Thursday, February 28, 2013

Liars, Liars Pants on Fire

A hundred West Virginia teachers in a single school district getting pink slips?  40,000 teachers nationwide losing jobs?  So says Obama Education Secretary, POTUS basketball pal, People’s Republic of Arlington Virginia resident, Harvard graduate and fellow Chicago politician Arnie Duncan.  Arnie earns a Four Pinocchio, or maximum lie Whopper rating from the Washington Post.  That’s because there were no jobs lost, there may never be a job lost, and the only notice teachers received was of a pending reorganization, indicating jobs might be transferred (or a few eliminated) for reasons totally unrelated to the sequester.

Meanwhile, Michelle Obama, still luxuriating in the afterglow of her framed by Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine mannequins Oscars appearance last week, blindly takes credit for declining obesity rates predating FLOTUS’ PR campaign to reduce the number of childhood fatties.  Barack must be so proud of you Michelle – your country not so.

Washington lies and liars figure.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sequestration Pie

Republican vs. Democratic?  That's how Obama sees it.

Cluck, Cluck!

The White House has it that 13,000 people are going down one way or another in Montana when sequestration goes through. The sky is falling and Barack can’t find any “smartway to handle it. 

The White House estimates the cuts will cost Montana at least $10.5 million and affect more than 13,000 people in the areas of education, military, health, social services and the environment. The cuts are the result of federal lawmakers’ inability to compromise on a deficit-reduction plan. 
If Congress does not pull back from the brink and reach a last-minute deal, there will be real consequences for the state, the new Democratic governor said Tuesday. But Montana is in a strong economic position with a $500 million surplus, and because the cuts would be implemented in stages, there is no need to change any spending plans at this point in his proposed $10 billion budget, he said.
I did the math as I was sitting at lunch, the $8.50 buffet at The Wok on North 7th Street here in Bozeman. There are a million of us Montanans, which translates Obama’s scare regime into $10.50 per person, which was exactly the cost of my lunch (no sales tax in Montana) after I added the tip. One MSG laden lunch per year – where art thou Chicken Little?   Even at this ridiculously low level, there are more than enough funds in Montana’s budget to absorb state differences.  I may not know what smart is, but I know it’s damn stupid to pay attention to anything that comes out of this president’s mouth.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Monetary Illusion: Instruments of Destruction

Printing money, which these days is done by an entry in a spreadsheet at the Federal Reserve, creates the appearance of prosperity until reality sets in and the worthless, asset less central banking and monetary system collapses upon itself.

This is a 1929 bank note, issued on the National Bank of Bathgate North Dakota. 

Bank of Bathgate Note
After a almost decade-long run of feigned prosperity (the Roaring 20's), fueled by the production of notes like these at national banks throughout the country, the system collapsed starting with Black Monday in October of 1929.  The United States was thrown into the Great Depression.  

These days, we don't bother with the hard-copy notes to artificially increase the money supply, but if we did, the physical manifestation of the print, borrow and spend regime would look something like this.

Bank of Barack Note
The regime of Bernanke printing, Geithner borrowing and Obama (who appointed Bernake and Geithner) spending, will come to an ignominious end, just as occurred in the 1929.   Money is not real. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Keystone XL Is Swell

The we want-to-kill-affordable-energy-no-matter-what-it-takes progressives complain that the Keystone XL pipeline will not moderate US petroleum prices and grow US jobs, because oil flows will ultimately be transshipped to foreign markets.  These protesters misunderstand markets and market forces.   They protest far too much.  At least four faulty and fractious arguments are put forward by the anti-energy crowd:

1.      It’s a World Market, Supply Doesn’t Matter.  This categorical lie has come out of Obama’s mouth no less.  I’ve already blogged on how, to the contrary, local gasoline prices, here within a few hundred miles of the North Dakota oil patch, are significantly lower than elsewhere in the country.  That continues.  I paid $3.11 a gallon when I filled up my Jeep last week when national pump prices averaged $3.78 a gallon.   On an individual state basis the highest prices are in progressive utopias California ($4.25 a gallon), New York ($4.01), Hawaii ($4.35) and the District of Columbia ($4.00) where tight supplies, limited competition, burdensome regulatory requirements, high taxes and anti-consumer policies prevail.   The President need not pay much attention to notice that even when “world” market oil prices are quoted they are typically broken down into two – West Texas Intermediate Crude and Brent Crude Oil, currently $93.36 a barrel and $114.26 per barrel, separated by more than 20 percent difference, not the single, unified, holistic price Obama wants you to believe.  The third most frequently quoted international reference price is the “OPEC Price Basket,” which is itself actually a composite of 12 distinct crude oil prices prevailing in the various OPEC countries.  The next time Obama spouts off on "the world oil price," remember, he is belying his own Energy Information Administration, which publishes no less than 29 different first-purchase domestic crude area prices.  When anyone says or implies there is nothing but a world oil price, or asserts prices are unaffected by local supply and local conditions, it's liar, liar pants on fire.

2.      Keystone Pipeline Oil Will Be Exported.   I don’t doubt that some of the oil transported by Keystone XL will be processed for export, almost certainly a very large share during the pipeline’s early years.  But I have been around long enough to remember the same clarion call from the anti-energy, progressive crowd when the Trans-Alaska pipeline was planned.  The progs said don’t build the pipeline and despoil the environment because the crude oil will be loaded onto tankers and transshipped to Japan (the big fear then was being taken down economically by Japan, just as many fear economic Armageddon via China today).  At various times during the Alaska pipeline’s existence petroleum flows were exported.   But by 2004 exports ceased.   Over the 36 year existence of the Tran-Alaska Pipeline, only 2.7 percent of Alaskan crude has been exported.  It’s quite normal for supplies to exceed what is needed locally during the early years of a pipeline project, resulting in exports.   But it is also common for a new source of supply, as it matures, to substitute for other domestic supply sources that wane over time.

Rich Activists Without Real Jobs
Chained to White House Fence
3.      Exported Oil Has No Beneficial Impact on US Petroleum Markets and Prices.  It is axiomatic that market prices depend not only on the current supply stream, but also the cost and availability of close substitutes.  It is difficult to imagine a closer and more cost competitive substitute for domestically produced oil and gas than domestic oil and gas.  Even supplies that are exported will have a dampening impact on US domestic prices.    Furthermore, those exported supplies would be available domestically, providing energy security, in the event of a crisis and will serve future domestic needs.

4.      Exported Oil and Gas Have Little or No Beneficial Impact on the US Economy or Employment.   The pipeline industry directly employs 44.3 thousand workers, who are very well paid ($37.62 per hour) and heavily in demand (43.1 average weekly hours).   Including the impact of contractors, construction and demand multipliers, the pipeline industry supports hundreds of thousands of jobs.   Keystone XL will not exclusively transport Canadian oil.   A portion of the oil transported via Keystone XL will be domestically extracted, helping to secure employment in the extraction sector, which employs close to 200,000 people directly.   Keystone Pipeline Oil will be refined in the US.   Refining is another big value add.  Another 100 thousand plus people are directly employed in high wage refining jobs.

Let’s give a big OK to the XL.
Barack Obama Promoting His None of the Above Strategy

Economies of Scale or Scope?

Etch You Now or Etch You Later

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Remember the Alamo!

History repeats itself.  Pearl Harbor is vulnerable to attack! Man all battle stations. Cancel shore leave. Some Pearl Harbor DOD civilian employees might have to take a day off every week or so (FYI, most of those employees earn 39 days of leave each year; with flextime options they are not at their work stations more than a day a week as is). Hawaii Democratic Governor Neil Abercrombie is sounding a phony sequester alarm,

The plain fact is, that will undermine our capacity for readiness at Pearl Harbor. And if that doesn't symbolize for the nation that, far from overstating anything, it is zeroing in on a graphic example of what happens when we fail to meet our responsibilities congressionally. You don't want to undermine that capacity to be able to respond.

Good thing Rick Perry is the Governor of Texas. If some pin-headed progressive Democrat were leading the Lone Star state during this anniversary of Santa Ana's murderous siege, we would not only be remembering the Alamo, there would be an impassioned plea for militarizing and rearming the mission.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Stop Bitching

I just posted this on my Facebook page.

To think, there was a time when people cared more about their children's future than they actually cared about themselves.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Senator Jon Tester: Solyndracize Montana Energy

Apparently, the junior Senator from Montana believes the United States has not wasted enough money on failed, uneconomic energy programs.  He is jumping on the bandwagon.  Jon Tester wants to Solyndracize Montana energy.

Senator Jon Tester receives 
the Geothermal Heat Pump Industry Champion 
award from GEO, an industry lobbying 
and trade organization whose 
corporate members will benefit from S 362.
Earlier this week, Montana Senator Jon Tester introduced a bill, S 362, that he claims will “create jobs and increase America’s energy security by better utilizing Montana’s geothermal energy resources.”  In reality, Tester’s legislation greases the palms of corporate cronies.  Senator Tester’s bill hands over federal funds to firms that curry favor with Tester's designee, Energy Secretary, Steven Chu (or Chu's successor). 

Doubling down on the failed model that has sent billions of taxpayer dollars down the drain to subsidize the likes of Solyndra, Tester’s legislation authorizes the Secretary to administer a “direct loan program for high risk geothermal exploration wells.” 

Tester is going big.  The legislation funds “the use of geothermal energy in large scale thermal applications.”  The bill authorizes the Secretary to develop a ”cost share percentage for loans made under this section on a sliding scale, with higher Federal shares awarded to projects with higher risks.”  The bill authorizes Secretary Chu to grant “loan modifications or forgiveness” to his (or should I say Jon’s) corporate pals.  Big cost applications, plus big cost shares, plus big cost risks, plus cost forgiveness equals huge defaults.  Way to go Jon!  You are hitting on all cylinders.  When my children understand what you are doing for them, no doubt they will thank you for pushing yet more debt onto their generation.

Meanwhile, we are still wondering, Senator Tester, where in the four corners of our founding fathers' document did you find that constitutional right to mail delivery?  And we demand our truck rights.  Ford F-Series pickup trucks are good for Montana!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

So I See

Sometimes a blog post is handed to you.

I decided to order prescription sun glasses today.

New Driving Lenses
Now, I got a full eye exam and updated prescription last spring in Virginia, just before the big move.  With the ensuing corrections my vision is better than ever.   Not wanting to roll the dice on a new prescription I brought an envelope that I thought included the prescription to the optical counter at Costco.  Teresa bought some great transition driving lenses at Costco last month.  I wanted the same.  But it turned out, on closer examination, the envelope included only the Virginia receipt. 

No problem says the Costco optician.  We can call for a fax copy of the prescription.

We called the Virginia optometrist at the phone number listed on the receipt.  It was ordinary business hours, 3:30 pm Eastern Standard time back East on a Thursday afternoon – ring, ring, ring, and ring, no answer.   We hung up and called again – twenty rings and no answer.  So we call the Lenscrafters that filled the prescription and ask for the optometrist’s phone number by business name – Dr. Robert W Stetekluh & Associates.   Lenscrafters gives us a different Virginia number.  Progress.  We call that Virginia number.  A very nice lady answers, takes the Costco fax and voice phone numbers and promises to get back to us with the prescription as soon as she can retrieve it. 

Five minutes pass, then ten.  We decide to go off and do the rest of our shopping.  When we return the Costco optician says bad news.  Dr. Stetekluh does not have my records.  They are with another optometrist.    Well Okay I say, we can call the other optometrist then.  No says the Costco Associate.  Dr. Stetekluh’s receptionist would not provide the name or phone number, something about a non-compete agreement.   I would have to call Dr. Stetekluh’s office again and ask for the records to be transferred and then, after several days, Dr. Stetekluh’s office could forward my prescription.     

Here I am in Bozeman, Montana, permanently moved 2,500 miles away from Arlington, Virginia.  In view of my age and retired status I likely will never set foot in Arlington Virginia again.  Yet, an Arlington optometrist thinks giving me a phone number somehow, someway breeches or implicates a non-compete agreement?   Unbelievable.

We’re going to get that phone number.  There’s no stopping us.  Teresa recalled that Dr. Stetekluh’s receptionist had been daughter of the husband and wife team who cleaned our Arlington home every other week for ten years.  We had our last Christmas dinner in Arlington with the family.  We have a call into Lisa and Hassan.   Sometimes, it seems, the Higher Power wants you to get in touch with old friends..

Yes Virginia, There Is a Caddie Scholarship

Evans Scholars Caddying in the ProAm
BMW Championship
Noonan may or may not have earned it in "Caddy Shack," but there really is a caddie scholarship. There are currently 800 Evans Scholars in college out of the more than 10,000 Evans Scholarships awarded since the inception of the program in 1932.  It is privately funded; no bullshit government grants or subsidies. Two hundred plus high school seniors who have caddied at least two years (most many more) are selected each year based on their caddie record, grades, character and demonstrated financial need.  The scholarship is named after Chick Evans, who was a highly successful amateur golfer during the Bobby Jones era.  He pledged the earnings from a golf instructional record to Western Golf Association to help the caddies and maintain his amateur status.  
Bobby Jones & Chick Evans

From the time I was 10 years old through when I was 18 I caddied at Glen View Club in Golf Illinois, where the scholarship program was founded and Chick Evans was an honorary member.  I caddied for Chick (then in his 70's and 80's) many times.  

Anyway, the powers that be having overlooked my character upon scholarship award, the quarterly rag from the WGA Evans Scholars folks showed up, with newsy snippets:

  1. Tom Watson was inducted into the Caddie Hall of Fame based on his long-time support of caddies and support of his own caddie, Bruce Edwards, who died after a long battle with ALS.
  2. Headline reads Beverly Country Club's longtime "Caddie Manager" retired after 26 years.  What no "Caddie Master?"  PC invades the caddie world.
  3. Sam Allen, Evans Scholar Alum and CEO of Deere & Co, keynoted at the Evans Scholars speakers forum.  Deere CEO?  Darn, when I sold IRDM and bought DE I thought I was eschewing the CEO caddie connection.  Oh, well.
  4. The fourth annual Evans Scholars Charity Golf Retreat at Bandon Dunes Golf Resort in Oregon will be held May 7-9 thanks to the generosity of resort owner Mike Keiser.  It's great to see a program that rewards hard working, meretricious young women and men taking strong root on the West Coast.
  5. There's a sidebar on Marquette Evans Scholar Maryclaret Ndubuisi-Obi from the Igbo tribe in Nigeria.  The young immigrant says, "At first, golf was foreign to me, and I was confused and lost.  I have since realized it is a sport of many wonders.  It taught me hard work and perserverance and led me to the Evans Scholarship, which changed my life."  Way to go girl!  
Chick's spirit stays alive.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Calling Al, Calling Al

Match Play Championship

Snow cancelled golf near Tuscon Arizona today, at the World Golf Championships, Accenture Match Play tournament on the PGA Tour. Meanwhile, here in Montana we visited Bridger Bowl, where it snowed. We skied. Apr├Ęs ski was pulling icicles out of me' beard. Calling Al Gore. Calling Al Gore. "Al, we kind of like oil and gas.  We have neighbors who work in the Bakken.  Thought you should know those fuels get us to beautiful country where we recreate; they also keep our homes all warm and comfy." Does anyone know where Gore is jetting off to now so we can forward the message? Please advise. Thanks.

Seasonal Snow at Bridger Bowl

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Please Chairman Jon Tester

Sent this missive to the “dirt farmer” senator who somehow managed to wrangle chairmanship of the Senate Subcommittee on Securities, Insurance and Investment.   He farmed and got himself a music degree and has barely a penny to his name.  The US Senate is an incredible meritocracy.  Waiting for a reply.  Tick, Tock.

Dear Mr. Tester, 
 I am a constituent, retired and an individual investor, very ably and happily managing my own financial assets. I read on Valentines Day that you are pushing the SEC to impose a uniform fiduciary duty on brokers vis a vis their brokerage clients.
That is a horrible idea.  I maintain brokerage accounts with a discount broker.  I don’t need nor want you or a broker to tell me what financial decisions and investments I should or should not make.  I don’t want to pay for useless advice.  And I most vehemently object to sharing my private financial and personal information, which are necessary to consummate a fiduciary relationship, with crooks that populate the financial sector or with any of your conflicted, hand wringing financially illiterate nanny state interlopers, who are looking for ways to carve continuous fees from my hard earned, saved and invested assets. 
 Anyone who needs help can pay for financial advice.  Even you, Senator Tester, could pay, though I would recommend against it, since according to your Financial Disclosure Statements, you have managed over three decades of adulthood to save essentially nothing.  If you had any sense of decency you would clean up your own financial house before you told others how to build and manage theirs. 
 I look forward to your full and substantive reply. 


Grady Foster
Bozeman, MT 

September 13, 2013:  Tick, tock, tick, tock, 209 days and counting, no response.

Stand Against Al Gore and the Oil Sheiks

US Gas and Oil Pipelines
This current US map shows existing oil and gas distribution pipelines.  From Canada, Keystone Pipeline will provide a new, and under NAFTA, essentially domestic source of oil that will reduce the economic leverage and political influence of countries like Venezuela and the sheikdoms in the Middle East.  It will also carry oil from the Bakken oil fields.  Though we in Southwest Montana live hundreds of miles distant we have neighbors employed in the Bakken.  They work two weeks on, two weeks off, bunking in barracks when on duty, just like workers on Alaska's North Slope.  The Keystone is good for energy security, it fits in with an existing network of pipelines whose environmental incidents are incredibly minor, few and fleeting, and it will be fantastic for the economy.  Your panties have to be wound in a very tight and elitist bunch to be against this one, or you have to be Al Gore, paid off to the tune of $100 million by the Oil Sheiks.


Obama's War Against Children

Bozo Barack is back.

Obama stood in front of his union-organized police and firefighter mannequins this morning. The liar-in-chief deceives. Your house will burn down, your home will be burglarized, your children will be abandoned, the economy will fall apart and you will be unemployed if the federal government is forced to go ahead with 2 point something percent in spending cuts. You are insane to support this prevaricator. When Obama says we need to balance tax increases and spending cuts he carries on the legacy of Ken Lay, Jeffrey Skilling and Andy Fastow by using Enron style accounting -- tax increases are actual increases that will burden our children and grandchildren, while spending cuts are reductions in the rate of real spending increases on the self-centered, egocentric Baby Boomer generation. Let me be clear, progressives hate our children.  I for one will not stand for it, not for one second.

NBC news says "The speech featured no new, concrete proposal from the president detailing how he would prefer for Congress to replace the sequester." 

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pass the Mustard Please

Heinz is a quintessential American Fortune 500 company headquartered in Pittsburgh PA, founded almost 150 years previous, being taken over by Brazilians in a leveraged buyout, with Obama buddy Warren Buffett providing the bulk of the leverage.   Those progressives are so cool, so clever and so interested in American jobs that I can hardly contain myself.   Next thing you know they’ll be selling off a car company to Italy.  Oh, I’m sorry, they already did that. 

Currency Wars Continue

After European Central Bank President Mario Draghi's speech at the European Parliament on Monday, he responded as follows to questions from parliamentarians:
"Another sign of improved confidence is the larger than expected early repayment by counterparties in the first of our two three-year longer-term refinancing operations settled in December 2011 and March 2012. This indicates that banks are less uncertain about their funding prospects than a year ago."
"If they don't do the proper deleveraging, they won't be able to do the credit that we are really now struggling with... That's policy challenge No.1 - we want to see the credit numbers going up."
"The ECB is aware of the challenges arising from a protracted period of low policy rates and ample liquidity."

Translation:  We can see that Rome is burning but we are going to continue to feed the fire because that helps the banks. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

My 2013 Predictions

A blog I once frequented regularly when I lived in Virginia invited readers and commentators to prognosticate last month about Obama’s second term.  

I bit, as follows, with my responses italicized and edited a bit for clarity.

1] & 2] Unemployment and GDP: There will be a recession in the 2nd term, Obama will blame it on Bush, Romney and Republican led House; imbecilic hero worshiping populous will believe Obama.   Unemployment will vacillate around 8 percent.   Labor participation rate will drop into the low sixties, food stamps users will grow to 55 million (food stamp recipient growth under Obama averaged 11,133 per day), and Romney’s 47 percent takers will rise to 52 percent, in other words everything will be wonderful on the progressive front – with more taking and less working we will be closer than ever to progressive utopia where it is what you grovel for, not what you earn, that counts.

3] Debt: $22 trillion.

4] Deficit: We’ll have our first $2 trillion annual deficit after a head fake just below a trillion dollar deficit in FY 2013 (courtesy of accelerated tax minimization asset sales).

5] Obamacare: We’ll now begin to learn what’s in the law, to wit, claims about lower cost and increased private sector coverage were fatuous lies.  Obamacare will be under assault by the right and the left, with the left moving full bore in support of government monopoly, purveying the lie that it will produce more and cost less.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Busted by Barack

In a top ten (out of 3,143) income market Obama's devilish economic touch strikes once again.

Bigger is Better

MSNBC eschews racial stereotypes?  You decide.

This or That

I didn't know whether to write a post on Pravada on the Potomac's (aka the Washington Post) gullible reporting on Sarah Palin's supposed contract with Al Jazerra America or to tip off one the Post's reportorial wizards using one of my posts on Jon Tester.  With Tester, who is actually a sitting United States Senator making decisions that screw up our lives and destroy our children's future every day, it really is hard to distinguish between fact and fiction.  Or is it the other way around? 

Friday, February 15, 2013

On the Road to Bathgate Act 3: I Am a Cubs Fan

I am a Cubs fan.

Credit Dad.  

In the early 20th century Dad grew up in Bathgate, North Dakota.  By the 1920’s the Foster family farmhouse was electrified, a radio procured and placed in the parlor.  Chicago was the most northwesterly major league baseball city and closest geographically to North Dakota.  Accordingly, Cubs games were broadcast up North.  Hearing the crack of the bat and the smack of ball into glove during games aired (or recreated using a telegraph feed) from Wrigley Field, Chicago, Dad became an avid Cubs fan. 

Route Map, Chicago Milwaukee, St. Paul and Pacific
Railroad Line, Pre-1932
The 1932 Cubs did something that modern day Cub fans can only dream about.   The Cubbies won the National League pennant and vied in the World Series, where they faced none other than the New York Yankees, led by one George Herman “Babe” Ruth.  In view of this extraordinary good fortune, Dad did what any self-respecting Cub fan would do.  He moved heaven and earth to get to the World Series.  In Dad’s case, heaven was an empty freight car headed from North Dakota to Minneapolis, and earth was one of the same destined to Chicago from the Twin Cities. 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Eurozone Recession Deepens

According to the latest GDP release from Europe, Germany is shrinking.  France is shrinking.  We are getting more like Europe every day!  Isn't that precious?

Senator Jon Tester Invokes Constitutional Right to Mail Delivery

Citing the United States Constitution and the pressing needs of rural constituents, Senator John Tester demanded the continuation of Saturday mail delivery yesterday.  Tester protested Postmaster General Pat Donahoe's 5-day delivery plan when the beleaguered public official appeared before the Senate Homeland and Government Affairs Committee. Tester, a self described third generation dirt farmer from Big Sandy Montana, said in a press release,

"It's in the Constitution that we have to have a Postal Service.  It's worked well for this country for centuries, and the fact is when it comes to our senior citizens, when it comes to rural America, it's absolutely critical. So I'm one of those guys who, when they say ‘cut service on Saturdays,' says ‘no' and wants to know what other options are out there."

"The fact of the matter is that everyone wants to help the Postal Service become more economical, and if we're doing things that actually reduce our mail volume, we're heading in the wrong direction."

Jon Tester had no comment on Electronic Bill Paying and Bill Presentment, EBooks, the Internet, Blogs, Email, EFT networks, Web Portals, EMagazines, Google, Facebook, a tepid housing recovery, sky-high unemployment and glacially slow economic growth – things that have actually diverted or reduced mail volume.

According to his campaign web site, Senator Tester lost three fingers in a meat grinder at age nine.  In a recent appearance on HBO’s “Real Time, With Bill Maher” Senator Tester took advantage of a national television audience to expose the right wing, secretly funded conspiracy that made him whole.  Tester complained,

"Elections are a part of government. This money comes in, we don’t know where it’s come from, we don’t know if it’s corporations domiciled in this country or outside this country which would be patently illegal. And they continue to put in money to try to, in my case, make me into something I’m not.  For example, one of the ads had five fingers on my left hand. OK -- those babies been gone for 47 years.  But truth is they didn’t care about the facts, they try to define you as something you’re not. I don’t think it resulted in a better informed voter, in fact, a less informed voter. I think this is proof of the fact that they didn’t do their research because they didn’t care. There was a lot of other stuff too that was far more heinous than that."
It does seem like there was some surreptitious tomfoolery during the election campaign, at least according to Huffington Post,
In the waning days of Montana's hotly contested Senate race, a small outfit called Montana Hunters and Anglers, launched by liberal activists, tried something drastic.
It didn't buy ads supporting the incumbent Democrat, Sen. Jon Tester. Instead, it put up radio and TV commercials that urged voters to choose the third-party candidate, libertarian Dan Cox, describing Cox as the "real conservative" or the "true conservative."
Where did the group's money come from? Nobody knows.
Jon Tester was re-elected last November with a plurality of the vote when the majority opposition split between Republican candidate Denny Rehberg and Libertarian candidate Dan Cox. Tester substantially outspent his Republican opponent, financed by a huge edge in large contributions and in contributions from PACs. 

Please check back in to Along the Gradyent for continued coverage of Senator Tester’s crusade to represent Montana values in the US Senate.  We will report on Mr. Tester’s revelations of additional heinous campaign tactics as they become available, as we will news of Tester's evolving stance on truck control.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Hagel is Unable

Chuck Hagel, Obama Nominee, Secretary of Defense

I usually don't comment on personnel matters. A President should generally be able to appoint freely to political positions.  But this is as obvious as the bags under his eyes.  Chuck Hagel is a sot.  His only pass inside the Pentagon should be to attend its Employee Assistance Program.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

We the Feds Part IV -- Phones for the Poor

Phone subsidies, like most subsidies to allegedly low-income recipients, are a rip.  

You know how this works.  Give a program a name that implies it's low cost and/or people can't live without it; then take a hands off attitude on administration and open the floodgates. The phones for the poor lobby nailed the formula, advocating reduced "Lifeline" rates, subsidized directly to the tune of  $2.2 billion last year. To fund their feel-good program, the phone give-away crowd got the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to tack additional monthly fees on top of phones bills paid by ordinary telephone customers like you and me.  Under the guidance and purview of Obama's FCC, subsidies almost tripled.  Free minutes!  Free phones!  Join the party. 

Lifeline program growth was so outrageous that FCC was embarassed  into requiring the takers to verify eligibility.  The results?  No statistical summary or data reports from the Obama controlled FCC, which doesn't want to expose the outrageous payoffs progressives are generating for Obama's constituency. Transparency in the world of Obama is a joke.  So the Wall Street Journal went to telecoms and got straight answers from some of the largest Lifeline providers.  

The agency estimated 15% of users would be weeded out, but far more were dropped.  A review of five top recipients of Lifeline support conducted by the FCC for the Journal showed that 41% of their more than six million subscribers either couldn't demonstrate their eligibility or didn't respond to requests for certification.
Even if we assume the 59 percent who passed muster really need us to pay for their iPhone service, the other 40 percent has been a pure waste.  The takers couldn't or wouldn't be bothered to document or certify eligibility.  

This is not an isolated situation.  Both in Arlington and in Bozeman my kids have attended schools that have a high proportion of students eligible for free or reduced rate lunches.  I've observed fraudulent behavior many times, parents making up answers to questions on eligibility forms to qualify their kids. They ask, "How low do I need to go?"  I don't know how many food stamp recipients I've seen waltz out of the grocery story into a Mercedes, a Lexus or a BMW, or a brand new $40,000 souped up, leather seated, extended cab pickup truck.  The fraud is rampant.  The abuse is rampant.  You've elected a President who doesn't want to do anything about it.  Shame.

On the Road to Bathgate Act 2: Funny Money

Running the printing presses to monetize debt, in whatever form that takes, drives the boom cycle before it spectacularly bursts.  During the Roaring Twenties bank notes, traded and accepted as currency, were the prime mechanism for inducing the boom before becoming the means of destruction during the Great Depression.  Virtually every small town had a national bank empowered to issue notes secured against its capital base.  This is a Series 1929 bank note, issued in my Dad’s hometown, by the National Bank of Bathgate, North Dakota.  This 1929 note barely survived Black Monday (October, 28, 1929); it was worthless by 1930 when the National Bank of Bathgate liquidated.  The Depression hit quick, it hit hard and it hit without warning, wiping out virtually everyone and everything that laid within its path, regardless of merit, history or accountability.   Tens of millions of lives were destroyed or ended.  Yet the progressives remember the Great Depression as a wonderful time because it gave rise to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and evolved into the biggest war induced economic surge ever known.  They laud the fruits of currency devaluation fomented by excessive issuance of debt.  It’s a lesson for all mankind to avoid, but it's a lesson unknown to the progressive political pipsqueaks who drive the political show today.   

Sunday, February 10, 2013

On the Road to Bathgate Act 1: "Fargo" the Movie

Bathgate, North Dakota
Bathgate North Dakota, population 43 according to the 2010 census, is located on the Tongue River, in the broad, fertile and frequently frigid Red River of the North valley, nestled in the extreme northeast corner of North Dakota, 5 miles south of the Canadian border.  Today, there are but two commercial establishments in town – Reiny’s Bar and Bethlehem Books (a Christian publishing house), plus a post office and a church or two. Nothing else except about twenty homes. Just after the turn of the 20th Century, when Bathgate was a thriving metropolis with a population of 641, the Great Northern railway ran through it.  Today the railroad right of way, angling northwest to southeast across town, is abandoned.  

Isaac J Foster Gravestone
L Elizabeth Foster Gravestone
My dad was born and raised on a family farm located on the 160-acre quarter section immediately north of town. The town of Bathgate itself is built along a bend of the Tongue River on a quarter section originally settled by my father’s grandfather, William Foster, an Irish immigrant by way of Canada, who homesteaded a claim in 1879 and sold his perfected claim to a developer in 1881. My grandparents, Isaac J Foster, who emigrated from Canada, and Laura Elizabeth Armstrong Foster, whose family moved north and west from Minnesota, farmed through most of their adult lives on various quarter sections throughout the township, and raised 11 offspring. They are interred in Bathgate Cemetery.

In spite of its disappearing population, Bathgate is a known place, not for the Fosters, but because of a flirtation with pop culture. 

If you have seen the classic movie "Fargo," I can guarantee that you have never looked at a wood chipper the same way again. "Fargo" revolves about Brainerd, Minnesota. The lead actress, Frances McDormand, plays a pregnant Brainerd police chief with an endearing singsong Northwood’s, Scandinavian influenced Minnesota accent, who tracks down a brainless and soulless killer.   She was named Best Actress for her performance. As the plot resolves, Ms. McDormand accosts and shoots the killer as he flees after being caught disposing the body of one of his victims -- through a wood chipper. 

Another iconic scene in the movie showed a roadside, woodcut statute of Paul Bunyan. The winter the movie was shot proved to be uncooperative. Early winter snowfalls were followed by thaws; January and February snow cover failed to make up the difference. In search of snowier backdrops, the production moved north, resulting on March 15, 1995 in the following AP story:

BATHGATE, ND (AP)  A statue of Paul Bunyan, along with a "Welcome to Brainerd, Home of Paul Bunyan" sign now stands tall on the prairie, along Pembina County Highway 1, four miles west of town.
The 25-foot statue was erected over the weekend for the filming of a police chase scene for the movie, "Fargo."
"You should have seen it right after they put it up," said Reinhold Henschel, who owns Reiny's Bar, one of a handful of businesses in the town of 75 people about 10 miles south of the Canadian border.
"It was foggy, and people couldn't see it until they got right up to it. Then, it says, 'Brainerd,' and they thought, 'What the hell?"
How Bathgate got involved in a movie called "Fargo" and with the legend of Paul Bunyan and Brainerd is simply a matter of weather. The film crew needs snow, and Bathgate has snow - at least for a few more days.

"We should have more of this kind of thing around here," said Emil Martineau. "It's something to talk about." You betcha.

Paul Bunyan Statue, Bathgate, ND

Put it all together. I’ve been to Fargo. It’s a very nice town with very nice people, as are the folks across the Red River in Minnesota. I've been to Brainerd -- a nice place too. I am of their stock. Yet there is a fatalism and darkness in “Fargo” that rings true. It fits. If you've never seen it, "Fargo" is a must.

Chicago Mob Tactics

Obama’s hit regime relentlessly expands and grows, on a country, conflict and individual basis, this time moving its sights towards Algeria and Mokhtar Belmokhtar, and, of course, whatever family members, comrades in arms or innocent bystanders might happen to be nearby. 
“Adding the Algerian militant Mokhtar Belmokhtar to a U.S. targeted-killing list would represent a significant U.S. expansion into northwestern Africa, extending the reach of the U.S. program of drone strikes and other lethal counterterrorism operations, which have concentrated on Somalia, Yemen and Pakistan.
Until now, the U.S. has focused on feeding intelligence to allies about Mr. Belmokhtar and his terrorist group, which is an offshoot of al Qaeda's North African affiliate. That strategy has helped the U.S. maintain an arm's-length approach to counterterrorism operations in northwest Africa, where Islamist militants have carved out a haven.
The push by U.S. military and intelligence officials to list Mr. Belmokhtar as a target comes as the militants face a potential guerrilla war with French and African military forces in northern Mali, a base of operations for the Algerian.
U.S. officials said that Mr. Belmokhtar, whose group has armed itself in part with Libyan weapons, stands as a key example of the dangers of unchecked terrorist aspirations and capabilities in the wake of the Arab Spring, which saw several iron-fisted dictatorships give way to more-chaotic elected governments.”
Oh, the irony.  Obama seeks to use assassination to counter the effects of the Arab Spring insurgency that was armed, sanctioned and supported by none other than the President himself.  His tangled web will come back to haunt us domestically when one day, in the not too distant future, retaliatory drone strikes will be launched against political targets in the good ole USA.  For all the aura of secrecy, mysticism and high tech surrounding the drones, they are little more than gliders powered by lawn mower engines, flying below the radar.  Good luck USA.