Are Tough Questions Out of the Question?

I once found myself at the crossroads of rational decision-making. Oh, it wasn’t some insane moment where life and death were being decided (well, perhaps my life and death). It wasn’t some moment where a major earth shattering event was unfolding. Nope…. I was in a bar. It just so happened that it was a biker bar. I used to frequent those when I was younger and thought myself a whole lot tougher than I am in my forties. There were buckets of testosterone on each table. Boxes of manhood and muscle were stacked behind the bar. The lighting was dim, the place was filthy, and the steady pounding of hard rock music was only broken every now and then by a selection from one of the superbands of the 70s. There didn’t seem to be a whole lot of value placed on intelligence in that bar. They dealt in respect and feats of strength. It was the kind of place you didn’t walk into unless you were part of the regular scene or you really did believe that you were a pretty tough hombre. I sat at a table with a group from a well known national biker gang, and the discussion turned to racism, and it weren’t good (bad grammar intentional!).

There were some pretty harsh things said at that table, by some dudes that looked like they had wrestled Grizzly bears for the right to have first swing at slappin a Yeti. I still to this day believe I was sitting at that table with men who had done bad things to a lot of people. But I didn’t like what was being said at all. I liked these guys. I have found that under all that tough guy attitude, bikers are often some of the most loyal and misunderstood people around. But I didn’t like what they were saying, and I wanted to “educate” them a little bit, or at least make them think about what they were saying. I faced a choice. I could remain quiet, and run no risk of alienating myself, or worse, angering the Grizzly bears. Or I could take a risk and engage in the conversation. I sat there pondering whether it was OK to ask tough questions of tough men…

I was watching a video tonight of the President giving an interview to Brian Williams down in New Orleans. As I watched the interview, which for the record I thought was a pretty good interview, I noticed that the President did what he does best, speak whatever words the American public wants to hear. And Williams did what interviewers of the President do best, lob softballs up there to get hit out of the park. I didn’t get past the discussion on New Orleans without a statement being made that would have prompted a serious question if I were the interviewer. Williams remarked that Katrina was about class, race, and government and the environment (a BULLSHIT statement to begin with) and asked what happened to the debate that was supposed to happen around it? Obama answered that we are still having that debate. A somewhat honest answer. He then made the statement that Katrina re-awakened “a sense that we are all in this together.”

Huh? I would have to ask, exactly how can you say that when the overriding rhetoric coming out of Katrina was based on race or class? Blacks claimed Katrina was a conspiracy against blacks. The poor claimed it was a conspiracy against the poor. I don’t recall anyone ever claiming that Katrina showed us that we were all in this together. But did Williams pop that tough question on Obama?


In fact, no one ever pops any tough question on the President. Ever.

In today’s Rose Garden speech, the President urged Congress to pass a bill for small business that is up right now. He blamed Republicans for blocking passage, saying, “Holding this bill hostage is directly detrimental to our economic growth. I ask Senate Republicans to drop the blockade.” There is a familiar theme. Republicans who oppose the bill for one reason or another, be it because they think the bill is a bad idea or they think it will make things worse, are called the “obstructionist Republicans” or even better, “the party of NO.” Does anyone ever call the President on this claim, perhaps pointing out the reasons the Republicans are opposing his bill and asking him to address their concerns?


In fact, no one ever asks ANY of the Democratic mouthpieces to defend their statements about the party of no claims. Not Pelosi. Not Reid. Not Emanuel. Not Franks. No one.

Don’t fall into the trap that this is nothing more than the media bias at work. That is a part of the problem. But it is no different for Republicans who make outlandish claims. Did anyone ever see anyone directly confront Sarah Palin on the fact that death panels weren’t exactly in the law as she claimed? Sure, the MSM liberal vestibules ranted on and on about her claims. But did anyone ever actually confront her on it?

Excuse me... you can't ask that question.


What about minority leader John Boehner? He liked to throw around things such as the health care bill being debated then provided health care for illegal immigrants (granted it was a bill that neither Boehner or anyone else in Congress actually read, but I digress). Or what about his claim that the energy bill had a provision that required homeowners to replace appliances with more energy efficient ones before they would be allowed to sell their home. Did anyone directly challenge Boehner on these lies?


I think you can all see that we could go on with this all day with just about every single member of Congress. In fact, the only time members of Congress ever get tough questions is when they commit some act that is so bad that they face jail time or censure and the media cannot ignore it. But let’s face the facts here. The fact is that no nationally prominent politician in America ever faces tough questions. Especially the President.

Why doesn’t anyone ever ask the President directly in an interview why he refuses to produce a copy of his original birth certificate to public scrutiny? Why don’t they ever ask him directly in an interview why his writings from college are sealed and unavailable for review? Why doesn’t anyone ask him directly how he thinks it is possible to have sat in Reverend Wright’s hateful church for twenty years without knowing what Wright was all about?

Why are no major politicians in America ever put on the hot seat? Further, why is this accepted. The true answer to the hot seat question is that no major politician would ever allow themselves to be put into a position where that is a possibility. Interviews are screened and planned. Questions are decided before-hand. And it is common knowledge that if your network ever challenges the President directly in that manner, their network will be shunned and will never have access to the President again.

Put another way, the media can play ball with the politicians or be shut out. But the biggest question I have to ask is why on earth do the American people tolerate this as a practice in the American political system? Is it not the most ridiculous premise that you have ever heard?

Our national politicians exercise more control over us than our families do. They spend more of the money that we earn than we are allowed to keep. They send us to war. They regulate our lives. They dictate our choices. They destroy our country and our way of life. And we are supposed to accept that we don’t have the right to ask them tough questions. If you are afraid of answering the tough questions, you don’t have what it takes to represent me, I can tell you that.

And you need to see nothing more than the reaction from them if they are asked a tough question. Joe Biden has given us some great insight into the rage that the modern politician feels when he is questioned. Recall his reaction when WFTV-Channel 9’s Barbara West asked him tough questions. He was appalled at tough questions, and his people promptly sent a letter to WFTV letting them know they were cut off from the campaign. There are plenty of examples on both sides of the aisle of politicians having a fit when asked tough questions.

We talk about accountability for our federal representatives. How is that even possible in an environment where we don’t even have the ability to ask them tough questions? Our politicians should be challenged in a hard way every single day. They should have to answer for every single statement that they make. They work for us. And when a large percentage of the people have a question, it should be answered, not avoided. Our media needs to grow some cajones, especially when it comes to the Democratic candidates that they love so much, but with the Republicans as well. If you can’t answer the questions, you don’t deserve to represent the people of the United States. And if you are afraid to ask the questions, you don’t deserve to be the one doing the interview.

And that is why, faced with the prospect of angering the grizzly bears in that bar many years ago, I decided to speak up. I figured that if I was going to respect the men at that table, they were going to have to answer the questions that I had, and rationalize the stances they were taking. What ensued was a two hour conversation about race. Sure, some voices were raised and some feelings were hurt. But what happened was that both sides learned a lot about the other. Both sides were given some things to really think about and process. But most important, both sides gained respect for having an honest conversation that many would have been afraid to start. I was really glad that I spoke up, because I found that what was on the surface didn’t at all represent what was in their hearts.

Wouldn’t it be nice if our media did its job and exposed what what really in our politicians hearts?


  1. “What about minority leader John Boehner? He liked to throw around things such as the health care bill being debated then provided health care for illegal immigrants (granted it was a bill that neither Boehner or anyone else in Congress actually read, but I digress). Or what about his claim that the energy bill had a provision that required homeowners to replace appliances with more energy efficient ones before they would be allowed to sell their home. Did anyone directly challenge Boehner on these lies?


    Do we actually have a record of what was or was not in those bills in their early stages? Do we know for certain that items were not pulled out of early drafts when somebody took notice of them?


    I mean, when “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it, away from the fog of the controversy,” that pretty much rules out finding about controversial parts in early drafts.

    • Good point-it’s frustrating trying to figure out who is telling the truth but at least it’s being openly discussed-it’s the stuff they don’t talk about that worries me.

  2. It’s our fault for allowing it to continue. The media is supposed to be the watchdog over the politicians. But who’s the watchdog over the media? Big money. Big money also has control over the politicians. It’s a big circle. But groups like the Tea Party have sidestepped everything and are taking it to the politicians. And it’s working. Now we need to have something equivalent to the Tea Party to call the media out. I keep wondering why this hasn’t already happened.

    • I think the media is being called out-the problem is that so many people only want to call out the outlets they personally disagree with. So the news media becomes a part of any big issue and the debate becomes more about the outlets covering of the story than the actual story. I think we have too many commentators one day-then the next I’m glad because at least their ideology is front and center, not hidden behind cleverly worded bias.

    • I think the internet is starting to change the media, but slowly. Look at this site, not just opinion, but sources to back up debate points. The networks are loosing viewers, and will soon be faced with either changing, or failing. Or getting congress to control the internet, and silence us noisy sheeple.

  3. Common Man says:

    My father use to tell me that it took more guts to ignore negative comments and confrontation than it did to object or throw a left hook; no one wins an argument and knocking someone down won’t change their perspective. He use to tell me that if you ignore someone’s ignorance they will eventually shut-up or go away, and words can’t hurt you unless you let them. (It should be noted here that this man also taught me to do everything I could to avoid a physical confrontation until I determined there was no way out, and then make sure I struck first and hard). Go figure.

    But, I think there might be some wisdom in the “ignore” method when it comes to dealing with the government and the liberal media. Maybe if we ignore them they will go away. BF is constantly telling us that they exist because they are being acknowledged, even if the acknowledgement is in the form of a disagreement. A sane person does not gain additional strength or influence by arguing or agreeing with only themselves.

    Both the government and the media depend upon the public’s attention to exist. What if they no longer had anyone paying attention? What if all of a sudden American’s stopped watching or listening to anything the government or media had to say? How would the government and media react when they found out that 99% of the viewing public was watching ‘Little House on the Praire’ reruns during a Presidential speach? Of better yet, 99% of the TV’s in America were turned off?

    I do agree that each individual needs to address those issues they disagree with when they are among friends and at social gatherings so that there can be intelligent discussions. However, when one is faced with a ‘controlled’ environment managed by a deligation of repressive morons, the best we can hope for is being drowned out or escorted to the door.

    Think about it:

    – If no one ever showed up to a KKK event but KKK members, how many times would they gather?
    – If we stopped going to ‘town-hall’ meetings would there be any more?
    – If no one protested anti-abortion or pro-life events would they continue to have them?
    – If people stopped gathering to listen to Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, would either of them get press?
    – If we stopped paying for $1000 a plate campaign dinners or providing political donations, how many more would they schedule?
    – If all of us decided that we were no longer going to acknowledge ANYTHING from the government or media, what would happen?

    Not sure if this would work, but then nothing we are doing at the Federal level now is working to any great degree.

    With the exception of the local level I have chosen to no longer acknowldge our Federal representatives…maybe they will go away.


    • Actually, I think it would work better to show up and ask a touch question, then, if the answer is not satisfactory, tell the guy he is an idiot and everyone get up and walk out in the middle of the meeting. 🙂

      That would work for a lot of stuff.

      • I like that idea!!!! 🙂

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:

        I agree with either stance here.

        Option 1 – Ignore the media AND the politicians. This eliminates their legitimacy.

        Option 2 – Ridicule the media and the politicians.
        This also eliminates their legitimacy.

    • That sounds like a pretty good idea except for that one little word IF-you may stop but will everyone else-NO-so all you will have accomplished is having no say, whatsoever, in what is done to you. We cannot disengage and hope that things work out. We’ve been doing that for years and see where it has gotten us.

      • CM, Jon, and D13 all have it right. But how can we get them from every angle when the angles actually contradict themselves?

        • I don’t know-I guess CM will work on the local level-Jon will be an idea man and whatever else he does and D13 will continue to do all the things he does(which seems to be alot for one man) The rest of us will do what we agree with amongst the contradicting ideas. I agree that the local level is important-I agree that showing our disapproval is important but we must actually SHOW our disapproval-not showing up doesn’t convey that message unless no one shows up. And I believe we have to voice our opinions, support groups that we agree with, and vote at the federal level to slow down the ride over the cliff-so that maybe we won’t go over the cliff.

          • Yeah, VH…I do a whole lot….more than I should actually. Sometimes do not get things finished but the main thing that has usurped most of my time has been the border. It is getting worse and much more violent. BUt I refuse to give up my politcal activism…..I like doing that and I like the people on this site as well. Takes time…but, hell, there are 25 hours in a day…just gotta know how to squeeze them out.

            • And I appreciate it-alot-I might even become your neighbor one day-ehh if you guys get rid of all the snakes. 🙂

              • YOu will be welcomed here, My Lady……snakes and all. We also have a rather hearty contingent of Scorpions as well.

      • Common Man says:


        The local level is clearly an area that we can influence issues and action. That is because we can be heard and seen. I have found that some Congressmen enable some to ask questions and make comments, but every level above that stifles public questions and/or comments.

        How many have tried to attend regular Congressional sessions just to listen and watch? Has anybody been given an opportunity to speak or ask a question? I’m pretty sure it is a waste of time. These people don’t want us there, and certainly wouldn’t allow any of us ‘common’ folk to have a voice.

        I do feel that events like the Beck 8/28 or national Tea Party events are a way to demonstrate our distaste and wishes, but these events do more to unit those like us than they do to deter the evil ones presently seated.

        It’s not that I have lost hope of stopping the train, it’s just that I feel the train needs to derail under it’s own steam. We then go in and pick up the pieces worth salvaging.

        Besides, given that 99% of those seated today speak with fork tounge and out of both sides of their mouth at the same time.

        It’s kind of like this: If everything coming out of a politico’s mouth is a lie, then what value could he/she provide?


        • “I do feel that events like the Beck 8/28 or national Tea Party events are a way to demonstrate our distaste and wishes, but these events do more to unit those like us than they do to deter the evil ones presently seated.”

          If you feel these event do some good, then shouldn’t you support them if they get a candidate on the ballot which they have been doing. by voting in the national elections. If you don’t, if all their candidates lose because those who agree with the tea party thinks it’s a waste of time because it doesn’t bring about fast results, do you think the Tea Party will stay around for very long.

          • Common Man says:


            Sorry for the delay in responding, I just don’t get as much time here as I wish.

            My hope is that the Tea Pary continues even if the current administration is kicked out, if only to further enable the average citizen to get involved.

            I do support some local candidates and my current congressman Mike Rogers. I do not waste my time bad mouthing or debating the opposition, as I feel it is better to spend what little time I have supporting those I feel are good folks.

            Michigan has become an entitlement state and will most likely stay that way. The majority of people here expect handouts and government programs. Despite it’s historic reputation as a real ‘working’ state that spirit seems to have dwindled to almost nothing.

            If I could afford it I would gather up all my peep’s, pack up, leave and never ever look back. But since I don’t ever seem to win the lotto, I stay, work and fight what battles I hope can help.

            I have just come to believe that most of what we hear on the news, read in the paper is pretty much BS, especially when it comes out of the mouths of thieves and con-artists. I don’t believe that 80% of elected officials even no a lie from the truth anymore.


            • I was pleasantly pleased in our last local election-republicans won big time and that is NOT the norm. Unfortunately, they make a computer mistake so the outcome was questioned(as it should be) the commission certified the election but there is still a fuss being made. One of our Congressmen Cohen(gag me with a spoon)even asked Holder(repeat the above) to look into it.

  4. Sorry guys….have to throw a flag here. There are ways that these bills do get out in their raw and unfinished form. They are leaked purposely to see what sticks and what does not.

    TO use your example, USW…..Sarah Palin was right and she was wrong….but in the end result her message is correct…..EXCEPT the use of the term “death panel”. There is no such term in the Health Care Bill. And the news media jumped on it like stink on a skunk. What was failed to mention, is that the “panel” is already in HR1….the media knows this.

    H.R. 1 (more commonly known as the Recovery and Reinvestment Act, even more commonly known as the Stimulus Bill and aptly dubbed the Porkulus Bill) contains a whopping $1.1 billion to fund the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The Council is the brain child of former Health and Human Services Secretary Nominee Tom Daschle. Before the Porkulus Bill passed, Betsy McCaughey, former Lieutenant governor of New York, wrote in detail about the Council’s purpose. Daschle’s stated purpose (and therefore President Obama’s purpose) for creating the Council is to empower an unelected bureaucracy to make the hard decisions about health care rationing that elected politicians are politically unable to make. The end result is to slow costly medical advancement and consumption. Daschle argues that Americans ought to be more like Europeans who passively accept “hopeless diagnoses.”

    McCaughey goes on to explain:

    Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them.

    Who is on the Council? One of its most prominent members is none other than Dr. Death himself Ezekiel Emanuel. Dr. Emanuel’s views on care of the elderly should frighten anyone who is or ever plans on being old. He explains the logic behind his discriminatory views on elderly care as follows:

    “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination; every person lives through different life stages rather than being a single age. Even if 25-year-olds receive priority over 65-year-olds, everyone who is 65 years now was previously 25 years. On average 25-year-olds require very few medical services. If they are to get the lion’s share of the treatment, then those 65 and over can expect very little care.” Dr. Emanuel’s views on saving money on medical care are simple: don’t provide any medical care. The loosely worded provisions in H.R 1 give him and his Council increasing power to push such recommendations.

    Obama’s Regulatory Czar Cass Sunstein will play a major role in defining the government’s role in controlling medical care.

    How does Sunstein approach end of life care? In 2003 he wrote a paper for the AEI-Brookings Joint Center for Regulatory Studies arguing that human life varies in value. Specifically he champions statistical methods that give preference to what the government rates as “quality-adjusted life years.” Meaning, the government decides whether a person’s life is worth living. If the government decides the life is not worth living, it is the individual’s duty to die to free up welfare payments for the young and productive.

    Ultimately it was Obama himself, in answer to a question on his ABC News infomercial, who said that payment determination cannot be influenced by a person’s spirit and “that at least we (the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research) can let doctors know and your mom know that…this isn’t going to help. Maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.”

    Maybe we should ask the Associated Press and New York Times if they still think we shouldn’t be concerned about a federal “death panel.”

    So, I went to HR1 and read it….and on [[Page 123 STAT. 177]] There it is….not only is it there but so is additional funding and the authorization to transfer funds and how to use them. Point is…..the Council is there and it is funded.

    NOw, when it is enacted in one more year, will there be “death panels”? Perhaps the only way to get people to read this stuff is for prominent people to post things and then see how the media attacks it. If the media attacks it, then it is probably true.

    Where are the tough questions…USW asks. They are not going to be there from the media. The tough questions will have to come from us and the tough answers will have to be by us to our representatives. If they do not answer, then blogs as this one can help get the word out. But as I read the text of the repsonsibilities of this council that is NOT in the Health Bill but in the stmulus bill…it is yet another way to circumvent the procedure.

    USW…we have met the enemy and the enemy is us. WE need to be the ones to question. It will not come from the media…it wil not come from elected representatives. It will not come from AARP. It will have t come from grass roots. It is still not too late.

    Great article, sir.

  5. Ray Hawkins says:

    Spot on USW – it pervades because people continue to watch this shit. Everything is scripted so the fraud continues unabated. Those with access to ask tough questions have turned into Gumbys – brainless, spineless, gutless, heartless…… Until those with access to ask the questions stand up and ask and are backed up by the machines they work for (ooops – they are owned by special interests also) then we are worse for the wear all the way around.

  6. If anyone is interested I posted a new comment and reference on global warming at 12 of yesterday. As I said yesterday, “its not over until its over”.

    • PeterB in Indianapolis says:


      I added a few things to your post at #12 that you should find interesting.

  7. USW, SUFA

    The hard questions and honest journalism ended when retired and unemployed media types started teaching politicians how to handle the media. They called themselves “communications consultants”.

    They were soon joined by “behavioral scientists” who could teach them how to identify and push key buttons in the public that would get the desired result. “Focus groups” test various phrases and words for their effect. Media campaigns are evaluated in the same manner, just like commercial advertising.

    Our only defense is an active and inquisitive mind. And of course the courage to throw the B.S. Flag at whoever deserves it.

    Happy thoughts today everyone. Happy thoughts today.

  8. We’ve seen in some townhall clips tough questions were asked and in many cases, the arrogance and/or ignorance of the elected official has come through loud and clear. Pete Stark, among others comes to mind. This is the ridicule aspect that needs to continue.

    My Rep will not have townhall meetings – only phone conference calls where questions are submitted and she can select those she chooses to answer and of course, due to the large number of callers on the line, we are all muted out so we can just listen to her tripe. Then she gives herself huge kudos for all her efforts to reach the people of her district. A complete sham.

    • I agree-I hate the word ridicule because I see it as devisive and quite frankly what they are doing to us-in order to make what we are saying unimportant. But as you pointed out here-it isn’t a matter of us ridiculing them-we just need to demand truth and respect-doing so, seems to make them ridicule themselves.

      • PeterB in Indianapolis says:


        When I refer to ridiculing them, I do not mean we should shout at them, call them names, and act like idiots. All that would do is make us look like idiots (which would conversely make THEM LOOK GOOD!)

        That would NOT be the desired effect.

        What we need to to is educate ourselves and make sure that we are always BETTER INFORMED than the politicians themselves. If we are better informed, we can always point out when they make an error, mis-state something, or even outright lie about something. We can also cite the sources of our knowledge which show THEM being disingenuous or even dishonest.

        We must arm ourselves with education and facts and point out very specifically when they are lying. If they are lying or dodging the question, we must hold their feet to the fire. If we cannot do so in a public forum with them present (because 99.999% of them would never allow such a thing) then we must find other ways to do it.

        As you point out, if we do it this way, they will end up making THEMSELVES the object of ridicule, because they will invariably make themsleves look bad!

        • Bottom Line says:


          Not that I necessarily disagree with your logic…ridicule is a good idea, but in the current system, it is IMHO, ineffective. None of our so-called representatives are going to give a damn unless there are immediate consequences.

          The basis of human reason is risk/consequence vs reward.

          Until we the people find a practical legal avenue to fire them mid-term, they won’t care.

          I.E. – If pushing the healthcare bill in spite of the massive opposition meant getting put out of office a few months into their term, it would never have been passed.

          Just sayin’

          Wish I had more time today, …will be back later….maybe.

          • PeterB in Indianapolis says:


            The point is not to get the politicians to care – they never will.

            The point is to make the politicians look so ridiculous to the rest of the general populous that the politicians lose legitimacy.

            That is why ridicule is an effective tool.

            • Bottom Line says:

              But what is the point in allowing the people to see them as illegitimate?

              To separate the good from the bad?(They’re all bad)

              To illegitimize elections?

              Many people already see candidates/reps as illegitimate. The ones that don’t…well, if they don’t already, they’re not going to. They’ve already drank too much Kool-aid. And there are so many that still have faith in the system and think voting actually does something.

              Don’t get me wrong, I suppose something is better than nothing even if the only value is psychological warfare. Anything is better than just bending over and taking it up the rear as we have thus far.

              My point is that no matter who is in office, if there is a somewhat immediate consequence of false representation, they would comply with the demands of their constituents.

              They may not care for the wishes of their constituents, but they care for their job. Whatever their motive, the result would be the same…

              Do it or else.

              How many corrupt people would run knowing of the “or else”?

              And to be honest, I don’t think my idea is that great. I mean that it is pointless, moot.

              It’s all gonna come crashing down anyway.

              Economics trump.

              I sit around and come up with all of these good ideas in my spare time. I don’t share because all of them turn out moot because we cannot stop the economic collapse/greatest depression.

              WHEN it hits, it’s over.

              Hence my repeated statement that the answer is to teach the next generation how and what to rebuild.

              Cyndi is right, we should just help it collapse. Perhaps I will, for the first time, apply for entitlement programs.

              Eat yer heart out Professors Cloward and Piven. Can you say…



        • I know you weren’t-but qualifying your answer was good-you made some great points in the above.

  9. I forgot to add at the end of the article my favorite part from Obama’s interview with Williams that began this whole thing. At the end of the interview Obama said that this was what we do as a country: “We ask tough questions. That is the process that guides us.”

    Imagine my surprise after thinking about this article for 20 minutes worth of watching the interview only to have him make that comment at the end.

    He hasn’t faced tough questions by anyone. No one in Washington has.

  10. The MSM is being bypassed for some of the reasons USWep has posted.

    • Probaly the “mushroom” analogy, doncha think BF?

      • Sorry..still have a keyboard that cannot spell….probably….

      • D13,

        Perhaps, but people en mass are not stupid.

        They know the MSM will not provide.

        The people are leaving the MSM in droves and getting more and more of their information from the Web and blogs, etc.

        USToday is undergoing their largest reorganization in their history – they are losing their shirts and are trying to move to the ‘Net for survival. They are too late – as are all the rest.

  11. USW asked why do the American people tolerate this system. Because not tolerating would require them to spend a lot time researching and thinking, and “That’s hard, like math! What’s on TV?”

  12. I just invited a Huffington Poster over on yesterdays GW debate, stuck in moderation. Having a hectic day.

  13. Off Topic Question for Black Flag,

    I have an idea about my mortgage. I’m currently six months ahead on my payments. I have a 30 year loan @5.85% and owe just under $59,000. I’m thinking of refinancing to a lower rate (5% or less if I can get it) and a 15 year note say for $70,000. Then taking the extra $10,000 and start making payments at the rate of one a week just to get ahead again. I’ve been using the pay ahead as part of my 6-12 months recommended savings for unemployment. I think that I could get ahead at least a year and build from there if I do this. Am I off the mark with this idea?

    • Cyndi,

      I have an idea about my mortgage. I’m currently six months ahead on my payments. I have a 30 year loan @5.85% and owe just under $59,000. I’m thinking of refinancing to a lower rate (5% or less if I can get it) and a 15 year note say for $70,000. Then taking the extra $10,000 and start making payments at the rate of one a week just to get ahead again. I’ve been using the pay ahead as part of my 6-12 months recommended savings for unemployment. I think that I could get ahead at least a year and build from there if I do this. Am I off the mark with this idea?

      (1) Getting a lower rate is always a good idea – why pay more to the bank in interest? And rates are at historical lows and you probably have a great credit score – so you will certainly qualify.

      (2) There is little benefit from using borrowed money to pay back borrowed money.

      It would be better if you banked the money and used it in an emergency to make payments should you lose your job. Remember, if you are unemployed, you will NOT get a loan no matter how good your credit – they need to see how you will make payments.

      Getting a good mortgage while you have a job and banking some reserve cash is probably a better strategy.

      (3) Continue your strategy by paying it out of your job income – it seems to work now, and it will continue to work.

      This way you have a cash reserve, plus accelerated pay down.

      • If I bank that extra money I’ll be paying loan interest on it, right? My line of thinking is should I lose my job I won’t have to worry about the mortgage payment for a year and hopefully won’t need emergency cash. If I do I have some PMs I could sell as well as some jewelry.

        What are the odds of a major currency crisis complete with a devaluing of the dollar, akin to what was done in Venezuela? The way I see it, I have to pay the mortgage anyway since selling a 30 year old house in Florida is next to impossible. I’m trying to cover myself as best I can. I figure I can get cash via my PMs, jewelry and 401ks if need be.

        Am I a being paranoid about a currency crisis happening in the next year or two?

        • Cyndi

          Am I a being paranoid about a currency crisis happening in the next year or two

          No, you are not paranoid.


          I like to suggest you hold some significant quantity of paper money in your hand – it doesn’t have to be a monetary crisis – something like a weather disaster, for example, can knock out the communications for the banking system. You will not be able to get cash out of the system, nor use your credit cards.

          I see nothing at all wrong with your thinking or your strategy that would cause me to comment.

        • Cyndi,

          Unless it is written into the contract, I do not think that prepayment will allow you to skip montly payments in the future. Missed payments may even result in penalty fees hence more gain for the bank. BF’s option is a good one but you will lose the difference between the loan interest and the bank interest. You might look at investing in munies as this would give you a tax free income that could be compounded. Hence you might come out even but still have your relatively safe reserve fund. Another option is to take out a 25 or 30 year loan, calculate a 15 year payment and pay that. If times get tough drop back to the lower 30 yr payment schedule. Remember loans are paid back with inflated dollars so get cheaper with time. Bankers will be crying in their beer if inflation increases and they are stuck holding a bunch of 5% notes, that is assuming they did not sell them Freddie Mac.

  14. Cyndi asked for an opinion on her mortgage finance strategy.

    In that questioning, she asked a key and most important question – mostly rhetorical to me – but vital to ask of one’s self.

    “Am I being paranoid?”

    People sometimes face a crisis so great that they decide to become refugees – mentally or physically – while others would rather than sit and do nothing until the train has already run them over.

    A change of lifestyle is one thing; becoming a refugee is another.

    People who retire must change their lifestyles.

    But becoming a refugee is something different. It is a person who recognizes that their world will change under them in a very big way, and they either will get swallowed by it or they will get out of the way.

    A refugee ends up giving up most of what he owns. Most of all, he gives up his lifestyle — totally.

    Under what circumstances would you become a refugee? I bet the list is small, and I’d also bet the list will be ignored, even if one of the list items comes true.

    In modern times, war and revolution will force this. Economic crisis will force a revolution. It may force war.

    But, an exception was Hitler’s Germany.

    A Jew could have left in 1933. Hardly any did.

    Yet any Jew who did not read Hitler’s Mein Kampf in 1933 was living in a dream of denial. Radio let people hear his speeches. Why would any Jew have remained in the country after the Reichstag fire and the new emergency laws?

    But they did.

    Four words killed them: “It won’t happen here.”

    To say “it can’t happen here” was foolish. Of course it could. But they concluded that it wouldn’t. It did.

    Ludwig von Mises left Austria in 1934. He warned other Jews to leave. Fritz Machlup did. He came to America before Mises did. Mises looked at as map. He could see what could happen: an invasion by Hitler. He concluded “it might happen here,” and that was enough to drive him out. He left his library behind in his apartment. He kept paying rent on it, just in case he could return from Switzerland. But he was right. In 1938, the German forces marched in.

    He was not a refugee in Switzerland. But when the war broke out, he was not sure he would be allowed to stay. Just after France fell, he decided to make a run for it. He crossed into France to get to Spain. He and his wife made it in a bus — a bus whose driver had to change routes continually to avoid the Germans. They went to Portugal, and from there to New York City, to start over.

    He was 60 years old.

    How many younger people did not act and instead waited for their Death Train.

    Ernst Winter, Sr., the Vice Mayor of Vienna, was a marked man.

    He had fought politically against the Austrian Nazis. So, he had a getaway plan. The day the army marched in — a Friday — he walked across the border into Germany. He hid there. He concluded that no one would look for him there. Eventually, he made it to America. So did Ernst, Jr., who later married a von Trapp sister. The father waited until the last minute, but he had a plan to get out.

    He got out.

    The German authorities showed up at his front door on Monday, just as he told Ernst, Jr. they would. “No bureaucrat works on the weekend.” The son by then had burned all their papers. “They will arrest you. At 15, you are too young. They will release you in a few days.” They did.

    The father had figured out to beat the system. He got out when he had to. How many people think through anything with this degree of precision? Hardly anyone.

    We have time to make plans.

    Here is another story about a man who made plans.

    Hans Sennholz dated a young woman whose father had taught philosophy in a gymnasium (high school) in the city of Essen. As soon as Hitler came into power in 1933, he applied for a transfer. He also switched to mathematics — not controversial. Within a couple of years, he got a teaching job far away in a rural district. He bought a small farm. He raised goats and taught math. The war never got there. He had food to eat. After the partition, he found himself on the West German side of the border — just barely. Meanwhile, Essen became a primary bombing target — its Krupp factory — for three years, a target so significant that a Wiki page is devoted to the bombings.

    Or how about an American story.

    In August of 1862, Major Henry Holliday got dysentery. He was discharged from the Confederate Army. A month later, his unit went to Antietam. Of the ten officers, four were killed, five taken captive, and one was stunned by an explosion. A year later, one month after the fall of Vicksburg and Lee’s loss at Gettysburg, he sold his plantation, which was located south of Atlanta. He moved far south to Valdosta. He bought 3500 acres — five square miles. Why did he move? Because he could read a map. He could see that the Union would take Chattanooga and move south to Atlanta. He got as far away as he could. The war never came to Valdosta.

    Few people see what’s coming.

    Of those who do, few take action.

    I think millions of people will be forced to change their lifestyles as a result of economic disruptions. Forced – and not by design.

    They will be desperate and racing with millions of other desperate and racing people who did not plan. If you are one of them, you will be outnumbered a million to one. Only the very, very lucky can win against those odds.

    Avoid the rush.

    It is better to change your lifestyle early than later.

    People stay on a job for the sake of a pension. That is a mistake. Others assume that their jobs will be safe, no matter what happens to the dollar. That is also unsafe.

    Better to make a lifestyle change on your terms over time than on others’ terms overnight.

    • Well said BF! This is exactly what I’ve been doing. I saw the writing on the wall for my part of Florida four years ago and came to the MI where I’m presently located. We’ve just endured a significate RIF. I still have my job, for now. I’m looking to buy time; that’s why I’m thinking of taking out an extra $10,000 or so while refinancing to a lower fixed apr and shorter term. A year + of advance mortgage payments might come in handy under a number of scenarios. I know I can’t cover them all but I might be able to cover a few by doing this. I can still build cash in hand as you recommend. Gold is limited for me, mostly by price.

      I like the plans you mentioned. These people thought like I do.

  15. Do you guys remember me ranting how Soros was the funds behind the leftist movement and a (shadow government) Tides,Move.on etc. in America just to leverage markets right after the 08 election?The man is sytematically destroying this nation with his schemes.There has to be something somewhere to tie this man to the manipulations happening in the capitol!How can the Brazillian Petrobras,Soros, Obama tie not be seen as impeachment material?If this had been Bush the media would have run with it every news broadcast!

    August 31, 2010
    Covering up for George Soros
    By Ed Lasky

    The sinister, omnipresent moneybags of the American left, George Soros, knows that distraction and misdirection make for a good defense. So do his many lackeys and sympathizers in the American media.

    Recently, the left has built up two conservative billionaire brothers as their latest bogeymen. I am referring to the libertarians Charles and David Koch, who fund, among other groups, Americans for Prosperity. First Barack Obama lambasted them, and his minions in the media dutifully followed. Jane Mayer’s 10,000-word article in the New Yorker, titled “Covert Operations: the billionaire brothers who are waging a war against Obama,” has been widely cited in other liberal media.

    In reality, the brothers have long funded a variety of causes years before anyone had ever heard of Obama. Regardless, Mayer’s article was criticized as shameful by others, including a trenchant bit of criticism by Mark Hemingway in the Washington Examiner. One of Hemingway’s points was right on target: Mayer’s barely visible coverage of George Soros, sugar daddy of the Democratic Party and an early, ardent and generous supporter of Barack Obama. Hemingway excerpts a paragraph from Mayer’s article and notes some omissions:

    But this passage from Mayer’s piece is also worth noting, as a measure of the article’s bias:

    Of course, Democrats give money, too. Their most prominent donor, the financier George Soros, runs a foundation, the Open Society Institute, that has spent as much as a hundred million dollars a year in America. Soros has also made generous private contributions to various Democratic campaigns, including Obama’s. But Michael Vachon, his spokesman, argued that Soros’s giving is transparent, and that “none of his contributions are in the service of his own economic interests.”

    The idea that Soros’ giving is transparent is laughable — he’s given millions to the Tides Foundation, a byzantine organization notorious for obscuring finding sources on the left … Further, Soros was very influential in setting up the Center for American Progress think tank and many other liberal organizations in the last decade. If any billionaire has waged war against a president recently, it’s Soros’ campaign against Bush. To dismiss any concerns about Soros’ political spending while saying that the Koch brothers are at the center of a dark conspiracy is absurd.

    Mayer just let the claim that Soros has no monetary interest when he gives money stand unchallenged — and that was shameful. Where was the famed New Yorker fact-checking department? Did they get laid off?

    Let me expand on Hemingway’s commentary, in light of the view that somehow Soros’s giving has zero to do with his financial interest — or, as his spokesman spins, “none of the contributions are in the service of his economic interests.” New York Times theatre critic turned frothing attack dog columnist of the left Frank Rich has started promoting this theme: Soros is Santa Claus or Mother Theresa. This Sunday, Rich had his typical invective-filled column — also railing against the Kochs — and then gave us this whopper:

    Soros is a publicity hound who is transparent about where he shovels his money and “like many liberals — selflessly or foolishly, depending on your point of view — he supports causes that are unrelated to his business interests.”

    What planet do Mayer and Rich live on? Soros obviously has his financial interests in mind when he gives, and he knows how to use his billions to make more billions by tapping his friends in high places in the Democratic Party.

    For example, Soros has made a boatload of money off his huge investment in the Brazilian oil company, Petrobras, a company that has benefited mightily from its deep offshore oil reserves. Barack Obama had the U.S. Export-Import bank extend billions of dollars of loans to underwrite Petrobras’s offshore oil development. Soros positioned himself to reap big gains just days before his pal in the White House pushed for billions in loans to Petrobras — a company from a country that can certainly tap the financial markets on its own to raise funds to tap oil off its shores. The company did not need easy money from American taxpayers. Yet there was Soros, who somehow was prescient enough to roll the loaded dice in taking a major stake in Petorbras. He got a double-dip type of return when Barack (“never let a crisis go to waste”) Obama shut down deep-water oil exploration off America’s own energy-rich coasts — further enriching the prospects for Petrobras and George Soros.

    Strike one.

    Soros’s pet think-tank, the Center for American Progress, constantly pushes green schemes. Democratic politicians are on board, as well. This group includes Barack Obama who, runs after one electric battery, solar power plant, and windmill after another (when he is not on the links or listening to live music at the club he created in the East Room of the White House). How generous have Obama and the Democrats been to the green schemers? The grand champion of budget-busting departments has been the “Energy Efficiency and Renewable Program,” which received $1.7 billion in 2008 and $16.8 billion in 2009, a 1,014% increase in just one year. Media reports over the past year or so have tied numerous Democratic donors to these “ventures.” They have been richly rewarded with taxpayer dollars.

    What a great scheme! Give thousands to Obama and various Democrats and get billions back in our taxpayer dollars. Who is a big investor in “clean energy,” by the way? Why, none other than George Soros, who announced back in October 2009 that he would invest at least $1 billion in “clean energy.” The Center for American Progress is closely tied to the Obama administration (see “Soros-Funded Democratic Idea Factory Becomes Obama Policy Font”) and serves as its hiring hall, not to mention as the fourth or fifth branch of government (or so it seems — I have the Center for American Progress as a Google search term, and the employees of that tank are all over the media landscape, as well as D.C.). Soros knows how to use leverage, and the millions he put into the Center for American Progress (and into the election of Barack Obama and other leftist Democrats) will reap big returns — at our expense — in the years ahead.

    Strike two.

    Whatever happened to all the hullaballoo regarding hedge funds? Back in 2008 and early 2009, Democrats were busy blaming Wall Street, hedge funds, and Republicans for the financial crisis. We were promised that hedge funds would be regulated to the point of harmlessness, that their investors would have to be disclosed, their positions monitored, their leverage controlled. What happened to those promises? Well, that did not suit hedge fund managers — not at all. So the promises went away.

    And who was one of the biggest hedge fund titans out there? Why, it happens to be none other than George Soros, who made billions in 2008 from the financial and housing collapse and then made billions more in 2009 as the Democrats bailed out Wall Street. Who was the major beneficiary of hedge fund campaign money in 2008? Barack Obama, eclipsing the long-time champ in this area, Christopher Dodd, the Senator from Connecticut (Hedgefundland) who chaired the Senate Banking Committee. In 2008, I noted that Obama was “The Hedge Fund Candidate.”

    Obama, Dodd, and fellow Democrats just forgot that crusade against hedge funds, and Soros continues to rake in billions. George Soros — who is the number-one funder of so-called 527 groups (such as MoveOn.Org) — gets his money’s worth whenever and wherever he puts it to work. He finds his best leverage in the Democratic Party.

    Strike three.

    And a bonus pitch.

    I have written quite a bit about the riches we have in America in the form of shale gas. Soros has investments in the energy industry that would be harmed if our cheap and plentiful reserves were tapped to their full extent. Among his holdings are a huge one in InterOil that has big reserves of natural gas in New Guinea. Democrats are now trying to shut down our shale gas industry by attacking “fracking” — a method that is used to extract the gas from the shale rock that holds it. There is plenty of evidence that fracking is safe and sound — it has been used for many years. Nevertheless, the industry is under attack by Democrats in Congress such as Ed Markey, by Obama’s EPA, by the Center for American Progress, by Pro Publica — an outfit created and funded by Soros pals Herbert and Marion Sandler — and recently by Soros must be getting desperate, as Americans crave cheap natural gas, to bring in, which has heretofore focused on the purely political sport of bashing Republicans and electing as many left-wingers as it could — including, of course, the biggest of them all, Barack Obama.

    One could go on. Soros is an enterprising man and legendary investor. He figured out sooner and better than anyone else how to buy political power and bend politicians to his will. He is not a goody-two-shoes, as partisans on the left try to portray him. He has benefited hugely from leverage, and the best leverage he enjoys is when he “gives” money in ways that are really investments (payoffs, bribes?) in disguise. Shame on Mayer, Rich, and others who hide this history. They also are all but puppets in the hands of George Soros.

    • I suspect he also had a part in the 17 September 2008 incident where $550 BILLION left the market in under two hours. Funny how you never hear about that any more. Now, if it had happened just before a GOP president was elected, do you think we’d have been allowed to forget? Just sayin’.

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