Saturday, September 27, 2008

Pictures of Leslie's House and Ours

John and Leslie went to the Nascar races in Kansas City this weekend so Bob and I went out to their place and took some more pictures for the 11th week of the building project. They are roofing now. It is coming right along. I still think it will take 26 weeks to complete.

We started the day going to eat breakfast out but the minute we walked into the restaurant, Bob started complaining about the noise so I suggested we just come back home and I cooked him breakfast instead.

Later I washed the car and cleaned it all up on the inside. Then in the middle of that project, our brother-in-law and my sister came over to get some material for his sermon next Sunday. After I downloaded and printed the sermon suggestions, they stayed for awhile and we visited.

After lunch, Bob and I went to Arby's and bought each of us a milk shake. It was very good. When I got home, I finished the car and brought out my decorations for fall for the yard. This evening we went to the Tavern on the Plaza and had dinner. We just got home and took our showers and are going to watch TV if there's anything on TV this evening.

The photo below is our son-in-law's Outpost...a hobby he is developing.He will sell fishing equipment and fishing related decorative accessories.

The photo above is our son-in-law and daughter's new home at the
11th week of construction. I will have to buy some more photo paper to print them off for their scrapbook album. I'll do that on Monday.

Tomorrow is filled with activity. I preach tomorrow. After church I will fix a dish for a covered dish dinner for the PINCH (People for Institutional and Community Harmony) organization. They are having a pot luck dinner at the youth activity center at 2:00. Last year we had 15 churches involved and 115 people came. We don't know what to expect this year but we have rented a larger hall for it...just in case we need it.

I decorated the front of our home for October. I won't be here next
weekend to do it. I had a scarecrow that I hung on the right side of the garage door and a fall pumpkin standup decoration that I stood by the potted plants just right of the drive and I hung a decoration of pumpkins next to the front door and put a fall flag on my little garden flag holder.

The flowering crab tree is full of little crab apples and everything looks ready for fall. There are leaves from the tree all over the lawn. Bob will mow on Monday.

Friday, September 26, 2008

A Book I Highly Recommend

I just finished a book that I highly recommend. It's called "The Limits of Power" by Andrew J. Bacevich of The American Empire Project. Bacevich is an acclaimed conservative historian and former military officer. He issues a bracing call for a pragmatic confrontation with the nation's problems. The author identifies a profound triple crisis facing America today: the economy, in remarkable disarray, can no longer be fixed by relying on expansion abroad; the government, transformed by an imperial presidency, is a democracy in form only; the nation's involvement in endless wars, driven by a deep infatuation with military power, has been a catastrophe for the body politic.

These pressing problems threaten us all, Republicans and Democrats. If the nation is to solve it's predicament, it will need the revival of a distinctly American approach: the neglected tradition of realism.

Bacevich, uniquely respected across the political spectrum, offers a historical perspective on the multiple illusions that have governed American policy since 1945. The realism he proposes includes respect for power and it's limits; sensitivity to unintended consequences; aversion to claims of American exceptionalism; skepticism of easy solutions, especially those involving the use of force; and a conviction that, at the end of the day, the books will have to balance. Only a return to such principles, Bacevich argues, can provide a common ground for dealing with America's urgent problems.

This man has more common sense then anyone I have read in years. I highly recommend his book!

"When the laws grant titles, gratuities, and exclusive privileges, to make the rich richer and the potent more powerful, the humble members of society--the farmers, mechanics, and laborers--who have neither the time nor the means of securing like favors to themselves, have a right to complain of the injustice of their Government." --Andrew Jackson, Bank of the United States Veto Message, 1832.

No Wonder There's a Mess!

CEO pay: What those involved in the financial meltdown made

Dallas Business Journal

As Congress considers a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street and the banking sector, there are calls to restrict the pay and severance packages for CEOs at investment houses, banks and mortgage lenders poised to be benefit from the plan put forward by U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke.

Executives from some of the major investment and commercial banks involved in the financial upheaval and bailout earned hefty paychecks last year, according to proxy statements outlining their salaries, bonuses and stock options:

Lehman Brothers Chairman and CEO Richard Fuld Jr. made $34 million in 2007. Lehman (OTC:LEHMQ) filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection earlier this month.

Goldman Sachs (NYSE:GS), which Sunday gained Federal Reserve Bank approval to become a bank holding company, paid its Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein $70 million last year. Co-Chief Operating Officers Gary Cohn and Jon Winkereid were paid $72.5 million and $71 million, respectively.

Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack earned $1.6 million. Chief Financial Officer Colin Kelleher got a $21 million paycheck in 2007. Morgan Stanley (NYSE:MS) also received approval to become a banking holding company, a shift that allows Morgan and Goldman to bring in bank deposit assets which offer more solid financial footing.

Merrill Lynch CEO John Thain was paid $17 million in salary, bonuses and stock options in 2007. Merrill (NYSE:MER) is being acquired by Bank of America (NYSE:BAC). BofA CEO Kenneth Davis earned $25 million in 2007.

JP Morgan Chase & Co. Chairman and CEO James Dimon earned $28 million in 2007. Chase (NYSE:JPM) acquired troubled investment house Bear Stearns earlier this year with the federal government promising to take on as much as $30 billion in Bear assets to help get the deal done.

Fannie Mae CEO Daniel Mudd received $11.6 million in 2007. His counterpart at Freddie Mac, Richard Syron, brought in $18 million. The federal government announced earlier this month it was taking over the mortgage backers with Herbert Allison to serve as Fannie CEO and David Moffett the new CEO at Freddie.

Wachovia Corp. Chairman and CEO G. Kennedy Thompson received $21 million in 2007. He was succeeded by Robert Steel as CEO in July. Steel is slated to get a $1 million salary with an opportunity for a $12 million bonus, according to CEO Watch. Wachovia (NYSE:WB) is one of the banks that could be sold in the midst of the financial crisis.

Seattle-based Washington Mutual (NYSE:WAMU) will pay its new CEO Alan Fishman a salary and incentive package worth more than $20 million through 2009 for taking the helm of the battered bank, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

CEOs of large U.S. corporations averaged $10.8 million in total compensation in 2006, more than 364 times the pay of the average U.S. worker, according to the latest survey by United for a Fair Economy. In 2007, the CEO of a Standard & Poor’s 500 company received, on average, $14.2 million in total compensation, according to The Corporate Library, a corporate governance research firm. The median compensation package received was $8.8 million.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

What A Mess!

I don't know whether the bailout deal is falling through because of McCain or not. The banking committee is not happy with the "deal". Especially the Republican members like Senator Shelby who spoke to CNN. They are aware this is an election year and fear for their jobs.

Perhaps they only said the deal was made early on because the stock market was still open and they didn't want a crash to happen. But tomorrow is Friday and anything can happen with the stock market then.

Also, the Congress is scheduled to go into recess tomorrow night. Instead they may be staying over the weekend to work this thing out. The members of the committee are adamant that there be no golden parachutes for CEOs who caused this mess. They are also adamant that there be oversight for all that money. After all, the fed chair used to be one of those CEOs on Wall Street who made his fortune there.

I feel that Bush and McCain are using this meeting as a photo op minute to promote McCain's candidacy . Evidently the American people agree. They are protesting this bailout all over America. They do not want to borrow this money from Red China and there is no other option since our nation does not have $700,000,000,000. We have borrowed ourselves out with all our allies. Note this:

The McCain campaign, however, has not "temporarily set politics aside." In the five hours after McCain’s speech, aides Nancy Pfotenhauer, Tucker Bounds, and Mike Duhaime appeared on Fox News and MSNBC five times, frequently criticizing Obama and Democrats:

– PFOTENHAUER: Well they could always have Joe Biden and if it’s on foreign policy, Obama and Biden can debate each other! Hahaha! [MSNBC]

– BOUNDS: Democrats were trying to pivot and push this issue into John McCain’s lap. [Fox News]

– BOUNDS: Barack Obama is trying to play politics, I think, in many regards on a lot of these issues. [MSNBC]

– BOUNDS: And here we are. I think we’re in a very different situation because of the leadership of John McCain. [MSNBC]

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time Out!

Oh Boy! Now McCain wants a time out to go back to Washington to work on the bail out mess. Why would he do it this time? He hasn't been around for months. What can he do now, outside of using his Keating Five experience to dig himself in even deeper. Obama has a seventeen point lead today according to CNN.

No one believes John McCain can do anything in this mess but muddy the water. There is a committee working on this solution and neither candidate is a member of that committee. And what a dirty trick he played today in not returning Obama's 8:30 AM call and instead calling a news conference himself and trying to use the crisis to preempt the Democratic candidate. McCain just cannot act honorably. He had to turn a genuine offer into a photo opt opportunity to his supposed political advantage.

Why bail out Wall Street? The government needs to make loans to these companies and not simply bail them out. Make them pay back the loans and with interest too. Stockholders should not be paid until the American people's loans are repaid.

No one believes the president anymore. He has always tried to play the "fear" card. That's how he got elected in the last election. His address this evening is immaterial. He clutched the podium so hard it was obvious he was terrified. His administration caused this crisis with the elimination of all responsible regulation over these greedy companies.

This is the letter I sent to my both my senators and my representatives:

"I am not in favor of bailing out Wall Street with a $700,000,000,000 bailout. If we do have to assist them, I recommend that we loan them the money and insist they pay the loan back..with interest. Before any stockholders receive dividends, the loan must be repaid.

These people brought this catastrophe on themselves and on us, and we, the tax payers, should not have to bail them out, free of any charge.

The CEO's running the companies involved, should get very limited salaries and absolutely NO golden parachutes. If they are found to be negligent, they should be fired and replaced with another person who will act responsibly.

Under no circumstances should they be given a free pass. Even a loan is already way too much of a "get out of jail free" pass."

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Unregulated Abuse

Once again we are bailing out the very people who have used and misused the system and got us into this current financial mess. And with no oversight over the distribution of those huge funds, the American people are just asking for more trouble as we allow $700 billion dollars of taxpayer money to be used to bail out the speculators who got caught in the crisis of their own making. We are rushing into doing "something", "anything", just to do "something" to try to save the economy from falling into a full blown depression that would make 1929 look like a cake walk. We are borrowing even more money from Japan and China and allowing Europe and Asia to buy their way into our economy. At this rate, it is cheaper to "buy" America then to go to war to take it.

I have said it before and I will say it again, this economy (capitalism) is greed driven. There is a vast chasm between the "haves" and the "have nots" and that chasm is getting wider every year. The "haves" have managed to eliminate all the necessary regulation needed to keep them from using their advantage to gain even more through questionable means and leave the "have nots" even further away from any opportunity to have a decent living wage.

"Something" needs to be done all right. The CEOs of these companies that are the cause of this crisis need to be fired without a golden parachute. That would eliminate any opportunity they would have to gain personal advantage out of the $700 billion dollar bailout. I can just see them standing in line to get some of that money for their personal gain. And there definitely needs to be oversight over all that money. To put that kind of power in the hands of one man is just more idiocy.

I hope congress slows down and thinks through this decision before they commit our great grandchildren to even more debt.

Democrat Barack Obama said Tuesday the deepening American financial crisis and prospect of a massive government bailout meant he likely would have to delay expansive spending programs outlined during his campaign for the White House. In an interview with NBC television, Obama said he would have to study what happens to the United States' tax revenues before making decisions on budgeting for his promised initiatives on national health care, education, energy and other concerns.

Quiet Day

Well, this is a quiet day and I am ready for one. I took Slinky, the dog, for a walk this morning and then cleaned the kitchen.

I talked on the phone with my friend, Juanita, who just lost her daughter.

Things are difficult for her. Her grand daughter evidently thought her mother's insurance money would go to her and found out just prior to her mother's death that it was going to her grandmother. Since then, she has been very cool to her grandmother. Christi and Juanita had made one another beneficiary of their insurance since they had lived together. Juanita paid all the expenses for the cremation and memorial service. Her grand daughter has no money and has been out of work for months. She is not looking for work even now. Her husband just went to work the week before she returned from Chicago, where she was caring for her mother until she died.

It's strange how money often separates families that way.

I worked a couple of hours on my daughter's new home scrapbook. Now that fall is here, they are able to work on the house six days a week. This is the tenth week. The picture above shows the south side of the house where the garages are located.
This picture shows the east side where the great room is located. The gaping hole is where the fireplace will go. As you can see, they are working on the roof rafters and trying to get it covered before too much later.

Monday, September 22, 2008

House Cleaning Day

Well, it's Monday and that's my regular house cleaning day. I scrubbed and waxed the kitchen floor this time and went over all the upholstered goods with the vacuum. Scrubbed the bathrooms too as usual. I still have the front and back door glasses to clean.

I received some new pictures from our daughter of the progress on their new home and printed them off and will get around to putting them in her scrapbook soon...maybe this afternoon.

I got the bulletin ready to print off for next Sunday, sent out my notes from Sunday, got the article sent to the paper for next Friday's church page issue and posted all of that on the church's web site.

We went to the market for a few things and put gas in Bob's pickup. The gas came to $52.00 and the groceries came to $28.00. We only picked up six things but everything is so expensive anymore. It's sure hard to live on a fixed income.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Busy Sunday

I got up early this morning and fixed breakfast for our son before he left. Then I fixed a coffee cake for the early breakfast at church. We took chocolate milk, juice and made coffee to go with it. Then after the breakfast and church school and the worship service, we took our daughter and met some friends for lunch in Independence.

Then we came home and I did my notes and stamped everything and got it out on the mailbox. Then I made some popcorn and sat down with ice cream and rested.

We don't have Living the Questions meeting tonight so we can just kick back and relax and watch Sixty Minutes, where McCain is making a fool of himself talking about the possibility of a preemptive war against Russia.

We have heard one president talk about the absolute necessity of preemptive war against Iraq and look where that talk has landed us. No one can trust a career politician. They'll say anything to get to go to war when they can make a fortune for their friends and themselves.