Transparent: For America’s Sake

Transparency. It’s the opposite of secrecy. It’s a principle that has long term effects on formulation of American law and way of life.  The lack of  transparency impacts what happens to you, your children and your grandchildren. This post aims to shed light on actions that run counter to words spoken by elected leaders who are in charge of our future for the next four years. It is meant as an alarm to urge you to keep a watchful eye on YOUR interests–those that have an affect beyond your daily life, those that may modify your life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness on a grand scale.

My agenda is not to promote certain legislation. My agenda is to open your eyes to look at a bigger picture. Pull back the curtain in Oz and look at what is happening behind the scenes. Don’t choose ignorance.

Quotes:

Obama said the way to make government responsible is to hold it accountable. And the way to make government accountable is to make it transparent so that the American people can know exactly what decisions are being made, how they’re being made, and whether their interests are being well served.

–Rediff India Abroad

 I’m not going to pretend that before this week that I know much  about Swartz — a computer prodigy who created a website that evolved into the  popular Reddit site at age 14, and then campaigned for freedom of information  over the Internet, fighting against the Internet-copyright bill known as SOPA  through a group called Demand Progress. He was well-known to the community of  activists seeking to reduce government restrictions on the flow of information,  if not to the broader public. But the broader battles that he devoted his  all-too-brief life to fighting — against a government that is way too invested  in conducting its business in secret and in limiting information to the select  few — are familiar to most of us.

–philly.com, January 15, 2013

In April 2010,  President Barack Obama’s then-White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs announced that “this is the most transparent administration in the history of our country.”

–reason.com

In his letter last week formally requesting that President Obama invoke executive privilege in the Fast and Furious scandal, Attorney General Eric Holder fretted that turning over documents sought by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee raised “substantial separation of powers concerns” and could “create an imbalance in the relationship between these two co-equal branches of government.”

Just last week, the National Security Agency refused to provide Congress with a rough estimate of how many Americans have had their communications monitored by the agency since 2008, on the grounds that revealing that information might violate Americans’ privacy. As a result, my colleague Jim Harper lamented, “Congress has no idea what the NSA is doing.”

As it happens, the Obama team’s executive privilege claim in Fast and Furious is exceptionally flimsy. The president claims “deliberative process privilege,” the weakest form of the privilege, about which the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals has held “where there is reason to believe the documents sought may shed light on government misconduct, ‘the privilege is routinely denied.’ “

–reason.com, June 26, 2012

Sunlight Before Signing: Too often bills are rushed through Congress and to the president before the public has the opportunity to review them. As president, Obama will not sign any non-emergency bill without giving the American public an opportunity to review and comment on the White House Web site for five days.

–from President Obama’s transition web site, change.gov

Northampton, Massachusetts became the first city in New England to pass a resolution rejecting the NDAA on February 16, 2012. William Newman, Director for the ACLU in Western Massachusetts, said, “We have a country based on laws and process and fairness. This law is an absolute affront to those principles that make America a free nation“.[31]

and

Nine states have introduced bills aiming to adjust or repeal the detainment provisions of the 2012 NDAA.[25] In June, Rhode Island passed a resolution calling on Congress to repeal Sections 1021 and 1022.[26] In mid June, Michigan began considering a block against any state cooperation with federal officials who wish to detain Americans under sections 1021 and 1022.[27] The bill passed unanimously on December 5, 2012.[28][29] In July, the Clark County Republican Party Central Committee of Nevada unanimously passed a resolution denouncing the 2012 NDAA, and requesting the Sheriff act against it immediately. The group called sections 1021 and 1022 “blatant attacks on the United States Constitution, specifically Amendments 4, 5, 6, and 8 of our Bill of Rights”.[

–Wikipedia, National Defense Authorization Act, 2012

Here’s what was said:

Here’s what is being done:

President Obama renewed his threat Monday to use executive orders to push  through controversial gun control measures with or without Congress’ blessing.

–FoxNews, January 14, 2013

The First Lady, on transparency (remember that actions speak louder than words to say what you really believe):

That careful answer reflects how much she works to guard her image as first lady. Since arriving in office, Obama has sought to chart a course that allows her to leave a legacy but also doesn’t clash with the “Mom-in-chief” position she said she wanted to maintain upon arriving at the White House.

It hasn’t been easy. Obama is currently on her third chief-of-staff since 2009, and her office has seen an unusually high amount of turnover compared to other first ladies. It’s all been credited to what many say is the grueling hours and expectations of an Ivy League-educated former hospital executive turned first lady who pays close attention to how she is regarded publicly and takes a hands on role in managing her team.

It’s a measure of discipline that has prompted some to be careful about what they say about Michelle Obama and her agenda. Her office declined to comment for this story—as did a half dozen former staffers and friends close to Obama.

–Yahoo News, by Holly Bailey, January 15, 2013

Quotation for the Day

Excerpted from Rudyard Kipling’s “The Gods of the Copybook Headings:”

When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed, They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

Why Is the Weather (and Sky) Changing?

Financial Checkup for Pre-Retirees

In 2004, Fidelity Management and Research asserted a retiree’s financial plan should yield an income stream of between 80 to 100 percent of the pre-retirement income in order to live comfortably.

In my opinion, that assertion assumes the retiree continues to live the same lifestyle as in pre-retirement. One can make choices that cut a budget, such as leaving a high-priced urban area like New York City and moving to a less expensive community or a smaller home. Doing so lowers the cost of taxes, housing, and utilities. If the retiree moves to a mild climate, such as exists in southern Florida, then he or she will save money on clothing, too, since heavy winter clothes aren’t needed. In areas, such as Florida, that grow much of the nation’s produce, fresh foods cost less. And the long growing season means a retiree can grow a kitchen garden, even in flower pots on the patio, to reduce food costs.

What a pre-retiree needs is a tool to help decide whether he or she has saved enough money or acquired assets to cover retirement costs. The following five questions, from How to Love Your Retirement by Hundreds of Heads, are a good starting point.

  1. Determine your post-retirement lifestyle and expenses. Will you travel? What will it cost? Will you eat out or cook at home? What will your recreational costs be? How much do you spend on hobbies or books?

  2. Determine your specific retirement benefits. These include social security, IRA’s, 401K plans, pensions, investments, annuities, etc. Know what health care benefits you are entitled to and can depend on.

  3. Create a plan for health care and long-term care coverage. Determine the costs at facilities of your choosing. Calculate your prescription drug costs. Anticipate the medical conditions your genetics may throw at you.

  4. Plan for contingencies. Have an emergency fund to cover the costs.

  5. Look at your family. Will you be required to help someone else financially during your retirement years?

What If?

Last week, a friend of mine who is a mother of 12 adopted children invited me to a church service to witness the dedication of her 6 youngest ones to God. The pastor spoke after the dedication service. His message to the congregation was what if every person in that church gathered together to pray for a benevolent purpose? He cited scriptural promises by God to answer.

It got me thinking about my childhood, when nearly every family attended a church of some kind. Prayer before meals and before going to bed were common, as was living by the Golden Rule. Parents in the neighborhood watched over all children, not just their own. Those same parents felt free to correct the children of a neighbor, and the actual parent of that child would stand behind the correction. In those days, folks lived their lives by a common set of rules; those rules sprang out of the Judeo-Christian ethic.

Life was simpler then. The sight of a full gun rack inside a pick-up truck was an every day event, and no one dreamed that anyone would shoot someone with one of those guns. There were bullies then as now, but the bullying usually involved dominating a table location at lunch, name calling or picking a bare-fisted fight in the school yard. A stern word from an authoritative adult broke up most childish skirmishes.

All the way home from the dedication service, I thought about the minister’s challenge, or call, to prayer. And then I found a YouTube video of a song I’ve never heard before, but that seemed to be asking the same question as the preacher.

So, I thought, what if? What if America got down on its collective knees and asked God to help us? To give us insight into what has gone wrong in our society? To give us wisdom to turn the problems around? What if?

Fiscal Cliff 101

Illinois attempts to gather data on who is buying or selling precious metals. Why? Why does government collect data on anything–to find a way to control it.

Utah has passed a bill (HB 157) to provide for an alternative currency to the paper dollar, also known as “fiat money.” In Utah, gold and silver coins based on the market price of precious metals can be used to buy goods. This is the real money called for by our U. S. Constitution.

Is there a movement to return to the money of our constitution? Our founding fathers predicted the problems we are now experiencing in our economy–problems that are directly caused by our government using “fiat money,” paper dollars backed by nothing.

A preacher gives a very plain explanation of what has befallen the US dollar. He says plainly what economists, bankers, the Federal Reserve and the US Government have done to ruin the US dollar. Let he who has ears hear.

After listening, are you scratching your head? Maybe you have questions like this guy:

or this guy–Jim Cramer. You know him from CNBC’s Mad Money. According to Jim, the preacher from above is right:

So what’s an American to do?