Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Opportunity Cost of $700 Billion

As the talk continues of the federal government bailing out $700 billion for bad loans, we should also step back and ask ourselves what is the long-term cost of this, both publicly and privately. The federal government is currently racking up impressive deficits and therefore borrowing heavily from the private sector capital markets. Where will the $700 billion come from? The capital markets. Capital which could go to productive businesses will instead go to poorly managed ones. Even as someone who believes in some reasonable governmental interventions into the private sector, this one doesn't make any sense at all for our country. It makes alot of sense for the executives of failing or floundering financial institutions who gambled with everyone's money and guessed wrong.

$700 billion is alot of money, money that could rebuild our infrastructure, reinvest in newer more productive manufacturing equipment, could provide feed money to green industries, and dare I say it, be used for off-shore oil platforms. The opportunity cost of 5% of our country's GDP being spent cleaning up the work of incompetents is like repainting the Titanic even as the lower decks are flooding. And the cynical, fear-monguering Republican hierarchy does what they do best, tell the American people "if Congress doesn't give us unprecedented power, lack of oversight, and the freedom to do what we want, the economy will unravel." So let me get this straight, Republican advocates for deregulation who helped create this mess, tell us "we now need more power, even less oversight, or we'll blame our bad decisions on Democrats."

I'm hopeful that the American people aren't so stupid as to fall for this. However, I've had my hopes dashed quite regularly before.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Surprise- Trib Reports Budget Shortfalls Reported for Utah

With Utah experiencing unprecedented prosperity during the last six years, the legislature in it's wisdom decided to significantly reduce taxes. Now that the economy has turned south, well, I guess it was inevitable that budget shortfalls would occur. And during this period of prosperity, how much was put into a rainy day fund? My guess is probably far too little.

This creates quite a challenge for conservative lawmakers, because, first of all, they won't admit they made a mistake by voting for the tax decreases during an election year, so they will look to other options. Many critical services (they say education will be held harmless) will likely take a serious hit. And that is just for this particular year. Next January, when a new crop (most likely, the same crop) of legislators meet in January, they will also have to decide additional budget cuts based upon projections just as gloomy as the ones that predicts the budget shortfall for this year.

This Republican legislature, which already helped pay for their tax cuts by retro-actively cutting the benefits of state employees at retirement, will probably also look at these employees as the ones who will take the hit for their fiscal mismanagement. That is just my guess based upon what they've done in the past.

All in all, I'd say that Utah is in trouble. We are one of the last states to be hit, but we'll have to wait to see if we will be one of the hardest hit. But like Bush's doctrine regarding going into Iraq, where best case scenarios become the basis of future action, this legislature has acted on the basis of projections of future revenue growth that in a historical framework were outliers, and not typical. They went too far with their tax cuts, and have endangered the funding of many state services. And will the public hold them accountable? Based upon past performance of Utah's electorate, I'm not holding my breath.

Don't Worry, God Will Provide

It is an interesting time at my day job. My southern baptist secretary has said in the past, that a woman should never hold the position of President, because God has not ordained women to lead. I've been reluctant to ask her about Sarah Palin, one actuarially likely ruler of the free world should McCain gain election in November. Her opposition to Hillary was based upon "biblical principles", but I haven't heard whether those principles apply to the recently elected Governor of Alaska.

I suspect there may be a paradigm shift going on with my fine secretary. A devout Christian, who believes firmly in an inerrant Bible, may be able to overcome her gender, and like Ruth through her humility and prayer guide our nation to further the Christian cause.

And as far as the large number of pressing issues facing the next administration, don't worry, with a devout Christian in the second spot, God will provide. God will bless us all for our electing a believer, not a deceiver. God will bless us because we didn't allow eight years of failure determine our future. After all, Moses floundered in the desert for forty years, as a test of our fortitude. And yet God provided. Manna from heaven, like lost manufacturng jobs, will certainly come if a true believer ascends to national prominence. This economic crisis is the result of us falling from grace. Once a true believer is in place whispering spiritual wisdom into the ears of an aging, pliable, former maverik, our nation shall gain a powerful ally, God the father, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, manifest with single purpose to turn our nation into a Christian nation, a nation that will throttle rival mythologies. A nation that will act with a righteous fatalism, and do all it can to bring forth armegeddon and bring about the second coming.

Oh, if I were a true believer, I'd put away the concerns about gender. Perhaps Paul overstated his case against women, perhaps when the chips are down, God has a special surprise for all of us, that a woman shall lead us to salvation, to a nation ready to welcome his second coming, to a nation willing to destroy Satan's adversaries to mark the way for his return. Notice should got out to atheists, homosexuals, feminists (unless saved by grace), intellectuals, mormons, and other non-believers, that the time has come, and Sarah Palin, with the grace of God, shall lead us to that terrible, yet wonderful time, where righteousness (as we define it) shall prevail, and wickedness (as we define it) shall utter it's last breath.

Ok, now why is there a green pod next to me.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tiny Flying Vertebrates

While in Hawaii, I took a little cruise to the Captain Cook memorial to do a little snorkeling. On the way, I got to see some flying fish, tiny little fish whose ray-fins have been elongated to allow flight for a certain period in the air. I had never seen these fish before, but was amazed as I watched one fish fly seven feet in the air, and change directions slightly mid-air. Most impressive. When I got home, I also had the experience of watching one of my most favorite vertebrate flyers, the hummingbird. I have purposely planted flowers that bloom in the early fall, that provide nectar to hummers as they fly south. Usually, my yard is dominated early by black-chins, who are displaced in mid to late July by the more aggressive broad-tails. However, the broad-tails head south quickly with the first cold spell, and I usually see migrants such as a few rufous, black-chins and an occasional calliope. The calliope's are the smallest of these, but are extremely accrobatic. Amazing creatures, I was blessed to see on tonight as I barbecued hamburgers for my family, feeding from one of my salvia lemmonii plants.

Evolution is a wonderful thing. The fins, that evolved in such a way that allows a flying fish to escape predators by flying for 50-100 yards have evolved into wings that move so fast with the hummingbirds, we are powerless to see the details of their feathers. Ultimately, those fins evolved into limbs that allowed vertebrates to walk on land, grasp prey, and in our case, evolve an opposable thumb and be able to create complex tools, including the computer upon which I am typing.

These flying vertebrates are indeed impressive. Even those who have created wings with tools, not just flew with fins in all their adaptations.

Thoughts on the Mortgage Crisis

On my trip to Hawaii, I had the opportunity of having a barley based beverage with the CEO of a major financial institution, the institution I work with. As we discussed the financial crisis, we felt a certain pride that our institution, though facing challenges, wasn't losing asset values and is still profitable. Over the years, we've lost alot of business to the various purveyors of creative financing that qualified people who should have qualified for a modest $130,000 home, but got into a $300,000 home instead. The whole basis for these loans was a paradigm that was sustainable under one set of assumptions. The assumptions were that the income of the individual getting the mortgage would increase, and that the value of the house would increase, creating instant equity that would give the borrower flexibility to refinance, or even perhaps, move to an even more impressive home.

Well, the assumptions behind this paradigm, just like the assumptions regarding the continual rise of stock prices in the 1920's that drove people to borrow money to put into the stock market, proved to be wrong. And these people made the wrong decisions and those companies which bought these mortgages as investments made bad decisions. And the instability created by these decisions is creating waves in our financial markets and panic among investors. And unfortunately, it is creating an environment where the government somehow feels the need to bail people out of their bad decisions.

People, and institutions overbuilt in the residential market, driven by tax incentives, and by a drive for easy profits and quick equity. Risks were assumed, but they were assumed ignorantly, on the basis of the future looking exactly like the past. This is symptom of a people who have no knowledge of history or basic finance. And our government bailing out those who hadn't learned the lessons of history only reinforces the idea, that you can essentially speculate with other's money. And the other's our us, the U.S. taxpayers.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Comments on Palin's Interview with Charlie Gibson

First of all, she obviously didn't know what "the Bush Doctrine" meant. She tirelously reverted to the same talking points and showed no ability to intellectually discuss any issue of any import.

Governor Palin, if a light-weight like Charlie Gibson can make you look weak and uninformed, you are unqualified to be a heart-beat away from the Presidency. Your media background may have served you well as someone who can talk the talk, but it is clear to me, after Gibson's interview, that you can't think the think. And it has nothing to do with your gender. It has to do with your education and mindset.

BTW, I may be incommunicado for a while. My laptop is experiencing battery problems and I have decided not to bring it with me to my trip to Hawaii. I will be on the big Island from tomorrow night through Thursday. I don't know if the resort I stay in will have free internet access (though I believe they should), but even so, I plan to golf, scuba, and sightsee a heck of alot more than comment on politics. If I don't respond to your comments on any post, it isn't because I don't care, it is because I am otherwise engaged.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

American Governance 101- Impacts on American Society

David Miller has during the past year highlighted many of the opinions expressed in "The Federalist Papers". Clearly one of the things that influenced the design of our American political system was a desire to create checks and balances on power. Checking the power of executives or monarchs was not a new concept. The English from the time of King John when the Magna Carta was signed (under durress), English monarchs had subjected themselves to some sort of constraint from barons, earls, and other landed gentry. Edward I, while trying bring Wales under his thumb while also trying to further English interests in France and Scotland, found he needed money, and the only way to raise the kind of money needed was to convene those who could provide him the money. Edward III, fighting an expensive war against France (the hundred years war), also needed to raise money, and this monarchical need for money led to the rise of power among what was evolving and English legislative branch of government.

Though the United States rebelled against the English monarch George III, it did so out of a lack of representation within the growing legislative structure in Great Britain. When our nation was founded, many of the concepts of English polity were adopted, however, being even more fearful of executive power, the United States ultimately adopted means by which to further reign in an overreaching executive. Courts, another institution much developed by the English provided the other pillar of balance, ensuring that government abides by it's own laws, while judiciating the laws that are adopted.

Mirrors of this three-pronged series of checks and balances exist all throughout American society, both in government, civic organizations and in business. A corporation has stockholders who elect a board of directors which act as a legislative branch. They hire a CEO and management team that acts as the executive. They usually have a body that also acts as a sort of judicial body that ensures that corporate by-laws, generally accepted accounting principles, and sound internal controls are maintained. Audit committees, outside auditors, internal auditors and other mechanisms are created to ensure that management follows the rules that the legislative branch (board of directors) approve.

This basic organization has many benefits. For one thing, when it operates properly, opportunities for corruption are limited. However, when boards become rubber stamps for management (the executive branch), and the judicial processes of oversight from auditors are lax, corruption is more likely. Also, inefficiencies can be created when people forget which hat they are wearing. A board member should not interfering unnecessarily with the day to day operations of a business any more than a city councilman should be directing city employees daily tasks.

One of the hallmarks of the American system of checks and balances is accountability. When all those who serve within the three-pronged sets of checks and balances do so with integrity, independence and a knowledge of what their role entails, decisions are made with the best available information, and decisions are communicated and implemented in a way that allows the organization to progress.

In my life time, I have had to wear various hats in each of the three branches of governance. Each of these roles creates unique challenges. Working within the legislative branch, the challenge is to ask the right questions of the executive so the decisions made by this branch are as good as possible. A major challenge within the executive role is how to respond quickly and flexibly to a changing environment when constrained by the dictates of the legislative branch. A major challenge of serving in the judicial role is having the courage to challenge the executive when they are violating legislative mandate, or challenging the legislative branch when they have decided to violate higher laws and policies (i.e. pass a policy that is in violation of GAAP or federal statute).

All in all, the American governance model handed down to us by our founders is a remarkable model. When the model works well, it means people understand their role and perform it well. We should evaluate candidates on how well they understand their role and execute it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

We should be fair to Sarah Palin

To do otherwise, would be an insult to her. To treat her with kid-gloves because she is a hockey-mom with lipstick? That is one neutered pit bull. Since we know so little about her, I think careful scrutiny is in order. Did she really seek to ban books her and her evangelical Christian brothers and sisters had issues with? If so, let's discuss what that means. As mayor and governor, did she capriciously fire appointees because she valued their dogma and loyalty more than their competence? Fair question. Competent executives value competent subordinates, not yes men and women. If her "executive experience" counts for anything, we should scrutinize the decisions she has made and on what basis she evaluated her staff. Fair questions of any executives, particularly those who have held executive positions for such a short time, over such a small number of individuals.

Kneedeep pointed out to me that Palin has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined. That may be true, but I value competence far more than experience. Good executives ask tough and insightful questions of subordinates. Good executives seek divergent views. Colin Powell once said, "if you hire a yes man, one of you is redundant." Early returns from Alaska suggest that Palin wanted loyalty more than competence or diversity of opinion. Palin was an ideological right-wing autocrat who seeked to impose her own warped views upon the citizens of Alaska. I'm willing to entertain evidence to the contrary, but like most people, I know only fragments of what her little experience tells us about her.

One thing that dawned on me, in retrospect, was that without giving my IRL information out, that I, Obi wan liberali, have more executive experience than Joseph Biden, Barack Obama, John McCain, and Sarah Palin combined. Though I haven't been a governor for just over a year, and a mayor of a small city, when looking back at the number of FTE's that report to me, and the timeframes that I have managed them, I could make a solid argument that I have more executive experience than all of the candidates combined. Of course, it is true that I have more executive experience than Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Harry Truman, and John F. Kennedy combined before they assumed the Presidency.

Obi wan for President.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thoughts On Palin's Speech

She may be underqualified, she may be a banner of books at her local library, she may be a radical evangelical Christian who implores prayers to enable pipelines to provide gas to Alaska citizens. She may be the mother of a daughter who became pregnant, something not important to me, but something that seems unimportant to those who would find it important if it was the child of a Democratic candidate. She may have less executive experience than a two term mayor of my home town of Tooele. But, she makes an effective attack dog. And let's face it, Republicans love attack dogs.

Now admittedly, she fared well given how ineffective those who preceded her had been. The sarcasm level was a bit over the top, but she tried to reinforce the current myth of John McCain as a maverik, when in fact he has appeased the worst authoritarian conservative nationalists in order to gain the nomination. She showed herself to be an effective and articulator of Republican talking points, while also appearing to show a measure of independence. That a John McCain running mate would bad-mouth the same lobbyists who have dominated and financed John McCain's campaign seems a little hypocritical. Is she running against John McCain and his mentor W, or is she just trying to separate McCain from Bush in ways that are rhetorical rather than real. Is she a breath of fresh air, or is she a vacuum for reason?

Notwithstanding, she if an effective spokesperson for the evils of conservative authoritarianism. I doubt John McCain will be as effective at promoting that agenda.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Joe Leiberman's Speach- I Just Lost Dinner

What in habeaus corpus maximus was Al Gore thinking, in selecting such a war-mongering, two-faced traitor as Joe Leiberman as his Vice Presidential nominee. After watching his speach at the RNC, I have to wonder, do the people of Connecticut feel like Amway representatives at the bottom of the downline? His slavish support for Sarah Pallin, a person he doesn't know from a hole in the wall, showed just what a tool he was for the McCain camp, and totally uncredible, despite his experience in the U.S. Senate.

Leiberman seems to be completely unpeturbed about George W. Bush's most egregious law-breaking and John McCain's slavish support for that erosion of our Constitution. Leiberman seems to suppport any military action against any enemy of Israel, even when such actions are against the interest of the United States. What little respect I held for Leiberman prior to tonight's speech is pretty much gone.

Leiberman has sold his soul, and pretends that he is riding the middle. With our Constitution hanging by a thread, Leiberman has taken up the "Order of the Scissors" and is willing to cut away, and market it as bi-partisan expediency. At the time, I thought Ned Lamont's campaign against Leiberman was misplaced. In retrospect, the citizens of Connecticut should be embarrassed to have elected a man of this low caliber. But I give them some solace, that I too was fooled by him. I too have sought the middle ground at times with authoritarian conservatives. However, I was grounded by a basic understanding of what our country was about, Leiberman does not appear to me to be so grounded. Good bye Leiberman. I hope you got a good deal on your soul.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Conservative Counter-insurgency Movement

You see it in forms both subtle and pervasive. Republicans and their lock-step supporters within certain law enforcement agencies, treating dissidents as insurgents. Organizations that pose a threat to the status quo, are targeted and any means necessary are used to marginalize and weaken them.

What we have seen as conservative attitudes have become ever more strident, is systematic infiltration of organizations that conservatives find threatening, whether they are gun-control advocates, vegetarians, peace activists or even garden-variety environmentalists. Even forms of civil disobedience are portrayed as "terrorist activities", lumping basic protesting with exploding IED's near an Iraqi eheckpoint. The treatment of protesters in St. Paul Minnesota illustrates the lines of thinking of law enforcement towards those who seek to express their point of views through protest.

The Cheney pre-emption doctrine has now been applied to American citizens. Police raids of houses that contain people who disagree with Republicans in St. Paul illustrates how close we have become to a police state. Where the government can conduct surveillance on us, without reasonable oversight, the very mechanisms that Nixon wanted to utilize with his plumbers are surpassed with speed and zeal. Where law enforcement and conservative activists purposely infiltrate groups they are threatened by, you get a sense of just how radical and totalitarian the movement has become.

It just seems in looking at the big picture, that with so many conservatives viewing politics through the lense of manichaean absolutism, that any means must be deployed to prevent undesirable ends. Armageddon is imminent, and all must take up arms in whatever way possible, to ensure this nation sides with Jesus. All I can say is, I'm glad the Republicans didn't hold their convention here. For all I know, I would have needed a new door.

Amidst Our Political Posts- An Ecological One

Working in my yard yesterday, just prior to the rains that turned my yellowing yard a dark green, I observed one of my friendly hummers (female broad-tailed) drinking from my salvia lemmonii (lemmon sage for you amateurs). One thing I discovered was that there are various mojave and sonorra desert species, that time their blooms for the mexican monsoon, that are also surprisingly frost tolerant. Perhaps it is a leftover of the geologically and biologically recent ice age, but there are several desert species that bloom late in the year, and provide pollinators late season nectar. It helps hummers get the fuel to make the long flight south. It helps bumblebees, honeybees and other insect pollinators get a late season burst that ensure their survival through the winter.

I find it rewarding to see hummers I haven't seen all season, show up on their way south to refuel in my yard, which they seem to remember from year to year. Even rufouses and calliopes grace my yard, for they know that there will be blooms of salvia lemmonii, zauschneria latifolia, salvia pinguifolia and a few late blooms of the great hummer magnet, penstemon rostriflorus.

I have a real appreciation for pollinators, not only hummingbirds which I have a special love for. Bumblebees, hovering flies, and a whole score of different kinds of butterflies and hawkmoths grace my yard. Such biodiversity is a reminder, that pesticides may kill those pests we dislike, but kill the pollinators for which we have a symbiotic relationship with.

I have had neighbors complain that my yard attracts too many bees and other stinging critters. Surprisingly, I have been stung once. I have two older daughters, age 11 and 9, and only one of the two have been stung, once. But my daughters have shared an appreciation for nature as they've watched so many interesting creatures enter my yard.

We in Utah, seem to appreciate sterile, and well-manicured yards. This may come as a shock, but I don't ascribe to such conformity. I like the fact, that my yard is built to attract critters, not just home teachers (which still visit me curiously). I'm sure there are some who think I should "clean up my yard." The reality is, that I have designed my yard not to create the chemlawn ideal of pest-free sterile landscape. I have designed it to NOT conform to the rest of the neighborhood. I have tried to provide as many different species of plants as possible, because I learned early and often, that different plants attact different species. Here is a small sample of the plants in my yard.

Trees- Non-fruit
Abies concolor- white fir
Acer grandidentatum- bigtooth maple
Betula nigra- river birch
Cercocarpus ledifolius- curl-leap mahogany
Forestiera neomexicana- New Mexican privet
Fraxinus pennsylvanica- green ash
Picea glaucuns- Rocky Mtn Blue Spruce
Pinus aristata- bristlecone pine
Pinus edulis- Pinyon pine
Pinus ponderosa- Ponderosa pine (duh)
Quercus gambellii- gambel oak
Quercus macrocarpa- bur oak (because I like Bach and Handel- get it?)

Amelenchier alnifolia- serviceberry
Amelenchier utahensis- utah serviceberry
Buddleia daviddii- butterfly bush
Cornus sericea- red osier dogwood
Cowania stansburiana- stansbury cliffrose
Juniperus species- various
Salix exigua- coyote willow
Shepherdia argentea- silver buffalo-berry
Solidago canadensis- Canadian goldenrod

Achillea milleforium- yarrow
Acquilegia caerulea- rocky mtn columbine
Agastache cana- hummingbird mint
Agastache foeniculum- blue licorice mint
Agastache rupestris- licorice mint
Agastache urticifolia- coyote mint
Asclepias speciosa- Large obnoxious milkweed
Berlandiera lyrata- chocolate flower
Centranthus ruber- jupiter's beard
Crocuses- various
Echinacea purpurea- purple coneflower
Heuchera sanguinea- ?
Iris- bearded various
Lavandula- several species
Monarda fistulosa- Bee balm
Narcissus- Various Daffodils
Nepeta faasenii- Blue catmint
Penstemon angustifolius- ?
Penstemon augustifolius- Grand-leaf penstemon
Penstemon barbatus- Scarlet bugler
Penstemon cardinalis- Cardinal penstemon
Penstemon cyananthus- wasatch penstemon
Penstemon eatonii- Firecracker penstemon
Penstemon digitalis- husker red penstemon
Penstemon parryi- Parry's penstemon
Penstemon pinifolius- pine leaf penstemon
Penstemon pseudospecabilis- Desert penstemon
Penstemon rostriflorus- bridge's penstemon
Penstemon rydberghi- Rydbergh's penstemon
Penstemon strictus- rocky mountain penstemon
penstemon secundiflorus- ?
Penstemon virens- Blue-mist penstemon
Penstemon whippleanus- whipple's penstemon
Perovskia atriplicifolia- russian sage
Salvia lemmonii- lemmon's sage
Salvia pinguifolia- Desert sage
Salvia superba- Blue spire salvia
Stachys coccineas- ?
Ratibida columnifera- yellow coneflower
Leucanthemum superbum- shasta daisy
Tulipa- various tulips
Zauschneria latifolia- humminbird weed

I may have missed a few, but what I've tried to accomplish is a biodiversity within my yard. I hope others will do the same. Pollinators have an important symbiotic relationship with us. Providing them with nectar sources is more important than providing well manicured, yet sterile yards. If anyone wants any of the species I have identified, let me know, I just might grow you something.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Obama's Lost Opportunity- The Rule of Law

First of all, I've been on the record as saying Obama "hit the ball out of the park" with his magnificent nomination acceptance speech. That being said, I feel one area that was not adequately addressed was just how radical the Bush adminstration's view of executive power has corrupted our Republic and undermined generations of countervailing views on the balance of powers within our government. The fact that McCain supports this radical view of republican democracy should alarm anyone concerned with the health of our republic.

It is instructive to remember, that our founder's rebellion against monarchical authority was based in part on a fear of too much power held in the hands of one person, unaccountable and undeterred by the will of the people. It wasn't base tax burden, but taxation without representation, that infuriated American patriots to rebel from the monarch whom they had sworn allegiance to.

The radicalism of the Cheney/Addison/Yoo doctrines of unfettered powers in the executive branch during undeclared wars, against un-nation states is so radical, that even many conservative legal experts have cringed. The willingness to abrogate the Geneva Conventions, conventions we not only supported as a nation, but helped frame, shows that a fundamental shift has occured in our Republic. The lack of noise from people other than those labelled radical liberals and right-wing libertarians (Paul supporters) indicates that many Americans are willing to surrender the basic foundational republican structures of our nation in order to gain a measure of security. To me, this is an appeasement to terrorism. Those who have taken these measures, have surrendered our foundational freedoms and institutional structures to a bunch of radical, islamic fundamentalist, who in my mind, are first class idiots.

The willingness of this adminstration to justify spying on it's own citizens outside the parameters of FISA, is alarming, but perhaps no mention of this was made because Democrats have been complicit and share the responsibility for this surrendering powers to the executive. Our willingness to accept torture and detainment without recourse, shows that as a nation, we have descended to the morals of third world dictators, not constitutional government which respects the rights of the individual.

At some point, Obama needs to define the difference between someone committed to the rule of law, and someone committed to unfettered executive power. Americans must be able to rid themselves of the green pod at their side, that says, so long as I'm granted the illusory perception of safety, I'm willing to have people spy on me or detain me if I'm considered a threat to the government.

The moral high-ground surrendered by this administration leaves us vulnerable. It leaves us short of allies and short of ammunition against those who would use force to impose their will on others. Though Obama needs to speak to the general populace, he also needs to awaken them to the tragedy that has occured under his would be predecessor. He needs to lead us through enlightenment, not pander to us based upon what his pollsters and out of touch political consultants tell him.

I support Barack Obama. Barack and his amazing abilities to communicate with the citizenry can and should be used to convey both our loss and our hope for restoring what we've lost these last 7.75 years. I know I sound like I'm preaching, but I truly fear for the Republic my old mentor J.D. Williams advocated to me as a remarkable institution of checks and balances and devotion to liberty for individuals. Barack is clearly better than his opponent, but I want him to show a commitment to our basic, fundamental beliefs in the rule of law. Barack, "yes you can."