Saturday, February 28, 2009

Pain increasing in households as economy sinks; who has our backs now as life turns hard?

Tonight at his 5 p.m. Mass, Father Joe Pat Breen of St. Edward Catholic Church in Nashville spoke passionately about the pain felt in his congregation and in Music City from the decline in the economy.

Divorces, he said, have greatly increased the past four to five months, along with layoffs and the decline in the 401ks and other savings of parishioners. At Breen's direction, St. Edward earlier this year offered $100,000 in stimulus checks to the families of children in the church's K-8 school.

Yesterday, the decline in the fourth quarter Gross Domestic Product for the nation was revised downward from 3.8 to a shocking 6.2 percent.

That means things were a lot worse than we thought as 2008 ended. This year has started down the same path.

People are feeling a lot of anger, Breen said.

Yes, and they feel betrayed -- by everyone from politicians to Wall Street to banks to all the financial talking heads on TV.

But Father did not leave the distressing situation unresolved. He encouraged parishioners to look at the people next to them in the pews, and perhaps invite them to dinner after Mass, or bring them to their homes to have hamburgers.

Get to know one another, and help alleviate the anger by listening, sharing and supporting.

Yes, with our busy schedules, such a request would seem an annoyance and impossibility. Yet actually, all we have now is each other, and the faith we share.

Who has our backs?

We do, in the pew.

TennCare advocacy community celebrates choice of KS governor to be HHS director; it sinks Bredesen's chances to revive his political career

Today's choice of Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as nominee for secretary of health and human services should be labeled as the saving of a nation and its most vulnerable citizens.

Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen, whose TennCare cuts in 2005 cost people their lives, was in the running to be President Obama's choice. And that caused horror amid the advocacy community here, including myself.

Led by Tony Garr, the community informed a nation and the administration about the bad man they were considering. And Bredesen's name, which had shown up on Time magazine's website, soon fell out of consideration.

An angry Bredesen -- while refusing to confirm he was under consideration -- lashed out against the advocacy community before TV cameras earlier this month. He denied the human carnage he caused. But enough people knew the truth, here and in Washington.

Now Bredesen has to complete the last two years of his term in Tennessee and make budget cuts he hates. He doesn't hate the cuts for the human suffering caused, but because he will lose the political Teflon he has possessed for much of his malignant political career.

And now that career is over in an increasingly Red state.

So hats off Tony and other advocates for saving the nation from a man who would rather harm than help. Now we'll have to deal with his anger.

The Oracle of Omaha finally takes blame for some reckless investment decisions he made in 2008; he caused a lot of Americans to lose lots of money

Warren Buffet has finally confessed that he was full of hot air last year in trying to turn back the decline in the stock market all by himself.

The Oracle of Omaha bragged to the American people that he was investing in the stock market. When people get fearful, it is time to get greedy, he boasted.

And he lost his pants but still has plenty clothing left.

The New York Times reports:

The renowned investor Warren E. Buffett chided himself and the business world at large in his annual letter to shareholders of his holding company on Saturday as he sifted through the wreckage of his worst year in four decades.

Mr. Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, reported a 62 percent drop in net income for 2008 and posted a decline in book value per share for only the second time since he took control in 1965. Shares of the company, which peaked in late 2007 at more than $148,000 apiece, closed Friday at $78,600.

With characteristic candor, Mr. Buffett, 78, took the blame for some of the declines, stating that he “did some dumb things,” lamenting in particular an ill-timed bet on oil and the purchase of shares in two Irish banks, which have fared poorly.

Most tragically for this nation, Buffet has been one of President Obama's closest economic advisers. And the president's budget displays the same brash, braggart Buffet way.

Buffet cost a lot of Americans a lot of money in keeping them in the market last fall or convincing them to get in, and he should apologize over and over. Supposed financial guru Dave Ramsey should do the same.

While the Oracle still has billions for investment, the average American household doesn't. They've lost more than half of the value in their 401ks and other accounts.

This guy loves to see himself on TV. He should now stay secluded in Omaha until he can show a profit.

Go to for the rest of this column on how to reform public education before plowing more unnecessary money into it

For your state and local tax dollars, the largest expense is public education. And I use "expense" on purpose.

If we follow the Whitney Houston song about children being our future, one would believe that public education spending is an investment.

But from what I have witnessed in classrooms in Nashville, and from the largest per pupil spending in the District of Columbia where achievement is the worst, taxpayers are not getting their money's worth.

That's because the bureaucracy surrounding public education in Nashville and around the nation gets first crack at your money. And your dollars go to administrator salaries, large support staff, high central office salaries and programs that simply don't work.

By the time the money gets to the classroom, a big share is missing.

My credentials come from three national reporting awards from the Education Writers Association in Washington, D.C. and two national writing awards from the Casey Journalism Center at the University of Maryland.

I also used my column to help force through charter public school-authorizing legislation in Tennessee earlier this decade.

Consider that from your state tax dollars and the local ones in Nashville, a whopping $8,176 is provided annually there for each child. In a classroom of 20 students, that's an incredible $162,000.

Yet Metro schools have failed to meet No Child Left Behind Act standards for five years. This failure will result in the state of Tennessee taking over the schools, and the expense will be paid by everyone, including you in Williamson County.

There is a better, immediate way. It is called school choice -- creating competition for the public school bureaucracy. And there are two ways you can make a difference now.

I was wrong; I predicted Dow would fall to 7,000 by end of month; I was off 62 points; still waiting for same from NewsChannel 5 and Dave Ramsey

I have to admit it. And the record on this blog shows I wrote the following on Feb. 4:

What I can't understand is why so many people still today are so committed to greed and refuse to get out the market as it prepares to plummet to 7,000 on the Dow this month. And that will be this month -- as it heads down to 5,700 by the turn of the year or soon after.

The stock market(Dow Jones Industrial Average) did not fall from near 8,000 at the beginning of the month to 7,000 yesterday.

It finished at 7,062. So I was a tad off, as wealth was reduced 12 percent on Wall Street for the month.

Against others, however, that kind of guess looks good. Back in September 2008, NewsChannel 5 featured supposed financial guru Dave Ramsey on its 6 p.m. newscast. He told people to get into growth mutual funds. Then, the Dow was at 10,600. And I slammed the TV station for giving Ramsey an unquestioning forum to give such reckless advice to viewers.

Simple math will tell you that people who took Ramsey's advice through NewsChannel 5 have now lost 36 percent of their money. And now those people are being told by financial advisers to stay in the market because they'll miss out on a rebound, which in one day could go up like 1,000 points with the right circumstances and government report.

They also are being told not to certify their losses by getting out. It's only on paper as long as you don't sell. Gosh, that's twisted, but indicative of the undisciplined society we have become.

These poor people are indeed in a no-man's land. I wouldn't dare tell you now what to do.

Meanwhile, here is another prediction:

The Dow is going to continue down, reaching 6,000 by mid-Spring and close to 5,000 by year's end. Don't believe anyone who tells you to get into equities now to be ready for the upturn. If you do, then I have an Obama budget to show you that is actually going to significantly reduce the deficit by the end of 2012.

It's not. Yesterday's shocking GDP revision for the fourth quarter proved that.

Some people say don't use the Dow as a barometer for health of Wall Street and investments there. They say go to the S$P. Yes, it has 500 stocks compared to the Dow's 30, which includes former giants such as GM and GE, now in the single digits. Incredible.

But the S&P is too-weighted to the financials, which are headed toward even more pummeling than the Dow when the full extent of losses is determined. But we're all waiting on the Treasury Department to finally say what is a bad asset, home prices to settle at a bottom and Congress and Obama to say if there will be another TARP. Heaven help the taxpayer and investor.

So I follow the Dow. And I can admit when I am wrong, as with my February projection. I was off 62 points.

I'm just waiting on NewsChannel 5 and Dave Ramsey to do the same formally on the air at 6 p.m. on a weekday soon.

Want to know why American auto industry needs bailing out: Go to Consumer Reports' gradings

My friend and colleague Tony Williams of Dallas sends me another gem from his mighty perspective on the world:

Consumers Reports gradings of the top vehicles lacks American autos.

Of the more than 300 vehicles Consumer Reports recently tested, these Top Picks are the best all-around choices in their categories. This year's list includes two new models: The Toyota Highlander is the new pick for midsized SUVs, unseating the Hyundai Santa Fe. And thanks to improved reliability, the Chevrolet Avalanche replaced the Chevrolet Silverado as top choice for pickups. See more details on all Top Picks in the Profiles.

So why should the taxpayer bail out an industry not delivering quality? The big newspaper industry is closing down because of it. Big Auto should, too, in GM and Chrysler.

Ford is fighting back and is making do on its own. Let free market capitalism remain free.

Walking through Tammy Wynette's old home quite a treat and look into life of a most gracious woman

Judson Baptist Church is one of the great places to worship in Nashville. Pastor Mims preaches a very clear and cleansing message of Christianity to ensure that Christ is what believers are about -- not themselves or cultural values or busy schedules.

I had the privilege last night of enjoying that message and one of the church's key possessions -- the former home of the late and great Tammy Wynette.

Her old home is located next to the church on Franklin Pike. The good believers there refer to the place as the Big House. And it is. The church's youth use the place as their center. And it is used well.

A tour of the home is so eye-opening to the graciousness of Ms. Wynette. The sunken living room with fire place and high ceiling is most warm in the feeling it encourages. The kitchen is so wide and inviting for people to gather and enjoy being alive with great food. You can easily fit 30 people in it. The side, stone patio is quite large, and was a place for social gatherings and weddings.

Her bedroom, which used to have sunken place for the bed, is quite elegant in design with large windows to show off the gorgeous surroundings.

Her walk-in closet with the arch windows is magnificent, befitting her stardom and talent. It is as long as a living room. And you just imagine the beautiful and shining dresses that once sparkled in the walk in-and-through closet.

You can still feel her spirit there throughout the house. And it is appropriate that it is now mixed with the good believers at Judson.

I was first introduced to them through the courageous fight of Ashley Holmertz against bone cancer. Ashley, 23, went to heaven last year, and now she sees God because of the purity of her heart. All she wanted to be was a mother and wife. And she was so wonderful with children she cared for in Nashville and Williamson County households and at the Y.

She also was a missonary to Latin America, and the kids flocked to her. She possessed the beauty of a model and the heart of a killer on the soccer field she had to give up early in her fight. She was the enforcer.

O, she was such a well-rounded human being, the best of all of us.

Her mother still goes to the church and has been battling breast cancer. She did everything imaginable to keep Ashley on this Earth for eight years. I have never seen a greater testament of the love of a mother for a child. And I have never seen a place of worship champion a family as Judson, led by the incredible Donna Drinkwine.

Judson is a special place. And now that Ms. Wynette's house is in its possession, fans can be assured that her memory is honored and cherished by the good people there.

Despite his budget, Obama making sounder decisions -- this time on force kept in Iraq

Mounting criticism from the Left shows that President Barack Obama made the right decision in his plans to keep a larger than expected force in Iraq after the big pullout to be completed in 2010.

The size of force that will remain to the end of 2011 is the president's recognition of the sacrfice made there. And it shows he has listened to many of the loved ones of the fallen in Iraq. Their sacrifice should not be in vain.

He also realizes the danger of Iran sweeping in and taking over, and becoming a Muslim superpower to threaten Israel, our great friend.

I can tell you that for the six Gold Star Moms who are my friends, and the servicemen who are close to me, Obama has made a courageous, wise choice.

The Left and the Pelosi-led House will give him a lot of problems over this decision. But Obama has the support of the people who count, and who make the sacrifice each day for the freedoms we enjoy.

Thank you, Mr. President.

Losing weight made simple: Temporary diets are no replacement for permanent lifestyle choices; give up the fries, you really won't miss them

One of the best things about having leukemia for the past 38 months -- and the diabetes it has brought -- has been the permanent lifestyle choices forced upon me.

Now I cannot think of living without these restraints that have actually liberated me.

No more french fries and fried foods frees the body of disgusting toxins. Green, leafy vegetables in exchange for potatoes really give you more energy and remove the feeling of being bloated. I hate the sensation now of overeating and do not go to buffets anymore.

Best of all, my body craves exercise, twice daily. The more vigorous, the better.

And man, it really is nice being slender and avoiding the mid-life, male belly hanging over the belt. Clothes fit so easily. It really makes you feel better about yourself, even if you are like me and haven't been blessed with good looks. I now know I will be slender for the rest of my life, even if it is shorter because of the leukemia.

Research just released from the National Institutes of Health shows that losing weight and keeping it off requires permanent choices. Oprah Winfrey has been indicative of the stop and start dieting that plagues Americans. And so many Americans are obese, one-third of all of us, which is like holding a gun to your head 24 hours a day.

NBC's Biggest Loser is not the right recipe either. Who has time to commit weeks upon weeks, full-time, to losing weight? And who can afford a personal trainer?

Read the following from Yahoo News which makes perfect sense to take control of your body and life -- for the rest of your life:

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Eating heart-healthy, low-calorie foods and exercising is the key to losing weight regardless of levels of protein, fat or carbohydrates, a new study has found.

The research, funded by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health, seems to argue against blanket use of diets that do not necessarily limit calories but call for eating certain foods such as vegetables or proteins, at the expense of others.

The NIH study of 811 volunteers, 38 percent of them men and 62 percent women, aged 30-70 and either overweight or obese, looked at diets that have been popular in the United States in recent years, even as the number of obese Americans has soared.

The "Preventing Overweight Using Novel Dietary Strategies (POUNDS LOST) study found similar weight loss after six months and two years among participants assigned to four diets that differed in their proportions of these three major nutrients," said researchers.

"The diets were low or high in total fat (20 or 40 percent of calories) with average or high protein (15 or 25 percent of calories). Carbohydrate content ranged from 35 to 65 percent of calories.

"The diets all used the same calorie reduction goals and were heart-healthy low in saturated fat and cholesterol while high in dietary fibre," said researchers, whose study is published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Participants lost an average 13 pounds (5.9 kilos) at six months and maintained a nine-pound (four-kilo) loss at two years.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Shocking drop in fourth quarter GDP sends markets lower and undermines Obama budget contentions

The economy in the fourth quarter performed at a shockingly weaker pace than previously predicted, making President Obama's budget contentions to reduce deficit spending much less credible.

The New York Times reported:

Output fell 6.2 percent at an annualized rate in the fourth quarter of 2008, revised downward from a previous estimate of a 3.8 percent decline. The drop was even steeper than many economists had feared, and was much lower than the 0.5 percent contraction from the previous quarter.

The announcement comes on the heels of a new budget from the Obama administration that assumes what some economists have called an unrealistically optimistic view of the near-term future of the American economy.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Obama makes tough but right choice in continuing ICE raids for undocumented workers; these times require sacrifice -- here grudgingly is mine

President Obama has set off a wave of outrage throughout the Hispanic advocacy community across America this week by continuing the Bush administration policy of ICE raids of workplaces for undocumented workers.

This move comes despite his wife's promise to Hispanic leaders at the Democratic Party National Convention that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids of workplaces would stop. The raids have become inhumane to worker families and due process in this nation.

I have opposed such raids in my writing and advocacy. But the economic times have changed so severely. First-time jobless claims for American citizens reached almost 700,000 people, show figures released today. There ia growing need for work, any work in this land. And undocumented immigrants cannot be allowed to take these jobs.

Their removal from this country will force employers to pay somewhat higher wages to get American citizens into the jobs. Ultimately, the resources of this nation belong to its citizens first. These are extra-ordinary times, as the loss of wealth in this nation has easily eclipsed that of the Great Depression.

It pains me to support the ICE raids. But it is imperative to remove people who do not have the legal right to hold those jobs. They must be made available first for the relief and support of citizens here and those people legally here.

While the Hispanic advocacy community has been critical of Obama for this move, it was an inevitable one in keeping with the economic times ... and the rule of law. More strongly enforcing immigration laws will help citizens in need. They must come first.

Undocumented human beings, however, should still be treated humanely and constitutionally. The 287g deportation program in Nashville and 60 other places around the country does not meet those standards. If Obama is going to treat terrorists more humanely, then he should also do so with undocumented immigrants in returning them home.

And terrorists should be kept off American soil like undocumented immigrants.

I wish there was a better way and these were more healthy economic times. But they are not. These times require responsibility and sacrifice on the personal and governmental levels. And so this nation has no choice but to free up jobs for its citizens first, and that should be a priority for the Obama administration.

Before being Hispanic, I am an American first. That is the deepest of my roots here, besides my Christian faith. And so it is for my extended family as well.

No matter our ethnicity, we all cannot afford to be anything but Americans first -- not even Republicans or Democrats -- if this nation and its citizens are to survive the next several years of the Great Recession.

May God help us all to make the right decisions.

For the love of Hunter: Sumner County boy triumphing in last round of serious chemo

The body reacts differently to chemotherapy deep into potentially terminal leukemia.

All chemo kills cells, good and bad. But after the body has been pummeled for months and months by chemo, it makes a decision that doctors cannot predict but prayers can only answer.

It revives. It bounces back from the chemo quicker and stays stronger longer. And what once weakened to fragility, now is more willingly accepted by the body and incorporated in a revival of health.

I can say with increasing confidence that such is the case with 6-year-old Hunter, as he passes the first of three weeks of extra-ordinary chemo to stay in remission and return to a near normal life of maintenance chemo.

Wednesday, he had another spinal tap to get the chemo to his brain. Then he had to have blood, which is a frustratingly slow three-hour process. But his spirits were high as we watched his favorite show about something about "Cody", one of twin blond boys who sing and act with integrity.

It is quite good. We also played with Wonders of Nature figurines, which come in tribes from the sea, volcano and forest.

It is so wonderful to see this boy surge forward, even growing a half inch. His strength is reminiscent of the vitality that returned to my body after I almost died from the same leukemia at Vanderbilt two years ago. Prayers do make a difference.

And wonder of wonders -- peach fuzz has emerged on his previously bald head. You see, the body does catch up. Praise be to God.

Hunter will get less chemo next week at the Monroe Carell Jr. Vanderbilt Children's Hospital. It becomes a more marvelous place for me to visit each week. And the good people there in the waiting rooms -- on the third floor pediatric surgery center and the sixth floor cancer treatment area -- are so patient and loving. An Amish lady and her daughter were there yesterday. And a grandmother was grabbing a quick nap as her grandchild was in surgery.

You can't help but want to pray for each of these people over and over. You know they would rather be receiving the chemo or be in surgery. But they can't.

So we must pray. And hope, that like Hunter, their loved ones are being readied for much better and more normal days to come.

Now this information is really damn scary

There's a reason why investors and taxpayers fear the federal government getting further involved in the banking industry.

Too many big, national banks represent a fiscal black hole for taxpayer money. And the following FDIC report this afternoon turned the stock market from 100 points positive on the Dow to 90 points negative by the end of the trading day.

AP reported:

America's banks lost $26.2 billion in the last three months of 2008, the first quarterly deficit in 18 years, as the housing and credit crises escalated.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. said Thursday that U.S. banks and thrifts also more than doubled the amount they set aside to cover potential loan losses, to $69.3 billion in the fourth quarter from $32.1 billion a year earlier.

Regulators said there were 252 banks in trouble at the end of 2008, up from 171 in the third quarter.

The FDIC also said that for all of last year, the banking industry earned $16.1 billion, the smallest annual profit since 1990.

Rising losses on loans and eroding values of assets "overwhelmed" banks' revenues in the fourth quarter, the FDIC said. More than two-thirds of all banks and thrifts turned a profit in that period but their earnings were outstripped by large losses at a number of major banks.

Obama budget spending purposeful, visionary, but it scares the hell out of investors and taxpayers

President Obama's first budget sets higher standards for honesty and visionary objectives. He is a leader who knows what he wants in the tradition of Ronald Reagan.

But the growing of government -- contrary to Reagan's vision -- is quite scary to investors and taxpayers. That's because Obama does not ultimately control this process. Budget matters are under more Congressional direction, and these politicians end up spending more money than a president wants.

As it now stands, the Obama budget represents more than $25,000 per taxpayer, the Drudge Report said.

Consider the House, which just passed a $400 billion spending bill that contained more than 8,500 earmarks, something Obama said earlier this week he was wanting to eliminate. But Speaker Pelosi already said before Obama took office that she was going to follow her own political muse.

The New York Times reported:

And one watchdog group said the bill provided nearly $8 billion for more than 8,500 pet projects favored by lawmakers, including $1.7 million for a honey bee laboratory in Weslaco, Tex.; $346,000 for research on apple fire blight in Michigan and New York; and $1.5 million for work on grapes and grape products, including wine.

Representative John Fleming, Republican of Louisiana, said Mr. Obama’s call for fiscal responsibility, in a speech to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, was “sandwiched between two wasteful spending bills.”

However, Republicans have shown themselves no more virtuous than Democrats in spending control. And it was the Bush administration that exploded the deficit with an unnecessary war that was never budgeted. To his great credit, Obama is budgeting the war into his numbers.

I can appreciate what Obama wants to do even if I do not agree with him. It is the politicians who support him in his own party who are going to turn this budget into a disaster for taxpayers and investors.

And that will delay any economic recovery.

Big newspapers continue to rightly fall; like automakers, papers are victims of own arrogance

E.W. Scripps Co. announced today the Rocky Mountain News would cease to publish Friday, marking a growing tide of big newspapers around the country failing and folding.

And rightly so. Never has one industry been more biased against the reader and his or her interests, in favor of a liberal elitism serving the few.

Consumers have brought on this decline, as they have with the auto industry.

The San Francisco Chronicle faces the same lingering fate that the News had been facing. It is up for sale to anyone, or it will close. Philadephia's newspapers are in bankruptcy court.

Change comes. And with the newspaper industry, it is righteous one. The winners from this change will be the readers, who will now turn to community newspapers that are locally owned and respect the interests of their neighbors -- because their owners live there as neighbors, not as executives in some corporate palace states away.

America playing both ends for profit as Mexico descends into chaos and probable collapse

I was sitting in the choir box at church Tuesday when a fellow singer and I were discussing what I had been writing lately on my blog.

I noted the danger of government collapse in Mexico and Pakistan and the danger posed to our nation and world.

Mexico's problems revolve around druglords who are winning the battle with the government for control. Part of the problem is corruption in the police and with judicial authorities.

My friend responded that Mexico's history of corruption was baffling and sad. The bottom line is that there is something wrong with people south of the border.

There really isn't. They actually are no different than us, and so it is with their government.

It is just that America has had the wealth to withstand the corruption undermining all levels of government. But "had" is the key word here. Our nation is collapsing economically because all the corruption here from Wall Street to banks to Washington to personal households has finally caught up with America and dried up all available funds.

And so this nation's leaders are embarking on unprecedented deficit spending that will ensure this nation never returns to the wealthy days it once enjoyed. In a way, that is a corruption.

If we look at history, America stole its way to the prosperity that allowed it to cover up its corruption. Texas and California are major global economies in themselves. If Mexico had them still, then the situation would be in reverse concerning government collapse.

Today's New York Times reports on how gun dealers in this nation are profiting from shipping weapons to the druglords in Mexico to win the fight. Isn't that ironic, considering the Lou Dobbs always complains about Mexico sending drugs in the U.S to our detriment?

The bigot never criticizes the addictions of America's citizens. You have to provide the market before the drugs can be sent in. It always is easier to blame someone else than to apply discipline at home.

Mexico's collapse will severely affect this nation, particularly the border states. A refugee crisis will have to be addressed by President Obama as citizens from South of the border flee here for safety. If Obama can show mercy to terrorists at Guantanamo, will he do the same for Mexican families who have done no wrong?

America's role historically and currently in Mexico's collapse is unmistakable. And our government now enters its most uncertain days as we no longer have the wealth to cover up all our corruption.

BREAKING NEWS: GM reports 2008 loss of $16.8 billion; bailout becomes riskier for taxpayers

General Motors reported a 2008 loss of $16.8 billion and a fourth quarter loss of $2 billion more than expected -- increasing fears that further government intervention with the automaker will only mean much more taxpayer loss.

Money lent to the automaker last year was wiped out in the fourth quarter.

President Obama in his State of the Union address said that GM and all the nation's automakers would not be abandoned by the government.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

President invests in Nashville's top charter public school; Project Reflect's Smithson Craighead Academy lands $225,000 for middlle school

Two days before his State of the Union Address, President Obama's administration awarded a $225,000 grant for the start up of Project Reflect's charter middle school in Nashville. It opens this fall.

The non-profit's Smithson Craighead Academy still will need to come up with a $2.4 million operating budget, which will mostly be taken from public per pupil spending in Metro of $8,176. A charter school is a public school, and per pupil spending follows the student there.

The purpose of the start-up funds from the federal government is to pay for items that the regular annual budget would not cover, such as a school full of furniture, brand new books and supplies in every subject area for 300 kids, a lab or two full of computers, sports equipment for the whole physical education program, etc.

Project Reflect submitted an application for the funding a while back.

In his speech last night to Congress, Obama cited charter schools as one of his education priorities to rescue children from failing, regular public schools. Metro Nashville Schools have failed to meet No Child Left Behind Act standards for the past five years.

Charter schools represent more efficient spending of public school dollars with better results for children who have been left behind. Smithson Craighead in its five years has recorded the fifth highest achievement scores in the school district. The school is under the umbrella of Project Reflect, a non-profit organization headed by Sister Sandra Smithson of Nashville. She is a Catholic nun and native of Nashville.

Before charter schools were allowed in Tennessee earlier this decade, Smithson and her natural sister, Tennessee Hall of Fame teacher Mary Craighead, ran a summer and after-school program to catch children up who were left behind in Metro public schools.

After legislation authorizing charter schools, the sisters opened a K-4 charter public school. Ms. Craighead died earlier this year. But she knew of the plans to open the middle school this fall. Plans now are in the works to open Nashville's first charter public high school under Project Reflect.

As the new director of the board for development(fundraising) at Project Reflect, I will be heading a new campaign to raise money and public support under the cause of "Saving Our Public Schools." It has been distinct privilege to have been involved with the cause behind Project Reflect since 1997. My new position is unpaid.

Read more about how charter schools can serve as a point of reform for public education spending tomorrow in my column at

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Decision: Obama prevails on split judges' cards: for a political leader, a strong speech; for investors such as myself, it was not nearly enough

President Barack Obama gave quite a strong political speech for a chief executive delivering his first State of the Union Address.

He outlined an impressive agenda on health care reform, which is most needed.

His energy agenda was impressive and far-reaching. His education initiative was long on spending and short on real reform. Providing more incentives for teachers to do a good job is in sharp contrast to what is demanded as a basic from all workers in the private sector. If they don't do a good job, they're fired.

But as far as convincing the people with money in this nation to re-invest in the financial markets and job-creating enterprises, the speech was far from enough.

Obama's mathematics on cutting the deficit -- partly based on a peace dividend from Iraq -- does not account for the increased cost for the escalation of the war in Afghanistan and increased U.S. intervention in Pakistan. At best, this equation is a wash, not a sum benefit to the nation's fiscal balance sheet.

Taxing households making more than $250,000 is fine, but there are far fewer of those households after the round of layoffs from the Great Recession.

Obama admitted that even more money than the $700 billion already committed to the nation's financial system will have to be spent. And no one knows the final price tag of that disastrous intervention, because the Treasury Department has yet to release details on what will be considered a bad asset.

The president continuously said that the nation could ill afford to do nothing. I disagree. Making too costly policy decisions that will not make a meaningful difference threaten to turn this recession even nastier and make it longer. His commitment tonight to the U.S. auto industry's restructuring was disturbing. That will mean even more spending for bad behavior.

Ultimately, this generational theft of the futures of our children and grandchildren is inexcusable. Bad decisions are being made now from which this economy will never recover from. And today's taxpayers are being greviously abused.

The president's contention that the economy will emerge stronger than before is not rational. History, which he cited often in his speech, dictates certainties. Great Britain could not avoid its ultimate downsizing as the world's ultimate power after World War I. America faces the same fate this century.

The new debt of this nation beyond what Obama inherited will only trigger fierce inflation, making living harder in this nation after 2010.

The president delivered a strong address, showing himself convinced of the direction he has set for the nation.

But for investors such as myself, whose decisions and spending will be needed to turn around the economy, Obama did nothing to convince us to bring our money off the sidelines and back into the marketplace.

And as taxpayers, he left us fearful of his next spending plan.

The Final Rounds: Flourishing rhetoric, draw

President says every American wants the nation to succeed.

But for who?

Build common ground.

Lift nation's from its depths.

Restart engine of prosperity.

God Bless America.

Speech length:
50 minutes.

Round 12: Celebrity time; draw on all cards

Every State of the Union Address gives the president a respite, so he can point out hand-picked guests in the gallery.

Everyone applauds.

Every president speaks of the spirit of America.


Round 8 -11: Iraq and Afghan wars, terrorism; Obama loses on all cards; no specifics again

No specifics on withdraw and expansion of fights or the increasing American intervention into a sovereign Pakistan. Bad. Very bad. Main issue he ran on during campaign.

Says everyone loves men and women who are serving.

Increase pay and care for veterans.

Closing Guantanamo Bay, but no details on which state is lucky winner of hosting these terrorists.

Says world is waiting for us to lead.

Meanwhile, we're waiting on the world to buy our overspending and new debt. No mention of capitulation to Chinese during Secretary of State's recent visit.

Round 4-7: The Obama budget, country's direction; split cards give rounds to Obama

President said he will submit a budget to Congress that is a vision, not a spending plan dead on arrival.

Both parties will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities.

Butget will invest in three areas: energy, health care and education.

the country that harnesses renewalable energy will lead the century, Obama said. It is time for America to lead again in this industry. Basic research funding to increase. Lay down thousands of miles of lines to carry energy to new area. Jobs will be created in this industry. Clean coal, more efficient cars, wind energy.

Obama says automakers will not be rescued from bad decisions but industry will not be abandoned and will be restructured. Uh oh, auto bailout. "None of this will come without cost," Obama said.

Health care costs: Cause a bankruptcy in America every 30 seconds. Cost of health care is main reason small businesses close.

Electronic health records -- save costs. Conquer disease by seeking cure for cancer in our time. Largest investment in preventive care. A down payment on quality health care for everyone. Will help bring down deficit with savings.

"Health care reform cannot wait another year."

Education: Three quarters of fastest growing occupations require more than high school diploma. Half of students who start college never finish. This is a prescription to economic decline. This administration committed to quality education for every child up to entering a profession.

Stimulus plan makes college more affordable for 7 million American.

Our schools need more reform. New incentives for teacher performance. Invest in innovative program for schools closing achievement gaps.

Expand commitment to charter public schools.

Obama asks for every American to commit to one more year of education after high school.

By 2020, America's goal will be to lead world in college grads.

The National Debt: Republicans finally cheer.

Pledges to cut deficit in half by end of first term in office. Identified $2 trillion in savings by end of next decade.

Eliminate education programs that don't work and agri-business subsidies. End no-bid contracts in Iraq.

Root out waste and abuse in Medicare program. End tax breaks for companies that shift jobs overseas. Starting to sound like one of his campaign speeches.

End tax breaks for wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. If your family earns less than $250,000 a year, your taxes will not increase, president says.

Begin conversation of Social Security Reform.

Deficit of trust in nation. This budget looks ahead for 10 years.

Round 3: Unfreezing credit markets; no specifics; Obama loses on all cards with this investor

When there is no lending, families cannot buy homes and cars. And economy suffers more, Obama said.

Restart of lending in the nation is a must. The federal government will provide for:

Creation of lending fund to consumers and entrepreneurs to spend. That's new.

Creation of housing plan for people threatened with foreclosure. Still controversial. President said he gets it concerning popular protest about rewarding bad behavior.

Creation of plan to help banks lend more money. Still controversial with no specifics. Obama says more money than $700 billion already committed will be needed for banks.

Obama unduly criticized investors' lack of confidence in his plans. All they want is specifics; he did not provide any.

President claimed his plan is to help people, not banks. Unconvincing. Bad assets in these banks are a black hole. Treasury has yet to say how it will grade bank assets.

Again, Obama lacks specifics. That's big.

Round 2: Stimulus plan explained; Obama scores

The president cited as highlights of his stimulus plan in the next few months:

Fifty seven Minneapolis police officers still on duty, not laid off.

Tax cut in all worker paychecks by April 1.

Families struggling to pay tuition costs get tax credit for four years.

Laid-off Americans will get extended unemployment benefits and health care coverage.

Biden to lead oversight effort of the plan to prevent waste and misdirection of resources.

Round 1: Obama ahead on all cards

Despite the nauseating backdrop of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the president scored early and often with nice rhetoric that delivered a human touch about the national agony and fear over the economy.

Obama then pledged that the country would emerge stronger than before. While I doubt that it can, it still was nice for him to say to try and build some hope in the nation.

That drew a round of applause from Congress.

He also scored points by not laying blame on any administration or political party. He cited decades of knowing that oil dependence was a problem. He cited individual and government piling of debt.

He cited a day of reckoning to make long-term decisions not only for economic recovery but future growth.

Good honesty on his part, plain speaking.

Live blogging from the State of the Union

Stay tuned to this blog for live analysis during President Obama's first State of the Union.

I'll grade his key comments during the speech and deliver an overall grade in the final post.

Markets bounce back big thanks to Berhnanke testimony and hopes for specifics from Obama

The financial markets 45 minutes before closing are poised to wipe out yesterday's losses and give President Obama a vote of confidence before his State of the Union address tonight.

Fed Chief Berhnanke also turned investor moods upward with testimony before a congressional banking committee, backing the administration somewhat from nationalization of the country's largest banks.

So is the market ready to rally beyond today?

I don't think so.

The lows will be tested again before the week is out.

Gore is back in news but not for good reason; his global climate presentation went a tad too far

Al Gore has been found.

The New York Times has this interesting tidbit about the former VP and Nobel Prize winner presenting some erroneous information in pressing his case about global warming.

I like Mr. Gore. And I think he is right on the environment. But I have been a bit disappointed by the low profile he has been keeping during the global recession.

Meanwhile, we get way too much of Bill Clinton.

The Times reports:

Former Vice President Al Gore is pulling a dramatic slide from his ever-evolving global warming presentation. When Mr. Gore addressed a packed, cheering hall at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Chicago earlier this month, his climate slide show contained a startling graph showing a ceiling-high spike in disasters in recent years. The data came from the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters (also called CRED) at the Catholic University of Louvain in Brussels.

The graph, which was added to his talk last year, came just after a sequence of images of people from Iowa to South Australia struggling with drought, wildfire, flooding and other weather-related calamities. Mr. Gore described the pattern as a manifestation of human-driven climate change. “This is creating weather-related disasters that are completely unprecedented,” he said. (The preceding link is to a video clip of that portion of the talk; go to 7th minute.)

Now Mr. Gore is dropping the graph, his office said today. Here’s why.

Two days after the talk, Mr. Gore was sharply criticized for using the data to make a point about global warming by Roger A. Pielke, Jr., a political scientist focused on disaster trends and climate policy at the University of Colorado. Mr. Pielke noted that the Center for Research on the Epidemiology of Disasters stressed in reports that a host of factors unrelated to climate caused the enormous rise in reported disasters (details below).

Clear and present danger: Mexico, Pakistan cited by military for U.S. forces to prepare for collapse

The U.S. military has cited the countries of Mexico and Pakistan as in danger of collapse -- Mexico from the growing violence in which the government is losing the fight with drug lords to the Pakistan where the Taliban and anti-Americanism is gaining more control.

The military is preparing plans for how U.S. forces will respond to these upheavals.

Mexico poses the danger of the violence spreading across the border into our nation. In addition, its oil trade could ground to a halt, forcing U.S. gas prices higher. Then there is the threat of Hugo Chavez and his influence amid such upheaval.

Pakistan in turn is a nuclear power. So the fall of the government there would put nuclear weapons in the hands of Muslim fanatics, joining Iran as a new nuclear threat to the region. American troops in Afghanistan also would be under heightened danger.

While it is natural to focus more locally with the decline in the U.S. economy, these trouble spots could ultimately pose more danger in the long run.

Who is serving who? U.S. Postal Service needs to be operated by real world rules; bonuses, pay are out control; hike in stamp price is outrageous

The Washington Times reports that a congressional hearing will be held on the big bonus and a 40 percent hike in pay for the Postmaster General -- who just last month told lawmakers that U.S. Postal Service could not keep up with costs and might cut out one day of service.

The Postmaster also recently announced a 2-cent hike in the price of a stamp. But never does the Postal Service simultaneously announce any cutbacks in employee pay, numbers or benefits -- and all are substantial and not reflective of the real world.

I cannot believe that there is not some entrepreneur out there to start a competing enterprise to the Postal Service. And with so many people laid off, the businessman or woman would have a very educated workforce to labor for less.

The service to consumers from the Postal Service is poor. Americans certainly would flock to new mail service at less cost.

Here is The Times' story:

Congress will hold a hearing next month into why Postmaster General John E. Potter has gotten a nearly 40 percent pay raise since 2006 and was awarded a six-figure incentive bonus last year, even as the U.S. Postal Service faces a multibillion-dollar shortfall that threatens a day of mail delivery.

"Last year, the Postal Service took a loss of nearly $3 billion and recommended that the public take austere cuts in service to allow it to operate, including cutting a day of mail delivery and raising the price of stamps," Rep. Stephen F. Lynch, Massachusetts Democrat, said Friday.

"All things considered, I think most postal customers feel that the huge increase in pay for Mr. Potter is incongruent with the post office's recent performance. I assure you that our subcommittee will look into this matter at a hearing in March," said Mr. Lynch, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service.

On Tuesday, The Washington Times reported that Mr. Potter had received nearly 40 percent in pay raises since 2006 and about $135,000 in incentive bonuses last year. For fiscal 2008, including increases to the value of his two pensions, Mr. Potter's entire compensation package totaled more than $800,000, according to Postal Service financial records.

Corker sticks to his position on auto bailout, GM: 'at some point, we need to let institutions fail'

In an interview just completed this morning on CNBC, Tennessee U.S. Sen. Bob Corker stuck to his position on the auto bailout and the Obama administration's increasing focus on nationalizing the country's big banks.

"At some point, we need to let institutions fail," Corker said of all the rescue plans.

Corker's contention -- which is dead on right -- comes as insurer AIG announced today that it will lose $60 billion despite receiving $100 billion in help from the federal government. Analysts say that AIG remains a black hole of assets declining in value, reinforcing Corker's position that the U.S. government should not get involved in the marketplace.

"This is going to be never ending," the Tennessee Republican said of money AIG and other institutions need.

As for all the Obama plans, Corker said "We are in the wilderness right now. I hope tonight (from State of the Union address) ... we need direction."

The world is watching the administration and its involvement with the banking system, Corker said, as to what the government is going to do with these troubled institutions. Corker is the 22nd most wealthy member of Congress.

"This is 90 percent of the issue(with the economy) if we get it right," Corker said. "We need to have the ability to invest in common shares without their value going to zero."

Look for Corker's star to continue to rise as investors look for more clarity in Obama administration plans --- and don't get it.

Unfortunately, for much of the interview, Corker was saddled with New York Democratic Rep. Maloney, who interrupted with responses that reflected a belief that this economy can be turned around in the short term -- and with the bad Obama policy decisions so far.

It can't, particularly since less than a quarter of the Obama stimulus plan will be spent in the next two years. Corker senses the seriousness of the moment in decisions being made. If our government make mistakes now in trying to relieve matters and rescue institutions immediately, we will destroy this economy for the long term.

The wilderness Corker cites may indeed be where America's economy remains for the decade to come. Truly.

Obama is right to not sugarcoat things with hope

Despite rising criticism from Democrats such as former President Bill Clinton, President Barack Obama tonight should stick to his demeanor of being serious about the economy and not offering any kind of false hope of recovery soon.

No one knows when recovery will come, or if it will come even during his first term.

Remember, the Great Depression reached its bottom in 1932, with one in four Americans were unemployed. By 1937, economic numbers were almost as bad. It was not until World War II did recovered employment levels return to the U.S. economy.

If the Great Recession is anything like the Great Depression, Obama will be out of office before the economy fully recovers.

Hope is useless unless it is backed with some fact. Plans do not equate to evidence. Obama in his State of the Union address should leave hope for another day when there is evidence that it is warranted.

A profile of homeowners facing the pinch; their case is not good one to support Obama rescue

The Wall Street Journal features a profile of one set of homeowners in one of the worst hit place in America for home foreclosures -- Maricopa, AZ, a city north of Phoenix.

The profile is telling of how a wife and husband made a choice on buying a home that was beyond their means that included a swimming pool in the back. The couple put down $50,000, which helped bring down the monthly payments for the $250,000 house.

But the husband's job and income certainly were not enough to support such a large house. The profile reinforces the rant of CNBC's Rick Santelli, who last week touched off a national movement against the Obama administration plan bailing out bad behavior fueling home foreclosures.

The couple was sold on the idea of the house rising in value to help make the deal affordable. They could move back home to California in a few years with a nice profit.

But home values didn't rise as expected. No good thing ever does.

Now the home is worth half of what they paid.

The couple ultimately gambled and lost. And there are millions of couples like them across the country.

Do they deserve to be rescued in exchange for saddling our children and grandchildren with an economic depressing debt?

The argument of saving their home to keep up neighborhood property values doesn't fly in their case. Homes on three sides of them are already vacant. One more is not going to matter.

Perhaps the argument can be made that the county needs the couple to keep paying property taxes to support community services, and the bank needs a good asset on its books to stay float. The now defrocked Alan Greenspan says that the housing mess must be resolved before the banking one can.

But do we want $275 billion in our tax money spent for these factors? Once we get into these messes, the cost is sure to rise, double or triple.

You make the call. Santelli has.

Here is an excerpt from the WSJ story:

Builders rushed into this one-time agricultural crossroads during the housing boom. They put up beige stucco houses on winding streets, with names like Heavenly Place and Good Vibrations Lane.

They lured young people who couldn't afford homes in nearby Phoenix or its costly suburbs. The population soared to 37,000 last year from 1,400 a decade ago, making Maricopa one of the nation's fastest-growing towns.

Now, it's become a dead end for some of those people.

"We're trapped," says Tracy Campbell, as she watches her 2-year-old daughter romp on a playground.

In 2005, her husband, Zachary Campbell, accepted a transfer from San Diego to Phoenix to manage a recreational-vehicle store. For the first time, the Campbells figured, they could afford their own home, though that meant moving to Maricopa, about 20 miles from Mr. Campbell's store. They scraped together a $50,000 down payment to buy a new four-bedroom home in Maricopa, for $250,000. It came with black granite countertops, cherry kitchen cabinets and a pool in back.

Today, Ms. Campbell figures, the home is worth perhaps half what they paid in 2005.

Even that might be optimistic. Along a nearby highway, young men hired by a local real estate brokerage wave red signs touting "Homes From $69.9 K."

The Campbells planned to sell their house for a profit after a few years and move back to San Diego before their daughter starts kindergarten. Today, they couldn't hope to sell the house for enough to pay off the mortgage. They fear the down payment they made on the house is money they won't see again.

Some people in the neighborhood are simply walking away from their houses, leaving them for the lenders to foreclose. "We're surrounded by empty houses on three sides," Ms. Campbell says. But she and her husband have kept up on their payments, and want to keep their credit record clean.

If misery loves company, the Campbells are in good shape:, a real-estate information provider, estimates that 75% of all homeowners in Maricopa, including those with no mortgage debt, owe more on their mortgages than the current value of their homes. For the nation as a whole, the estimate is 18%.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Coming to a home near you soon: Credit card companies asking you to cancel your accounts

American Express is offering a certain number of customers $300 to close their accounts and pay off their balances.

The credit card company is reeling from rising delinquencies on card accounts as Americans lose their jobs and put off paying off their debts, including on their cards.

The nation's massive credit card debt, estimated at $4.4 trillion before the economic downturn, will be the next financial crisis to hit the nation's economy, further reducing consumer spending.

And you might get a notice like American Express cardholders -- usually the more affluent in society -- asking for cancellation of your card right when you need it most.

'Batman' series of movies provide a glimpse of a more desperate, recessionary America for long term; today's drop in Dow is proof of difficult truth

The "Batman" series of movies, while greatly entertaining, actually are more prophetic in nature.

They actually foretell the kind of America we'll be living in for quite a long time.

The desperate underbelly to the Gotham Citys of these movies will be reflected in communities across America and in sections of those communities once thought secure.

Yes, all major urban centers in real-life America already have sections set aside for the dispossessed and desperate acts. But the Gotham City of the movies has an underbelly that affects the rest of the city and its survival. And that is the kind of darkness -- which equates to an absence of hope -- facing America as a whole.

Yes, there will be pockets where things are better. But on the whole, a heavy, demoralizing rain will fall on the good and the bad in our land for longer than anyone expected -- even among the most pessimistic economists.

I became convinced of this conclusion today after watching the stock market fall a shocking 250 points after a terrible week before. I predicted the market would close at 7000 by the end of this month. But the plummet has been more dramatic. Now the Dow sits at its lowest point since 11 years ago. And there is no floor below.

Wny? The confidence of this nation's Main Street investors and consumers has declined even further than the Dow -- due to bad policy moves from Washington and the President's intent tomorrow night in his State of the Union address to commence a class war of taxation.

In addition, the nation continues to move toward nationalization of the country's biggest banks -- as with Citigroup and next, Bank of America -- and we'll assume an amount of bad debt that no one still can measure.

Our departure from capitalism and toward socialism in corporate America is astounding. I now see the Dow falling toward 5000. My 6000 prediction was too optimistic.

But the most stark evidence of coming darker times came this afternoon in a fascinating interview CNBC's Erin Burnett conducted with an Asian financial analyst following the beggar-like visit by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to convince the Chinese to keep buying America's debt through T-bills.

The analyst rightly predicted that the Chinese and the world will tire of buying America's debt. What's more, they can't afford the amount of America's new spending, he said. The result will be the federal government printing a whole bunch of new money, then having to buy its own debt, the analyst said.

That will force inflation up t a terrible pace and interest rates to 15 to 20 percent, ala the days of Jimmy Carter in the White House. No one will be able to afford to buy homes, cars and other big-ticket items. No spending, no new jobs.

America then will face a lingering recession as the Japanese have endured the past two decades. People will be unemployed for years, raising stress in the homes and crime in parts of cities once believed secure from such behavior.

And that brings us back to a society living on the edge of the abyss, on the dark edge, as in the Batman movies.

Some people consider it un-American to say this nation won't bounce back and be like it was before. But you can't cheat economic cycles and move so far away from disciplined spending and good behavior. If the people of Israel could be sold into bondage when they turned away from God, why should America consider itself immune?

So many Americans don't understand or want to face hard times. They want an immediate solution and reversal. And Obama promised as much. Instead, he has made things worse, much worse.

We are going to face public corruption and betrayal along the scale of the Batman movies. We are going to look for a savior such as the Dark Knight, but there is no savior except the person we look at in the mirror and the one on the crucifix.

America will never be the same. We must prepare our lives for this truth now, if not for ourselves, then our children. Our challenge is to survive -- economically, spiritually and amid leadership in both political parties that doesn't get the dire nature of the times.

Obama's auto task force members don't drive U.S.

The Detroit News reports that nearly all the members of the Obama administration's auto task force -- trying to put together a bailout of GM and Chrysler -- drive foreign cars.

So why does the administration believe American consumers will choose any differently than its own task force members even if GM and Chrysler are bailed out with more than $30 billion in taxpayer money?


The News reports:

WASHINGTON -- The vehicles owned by the Obama administration's auto team could reflect one reason why Detroit's Big Three automakers are in trouble: The list includes few new American cars.

Among the eight members named Friday to the Presidential Task Force on the Auto Industry and the 10 senior policy aides who will assist them in their work, two own American models. Add the Treasury Department's special adviser to the task force and the total jumps to three.

By the way, I own a 1993 Ford. And Ford is not seeking any bailout funds. Only the strong should survive in the auto industry.

In the words of Rick Santelli, "are you listening, President Obama?"

Stock market falls to new low as nation prepares for Obama's State of the Union and new class war

The financial markets continued their astounding decline today, off 173 points on the Dow by midday CDT.

Investor confidence continues to be undermined by Obama administration policy, first by a new move toward nationalization of the country's biggest banks and second in preparation of the president's State of the Union address tomorrow night.

Under public pressure led by CNBC analyst Rick Santelli for large public spending plans, the president now has made the incredible claim that he'll cut the budget deficit by two-thirds despite the price tags with his economic, home and banking plans.

Obama says he'll close the deficit by taxing the rich more and saving money from the withdraw in Iraq. Neither are sure things.

There are a lot less rich in this nation because of the fall in the financial markets. And the rich are needed to spend to create jobs. Tax them more and they'll just quit spending like the rest of us.

Second, military commanders are very divided on the pace of withdraw from Iraq. You can never remove yourself from a war on time. And that peace dividend will be largely eaten up by the growing conflict in Afghanistan.

Investors understand these truths, which is why they are deserting the financial markets and consumer spending when the nation needs them most.

Newspaper bankruptcies are fitting result for industry that thumbed its nose at readers wishes

The unthinkable is becoming more of a reality in the newspaper industry with bankruptcy filings for major media companies in the Northeast.

What is happening to newspapers should also be allowed to happen to automakers. If companies are operated badly, they should fold. Newspapers have long rejected the needs and opinions of readers for an elitist approach to kind of the product being delivered.

The Tennessean and Gannett Co. Inc are a prime example of this arrogance. I know. I worked for them.

And so the Internet has allowed readers to go elsewhere for information. Advertisers have followed. Classified advertising has dried up.

More newspapers deserve the fate of the media companies that filed for bankruptcy this past weekend. In the end, the reader will win.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

The weekend bankruptcy filings of Philadelphia's two major newspapers and Journal Register Co., publisher of the New Haven Register and 19 other dailies, marks the latest in a wave of companies crushed by corporate debt and is likely a sign of more pain to come.

The operating arm of Philadelphia Media Holdings, publisher of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Daily News, sought bankruptcy protection Sunday, following on the heels of a Saturday filing by the Journal Register. Both companies were victims of debt taken on for acquisitions, which became a noose as advertising revenue shrivels across the newspaper industry.

Preparing for Lent; it's not about taking things away from lifestyle but adding value to your life

I am somewhat surprised at the too simplistic way that many believers approach the Lenten season.

Their attitude is not one of exciting anticipation but resigned recognition that their lifestyle will be changed for a few weeks. And then they make silly selections like giving up chocolate or soft drink for the season as a representative participation in Christ's suffering.

God must be shaking his head in disappointment.

It is only people who have suffered greatly, such as with cancer, who can really appreciate and embrace the season and act accordingly in a way that God would find pride.

Lent is not about subtracting, it is about adding, specifically an appreciation for life, including its suffering and bad breaks. And we do so more in this season than others because our Savior experienced it all, as did his mother with her seven sorrows.

Don't make silly subtractions from your lifestyle. Choose additions to your life. I will be going to Mass daily to increase my appreciation for Christ's sacrifice and boost my spirituality. And at Mass, my pastor the Rev. Joe Pat Breen gives updates on needs among members of the parish and the community. With this information, he provides personal ways we can interact and make a difference but adding to our life and others.

Lent is a good time to add to one's participation in the community, either in addressing needs of the less fortunate or reinforcing those assets that have made a difference over the generations. Children and their schools could be a place where your additions to your life during Lent could deliver more richness to your life.

Don't fall into the simplistic trap of cutting out chocolate or soft drinks for Lent as anything representative of recognizing Christ's sacrifice. That's a cop out. Choose things that take from your busy schedules and add to your involvement in Christ-like activities of Matthew 25.

And place all your sufferings at the foot of the cross. Christ is with us, because He has experienced all we've been through. And He represents the hope of resurrection from these hurts into a new and better creature in God.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

The false hopes of the Chamber report card and Frist/Bredesen effort on Tennessee education; at $8,176 per child, taxpayers are getting cheated

The greatest share of state and local dollars go to public education. And logically, public education draws the most political lies and misleading information to try and fool taxpayers that their money is being spent effectively.

It is not.

And I offer my credentials in winning national education writing awards from the Education Writers Association in Washington, D.C., and the Casey Journalism Center and the University of Maryland. In addition, I have spent countless hours in public school classrooms, watching the bureaucracy win the day and children lose the battle.

Let's roll the videotape:

The Nashville Chamber of Commerce last week gave a positive grade to progress in public education for a school system that has failed to meet No Child Left Behind Act standards for the past five years.

Guess why the chamber gave the school system a positive grade? Because the chamber has used the failure of the public schools to gain control of the school board and to re-segregate schools. It's happy. Old times are not forgotten.

But, for example, here's the ultimate problem with any report card: While the district is graduating more students from its previous abysmal rate, so many are not prepared to go on to college. In fact, Tennessee State University in Nashville has not had an increase in enrollment in the five years that lottery scholarships have been available in the state. Metro Nashville students, usually poor black kids from north Nashville, can't score a 19 on ACT tests to qualify for scholarships.

For those who do get in, they can't keep up. They use much of their first year on remedial education. And that kind of education will be cut as higher ed takes some brutal budget cuts. So what is the Nashville Chamber of Commerce encouraged about? Nashville public schools are not creating an educated workforce for the jobs of tomorrow.

Consider that Nashville and state taxpayers already pay $8,176 per child for public education. In a classroom of 20, that's an incredible investment of $162,000 by you and me. So why is the school district failing?

Because the education bureaucracy eats up so much of our taxpayer money before it ever gets to the classroom. And that bureaucracy is defended by Democratic politicians in Nashville and other big cities.

So enter former Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, a Republican, and Gov. Phil Bredesen, a Democrat in name only. Frist with the governor in tow offered a new education program last week with a vague mission and criticism of the level of education spending in Tennessee.

Senator, the problem is not the level of spending. The problem is the bureaucracy. And you can't throw more money into a bad system until it is reformed. If not for the children, senator, at least do it for the taxpayers.

And senator, parents of impoverished children of all races deserve the kind of school choice your folks had, and you had as a parent. That means broader eligibility for children to attend charter public schools in Tennessee and vouchers for private and religious schools. Afterall, the money belongs to the taxpayers, not the bureaucracy.

Bredesen likes to hang his education hat on creating pre-K education in Tennessee. But it only adds another level of money-wasting bureaucracy compared to the good done.

For poor children, there already is Head Start. And Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander - a former Secretary of Education -- tried to get reading started in the federal program but was blocked by Democrats. Families with more means can afford their own pre-K education.

Bredesen, who also sent his child to private school, knows nothing of what is needed in the classroom.

Competition will make public schools better, not meaningless report cards. And throwing more money into a broken system without real reform, and without giving parents more choice, is simply deserting the children, the taxpayers and Tennessee's ability to fully join the global economy.

The real versus the phony tonight on television

The choice on TV tonight is reality versus fantasy.

American Movie Classic has "Patton" with the late George C. Scott, while one of the big three networks has the Academy Awards.

I'm going with someone real, versus a bunch of phonies who represent values out of sync with regular Americans. They are as real as their reconstructed breasts, lips and chins.

Hollywood got what it wanted with the election of Barack Obama and the upcoming closing of the Guantanamo detention center. But they don't have to live with the mounting mistakes of Obama's administration on the economy or have the terrorist detainees located next to their neighborhoods like some unfortunate state before Jan. 1.

So I won't be able to stomach the smirking and self-congratulating tone of the beautiful people. They got what they wanted. And America is the worse for it.

With Oscar night here, where is Al Gore?

A year ago, Al Gore was practically on every TV channel -- being feted and saluted as a man of the world and ultimately an Oscar winner.

Now, he has disappeared more completely than Jimmy Hoffa under Giants Stadium.

One reason is that the world that once loved him is now after him for global warming contentions that are going to cost jobs during a worldwide recession. For instance, green jobs are not going to replace coal mining ones job for job. And folks will need to be retrained. That takes cash states here and countries over there don't have.

An America in a Great Recession doesn't want to hear from Gore either. That seems to have been Gore's fate in his career. His message does not sustain, and he doesn't have the persona to keep it alive. Even though he supposedly lives here in Nashville, he does not appear in public enough to be sighted, slighted or celebrated.

Maybe the case is that I don't read enough to discover where Gore has been. In any case, Oscar night will not be the same without him.

Obama loses more credibility points on 'Meet the Press'; his argument behind foreclosure, banking plans debunked by knowledgeable David Gregory

"Meet the Press" host David Gregory did an honest job this morning in blowing holes in the Obama banking and home foreclosure plans -- providing more credence behind the growing public outrage over the administration's incompetency.

For example, as with the Obama plan to modify mortgages in foreclosure, Gregory cited statistics showing than an incredible 50 to 60 percent of all mortgage modifications still end up in foreclosure. So taxpayers are being asked to waste money on a process that mostly fails.

Florida's governor, an early supporter of the Obama housing plan, voiced concerns about it this morning on the program.

Then there is the Obama response that saving at least some of these homes preserves neighborhood property values. That offers little in today's world. Actually, declining values serve the taxpayer better. Lower property assessments will bring lower taxes. And property taxes will be going up around the country.

Gregory countered the White House's lambasting of CNBC's Rick Santelli that he needed to read the Obama plan before criticizing it. Santelli called the plan a way of rewarding bad behavior at the expense of the 92 percent of Americans paying their taxes and bills on time.

Greogry said he has read the plan, and he understands why so many Americans have found favor with Santelli's comments.

As with banking, Democrats continue to point toward nationalizing banks at least for the short term. That would eliminate the value in all common stock owned by investors in the banks.

And it is investors who are expected to invest and spend to turn the economy around, Gregory said.

Is President Obama listening? I don't think so. He is losing control of this country.

The schizophrenia in black leadership II: Nashville is not the Civil Rights landmark it claims to be

Earlier this decade, I brought up a story idea to The Tennessean city editor for Black History Month that was more than the fawning crap usually printed out of political correctness by America's newspapers.

The issue would be the failure of black leadership in Nashville, a dire circumstance considering 25 percent of Music City's population is African-American and the public schools have failed No Child Left Behind standards for five years.

Of course, the editor would have none of it. Because the chamber of commerce types that controlled the city -- which included decisionmakers at the newspaper -- didn't want a vigorous, independent black leadership. They wanted the window dressing approach, of putting some blacks in prominent positions for show, not influence.

Remember, Nashville supposedly was the cradle of the Civil Rights movement. But most of "The Children" as profiled by the late great David Halberstam returned to their cities to get elected or elect other blacks, such as John Lewis in Atlanta.

What was left in Nashville were the accomodationists, those who made sure there was a separate black public college and hospital. After that, they were barred from sharing the real power and most of the resources -- by liberal Democrats in control here.

It is a shocking contradiction of lofty words by sinister action. But the liberally bent news media here will never reveal it, because that would mean calling out some figures in Nashville who are their heroes. They don't deserve to be.

And that's a story for Black History Month in Nashville that no one in the media will ever tell.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

The schizophrenia in black leadership: President doesn't mention race while his AG scolds us

To preface my conclusions here, I need to recite from my resume.

In response to racial problems in the upstate New York community where I lived, I directed a program of racial dialogue called Study Circles among 300 readers.

It had an amazing effect. It provided a guide on how to enter such a difficult conversation. And it worked. When we had another racial incident, 500 people of all races turned out for a church service of protest to tell authorities they had better deal with the white offenders with force. They did.

And a clergy committee was created to keep the movement going. Members were from the suburbs and the city, black and white. This program of dialogue I directed from my job as editorial page editor for the Utica Observer-Dispatch was one of four efforts for racial healing cited by the White House in 1998

So it was with great disgust that I listened last week to the race-hating remarks by the new Attorney General Eric Holder. His most outrageous remark was:

“In things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” he told his Justice Department employees in remarks prepared to honor Black History Month on Wednesday.

Holder went on to call Americans self-segregators.

He is wrong on both counts. Holder should go to a good therapist to deal with his anger before unleashing it on the American people again.

First, America is not self-segregating. If you go to the suburbs such as Williamson County, TN., you'll find blacks and whites living in the same neighborhood, joined by a common desire to escape the ills of urban life and poor public schools. I know. I've lived there.

If you go on the athletic fields, you find the different races there, and parents sitting together on the sidelines talking and cheering for the same thing.

In actuality, Black History Month is self-segregation itself. AG Holder failed to remove the sty from his own eye before lecturing others. We all should be Americans first along with our history, before being black, white, Hispanic or Asian.

That is a lesson the AG has yet to learn in all the baggage he is carrying.

Second, you don't bring people to dialogue by calling them cowards. And people are not going to sit at the table with people such as Holder there to just unleash their anger.

Study Circles provide a way for both sides to discuss matters without anger. No race gets the advantage in such talks. White and blacks have experiences to share. Both sides have done wrong.

Now consider Holder's supposed boss, President Obama. He never brought up his race in the election. He called on people to just be Americans. So are we to listen to Holder or Obama when it comes to race relations?

The two should have gotten together and talked. Their mixed messages are doing more damage than we supposedly cowardly Americans are inflicting.

The Obama administration has already done damage to the economy and investor confidence. Carrying that incompetence over to race relations as Holder did promises to stagnate social progress this nation should be most proud of.

Aha! Senate bank chair see nationalization need

U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd has said on a news show to air this weekend that nationalization of the nation's big banks such as Citigroup and Bank of America may be needed for a short time.

And we all know that when government says something is for a short time, such as like a tax, it ends up being permanent. That's why investors have no confidence to invest in markets that would reduce the value of their stock in securities tied to Citigroup and BOA to nothing. And they don't know into which industry the Obama administration will next intervene with taxpayers picking up the bill.

Bloomberg News reports:

Feb. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd said banks may have to be nationalized for “a short time” to help lenders such as Citigroup Inc. and Bank of America Corp. survive the worst economic slump in 75 years.

“I don’t welcome that at all, but I could see how it’s possible it may happen,” Dodd said today on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” to be broadcast this weekend. “I’m concerned that we may end up having to do that, at least for a short time.”

More on The Oklahoman: A good review and explanation on what a newspaper is not doing well; 'Oklahoma City deserves better'; I agree

My friend and colleague Tony Williams offers more of an explanation on his criticism of a family-owned newspaper where we both worked, and it is something all newspaper executives no matter the publication ownership should read and heed.

Just being amid the technological advance in the distribution of information does not mean having a website simply can suffice.

Quality is demanded.

My friend writes:

Shame on me.

A long time ago, I learned to sit on a... Shame on me.

A long time ago, I learned to sit on a letter (or e-mail) overnight before sending it, if I was angry.

The fact is "The Oklahoman" website got under my skin, and I dashed off e-mails while my skin was still crawling.

Tony Lyndell Williams

Years ago, I also worked at what was then called "The Daily Oklahoman". Why management changed the name of a paper that had been around for decades is still a mystery to me.

Unfairly, I jumped on Ed Kelley because, frankly, he was the only management type that came to mind. Ed is a good man, and a fine journalist.

All this began several days ago when I tried to watch one of Kelley's video editorials. He was complaining about delaying the start of digital television transmissions.

So I will digress a moment.

The fact is the delay is voluntary. In Hawaii, all stations have converted strictly to digital transmission and have shut off their analog transmitters.

All a station needs to do if it wants to end analog transmission is ask the FCC for a waiver. More than 100 TV stations in the nation as of Friday have been granted that waiver.

In the Dallas area, where I live, all the major stations have voluntarily agreed to broadcast in analog and digital despite the expense of running both transmitters. But the stations have left open the possibility of converting to strictly digital before the new June deadline.

In reality, most stations have been broadcasting in both modes for years and have touted digital telecasts in endless promotions.

Well, enough of that. As I said, I tried to view Kelley's video on "The Oklahoman" website. I said I tried. The video stopped in the middle of his commentary each of the five times I tried to view it.

That is exactly an example of the product you see on "The Oklahoman" webpage regularly.

Tonight, I read an editorial about the race for governor in Oklahoma in 2010. To the left of the story was something called a "featured gallery".

When I clicked on, a photo appeared with a number of people attending some sort of meeting. No caption, no identification or anything.

However, the paper invited comments on the picture. Well, I would say that one woman on the front row wore a bright, red dress that reminded me of Nancy Reagan. Other than that, I had no idea what the photo was about.

Oh, by the way, are you kidding me when the editorial mentions J.C. Watts as a candidate for governor. Another story, I know.

Back to the website, one headline read: Oklajoma troops await word on Afghanistan. For 25 years, I've lived in north Tejas, but I still remember how to spell Oklahoma.

And in the era of broadband, why does the website perform like an old, worn-out dial-up service.

When I attempted to find out why Kyle Cannon was kicked off the OU men's basketball team, the search gave me more than 15 items, none of which had anything to do with OU basketball or Kyle Cannon.

Once I found it buried in the search, I found a three-paragraph story that told the who, what and when but no how or why.

Why not ask other players for their feelings about his dismissal if the coach will not comment beyond the typical "we wish him the best" comment?

"The Dallas Morning News" had more on the story than "The Oklahoman". But the fact is, "The Morning News" is by far a better newspaper than "The Oklahoman".

Tim and I may disagree about the paper's reputation. In the last few years, the paper has improved. My father, who headed the Texas Press Association for 25 years, and I had many discussions about how disappointing it was to read the sorry product that Gaylord published for many years.

But in his last years, he was glad to see some improvement in the long morbid paper.

For in the past, "The Oklahoman" was an embarrassment to the community it was supposed to serve and even to the employees who worked there.

And when I worked there, no matter what story I was working on or how many hours I put in, I was never paid more than 39 hours a week. The paper simply wanted to avoid any overtime and prevent me from receiving any benefits.

Despite that, one city editor, Richard Brake, had the gall to tell me to choose to work in newspaper or radio, not both. Frankly, I had to do both as well as attend school to provide for my son and me.

When I worked as a teen disc jockey at WKY in the 1970's, the radio station was still owned by OPUBCO which also owned "The Oklahoman" and WKY-TV. In my years at WKY, I earned far more money on the air in one week than I made in a month at "The Oklahoman".

Every disc jockey on the staff brought home a bigger paycheck than any "Oklahoman" reporter. One reason was Danny Williams was the program director, and he always stood up for his employees with management -- something I never witnessed by an editor at "The Oklahoman".

Kelley may not have anything to do with the website, but if he tapes editorial for it, surely he looks at it. And, if he does he will see the same things others see -- a sloppy website.

Now, instead of improving the product, "The Oklahoman" has decided to layoff employees with years of experience.

Oh yeah, I know about the economy and how newspapers are suffering. But does management really think firing its talent and watering down the product is the future of newspapering.

Oklahoma City deserves better.

Grading the first month of Obama in office: Give him a 'B' for betrayal of taxpayers, generations

The first month of the Obama administration represents the worst in my memory of U.S. presidencies, and that goes back to LBJ.

That's why I give it a "B", but not as far as grading for achievement. It represents "B" for the deep betrayal of the American people counting on Obama to bring hope and change.

He has returned the government to the kind of big spending that voters had rejected from previous administrations, including Bush's. There is a deep sense of tyranny in what the president is doing in spending money of the people like a drunken sailor. And I apologize to all drunken sailors for using them as a comparison.

Let's role the videotape:

1) Democrats have shown a shocking lack of ethics -- Illinois Sen. Burris has been discovered to have lied in testimony to a state panel, which should not have been a surprise since he was appointed by a liar, and another Democrat. Yet Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid allowed the man to be seated while initially saying he would not be.

Obama selected three Cabinet nominees who could not remember to pay their taxes, yet had no problem in demanding more spending by the American people. We certainly could not get away with this. How could these prominent politicos escape scrutiny of the IRS?

After the president's promising of transparency in government, the press had discovered at least one executive order and memorandum from the White House not publicly released or posted. He also re-took the oath of office outside of video cameras.

The list is longer, but I need to move on.

2) After the president promised a national press conference audience that his treasury speaker would have details on a bank rescue plan, Secretary Geithner appeared before Congress with no details. The stock market plummeted.

The administration continues to consider a $30-plus bailout of the auto industry, despite strong public opposition for the taxpayers to pay for the greed and bad decisions of executives and union bosses.

3) Investors across the country have less confidence
in returning their money to the financial markets and in consumer spending because of the administration's bungling and a growing trend toward putting the burden of economic recovery on taxpayers.

As Sen. John McCan said yesterday, we are dealing with "generational theft" of hope and affordability to live in this nation for our children and grandchildren.

The Obama homeforeclosure plan has drawn criticism for offering little or no help to Americans -- 92 percent of them -- paying their mortgages and bills on time. It is these people who will turn around the economy through the same kind of discipline they are exhibiting in their lifestyles now. CNBC's Rick Santelli tried to tell the adminstration this truth this week and was ridiculed.

Even with the Obama economic stimulus plan, less than a quarter of the money will be spent in the next two years to revive the economy. What is Obama waiting for? All that was needed was spending to shore up the health care and unemployment benefits safety net. That would have only cost $127 billion, not the $850 billion ultimately passed in the legislation.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is considering shifting taxation to each mile Americans drive from the gas used. The government will follow you with GPS tracking.

4) The Obama administration gave the Chinese the green light to tighten its grip on Tibet and its own citizens civil liberties yesterday when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said human rights abuses would not hinder America's cooperation with the Communists.

5) Obama has increased missile attacks into Pakistan, a sovereign nation which has demanded the killings by air stop. Civilian losses are growing as is anger toward the U.S. As a direct response to these attacks, Pakistan announced that Taliban-like treatment of people -- particularly women -- under Muslim law would prevail in the region Obama is attacking. How can the Left criticize Bush for invading a sovereign nation when Obama is doing the same with missiles.

The above categories are only the top abuses and bungling during ONLY the administration's first month.

I voted for Obama. I even promoted an inaugural ball to support him. After only one month, I find his ascendancy to the presidency a major mistake. The job is beyond him. And he has appointed some incompetent people around him.

Promised change is not always good. The American people, particularly the taxpayer, need to be protected from his bad governance and judgment. That will be my blog's role -- to make up for my mistakes.

Newspapers continue to underwhelm; even locally owned newspapers are leaving readers frustrated

I used to work at The Daily Oklahoman, a family-owned newspaper in Oklahoma City. And it seemed to enjoy somewhat of a rise in quality as chain newspapers faltered in content and subscribers.

But a note from a former colleague, Tony Williams, who now lives in Texas, shows even locally owned newspapers such as The Oklahoman are cutting corners when it comes to best serving the readers.

All this means is that the days of newspapers are coming to an end, not necessarily The Oklahoman, but with many others we believed would be around forever. You can't keep cheating the readers and expect them to just continue buying your product. And advertisers are going to seek cheaper, more immediate ways to reach their consumers.

Even the great New York Times is sinking financially. The big news in the coming two years will be the disappearance of a lot of newspapers, and the people of this nation will go on just fine without them.

Here are Williams' comments:

Except for its appearance, which is not bad, the Oklahoman website is just a mess. A total mess.

Slow, mistakes, errors, typos, terrible search engine ... TERRIBLE. Photos with no captions.

The speed of this website would fit right in with the old dial-up service. Never have I encountered a newspaper site, large or small, this slow.

Everytime I check the top headlines, one is invariably OU or OSU sports. That's a TOP headline? Baloney.

Some stories not only don't have any meat to them, many don't have even gristle. Three or four paragraphs stories often leaving you wondering the how or why of the story.

Ed Kelley ought to be ashamed of this. It looks like they don't edit it or even care about it.

In his defense with the simple truth, Kelley, the top editor, does not control the website. It is run by an entirely separate division. He has no say with it.

Within the newsroom, Kelley would make changes to improve content, but as in many newsrooms, there are political checks and balances that the only the people in the executive suites can finally resolve.

So far, they have chosen not to.

Kelley is a good leader, good man and brilliant. If allowed to do as he wants, The Oklahoman would improve substantially from its position now.

CJR did a hit piece on the newspaper earlier this decade, calling the paper the worst in America. That was most unfair and untrue. And I did not particiate in the piece nor knew it was being written.

If you want to look for the worst paper in America, come to The Tennessean in Nashville.

The best prospect for The Oklahoman's future is its capacity to improve and address any complaint. The largest obstacle is the people at the very top who just need to make the commitment and give Kelley the power to kick some butts and replace some dead-wood managers with go-getters who believe in the web and serving the readers first.

And that will bring in more profits than the people in the suites can imagine.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Communists win as Obama/Clinton let China off the hook on human rights; the Left is outraged

China has won the global battle with the United States as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton today said that the Communist nation's human rights abuses will not hinder America's cooperation with the Asian superpower on trade and other issues.

Amnesty International could not hide its disgust with the Obama administration:

"The United States is one of the only countries that can meaningfully stand up to China on human rights issues. But by commenting that human rights will not interfere with other priorities, Secretary Clinton damages future US initiatives to protect those rights in China."

Now the Left knows how America's taxpayers feel when it comes to betrayal by a president promising change.

Nobody knew it would be for the worse.

White House tries to insult Santelli but Obama administration has lost credibility on economy

The White House today foolishly and ineptly tried to portray CNBC analyst Rick Santelli as uninformed over the Obama home foreclosure plan.

But the administration came off looking stupid and disconnected from the people who will have to do the investing and spending to turn the economy around.

President Obama, however, believes it is government spending that will turn things around. He is sadly mistaken and his administration has caused more economic pain and confusion in his first month in office.

Santelli has been on the job -- when it comes to informing investors and the public -- long before the president ever started campaigning for office. And his advice and information has been most sound, helping lead me to get out of the stock market at 13,000 on the Dow.

Obama has no record. And the outright bumbling of his administration in its first month has created a confidence gap in this nation. Those of us with a lot of cash on the sidelines are not going to return to the financial markets with his administration throwing out mixed signals and plans with no details.

Bank nationalization still remains a frontburner issue, with the administration today denying such a move with Bank of America and Citigroup. Meanwhile, Senate Banking Chris Dodd was saying nationalization is not a bad idea. Do these politicians of the same party ever talk? Is this any kind of change in leadership from Washington that Obama promised?

The people of this nation are not stupid. They notice these contradictions. The White House can only hope one day to have Santelli's credibility.

It's time for the Tea Party!