Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Worth Reading...

This is good stuff:


More Band Rumors

There is a possibility that The Crooked Shillelaghs and Wailin' Smithers Experience will combine forces at the Baragar Pines Barn Party this August.

Stay tuned.........

Monday, March 30, 2009

International Blogging

I am in Hamilton, Ontario attending a trade show.

Things appear to be the same here as in the states.

US Steel ceased production at their plant here, due to lack of demand for steel.

Tough days ahead for Charity

Dick Morris supports my previous blog regarding who gets the short end of the stick when tax deductions are reduced for charitable organizations....


Friday, March 27, 2009

Who is the real key to this year's Cubs season?

Kosuke Fukedome

And the AIG guys are crooks?

Just when you thought Barney Frank and Chris Dodd could hide from their history with the sub-prime mortgage issue (they were big supporters of the governments edict that Freddy Mac and Fanny Mae provide mortgages to individuals who could not afford them), along comes King Rahm.

Rahm's short Freddie Mac stay made him at least $320,000.

Read here: http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-rahm-emanuel-profit-26-mar26,0,5682373.story

Where do I go for accurate information?

I bailed out on the MSM (Main Stream Media) years ago. The recent election coverage was so biased that I have been cheering 2008 as the year the MSM died.

Where do I go for accurate information?

Let me suggest the following websites:

http://www.drudgereport.com/ - the Drudge Report - Matt Drudge scoops everyone, including Orson Bean's son-in-law, Andrew Breitbart.

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/ - WorldNet Daily - Joseph Farrah's news site is not afraid to ask any questions. It is slightly biased toward Christian and Jewish religious issues.

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/ - Great for polling information, and great links to stories from both sides of the political aisle.

http://hughhewitt.townhall.com/blog - Hugh Hewitt's blog is excellent, relevant, and presents timely information.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/ - The Weekly Standard includes some of my favorite pundits - Fred Barnes and Bill Kristol on Politics, and Irwin Stelzer on the Economy.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Mt. Baldy

I can't remember how many times I have climbed these steps to the top of Mount Baldhead, but it has to be at least several hundred times. The current construction was done in 1955.

The City of Saugatuck has the money to repair the rotting steps, but it's own building code will not allow it to be done the same way.

I hope they find a way to preserve one of the most recognizable views in Saugatuck.

A letter from an honorable man

A note from the blogger - the current administration tries to deflect criticism and anger by making others the bad guy - this includes President Bush and, now the private sector bankers and wall street leaders.

Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd have more to do with the creation of the current economic crisis than any of these targets.

The concept of disclosing AIG employees, or creating unconstitutional taxes is an example of what we can expect from the current Administration and democratic-led Congress. Both examples are flat out wrong.

Dear A.I.G., I Quit!

The following is a letter sent on Tuesday by Jake DeSantis, an executive vice president of the American International Group’s financial products unit, to Edward M. Liddy, the chief executive of A.I.G.

DEAR Mr. Liddy,

It is with deep regret that I submit my notice of resignation from A.I.G. Financial Products. I hope you take the time to read this entire letter.

Before describing the details of my decision, I want to offer some context: I am proud of everything I have done for the commodity and equity divisions of A.I.G.-F.P. I was in no way involved in — or responsible for — the credit default swap transactions that have hamstrung A.I.G. Nor were more than a handful of the 400 current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. Most of those responsible have left the company and have conspicuously escaped the public outrage.

After 12 months of hard work dismantling the company — during which A.I.G. reassured us many times we would be rewarded in March 2009 — we in the financial products unit have been betrayed by A.I.G. and are being unfairly persecuted by elected officials. In response to this, I will now leave the company and donate my entire post-tax retention payment to those suffering from the global economic downturn. My intent is to keep none of the money myself.

I take this action after 11 years of dedicated, honorable service to A.I.G. I can no longer effectively perform my duties in this dysfunctional environment, nor am I being paid to do so. Like you, I was asked to work for an annual salary of $1, and I agreed out of a sense of duty to the company and to the public officials who have come to its aid. Having now been let down by both, I can no longer justify spending 10, 12, 14 hours a day away from my family for the benefit of those who have let me down.

You and I have never met or spoken to each other, so I’d like to tell you about myself. I was raised by schoolteachers working multiple jobs in a world of closing steel mills. My hard work earned me acceptance to M.I.T., and the institute’s generous financial aid enabled me to attend. I had fulfilled my American dream.

I started at this company in 1998 as an equity trader, became the head of equity and commodity trading and, a couple of years before A.I.G.’s meltdown last September, was named the head of business development for commodities. Over this period the equity and commodity units were consistently profitable — in most years generating net profits of well over $100 million. Most recently, during the dismantling of A.I.G.-F.P., I was an integral player in the pending sale of its well-regarded commodity index business to UBS. As you know, business unit sales like this are crucial to A.I.G.’s effort to repay the American taxpayer.

The profitability of the businesses with which I was associated clearly supported my compensation. I never received any pay resulting from the credit default swaps that are now losing so much money. I did, however, like many others here, lose a significant portion of my life savings in the form of deferred compensation invested in the capital of A.I.G.-F.P. because of those losses. In this way I have personally suffered from this controversial activity — directly as well as indirectly with the rest of the taxpayers.

I have the utmost respect for the civic duty that you are now performing at A.I.G. You are as blameless for these credit default swap losses as I am. You answered your country’s call and you are taking a tremendous beating for it.

But you also are aware that most of the employees of your financial products unit had nothing to do with the large losses. And I am disappointed and frustrated over your lack of support for us. I and many others in the unit feel betrayed that you failed to stand up for us in the face of untrue and unfair accusations from certain members of Congress last Wednesday and from the press over our retention payments, and that you didn’t defend us against the baseless and reckless comments made by the attorneys general of New York and Connecticut.

My guess is that in October, when you learned of these retention contracts, you realized that the employees of the financial products unit needed some incentive to stay and that the contracts, being both ethical and useful, should be left to stand. That’s probably why A.I.G. management assured us on three occasions during that month that the company would “live up to its commitment” to honor the contract guarantees.

That may be why you decided to accelerate by three months more than a quarter of the amounts due under the contracts. That action signified to us your support, and was hardly something that one would do if he truly found the contracts “distasteful.”

That may also be why you authorized the balance of the payments on March 13.At no time during the past six months that you have been leading A.I.G. did you ask us to revise, renegotiate or break these contracts — until several hours before your appearance last week before Congress.

I think your initial decision to honor the contracts was both ethical and financially astute, but it seems to have been politically unwise. It’s now apparent that you either misunderstood the agreements that you had made — tacit or otherwise — with the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, various members of Congress and Attorney General Andrew Cuomo of New York, or were not strong enough to withstand the shifting political winds.

You’ve now asked the current employees of A.I.G.-F.P. to repay these earnings. As you can imagine, there has been a tremendous amount of serious thought and heated discussion about how we should respond to this breach of trust.As most of us have done nothing wrong, guilt is not a motivation to surrender our earnings. We have worked 12 long months under these contracts and now deserve to be paid as promised. None of us should be cheated of our payments any more than a plumber should be cheated after he has fixed the pipes but a careless electrician causes a fire that burns down the house.

Many of the employees have, in the past six months, turned down job offers from more stable employers, based on A.I.G.’s assurances that the contracts would be honored. They are now angry about having been misled by A.I.G.’s promises and are not inclined to return the money as a favor to you.

The only real motivation that anyone at A.I.G.-F.P. now has is fear. Mr. Cuomo has threatened to “name and shame,” and his counterpart in Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal, has made similar threats — even though attorneys general are supposed to stand for due process, to conduct trials in courts and not the press.

So what am I to do? There’s no easy answer. I know that because of hard work I have benefited more than most during the economic boom and have saved enough that my family is unlikely to suffer devastating losses during the current bust. Some might argue that members of my profession have been overpaid, and I wouldn’t disagree.

That is why I have decided to donate 100 percent of the effective after-tax proceeds of my retention payment directly to organizations that are helping people who are suffering from the global downturn. This is not a tax-deduction gimmick; I simply believe that I at least deserve to dictate how my earnings are spent, and do not want to see them disappear back into the obscurity of A.I.G.’s or the federal government’s budget. Our earnings have caused such a distraction for so many from the more pressing issues our country faces, and I would like to see my share of it benefit those truly in need.

On March 16 I received a payment from A.I.G. amounting to $742,006.40, after taxes. In light of the uncertainty over the ultimate taxation and legal status of this payment, the actual amount I donate may be less — in fact, it may end up being far less if the recent House bill raising the tax on the retention payments to 90 percent stands. Once all the money is donated, you will immediately receive a list of all recipients.

This choice is right for me. I wish others at A.I.G.-F.P. luck finding peace with their difficult decision, and only hope their judgment is not clouded by fear.

Mr. Liddy, I wish you success in your commitment to return the money extended by the American government, and luck with the continued unwinding of the company’s diverse businesses — especially those remaining credit default swaps. I’ll continue over the short term to help make sure no balls are dropped, but after what’s happened this past week I can’t remain much longer — there is too much bad blood. I’m not sure how you will greet my resignation, but at least Attorney General Blumenthal should be relieved that I’ll leave under my own power and will not need to be “shoved out the door.”


Jake DeSantis

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

From Dick Morris

By Dick Morris


Published on TheHill.com on March 23, 2009

Does President Obama truly believe that he can castigate and condemn Wall Street on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and then secure its cooperation on the other days of the week?

Does he not understand that when he ignites a public furor over AIG bonuses and then incites Congress to pass a punitive tax, he sends shivers down the spines of every other corporate executive who makes a lot of money?

Does he seriously believe that Wall Street investors will not worry that their winnings, should they join the Treasury as partners in risky investments, would be subject to public abuse, publicity and confiscatory taxation?

Of course he realizes that his rhetoric makes it unlikely that his program will succeed. He obviously gets it that the entire concept of a public-private partnership is impossible amid a climate of waging class warfare, taxing the rich and heaping contempt on anyone who makes money. The president is quite bright and certainly understands that you cannot shake hands with your right while you launch a roundhouse with your left.

So why does Obama persist in his aggressive rhetoric? Why does he continue to treat Wall Street as something out of Dante’s Inferno?

Because he’s just not that into you! He doesn’t really care if the public-private partnerships work out.

He sends Geithner out to announce the program because he doesn’t want to make it his own. When he announces a stimulus plan or a new spending bill, it’s Obama’s moment before the teleprompter. But the public-private partnerships he leaves to his Treasury secretary to announce.

The most rational explanation for Obama’s puzzling conduct — sabotaging his own program by way of his own rhetoric — is that he truly wants to be forced to nationalize the banks in pursuit of his ultimate goal of a socialist economy.

Obama has to oppose nationalization today in order to achieve it tomorrow. He has to show the country and the world that he is doing all he can to help the private sector to sort things out with government help. He must ostentatiously invite the hated demons of Wall Street to join him in rescuing the banks in order, later, to say that he did his best to avoid having to take over the banks. Only then will nationalization be an acceptable alternative — when he has run out of other options.

Meanwhile, he makes sure the private sector won’t play ball by going after their bonuses, sending an implicit message to the other executives on Wall Street that reads: Stay away.

Even when he takes over the banks, as he almost inevitably will, he is going to have to dress up the nationalization as a temporary measure forced on him by the economy and the previously unrealized depth of the problem. He will cite the example of Sweden, where the government nationalized the banks only temporarily and returned them to private hands quickly.
You can’t be for nationalization. But Obama hopes to accomplish it nonetheless.

Already, in the TARP and TALF programs, we can see how eager he is to use government power to manipulate the once-private sector. Consider the mandates piling up on any financial institution that takes government funds: limits on executive pay, corporate travel and conferences; a strong Buy American recommendation; and aggressive action to get them to make consumer loans. Can affirmative action, low-income lending and diversity outreach be far behind?

If Obama can bring banks and the healthcare industry under government control, we will have de facto socialism. Is this Obama’s goal? It is obviously where he is headed.
Is Obama a socialist? Rather than throw around labels, let’s do the math. The best measure of whether an economy is government- or private sector-oriented is the percentage of the gross domestic product (GDP) that flows through government expenditure. Before the current fiscal crisis, the major nations stacked up as shown in the chart on page 27.

Obama’s stimulus package, alone, comes to about 6 percent of GDP, vaulting the United States past Japan to 40 percent on the list above. If we add in the extra spending in the supplemental appropriations bill and the likely increases for healthcare, the total government percentage will rise well past 40 percent and probably close in on the United Kingdom’s 43.

That’s pretty socialistic, but Obama has three more years to get us up around Germany and really ruin our economy!

Why we can't spend our way out of this mess...

The long term effects of the LIB's proposed spending spree can be seen above.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

On the Economy

We suggest that you follow the latest news concerning the current economic crisis by checking in on Dr. Robert Genetski, noted economist, at http://www.classicalprinciples.com/. Excerpts from Dr. G's March 20th report:

"The Fed's response to its policy failure is similar to the response from Congress and the Administration. Instead of questioning the reason for the failure, they simply decide to double or triple the size of the policy. Unlike government spending, where doubling and tripling that spending actually weakens the economy, flooding the system with money will boost spending."

Commit to The Indian

"Commit to us, commit to the jersey, commit to the people here. They don't want to commit to the Indian, let's go upstairs and get them out of here." - Dennis Savard



List of my favorite Pundits:

Charles Krauthammer
Bill Kristol
Hugh Hewitt
Ann Coulter
Dick Morris

List of my least favorite Pundits:

Keith Olbermann (should have stayed with sports, and he was bad at that)
Chris Matthews (a screaming weenie)

Monday, March 23, 2009

Belle and Gracie

Fwends for life!!!

My New Hobby

This is the E-sky Honey Bee Fixed Pitch electric helicopter. This is not a hobby for the impatient, as I have been practicing patience while learning to fly it.
Once you get the hang of it, it is pretty fun!

Player of the Week - Blake O'Brien

We will be following young Blake O'Brien of the Glenbard West Hilltoppers this year.

The following are exerpts from the Glen Ellyn Sun:

Glenbard West pitcher Blake O'Brien epitomizes the attitude both Glen Ellyn high school baseball programs are taking heading into the 2009 campaign.

"He goes into the season as the No. 1 pitcher on our team," Hilltoppers coach Brian Wojtun says. "I'm very happy with the way he spent the offseason. Blake's been working super hard to get bigger and stronger."

Across town, this year's depth of West talent has Wojtun excited.

Bryan Emanuel, Jessie Condie, O'Brien and Joey Wheeler comprise a skilled senior class.

Emanuel put together a strong summer, and Condie is considered a five-tool middle infielder.

"We have a good mix of defense and offense," Wojtun said. "We have 13 seniors, and all of the kids have done a great job in practice and the offseason."

What a hand!!!!

Don't you just love it when this happens?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Saints be Praised!!!

The Crooked Shillelaghs showed up at Baragar Pines Farm Saturday night - West Michigan is a buzz over this exciting new folk band.
The Wee Man said "I like them."

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Band Rumors

I heard a rumor that a new Irish Folk band, called the Crooked Shillelaghs are going to be in the West Michigan area on Saturday night.

Hope I can find them, luv irish folk music!!!!!


Don't we already pay enough taxes?

The new administration promised change, and they sure mean it.

I already pay enough taxes. Sure, I appreciate all of the help the government provides to those in need, but I ask for very little. Yet I pay the most.

Let me keep some of my money that I donate to charity, invest in my community or use to support local business. Otherwise, it will be these current benefactors who suffer.


When I tell people I have been to Bonaire, they always ask, "Where is that?"


Bonaire is one of the Netherland Antille Islands, located north of Venezuela in the Caribbean. It is one of 3 Dutch Islands, including Aruba and Curacao.

Bonaire calls itself "Diver's Paradise" and it is true. The island was formerly a large reef, and as the waters receded, the reef became an island. Tropical reefs remain along much of the island's shores, and are easily reached after a breif drive, entry to the water, and swim.

The weather is spectacular, temperatures in the high 80's are moderated by the regular trade winds of anywhere from 8 to 15 mph.

Besides tourism revenue, Bonaire produces salt by flooding large ponds with sea water and allowing the winds to evaporate the water, leaving salt. Large piles can be seen near the Salt Pier on the island's north side.

The native language is Papiamentu. This is a mixture of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, English, French, and it also has some Arawak Indian and African influences. Papiamentu is one of the few Creole Languages of the Caribbean that has survived to the present day. A Bonaire local will greet you with "Bon Bini", or welcome.

I have been to Bonaire for the last 4 years, and it remains a favorite place to visit.

Welcome to my Blog!

Since everyone else is blogging, so shall I.