Posts tagged ‘Crisis’

Stomping Our Feet And Pitching a Fit..That’ll Teach ‘Em!!

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The world has watched for weeks as North Korea has done exactly as it said it was going to do.  Thanks to the obtrusive capabilities that Google Earth now provides us all to spy on cheating spouses and now Communist countries, even Joe Schmo could peek in on all the activity on the launching pad halfway around the world.

They said they were going to send a “communication satellite” into space.  They hauled out a rocket.  They fueled it.  The world watched and used their “serious” words to tell them not to do it.  President Obama and Secretary Clinton shook their fingers and stomped their feet in our stead, promising all sorts of dire consequences if North Korea stood by their word and dared to actually do what they said they were going to do.  We all watched and waited and whined.  China stood by figuratively giggling at the comotion and impotent threats from the “super powers” and chose to do nothing to intervene.

Yet on Sunday morning, amidst all the tempest in a teapot, North Korea made good on their word.  They did exactly what they said they were going to do and launched their new playtoy for all the world to see, effectively thumbing their nose at all the other kids on the playground.  They provided the potential buyers for their wares, any potential future terrorists (oh, excuse me, the bringers of man-caused disasters), a wonderful demonstration of the viability of their product. 

While the world watched and whined.  Our President promised a STERN united international response.  (What would that be, yet another visit to the UN’s dreaded “Time Out Chair?”)

A lot of good that did.   Somehow I get the feeling that there was no shaking in their collective boots going on.  The North Koreans proved once again today that they are better at playing chicken than we are.

Our President today got up in front of his teleprompter and fired off a very stern lecture toward the North Korean government.  He raged and promised that the UN was going to hear about this!! (shouldn’t they already have known all about it?)  He declared that this will not be tolerated. Of course that statement is like closing the barn door after the horse is running for the hills.  It doesn’t have to be tolerated, it’s already done. 

The North Koreans today put into practice what many people spout off as rhetoric.  They showed in graphic form that it is easier to ask for forgiveness rather than permission.  The only caveat to that is, of course, they don’t plan to ask for forgiveness.  They simply intend to thumb their nose at the rest of the world and do as they please.  A few more ineffective sanctions from the UN aren’t going to deter or even make them think twice the next time they plan to behave badly.

I will admit that one thing President Obama said today was very true.  He declared as he did often on the campaign trail as well, that “Words matter”.

Indeed they do.  North Korea took that phrase to heart and demonstrated it in no uncertain terms.

They said they were going to launch their rocket, and today, they did.

Who is standing by their words now?  The North Koreans that did what they said they were going to do and carried through or the rest of the world issuing their stern warnings and impotent sanctions yet again? 

Unfortunately for us all, the question is a no-brainer and the majority is proving to be the ones drawing the short stick.

Heaven forbid we hurt any feelings or actually take a stand.

To do so would denote that a strength of spirit and will  is still alive and well in the United States of America.  We can’t have that anymore, now can we?

Let Me Be Clear…As Mud

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“Let me be clear, the government has no interest in running GM or the car industry. The government has no intention of running GM.”

Translation:  Well, other than firing the CEO, telling them what to cars to make, mandating a merger with an overseas company, having government backed warranties and withholding any more funds if you don’t do everything we tell you to do, the way we tell you to do it…we won’t be running the car industry.  Of course none of that would fall into the category of full oversight of the company, does it?

As a country, we have been edging down a slippery slope for weeks now.  The pace is picking up and we are now starting a full blown slide down said slope and straight to hell in a handbasket.  The question many of us are starting to have is, where will it all end?  Will it end at all or is this just beginning of a fundamental change in our country and of the constitution set up to define it.  We are approaching or already in very dangerous territory and not even pretending to tread lightly anymore.

The firing (okay, technically if we use the administration’s current wordplay game of semantics, the “strong suggestion that he should step aside”) of GM CEO Rick Wagoner today signals a shot across the bow to American companies, both private and public.  If you accept or are forced into taking government funds, your job security is now dependant on the whim of those in Washington.  We are putting CEO’s and boards of companies, private and public alike, on notice.  If the powers that be don’t agree with the way you run your business, with the products you produce or in your plans to restructure the company, all bets are off.  You can now be taken over by the federal government.

There is a lot of blame/credit to go around on every side.  This is not a partisan issue.   In the car industry and large financial firms especially, the rousing battle cry of a company being “too big to fail” is what caused a lot of the chaos we have gone through and have yet to experience.  That premise has proven to be a fallacy in thinking.  In the case of GM and AIG in particular, after sinking billions upon billions of dollars into the death stars of these corporations, the only option for GM still may be to declare bankruptcy and restructure as they should have months ago.  AIGwas the poster child for public outcry last week as Congress on both sides of the aisle, whipped up outrage and mob mentality as a means of diversion over bonuses that were paid.  The only problem was, many of those so outraged in the Administration, Congress and the Treasury Department, knew of the bonuses to come ahead of time and tacitly signed off on them weeks before they were given out.   When the constituency was paying attention and started an outcry, then the backpedaling and un-constitutional passage of a tax bill by the House occurred.  Bus tours were arranged by an offshoot of ACORN to intimidate executives scared for their families to give back money that everyone in power knew they were going to receive.

Over the past 2 to 3 decades, we have all experienced and enjoyed the times of excess run amok in our society.  Many of us learned to live above our means rather than to stay within our attainable financial boundaries.  We became spoiled and used to having all we needed or being able to attain it through credit lines that freely flowed.  We had a false sense of security and thought our lives would never change.

Corporations in America and around the world were no different.  As long as the profits were flowing in, everyone prospered and took full advantage of the times.  The fat cats lived high on the hog and every angle was worked to it’s full advantage even by the most casual investor.  We were told that the Stock Market was golden and the only way to go in saving for retirement was through our 401 K’s.

Then things ground to a halt.  The market started the plummet to half it’s former glory.  Credit dried up.  Everyone panicked.  The world markets also started to show the cracks that had been hidden for years.  Jobs were slashed at an alarming rate even in industries that had been considered untouchable in the past.  Spending, by necessity, also had to be curtailed as we all learned our lives as we had been living them, had changed.

As in any situation, as we are finding out, if you put a harsh light on a problem, it’s many imperfections and flaws start to show.  Many of the companies that for years appeared to be bastions of stability, have been revealed to have been concealing many fissures and fatal flaws that were allowed to get worse over many years.  Any  house of cards, when it gets high enough, will tumble to the ground if the underlying structure is not sound.  Tumble we did and we are still in free fall.

So with today’s actions, not only was free enterprise and capitalism put on notice in America, we as citizens were too.  If we are smart, we will sit up and take notice and continue to pay attention to each little bit of control being given over to the government.  The bits and pieces of what are seemingly small things right now, will start to add up.  Left unchecked, we will surely look back in a few years and wonder where our country and freedoms went.

 

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.”  Lord Acton, 1887

Nailing Jello To A Tree

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Anyone listening to Timothy Geithner testify this morning to the Senate Financial Services Committee has to have the image of nailing jello to a tree come to mind.  Okay, maybe you have to be Southern or a bit strange to have that particular thought, but you get the idea.  It’s a perfect description of what is occurring in the dog and pony show of the day playing out on Capitol Hill today.

To their credit, some legislators are starting to get it or appear to be getting at least an inkling of what “it” is.  Maybe it’s just their self-preservation gene kicking into high gear, but perhaps a few of them are also starting to see the light of day.  Hope springs eternal, but surely SOME of them will realize we are all up the creek without so much as a paddle, much less a rudder to steer us and we’re heading for the falls.

It’s more and more clear however, that the administration has no direction nor concept of what the American people are thinking.  The news today that Mr. Geithner was going to seek broad new powers to regulate non-bank financial companies should be chilling to us all. 

Geithner joined Bernanke in calling for greater governmental authority over complicated and troubled financial companies…power they likened to the authority wielded over banks by the FDIC. That includes the power to seize control of institutions, take over their bad loans and other illiquid assets and sell good ones to competitors as they see fit.  All designed of course, to save us from ourselves.

Here’s an idea.  Just STOP!  Freeze!  Don’t pass go or collect another gazillion dollars.

Give ANY of the few dozen ideas and trillions of imaginary dollars yet to be printed but already thrown into the economy time to percolate and see if they have any effect at all.  To constantly dodge and weave by shifting direction and message without letting anything work through the system, is a process doomed to fail.  To THEN make the next move before anything already done can produce results, is simply ludicrous.

It makes no sense at all to keep confusing, avoiding or adding to the initial problem.  We’re trying to fix the credit crunch, the housing industry meltdown, national health care, energy consumption, unemployment, and anything else in the kitchen sink all at the same time.  Next we’ll be worried about price gouging on the price of tea in China or in fixing the relationships of psychotic Hollywood starlets.

Work on the most immediate problem first.  Pay it more than lip service.  Don’t just throw money we don’t have at the wall to see what sticks.  Think a plan through all the way for once, from start to finish..with actual details and step by step contingency plans. 

I was a computer science major and geek before it was cool to be a computer geek, years before the age of personal computers.  We had to learn how to make a flowchart before we began to program.  We were taught to think in a linear manner from point A to point B to point C and allow for variables along the way.  The end result however, was a fixed point and destination.  There was order..it made sense.

Let’s get back to basics.  The old ways are sometimes best.  I tell my students all the time that I have no problem if they use a calculator or a computer for work or research.  The one catch I give them is this…you can only use the tools that make it faster and easier to get the work done, IF you already know HOW to do it without using them.  You have to know and learn the process before you start to take shortcuts. 

We’ve made things too easy or too quick for too long.  We’ve lost our basic skills and let the machine overtake us rather than paying attention and keeping watch.  It’s time to backtrack.  It’s time to re-learn to do things the right way.

It’s time to stop trying to push through agendas.

This is a matter of survival, not time for Romper Room game time.

Quit trying to nail jello to a tree and take a stand without being slimy or trying to wiggle out of a definitive answer.

Take a stand.  Then even if you’re wrong, you don’t end up looking like a weenie.

All Along The Watchtower

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Each and every morning I wake to the news that yet another attempt to strip away the “rights” we take for granted as Americans is slowly being planned by the current administration.  With each fresh news cycle, more plans are unveiled that prove just how little regard the man we elected to be our President has for our way of life and for our country.  He is proving to have no loyalty but to himself and his agendas.   Agendas that are put forth as being for our own good and designed to “save” us from ourselves.  We’re told that we can’t possibly understand all the intricacies of whatever crisis of the day is being flailed at by those in charge.

For a liberal administration that preaches it’s abhorrence to torture, it seems that doesn’t apply to the American citizens.  Of course we’re not under a police state or in danger of being taken away in the middle of the night (yet) and it’s inconceivable that we ever would be.  The only problem with that theory is, there are so many basic tenants of our everyday life under assault that I never in my wildest dreams would have considered now happening, that I’m not sure anything is inconceivable anymore.

What is happening  is a death of our liberties by a thousand tiny cuts, which in my mind, amounts to the same thing as torture to all that makes our country what it was founded to be.  We count on our right to free speech without retribution.  We depend on our right to free enterprise and in return the equal right of success or failure.  We expect to be treated as adults and be able to make our own choices as to our health care and how or if we want to make a difference and contribute to those less fortunate.  We insist on the right to choose our own religion and worship how we see fit or not worship at all if we don’t find a reason to believe in a higher being.

All of these things are the threads that our founding fathers wove together to make our country into a wonderful, at times messy, mosaic of patterns and rhythms unlike any other country in the world.  They are part of what makes us resilient and sometimes called arrogant by the rest of the world, and yet, people from all over the world fight to live here and earn their chance at a better life.  As a country, we can be very selfish at times, but when push comes to shove, we always rise to the occasion and give of our resources and many times our manpower to aid those around the world in need.

We are far from a perfect country.  Anyone that proclaims in their personal life or in regard to our nation, that change never needs to occur, is a fool.  Change is necessary to growth.  Change isn’t always comfortable, but as long as it’s positive, it works out for the best over time.

Change just for the sake of change however, can be destructive.  Change when it contains the agenda of a few being imposed by force on the many, is dangerous.  Change when it alters the basic foundations of what our country was founded on, will erode some of the basic principles of life we count on. 

The things we need to fiercely protect with every fiber of our being are the less tangible ones, the things that we cannot always reach out and touch.  Those can start to slip away slowly..quietly..without much notice or fanfare, until we wake up one day and find we no longer have the comfort of feeling secure or safe in our own homes in our own country.  If we do not stand up and be counted against the assault on the rights afforded to us by the Constitution, our children will grow up in a much more oppressive and scary country…one we won’t recognize.

Yes, we’re all hurting due to the economy.  It’s frightening to not know what is around the corner.  We need to remember that things like income are fleeting and tend to ebb and flow with time and circumstance.  This is a time to get back to some of the basic principles of family that have been lost over the past few decades in favor of excess.  This is a time of opportunity to rediscover what should have been truly important to us all along and learn to get along or make do without all the static that has been clogging up our lives in the recent past. 

A lot of us that are in our 40’s and 50’s need to remember our own simpler childhoods and teach our children and grandchildren the pleasures we enjoyed growing up that didn’t require money or electronics to occupy our time.  We need to learn how to interact with each other on a personal level again, without throwing money at a problem.  Here’s an idea, throw your time and attention at things instead.  Start to pay attention to the world and people around you.

We are resilient people, but in these times, we also have to be resolute in our determination to rebuild our country in it’s own image.  We have to fight, be vigilant and not give away our liberties in favor of letting the government overtake every part of our lives, privacy and freedoms.  We are writing our country’s history and we better not screw it up.

Instead of using the catch phrase of a company being “too big to fail”, we need to remember first and foremost that our COUNTRY and it’s ideals are too IMPORTANT to fail.

Come One, Come All..The New Heights of Absurdity in Politics

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Step right up, and don’t be shy!!  You won’t believe your eyes!  Let’s turn our side show into the main attraction!

Come one, come all to the greatest show on earth!

Much like the walking the midway at the county fair, the side show barkers in Washington are turning the government into what amounts to a three ring circus.   There are bizarre shows and distractions aplenty as you wander down the midway that call out for attention on the way to the main attraction now beginning under the Big Top.   The clowns are piling into the itty bitty car in preparation for the big show to come.

 Between all the companies that are too big to fail, stimulus packages that are too urgent to read before passing, and senate committee hearings being held solely to point fingers for the cameras with pseudo outrage that is a day late and several billion (trillion) dollars short, the goings on in our government would be almost entertaining if it wasn’t all so tragic in it’s scope and the irreversible damage that is being done to our country.  The finger pointing and flailing financial free-for-all occurring right now is unprecedented, even by modern political standards.  Anyone with half a brain knows, if you keep putting enough stress on a situation, something’s gotta give and it’s most likely not going to be pretty when it all explodes.

Yesterday I sat and watched with morbid fascination and a few choice words hurled at the television, the show being played out in the Senate committee hearings yesterday.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m furious with AIG and it’s mode of operations that put it, and by default, the American taxpayer in a vice.

What makes me even MORE incensed however, is the posturing going on by the politicians that enabled the practices to operate in the first place.  Then with lightning speed (something not seen in the Halls of Congress), passed a monster BAILOUT (NOT a recovery and reinvestment act) plan that they didn’t take the time to even READ first and allowed the very payouts of bonuses they are now squealing like stuffed pigs over.  The finger pointing and posturing would be a box office comedy winner if it wasn’t all so tragic and devastating to our futures.

The bonuses themselves are not going to sink the economy of course.  They are just a symbol of the greater problem and the flavor of the day.  They represent the flailing going on at the highest levels in this new administration in a misguided attempt to win friends and influence enemies, all under the guise of “hope and change”.  Not a darned thing has changed other than it’s now playing out in a macabre slow motion slide that is in turn, hurting Americans from coast to coast on every level. 

What makes all of this so different for the politicians?  Why are they now acting out of panic and running around like schoolgirls caught with their panties down?  It’s simple…

THE AMERICAN PEOPLE ARE PAYING ATTENTION NOW LIKE NEVER BEFORE.

The government has always been able to count on one thing, the inattentiveness and short attention span of the public for anything that has to do with the day to day operations in Washington.  We as a people over the years have been lazy.  We’ve sat on the sidelines, only coming off the benches when something directly affects us.  Presidential elections will guilt some into becoming active in the course of our country for a little while every 4 years.  Occasionally a scandal involving sex, power or money will raise mild outrage and garner a bit of hoopla before it fades into obscurity.  The attacks on 9/11 rallied us around the flag for a while, but our memories have dulled with time of the absolutely heart wrenching pain and heartache we lived through as a nation just a few years ago.  Our national outrage has almost disappeared in favor of being fair and politically correct to even those that wish us mortal harm.

Right now however, the public is watching and is increasingly mad as hell.  Protests and tea parties are starting to pop up like the spring bulbs emerging from the ground.  One thing our new administration miscalculated gravely, is this…Americans may have a short attention span…but when they are directly being affected and feeling the pain of a situation…it’s polarizing.  It’s impossible to do business as usual in the Nation’s capital and operate like the Wizard in Oz. People are paying attention to the man behind the curtain and they don’t like what they are seeing.

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Washington is slowly getting a clue about the angst and anger in the ground swell chorus that is building.  The voices are not silent anymore, they are instead, polarizing in their volume and intensity..and the developing verdict for the performance of those used to operating under the cloak of secrecy and platitudes isn’t good. 

The light is on and many of the roaches are scurrying for the protection of the darkness.  The only problem is, the public is starting to employ spotlights to reach into the dark crevices.

It’s time for Washington to wake up, quit pointing fingers and blame at each other like a demented 3 Stooges saga, and actually make progress without throwing money we don’t have at the problem.

Before we all wake up and find out our country is now owned by the rest of the world.