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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Congressman McHenry, The Hickory Daily Record, and Petty Political Articles

I've lived long enough that I fear nothing and yet around me I see people who surround me who shiver in their boots about everything, whether it is real or not. Remember that nobody is getting out of this place alive. When you cower in the face of death, you empower those who create the fear of death. I'm not saying that I am suicidal. I'd love to live to be an old man, but not with the boot of authority stomping me in the face as in George Orwell's book "1984."

I am not here to provide sunshine and lollipops. I am one person that has been constantly stomped on by the system my entire life. I would be lying if I said that it didn't make me angry, but I use that anger as a constructive force. My grandmother always said to me that this is a mean world and at 44 years old I know what she means.

I have been working on this stuff going into the fifth year pretty soon and it is causing me anxiety. I have suffered from panic attacks in the past to the point where they were nearly debilitating. For physical reasons, I probably need to slow down on the output of this blog because sometimes I dream about where we are headed and it isn't good folks.

The people who read this blog care. I truly believe that. But lets get down to it. There are so many losers out here that the tide of idiots and lackies can be overwhelming. I am being consumed, because there are people that are so closed minded that they think that the message that I am preaching is way out there only because they are ill-informed. And I wonder if the people who understand the message and what I express, even have the guts to support me and inform people they know and create the chain that needs to be created.

I'm reading some of the Hickory Daily Record's latest articles and I am sorry, but I am truly ashamed of what they purport to be news. I'll be frank. I don't like some of Congressman Patrick McHenry's ties to the Megabanks and the donations they have given him. I am not even going to qualify that statement or give him excuses, because as I told the Congressman, we can't fix our economy until we stop Financial Institutions such as Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan-Chase from doing what they are doing. I want these banks to be reined in, but the Hickory Daily Record doesn't have a freaking clue about any of the paramount issues that we face related to banking.

They have made it an issue to go after the Congressman over two issues of so little merit, that it is an embarrassment to even bring them up. First, there was the issue of Congressman McHenry stating in Politico that in the upcoming redistricting that there would be another minority ward and that there would be more Republican districts because of the census and the way that the state is politically proportioned.

Here is the Link to the article - Race politics hit North Carolina redistricting. The HDR's stand on this issue is nonsensical. What Patrick McHenry states in that article is straight forward, which I honestly find to be refreshing. To claim that he is somehow being racially insensitive is beyond ridiculous. You look at the numbers and look at the statistics and tell me where he is wrong.

Then this weekend they put out an editorial in which they went after Congressman McHenry for having an "argument" with Elizabeth Warren who serves as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. She is basically another Czar that was created last year and her position is to snoop into your personal bank records and guess what folks, she works for the Treasury Department under Tax-in-Thief Tim Geithner whose Treasury Department has been usurped by the Federal Reserve and the New York banking cartel (Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Citi, BofA, Wells Fargo). A position that "had" to be created, because the banks have borrowed (stolen) trillions  of taxpayer dollars from the public treasury, which caused this economic debacle we are presently in.

Mrs. Warren was up to her eyeballs in the administration of TARP. What he is trying to question her about is the unfettered power she has been given in this newly created position. Like other Obama administration officials, she believes she is above congressional inquiry. She is trying to run out the clock and leave. She doesn't want to answer the questions.

The Record construes this to be a squabble. I believe that it was a disagreement and it may have been caused by a misunderstanding, but who thinks that Bureaucratic Officials aren't late to meetings all the time and don't have to rearrange schedules all the time.

And The HDR, then goes on to point to Facebook and Twitter accounts that have been inundated by supporters of Mrs. Warren. Well whoopty-do. There are organizations that look to pounce on situations like this all the time. It happens with organizations that associate with groups from all sectors of the political spectrum. George Soros has several groups that are dedicated to these e-mail/message board bombs and Newt Gingrich's American Solutions organization does this same thing.

Then, they go into a diatribe about Congressman McHenry being rude. Watch the video below of the incident. Is he really being what anyone would term rude? Then they question McHenry's statesmanship, by stating that "public discourse has degenerated into vitriolic he-said, she-said. This episode added more fuel to that fire." And thus inferring that our Congressional Representative was in some way over the top in requesting that Mrs. Warren finish out her Congressional testimony, which would have only taken ten more minutes. I guess he can be faulted for not addressing her as "You imminence" or "Your Highness."

The Hound thinks that what we need to do in this nation is lose all of this subservient patronage of elected officials and bureaucrats. These people aren't smarter than us or better than us. The problem in this country is that we don't have too much debate. It is that we have too little. The problem is that in the end all we are seeing is political games and very little substance, very little passion, very little principle, and basically no leadership.

The problem that we have is that our local newspaper doesn't even give issues that are happening in our own community more than a gloss over and most of the people of the community don't seem to care about important issues any way. The HDR website is (by far, no comparison)the worst news website I have ever come across. They have destroyed the ability to obtain their news under a fair electronic marketplace, because they want to pigeon-hole people into buying the paper edition and are scared of the electronic business model. That is a very bad move for the future of their viability.

As far as content (or lack thereof), I know of a Conflict of Interest story that would directly show how local elected officials throw kinks into regulatory governance that directly effects their personal interests. The Hickory Daily Record had this story laid in their lap several months ago and it has done nothing but collect dust. And the people behind this story want our local paper to step up to the plate this time, but it seems the HDR would rather run a story (the McHenry stories)that they obviously haven't really researched. I don't even think they have seen the video of the incident and they just pieced together the story from the New York Times and Washington Post's website.

I have no problem with Congressman McHenry on any of these issues. I also have seen him ask some very tough questions related to TARP and the other bailouts that have happened over the last two years. Can we say the same about the Hickory Daily Record? Can we ask why they only go after Congressman McHenry and we barely hear a peep about our other local and State officials?

Where is their editorial about the Ridgeview and George Ivey Pools? Where is their editorial about the overzealousness of local officials going after Drinking Establishments and their permits and licenses? What about the mismanagement of our local airport? Where is their editorial related to conflicts of interest happening related to zoning and code enforcement issues?

There is plenty to talk about with the local Hickory Metro scene, but little time or space is ever devoted to the local issues that truly impact our lives. Does Congressman McHenry's disagreement about scheduling with Mrs. Warren really have an impact on our lives here in Hickory? I think not. Does the Record's abandonment of the current local issues of the day have an impact on our lives? I most certainly think so.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- May 29, 2011

 There’s a Secret Patriot Act, Senator Says - Wired - Spencer Ackerman - May 25, 2011 - “We’re getting to a gap between what the public thinks the law says and what the American government secretly thinks the law says,” Wyden told Danger Room in an interview in his Senate office. “When you’ve got that kind of a gap, you’re going to have a problem on your hands.”... What exactly does Wyden mean by that? As a member of the intelligence committee, he laments that he can’t precisely explain without disclosing classified information. But one component of the Patriot Act in particular gives him immense pause: the so-called “business-records provision,” which empowers the FBI to get businesses, medical offices, banks and other organizations to turn over any “tangible things” it deems relevant to a security investigation... “It is fair to say that the business-records provision is a part of the Patriot Act that I am extremely interested in reforming,” Wyden says. “I know a fair amount about how it’s interpreted, and I am going to keep pushing, as I have, to get more information about how the Patriot Act is being interpreted declassified. I think the public has a right to public debate about it.”

Restricting the Movement of You and Your Money - American Free - Keith Hansen - Last year’s legislation punished Americans—many of whom had sought a more stable financial environment for their money than existed in the U.S. amid a wave of bank failures—by obligating foreign banks to disclose the full details of non-exempt bank accounts to the Internal Revenue Service... These measures were implemented ostensibly to prevent terrorists and drug lords from moving and laundering money. But their chilling effect successfully froze Americans, who were ready to move their assets to foreign banks. The government’s implied message was clear: Your money isn’t going anywhere... Now the State Department has jumped into the restriction game. Last month it revealed a new application process for granting passports—which, by the way, will be needed for travel to Canada and Mexico—that in some cases is impossible to provide.

Subpoenaed Documents Show Goldman Sachs Offered to 'Tear Up' AIG Derivatives Contracts at 'Right Price' Before NY Fed Took Over Negotiations - DailyBail - May 26, 2011 - AIG has said they were negotiating "tear-ups" with counterparties at 50 cents on the dollar before the NY Fed told them to 'stand down' in negotiations with counterparties. 'Stand down' was the exact language from emails unearthed last week by Hugh Son of Bloomberg... Goldman openly admits that they were willing to tear up contracts with AIG for the 'right price,' as you will see below... But Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told Angelides and the FCIC panel last week that they were 'never asked' by the the New York Fed negotiators, working on behalf of AIG, to accept any haircut, or less than 100 cents on the dollar... The only logical conclusion is the following -- somebody's lying... Either New York Fed officials lied to investigators and reporters when they said that they had worked for a week to extract haircuts from AIG counterparties. OR Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein was lying when he testified under oath that haircuts were never proposed by NY Fed negotiators.

Frank recommended partner for housing agency - Boston Globe - Donovan Slack - May 27, 2011 - Representative Barney Frank, who for more than two decades has been a member of the House committee charged with oversight of mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, acknowledged yesterday that he recommended his live-in companion for a job at one of the housing agencies in the early 1990s at the same time Congress was writing legislation to improve oversight of the agency... Frank also said problems with subprime mortgages at Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac did not occur until the early 2000s, long after Moses left the job at Fannie Mae in 1998, the year Frank and Moses split up... “I think what it was, was an example of the type of favors that Fannie Mae was happy to provide,’’ she said. Morgenson also reported in the book that Fannie Mae made sizable grants — $25,000 in 1994 and $50,000 in 2001 — to a Boston organization cofounded by Frank’s late mother and twice gave the group an award for its work in providing housing for the elderly. Frank said yesterday in an interview with the Globe that the grants to the organization, the Committee to End Elder Homelessness, did not influence his duties.

The brittle financial American middle class – 50 percent of Americans would be in financial trouble if $2,000 of expenses came up in 30 days. By 2020 the world’s richest households will control $202 trillion in wealth, 4 times current global GDP.
- - This economic recovery has excluded working and middle class Americans which begs the question, what really defines a financial recovery? In past and distant recoveries the economic gains were widely distributed amongst all Americans. Most realize that income gains will never be equal simply because in a market based economy those with certain desirable skills will be rewarded more than others. Yet in the last decade the banking sector has co-opted the government to turn it into a welfare state for the large banks. Desirable qualities are now replaced by predator diseased qualities of ripping off the taxpayer for bad market based bets. That is why recent data showing that nearly 50 percent of Americans are unable to come up with $2,000 in 30 days if an emergency came up is startling. $2,000 for most is the basic monthly expenses on food, home, and other little items. So half our country is living one paycheck away from financial collapse. 44,000,000 Americans are living with food assistance from the government already. Keep in mind the recovery has been going on now for close to two full years. According to the NBER the recession was over in June of 2009. The fact that $2,000 is enough to bankrupt half of American households tells you about the new state of our economic recovery.

Stubborn Jobless Claims Still Keep On Climbing Higher - CNBC/Reuters - May 26, 2011 - New U.S. claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly climbed to 424,000 last week from a revised 414,000 in the prior week, pointing to a painfully slow improvement in the nation's job markets... Last week marked the seventh straight week in which claims topped the 400,000 level, indicating that payroll growth is soft and may continue to be so for some time. A department official said there were no exceptional factors to account for the rise in last week's claims.

Global Economic Rebound Weakens on Quake, Oil Price, European Debt Crisis - Bloomberg - Simon Kennedy - May 27, 2011 - Data this week backed that outlook as reports showed Chinese manufacturing expanding at the slowest pace in 10 months, orders for U.S. durable goods dropping the most since October and confidence among European executive and consumers sliding for the third straight month... Oil prices reached a 31-month high of $114.83 on May 2 as the war in Libya cut supply. Goldman Sachs this week raised its forecast for Brent crude at the end of 2012 to $140 a barrel from $120, suggesting the price’s path will be 20 percent higher than anticipated at the start of the year. That’s enough to shave 0.5 percentage point from U.S. growth over two years and a little less in other wealthy nations... The global economy’s change in tone is reflected in some company announcements. Chicago-based Boeing Co. (BA), the world’s largest aerospace company, said it received two orders last month compared with 98 in March. Hermes International SCA, the Paris-based maker of Birkin handbags, said on May 11 that its forecast for 2011 is “clouded by geopolitical and economic uncertainties.”

More Confirmation Of The Economic Slowdown - Comstock Partners Inc. - May 26, 2011 - First quarter revised GDP growth was not revised upward as the consensus expected, but remained at the originally reported 1.8%. Moreover the underlying data deteriorated as consumer spending growth was revised down to 2.2% from 2.7% and inventory accumulation was revised up by $9 billion. Furthermore, major firms have been reducing their second quarter GDP growth estimates to well below 3%. Recall that toward the end of 2010 most pundits were looking for 4% growth in the quarters ahead... The May numbers for both the Richmond and Kansas City Fed indexes fell sharply, confirming the previously reported results for the Philly Fed and the Empire State Manufacturing Survey. This strong unanimity strongly suggests that industrial production is still extremely sluggish in May.... Keep in mind that this has happened during a period where QE2 poured reserves into the financial system, the stock market rallied and fiscal policy was boosted by the reduction in payroll withholding. With all of that, we have an economy that is growing below trend and fading rapidly. Now QE2 is ending within weeks, fiscal policy is about to tighten and housing prices are still falling with lots of additional supply still coming.

Less banger for your buck: The Memorial Day BBQ will cost you 29% more this year thanks to inflation - UK Daily mail Online - May 26, 2011 - Those thinking of hosting a BBQ - even a modest one - can expect to fork out an extra $45 on food to serve a dozen guests... The total cost comes to $199, or around 29 per cent more than last year... and that's before soda and alcohol, according to the latest data for metro New York... Lettuce has sky-rocketed 28 per cent since last year's traditional BBQ, while an ear of sweet corn is now 50 cents, up from 20 cents last year... Ground beef is up 12.1 per cent on last year and sausages are up 6.2 per cent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics... And don't even think about potato salad. The apple of the ground is up 13.4 per cent... Ice cream is up 5.1 per cent, beer up 2.4 per cent and coffee has increased by 13.8 per cent nationwide.

20 Questions To Ask Anyone Foolish Enough To Believe The Economic Crisis Is Over
- Unfortunately, the truth is that the economic crisis is far from over. In 2010, more homes were repossessed than ever before, more Americans were on food stamps than ever before and a smaller percentage of American men had jobs than ever before. The reality is that the United States is an economic basket case and all of these natural disasters certainly are not helping things. The Federal Reserve has been printing gigantic piles of money and the U.S. government has been borrowing and spending cash at a dizzying pace in an all-out effort to stabilize things... #20 If the U.S. national debt (more than 14 trillion dollars) was reduced to a stack of 5 dollar bills, it would reach three quarters of the way to the moon. The U.S. government borrows about 168 million dollars every single hour. If Bill Gates gave every penny of his fortune to the U.S. government, it would only cover the U.S. budget deficit for 15 days. So how in the world can our politicians tell us that everything is going to be okay?

How NAFTA KILLED Mexico and US!!!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Treason by those who have hijacked the Republic of The United States of America

Our Congress is Impotent. There are still a few good members who represent us, but most are willing to go along with the consolidation of the Federal Government under the Executive Branch and its Bureaucratic Agencies. We did not elect the bureaucrats and the people we did elect are not representing the interests of the American people. They only represent the people who put money in their pockets.

Everything that they have done over the last several years has been against the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. All these people care about is their own wealth at the expense of the average citizens. They are owned by the International Conglomerate Corporations and just like the Patriot Act is constantly extended by both parties, it is both parties that view the American people with contempt and have subverted our Republic. I fear that we are past the point of elections even mattering, since both parties willfully disregard the rights of the people and have created an us versus them mentality, in which the reach and the scope of government swallows our liberties and consolidates power in the interest of the very few.

Declaration of Nullification
Submitted by RJHarris on Sat, 03/20/2010 - 18:26

We the People of the great state of OKLAHOMA hold these truths to be evident from our constitutional contract with the United States of America that the states of that union are as sovereign as foreign states and that they give up only so much of their sovereignty so as to allow for the execution of those powers enumerated and assigned to the federal government in the Constitution. Further, we hold that the United States Constitution represents our people's consent to be governed in any measure beyond that which is contained in our own constitution and the consent of the several states to allow the United States to act for them on the issues of national defense, foreign policy, foreign trade and interstate commerce. Moreover, we hold that when these consents are breached, as they have been by all three branches of the federal government, that each breach is an act of tyranny upon We the People and breach of contract upon the several states. These abuses stretch back to the beginning of the previous century and are evidence of the federal government's long-standing design to reduce the federalist system, consented to in the Constitution, to one of despotic central government rule. Such a government was not envisioned by the founders or by the states that ratified the Constitution or by the states that joined the union since, and such a government is wholly detrimental to the people's liberty and to the sovereignty of states.

To prove these assertions of the federal government's intent towards despotism, let the following facts be submitted to a candid world.

It has often refused to allow the states to govern themselves as necessary for the local public good.

It has passed legislation designed specifically to bribe, blackmail, and coerce the states into compliance with its unfunded mandates.

It has refused to pass legislation to provide for the common defense along the borders of the Republic while forbidding the border state governors from defending their states from a flood of illegal immigration, and it has required those states to bear a disproportionate burden of the financial expenses which inevitably accompany the migration of an entire population.

It has refused to pass reasonable and proportionate immigration legislation to accommodate both those wishing to migrate to the United States and the states that need that productive immigration to sustain their population.

It has called for legislation to be debated and voted upon during inconvenient times so as to require the perpetual stationing of the states representatives to the national capital and to limit the public's awareness of its activities.

It has obstructed the administration of justice by allowing its judiciary to grant itself the extra-constitutional power to judicially construct that which was clearly and unequivocally left to the states under the 10th Amendment to the Constitution.

It has erected a multitude of new offices and bureaucracies to which legislative authority has been delegated, in direct violation of Article I Section 1 of the Constitution, the effect of which has been the harassment of the people, the depletion of the public monies and the wholesale infringement upon individual liberty and state sovereignty as the people and the states attempt to comply with more rules and regulations that can be known by the common person.

It has given monies from the treasury, intended for the general Welfare of the Federal Government, not for the individual welfare of its citizens or foreign states, both to foreign governments--to curry favor and engage in entangling alliances--and to individual citizens and special interests groups to buy votes as well as ill-gotten political influence.

It has kept at our expense, and to the detriment of full provision of our own National Guard, in times when war was not declared, standing armies, and delegated to the executive the power to declare war through aggressive foreign policy actions committed in direct violation of Article I Section 8.

It has combined with foreign states to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving its assent to their acts of pretended legislation:

For placing our armed forces under the command of foreign officers; subject to foreign military jurisdictions not in accordance with the Constitution or the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

For quartering and training large bodies of foreign troops in our states and territories at the expense of our treasury under the guise of foreign aid.

For granting law enforcement jurisdiction to foreign police authorities for the purpose of arrest and detention of our citizens, thereby making the people subject to the judicial powers of foreign states and entities rather than of their own states and of their own constitutions and the Constitution of the United States.

For cutting off our trade, under its sole discretion, to all parts of the world.

For preventing the free market growth of commerce, trade or industry, to the detriment of our state's economy under the guise of radical environmentalism, and for the purpose of controlling our prosperity and production rather than merely making it regular among the several states.

For taking away our charters, abolishing our most valuable laws, and altering fundamentally the forms of our governments.

For declaring in themselves the power to legislate for us in direct contrivance to the 10th Amendment.

It has waged a de facto war upon our prosperity and that of our posterity by levying direct taxation upon the labor of our citizens and empowering its bureaucracies to harass and imprison those unwilling to comply with the legalized theft levied against them or to incriminate themselves in direct violation of the 5th Amendment.

It has stolen the wealth of the entire population by seizing our gold and silver and replacing the same with a worthless paper currency that is manipulated at the whim of private bankers not accountable to the people in the manner that Congress alone is accountable under Article I Section 8.

In so doing, It has turned our states into criminal enterprises by making them unable to comply with the directives of Article I Section 10, which require that all state transactions be conducted in only gold or silver currency and that states make only gold and silver a legal tender in payment of debts.

In every stage of these oppressions we have petitioned for redress through the political process, only to have those petitions answered by the repeated injury of the tyranny of the majority inconsistent with the republican government promised to all states in Article IV section 4 of the Constitution. A central government, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define tyranny, is unfit to govern a free republic.

We, therefore, the duly elected legislators of the State of Oklahoma, sitting in general assembly and on behalf of the people of Oklahoma under the eyes of God, declare our sovereign right to nullify any and all federal legislation which breaches our contract with the United States. This authority to act in defense of our citizens and our sovereignty extends to the Governor of Oklahoma and to the Sheriffs of each county to use any and all appropriate means to protect our citizens from the legislative enforcement efforts of the federal government henceforth deemed by this body to be in contradiction to the Constitution of the United States.

"The above is provided for your use to debate and discuss the issue of nullification and hopefully institute some form thereof in our/your state. This declaration was modeled on the Declaration of Independence and the author of this declaration, RJ Harris, acknowledges credit to the authors of the Declaration of Independence and that so much of what they had to say permeates this declaration that individual citations would be tiresome and redundant to the readers. The preceding titled Declaration of Nullification is a sample Declaration of Nullification. This is not an actual piece of legislation from ANY state...yet. The point of this declaration is to spark discussion on this issue in all of the state legislatures around the country. The idea is also to issue declarations like these directly to the federal government and not merely be offered as state wide legislation that never leaves the state. Due process requires notice and this declaration provides exactly the due process necessary to move forward on more aggressive statewide legislation. If all this article does is inspire those in position to act then it has achieved its purpose.”

About RJ Harris:

RJ Harris is a currently serving nineteen-year Oklahoma Army National Guard Officer, two-time Iraq War Veteran and U.S. Congressional Candidate for Oklahoma's 4th Congressional District. He is a University of Oklahoma graduate in Philosophy and a second year law student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. RJ is a Constitutional Conservative Republican and Liberty Candidate. He has appeared on Fox News' Freedom Watch twice with Judge Andrew Napolitano and been the featured guest on conservative/libertarian talk-radio programs across the country.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Save Democracy at the local level meeting - June 11, 2011 - 10am to Noon

All interested groups and citizens are invited to a citywide coalition meeting of 


Saturday, June 11, 2011

10:00 am to Noon

Patrick Beaver Memorial Library Meeting Room, 375 3rd Street NE, Hickory, NC 28602

Contact: Billy Sudderth, 828 308 4669

The Hound: Last week my associates and I held a meeting with representatives of the Citizens for Equity in Government. I would love to spill the beans about the dots that were connected in that meeting, but I don't think that time has arrived. The one thing that I can express is that the folks involved with the Citizens for Equity in Government want to broaden and build upon their coalition and they are open and invite anyone who wants to broaden participation in governance to join them in this cause.

We agreed to the meeting above so that more people can participate. I am going to be there and I hope bring along others so that we can cement this mission, define goals, and discuss the challenges that the common folks in this community face. My mission is not to step on toes or impose my will. My personal mission is to say my piece and participate, but my main goal is to listen to others and broaden my understanding of the issues that others face in the whole of our community. I honestly believe that if more people in our community begin to take one another's interest to heart, then we will have a better community and thus a better quality of life in our community.

You have to participate to make this world work. Politics has its place, but those who focus on political games over building relationships are doomed to fail. Participation means communication, which includes listening and expressing yourself, but understanding does not come from expression. It comes from listening and sharing. We need to do that on a more dynamic level. We need to share information. That goes against the grain in this community and in our society. If we open the dialogue and develop better lines of communication, then we will be able to progress our community. I hope that you will join us in this effort, because I honestly believe this is a worthy cause.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Viewing the last flight of Endeavor - The Space Shuttle Program

I almost forgot about this. I am a product of the Space Shuttle Generation. My Grandfather bought me the model of the Space Shuttle when I was 12 years old and it always piqued my interest. . I always wanted to be a astronaut when I was little, because it was one of my first memories watching man walk on the moon. When the teacher in kindergarten asked what I wanted to be growing up, I told her an astronaut. My birthday is July 15, 1966 and the launch date of Apollo 11 was the day after my 3rd birthday. I remember the missions of the men walking on the moon almost vividly.  Watching these pioneers/explorers/scientists participate in these mentions is something that I always felt was one of humanity's upper most interests. Space Exploration is the modern day concept of what Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan set out to accomplish. To expand man's unlimited horizons. To me this is God's work.

The Space Shuttle fleet is winding down its series of missions. For over 10 years I have been watching the International Space Station and other Satellites pass overhead. I have shown some of my closest friends these flights and in this article I will expose to you how I view these earth orbiting object flying hundreds of miles over our head.

I do this by visiting the site Heavens Above. Once you visit you can sign up and put in your locations coordinates and from there you will be able to see times and aerial directions that these objects fly overhead. It even has a link to show you planetary and star coordinates. There is nothing better than to view all of this with someone you care about. So surprise someone you care about and take them out and show them this.

One of the best sightings I remember was about 4 years ago when the Shuttle had undocked from the ISS
earlier in the day and it was a clear night and it looked like they were chasing one another in the sky. Maybe this is corny to some, but these kinds of things are what I find important. To me, they show our humanity and connect us to the earth. To see something like this does not happen every day. It is like those Total Lunar eclipses or when a great sighting of a comet passes by. These are events that don't happen every day. So figure out North, South, East, and West where you live, pray for good weather, and get outside and enjoy life.

If you get up early in the morning there will be several great sightings of the Space Shuttle Endeavor / International Space Station this week:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

What has happened? -- and where we are headed!!!

I have seen so many videos on Youtube to let me know that what I have seen in my own life has become the new norm. We, as humans in the modern world, are supposed to conform to a herd mentality related to the Socialist paradigm that we have seen formed in this nation. In classes, when I was younger we were told that at some point we would see a melding of the Capitalist and Communist models. Folks we are there. I am finished asking people to wake up. You can live in denial. I choose not to. (Watch this W.E. Pollock video caution the expressive explicit language - Bocce Court - In the video he has to argue with a recreational park worker just because he is making a video at the park.)

A quote has been attributed to Abraham Lincoln, "You can please some of the people some of the time, all of the people some of the time, some of the people all of the time, but you can never please all of the people all of the time."

I completely understand this and anyone who has a public profile and an opinion understands this. Anyone who takes a stand on issues understands this. That is the reason why people don't ever want to take a stand on issues or express an opinion. If you express that you believe in liberty, then you are looked at as being an oddball. If you express an opinion contrary to the government line, then you are looked at as an enemy. And I guess I supposedly am not spending my time in a governmentally endorsed fashion, because I do not toe their line.

I am close to deciding to get rid of my television media subscription, because what is presented on the television isn't worth what I am paying for it and basically I don't watch it anymore, because of the propaganda. You watch television news and they are obviously expressing an agenda. You watch a television program and the messages are constantly about conditioning and the acceptance of politically motivated social agendas. You can't even watch sports anymore without some kind of political message being expressed by the network. That is the reason why they call it television programming, because you are being programmed.

You can't get most people to think critically. Very few people ask questions. They always compartmentalize the issues of the day and have very short term memories. They can't look to the long term context or historical realities of today's issues and they refuse to look at current events, the trends, and see where today's events and trends are taking us in the future. That is dangerous, because if we are heading in the wrong direction and we don't question of our leaders, then we are going to end up with some tumultuous consequences.

Look at what has been happening over the last several months. People have pushed the Fukushima nuclear disaster to the background. It is never talked about in the media and the problem is still not solved. Fuel prices have settled in at this below $4 level and now people are accepting this level and they don't seem to be questioning the long term trend. We have these hot wars in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan and people think this situation is under some kind of control. Put all of this together people. We are out of control!!! We are headed towards a World society breakdown and possibly World War III!!!

We're not going to have the numbers. I am sorry if my anxieties are offending some of you on specific issues. That is not my purpose. My purpose is to inform those who will listen. I just don't understand the acceptance of less freedom and the explanations of those that many of you look to as "Authorities." Authorities authorize. Do you want to have to ask permission to live life? This is an imposition against the human will and free spirit. This is the definition of tyranny.

It is a complex maze that we must weave through if we are to get any of our foundations of governance back on solid footing and we aren't going to get there if people aren't willing to look into the issues with more than a superfluous gaze. The stories aren't in the headlines. The stories are in the body of the article. Read stories and when you don't understand a position, then ask questions. Inform people on a deeper level and when you don't agree then explain yourself. Be open minded and tolerant, but this does not mean that you must be diplomatic by capitulating on disagreements. Communication and understanding is not a sanitized or simple process. It is awkward and can be dirty. That is just the reality. Liberty is not peaceful, loving and kind in the face of tyranny. We have to fight for our freedom or it will be taken away.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- May 22, 2011

America's Student Loan Racket: Soaring Default Rates - SteveLendmanBlog - May 19, 2011 - An earlier article discussed Permanent Debt Bondage from America's Student Loan Racket," accessed through the following link:

It explained government/corporate complicity to rip off students for profit, a racket continuing under Obama. His July 2010 Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act perpetuated the scam. It enriches providers, entrapping millions of students permanently in debt, because rising tuition and fee amounts plus interest, service charges, and late payment or collection agency penalties are too onerous to repay...  It's part of the grand scheme, of course, to transfer maximum public wealth to America's super-rich already with too much. Ongoing for over three decades, it accelerated under Obama, a corrupted Wall Street/war profiteer tool, destroying America for power and profit...  Millions of Students Permanently Entrapped in Debt

In Rust Belt, manufacturers add jobs, but factory pay isn’t what it used to be - Washington Post - Michael A. Fletcher - May 17, 2011 - The nation’s factories have added 250,000 jobs since the beginning of last year — about 13 percent of what was lost during the recent recession — marking the first sustained increase in manufacturing employment since 1997... But the new hiring also reflects another emerging reality of U.S. manufacturing: Many of the jobs don’t pay anything close to what they used to. Assembly-line workers who will be making the EdenPure products under the auspices of Suarez Corp. Industries will start at $7.50 an hour... That’s a far cry from the $20 an hour that most workers made with Hoover, which shifted its century-old production lines to Mexico and El Paso in 2007 after concluding that it was too expensive to make its products in the industrial Midwest.

Middle-Class Americans More Productive, But Earning Less: Report - The Huffington Post - Janell Ross - 05/20/11 - American workers' productivity has soared over the last 30 years, but that extra output hasn't translating into higher earnings for the American middle class, according to a report released this week.... A 40-year-old male high school graduate earned less in real terms in 2009 than he would have in 1980, according to the report by the Employment Policy Research Network, a collective of labor, management, economics, employment and sociology researchers from 50 universities brought together by the nonpartisan nonprofit Labor and Employment Relations Association.... As middle-class Americans have lost out economically over that 30 year period, productivity, corporate profits and the incomes of America's rich have all soared, the report said. By 2009, 1 percent of the population lived on 21 percent of the nation’s total annual earnings.  

Senate Bill Would Limit Use of 401(k)s as Rainy Day Funds - Bloomberg - By Margaret Collins - May 18, 2011 - Workers will be limited in tapping their 401(k) retirement plans for loans under legislation two senators introduced today that’s designed to counter the erosion of retirement assets...  “Because of the difficult economic times, more and more Americans are treating their retirement accounts as rainy day funds,” Senator Herb Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, said in a statement today. “A 401(k) savings account should not be used as a piggy bank.”...  Kohl, 76, who’s chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, introduced the “SEAL 401(k) Savings Act” with Senator Mike Enzi, 67, a Wyoming Republican. The bill would reduce the number of loans workers may take from a 401(k) and give participants more time to repay after losing a job. It will allow savers to contribute to their plan after taking a hardship withdrawal and ban debit cards linked to the accounts, according to the legislation.

(The Hound: This is being done under the auspices that Big Daddy gubment is going to keep you from ruining your retirement because of the economy. They are saying that they don't want you to spend down these investments and not have anything left over when retirement comes, but the reality is that they want to keep people from taking money out of their 401-k or IRA, and thus out of the financial institutions, so that the feds can come in and raid those accounts as the Federal Reserve and United States Treasury Ponzi Scheme falls to pieces. You can see in the article below that the Treasury is already using Federal Worker's pension funds to as backing to issue Treasury notes, because the Federal Debt limit was reached last Monday, May 16, 2011. The Federal Reserve has been monetizing the debt. The Federal Reserve is the central bank of the United States and holds the direct interest of the Financial Institutions in our nation. When the dollar slides into the state of collapse that most see coming, then their will be a bank holiday and believe me, none of the people tied to the banking interests are going to give a wit about your retirement at that point. You need to carry a weary eye and start diversifying your retirement funds outside of the banking interests and Dollar-monetary investments.)

Treasury to tap pensions to help fund government - Washington Post - Zachary A. Goldfarb - May 15, 2011 - The Obama administration will begin to tap federal retiree programs to help fund operations after the government lost its ability Monday to borrow more money from the public, adding urgency to efforts in Washington to fashion a compromise over the debt.

10 Signs The U.S. is Becoming a Third World Country - Activist Post - August 16, 2010 - 1. Rising unemployment and poverty 2. Economic dependence 3. Declining civil rights 4. Increasing political corruption 5. Military patrolling the streets 6. Failing infrastructure 7. Disappearing middle class 8. Devalued currency 9. Controlling the media 10. Capital Controls

Key economic indicators point to a situation potentially worse than the Great Depression. The land of opportunity for so many is devolving into a system of government corruption, corporate looting, and military rule that threatens to sink the American Dream. The capital flight from America has left a dwindling middle class holding an empty bag. This style of underinvestment in the foundation of society is similar to what already has led to the exodus from the rural Midwest. Now, there are ominous signs of a silent exodus of young, intelligent professionals seeking opportunities to realize their dreams outside of America; they are becoming known as Generation Xpat. Lastly, many skilled immigrants have returned to their home countries to seek a better quality of life, which might be the scariest indicator of all.

The Hound: The Following Investigative videos are from television station WTVF out of Nashville, Tennessee. The questions ask are the police officials more interested in stopping Drug Traffic or making money. The Drug war in America has become big business and interdiction, in many cases, has not been the priority. This type of philosophy is what is harming our country. If law enforcement truly wants to stop the flow of drugs into the United States, then common sense tells you that they would be fighting tooth and nail to seal the borders and they would be stopping the flow of drugs as they head east and north on the interstates. Instead they are pulling over trucks and cars from out of state that are heading back south and west. Hmmm... follow the logic and follow the money.

Tennessee Law Enforcement Stealing Money from out of state innocent motorist

Video Shows Officer Offering Truckers Freedom For Cash

Questionable Traffic Stops Caught On Camera

Saturday, May 21, 2011

College Conspiracy - Another point of view

I am introducing this documentary, not as a way of besmirching education, but to balance the opinion that Higher Education is a panacea that is going to solve the economic issues that we face in this nation. Look at the inflation in the Higher Education system. People are going into tens of thousands of dollars of debt with no guaranteed payoff. What kind of investment costs a mortgage worth of money with no guaranteed tangible benefit?

It isn't about College. It's about knowledge!!!

The average cost of a year of college is now $27,293 per year and government and the banking system is getting college students to go into this debt which is creating another credit bubble just as the Housing bubble did. These credit mechanisms are making the cost of college rise rapidly.

People take out these debts with a mindset that things will work out. How can people live that way? How can they live with such an unknown? My total loan debt when I graduated from UNC-Wilmington in 1989 was a little over $10,000 and I paid in back in less than 8 years. How are students going to pay back these $40,000 and $50,000 debts, when unemployment is so high (especially in the younger demographic) and income growth has been so anemic over the past two decades?

The focus needs to be on our Government helping to foster the nation's industrial capacity and helping people get back to work. We have to get back to focusing on technological advancement and we need to focus on primary education. We also need to get the government out of the business of college loans and into the business of cutting the cost of higher education.

Friday, May 20, 2011

May Rant - Where are the jobs?

Jobs. This is the issue. It has been the issue for nearly a decade and it will continue to be the issue until we get a class of leadership that is will to fight to bring jobs back to our country!

The problem is the marriage of corruption and comfort. The elite are comfortable with corruption. I face this issue every time I bring this issue up about specific incidences of corruption happening at every level of the government and our society. The response that I receive is, "tell me something new."

OK, I'm going to tell it to you straight. If you make no effort to solve the issues of corruption that we face, then it is game over and our country is a full fledged Banana Republic. Not addressing issues of corruption is like a dog chasing its tail. You ain't gonna get nowhere. We cannot restore the economy without addressing issues of corruption.

I am not naive. I understand that there has always been corruption and there is always going to be corruption. That is not the issue and people use that angle to obfuscate their personal acceptance of corruption. What I am obviously espousing is that when we see corruption, then we should route it out. If you accept corruption, then you are complicit in its exercise. I have shown you who has stolen money through our government. Where are the indictments against the banksters who utilized the financial system to steal trillions of dollars from the public treasury? Where are the indictment against the politicians and bureaucrats that willingly worked with these people to steal the public's money and feather their own nest?

The reason why we don't have jobs is because we have allowed our industry to be exported to the Third World. This has been perpetrated by the criminal Elite Investment class of Hedge Funds that rule World markets including Wall Street and it has only benefited the elite class who are able to invest in these funds. It has not benefited the American public. This is completely unacceptable. Where has the wealth of this nation gone? Our National wealth has been built upon a Ponzi Scheme!!! If we are wealthy, then why is our currency imploding and why have we racked up $14.3 trillion in debt on the Federal level. Folks, you are dumber than I think you are, if you think that is a sign of wealth!!!

I have shown you this. This is what the documentary The One Percent delves into. This is what I have been showing you with the Economic Stories of Relevance news links that I have been putting out each Sunday. The reason we don't have jobs is because of the greed and the corruption that have infested what is supposed to be a Free Market system. Eventually, we will put the perps in prison. We are coming to get you. It is just a matter of time. We want our money back!!!

Why has our nation used our tax dollars to invest in General Motors so that they can invest in China and celebrate Communism? (Washington Times). What has happened to our nation and our people? Why is this not a headline in every newspaper and being questioned by network television reporters? This is the reason the major media has no credibility!!!

Why is our government supporting and underwriting Brazilian Oil exploration? (Wall Street Journal - Obama underwrites offshore drilling). We have lost thousands of oil related jobs due to shutdowns in the Gulf of Mexico. We have a $700 billion annual trade deficit related to oil.  Could someone tell the environmentalists that if there is an oilspill created by Petrobras that it will still affect us. We should be making sure that we have companies drilling in the United States and for the United States that represent United States interests (period)!!!

Here in the Hickory area, since the collapse of manufacturing that took place over a decade ago, we have pushed the notion that if people get more educated and/or retrained that everything will be alright. The politicians have been the biggest supporters of this notion. Well, there have been many of us that followed that advice. People have gone out, gone into thousands of dollars of personal debt and learned new skills, boned up on how to use new technology, and earned various certifications and diplomas. We have done our part. Have the politicians done theirs? -- we all know the answer to that!!!

The bottom line is that these various "Free for All" - "Battle Royale" international trade mechanisms have not worked. They have left this nation vulnerable. People are not lazy, which is the notion that many of the Republicans want to push. They just want to earn a decent living and have a purpose to their life. They don't want a ragtag, live day-to-day existence. They want a career. They want to progress in a job that has meaning to where they can enjoy their families without working multiple jobs to make ends meet and never getting to spend time with their loved ones. I don't think people care about retiring. I personally don't ever want to retire, but I want to build and accumulate some modest wealth so that I can go on a vacation, improve the homestead, have a decent form of transportation, have money saved for a rainy day such as an illness, and be able to slow down when I get older like I know is the natural due process of living life.

Our government is not giving us this option. All they do is feather their own nest at our expense. It is time to take back elected officials pensions, since they are intent on destroying ours. It is time to cut their pay, since they are intent on cutting ours. It is time for them to sacrifice, since the blowhards tell us that we need to sacrifice. It is time to take away their comfort, since they are intent on taking away ours. It is time for them to feel the anxieties of the public that they work for. We are not their subjects. They are supposed to be working towards our interests. Where are our jobs?!?!

The mindset of the public should be: if we can't have our jobs back, then neither can you. It is time for some freaking accountability. It is time to end the excuses. It is time for some execution (as in performance for the dimwits who would accuse me of preaching violence). I want to see some action taken to reverse the trends. The trends are deplorable and getting worse.

If you are lost, do you double back or keep going down the path that you are lost on. It is obvious that we are lost and no one knows how to get our freaking jobs back, so maybe one of the pea brains needs to get us back on the road that we were on when we had decent jobs and our economy was progressing. And it is time that our local officials find some courage to support the public's interest or it is time for the public to show courage and kick the parasites out the door, because you are either with us or against us. We want our dignity and We want our jobs back!!!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Newsletter about the City Council meeting of May 17, 2011

This newsletter is about the Hickory City Council meeting that I attended this past week. City council meetings are held on the first and third Tuesdays of each Month in the Council Chambers of the Julian Whitener building.

At right of this page under Main Information links is an Hickory's City Website link. If you click on that link, it takes you to our city’s website, at the left of the page you will see the Agenda's and Minutes link you need to click. This will give you a choice of PDF files to upcoming and previous meetings.

You will find historic Agenda and Minutes links. Agendas show what is on the docket for the meeting of that date. The Minutes is an actual summary of the proceedings of the meeting of that date.

Here is a summary of the agenda of the 5/17/2011 meeting. There were a couple of important items that were discussed at this meeting and the details are listed further below:

Please remember that pressing Ctrl and + will magnify the text and page and pressing Ctrl and - will make the text and page smaller. This will help the readability for those with smaller screens and/or eye difficulties.

Invocation by Dr. Charles Kyker, Pastor of Christ Church

Special Presentations:

A. The First and Second Grade Students from Hickory Day School to Perform Songs They Wrote About the City of Hickory and the State of North Carolina

B. Proclamation Presentation to Ned and Dale Jarrett Declaring May 23, 2011 as “Ned and Dale Jarrett Day” in the City of Hickory

C. Presentation to Chief of Police, Tom Adkins a Proclamation Declaring the Week of May 15 -21, 2011 as National Police Week in the City of Hickory - The Mayor pointed out that there are approximately 900,000 Law Enforcement Officers serving in the U.S. In Hickory we have 118. Approximately 60,000 assaults on officers are reported each year, resulting in 16,000 injuries. Since 1791, more than 19,000 officers have been killed in the line of duty. 317 names will be added to the national Police Officer memorial this year, including 153 officers killed in 2010 and 164 from previous years.

Chief Adkins accepted the award and mentioned Gerald Wayne Maynard who passed away in 1977. He spoke about the Ride Along program in which citizens ride with on duty officers while they are on duty. He addressed statistics relating to Officer fatalities while on duty, which are up this year. Fire arm fatalities are up 24% this year.

Consent Agenda:
A. Call for Public Hearing on the City Manager’s FY2011-2012 Recommended Budget. The 2011-2012 Recommended Budget has been presented to City Council as required by law and is available for review in the Office of the City Clerk, Patrick Beaver Memorial Library and Ridgeview Library.

B. Establishment of New Council Priorities and Action Plan for FY 2011-12. Every year the Hickory City Council adopts additional priorities and associated action plans that are derived from the annual Council-Staff Planning Retreat, the City’s master plans, formal action taken by City Council throughout the year, and the City Manager’s assessment of initiatives that need to be considered by City Council. These priorities and action plans are used during the fiscal year as a guide to ensure that City departments
advocate the philosophy and goals defined by City Council for the City of Hickory.

C. Approve Future Annexation Agreement From Stephen and Pamela Joy for Property Located at 1507 6th Street, SE - Stephen and Pamela Joy have requested to be connected to the City of Hickory’s water and sewer system without being annexed into the City limits and agree to be annexed in the future when the City finds it economically feasible. The Joy property is located at 1507 6th Street, SE. The property is approximately 250 linear feet from the current City boundary where service delivery is not currently provided and individually unpractical from an economic standpoint. The current owners and successors agree to be annexed into theCity limits at a time of the City’s choosing.

D. Citizens’ Advisory Committee Recommendations for Assistance Through the City of Hickory’s Housing Programs - The following applicants are being recommended for approval for assistance under the
City’s Housing Rehabilitation Program:
Geneva Collins - Amount not to exceed $10,000 - 39 44th Avenue Place, NE
Pressly Development - Amount not to exceed $20,000 - 84-unit Senior Apartment Community
Carrie James - Current loan balance of $18,485.28 - 221 3rd Avenue Court, SW - Refinance the loan for 12 years @ 3% interest - Refinancing will reduce monthly payment from $233.33 to $153.05

The following applicants are being recommend for approval for assistance under the City’s 2010 Urgent Repair Program for amounts not to exceed $5,000
@ Barbara Byrd 117 8th Avenue Drive, SE
@ Camilla Isenhour 913 21st Avenue, NE
@ Gladys Smith 328 19th Avenue, NE

E. Proclamation Declaring May 17, 2011 as “Hickory Kiwanis Club Day” in the City of Hickory

F. Proclamation Recognizing May 17, 2011 as “Hickory Rotary Club Day” in the City of Hickory

G. Proclamation Declaring May 12, 2011 as “Salvation Army Day” in the City of Hickory

H. Approve Modification to Farmer’s Market Special Event Permit for Use of Union Square
on Saturday, June 4, 2011 - The Farmer’s Market Board is requesting a modification to the schedule previously approved by City Council to allow the market to set up at 8:30 a.m. and open at 9:30 a.m.
on Saturday, June 4, 2011. This is to accommodate the previously approved Union Square Application by the Charity Chase event of the same morning. There are several annual events that occur on Union Square on Saturdays and these will take precedence over the market on those dates. The Farmer’s Market will need to make other arrangements for operation pursuant to the conditions of their application.

I. Approval to Accept Donated Fitness Equipment From Palliative Care Center of Catawba Valley for Use by the Hickory Fire Department - On May 3, 2011 City Council tabled this item until it was determined if the Palliative Care Center of Catawba Valley had ownership of the fitness equipment. Doug Kenworthy, the original owner of the equipment has donated the equipment to Hospice. Therefore, the Palliative Care Center of Catawba Valley desires to donate the several pieces of fitness equipment to the Hickory Fire Department with no in-kind or monetary reciprocity. The equipment is currently located at 1915 Fairgrove Church Road, SE and will need to be removed by City of Hickory personnel.

Budget Ordinances
1. Budget $116 of Local Government Revenue in the Police Department Overtime and Holiday line item. This revenue is payment from Catawba County Mental Health for a portion of an officer’s time spent when accompanying involuntary commitment patients.
2. To decrease the Parks and Recreations Miscellaneous Donations and Departmental Supplies line items by $1,782. Duplicate receipts for three 2011 Senior Games donations totaling $1,782 were inadvertently submitted and budgeted. Therefore a budget amendment is necessary to decrease the
increase to donations and departmental supplies.
3. Budget a total of $1,150 of donations in the International Council line item. Donations will be used to conduct the 2011 International Springfest event.
4. Re-appropriate $625 of General Fund Balance and budget in the International Council line item. There is a $625 balance of unspent Springfest funds that rolled into General Fund Balance at year end. Therefore, this amendment will reappropriate the $625 from General Fund Balance and budget in the FY10-11 International Council line item for the 2011 Springfest.
5. Increase the Hotel/Motel Occupancy Tax revenues and expenditures by $300,000 for the amounts expected to be received for the remainder of FY2011. The occupancy taxes are remitted to the Tourism Development Authority under General Statutes.
6. Appropriate $37,500 of Rural Fire District Designated funds and budget in the Rural Fire District Maintenance and Repair of Buildings line item. This amendment is needed to provide funds to pay for replacement of the original 60ft. by 78ft. metal roof that was installed in 1987.
7. Transfer $40,058 of Water and Sewer Contingency Fund to the Debt Service Loan line item to pay for the debt service payment for the Cripple Creek project.
8. Transfer $618 from the Police Department Training Uniforms line item to the Bureau of Justice Assistance Grant (BJA) project Uniforms line item. Vests purchased for the Police Department exceeded the approved grant allowance; therefore a transfer of $618 is needed to cover the grant shortfall.
9. Transfer $1,850 from the Police Department Seminar Registration line item to the Inter-Agency Gang Grant project Contracted Services line item. The Grant did not cover the costs of printed materials and food for the call in practice session; therefore a transfer of $1,850 representing the City of Hickory’s
contribution is needed.

Informational Items:
A. Attendance by City Manager Berry to the NCLM Regional Legislative Meeting Held in Newton, NC on April 13, 2011; registration - $20

New Business - Public Hearings:
1. Resolution Directing Street Improvement Project be Undertaken Along a Portion of 5th Street, SE- No. 01-11 - The City Clerk has received a petition from the owners of property along a portion of 5th Street, SE to install curb and gutter per Section 29-2 of the Hickory City Code. The signatures on the petition represent 100% of the property owners affected. The City Clerk has certified that the Preliminary Resolution adopted by the City Council on April 19, 2011 was mailed by first class mail on April 28, 2011
Chuck Hanson made the brief presentation and the council unanimously approved.
2. Presentation by Attorney Deborah Stagner of the Raleigh Law Firm Tharrington Smith on the Proposed Ward Boundary Map Based on the 2010 Federal Census Results and Approval of Resolution - At its April 5, 2011 meeting, City Council received an initial (Alternative 1) map showing ward boundary changes which would balance each ward’s population based on the 2010 census. City Council designated a subcommittee (Wright,Fox, Meisner) to analyze ward boundaries and recommend changes to City Council. Feed back from the Council meeting was used to develop alternative 2 and the subcommittee met in open session on April 26th. Alternative 2 wasfurther refined to keep Planning Commission members in their wards and take into consideration City Council member comments. Alternative 3 was developed and the subcommittee met in open session on May 6th. The subcommittee recommends alternative 3 for City Council to receive public input at the public hearing and consider adoption of the requisite resolution.

Mrs. Stagner's comments were only a reiteration of what has been mentioned in the pat on this blog and which I delved into yeaterday in the article - Ward Specific Elections and Representation in Hickory, North Carolina - The more interesting comments came from Attorney Allison Riggs, a staff attorney with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, who speaks against the proposed ward redistricting proposed by a subcommittee of Hickory's City Council and submits a new proposal, while asking the council to consider a pure ward election in the future. She believes that this would be fairer towards minority interests. She is also interested in seeing a true Minority-Majority district. She speaks of the current system as a phantom Minority-Majority district. She cites statistics and submits a map of the proposed redrawn lines that would achieve these goals. In light of Mr. Riggs presentation the Council postponed making a desion and tabled this item until the next City Council meeting to be held on June 6, 2011.

Proposed New Ward Map - May 6, 2011 

The Hounds Comments are still valid and I would like to add that I was impressed with the preparation that the Citizens for Equity in Government brought forth with this attorney. This went right to the heart of the matter. It is ashamed that lawyers seem to be the only thing that brings attention to this council. Listen to the presentation below. It is a little over seven minutes long, but it explains the position of the minority community and reiterates why we really need Pure Ward voting in Hickory, if we want to see all areas of the city prosper in the future.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Ward Specific Elections and Representation in Hickory, North Carolina

Tomorrow night at the Hickory City Council meeting the issue of Ward Realignment will be addressed. The issue was first discussed at the City Council Meeting of April 5, 2011 by Deborah Stagner of the Law Firm Tharrington Smith.

Summarizing:  There is a constitutional requirement for one person one vote. Each electoral district (ward) must be substantially equal in population, so that each person's vote counts the same and therefore every 10 years after the official Federal census, governments are required to look at their districts and determine whether or not the lines need to be adjusted. 

The City Council must look at whether the process can be completed before the third business day before the filing deadline for the upcoming election. She is looking to adopt a resolution sometime in June. The filing opens on July 25 this year in the City of Hickory, and the wards must be drawn up three business days before that filing date begins. That means that this plan has to be in place by July 19, 2011. 

Each district does not have to be identical in size. Courts allow a reasonable variation amongst jurisdictions. The overall deviation between the smallest and largest districts should not be more than 10%. When looking at the current districts, the ideal number can be found by dividing the population of the city into the total number of districts. The population of the city of Hickory after the last census is 40,010 divided by six districts, which means that the ideal population for each district would be 6,668. In looking at the largest and the smallest districts in the city of Hickory, you see that there is more than 10% difference between the largest and smallest district. There's been a significant amount of growth in Ward 2 and a significant decrease in Ward 5. Ward 2 is 21% over the average and Ward 5 is 14% below the average. And adding this together, you see that there is a 35% deviation, which is far above 10% desired deviation.

Equity in Government: During the last City Council Meeting of May 3, 2011,  the Catawba County Democratic Party's spoke about their vison and in those statements they stated that they want to work together to build a community which respects diversity and they look to "hold government 1eaders accountable for their political actions and policies by insisting upon openness" in government.They believe that the poor and minority community in Hickory has no effective voice in city government due to a lack of representation on the City Council. They have respectfully requested the Hickory City Council to seek and implement ways to show greater sensitivity for the legitimate concerns of under-represented minorities in this community.

In their goal to Support the creation of a Minority-Majority Ward, the Democrat Party mentions that until 1970, city elections were ward based. In that year, Hickory instituted the modified at-large system for electing City Council members. They believe that this change has created an electoral system which eventually led to the under-representation of poor and minority citizens in elected positions and the modified at-large electoral system now in place essentially denies that possibility and thus insures that representative democracy is diminished in our community;

THE HOUND: I cannot disagree with the summarization of the Democrat party on this issue. Under the guidelines expected to be passed tomorrow night, the public is supposed to have a voice in this decision making process, but if one looks back to what happened last year with the City's swimming pools in Ridgeview and West Hickory, they will remember that citizens were supposed to have a voice in that decision also; but in the end they had no voice, because city officials highjacked the process and swerved it towards their own personally desired conclusion.

In my opinion, under this current situation, the right question is not being addressed. Remember from Mrs. Stagner's own address of Council, she stated that the goal of the legislation is to have one person - one vote. To me, that opens up another question. By the term vote are we suggesting that we are trying to create equal populations in wards as a way to meet a State governmental statute or are we trying to truly empower representation of individuals in each of the six wards of Hickory?

I Honestly believe that the minimum will be done to meet the threshold of criteria set forth by North Carolina General Statutes. And the goal of creating a Minority-Majority ward would not address the issues either. I sat in a room two years ago at the Candidates Forum at the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce in which a gentleman insisted that Hickory needs to go back to Ward specific voting. At that time, I disagreed with him and for the most part it was for selfish reasons. I had a personal interest in seeing Harry Hipps win Ward 6 and I knew that he could not defeat the incumbent if it came to a pure ward vote. I counted on the other wards' votes and for the most part those other wards did not show up. In the end my personal selfish interests showed the true dilemma that Hickory faces. In the end I was wrong.

What Hickory needs to see is Ward specific elections. Ward 6 should not be determining the person or interests that represent Ward 1 through 5 and Ward 1 should not be determining who represents Ward 2 through 6. The only general election should be for the Mayorship. Why? Because we have seen races in the past 40 years where the Ward has a primary in which one candidate wins the primary and then when they go to the general election they get blown out because of the heavy weighted turnout from another ward. That means that the specific ward isn't being represented by the person of their choice. They are being represented by the choice of another Ward. This has happened multiple times to Larry Pope in Ward 4 and it happened to Gary Ewing in Ward 2. 

We don't need to see multiple elections. We have a hard enough time getting turnout for one election. In the Ward 4 race two years ago, you had over 300 people show up for the primary and 77 people show up for the general election. If you have 1, 2, 3, or 4 candidates it should not matter. You can say that the person has to win by 50%-plus or a plurality plus 10% and that would make for a fair election (or then there is a runoff of the top 2). What we see dilutes the effectiveness of Ward Representatives. The Ward Representative would do best by winning over the people within their own ward. As it stands now, you can theoretically not talk to a single person in your ward or represent a single issue of your ward; but you can still win by going and talking up the issues that face other wards even when those issues don't represent (work against) the interests of your own ward. Does that make sense?

What my opinion is is that what entails our current local municipal election process (and subsequently governance) is not working. I do believe that much of our populace is not being fairly represented. It isn't about being a sore loser. It is about fairness. This isn't a Race issue to me, because if one looks at Ridgeview much of the African-American population has been dispersed throughout the city. Ridgeview and its immediate area is becoming more racially diverse. What I see is more of a socio-economic issue where the poor people in the community are not being represented. Look at the make-up of Council. I believe the people on Council do not have a clue how the poor to middle class citizens lives in this community. 

The people in Viewmont wouldn't want the people of the South Side of the tracks imposing their will or desires upon them and we know that the same can be said if the roles are reversed. This issue will not be settled by redrawing lines and adding a few residences here or there. In the last election only 2,300 people showed up to vote out of 27,000 registered. Would you consider that a success?

A healthy community wants people to vote. In the 2009 election, I believe that more than half of the voters came from 3 voting precincts in the City of Hickory. Those precincts represent the people who have most of their issues addressed by the Council. It is good that these people vote and they should not be ashamed or penalized for voicing their privilege and desires. But, what The City of Hickory needs to see is more people buy into the process of governance. Everyone in the city should be working together and looking out for each others interests. That cannot happen if we try and impose our will upon one another. That can only happen if the community meets at the table on an equal footing. Ward specific voting will not be perfect, but it will insure that the voices that represent the local neighborhoods (and their opinions) are listened to and understood and that is all that anyone should rightfully ask for.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Economic Stories of Relevance in Today's World -- May 15, 2011

4closurefraud Website - A website dedicated to the fraudclosure MERS issue

FDIC’s Bair: Millions of Foreclosures Could Be ‘Infected’ - Wall Street Journal - Alan Zibel - May 12, 2011 - The head of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. is warning that flaws may have “infected millions of foreclosures” and questioned whether other regulators’ inquiries into problems at the nation’s mortgage-servicing companies have been thorough enough... “We do not yet really know the full extent of the problem,” FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said Thursday in written remarks submitted to a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee. “Flawed mortgage-banking processes have potentially infected millions of foreclosures, and the damages to be assessed against these operations could be significant and take years to materialize.”

U.S. ‘Underwater’ Homeowners Increase to 28 Percent - Bloomberg - John Gittelsohn - May 10, 2011 - More than 28 percent of U.S. homeowners with mortgages owed more than their properties were worth in the first quarter as values fell the most since 2008, Zillow Inc. said today... Homeowners with negative equity increased from 22 percent a year earlier as home prices slumped 8.2 percent over the past 12 months, the Seattle-based company said. About 27 percent of homes with mortgages were “underwater” in the fourth quarter, according to Zillow, which runs a website with property-value estimates and real-estate listings...Home prices fell 3 percent in the first quarter and will drop as much as 9 percent this year as foreclosures spread and unemployment remains high, Zillow Chief Economist Stan Humphries said. Prices won’t find a floor until 2012, he said...“We get tired of telling such a grim story, but unfortunately this is the story that needs to be told,” Humphries said in a telephone interview. “Demand is still quite anemic due to unemployment and the fact that home values are still falling. And that tends to make people more cautious about buying.”

Foreclosure Filings Fall 34% as Banks Struggle With ‘Saturation’ - Bloomberg - Dan Levy - May 11, 2011 - Foreclosure filings in the U.S. fell 34 percent last month from a year earlier as lenders already swamped with seized homes delayed action on thousands of additional delinquent mortgages, RealtyTrac Inc. said... A total of 219,258 properties received default, auction or repossession notices in April, the fewest in 40 months, the Irvine, California-based data seller said today in a statement. It was the seventh straight month that filings dropped from a year earlier. They were down 9 percent from March. One in 593 U.S. households got a notice.

The covert bailing out of the commercial real estate industry by the Federal Reserve. How the Fed bails out ritzy hotels and empty shopping malls on the back of taxpayer dollars.- -  Part of the success that the Federal Reserve has achieved with boosting up large banks stems from its secretive ability to forge shadow bailouts of residential and commercial real estate loans.  The more secretive of the previous two comes from the commercial real estate (CRE) industry.  During the height of the housing mania in the United States CRE values were estimated to be worth $6.5 trillion.  A hefty sum no doubt and with $3.5 trillion in loans securing these properties, a significant cushion of equity was in place.  Yet with the crash in all real estate values, banks were left holding a smoldering portfolio of empty shopping malls, luxury hotels, and in some cases fast food outlets.  Today CRE values are estimated to be at $3 to $3.5 trillion putting many loans in a negative equity position reminiscent of many individual homeowners.  This issue of bailing out CRE was never discussed openly with the American people because it would have never carried any political muster.  So what the Federal Reserve accomplished was to create a system where banks were able to exchange toxic loans in place of U.S. Treasuries without taking up an open dialogue with the public.  In other words a clandestine bailout.

The People vs. Goldman Sachs - By Matt Taibbi - Rolling Stone Magazine - May 11, 2011 - A Senate committee has laid out the evidence. Now the Justice Department should bring criminal charges - They weren't murderers or anything; they had merely stolen more money than most people can rationally conceive of, from their own customers, in a few blinks of an eye. But then they went one step further. They came to Washington, took an oath before Congress, and lied about it... Thanks to an extraordinary investigative effort by a Senate subcommittee that unilaterally decided to take up the burden the criminal justice system has repeatedly refused to shoulder, we now know exactly what Goldman Sachs executives like Lloyd Blankfein and Daniel Sparks lied about. We know exactly how they and other top Goldman executives, including David Viniar and Thomas Montag, defrauded their clients. America has been waiting for a case to bring against Wall Street. Here it is, and the evidence has been gift-wrapped and left at the doorstep of federal prosecutors, evidence that doesn't leave much doubt: Goldman Sachs should stand trial. Video - Is Goldman Sachs above the law? - from Elliott Spitzer's TV Program - May 11, 2011

Countdown to Default - Is This the End of the Road? - Before It Was News - By Mike Whitney ~ - May 10, 2011 - Sometime in mid-May, the United States will hit the debt ceiling ($14.3 trillion) which is the legal limit that the country can borrow without congressional approval. If the ceiling isn't raised, the US will default on its debt and the government will begin to shut down. But that appears to be less likely now than it was a week ago because Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has implemented a plan that will pay off bondholders and keep the government operating until early August. Geithner's accounting maneuvers are designed to give the Obama administration and congress a little more time to hammer out the details on a final budget deal. But that's not going to be easy, because Democrats and Republicans are still far apart on the issue of spending cuts, and neither party is willing to give ground. And that's why Wall Street is so worried, because if a settlement isn't reached soon, the uncertainty is liable to roil markets and send stocks plunging.

Dollar in graver danger than the Euro- Axel Merk - The Financial Times - May 11, 2011 - In the US, the day investors come to accept the reality that inflation, rather than fiscal discipline, is the path of least political resistance may be the day the bond market won’t be as forgiving. Unlike the eurozone, where consumers stopped spending and started saving a decade ago, the highly indebted US consumer may not be able to stomach higher interest rates. The large US current account deficit also makes the dollar more vulnerable to a misbehaving bond market than the eurozone.

AMERICA IS BROKE AND BORROWING LIKE CRAZY - Frosty Wooldridge - - May 5, 2011 - Back in 1965, the United States of America enjoyed the status of being the largest lender nation in the world. Today, America suffers the enigma of being the largest debtor nation on the planet... The U.S. government borrows in excess of $2 billion a day to float its false economy where manufacturing has been shipped off to China and every other country in the world...  Today, our $800 billion a year military budget wastes untold amounts of money that does nothing to keep Americans safe or secure.

Medicare, Social Security Funds Expiring Sooner, U.S. Says - National Journal - By Tim Fernholz - May 13, 2011 - The trust funds of Treasury bonds that provide back-stop funding for the programs will be exhausted sooner than anticipated: the Medicare hospital insurance fund will exhaust in 2024, five years sooner than expected, and the Social Security trust fund will expire in 2036, a year earlier than last projected. Social Security expenditures exceeded its tax receipts for the first time in nearly three decades last year with a deficit of $49 billion. The trustees project a similar deficit of $46 billion in 2011, largely the consequence of a weaker economy...    Economic conditions drove an even deeper near-term deterioration in the fiscal condition of Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund, which is now facing insolvency five years earlier than expected due to lower inflation-adjusted Medicare receipts as a consequence of sluggish economic growth.

The Fed and the Debt By Ron Paul - Lew - May 12, 2011I believe Congress should refuse to raise the debt ceiling. It would be one of the best things that could happen to this country. Congress finally would be forced to address the spending issue once and for all. Outlays would have to be covered by receipts, and Congress would have to get serious about eliminating unconstitutional government departments and programs. It is my hope that this hearing will help to examine the symbiotic relationship between the Federal Reserve's monetary policy and the Treasury's debt issuance, and I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses.

Treasury Auctions To Take US Over Debt Ceiling On Monday - Dow Jones Newswire - By Jeffrey Sparshott and Jeff Bater - May 13, 2011 - The Obama administration has asked Congress to raise the limit, warning that failure to act could lead the government to default by Aug. 2 and could spook investors even before then...  House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) said Monday that any increase in the government's debt limit should be accompanied by trillions of dollars in spending cuts.

America Is Rapidly Bleeding Wealth And Jobs: 28 Statistics About The Gutting Of The U.S. Economy That Will Blow Your Mind  - - Red alert! Over 40 billion dollars of America's national wealth is being shipped out of the country every single month.  Our economy is being gutted and we are bleeding wealth and we are bleeding jobs.  This is a distress call.  Is anyone listening?  Thousands of our factories and millions of our jobs are being shipped overseas.  Over the past decade over 6 trillion dollars have been transferred into the hands of foreigners.  Our national government is so broke that they constantly have to go and beg those foreigners to lend us back some of that money in order to finance our exploding debt. The number of good jobs continues to decline and there are millions upon millions of my countrymen that are unemployed.  Can anybody help us? Mayday! Mayday! Mayday!

Barack Obama Is Wrong: 18 Facts Which Prove That Illegal Immigration Is An Absolute Nightmare For The U.S. Economy  - The Economic Collapse.Com - Barack Obama has declared that "immigration reform is an economic imperative", and is promising to do his best to get an immigration bill pushed through Congress this year.  But will "legalizing" all of the illegal immigration that has taken place over the last several decades improve the struggling U.S. economy or will it actually make our economic problems worse?  One of the favorite tricks of top politicians is to promise that the economy is going to improve if we just support what it is that they are currently pushing.  Hopefully the Americans people will not buy the nonsense that Obama is spewing.  The truth is that Barack Obama is wrong about the economic impact of illegal immigration.  Illegal immigrants don't do jobs that Americans "don't want" to do.  A million Americans recently showed up to apply for a job at McDonald's.  That is how desperate Americans are for work these days.  Please don't try to tell me that there aren't millions of Americans out there that would not pick fruit for minimum wage.  The millions upon millions of illegal immigrants in this country are stealing jobs, they are depressing wages in a whole host of industries and they are a huge factor in the erosion of the middle class.  Millions of middle class American families can't afford to provide for their families anymore and are losing their homes, drowning in debt or going bankrupt.  Rather than what Barack Obama is proposing (which is to essentially "legalize" illegal immigration), we need an immigration policy that makes sense and that protects American jobs.

SEC staff’s ‘revolving door’ prompts concerns about agency’s independence -  Washington Post - David S. Hilzenrath - May 13, 2011 - Until two weeks ago, Kayla Gillan was deputy chief of staff at the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency whose duties include policing and regulating the accounting firms that audit public companies. Last week, PricewaterhouseCoopers announced that Gillan was taking a leadership role at the big accounting firm to work on regulatory issues... From Capitol Hill to academia and the SEC inspector general’s office, observers of the agency have voiced concern that the revolving door can make the SEC a more docile protector of the public interest.

Fraudonomics, What Will They Do To Defend It? - VisionVictory