Friday, July 29, 2011

Let's Face the Music

Here is Goldman/Spengler offering his take on the Tea Party. He is right in saying that he did not understand us. I think he is wrong in calling the Tea Party a "ghost dance".

I speak only for myself, but I think there is a significant group of people who have seen through the financial masquerade. As Goldman admits, the only "prosperity" the last three years has come to those who are heavily invested in equities. The government regulators, the Federal Reserve, and the Treasury, not to mention the President and Congress are acutely tuned to the frequency on which big investors and financial concerns broadcast. When Wall Street speaks Pennsylvania Avenue listens.

The U.S. bond rating is going to be downgraded not because Congress is or is not raising the debt ceiling, but because Congress is not cutting spending drastically -- half a trillion to a trillion per year drastically.

Americans are going to suffer economically not because the government can't spend that much more money than it takes it but because government itself is already too big and too expensive just to maintain. We're not going to suffer because the big banks collapse but because the federal government in collusion with Federal Reserve Bank has inflated bubble after freaking bubble without allowing the natural collapse to flush debt from the system.

Now we are going to pay. No matter what happens in Washington. But there are more important things than money -- especially fiat currency.

Ending the deception and telling us the truth -- Mainstream Media, we are looking at you -- instead of trying to advance an activist agenda, buy votes, extend or retain power, etc., would be a good start toward addressing the problems we face.

We Are Doomed, Doomed I Tell You

Doom is the general consensus of the Establishment politicians. The establishment Republicans are wailing and gnashing their teeth over the fact that the "Tea Party terrorists" have thwarted their attempt to make a deal with the devil and raise the debt limit without a real significant cut in spending. Panic is in the air. The recalcitrant Tea Party is handing a victory to Obama and insuring his re-election.

OK. So what. What's the difference in Obama and Perry or Palin or Romney or whomever if the END RESULT OF POLICIES ARE THE SAME? Who cares, other than the professional politicians, about the party designation if we still lose our freedom, if we are still going deeper in debt by the day? I absolutely despise Barack Obama. But to be fair, I feel only slightly less disgust for Boehner and McConnell. If you lie to me and try to deceive me with nonsense while you further enslave me with debt and regulation, I really don't care if we agree on a few other things.

Bring it on.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Why Would Anyone Think ...

...QE3 May Do More Harm Than Good?

Possibly, I suppose, because QE1 and especially QE2 did more harm than good. In fact, I think a case could be made that the death, destruction, and unrest in the Middle East is pretty much a function of QE2 driving up the prices of staple foods like corn and wheat.

When Bernie Madoff began his ponzi scheme of using new investor money to pay current investors, he was only copying what the Federal government does. Why is he in jail and Greenspan, Bernanke, various Presidents and former Treasury Secretaries are walking around free and rich? Even after it became obvious what Madoff had done, Larry King, one of the stooges who invested with Madoff, said, "He never had a down month." Some people just will not get it even when you make it plain to them.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The War on Truth (and the Tea Party)

Without invoking Godwin's Law, I sometimes think I might understand the feelings of most of the German people during Hitler's rise to power. I am not suggesting that one political party or the other in this country is equivalent to the German National Socialists, or that there is anyone currently playing the role of Hitler in our stock production of "Recovery Summer 2". No, what I am thinking of is Goebbels' principle that a big enough lie told often enough eventually passes for the truth. The politicians in D.C. are certainly telling a big enough lie, and they are telling it anywhere and everywhere they can find a camera or a microphone.

"We have to increase the debt limit to avoid default."

No. You have to pay the interest on your debt to avoid a default. That's about $29 billion, or about 15 to 20 percent of the revenues coming into the Treasury each month.

The broadcast media is complicit in propagating this deception. The rating agencies are helping spread the lie as well with their threats to downgrade the American credit rating without a debt ceiling increase (you know, anywhere but the upside-down world of government wonderland, having too high a credit limit would worsen your rating). The politicians, over the weekend, were using the ratings downgrade to grease the skids on the bogosity sled by saying that interest rates would go up on credit cards, mortgages and consumer loans.

I certainly trust Moody's integrity on ratings since these are the same people who were issuing such excellent ratings for Lehmann, AIG, Citi, etc., in the face of the impending collapse of the financial sector in '08. The ratings agencies are simply playing along with their friends, like Geithner and Bernanke — although they did admit in the last day or two that a Greek default is "near 100%" certainty. What a surprise. The responsible, productive members of the EU — that is to say, the Germans — had already decided that they were going to allow Greece to default, albeit slowly. In others words, Moody's is rather like the weatherman who predicts a sunny day and only admits it actually rained when the TV studio floods.

What this all amounts to is a combination of political posturing and what I would like to call "cri-portunity" in honor of the odious Rahm Emmanuel assertion that a crisis should not be wasted. I suppose it is possible that Boehner, Ryan, Cantor, and the Tea Party Republicans in the House honestly want to cut spending — though by far less than it needs to be cut, as part of the debt limit debate. I say, again, the debt limit does not need to be raised, or it should be raised only enough to cover the current budget deficit of about a trillion and a half. Meanwhile real, honest work should be initiated to bring spending in line with revenue. I know this is a startlingly new, innovative, perhaps even progressive concept, yet the government only spending what it gets is worth considering as a long-term fix to the debt problem. Perhaps they could even consider spending less than they take in so as to run a surplus for hard times or eliminating the debt — shocking, I know.

The President and the Democrats are proposing what are basically "cuts in the increase", or, "we won't ask for quite as much of an increase in spending as we were going to so that makes it a cut". They also want a much larger increase in the debt limit because they have no intention of ever balancing the budget apart from the imposition of confiscatory tax rates. And that, my friends, is why we call them "socialists". To the Democrats, this whole debate is simply a "cri-portunity" to get more room for deficit spending, and — perhaps even more importantly, to disillusion voters with the integrity of the Tea Party movement.

The Tea Party is a threat to the establishment of both major parties as well as to the progressive, activist agenda of the mainstream news media. It is essential that any "populist" movement among the peons be discredited.

I do think there is some hope that people are using the internet as an alternative media to spread and absorb the truth about our current situation. You can almost see it in the shifting shadows of the talking points desperately mouthed by politician, pundit, and newsreader alike.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Feral Animals

Best Friend animal rescue folks give us information about feral dogs and cats.

I am an animal lover. It always hurts me to see a dog or cat killed on the highway. Some rural folks are fairly quick to kill a stray dog, especially if it is not identifiable as belonging to a neighbor. I am not one of those. I am not much for killing stray cats, either. I try to discourage feral animals from hanging around my property, raiding garbage cans or pet food, attacking or spreading disease to my own pets, but I try non-lethal means such as slingshots and paintball guns first.

Two or three years ago, I was out running my trimmer along the front fence. I was up in the corner, not quite a quarter-mile from the blacktop highway that runs past our place. I saw a van driving slowly, stopping, and starting up again on the highway. A few minutes later, a small dog came up our gravel lane then turned across the field when it saw me and headed off into a gully. The van came up the lane as well and stopped to talk to my wife who was on her lawnmower a hundred and fifty yards or so from where I was. The van then approached me, and a lady asked if I had seen the dog. I said I had, and she explained that she and her children had been chasing it from their house a mile or two down the road. I didn't quite understand the circumstances but I assumed the dog belonged to the kids and had somehow gotten frightened. Since the dog was a small dachshund or at least a dachshund mix with very stubby legs, I figured I could catch it down in the gully or possibly run it back out to where the owners could catch it. I offered to see what I could do. I had on a pair of leather gloves, but I foolishly took them off and placing on top of a corner post before going after the little beast.

Sure enough, I found the dog looking for water at the spring in the gully. When it saw me it took off up the other side, but the bank was steep and covered in thick, uncut fescue. The dog more or less high-centered in the deep grass, and I caught up. I had it now except for one minor point. The dog, knowing flight was impossible, rolled to its back and began snapping at me as I tried to pick it up. I knew if I could get a hand on the back of its neck, I could handle it easily enough, but that was no easy task.

The dog caught my left hand and punctured me a couple of times then it got my right hand. At that point I was hurt and very angry. I thought, briefly, about putting a boot in its mouth, but I did not see how that would help me get the right hold. Possibly the adrenaline was fogging my brain a little. Instead I just took my bare right hand and stuck it in the dog's mouth and let it bite down. As it was thus occupied, I was able to grasp the creature by the nape of the neck and bring it under control. The dog did, as I was carrying it out of the gully in my freely bleeding hands, manage one final act of defiance by defecating on my shirt. I handed the dog over to the lady who had a blanket she wrapped around it. She pointed out my bloody hands to her kids and told them to be careful. They kept the dog immobilized and harmless in the blanket until they were able to insert the animal into a travel cage.

I left my trimmer in the corner and headed back to the house to wash my wounds and staunch the bleeding. On the way, I stopped to show my wife the wounds resulting from my righteous endeavor. "You know, they were just trying to catch it to take it to the animal shelter," she said.

"It's not the kids' dog? Good grief! I got all chewed up and probably sent the poor critter to its demise to boot."

So, I was bitten multiple times by a feral dog that had been eating ripe, summertime road-kill and God only knows what else. No, I did not go get a rabies shot, a tetanus booster, antibiotics, or anything like that. I washed my hands, poured rubbing alcohol into the holes, and bound them up with paper towels and duct tape. I don't recommend that treatment. I had considerable swelling around the bites for several days, but I'm still here. At least, I think I am.

The harsh reality is that feral animals are no joke. This was a miniature dachshund. I can only imagine the kind of damage a medium-size or large dog could do. Animal bites are dangerous and not to be treated lightly. I just happened to get off without any known issues. Do not follow my example! At the very least, get a tetanus shot. Or, better yet, do not be foolish enough to get bitten in the first place.

The reason I bring this up is that there are a very large number of dogs and cats in the United States. The economy has forced many people to give their house pets up to shelters. If the economic situation worsens, many shelters, especially the no-kill shelters, could be overwhelmed. What do we expect people to do when they are desperate? Most won't resort to eating Fluffy or Fido, but they might just turn them loose in the country, especially if shelters are forced to charge or increase fees for taking in pets.

Those of us who live in the country might not have to worry too much about a dog or two running loose, but what happens when it is five dogs, or twenty-five dogs, or fifty dogs running in a pack, hungry, with little fear of humans?

As a boy, I witnessed the consequences of dogs getting together in small packs. These were not "stray" dogs but free-roaming dogs that belonged to various neighbors. They were not acting out of desperate hunger or foraging to stay alive. Nevertheless, they would chase livestock and were known to run cattle through fences. They were sometimes guilty of killing newborn calves or goats. Generally coyotes operate singly or in pairs and make very efficient, clean kills. The exception is when the parent coyotes are teaching a season's pups to hunt. But stray dogs that have not been raised feral are invariably messy, sloppy killers.

If stray dogs form a pack, expect the individual animals to redirect their loyalty to the pack. Dogs show loyalty to humans because they are part of our pack. We take care of them and make sure they have food and water. We provide their relational interaction and entertainment. My dog thinks I am the big dog. I don't think we can really understand a dog's view of things. Humans are much more like coyotes, adhering to family loyalty under most circumstances, but not really pack animals in our relations to one another. Only when we meld into the anonymity of a mob do we approach the pack mentality.

Where I am from, hunting dogs were always highly valued and respected. I still feel that running dogs and coon hounds ought to have a right to pursue their game across private property without being in danger of being shot. Hunting dogs should be identified with good, old-fashioned, low-tech name-plates which provide the owners name and contact information attached to clearly visible, reflective collars. Guard dogs and working dogs that spend most of their time outside should also be equipped with reflective collars and name-plates. When the owner is not able to be present, dogs should be restrained or confined in order to keep them from wandering. There is nothing amusing, macho, wise, or cool about letting dogs roam without restriction. As more feral and stray animals are seen in rural and suburban areas, the danger to wandering dogs will rise. Free-roaming, un-collared animals may become targets of livestock owners if stock is threatened by feral packs.

Cats are good to have around for rodent control as well as companionship. Dogs serve as faithful and loyal companions, guards, hunters, and workers. They deserve the best treatment we can give them. Those who feel they cannot support a dog or a cat under adverse conditions should try to find the animal a good home. The worst and most irresponsible thing that can be done is to dump an animal in a rural area so it can "be free". The person who does this banishes the creature to hunger, disease, and suffering. A tragic chain of events is often set in motion by such an act. Sad as it may be, the truth is that it is far better for the animal and all concerned that the owner have it put down rather than dump it.

It is almost too much to expect Bambi-ized city dwellers to act responsibly with regard to pets. If dog packs do form in an area, live-trapping the dogs and turning them over to a shelter may be an option. However, it may come to something less desirable. There are worse ways to die in the woods and fields than from a well-placed bullet -- far worse ways. In the end, we simply have to do what we have to do, like it or not. If it becomes necessary to protect our food sources, our own animals, or ourselves, we may have no choice but to destroy marauding packs by whatever means are available.

We should encourage our friends, neighbors, and family members to be responsible and prudent with regard to dogs and cats they own. We can hope that it never comes to the point of having no choice except to kill a stray animal, but we must be prepared if it does.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A Matter of Trust

Jack O’Connor was the dean of American gunwriters when I was young. I was still reading Outdoor Life regularly when he retired. I felt like someone had died the first time I saw Jim Carmichael’s byline. Carmichael was a fine shooting editor himself, but he lacked the artistry of his predecessor. O’Connor was a writer first, and he could teach ballistics to an orangutan. I do not subscribe to or read outdoor magazines these days other than the one that comes as a result of my NRA membership. I usually skim through the American Rifleman and occasionally find a little worthwhile information there. I cannot say if there is anyone of Mr. O’Connor’s caliber writing today in any of the hunting or shooting magazines. The old masters have passed on, and what is left is generally fluff and hype.

Several years ago I read a book by a hunting editor who shall remain nameless. He, for no apparent reason other than to defile a legend, claimed that O’Connor was an alcoholic and was sometimes too drunk to get out of hunting camp. According to this person, O’Connor wrote up the hunts of others as if they were his own. Though he may have cited a source for the accusation in the book, I suspect it was mostly campfire rumors based on envy. Certainly, this particular writer is a hack in comparison to O’Connor. It is quite possible that Jack O’Connor had a drinking problem, but it did not keep him from entertaining and educating a generation or two of hunters and shooters. Just because a man or woman likes to hunt pheasants or shoot skeet or even hunt deer does not mean that they are sensible about firearms and hunting in general. It also does not make them honest.

A case in point is a man, an educator of some sort, I think, who wrote a book about the wonders of turkey hunting. The book was fairly well-written and had some interesting bits, but mostly it was about what a wonderful guy the writer was. I think he had bought a double-barrel shotgun for his turkey hunting. He only hunted spring gobblers, by the way, fall turkey season being beneath his dignity. For some reason, this elite hunter of only spring gobblers had gone into the local gunsmith’s shop. While the writer was there, another person came in with an autoloading pistol to ask if the gunsmith could do some work on it. The noble and elite gunsmith who would apparently only worked on classic doubles indignantly ordered the philistine to “get that machine out of here.” At that point, I think I gagged and pitched the book into the return pile. I’m not saying the writer was lying, I’m saying that there is no way that scene ever took place anywhere in the real world.

The point here is that all writers – including bloggers like myself – but especially those who have either a commercial interest or a large ego involved in their scribing should be taken with a considerable dose of salt. Extremely precise laser rangefinders can be purchased and used by anyone these days, but that does not mean that the gunwriters who may or may not use them will accurately report the yardage of their shots in their write-ups. I hear a lot about almost incredibly long shots at game animals when sport hunting. If a person is involved in wildlife damage control or survival hunting, to mention a couple of examples, the circumstances may necessitate or justify taking a longer shot. It is also true that hunting in the plains or mountains will often be at far greater distances than we brush-hunters ever see. Nevertheless, sport hunting is not sniping. For even the most skilled shooters the odds of making a less than perfect shot increase as the range increases.

I believe it was Paco Kelly who suggested that in practicing, we should take a shot per yard – i.e., 25 shots at 25 yards, 100 at 100 yards, 300 at 300 yards, etc. I don’t know that I would use that as a strict rule of thumb. I probably need more than 25 shots at 25 yards, so I would adjust upward accordingly, but the point that we should practice more at longer ranges for longer ranges is valid. Also, practicing at longer ranges makes a person better at close range.

Supposedly, most gun fights occur at 25 feet or less. I still like aimed practice with a handgun at 25 and 50 yards, or even 100 yards, as a means of identifying and correcting faults, as well as building confidence. The distance magnifies the mistakes we make in grip, sight picture, and trigger control. It is not, however, a good idea to substitute slow, aimed fire at a distance for up-close point shooting. We still need to work on speed with a handgun – after all, that is really their purpose and their strength.

Develop and practice skills appropriate to the application and the conditions under which you operate. Learn the capabilities and limitations of your weapon and yourself. It is always wise to seek advice and counsel from trusted sources, but personal experience is hard to beat.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

John MacArthur Explains the Secret to Contentment

I probably disagree with Dr. MacArthur on a few minor points of doctrine, but he is a great Bible scholar. This little study is very basic; there is no disagreement here. Every point is essential, especially in troublesome times. Dr. MacArthur gets some satisfaction.

What is the secret to contentment?
John MacArthur
Grace to You

If you belong to Christ, like the apostle Paul you can and should learn the secret of a contented life. When Paul wrote "godliness with contentment is great gain" he wasn't just speaking philosophically (1 Tim. 6:6). He had learned the secret to contentment in every circumstance of life (Phil 4:11-2). While that secret eludes most people, it need not elude any true believer. For those who are willing to learn, here are six steps to a contented life from the life and teaching of Paul.

First, learn to give thanks in all things. Paul had learned to give thanks in every circumstance and he exhorted all believers to do the same. Thankfulness is first of all a matter of obedience (1 Thess. 5:18; Eph. 5:18), but it is also a characteristic of a Spirit-filled believer (Eph. 5:18-20).

Second, learn to rest in God's providence. If we truly know God, we know that He is unfolding His agenda and purpose in our lives. He has sovereignly determined each part of His plan for us so that we'll be benefited and He'll be glorified (cf. Rom. 8:28). We should not be surprised or ungrateful when we experience trials because we know that God sees perfectly the end result (cf. 1 Pet. 4:12-13).

Third, learn to be satisfied with little. Paul had learned to make the choice to be satisfied with little, and he knew it was important for others to learn to make that same choice. In 1 Timothy 6:6 Paul exhorted a young pastor with these words: "Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content." Paul understood that covetousness and contentment are mutually exclusive.

Fourth, learn to live above life's circumstances. That's how Paul lived. In 2 Cor. 12:9-10 he wrote, "Most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Paul didn't take pleasure in the pain itself, but in the power of Christ manifested through him in times of infirmity, reproach, persecution, and distress. We also should learn to take pleasure in the power of Christ in times of distress.

Fifth, learn to rely on God's power and provision. The apostle Paul wrote, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me"; and Jesus said He will never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Like Paul, we can learn to rely on Christ's promise. He faithfully infuses every believer with His own strength and sustains them in their time of need until they receive provision from His hand (Eph. 3:16).

Finally, become preoccupied with the well-being of others. Paul summarized this mindset in Philippians 2:3-4, where he wrote: "Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others."

A self-centered man is a discontented man. But the soul of the generous man, the man who lives for the interests and benefit of others, will find blessing upon blessing in his life (see Prov. 11:24-5; 19:17; Luke 6:38; 2 Cor. 9:6).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Well, there is what Obama says,

"I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3rd if we haven`t resolved this issue, because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it", and then there is The Truth

The President is supposed to know this. He is supposed to be really smart. The conclusion is that he is an honest idiot or a liar with no conscience. Or, possibly, a lying idiot.

This is purely an attempt to scare seniors and others and stampede us all off the cliff of increasing the debt limit. There is no excuse for saying that we cannot meet our obligations to pay the interest on our debt and to cover the checks for Social Security and the military payroll. I really don't give a rip about the rest of what can or can't be covered, but anybody should be able to live on $196 billion a freaking month.

Where are the honest journalists (I needed a laugh) or the courageous Republicans (sure) who will throw this in the President's face and call him out on it?

Remember That Crumbling Edge ... -- UPDATE: Ben says, Or, like, whatever

... I have mentioned a couple of times?

Looks like Bernanke is preparing to shove us over. ZH does a lot of bomb throwing so I don't normally pay too much attention to them. However, the Fed is clearly talking QE3 despite the warning against it from that harshest of critics, our old friend Reality.

As I have said before, the way I look at it, the federal government has no choice other than to devalue the dollar and ramp up inflation. Well, actually, they do have a choice, though not one spineless politicians are willing to make -- politicians from either party.

The righteous alternative would be to demand an audit of the Federal Reserve, face the crisis directly, and drastically cut government spending. Yes, it would hurt. As a consequence, however, we would eventually have a genuine recovery based on agriculture, mining, manufacturing, energy production, and trade rather than yet another bogus bubble based on the proliferation of bureaucrats.

For those with debt and an ability to generate some income, the scenario is not completely bleak. They will be paying back their debt with increasingly worthless dollars. This, of course, includes government -- not just in Washington, but in the states like California. Inflation will absolutely devastate the savings of those who have played by the rules -- especially as long as the Fed holds the interest rates down while trying to inflate the markets. Back in the '80's, Volcker beat inflation by jacking interest rates and tightening the money supply. But no one was lying about inflation back then. The government was not attempting to claim "mild" or "controlled" inflation when fuel and food were spiraling (if not rocketing) higher. Bernanke, Geithner, et al, clearly intend to let inflation run in the hope of sparking something they can label as growth in the economy.

Apart from successful implementation of home-based cold fusion generators, a massive push for thorium nuclear reactors, a move to build cars and airplanes out of graphene, or some similar technological breakthrough that impacts energy costs and productive on a global scale, we are going to suffer if the Fed attempts to inject more liquidity into the system and further erode the dollar's buying power.

It's like a dam that has been erected. The water level behind it rises. Instead of opening the spillway and relieving the pressure -- i.e., allowing the bubble to burst and the economy to reset -- the powers-that-be keep the gates closed and sandbag on top of the dam. What this guarantees is that when the makeshift Keynesian sandbags topple, and they will, the downstream flood is going to be unimaginable. And the dam itself may be destroyed.

Of course, there remains the possibility that QE3 is merely an empty threat intended to move money temporarily into commodities, but that doesn't make sense as it seems like it would put upward pressure on bond rates. But what do I know?

The best investment still looks to me to be "means of production" and enhanced self-sufficiency. Commodity investments -- including metals -- might be a good hedge, but I can offer no advice one way or the other. I'd rather talk about handgun stopping power.

Update as of 7/14/11 -- Apparently Bernanke isn't as sold on QE to the Nth power as we thought. Maybe.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Greg Ellifritz -- Stopping Power Study

This looks like a very well done study with some different statistics. It is well worth the read. I may have some comments of my own after more consideration.

Here's the pay-off -- Ellifritz says:

What I believe that my numbers show is that in the majority of shootings, the person shot merely gives up without being truly incapacitated by the bullet. In such an event, almost any bullet will perform admirably. If you want to be prepared to deal with someone who won't give up so easily, or you want to be able to have good performance even after shooting through an intermediate barrier, I would skip carrying the "mouse gun" .22s, .25s and .32s.

Now compare the numbers of the handgun calibers with the numbers generated by the rifles and shotguns. For me there really isn't a stopping power debate. All handguns suck! If you want to stop someone, use a rifle or shotgun!

What matters even more than caliber is shot placement. Across all calibers, if you break down the incapacitations based on where the bullet hit you will see some useful information.
(Emphasis added by me).

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Is the Dollar Dead?

It's looking mighty pale at least. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange will launch renminbi trading on 8/22. The Chinese government had pegged the renminbi 1:1 to the dollar to improve exports. The massive devaluing of the dollar the last couple of years has put pressure on China to attempt to establish the RMB as a new reserve currency. If this happens, the USD will crash.

Unfortunately for China, they may crash as well. Their all-too-often cheap, crappy goods will still be crappy but no longer cheap. The question will be whether they can sustain their own economic base internally. No doubt that would be possible in the long-term under stable global conditions. However, they may have only the short-term to do or die, and they are certain to face serious global turmoil as the euro and the EU threaten to break down.

Another factor is the debt deal, or lack of one, and Obama scheduled to read some words off the TOTUS in the morning, at 11:00am Eastern. Things could get really interesting by tomorrow noon.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Audacity of Bogosity

Let this be a lesson to us, friends: Put not your faith in ADP employment numbers. Essentially, ADP can make up numbers. If I were into conspiracy theories, I would suggest that someone used those bogus numbers to set up the stock market yesterday then cashed out.

What does it all mean? For one thing, it means a sell-off of the market gains from the last week or so.

Secondly, it means that commodity prices may again escalate – oil, gold, wheat, coffee, etc. – not on the basis of increased demand but as a “safe-haven” speculative bid.

Third, keep in mind that QE2, also known as Cutting the Value of the Dollar in Half Rides Again, ended with the fiscal year on June 30. If the market shows signs of collapse, Bernanke is going to devalue the dollar some more and let the Chinese see who will buy all the U.S. paper they are holding.

I said about a month ago when the Dow dipped below 12,000 that we were walking on the rotting edge of the precipice. We haven’t moved. Get out in the next few days and punch up your reserves a little – canned food, ammo, paper towels, toilet paper, duct tape, epoxy, batteries – nothing overboard, just the usual stuff you use everyday or would use if the store shelves were suddenly empty. Silver is still probably overpriced, but it has been fairly stable. It might not be a bad time to pick up a few ounces of old silver coins. Again, I urge caution when it comes buying metals. There is no need to dive off the high board when we're not sure it's on the deep end. Save your nickels. We are not yet at the point of collapse, and we may yet be spared from the worst of it.

The one shining hope – seriously – is that Congress will NOT reach an agreement to raise the debt limit. We are in the hole. Stop digging!

This is something easy to do if you are an American: contact your Congressman and Senators. Just send a simple email with "RE: DO NOT RAISE THE DEBT LIMIT (or else)" as the top line. Make a couple of nice comments. Tell them you do not want your great- or great-great grandchildren born owing a million trillion just so some SEIU member who produces nothing of value can have a cushy job and an inflated pension. Or words to that effect.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Garden Report

The garden is starting to produce heavily. I have nearly five gallons of blackberries in the freezer and more on the way. That is good. My strawberries were sadly pathetic but promise a full harvest next season. Our grapes, while improving, have a ways to go before I need to build a winepress. My fruit tree production will be light, due, I think, to the weird weather we had around blooming time.

This year I am producing several of my vegetables from last year’s saved heirloom seeds. The gigantic Holly Luscious cantaloupes we raise have been produced from our own saved seeds for the last five or six years. We have saved Kentucky Wonder pole beans the last couple of years, and they look great this season. Our cucumbers – I don’t know the variety – are the best we have grown.

I have struggled to find a sweet corn variety that will work, but it looks as though we may be successful this year with Sustainable Seeds (see sidebar) Golden Bantam. The watermelon, too, is from saved seed. There are actually two varieties this time, but I don’t expect them to cross-pollinate because they were planted several weeks apart. I think I am going to wind up with “Rattlesnake” as my go-to watermelon. And the squash, it appears to be very productive this year.

I will be harvesting my potatoes in the next couple of weeks. Once the two little patches are clear, I will plant black beans in one and heirloom golden wax beans in the other. I may have enough black beans left to sow in my sweet corn patch once all of it is harvested.

So it is canning time – mainly green beans and tomatoes.

Things I need to focus on include more storage space both for equipment and crops like potatoes. I also need to build some more fence and clear the brush encroaching on the back side. Another critical job is to replace the small swings for the grandkids with bigger ones. I need more range time, too.

The living may be “easy” in the summer, but I manage to stay busy.