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Friday, October 14, 2016
Warren Buffett Screws Even the Poorest Americans
Warren Buffett owns lots of companies through his investment vehicle subsidiary Berkshire Hathaway. X will give Buffett credit, he does give out very good investment advice such as; taking a long view on the market as opposed to trying to time it, and buying a wonderful company at a good price instead of buying a good company at a wonderful price. Turn on CNBC or Fox Business and the program’s host will probably mention Buffett several times throughout the day. He is known as both the “oracle of Omaha” and the “greatest investor ever.” For the most part this is true; however, let’s delve into a few select companies he owns and how they fleece the poorest people living in our country.
One such company is Clayton Homes. Berkshire Hathaway (Buffett) acquired them back in 2003 for 1.7 billion dollars. Clayton Homes builds and sells manufactured homes. X has no issue and actually believes Buffett made a smart decision to buy a company like Clayton. Manufactured homes are generally lived in by people who do not have much financially and that is not an issue; people do need to live somewhere. Clayton sells its products on sales lots similar to an independent car dealer. Typically, when customers visit Clayton’s lots, they encounter flashy signs and banners specifically to target their preferred demographic, the poor, and minorities. (More on this later).
Clayton was expanded over the years to produce many varieties of the same types of homes under different names, smart move as automakers do the same thing. Many towns have multiple Clayton Homes dealers but they were intentionally branded under different names to deceive shoppers. In some sparsely populated parts of the Midwest and South, one would have to drive past as many as five Clayton Homes dealers to find a non-Clayton dealer. In Texas, there are 12 Clayton dealers and not one competitor for over three hours away! In Carrolton, Texas—just north of Dallas, Buffet’s Clayton Homes controls 90% of the manufactured home market, yeah think about that for a minute.
Manufactured home selling isn’t unethical or anything so, why is X white hot at Rich Uncle Pennybags? It’s the way he markets, insures, and finances them. Clayton markets directly to the poor, but more so to minorities. One former Clayton supervisor said “We market to that demographic because they are not as smart as whites and don’t ask questions like whites do.” That’s not racist at all is it? Manufactured homes are a horrible investment to begin with because they depreciate in value extremely quickly, and if you don’t have the $45k to buy the unit outright then Buffett can finance it for you! Yup, he owns Vanderbilt Mortgage, a low income, high risk lender. Vanderbilt was the preferred lender for Clayton sales associates to steer their unexpected customers toward at financing time. Vanderbilt paid Clayton a royalty for each placed loan, and Buffett got a cut as well. (Kinda sounds like the Wells Fargo debacle right?) Vanderbilt charges very high fees, and the interest rates are exorbitant, often seven points higher than a typical home loan. So in today’s terms that would be around 11% interest a year. Other lenders charged around 3.8% higher than a conventional home loan, but remember Uncle Warren wants to get paid at every point of the process. Vanderbilt Mortgage has a staggering 40% of the manufactured home loan market, the second largest controls just 6%, that would be Wells Fargo.
Additionally Clayton has an insurance subsidiary, HomeFirst Agency. They were the preferred provider of insurance on all the homes sold by Clayton and financed by Vanderbilt. Again, the sales associates were telling customers that their current insurance company does not insure mobile homes so you should go with our in house option. So once again he duped unsuspecting people. So at this point of the sales process Buffett has profited several different times: the loan Clayton got from Berkshire to build the unit, Shaw Carpet and Benjamin Moore Paints to finish the interior (both owned by Buffett), the loan through Vanderbilt Mortgage, and the insurance through HomeFirst. Sounds like a heck of a gig if you can land it. However of the three main players in this article, Vanderbilt Mortgage literally may be the devil re-incarnated.
Vanderbilt doesn’t verify or ask for income statements from the individual getting the loan. This happened on purpose folks, Vanderbilt does this to make a profit up front on the fees and interest for the first few months, then they could repossess the unit and sell it again; lather, rinse, repeat. Or in the words of the Blogfather, Dewey, Screwem and Howe. Vanderbilt would tell the customers the loans could be refinanced at a lower rate in the future; not true, Vanderbilt did this so they could repossess. Vanderbilt customer service members would tell clients that called in pleading to refinance that they should and I quote “not buy medication or medicines, and encourage them to pawn off or sell any items they could to make that payment.” The customers could not refinance the loans as units depreciate extremely quickly. As a result, many customers lost their homes. Even worse, many customers lost their land which they had put up as collateral. In one case, while foreclosure was being introduced, Vanderbilt had already taken the unit and had it listed for sale on a Clayton lot again. These companies are so corrupt and unethical they defied the orders of a judge.
So once again to recap, the nice guy Warren Buffett who laments that his secretary pays a higher income tax rate then he does, owns companies that allow him to profit at every turn and plays by his own set of rules when it comes to steering customers into making poor financial decisions. Buffett is a fraud, plain and simple. He is a very greedy human being who is ruthless to the working people while he profits hand over fist. He should not be regarded as a great person or great investor, as in these cases with Vanderbilt Mortgage and Clayton Homes some people and families literally lost everything to a phony empire know as Warren Buffett. Wait until I unveil the next hit on him, regarding his profits over employee’s dealings.
Until next time,
Post Constitutional America is Here
Former Sacramento Congressman Vic Fazio was quoted back in the 1980’s as saying “Don’t go quoting the Constitution to me, let’s get back to reality”. Unfortunately, this Liberal Democrat was a harbinger of what has come to pass in the intervening years.
The song “Stop the World” by Randy Stonehill puts much of our wrongs into a succinct form:
We’re putting criminals in office
Cause it’s way too crowded in the jails
T.V. is our teacher now
The schools are overrun by thugs
And children skip their innocence
And graduate to sex and drugs
Right is wrong and wrong is right
White is black and black is white
Millions of people in this country have taken an oath to “…defend the country from all enemies foreign and domestic” but look at their actions, they clearly don’t believe it.
Not only have the barbarians repeatedly stormed the gates, but our leaders are inviting the barbarians—including those from the Seventh Century—to come here and stay. They are welcome to setup outposts of insurgence within our borders. Why? Because they have a common enemy: Christianity.
The American experiment in democracy appears to be experiencing its last dying breaths. The country is burdened with so much debt that all the wealth in the world could literally not pay all the obligations of government let alone the consumer debt of its people.
Yes, the United States is experiencing the same civil war that is raging in the rest of the West. Secular Humanism and Islam are uniting to destroy Christianity. Christianity is responsible for Western Culture but its heirs have forgotten God and think they can do it without Him. Each of our leaders—like their counterparts in the Biblical books of Chronicles and Kings—have done more wickedness than all the leaders before them. They glory in their wickedness. Our gods are called Choice instead of Moloch, athletes, actors, musicians, or politicians instead of Ba’al (local deities), Marvel and D.C. instead of Olympus or Valhalla and the power of the State is vested in Washington instead of Egypt.
Pluralism has the practical effect of establishing a modern Rome where you can have any god you want as long as Caesar is Lord. To hold to the supremacy of the Biblical God is anathema to our culture. This is even true of most self-identified Christians.
Sorry but it’s true. The pervasiveness of abortion, divorce, homosexuality, child abuse, drugs, tattoos, or any other metric of evil in our society is the same inside the Church or out. As a whole, there is no measurable difference between those calling themselves “Christian” and the general population. Most children of Christian families that are raised in the church leave their faith as soon as they go off to college if not before. Is it any wonder when only two colleges in the United States still believe the biblical account of Genesis? If Genesis is a myth then so is the rest of the Bible. Without “The Fall” there is no sin and no God; therefore, no need for a Savior.
The Clinton v Trump campaign may seem important to us at the moment but regardless of who wins, the trajectory of the country will continue to further decline. The vote will only determine how fast the decline will continue. The Republic is over; the only struggle now is what will replace it. Look for less freedom, more government, and more persecution. Jesus said to count the cost of following Him and we are beginning to see that even in this country the price is rapidly increasing. To openly follow Him will cost you, jobs, property, and your freedom; not in the future but now. Welcome to the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15–68
We are clearly under God’s judgment but instead of repenting, we are acting like Alfred E Newman from Mad Magazine and saying, “What, me worry?”
Alfred E Newman
The Constitution was supposed to be THE list of the powers of the national government—enumerated powers—but now it means the opposite, unless specifically prohibited, the nation government thinks its fair game to fill their coffers or interfere in you daily life. Rightly interpreted, the government created by the Constitution was so small and remote that it shouldn’t matter who is in office. As envisioned by the document, the President and Supreme Court had very little responsibility. Almost all power was to be in the Congress. (Remember that they just dumped a King and country and were looking not to repeat that mistake again.) As written, the leadership in Washington was to affect your daily lives as much as the winner of the San Francisco 49ers versus the Oakland Raiders game last year.
Triumvirates didn’t work too well in Ancient Rome and it is likely that ours will end-up in the same place. We have the Imperial President that rules by Executive Orders instead of edicts; a legislative branch that is a cheap parody of the Imperial Senate of Star Wars or Roman Senate under the Caesars. (Can you say symbolism over substance?) The only difference is that we have a Supreme Court. The Court gets to make laws too but they have become a laughingstock. They have no real power, no army or way to enforce anything and they serve at the pleasure of the President. When needed, they always fall in line to the will of the President. Lest you disagree with me, look back to Roosevelt and the New Deal. “A switch in time saved nine” is not a nursery rhyme but an historical fact.
Someday soon, a President is not going to leave the White House at the end of his term but remain in power. He might even change his title to Chancellor or caretaker. The Court will reluctantly find it Constitutional and the Congress will standby idly wringing their hands when it happens but that day is almost here.
Germany once laughed at Hitler and his National Socialists but everything Hitler did including the Holocaust was with the blessing of their Legislature and Courts . Well socialists now run most of this country, the only squabble is will we be National Socialists or Internationalist Socialists (Globalists)? We might even adopt a Fascist economic model just to spice things up and create the illusion of private ownership of the means of production.
I think Fazio was right; we are no long bound by the Constitution. Like people that go to church and don’t let their professed faith affect their daily lives, we pay lip-service to the founding document but don’t feel constrained to follow it. Conservative Protestants have been saying that we live in a Post-Christian world since Francis Schaeffer in the 1980’s; well I think it’s high time that we called our era in modern America the Post-Constitutional one. My only question is did Post-Constitutional America begin with FDR or Obama? I will have to ponder that one a while longer.
Friday, September 30, 2016
Movie Review: Targeted
My wife thought my previous version of this review was too harsh so I’ve rewritten this blog to reflect her critique.
Last night there was a nationwide screening of the documentary Targeted: Exposing the Gun Control Agenda.
Link: Targeted The Movie
The film was made by Jesse Winton and his father Randy . This is the Winton’s second film. Their first was on the subject of adoption.
I saw the movie at a theater in Folsom, CA. Jesse and Randy were both in attendance. I have known them for several years. Also in attendance was the sheriff of El Dorado County—John D’Agostini—who is featured in the film and Paul Shaver—who portrayed the gun maker in the film.
Targeted is the story of 20 year old Jesse Winton as he explores gun control and the Second Amendment. The story was believable and compelling. It reflected the Winton’s family values without being “in your face” about it. It was logically presented. The movie makes an historical case for the linkage of bearing arms and freedom. It begins in the present and explores the background of where the Second Amendment originated. It presents a logical case for how the Founding Fathers built upon the work of others and asserted that the Declaration of Independence was an expression of existing beliefs about the relationship of a sovereign to his people. The film was about an hour long plus the panel discussion that follows.
The film is a challenge to the American people to embrace their heritage. Winton reminds us that Rights come from God not government; therefore, government has no right to deprive people of Liberty; especially with false promises of security.
There will be another showing October 5th. I recommend that you get a few friends to go see the movie. However, please be careful how you invite people. If you mention the title of the movie on Facebook, know that your post and account will be subject to censorship or worse.
Please sir, can I have some more?
The thing I really wanted to see more of was politicians calling for gun control that had no idea what they were talking about. These video clips were presented in a staccato fashion and the moment passed too quickly.
I know this project took about three years to get from concept to cinema. I also know that there is lots of great footage that literally didn’t make the final cut. I hope they add a feature on the DVD to give us a look at some of this material. My recollection is that they have some great footage of Diane Feinstein saying some outrageous things about guns (probably on more than one occasion).
Comments on Production Quality
Production and editing were good; especially considering the shoestring budget that was used to make the film. Photography was good but a few spots were too dark or a little off on the exposure settings. Some shots using magnification were slightly pixelated—most of these were outdoor shots of scenery. (That’s the risk you take when you need to get something on the first take.) The film’s audio was well done; however, the panel discussion following the film had some audio issues but I’m not sure if it was from emulating stereo sound or just the challenges of miking five people simultaneously during a live production.
The most difficult thing to watch in the film was the television clips at the beginning. Several were hard on my eyes because the video quality was poor. It seemed like they were made with a camera in front of a television set or lifted from low quality YouTube uploads. Perhaps it’s one of those things where it looks great on a monitor but when magnified to the proportions of a movie theater screen, it just shows all the blemishes that seemed minor on a television.
Wednesday, September 28, 2016
The HD antenna that I deployed when our family “cut the cord” was really marginal. The antenna was located in our attic but many local channels were downright unwatchable. All we were able to get on some stations was pixels that changed every four or five seconds and highly fragmented audio. To watch many shows, I had to catch them on Hulu the following day. Watching the evening news was impossible on many stations and ditto for live sports.
Just in time for the new television season—such as it is—I went to Frys and bought a new antenna. (Assembly required) I then got up the nerve to get on the roof to install it. Our ladder is too short to reach the roof and standing on the top step is a dicey proposition—especially when working by yourself. Thankfully, my eleven year old is willing to help his old dad by holding the ladder.
I removed the DirecTV dish and replaced it with the new antenna. I used the same mast but had to exclude some parts from the clamp assembly to get it to fit.
It may not reach the advertised 70 miles but we do get more channels and at a much better quality. After filtering out the Spanish language and home shopping stations, we still have a fairly good variety of over-the-air stuff to choose from.
Clear Stream 4V Extreme Range Indoor/Outdoor HDTV Antenna
Friday, September 16, 2016
SEIU and Rights
This week’s message from the SEIU to state workers is stand strong.
Throughout California, Local 1000 members are purpling up and standing shoulder-to-shoulder to show the state we’re committed to fight for a contract we can all be proud of. We’re telling the state their current contract offer does not value or respect the services we provide and we won’t stop until we win a contract we can all be proud of.
Link: Weekly update Sep 14th
Besides the obligatory slap at management this week, the item that really caught my attention is the section on rights. I get told what my rights are as someone involuntarily represented by SEIU but it got me to wondering. Let’s change the context slightly and see if I really have the rights SEIU is claiming.
I’m a Christian so do I have these rights too?
Support our God
You have the right to support our God and to express pro-Christian opinions to other employees and to management.
Wear our Christian colors
You have the right to wear buttons and stickers and to wear Christian clothing.
Display our Christian materials
You have the right to post and display Christian materials inside your workspace.
Distribute our Christian materials
You have the right to distribute Christian materials during non-work time.
Post our Christian materials
You have the right to display Christian materials on appropriate bulletin boards.
Attend our Christian meetings
You have the right to attend Christian meetings on nonwork time.
Somehow I think this is a one-way street.
If I were to offend someone with talk of Christ, I would get a stern talking to by my supervisor and told to cut it out.
If I involuntarily took money from my coworker’s desk it would be called theft but in government it is called a “fair share” payment to SEIU (“Fair Share” is 99.5 percent of what union dues cost.)
If I display too much Christian stuff and offend someone I would have to take it down but if I want to advocate socialism and statism then it’s my right; nay, my duty to do so.
So is working for the state a “hostile work environment”?
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
97 Reasons to Like Chick-fil-A
As happens about every two years, the drain in the kitchen sink is plugged-up. As a result, cooking and washing dishes is all but impossible at the moment. The plumber can’t be here until tomorrow.
Please note that this is a good thing. If you need a guy to do work on your house and he can start immediately you should not employ them. Those with skills are in demand and those without are anxious to start now. Hiring second tier people in construction trades usually ends badly. They have your money and you have a partially completed project.
Since the kitchen is out of order, Mrs. ReallyRight said, I don’t want to cook so let’s go out. I agreed and suggested Chick-fil-A. Four of us trekked over to our local Chick-fil-A.
Here was our dine-in order:
• Chick-fil-A Sandwich
• Deluxe Chick-fil-A Sandwich
• Harvest Kale Salad
• Spicy Southwestern Salad
• Three large waffle fries
• Large Diet Coke
• Large Sprite
• Large Dr. Pepper
• Medium Diet Lemonade
Total Price $0.97
Yeah ninety-seven cents.
Every few months we get a cheap date by “going to see the cow”.
So how did I do it? Simple
• Three Calendar cards –this month is free large waffle fries and large drink
• Two Chick-fil-A customer surveys—each good for free entrée
• One free entrée card due to slow service on a previous visit
• Plus $1.29 remaining on my McAfee rebate card
This company rewards their regular customers and I’m glad they can help a family on a budget.
Wednesday, September 07, 2016
Credit Theft: A Victimless Crime?
I recently got a new bank card because my bank said I had purchased something from a store that had a security breach. In this case I think it was Wendy’s. I was told that the card I was using would stop working on August 25th and needed to activate the new card before then. So I dutifully activated the new card on August 24th. The new card had a different account number and expiration date than my previous card.
On Labor Day morning (September 5th ), my wife comes into the bedroom saying the bank is calling with a fraud alert. Every few months I get a call like this because my purchasing habits go outside their normal parameters but I did nothing that would trigger such a call. I went on the Internet and sure enough several fraudulent charges had been made using my brand new bank card.
The second attempt at Rite Aid is likely what triggered the fraud alert.
Being that Labor Day is a bank holiday, all I could do was cancel my bank card. I had to wait until the next day to dispute the charges.
After the payments posted on the first three transactions, the declined withdrawal dropped-off the bank record and only the pending Walmart.com remained. The transaction said it would not post until September 7th. (I could only dispute the charges that successfully removed money from my account and not the pending Walmart charge.)
On September 6th, I contacted Walmart and my bank, hoping to thwart the last remaining transaction by these thieves. Even with the date, approximate time of the fraudulent purchase, and confirmation number of the purchase, neither was able (or willing) to help me.
Walmart said that without the actual order number that they could not stop the transaction. My bank said that they not only couldn’t block it but they couldn’t even tell me how much the final transaction would be until it posted. The lady at the bank couldn’t even see the pending charge until I pulled up my account on my cell phone and showed it to her.
Furthermore, they told me not to take money out of my account because they couldn’t promise me that any of my pending transactions would go thru if I did that. In short, I was told to take it in the shorts and just let the fraudulent charge happen and then I would get the money reimbursed from the bank in about ten days.
Being that my mortgage payment and other large transactions had not yet cleared the bank, this charge at Walmart.com could have been very substantial and depleted my bank account to the point that everything would bounce anyways. Faced with this nightmare scenario, what would you do?
The more I thought about it, the more violated I felt. As often happens in our country, you are first violated by the criminal and then a second time by the system.
I left the minimum amount necessary to cover all the outstanding checks that I had already mailed in my account and transferred the rest of the money to my wife’s account. Early this morning, I awakened to find that all pending transactions except Walmart had posted. At that point, I further reduced my bank balance to $75. When I got up to go to work, I decided I needed to transfer an additional $200 to my checking account. My bank separately posted one check later in the morning. They did ding me for a fee to cover the check but as of this writing, Walmart has dropped off my account.
I’m hoping that the worst is behind me now. It appears that the Walmart purchase was aborted; probably overnight. If the thieves had spent a small sum on my card, the transaction likely would have gone thru but I have the feeling that they “went for broke” or more literally tried to make me broke.
Of interest to me is the fact that two of the fraudulent orders that they charged to my account were intended for delivery at a physical address. The food order and Walmart order both had to go somewhere. A reasonable person would think this would make it easier to catch these guys but neither my bank nor Walmart indicated that law enforcement be notified of the fraud.
It reminds me of the time we got robbed and the policeman asked if we had insurance and as soon as we said yes, they were done looking for the crooks.
It really bothers me that such fraud is tolerated and so commonplace that nobody even seems interested in pursuing the thieves. For my bank, it is just an allocation in their general ledger and a cost for doing business.
My final thought on this is that God is watching and our family has asked Him to mete out a little justice now on these thieves and not let it wait until the next life. And yes I do believe that divine intervention prevented this from being as harmful to us as it could have been.
Wednesday, August 31, 2016
SEIU Rattling Sabers
This week, the SEIU is again pushing for members to be prepared for battle. However, I have still heard nothing about asking members to vote to authorize a strike.
Is this their “October Surprise” or do they want folks out of work in time for the holidays?
If they do pull the trigger on a strike then just wait ‘til the media starts talking about “non-essential” government workers striking. I think calling SEIU members “non-essential” government workers will bring a swift end to this folly.
Saturday, August 27, 2016
State of the CRA
• Remember when the Park Brothers were expelled from CRA for life?
• Remember the financial shenanigans they masterminded in both the Placer County Republican Assembly and at the CRA annual conventions?
• Remember the Brothers Park posting people’s home addresses and bank account numbers online?
• Remember when the new board of directors took them to court?
• Remember the multipage expose’ in the Sacramento Bee laying out the case used by the prosecution to win conviction?
• Remember the complaints that were filed with FPPC, FBI, DOI, various local District Attorneys and CA Attorney General?
• Remember the Emmy Award winning special on the Fox News Channel about the “Placer County Mafia”?
• Remember when the Brothers (Aaron and George) went to jail after being convicted by each and every single one of these entities?
Let me guess; you don’t remember any of these things happening do you? Because everything except the first three points are false and never happened.
X has been involved in the CRA for a little over a decade now and knows both Aaron and George very well; well enough to say both are so crooked you may be able to open a wine bottle with either one. Back in the day, Aaron once had a big problem abusing the sauce, but now he (and George) spend their leisure time abusing the truth. For them truth is not an absolute, it’s a matter of compensation and personal enhancement that determines their “truth”. But enough of those two Jeb Bush supporting, wannabe conservatives—for now.
George and Aaron Park with Jeb Bush on 05-13-2015
What Aaron really thinks about Jeb Bush on 05-18-2015
The California Republican Assembly (CRA) claims to be the oldest Republican organization in California. A quick look at their membership at the last convention would convince you that the claim is probably true. Sadly, the once proud CRA has devolved into an old white people’s club, except rather than play Bingo and shuffleboard, they reminisce about the old times when California frequently went Republican during statewide elections and occasionally for President. This group still fondly remembers when “The Gipper” called them “the conscience of the Republican Party.” However, like “The Gipper”, CRA has developed Alzheimer’s disease. They have forever lost their way.
If you need evidence of how out of touch the CRA is, you need look no further than their Presidential Endorsing Convention last February. On the first ballot, Donald Trump barely got 10 votes while Ted Cruz was overwhelmingly endorsed. When California actually cast ballots on June 7th, Trump got 74.8% of the vote while Cruz came in third with just 9.5%.
Likewise, the CRA Convention’s choice for US Senate, Tom Del Baccaro, was overwhelmingly endorsed on their first ballot. When Californians voted in June, Del Baccaro got 4.3% of the vote. Not only did he finish a distant fifth place in the field, but no Republican received enough votes to go on to the November 8th election.
Every two years, CRA chapters hold local endorsement conventions all across the state. These pyric events often break out into meandering trips down memory lane for these old geezers. You see, the CRA endorsement comes with no money for candidates or sweat equity to further their campaigns. It’s just symbolism with no substance. However, for those that believe, it’s a sacred duty that they take very seriously.
CRA claims to be an organization based on principles. However, I’ve personally watched a candidate get endorsed by CRA by promising to hold the line against higher taxes, only to break their promise and then the following election cycle be endorsed again (Mike Villines and Mimi Walters).
Sadly, CRA stands for nothing; they are just another GOP group with a different name and annual dues.
In my local unit, I’ve witnessed firsthand a three hour debate by two candidates running for the right to get annihilated by Doris Matsui. CRA will leave no windmill unscathed.
X left the CRA due to these types of people/actions, permanently.
You see the new CRA Board has stood idly by while the organization went the same way as the CA Republican Party; right down the commode. Yup, while our blind leadership was busy trying to set up a new unit in Compton and make sure all the incumbents in Orange County got re-elected in landslides, the world changed. Look at what CRA has been reduced to. The Park Brothers should be history from any type of political circle, and a DA in Placer County likely could have helped spearhead the effort but no, we would rather play nice. CRA failed to act either in self-defense or on principle. Between the CRA and rank-and-file Republicans, the disconnect has never been more pronounced. CRA is stuck so far in the past that they still think California has primaries. They still haven’t come to grips with a top two system. Despite much bluster and bravado, they are just as averse to conflict as the national party when squabbles break out.
The long extinct Woolly Mammoth—aka “long in the tooth Republican”
Like the Republican Party in California, CRA has run its course. Both are dimming memories in the consciousness of the political historian that is likely young enough not to know firsthand what a vibrant two party system looked like. It has been millennia since the proud elephant has roamed supreme in the western states of North America and almost as long since a living Republican has been spotted making a difference in the once Golden State.
Monday, August 22, 2016
SEIU and Crickets
This sound is often associated with silence, white noise, or just meaningless background. In the movies as in real life, when the crickets are silent, something very wrong is being foreshadowed.
In like manner, since the SEIU Board of Directors unanimously authorizing a strike vote, all that they have been saying publicly is nothing; just crickets. Nothing distributed to members via public channels even hints to their next move. Their silence over last few weeks is deafening.
I thought they would jump to calling a strike vote almost immediately. Instead, I’m starting to wonder if they are shopping legislative campaigns in search of sympathetic candidates who will sell their souls for campaign cash from this powerful labor union. Now that California is officially a one party state, it is a possibility worth considering.
I think it is clear that Governor Brown is not supportive of their cry for a 22 percent pay increase over four years for 95,000 state employees. Perhaps they are trying to shore-up their support in the Legislature before entering into further negotiations with the State.
As a recovering Republican, I’m not used to people playing chess in an arena where my side can’t even play checkers. The SEIU playing the long game is something I hadn’t considered until now but if August goes out like a lamb, then it’s likely they are banking on November 8th to improve their fortunes…literally.
Tuesday, August 09, 2016
Taxes, Lies, and Silence
A few years ago (2010), the City of Elk Grove put forward a ballot measure that claimed to reduce the local utility tax by .25 percent. The ballot argument submitted by the city attorney put this forward as the chief reason to support the measure.
Measure J: Shall an ordinance be adopted to reduce the existing Utility User Tax from 2.5% to 2.25%; modernize the current ordinance to treat taxpayers equally regardless of technology used for telecommunications and video services; to preserve funding for essential general municipal services, such as public safety?
FISCAL IMPACT The legal and technology issues could reduce the City’s projected General Fund revenues by as much as $600,000 per year. The General Fund pays for most of the City’s police, code enforcement, animal control, financial and administrative services, and some transit services. Some or all of these services could be affected by the lost revenue. Measure J would prevent the loss of those revenues.
There was no opposition to the measure. This tax argument was based on a willful lie or—as the Catholics call it—a sin of omission. The tax was technically a reduction; however, it more than doubled the amount of devices that were covered by the tax so in reality it was a huge, multi-million dollar tax increase . This was a textbook case of bait-and-switch.
The measure passed 76.57 % to 23.43 %
Since that time, many of us have vowed that no local tax measure would go unchallenged on the ballot. Unfortunately, those groups in our community that claim to stand for lower taxes and less government have failed to act. With both elected Republicans and Democrats acting in concert to raise taxes, these advocacy groups have ceded the argument and the fight.
Sacramento County is now trying to pass a sales tax increase for transportation called Measure B. Measure B—an 8.5 billion dollar tax over 30 years—will be on the November 8th ballot. As of a month ago, none of the so-called conservative leaders in the Elk Grove area knew anything about the measure and were surprised to hear it was going to voters. Furthermore, none plan to do anything about it.
Thanks in part to the work of one of my friends, the Elk Grove City Council decided not to go after a local sales tax after they had paid for all the groundwork to get it on the ballot in November. Prior to the vote he sent each Council member a letter outlining the spending excesses of the Council and some of the things they had foolishly done with taxpayer money. Since the total amount he listed was several times the amount they hope to get from the tax, the motion died with only one YES vote. Again no local groups did anything to oppose the tax.
But never fear faithful readers, yours truly promises that some sort of argument against Measure B will be on the ballot. Thus far, two arguments have been submitted in opposition—including mine—and as of yesterday no argument in favor had been submitted.
I will keep you updated on what happens. Arguments must be filed by close of business on Thursday and rebuttal arguments are due on Monday.
Jail House Vote
During the Clinton Administration, Democrats were desperate to stop Republicans and the quickest way to stack the voter rolls was to create more voters by giving felons the right to vote. The fight to stack to voter rolls with more Democrats resulted in Paul Shanklin recording a parody of Elvis Presley’s Jail House Rock in 1999. The parody, sung by Jesse Jackson was titled Rev. Jackson’s Jailhouse Vote.
This is actually happening again right now in Virginia. In a desperate effort to help Democrats, the governor, Terry McAuliffe —an associate of Bill Clinton’s—is adding 200,000 felons to the voter rolls in time for the November election.
Yesterday, I went to the Sacramento County Elections office and guess what I saw?
Yeah, the jailhouse voter rights sign.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
Watch the Skies
Look up in the sky…
No, it wasn’t a bird, or a plane or Hillary’s star falling last night. Instead it was a Chinese rocket—possibly a satellite killer—disintegrating as it entered earth’s orbit.
Except in movies, I’ve never seen anything like it. If you saw the “fireworks” at the end of Independence Day as Will Smith and Jeff Goldblum are smoking their cigars as they strut thru the desert or Sandra Bullock at the end of Gravity as she is finally riding home in the ruins of a Chinese space station, then you would have a good idea what was in the sky last night.
I was in Elk Grove Park last night with my wife and son, getting set for the first night of the Strauss Festival when my son looks up in the sky and says, “Dad, look, it’s a comet.”
I looked up, and due south of our location, at about half the height of the trees, was a bright object with a very long flaming tail moving very slowly from west to east. I’m old enough to know comets just don’t show-up in the sky, plus we were using our star watching apps, so I knew it was something else. My guess was that it was a satellite falling back to earth. The tail was composed of debris, similar to the way a bottle rocket has a flaming tail as it flies thru the air. As it moved across the sky, the tail got smaller.
After my son saw it, I took a few seconds to turn on my camera and switch to video and shoot a movie as it flew (mostly behind the trees). I got 72 seconds before I finally lost sight of it behind more trees. At about 46 seconds into the video, I saw that it had broken into two large pieces.
Below is a still from my movie. Unfortunately, the tail isn’t really visible due to the lack of light sensitivity that my phone has at night. With the naked eye, it was much more spectacular; especially, when we first saw it.
9:37 pm on 07-27-2016
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
From the Mouth of Babes: Woman President
This morning I got the following text from my 11 year old son.
“Dad, I know why in the constitution there is nothing about having a woman president. I think it is because the people who wrote it had wives.”
Monday, July 25, 2016
A week ago, I finally threw in the towel and changed my voter registration from Republican to No Party Preference. This was hard for me to do but I feel that it was time.
Several factors contributed to this decision. First, the Republican Party is dead in California. Second, it’s dead in the area where I live. Third, I’m tired of the personalities left as leaders.
Before I begin, let me preface by saying that I’m not a Ted Cruz supporter that is having a tantrum. I am a proud supporter of Donald Trump because he seems to have a spine. I’m tired of Republicans that retreat at the first sign of opposition. Their first impulse seems to be unilateral surrender. As a group, they have no core.
Rush Limbaugh always castigates the Democrats for using the same old playbook; unfortunately, Republicans are guilty of the same thing. How many times have you heard one claim the mantel of Ronald Reagan because he is for less government, lower taxes, more freedom, and favors small businesses…at least until they get in office? Unfortunately, that is all the depth that most have. They have no vision, no real answers, and no clue how to positively counter the Democrats. All Republicans end up being is the Party of “NO”.
Republicans have no vision for what the world would or should be like if they ran things. Look at Congress. John Boehner was elected Speaker of the House of Representatives when the Republicans became the majority. Instead of passing legislation that they thought the President would veto and directly challenging President Obama—and thus setting-up a difference between what the two parties wanted for the country—Boehner did nothing. He famously said that we are one half of one third of the government; thus excusing his legislative ineffectiveness. Silly us, we believed Boehner and elected a Republican majority in the Senate too. Guess what? Legislatively, nothing changed. If anything, Congress became more feckless and ineffective. Boehner proved that Republicans were part of the problem. Paul Ryan has continued to be ever more incompetent.
The Republican Party is dead in California. Demographically, this fate was assured when George Bush (the first one) agreed to closing the military bases in California after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Tens of thousands of conservative voters were no longer living in the state any more. Lockheed, Boeing, and other defense contractors left the Golden State as a result of the base closings. This demographic shift created a political shift as well that tilted the scales much more towards the Democrats.
At the same time, the Machiavelli tactics employed by Barbara Alby and her hostile takeover of the California GOP also contributed to its decline. Participation of volunteers, activists, and donors steadily declined. Barbara and her fellow travelers gutted the GOP and ran roughshod over those in her way. Ironically, this was done in the name of Jesus Christ. Somehow, the question of “What would Jesus do?” never occurred to her or those in her camp.
Barbara characterized her takeover of the California Republican Assembly and later the State Party as taking the Party away from the enemy and casting out those who were not with us. She did this with the sword and not the love of Christ. She wanted political power and used the evangelical churches as her base of operations to launch a guerrilla action to capture the CRA. In retrospect, it would have been better for her to either takeover the CRA in a straight-up way or start her own GOP group.
For example, when Barbara captured the Sacramento-Sierra Republican Assembly, she showed-up at the last minute with seven hundred paid memberships—almost all from folks that had never been to a CRA meeting—and she then elected her slate of officers. The existing members were forced out of the group; none were allowed even minority representation on her board. At the time, there were five CRA chapters in Sacramento County. The other four folded. Barbara took over their charters so she had even more delegates for the statewide convention. Members of these four smaller groups were from the local Operation Rescue organization. Once she had control of the state CRA Board, the other four chapters were collapsed into her unit.
The situation in Sacramento County’s Republican Central Committee is just as bad. Conservatives took over the group in the Alby era and then gave-up control. In 2006, a new conservative movement was begun with the Support the Platform PAC. This group was involved in trying to elect people to the Placer and Sacramento County Republican Central Committees. The efforts in Sacramento County resulted in the election of Sue Blake as the Central Committee chair.
Electing Blake as chair was an unmitigated disaster. I encouraged Blake to do something that would have been revolutionary; have the Central Committee create a county platform. The GOP brand was damaged nationally and also as a result of failures at the statewide level (Arnold Schwarzenegger.) I hoped that having a separate identity would inoculate the county party from being defined by the actions of others. My proposal was simple: “What would Sacramento County be like if Republicans ran it?” I wanted to give us a vision to work towards as well as a positive reason for voters to pick Republicans. This idea was greeted with laughter and dismissed out of hand. Blake’s advisor, political consultant Duane Dichiara told me that it was their job to elect Republicans, what candidates believe is up to them.
As the GOP faded in the county, Blake chose to erect barriers to participation in the Central Committee and adopted Dichiara’s advice to model the new bylaws after the San Diego bylaws. As a result, the Central Committee viewed itself as a private club with a pay-to-play membership fee of $100 annually. (Remember that most Central Committee elections were on the ballot every two years and even those that won by a vote of the people in their district were denied the right to vote unless they paid this $100 fee.)
In addition, no new business could be brought up during a meeting. Everything must be prescreened by the Executive Committee. The County Party became insular and unresponsive to voters. Meetings were no longer public. They claimed the right to eject anyone. When California voters adopted the top two primary system; this benefitted Blake’s regime by abolishing elections every two years.
The Central Committee cratered under Blake’s leadership. Last I heard, she finally threw in the towel on being the Chair.
Oh, during her leadership in Sacramento County, all Republican office holders in the Assembly, Senate, and Congress were defeated and replaced by Democrats . Republican registration in the county declined and the county is lost to the GOP for at least a generation if not forever.
Locally, the GOP club that I used to belong too—until I changed my registration—has decided to stop working to elect Republicans due to the 14 percent registration deficit and opted to work on local races. Unfortunately, the President has decided to spend his time backing a school board candidate that is wholly unqualified. The candidate is 21, and has yet to attend a single school board meeting. Yes, he took out papers to run but doesn’t even know what the job is.
If this is the future of the GOP, then I need to spend my time doing other things. When I was 18, I voted for Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton on the same ballot. Both men have left their mark on the political scene. I think I’ve done my penance for voting for Clinton—he lost in 1980 by the way.