are people, not refuse. The goal should be to safeguard society - and no one is 'safeguarded' by locking up a young man's father for 10 years for an offense that hurt no one. The 'remedy' now creates more probems than the crime, as we create a fatherless generation of children and an embittered generation of middle-aged 'criminals.'


Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Hallmark/Westland Meat recall: Blind Hysteria

To date, 37,000,000 lbs of meat, sold in 36 states, over the course of 2 years, has been recalled।
That's a lot of meat. Meat used in school lunch programs, meat sold in supermarkets. The largest recall in US food history. And I have just one question:


Of the millions of pounds in circulation (most of which has already been consumed), not one person reported getting sick.

Not one of the thousands of cows that entered the slaughterhouse was ever diagnosed with an illness that is transmissable to human beings through consumption.

So why the hysteria and recall?

Nasty videotapes. Videos that upset us, because cows were shown to be lame, or being dragged or pushed with forklifts. For anyone with a heart for animals, the tape was upsetting.

But that doesnt mean that the public is at danger.

Every serious economist knows that Perfection is not an option in any endeavor. In huge corn silos, an occasional mouse will turn up and ground up along with the corn. In fields of broccoli, an occasional worm might get ground up with the veggies before being thrown into the frozen food aisle. That is the reality of life; and while it might make us squeamish, it is not a legitimate reason for society to incur enormous costs in an effort to 'make the icky go away.'

Even if the video showed 100 lame cows, that is a drop in the bucket compared to the volume of meat processed at that plant over the years. Even if the cows were diseased (as opposed to lame), there is no evidence that they carried diseases that could be contracted by humans. And two years after the incident, no one has reported any outbreak of illness attributable to this plant or lot of meat.

Slaughterhouses are not pleasant places. They smell awful, and are pits of blood and hair and warm organ smells...and generally pretty sickening places to the uninitiated. But our revulsion at them should not be the basis of sound decision-making.

The costs of this recall are astronomical, and widespread: the meat company is not the only one incurring those costs. Retail outlets and wholesalers must scour their product and pull them from the shelves. Schools must do the same. And as the stock of meat decreases, you an expect all consumers to end up paying more for meat becasue of the constricted supply.

And the benefit of all this?

Well, you can't say that the benefit of the action is to prevent human sickness...since there wasn't any human sickness, or even a likelihood of it, to begin with.

The only benefit is that we get to assuage our consciences at brutal slaughterhouse practices. We get to 'make the icky go away..'

Politicians will beat their breasts and call for stronger government regulation and inspections, and we will once again hand over power to the federal government to Make Things Right.

And once again, we will value Style and Symbol over substance.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

On Kosovo Independence Day - Happy Birthday, Kosova!

My first 'contact' with Kosova (the Albanian spelling) came in the form of its people. As a teacher, I had a very diligent, hard-working, polite young man in my class who was a recent immigrant to the United States. He was struggling through the language barrier to work full-time and get a college degree while supporting his sister and parents. I learned that they had fled from Kosova into Macedonia as refugees. And I listened to his stories of the horrors of ethnic cleansing that forced his family to flee.

It is indeed an unexpected nexus of forces: the United States and Europe, both societies with Christian roots, have been protecting a small enclave of Muslim Kosovars against the political claims of Christian (Orthodox) Serbians, during a time when Muslims are often seen as the enemies of western civilization.

I have been interested in the region for several reasons. First, as a teacher, I was invited to teach summer courses at the University of Pristina in the capital city. Secondly, as an Orthodox Christian, my 'church circle' consisted of Balkan peoples: Serbs, Greeks, Romanians, and Russians, many of whom passionately criticized NATO, the EU, and the US for being involved in helping the ethnic Albanians (and Muslims) of Kosova. I spent a lot of time on the internet, on chat boards, and in actual conversations trying to sort through the hate and passion that would flare every time mention of an independent Kosova would be mentioned.

One of the 'constants' in these conversations was the reflexive attempt by Serbs and Serb-sympathizers (who want continued Serb domination over the region) to go back to medieval history, and wax eloquent about the Ottoman Empire, the birthplace of Serbian nationalism in the Kosovo region, the fall of the Byzantine empire...and any other historical facts that could be mustered from 700 years ago to cement a claim to the land.

Internationally, only Putin's authoritarian (and Orthodox) Russia supports this approach. It is laughable on its face: In what other international conflict would anyone seriously consider the events of the medieval era? Should Britain have a claim to Normandy? Should Switzerland be divided and given over to a Neo-Swabian empire? Should the Vikings re-assert claims for the Scottish Isles and coastal Ireland? Should the Teutonic Knights be given title to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania? The notion of asserting political claims by resorting to medieval land claims is preposterous anywhere in Europe...and yet, for many Serbophiles, memories last verrrrry long. The reality is that in present history, the Serbs dominated other ethnic groups in the now-defunct nation of Yugoslavia. With a penchant for fascist authoritarianism, Serbian leaders have carried out atrocity after atrocity against non-Serbs, especially Bosnian and Albanian Muslims. One million ethnic-Albanians have fled for their lives...and 11,000 were murdered and dumped into mass graves which dot the countryside. Over three dozen such graves have been located.
No wonder Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George W. Bush have both sided with the NATO forces in support of the Kosovars. The Serbian fascists were no less brutal in their extermination of Kosovars than was Saddam Hussein in his attacks on the Kurds. And its scary to note that the extreme nationalistic Serbs *still* receive up to 40% of the vote in Serbian elections...and they continue to hide war criminals and defend the actions of Serb paramilitary death squads.
The Orthodox Churches, which have been vocal in the United States in opposing military action, are oddly silent on the militarism of their Serbian branch. The most extreme reaction came from the head of the Serb Orthodox Church in Kosovo, Bishop Artemije, who denounced the Serbian armed forces for doing nothing."Serbia should buy state of the art weapons from Russia and other countries and call on Russia to send volunteers and establish a military presence in Serbia," he said.
(It should be noted that Serbian Orthodox monks have stood out as lights of conscience as they have helped hids and protect Muslim Albanians during this time).
As I discussed these recent historical events online, I obviously upset some Serbs. They emailed me pictures of severed heads to show me who I was fooling around with.
But I am not intimidated that easily.
It is widely expected that Kosova will declare independence in less than 24 hours. Good for them....whenever freedom wins, it is a win for all of humanity. Happy Birthday, Kosova!

Monday, January 07, 2008

How Ron Paul blew it in New Hampshire

I will vote for Ron Paul on Primary day here in New Hampshire. I have been a Ron Paul fan for a very long time. But he and his supporters have snatched defeat out of what could have been a stunning showing, and its a shame.

The Republican Party has lost its principles and its soul. The GOP used to be the party of low taxes, fiscal responsibility, states rights, and a small-is-better philosophy when it came to the federal government. The Bush Empire has turned all that on its head, running up fantastic deficits, enacting Steel Tariffs, imposing No Child Left Behind on the states, and strengthening the power of the federal government to unprecedented levels through the Patriot Act and related provisions. Surely, somewhere, some Republican must be willing to stand up and declare that the Good Guys have actually morphed into the Evil Empire. For his entire career, Ron Paul has stood squarely in the true liberty-loving tradition of the Republican Party. And for that reason, I will cast my vote for Ron Paul in the Primary.

He has raised mind-blowing amounts of cash on the internet, drawing on the passion of the younger generation that tends to live on the net. But his numbers are not catching on much past the 10% mark in polls, even here in libertarian New Hampshire. Why is that?

Its not because of a media blackout. It's not because of a conspiracy against him.

It's because with all the issues he could have chosen to seize on, he chose the wrong ones: Immigration and The Federal Reserve System.

Someone needs to inform the political operatives that no one here in New Hampshire cares much about immigration. It's a virtual non-issue. New Hampshire is about as far from Mexico as you can get and still be on American soil. The immigrants who do arrive are by and large French-Canadian, and have been part of the New Hampshire social fabric for several hundred years. Further, all of the Republican candidiates are tripping over themselves trying to be the most mean-spirited, anti-immigration candidate...and no one here cares. Worse, Ron Paul is unable to differentiate himself from the pack on this issue. And even more troublesome, is that his position represents a retreat from the libertarian notion of greater freedom and less government.

Worse still is the near obsession that Dr.Paul and his followers have surrounding the Gold Standard and the Federal Reserve System. Dr. Paul has called for the abolition of the federal Reserve and a return to the gold standard. The more I hear him talk about this issue, the more convinced I become that he truly does not understand what he is talking about:

Dr. Paul has staked out this position because of the deblitating effect that inflation has on household savings. And he is correct: inflation destroys savings and value. What he doesnt seem to understand is that the United States has not seen high inflation in generations, and that is due largely to the effectiveness of the Federal Reserve Bank.

Every industrialized nation in the world has a "Central Bank." Most third world countries do NOT. Nations with these central banks experience low inflation (rarely double digits). In fact, the US inflation rate has been a mere 2% to 5% over the last few decades. (The seventies were an exception). Meanwhile, third-world nations without a central bank regularly experience inflation of 30%, 80%, 100%, or more.

The Role of the Federal Reserve System is to control inflation. They have done it, admirably. Authority for the System lies in the Constitution's clause giving the Federal Government the right to coin money.

The falling value of the US Dollar (which Dr. Paul has lamented) has been GOOD for New Hampshire: it means that the Chinese, and the Europeans, and next-door Canadians can now afford to purchase US goods, helping the manufacturing, retail, and tourism sectors upon which the New Hampshire economy is based. Ron Paul's lament about the falling value of the US Dollar carries little weight here: Retailers saw more Canadians crossing the border to buy US goods than ever before, *because* of the falling US Dollar.

And no one gives a crap about the Federal Reserve except college-aged idealists. Yup, that's right. Here in New Hampshire, people are concerned with fuel oil prices, health insurance, social security and pensions, jobs, and taxes.

Ron Paul could speak powerfully to Granite Staters about issues that are important to them. Instead, he has been sidetracked by non-issues.

And as a result, pragmatic New Hampshire voters will select John McCain (who is *not* seeking to be THE anti-immigration candidate), and who's frank talk about REAL issues resonates well with this state.