Saturday, March 28, 2009


Those Thomas Paine videos that Steve has posted on Facebook have energized me. I wrote something very eloquent on this forum a year or two ago which I have been unable to find via search - it must have been written in the comments section. Anyways, I was predicting revolution in America's future and vowing to be true to the cause for the sake of our progeny as our forefathers had sacrificed to ensure our freedom. Now there are national tea parties and reminders from long dead pamphleteers indicating that the time is ripe for revolution while we can still be somewhat civilized about it. Fake Thomas Paine speaks sense and I'm all riled up about it. I'm ready to go. It's game on!

Friday, March 27, 2009


Periodically I get economic updates from a certain investment firm. Following is some of what they had to say this week.

I am reminded of the National Weather Service alert that went out in the days before Katrina hit New Orleans. It warned of massive destruction of property, flooding, loss of electricity and water for weeks or months, and human suffering on an "incredible" scale. It said in plain English that the area would be uninhabitable for weeks or months. And yet somehow we were unprepared to deal with a scenario that common sense and our own eyes told us was coming. At least with Katrina we could blame it on a natural disaster. This one we created ourselves. The smart money is stocking up on staples before inevitable inflation.

It should continue for at least another few weeks, possibly for a few months. It is typical of major bear markets to have major rallies. Initially, we chose to participate in this rally by buying some of the heavily shorted stocks in the financial area, we have been quick to take profits after these rose. More recently, we have been buying more oil and gold shares on dips, and have purchased some technology companies that are selling at very low valuations versus their growth rates. We also view the technology purchases as short term. We view the oil and gold share purchases as longer term.

We will also be buying undervalued companies in various industries in the U.S. and China, which we believe are attractively valued and have proven to have long term growth prospects.

So many absurd moves are being made by the U.S. Government; it is hard to keep track of them.

1. Continued auto industry bailouts are ridiculous, and history has shown time and again in other countries that it is a disaster for taxpayers. Eventually, the auto companies and their suppliers end up failing, but only after massive amounts of taxpayer money has been wasted trying to revive an inefficient, short sighted, and uncompetitive industry. The Swedes are demonstrating wisdom by refusing to nationalize Saab.

2. Quantitative Easing, or in plainer English, PRINTING MONEY TO PAY DEBTS, is another costly endeavor. Our politicians had better read up on their history. This is an immense mistake...and the VERY SAME MISTAKE that has set off disastrous inflations in numerous countries, bankrupted millions of honest citizens around the world, and caused serious economic and social disruptions including wars, revolutions and national bankruptcies.

Politicians opt for Quantitative Easing because it serves their purpose. The politicians had a big role in causing the financial problems, with their decades of cheerleading for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and with their pressure on banks to make home loans to those who had no hope of paying their lenders back.

The politicians looked the other way and cheered for more broad home ownership while:
· buyers who could not afford the houses they were buying lied to lenders (many downloaded from the Internet fraudulent K-1's and 1099's to submit to lenders to help with their deception)

· real estate finance and sales professionals engaged in several kinds of fraud due to the high commissions and fees they earn from each transaction
· greedy bankers from Wall Street (whose crimes have been plastered in the papers in recent weeks) who created new derivatives that made it easy to sell the toxic assets to themselves and others
· greedy accounting and rating agency participants who helped perpetrate the overvaluation of the toxic assets

Now, to deflect the blame from themselves, the politicians are engaging in the theatre of blame...pretending that they did not know about so many of the things that they have known all along, such as big pay and bonuses to their big donors at Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Wall Street firms, and in the real estate industry (which was for years the biggest political donor in the U.S.).

The politicians must think the public is so stupid as not to realize what a fraud has been perpetrated by all of the various parties.
Maybe the public is slow to gather the details, but they get the general thrust of the problem. There were too many greedy people making too many political donations to Congress...and too little oversight by the supposed regulators.

None of this is new. Please feel free to review our archives at to see what we have said about the derivatives crisis numerous times in the years before the problem came to public attention. A further review of our archives will show that we have discussed many global economic and financial events long before they hit the public's radar.

In our opinion, one of the worst mistakes thus far is currently being made, and in a few months or years the public will come to realize it. Just as we notified our readers about the problems with derivatives/toxic assets years before the public became aware of it, this latest tragic mistake is another one that we will discuss in our letters long before the public comes to understand it.

With respect to fixing the banking system, our leaders in Washington appear to be ignoring the advice of former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, who as one of President Obama's advisors, suggests going back to a much less levered banking system. Paul Volcker suggests returning to something much like the banking system that existed under the Glass-Stegal Act. Instead, the politicians are opting for Treasury Secretary Geithner's plan which includes continuing with a more highly levered banking and finance system.

Why, after all of the problems caused by excess leverage, would they opt for the Geithner plan? Could it be that the financial institutions are too connected, and have been huge donors to many of the politicians at the national level?

England, Switzerland, the U.S., and many other countries have begun to use quantitative easing "money printing" to create a lower currency so they can export their way to prosperity. The countries want to state that they are pro free trade, so they will use the excuse that 'our currency has fallen, and that is why our exports are up and imports are down' argument. This, of course, is a misrepresentation.
When you lower the value of your currency to increase economic activity, it usually leads to more trade, more exports, and more cash in the financial system to spur consumption. Another result is that you encourage inflation. It will work. You will get inflation and perhaps some small economic growth. So it may still be a depression, but an inflationary depression.

The very politicians who are posturing that they care about the elderly, the retired, and low income groups are today creating a circumstance that will devastate those very groups with inflation. Inflation hurts primarily the poor, those on fixed income, and the retired. This is because it is hard for them to work and earn money at the new inflated pay rates. They are forced to sit by and watch as their savings be gradually eaten up by inflation, which erodes the purchasing power of their money.

We expect the U.S. dollar to fall and will invest accordingly.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The fact that you CAN flip off a police officer doesn't mean it's a good idea.
A Pittsburgh motorist was exercising his constitutional right of free speech when he gave the finger to a police officer and another driver during an argument over a parking space. A judge ruled this week that David Hackbart's display of his middle finger was a nonverbal gesture protected by the First Amendment.

Obama will find a way to tax nonverbal gestures. Maybe a cap and trade system.
A state judge later ruled Hackbart guilty and fined him $119.75. When Hackbart appealed, the district attorney withdrew the charges against him. That might have been the end of the story, except that Hackbart -- with the help of the ACLU -- then sued the police officer and the city for violation of his civil rights. The incident, he claimed in his lawsuit, caused him "physical pain and suffering, emotional trauma, humiliation and distress."

Drawing upon my own experience with the legal system (with its own brand of emotional trauma, humiliation and distress), I would have paid the $120, bought a Tootsie Pop with the change, and moved on. Call me passive, I prefer pragmatic.

Grown-up lawyers are trying to figure out how the law applies to all the things kids do with technology.
In one of the first civil rights suits to focus on the growing practice of "sexting," lawyers for the ACLU of Pennsylvania will be asking a federal judge today to protect three teenage girls from the threat of criminal charges for using their cell phones to take and send semi-nude photographs of themselves.

I think about the parents when I hear about cases like this. The parents of the teenage girls are placed in the position of having to argue for the right of their precious babies to send topless pictures of themselves to be passed around the school. And spend two years of their lives doing it. And I thought I had problems.

Saw this bumper sticker on my way in this morning.

He still isn't.

Sally Brown, in A Charlie Brown Christmas, on asking Santa for tens and twenties: "All I want is what I've got coming to me. All I want is my fair share." At the time it was a joke and I laughed. Now Sally Brown is setting national economic policy and it's not funny.

Here's an interview with the great Brian Lamb.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


This is an excellent rendering of what has happened in the economy:

The central banks hold $845 billion in gold. But of course, currency is no longer pegged to gold.
The money supply = $3.9 trillion = notes + coins + reserves.
$39 trillion was borrowed against it, using the "fractional reserve" system that is built on the premise that everybody won't want their money at once.
Derivatives got around the limits on how much could be borrowed, to the tune of $62 trillion.
Easy money created a huge asset bubble of $290 trillion, where the price of assets greatly exceeded any measure of the world's wealth.

It was all happy time as long as people bought in to the idea that the economy would keep growing and growing -- an irrational idea but people were making money by pretending that it could be true. Eventually, of course, the Ponzi scheme collapses like a house of cards and many get screwed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saturday, March 21, 2009


It was a fun time. Steve, Donovan and I enjoyed lunch and quite a few spirited speakers.

Instapundit linked these picutres:
Here is the Orlando Sentinel story:

Here are some photos from my phone:

Thursday, March 19, 2009


President Obama's budget increases federal govt spending from 20% to GDP to almost 30% in HIS FIRST YEAR IN OFFICE. What can be said about that but WOW. He'll be on the cover of the history books all right.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


Remember Dwight Schultz from the A-Team? This is an interesting article about trying to make a living as a conservative actor in Hollywood.

Big Hollywood also has an article that explain how Jon Stewart and Bill Maher for hide behind comedy while delivering a steady partisan message.

Both were interesting.

Monday, March 16, 2009


I have on my shelf a book called THE BEST BUSINESS BOOKS EVER and another called THE 100 BEST BUSINESS BOOKS OF ALL TIME. The lists have quite a bit of overlap, as you would expect, and I've read 18 on each list. If I had to recommend just five personal favorites, and using a broad definition of "business book," I'd start here (with main takeaways, from memory):

a. The only thing you can measure is results. And the only thing you should measure is results.
b. Results exist only on the outside.
c. Know thy time. Most people don't have a very good idea of how they actually spend their time.
d. Time is an utterly non-renewable resource (unlike money, capital, workers) and must be invested purposefully.
e. Make strengths productive.
f. Do not spend valuable time trying to turn weaknesses into mediocrities.

a. Timeless principles of industry, frugality, self-management, enterprise and leadership.
b. Lessons in technology transfer from a renowned inventor-capitalist.
c. A useful history lesson.
d. A useful model for writing anything in terms of structure and style.

a. The object of war is to win.
b. You gain decisive advantage by hitting your enemy decisively at their point of greatest vulnerabilty.
c. Moral considerations trump direct orders.
d. Some prefer THE ART OF WAR by Sun Tzu or ON WAR by von Clausewitz. I like this one.

4. GOOD TO GREAT by Jim Collins.
a. First get the right people on the bus and the wrong people off the bus.
b. Don't worry about where you're driving the bus until you have the right people on and the wrong people off.
c. You don't have to worry about how to motivate people when you get the right people on the bus.
d. Get people in the right seats.
e. Then decide where to steer the bus.
f. Great leaders have a paradoxical combination of humility and professional will.
g. Great organizations commit to doing just a couple of things relentlessly well.

5. THE KNOWING-DOING GAP by Pfeffer and Sutton.
a. Something has to get done, and somebody has to do it.
b. If you do it, then you will know.
c. In America you get ahead more by sounding smart than by being smart. You sound smarter when you are critical than when you agree.
d. Successful problem solvers think when they've had the discussion and solved the problem, they're done. But nothing actually changes until something happens next.
e. Good strategy is obvious. What separates winners from losers is disciplined implementation of the obvious.
f. Disciplined implementation isn't sexy, just successful.

Honorable Mention:
6. MANAGING TRANSITIONS by William Bridges. Managing organizational change is about dealing with the emotions people have around letting go.
7. THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE by Stephen Covey. Because we are humans not Pavlovian dogs, we can choose how we respond to stimuli. Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
8. THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE by Peter Senge. Every system is perfectly designed to produce the outcomes it produces. Whoa.
9. THE VISUAL DISPLAY OF QUANTITATIVE INFORMATION by Edward Tufte. The higher the information-to-ink ratio, the more effective your communication.
10. PLEASE UNDERSTAND ME by Kiersey and Bates. Understanding personality types is critical to working effectively with others. Understanding your own personality and temperament will set you up for success rather than failure.

1. "Management Time: Who's Got the Monkey?" by William Oncken. Don't let others' monkeys jump from their shoulders to yours for care and feeding.
2. "Leadership That Gets Results" by Daniel Goleman. Discusses six main leadership styles, when to use each, and which ones generally work best.

I would love to hear your favorite books in this or any genre.

Research confirms what we already knew.
In nine out of 12 tests the average age at which the top performance was
achieved was 22.

The first age at which performance was significantly lower than the peak
scores was 27 – for three tests of reasoning, speed of thought and spatial
visualisation. Memory was shown to decline from the average age of 37. In the
other tests, poorer results were shown by the age of 42.

I had already decided to stop reading so many new books and instead re-read good books I've already read. Sounds like reinforcing that old information might be a good idea before it slips away.

Thursday, March 12, 2009


Sorry to be throwing all of these film clips on here, but Ari Fleisher's performance on HARDBALL is worth seeing. Via The Corner:


Have yet to meet. . .

How does Bill Clinton create an embryo without fertilization? Rhodes Scholar? What can explain it?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


The ranks indeed are filling with the disaffected and the disappointed — Chris Buckley, Maureen Dowd, David Brooks, David Gergen, and even that gynecological sleuth and blogger Andrew Sullivan. And then there is the very angry Marty Peretz. Their complaints are varied but expressed with equal amounts of remorse and bitterness. They all have been done wrong by Barack.

They and the rest of the country are figuring out the bitter truth: Obama bears little resemblance to the moderate and soothing figure who tied up John McCain in knots. He bears even less resemblance to the Agent of Change. Rather he’s pretty much the Chicago pol who went to the Senate to be its most liberal member.

And for the wounded Obama supporters, we can offer just one bit of counsel: you have lots of company. There are trading floors filled with sympathetic souls and businesses filled with stunned executives. They didn’t get what they bargained for either. Just ask Jim Cramer. Oh yes, please do invite him to your sessions when he’s not busy with the “I lost my life’s savings” support group.

It's worth reading the whole thing, because he quotes each of the authors who were duped.

I enjoy the World Baseball Classic. It's real baseball in early March and I don't care who wins.

I bought and will finally read MONEYBALL after years of recommendations from Dude and others.

Here's a sneak peak of what Pirates fans have to look forward to this year. This photo is priceless. (The ball fell for a double yesterday.) The Bucs begin their 17th consecutive losing season in about a month. They are tearing up the Grapefruit League though. I have tentative plans to see FLA @ PIT on April 22.


In the 1960s, with 68% of the Senate, the Democratic Party was celebrating the death of the GOP. Then their own policies energized conservative sentiment and gave us Republican presidents for 20 of the next 24 years. Pat Buchanan:

Why did LBJ fail? He overloaded the circuits. He tried to do it all. He misread a national desire for continuity after Kennedy's death as a mandate for a lunge to the left and a great leap forward with the largest expansion of government since the New Deal.

By the winter of 1968, Lyndon Johnson was a broken president.

History never repeats itself exactly. But Barack Obama is making the same mistakes today that LBJ made in 1965.

He has ordered 17,000 more U.S. troops into Afghanistan, as the situation deteriorates and the NATO allies pull out. He has no exit strategy. He has read a repudiation of George Bush as a mandate for a government seizure of wealth and power that exceeds anything attempted in the Great Society.

Fully half of the $3.55 trillion in spending Obama will preside over this year will not be covered by tax revenue but by red ink. The money will have to be borrowed from abroad or printed by the Fed.

Not only is Barack running a deficit four times as large as Bush's largest, he has called for $1 trillion in new taxes on America's most successful, who have already seen their savings and pensions ravaged.

He wants a cap-and-trade system to deal with a global-warming or climate-change crisis many scientists believe is a hoax. He is going to provide health care for all, including immigrants, millions of whom arrive uninsured every year.

He is going to plunge scores of billions more into education, though education has eaten up the wealth of an empire, as SAT scores sink further and further below the apogee of 1964, before LBJ and the feds barged in. He is going to ask Congress for authority to spend another $750 billion rescuing the banks.

He is going to find the cure for cancer. He is going to ensure every kid gets a college education.

He is going to drop half of all wage-earners off the tax rolls, while the top 2 percent, who already pay 40 percent of all income taxes, are forced to cough up more.

Obama is misreading the election returns. When America voted to cancel the White House lease of Mr. Bush, it did not vote Barack Obama a blank check.

By misinterpreting his mandate, Obama has accomplished something John McCain could not -- unite the Republican Party and instill in it a new esprit de corps. For the Obama budget is an insult to the core belief of the party -- that free people, not coercive government, should shape the character of society.

By daring Republicans to fight on the issue of a $1.75 trillion deficit, Obama has liberated the GOP from any obligation to him. He has come out of the closet as a radical liberal spoiling for a fight over an agenda of radical change.

Sooner than any might have thought, we have clarity.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Republicans asked for further regulations and Democrats balked:


An 11-page Citizen's Guide provides clear resources to understand and explore our federal government finances. Links to that and other resources here.

Here's a confidence builder that our government will solve all our economic problems. From the Journal of Accountancy, March 2009:

"For the 12th consecutive year, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said it could not express an opinion on the consolidated financial statement of the U.S. government—other than the Statement of Social Insurance—because of numerous material internal control weaknesses and other limitations.

Acting Comptroller General Gene Dodaro, the head of the GAO, said in a press release that the agency’s ability to render an opinion on the accrual-basis consolidated financial statement was hampered by three major issues that include “serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense, the federal government’s inability to adequately account for and reconcile intragovernmental activity and balances between federal agencies, and the federal government’s ineffective process for preparing the consolidated financial statements.”

Dodaro also noted material weaknesses related to improper payments, information security and tax collection activities. He also noted that at least three major agencies (Defense, Homeland Security and NASA) failed to receive clean opinions."

Spoiler warning:

Chart 2 -- "Debt Held by the Public" (trend line looks like a rocket launching into space)

Chart 5 -- "Current Trends Are Not Sustainable"

Exhibit -- 2080: Total Government Cost is More Than Three Times Revenue

Sunday, March 08, 2009


Barack Obama's offhand approach to Gordon Brown's Washington visit last week came about because the president was facing exhaustion over America's economic crisis and is unable to focus on foreign affairs, the Sunday Telegraph has been told.

Sources close to the White House say Mr Obama and his staff have been "overwhelmed" by the economic meltdown and have voiced concerns that the new president is not getting enough rest.

British officials, meanwhile, admit that the White House and US State Department staff were utterly bemused by complaints that the Prime Minister should have been granted full-blown press conference and a formal dinner, as has been customary. They concede that Obama aides seemed unfamiliar with the expectations that surround a major visit by a British prime minister.

But Washington figures with access to Mr Obama's inner circle explained the slight by saying that those high up in the administration have had little time to deal with international matters, let alone the diplomatic niceties of the special relationship.

Allies of Mr Obama say his weary appearance in the Oval Office with Mr Brown illustrates the strain he is now under, and the president's surprise at the sheer volume of business that crosses his desk.

If ever a man had a tiger by the tail. There is a reason President's do not age gracefully in office, and choosing one with no prior executive experience and scant political experience and no real private enterprise experience was supposed to lead to recovery, hope, optimism, and reconciliation.

Brains do not equal ability as Sir Saunders taught me during his IQ studies. There is no substitute for the hard work it takes along the way before you get certain promotions and Obama skipped that hard work step. It looks like four years of packing the teleprompter on every visit while Prime Minister Pelosi quietly runs the country from Congress.

Friday, March 06, 2009


I went with my wife to the optician yesterday to help her select new frames. After trying on two dozen frames and rejecting two dozen minus one, writing it up and coming to $300+, she tried on the elegant Lindberg frames in the high-end corner of the store. How I wish she had not! The titanium frames are ultra-light, the rimless design makes them almost disappear, they are highly fashionable without being showy, and wife looked HOT! We could not justify the $620 price tag (and wife didn't want me thinking about Sarah Palin any more than I already do) but I am a fan. If I wake up tomorrow to a surprise sack of money on the front doorstep, we are both heading to the optician for Lindberg frames.


I mentioned in a recent comment that one of my colleagues jumped me with the question of whether I, like Rush, want Obama to fail. My reply, that I want the country to succeed and expect stupid policies to fail, because of their stupidity, led only to him repeating the gotcha question. Political debate has become so very pointless.

Here's the dangerous climate we're in: under banner of global economic calamity, the party that controls both the executive and legislative branches will try to do all the things it has wanted to do for a long time but couldn't do politically. A parallel: When I worked at Tulane in the early 90s, we had consultants running all over campus, doing interviews and analysis to come up with recommendations for eliminating $22m from the operating budget. They came up with a number of bold but politically difficult recommendations. The university president at the time didn't have the stones or the political capital to enact most of the recommendations, so the budget cuts were not achieved and the same problems lingered. When Katrina hit, the new president used the banner of natural disaster to unilaterally enact many of the recommendations that had come down 15 years before: firing tenured faculty, combining and shutting down unprofitable schools, departments and programs, and so forth. He could do all the things he had always wanted to do, because the external environment gave him cover and a window to act. But the things he did were not caused by, or even related to, Katrina. They were things he always wanted to do, and now could, because, well, post-Katrina, things are different, there's urgency, it's time for bold action.

So now Obama, under cover of economic crisis, promises bold action. But the bold actions he promises are not related to the economic crisis, they are just the same old things they've always wanted to do but couldn't. Krauthammer:
And yet with our financial house on fire, Obama makes clear both in his speech and his budget that the essence of his presidency will be the transformation of health care, education and energy. Four months after winning the election, six weeks after his swearing in, Obama has yet to unveil a plan to deal with the banking crisis.

"You never want a serious crisis to go to waste," said Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. "This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before."

Things. Now we know what they are. The markets' recent precipitous decline is a reaction not just to the absence of any plausible bank rescue plan, but also to the suspicion that Obama sees the continuing financial crisis as usefully creating the psychological conditions -- the sense of crisis bordering on fear-itself panic -- for enacting his "Big Bang" agenda to federalize and/or socialize health care, education and energy, the commanding heights of post-industrial society.

Clever politics, but intellectually dishonest to the core. Health, education and energy -- worthy and weighty as they may be -- are not the cause of our financial collapse. And they are not the cure. The fraudulent claim that they are both cause and cure is the rhetorical device by which an ambitious president intends to enact the most radical agenda of social transformation seen in our lifetime.

Dems are happy that they finally have their way and can do their thing. They will be less happy if they do get their way and the global economy goes the way of the Dow, as it must. We are seeing this already in the markets since Election Day. Then hopefully their political fortunes follow the same precipitious trend in upcoming election cycles -- but not so precipitous that we get errors at the opposite extreme. Our political system works best when nothing major gets accomplished, that's part of its genius.

I once came across a great bit of wisdom, in a counseling book I think, not to create an unnecessary crisis, and not to prevent a necessary one. Serious debate around that principle would be as helpful as it is unlikely.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


My parents came to visit this past weekend and my father brought an interesting surprise. He was rummaging through my Grandfather Bartow Saunders' old filing cabinet and he found a leather framed, original tin negative plate. It was in an old envelope with some paper wrapped around it. In my Grandfather's handwriting was written, "Grandfather, James Thomas Saunders." I knew the name well from my family genealogy research but didn't know any photos still existed of him. James Thomas was born in 1847 in Isle of Wight, Virgina. A quick Internet search revealed that in 1847 the Donut was invented, the Mexican-American war began, the rubber tire was patented, and Alexander Graham Bell was born the same year. James Saunders sired 8 daughters and one son, John Thomas Saunders (the seventh child) who was born in 1869, and is Bartow's father. Sometime in the 1890's, John brought James down to Decatur County, Georgia (now Seminole County) and built our second family plantation (much of which we still own today except for the original house which is gone now). James was declining in health and needed a warmer climate. James lived with his son and helped him until his death in 1900 at the ripe old age of 53 when he died of the flu. The first plantation in Virgina was inherited by the "Holland" side of my grandfathers family (through James' wife, Olethia Holland Saunders). I have pictures of that Plantation house that is still standing and was formerly the site of many family reunions in the 1950's and 1960's. John Thomas went on to sire three sons and one daughter. One son, called JT, died of appendicitis at 18 years old (only a month after getting a Scholarship to the University of Georgia to play Football). Alva the oldest son, lived a full life and had a successful career as a theatre chain owner throughout the Florida panhandle, as well as south Georgia, and south Alabama. Bartow out lived everyone in his family of origin except his beloved wife, Syble who as you know passed away last year. He followed in his Grandfather and Father's footsteps of turpentine distillation, farming, and timber harvesting for 30 years until he became a Banker in 1950.

When my Dad gave me this framed plate it was very faded and I wasn't very optimistic as to what I could get from it. By the naked eye, it was nearly gone. I scanned it 1200 dpi, and flipped the negative to positive in photoshop, and low and behold the image came to life. Still faded but much clearer. A closer inspection revealed this "crook" in his ear that is a dominant Y chromosome trait in my family, every Saunders male has had it, apparently back further than we thought. He's holding a percussion-cap double barrel shotgun first manufactured in the 1830's. There is not a date on the photo but he likely took this portrait as a young man, likely in his late 20's or early 30's. He's wearing "fancy" clothing, which would put this maybe in the late 1860's after the civil war. Over the course of the next day or so, I worked on it until James Thomas was staring back at me. I printed him out, framed him, and we set him up on the kitchen table. My Dad, my sons Donovan, Dylan, and I looked at him for a long time. We began to imagine what he was like and maybe try to understand a little of his character. His hands are rough and there is a kind of steely determination in his eyes. He seems to have a deep dimple or maybe a scar in his left cheek. We know he and his male counsins fought in the Civil war for Virgina, but I haven't discovered any further records to be more specific. I have him on my mantle now. I wonder if he ever imagined that his direct decendents would be using technology that was beyond his dreaming to restore his image and we would be talking about him over 100 years later. He stares back from the mantle and I wonder what he would make of the world now.

You will be missed. . .

I started listening to Harvey in 1991 about the same time I first heard Rush. They were both on WCOA in Pensacola. Great Memories.

A Harvey broadcast from the late 1980s included these items:

"Spec-tac-u-lar liftoff from Cape Canaveral this morning, into an azure sky," Harvey said, describing a rocket launch. Then it was on to "New York City. Last year. 8,064 people bitten by dogs. 1,587 people bitten [pause] by people."

"One of the things that radio broadcasters are taught from Day 1 ... is that dead air is a big no-no and it's only after years and years in the field that you realize that silence is your most powerful tool, [and] he did it better than anyone," said Edwards, who remembers listening in the back seat of his parents' station wagon.

Harvey, who also read his own commercials on air, has been credited with coining words like "guesstimate," "trendency" and "snoopervision."

While he made his living with words, retirement wasn't in his vocabulary. In 2000, at age 82, he signed a reported $100 million contract that would have kept him on the air for 10 more years.

Simply put, Harvey preferred a life "sitting at that typewriter painting pictures" -- and then reading those "pictures" over the air.

As he once said, "I'm just a professional parade watcher who can't wait to get to the curbside."

Monday, March 02, 2009


When Rush speaks it really shows how much the party itself lacks a voice. He can be up there for an hour without a teleprompter because he knows what he believes and he isn't afraid to say it.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs, who last month blasted CNBC host Rick Santelli from the podium in the briefing room, challenged reporters on Monday to ask Republicans if they agree with Limbaugh's desire.

"Do they want to see the president's economic agenda fail? You know, I bet there are a number of guests on television throughout the day and maybe into tomorrow who could let America know whether they agree with what Rush Limbaugh said this weekend."

The Answer: It doesn't matter what I want. Any president who thinks he can solve the economy by spending a Trillions dollars we don't have will fail with or without my desire. I would rather see Obama succeed by cutting capital gains and corporate taxes.

I wouldn't have posted this article at all without this next quote:
After Gibbs launched into Santelli in late February, challenging that the CNBC host had not actually read the stimulus bill he was criticizing, a number of Democrats and Republicans expressed surprise in e-mails to The Hill that Gibbs would elevate such a critic by battling with him from the White House podium.

When asked Monday why he would "elevate" Limbaugh by addressing his criticisms from the podium, Gibbs said Limbaugh "elevated himself."

"He's got, I understand, a fairly popular radio show," Gibbs said.

These reporters are hilarious. Obama had not read the bill nor had any congressman who voted for it. If the Obama team had wanted time to read the bill they could have stuck to their promise to have a 48 hour window before the vote. To accuse Santelli of not reading it is priceless. The reporter here doesn't even point out the fact.

Gibbs has a lot of leeway right now because Obama's approval rating is high and they hope to cripple the Republicans entirely by separating elected officials from grassroots conservatism. The problem is that you should never make any one critic of your administration the focus of your work. Can you imagine Bush going after Keith Olbermann or George Clooney or Michael Moore? A leader leads and ignores the critics or otherwise a leader gets into a habit of looking to others to make decisions. The New Left and by that I mean the Post Vietnam Left seems just as interested in whether they are popular. Remember how Obama would raise our standing with those Europeans we went to college with? Obama's path eventually makes him look weak. Obama has already shown scant leadership as the stock market has fallen more than 2000 points since the election. How strong will he look once the honeymoon is over.