Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Dog Ate My Homework

     We often hear the story of how an elementary student thinks his teacher is gullible enough to buy the excuse, “The dog ate my homework.”  Evidently the IRS and White House think the public is that gullible too.
     The IRS started targeting conservative political groups starting in 2010.  Originally, the IRS tried to sell the idea that it was done by only a couple of rogue agents in a local Cincinnati, Ohio office, but it soon became apparent that it was a nationwide policy.  Where this policy came from is still unknown.
     Lois Lerner was the director of the IRS Exempt Organizations Unit.  She made a statement to Congress that she had done nothing wrong, and then pled the fifth.  I am not sure how she can legally make a statement and then refuse to answer questions about that statement, but she did.
     Congress asked the IRS for copies of Lerner’s e-mails and was told they would be provided.  Now, 18 months later, the IRS says two years of her e-mails have been lost due to a computer crash.  Not all her e-mails were lost, just the ones Congress asked for.  The e-mails of six other people involved with Lerner were also lost. 
     The computer with the e-mails crashed.  The back-up computer also crashed.  Information could still be recovered from the hard drives, but both hard drives were sent to a recycler to be destroyed with no attempt to recover the data. I can’t imagine the IRS losing anything.  They never seem to lose the amounts of money they want us to pay.  It sounds to me like the IRS has a dog that ate their homework. 
     Most IT experts say the e-mails should still be recoverable from servers or other means such as the individuals they were sent to or received from.  Do you suppose all those hard drives just happened to crash also? 
     I have an Idea.  Why don’t we just ask the NSA for copies?  I’m sure they have a record of the missing e-mails.
     Lois Lerner retired in September of 2013 after 12 years with the agency.  There have been no consequences for any part she played in targeting conservative political groups.  Her annual pension is in excess of $100,000.
     Lerner’s replacement is Stephen A. Martin.  He is described as an IT expert.  Some other interesting trivia is that Martin made the maximum donations to Obama’s political campaigns.  Both are probably just coincidences.  Or are they?
     After several years we still do not know who initiated the IRS targeting conservative political groups.  President Obama said there is absolutely no evidence of any wrongdoing.  Since the dog ate the e-mails, we may never know. 
     I don’t think we can expect much help from the Department of Justice since Eric Holder is the Attorney General.  Holder has already been held in Contempt of Congress for failing to turn over documents in the Fast and Furious scandal.  There were no consequences for Holder.  He thumbs his nose at Congress. 
     Nixon was impeached and left office partially because of an 18 ½ minute gap in the white house tapes.  Now we have two years of e-mails missing because the dog ate them.  It seems that as our federal government gets bigger, it gets more politically corrupt, and much better at covering up that corruption. 
     I like this joke I saw in The American Legion Magazine.  “What’s the difference between golf and politics?  In golf, you can’t improve your lie.”

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Grassroots Power

     We had some very interesting primary race results recently.  House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor lost his seat in the primary race to David Brat.  After 13 years in Congress, there is a lot of speculation about why Cantor lost.
     Political strategists and the media speculate on dozens of things that might explain the loss.  The tea party, poor polling, division in the Republican party, and Cantor’s position or changing positions on issues like Obama care and immigration are a few of many possible reasons.
     Cantor was part of the big government establishment and the political elite.  To me the most interesting thing is that Cantor outspent Brat 25 to 1, but could not buy the primary win.  I find this very encouraging.  I am sick of big money perpetuating the political elite and the growth of big government.  
     I don’t know a lot about Eric Cantor, but from what I do know, he is smart, honest, and a hard worker.  I think his biggest mistake was that he took the constituents he represented for granted and did not spend time with them.  He needed to spend more time in the Richmond, VA district he represented.  His political career is not over if he starts listening to the people that elect him. 
     Senator Lindsey Graham won his primary by a large margin.  This was not expected a couple years ago, but Graham recognized that the real power was with the voters he represented.  He went home frequently and listened to the complaints of his constituents.  It worked. 
     One career politician I have a lot of respect for is U.S. Senator Charles, (Chuck) Grassley from Iowa.  He drove an old Oldsmobile into the ground holding town meetings in all 99 Iowa counties every year.  He listens to the people he represents.  He won reelection easily every six years.  His campaign ads are interesting, because they seldom mention his party affiliation or his opponent.   He just identifies with the hard-working people he represents.
     Working America is fed up with big government.  It is not working.  Elected officials need to listen to the people or they might not get reelected regardless of how much money they have in their war chest.  I am sick and tired of politicians being able to buy elections. 
     I find the fact that Cantor lost in spite of outspending his opponent 25 to 1 very encouraging for the future of this great country.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Follow The Money

     We have had a lot of government scandals in the last few years.  We have the Black Panthers voter intimidation, ATF’s Fast & Furious, the DOJ, the EPA, Benghazi, the IRS, the NSA, the VA health care, and now freeing five dangerous terrorists for Bergdahl.  It is hard to keep up.  We almost need a new alphabet for all the acronyms.  The continual incompetence and cover-ups make it hard to keep up or concentrate on one scandal. 
     Here is one more that should concern us.  It is the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau or CFPB.  The Dodd-Frank financial reform law created the CFPB three years ago with the stated primary objective of protecting the American consumer.  This sounds great, but I have serious concerns with the data the CFPB is collecting.  The CFPB is monitoring 991 million U.S. credit card accounts and 53 million residential mortgages.
     Anyone that was concerned with the NSA collecting our phone conversations should really be worried about the actions of the CFPB.  U.S. Representative Dan Webster has serious concerns.  He made the following statement in a House Rules Committee hearing.  “So this is far more than the NSA.  Far more than their metadata, which only collects phone numbers but not names, far more because they have no re-authorization, far more because there is no appropriation restrictions placed on it.  This is more than just NSA style, this is more Gestapo-style collection of data on individual citizens that have no clue what is happening.”  The House of Representatives has passed eleven bills to protect our privacy, but these have never been recognized or even debated in the Senate.  Do we need a change?  
     In my book, Business Fits (http://BusinessFits.com) I have a chapter on market research, which is essential for a good marketing plan.  The statement “Follow the money” was made famous by the character Deep Throat in the movie All The President’s Men. 
     If I know where people shop and how they spend their money, I know how market to them.  The same is true with politics.  If the political elite knows where people shop and how they spent their money, they know how to campaign and advertise in order to control them politically.
     We must be very concerned with this invasion of our privacy.  The political elite has clearly demonstrated that they cannot be trusted with our personal information.  It is time for some real change.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Climate Change

      Sometimes I write a blog in a couple of days and sometimes it takes weeks or even months.  I have been researching and investigating this one for two years.  It took that long because I have friends and relatives who are very passionate on both sides of the issue, and I thought there had to be strong evidence for both sides.  
     Is there climate change on earth? Yes, without question.  Wisconsin glaciers covered the area I now live in from 85,000 to 11,000 years ago.  What happened to this ice?  It melted due to global warming.  What caused that warming may not be clear, but I do know man and man-made carbon emissions were not a factor.  I don’t think there were a lot of cars then.
     It seems to make sense that man would be causing global warming.  Think about how hot a room full of people can get just due to the body heat.  The population of man has increased in the relatively recent history of our planet.  We give off body heat, heat and cool our homes and work places, and we have many engines for industry and transportation that give off heat. 
     There have been several periods of verifiable cooling and warming in the earth’s more recent history.  Most of you will be too young to remember scientist’s warnings of the next approaching ice age in the 1970s.  It didn’t materialize.  Science is able to verify a Medieval Warm Period from 800AD to 1300AD and a Little Ice Age from 1300AD to 1900AD.
     The most significant study showing global warming seems to be from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).  Dr. Michael Mann’s famous hockey stick graph is one of the most significant studies on global warming.  Unfortunately, it does not reflect either the Medieval Warm Period or the Little Ice Age.  The 2003 Climategate revelations showed Mann’s model is flawed, and by 2009, when project leader’s e-mails were reveled, it was a total sham.
     Al Gore’s 2006 movie An Inconvenient Truth used Mann’s hockey stick model.  The movie was very well done and received several Academy Awards.  The movie predicted many catastrophic events due to global warming.  It was scary and appealed to people’s natural instincts to protect the future of our children.  I have blogged on this tactic before.  If you can’t support an issue with facts, use emotion, kids, and name-calling, like flat-earther.  The time for some of these predictions has already passed.  OOPS!  Gore’s movie was a huge success, and it made Al Gore a lot of money.  We all make mistakes, and I am ashamed to admit I voted for Gore for President. 
     I am critical of scientific temperature studies, because we are dealing with a huge planet and trying to measure a small fraction of a degree of change.  With that said, most credible studies show a decline in temperature and an increase in the ocean ice pack over the last 10 to 16 years.  True?  Maybe, but the science certainly does not show any significant global warming.
     The statement that 97% or 98% of all scientists believe in global warming is often thrown about.  I am not sure where it started, but is certainly not true.  Forbes did an article on this on July 17, 2012.  Over 31,000 American scientists including over 9,000 Ph.D.s have signed a petition that states; “…there is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earths atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate.”
     We do have climate change and we always will.  The question is if there is anything we can do as humans to control it.  Obviously, we should avoid polluting, conserve natural resources, and recycle, but I am convinced there is nothing to support the idea that man-made carbon emissions play any role in global warming.  With zero science to support it, why do we have so much pressure for carbon emission regulation?  The answer is quite simple.  Follow the money! 
     Carbon regulation would be the largest increase in government in the history of the world.  It would be the largest worldwide income redistribution plan in the history of the world.  It would make the politically connected and political elite fabulously wealthy and all-powerful.  The carbon exchange alone would make many billionaires. 
     There are many sources and a lot of double-talking on this topic.  I guess that is why it took me two years to research it.  I had to laugh at some of the supporters for regulating greenhouse gases quoting each other as sources, but never verifiable scientific facts. 
     I would recommend The Greatest Hoax by U.S. Senator James Inhoffe.  This book gives an accurate chronological account of this entire issue.