Observation

"Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? And when he had said this, he went out again..."

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Location: Tampa, FL, United States

Saturday, February 28, 2009

NFL Recovery Plan Approved

It’s surprising that NFL owners were throwing millions of dollars at free agents this past week when Barack Obama released a statement that his economic recovery plan has been approved by Congress to fix the NFL. As everyone knows the professional football industry is plagued with toxic assets—the Detroit Lions (0-16), St. Louis Rams (2-14) and Kansas City Chiefs (2-14). Millions of hard working, middle-class sports fans in these three cities are not able to find reasons to cheer, nor can their children cheer. The Congressional Budget Office has calculated that these 3 toxic franchises need an additional $100 million each to stimulate their upcoming draft, current rosters and free agent acquisitions. How will this be paid for? And how will this square with the promise to provide tax cuts to the 95% of hard working, middle-class players on the other 29 NFL teams? For that when turn to chapter 476 in the Obama NFL Recovery Plan, pg. 98,483. Section CMLVIII.

The nontoxic franchises will each contribute $50 million, with each franchise tapping their wealthiest players designated at http://www.whitehouse.gov/. The collected funds will be redistributed to the Lions, Rams and Chiefs with the $1 billion+ excess going to establish government services earmarked for managing the U.S. NFL Recovery Administration, creating 100,000 new jobs in the process.

Yes, ESPN analysts are calling this the nationalization of the NFL but as the noted Keynesian Ben Bernanke points out, “the federal government is not running the NFL but merely trying to unfreeze the credit markets that caused the toxicity in the poorer franchises, leading to the downturn in cheering in those cities.”

Others have voiced concern that the Seattle Seahawks (4-12), Cincinnati Bengals (4-11-1), Cleveland Browns (4-12) and Oakland Raiders (5-11) may default on their victories in 2009 to become eligible themselves for bailout dollars in 2010. Remarked Congresswoman Pelosi, “that’s the typical rhetoric you hear every time we try to stuff Omnibus bills full of pork to get re-elected. Americans love pork from their representative and resent it in others. It’s hypocritical, sure, but Americans will still sit idly by while we take $17 million from Ben Roethlisberger next year and ship it to the Rams. We’ll do the same with $13 million worth of Larry Fitzgerald’s $17 million contract. Are you telling me Larry can’t feed his family on $1.25 million a year after taxes? Come on. In fact, I wish the 49ers hadn’t gone 7-9 last year so we could have redistributed Larry's contribution to the patriotic residents of 8th district of the great, formerly-not-broke state of California.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell just announced ticket prices will increase 175% for each NFL franchise next year but expects prices to stabilize after that for the following 20 to 30 years.

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Montebello Prayer Cross

A commercial being run by prayercross.com from Montebello Collections is offering their prayer cross for only two payments of $19.99. (The audio that you hear on TV is included in its website). It doesn't take too long to realize the retailer uses syrupy marketing and misrepresentation of Scripture to sell their crosses. The narrator speaks of the "magic of the prayer cross" and that it's a "one-of-a kind spiritual accessory." There's no mention of the Bible's position on magicians as noted in the book of Daniel. The Bible fails to comment on one-of-a-kind spiritual accessories. The narrator remarks that their cross is "sure to bring joy and comfort to all who wear it." So it's not God Who brings comfort but their prayer cross. Oh well, it least it has a "secret center stone." Maybe the Urim and Thummim are embedded there.

And yes, there's 30-day money back guarantee.

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FDIC being Katrina'ed

Apparently the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is being pummeled by waves of bank failures (story here ). The article states, "Depositors are not at risk because the fund is backed by the government." I would suggest depositors are at risk because according to Thomas E. Woods, Jr., author of Meltdown, the FDIC only has enough assets to meet 0.5% of its potential obligation(s). So, if the FDIC runs out of funds because of its inordinate guarantee either the national debt gets run up or some government entity flowing with green (oxymoron) gets siphoned to shore up the FDIC. In either case depositors are at risk. If nothing else the subsequent inflation from an FDIC "bailout" would lessen the purchasing power of depositors' existing dollars. I suspect the Washington Post injected the spin to stay in the good graces of the national leviathan.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Experience Hurts and Helps

“The essence of Keynesianism is its complete failure to conceive the role that saving and capital accumulation play in the improvement of economic conditions.” (Planning for Freedom, 4th ed., p. 207. Italics in original.) -- Ludwig von Mises

With Obama and the Congress working the printing presses and pressing consumption the end result will be further erosion of our economy. Economies that thrive will have built up capital and accumulated savings. Capital and savings are the end result of God's blessings and people ordering their lives according to Scripture. Our current Adminstration is behaving like a 10th grader having maxed out his or her $100,000 limit (no offense to most 10th graders).

Everyone without their head buried in the sand knows somebody affected by the economic downturn. Those hurting have memories of happier times. In the broader picture and with the help of the perspective of history Americans have had it good for the most part compared to all those who have gone before. If all we had was running water, sewage plants, morphine and lidocaine we've bested our forerunners in creature comforts. We've had much more than that though for which we're all grateful.

So when the DOW breaks below 6000 in the coming months, remember February '09 was "the good 'ol days." And while Americans bemoan the government's failure to meet its needs they'll still rush to the polls and re-elect anyone willing to spend, spend til their daddy takes their t-bill away (no offense to the Beach Boys).

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Sizing Up the Oscars

Slumdog Millionaire was an entertaining movie and didn't disappoint as the Best Picture winner at the recent Oscars award extravaganza. A number of movies could have won which indicates there really wasn't a clear favorite this year. It was interesting that Sean Penn's movie Milk was a nominee for Best Picture. According to Box Office Mojo Milk is all wet. While Oscar voters vote with their pen (or maybe their mouse) viewers vote with federal reserve notes. Milk ranks in 1,854th place on the "All time domestic" gross revenue list with a domestic haul of $28m ($37m worldwide). As a point of reference The Dark Knight's domestic take is $533m. Iron Man comes in at $318m. Indiana Jones' 2008 flick about a skull has grossed $317m. Marley and Me made $141m for someone. Slumdog has made enough money ($175m) to pay for almost 0.5% of the U.S. Congress' next incumbent grab bag package ($410bn), although it remains to be seen if they donate to the cause.

Milk was clearly a propaganda piece that the Oscar voters shoved to the top level to feel good about themselves. When people live to make themselves feel good all sorts of craziness follows.

Hayek Invoked by Surprise

Rush Limbaugh is a staunch Republican so it came as a shock when he invoked the name of the noted Austrian economist Friedrich August von Hayek (1889-1992) today on his radio show. Rush referenced Hayek's book The Road to Serfdom (1944) when saying Hayek suggested politicians don't like capitalism and the free market system because it implies less centralized control. And politicians like control. Republicans rarely if ever contend for the implementation of Austrian economic theory because, despite their "conservativism," can't seem to jettison existing bloated, central government programs once elected.

While Austrian economists don't acknowledge God's sovereignty in the area of finances and property they of anyone most closely (and "accidently") defend many Biblical principles related to economics. Austrians are anti-Federal Reserve Board, anti-fiat currency, pro-private property rights, pro-entrepreneurialism and understand man operates in a unique fashion and not in lock-step with man-made programs and federal directives. America's two major parties are rapidly arrogating massive property rights to themselves, rendering the little guy impotent and left to waddle down the road to serfdom. This is offensive to Austrians and should be offensive to Christians.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

B Vitamins and Macular Degeneration

Apparently B vitamins are good at fighting macular degeneration in women according to reports about a new study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine. I haven't read the study but B vitamins are likely something most of us could as a supplement. Between a poor Western diet and overused, depleted soil it's likely our B vitamin intake isn't what it should be.

I take a number of supplements from a company called Standard Process and trust that they're top flight. Their products Cataplex B and Cataplex G compose their brand of vitamin B. Their products are made from raw, whole food sources and retain all the little things God put in there that processing often destroys.

We live at a time where studies aren't health-focused but profit-focused. As such the best studies don't get done. There's not much profit motive for researchers to test foods and supplements head-to-head against medications. The vitamin studies that are done generally don't publish the details about the vitamins they use but it's likely their synthetic and fractionated. So when researchers reports "disappointing results" the real story is there isn't a story.

Despite the advances in technology we end up operating like our great grandparents and making health choices based on insticnt and gut feeling because we must. (As a disclaimer I have no vested interest in Standard Process).

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

A Form for Your Pediatrician

"The American people" are confronted with an onslaught of forms/releases/waivers at every turn. We're a form-happy society because most of us are lotto-minded and wish to preserve the right to soak the rich in court if we're ever "wronged/injured." Of course it's unlikely that windfall will ever come our way but we take great joy in watching other people secure million dollar judgments through the manipulation of jurors in courts of "law." (I speak in jest of course)

In that spirit, next time you take your little one in for a vaccination take your own form (print here) to your pediatrician. After they refuse to sign it ask yourself how his professors convinced him or her to believe the party line about the safety and efficacy of most vaccines.

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The Man, The Wife, and the Incumbent

Here's why the economy is in freefall. A man breaks into a bank vault at night only to find his wife, the bank's vice president, having an affair inside it with the incumbent U.S. senator up for re-election. They all walk away with an unspoken agreement not to mention what happened. The man only takes about $500,000, leaving millions behind. The couple breaks up but the man at least has his half-million. The wife goes to work the next week happy not to have been called into the bank president's office for a surprise meeting. The U.S. senator is happy neither Katie Couric, Brian Williams, Geraldo Rivera, Bill O'Reilly, Glenn Beck, TMZ and a host of others have not called for an interview about alleged inappropriate behavior with an unnamed married woman.

And that's why the economy is in the tank. The nature of sin is people overlook your sins if you in turn will overlook theirs. Money mishandling is inevitably a core sin.

Nevadans disdain pork barrell spending but send Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) back to the senate because he can get projects like a rail system connecting Vegas with L.A. pushed through the legislative process. Floridians don't like pork barrell spending but love Gov. Charlie Crist because he'll accept stimulus pork from Barack O-thief-a. And so it goes.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

Onslaught of Debt

This website has some great graphs to reveal the depth of the debt problem. The good thing about corrupt governments running wild is eventually people figure out they've lost control and their massive tentacles atrophy and lose their grip. Spiritual freedom is a top priority but temporal freedom isn't such a bad deal either.

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Friday, February 13, 2009

The Death of Breaking News

Cable news is now a continuous stream of breaking news. A "breaking news" story has an indefinite shelf life now that only terminates upon the birth of the next breaking news story. Of the past few months the only legitimate breaking news story was Sully's adventure into the Hudson River at the helm of US Airways Flight 1594 with 155 prople on board, with all surviving. Even though Continental commuter Flight 3407 crashed into a house near Buffalo, NY and killed all 49 people aboard this story won't generate enough water cooler conversation--hence lacks qualification as breaking news. Plane crashes happen often enough now to no longer command people's rapt attention as they once did. The 1937 Hindenberg burn and crash killed roughly about the same number of people (35) that died on Flight 3407 yet it counted as breaking news as this bloated zeppelin was an aviation marvel in its time. Radio reporter Herbert Morrison gave a blow-by-blow account of the zepplelin's demise that serves as a priori evidence that the shock and widespread interest over its demise merited "breaking news" status. Compare Morrison's reaction to that of the calm demeanor of the cable talking heads who covered the Flight 3407 crash.

Breaking news used to be for events such as 9-11 (2001), the Oklahoma City bombing (1995), Matt Drudge's "exposure" of the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal (1998), the ATF storming the Branch Davidian ranch (1993), John Hinckley, Jr. trying to assassinate Ronald Reagan (1981), the tsunami that pummeled Thailand and elsewhere (2004) or other like-events. Now it's for a car chase in LA, a ware house fire, Venzuelans voting to scrap term limits, an ice storm in Minnesota, etc., etc.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

PEDs and Baseball

Professional baseball won't ever cane or purge its athletes caught using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) because these athletes account for too much revenue. As far as the baseball Hall of Fame goes, the Alex Rodriguezes of the world will forever get inducted without the stigma of asterisks being on their mugs' face plates. The free market will know more about where the asterisks in the Hall belong than they will about the contributions and skills of the great players inducted in decades past. Everyone worried about the cheaters and their PED advantage can take heart in the rock solid memories of the free market. They'll keep the playing field perpetually leveled. Roger Maris' family can relax.

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Obama's Cross-Branding With Lincoln

Barack Obama has gone to great lengths from the time of his campaign through today (Lincoln's birthday) and counting to closely associate himself with Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln has a solid reputation in the minds of most Americans, notwithstanding political party affiliation, and Barack Obama is ostensibly tapping into Abe's popularity by cross-branding himself with him--a little early legacy work.

Thomas DiLorenzo stakes out the position in his books on Lincoln, that "Honest Abe's" agenda was one of protectionist tariffs, corporate welfare, central banking and to make an empire that would rival the British Empire. Barack is showing himself to be Lincoln-like as described by DiLorenzo and that is troubling. If Barack is attempting to capitalize on Lincoln's alleged affection and concern for 19th century African-Americans he would do well to read Lincoln's quotes in DiLorenzo's The Real Lincoln and rethink that strategy. In David Gordon's review of Lerone Bennett, Jr.'s book Forced Into Glory: Abraham Lincoln's White Dream, Gordon records some of Lincoln's quotes that would paint him a racist by today's standards. It's truly fascinating that the mainstream media won't reinvestigate Lincoln based on DiLorenzo and Bennett's findings.

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Created gods Pose Little Friction

Much of the ski resort town of Breckenridge, Colorado has an affection for the mythical Norse god of snow Ullr. Apparently some Breckenridgians trust in Ullr for quality winters and rad ski conditions. The local ski resort conditions television channel might implore Ullr to bring snow if too many warm, sunny days afflict the area. Need a meal? Go to Ullr's Sports Grill.

Ullr is a figment of the imagination and as such poses no threat to his worshippers. This is the appeal of false gods--they don't require anything of you and can be made to cater to your every selfish whim.

Ironically, if snow skiiers and snowboarders were praying effectively for banner conditions it's God through Jesus Christ whom they should implore. The one true God that avails Himself to them is dismissed. People often choose suffering over salvation and blessing.

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Cost of an Obama Job is...

In his Special Order Speech today Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) noted that if Obama "created" four million jobs with a $800 bil "Stimulus Package" that would amount to an expense of $200,000 per job. Put another way, McClintock pointed out that the feds could give $100,000 checks to each of those four million people and reduce the cost of the stimulus package by half.

True, there's more to the stimulus package than just the welfare (pun intended) of Americans (or illegal aliens) who would get a job out of this, but to say this bill is anything less than one of our nation's greatest fiascos is an understatement. Never before has an "earmark-less" bill been stuffed with so much pork.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Appreciating Vitamin D

It's likely 99% of the reading audience has ever had a 25-Hydroxyvitamin D (i.e. Vitamin D) blood level measurement. It's not included in a standard basic metabolic profile (BMP) nor as part of a complete metabolic profile (CMP). If a physician doesn't order it specifically labs don't test for it. If you're not seeing a nephrologist (kidney doctor) or endocrinolgist (diabetes specialist) you're not likely to ever have the test ordered. Recent research is showing the many health benefits and reduction in all-cause mortality in people with a normal Vitamin D level. Dr. Joseph Mercola lists the many benefits of a normal Vitamin D level here. A normal level, depending on the testing lab, is about 50-90 ng/ml (nanograms per milliliter).

Vitamin D is produced by the exposure of one's skin to the UVB rays of the sun. Thousands of units can be produced within a few minutes of midday sun exposure. Toxicity from overexposure won't happen as God has designed protection mechanisms. Factors affecting conversion of the body's precursors to Vitamin D include: time of season (winter is worse); latitude at which you live (the closer to the poles the worse); skin pigment (less Vit D production with darker pigments); age (less conversion as you age) and amount of clothing worn (the less exposure the less conversion). Living in Florida, Texas, California or Hawaii is not assurance against subtherapeutic levels. So many people work indoors now, wear suntan lotion due to inordinate melanoma fears, or wear lots of clothes that low Vitamin D levels are more prevalent than one would think.

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The Cost of Money and Other Economic Perils

I remember my father taking me to a bank in 1977 to obtain a loan to attend the University of Florida (presently owned by Tim Tebow). I remember scratching me head when the loan officer gushed over how cheap the money was that I was borrowing. (If I had to guess I would say the interest rate was 7%, but I could be wrong). At the time I believed a dollar was a dollar was a dollar. What did she mean by "cheap money." I didn't understand where she was coming from at the time--that she was mentally processing the amount of interest I would be responsible for over the life of the loan.

Thanks to the public school system being run by the feds high schoolers then (and probably now) can make it through the system with nary a teaching on compounded interest, simple interest, amortization schedules, central banking, fractional reserve banking, derivatives, Austrian economics, Keynesian economics, velocity of money, CPI, CPI-U, GDP, M1, M2, M3, hyperinflation, inflation, short selling, treasury bills, hedge funds, deficit spending, gold standard, fiat currency, and the list goes on. I suppose if 11th and 12th graders were brought up to speed on even half of these topics they would become both disallusioned and infuriated with their political "leaders." American monetary policy over the past 90 years has yielded a shrinking percentage of Americans accruing and maintaining private property. While plenty of Americans have amassed large sums of Federal Reserve Notes the purchasing power of such has fallen dramatically sense the establishment of the Federal Reserve Board in 1913. To see how the value of 2009 dollars have fallen check out this handy calculator.

The movers and shakers in the education business (see: Association, National Education) aren't stupid. Cursory lessons in economics will never be a part of junior high school or high school curriculum. That would leave too little time to cover more essential topics such as global warming and multiculturalism.

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Stimulating Stimulus Packages

Once the 787+bil "stimulus package" furthers the long-term weakening of the economy, the Obama Administration will deny any responsibility and probably propose more spending. Whether their grandiose plans are somewhat sincere yet based in error, or intentionally ruthless, the results are the same--further enslavement of Americans (and illegal aliens) to the nanny state. Gotta keep a close eye on that Second Amendment.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Debt Release -- Deuteronomy Style

Deuteronomy 15:1 “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a remission of debts. 2 “This is the manner of remission: every creditor shall release what he has loaned to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because the LORD’S remission has been proclaimed."

While biblical scholars differ on the precise application these verses had for Israelites living in those days, it is interesting to note the brilliance of this economic law. If a creditor had to forgive his debtors for a year every 7th year, or more likely premanently, how careful would they be in making loans to fellow countrymen? Efficiency would be at its zenith. And how much harder would the Israelites work to be "self-sufficient" knowing the loans tendered would only cover their basic needs--Deut 1:8 "... but you shall freely open your hand to him, and shall generously lend him sufficient for his need in whatever he lacks." I doubt "whatever he lacks" would include much beyond, food, clothing and shelter. These periodic debt sabbaticals enabled longevity in financial markets, providing protection against runaway inflation and fiscal implosion. Contrast the protections against inefficiency in this model against that pitfalls aptly represented by the recent $78bil overpayment by the U.S. federal government for stocks and other assets of troubled financial institutions.

The political elite of America's welfare state has great hostility for God's wisdom in economic matters, inclusively, and as such promises great economic pain and suffering with each move it makes in providing for "our children's future."

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Advice for Cell Phone Companies

Imagine the public outrage there would be if everytime you turned on a television an automated voice said, "to change the channel of your television either directly punch the number on your remote control, or press the up and down arrow until you reach the desired channel." And that you couldn't change channels until the prompt finished. Such a prompt and delay would drive people nuts.

The cell phone automated voice prompts that explain the options available to the caller that hits an outgoing message need to be declared equally useless and a waste of time. In an era where less and less people are going over their monthly quota of minutes, it's time for the silly prompt to be taken out back and executed.

CEOs to enter the laundry business?

Before commenting on Obama's recent decision to limit the pay of CEO's of nationalized banks to $500,000 per year, it's illustrative to note that other, like top dogs scrambled to hold on to their resources. Former Lehman Brothers CEO Richard S. Fuld, Jr., former Merrill Lynch CEO Stan O'Neal and Chrysler CEO Robert Nardelli have all recently deeded homes to their wives to ostensibly protect their assets from creditors.

While the CEOs who'll hit this $500,000 ceiling may not deed their homes to their wives it will be interesting to see if any of them will eventually get caught laundering money to "obey" the $500,000 per year limit. If you hear about a housekeeper at a nationalized bank making $499,999 a year it may be worth watching to see where he or she keeps their savings, and where the withdrawals end up. This should prove amusing.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Why Did the Economy Tank?

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Tex) told Mike Huckabee on his FOX News show tonight that the economy tanked because of the housing market and derivatives. This is like saying the apple led to the fall of man and not the sin of disobedience. No one disputes the impact loose credit and federal intrusion into lending requirements had on the economy but there needs to be deeper digging. If central banking, the use of fiat currency and fractional reserve banking persist unchallenged and unabated the inflationary boom-bust cycles will continue until the dollar is hyperinflated and rendered worthless. This axis of fiscal evil ultimately puts property rights squarely in the hands of political despots, and as such is a pro-slavery position. That's not a feel-good way to assess the American monetary system but it's accurate nonetheless.

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Chris Wallace and Sen. Bill Nelson Playing the Game

This morning FOX News' Chris Wallace asked Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) to address the allegations that the $800+bil spending bill contains dollars earmarked (pun intended) for social spending programs. Nelson answered by saying there's a lot of money in the bill to be used to stimulate the economy. He sidestepped the question and Wallace let him slide.

FOX News promotes itself as being the fair and balanced network and one that asks the tough questions that the Courics and Jennings of the world are unwilling to ask. FOX News is a cut above the mainstream press but it's still more of an enabler than it is an advocate when it comes to keeping politicians honest.