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Archive for the ‘Social Commentary’ Category

My New Hero: Kevin Montgomery

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I have a new hero: Kevin Montgomery. I first met Kevin while I worked for his dad, Bob Montgomery, in my first job in the music business. Bob was an influential music publisher, and co-owner of publishing company House of Gold Music. I worked for Bob from 1980 – 1982, recording songwriter demos in House of Gold’s small attic studio on Nashville’s Music Row. Kevin was just a kid then, and at times he would be around while I was working in the studio. While he never really got in the way, I remember thinking of him as the boss’ kid who exhibited a bit of a ‘my dad owns this place‘ kind of attitude. But I realized even then that Kevin was a good kid.

Fast forwarding through the years, Kevin and I connected a few years ago via Facebook. At that point, Kevin was all grown up, and was a singer/songwriter himself. Not long after we reconnected, he really grabbed my attention and admiration when he stepped up and helped organize support for a friend who was in a terribly difficult and unjust situation. He successfully pulled together thousands of people to show support for Danny Tate [see my previous post], a friend in need, and to help mobilize this group to right a horrible legal wrong done to Danny. I began to see him as a guy who cared about injustice done to others, and who was able to incentivize people to act.

So it came as no surprise recently when Kevin became aware that a group from Westboro Baptist Church planned to show up in Nashville to advance their special agenda of hate at the funeral of a fallen Marine hero, Sergeant Kevin B. Balduf. Kevin knew Sergeant Balduf’s family, and he was determined to do what he could to shield the Balduf family from Westboro’s protest.

And so he once again launched a campaign to pull people together and mobilize them to right another wrong. And people responded. In droves. Nashville got behind Kevin’s efforts to ensure that the Balduf family would be protected. And it wasn’t only people in Nashville who responded. People came from far and wide to show support for Sergeant Balduf’s family, and to honor the life of a fallen hero by helping to counter the misguided protest of people from Westboro Baptist Church.

Kevin put days of work into his effort. He started a Facebook group which grew to over 14,000 members in a matter of just a few days. He organized busses and ambulances to ferry supporters from place to place. He arranged for port-a-potties in key areas. The Patriot Guard Riders got involved, and turned out literally thousands of riders as escorts of Sergeant Balduf’s body for the various stages of the procession. Over the course of several days, there were supporters lining the route from airfield to funeral home, to the church for the funeral, and finally back to the airfield for the flight to Arlington where Sergeant Balduf was finally laid to rest. All in all, Kevin’s efforts produced an amazing turn out, and focused a city on doing the right thing.

So Kevin, I no longer see you as that somewhat obnoxious kid of my boss. You have grown to a place of prominence by taking a stand when you see wrongs that need to be set right, and for acting on your convictions. You are a man who commands my respect and my admiration. My hat is off to you, Sir.

For those who may be interested, Kevin has published a blog post about the process and the steps he took in organizing support for the Balduf family. It will serve as a valuable guide for anyone looking to utilize social media in organizing for any cause.

Written by jb

June 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm

Immigration Policy

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I am NOT racist. I am NOT violent. I am in favor of legal immigration policy which has been a major contributing factor in making the United States what it is. But…

demands

Folks, we’ve simply GOT to get our national head around the immigration situation in this country. The demands being placed on our society are simply inconceivable (see photo). These demands would be ridiculous even if they were made by legitimate citizens, much more so when they come from those who have invaded our boarders illegally. Granted, these demands are not made by all who advocate for unrestricted immigration or for amnesty, yet they are the logical conclusion to those policies, and they are actually being made, and expected, by many.

Here are a few facts which should be setting off alarm bells:

Based on 2007 Census data, the Center for Immigration Studies reported:

  • The nation’s immigrant population (both legal and illegal) reached a record of 37.9 million in 2007.
  • Immigrants account for 1 in 8 U.S. residents, the highest level in eighty years. In 1970 it was 1 in 21, in 1980 it was 1 in 16, and in 1990 it was 1 in 13.
  • Overall, nearly 1 in 3 immigrants is an illegal alien. Half of Mexican and Central American immigrants and one-third of South American immigrants are illegal.
  • 31 percent of adult immigrants have not completed high school, compared to 8 percent of natives. Since 2000, immigration increased the number of workers without a high school diploma by 14 percent, and all other workers by 3 percent. This means that our growing immigrant population is comprised primarily of unskilled labor, contrasting with earlier immigrant waves in which immigrants were skilled in ways which enabled them to contribute significantly to the benefit of society as a whole.
  • The proportion of immigrant-headed households which draw on at least one major welfare program is 33 percent, compared to 19 percent for native households. In 2004, immigrant households received nearly three dollars in immediate benefits and services for each dollar in taxes they paid. — http://www.heritage.org/Research/Immigration/upload/sr_14.pdf
  • The poverty rate for immigrants and their U.S.-born children under 18 is 17 percent, nearly 50 percent higher than the rate for natives and their children.
  • 34 percent of immigrants lack health insurance, compared to 13 percent of natives. Immigrants and their U.S.-born children account for 71 percent of the increase in the uninsured since 1989. With government run/subsidized healthcare on the way, the implications of this fact are staggering considering the public (taxpayers) will be on the hook for these related healthcare costs.
  • Immigration accounts for virtually all of the national increase in public school enrollment over the last two decades. In 2007, there were 10.8 million school-age children from immigrant families in the United States.
    http://www.cis.org/articles/2007/back1007.pdf
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    The Pew Hispanic Center estimates that

  • 9 percent of the population of Mexico was living in the United States in 2004.
  • 57 percent of all illegal immigrants in the U.S. are Mexican. Another 24 percent are from other Latin American countries.
  • 55 percent of all Mexicans in the U.S. are here illegally.
  • By 2050, Hispanics will be between 29 percent and 32 percent of the nation’s population.
    http://pewhispanic.org/files/reports/44.pdf
    http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/cb08ff-15.pdf
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    In 2008, a study from Manhattan Institute reported that the current level of assimilation of all recent immigrant groups is lower than at any time during the great migration in the early twentieth century. Some ethnic groups assimilated better than others, but Mexicans were the least assimilated overall, and assimilate at the slowest rate.
    http://www.manhattan-institute.org/pdf/cr_53.pdf

    The Mexican government promotes the idea of extraterritorial nationalism among its citizens – the concept that Mexican citizens have an indigenous claim to large sections of the southwestern United States. Mexican president Zedillo said (July 23, 1997)

    I have proudly affirmed that the Mexican nation extends beyond the territory enclosed by its borders and that Mexican migrants are an important – a very important – part of it. — http://zedillo.presidencia.gob.mx/pages/disc/jul97/23jul97-2.html

    This attitude is shared by Mexican citizens at large. Zogby International reported that 58 percent of Mexicans agree with the statement “The territory of the United States’ southwest rightfully belongs to Mexico.” — Results of poll of U.S., Mexican citizens, United Press International, June 12, 2002 —

    National Council of La Raza (“The Race”) is a popular organization which works tirelessly against the assimilation of Hispanic aliens into American society and for the continuation of illegal Hispanic migration into our country. Here are a few facts about La Raza and its stance on the issues:

  • La Raza views the United States as an irredeemably racist nation.
  • favors racial and ethnic preferences for minorities in the workplace and in higher education.
  • supports open borders and amnesty for ALL illegal aliens.
  • supports the DREAM Act, which is designed to allow illegal aliens to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents.
  • advocates “reform” that would give illegal aliens full access to taxpayer-funded health care services.
  • characterizes any reduction in government assistance to illegal border-crossers as “a disgrace to American values.”
  • supports access to driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.
  • supports voting rights for illegal aliens. ??????
  • opposes the Aviation Transportation and Security Act requiring that all airport baggage screeners be U.S. citizens.
  • opposes the Clear Law Enforcement for Criminal Alien Removal Act, which would empower state and local police to enforce federal immigration laws.
  • opposes the REAL ID Act, which requires that all driver’s license and photo ID applicants be able to verify they are legal residents of the United States, and that the documents they present to prove their identity are genuine.
    http://www.frontpagemag.com/Articles/Read.aspx?GUID=473b1006-dea4-4340-b1a2-ac0838de5714
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    Leaders (and supporters) of La Raza have worked their way into the highest levels of our society and our government.

  • Raul Yzaguirre was president and CEO of La Raza for thirty years. Hillary Clinton appointed Yzaguirre as co-chair of her presidential campaign and assigned him to lead her outreach to Hispanics.
  • John McCain was honored by La Raza in 1999. McCain appointed Juan Hernandez as his Hispanic outreach director. In a Nightline interview on ABC News (June 7, 2001), Hernandez, who holds dual citizenship, said,

    I want the third generation, the seventh generation, I want them all to think ‘Mexico first.’ — Nightline Interview, ABC News, June 7, 2001 —

  • President Obama appointed Cecilia Munoz, senior vice president of La Raza, as director of his Office of Intergovernmental Affairs.
  • Given La Raza’s agenda, how can it be in our country’s best interest to be placing their leaders in positions of authority and influence in our society and our government? What does it say about those who make these appointments?

    Unabated immigration from Mexico takes huge amounts of money out of the U.S. economy. In 2006, over 27 percent of Mexico’s labor force was working in the U.S., sending “home” $20 billion in remittances. That equals one-third of the total wage earnings in the formal sector of the Mexican economy and 10 percent of Mexico’s exports.

    How can our country, our society, survive such a continuing stream of aliens who won’t submit to our law (on the proper way to immigrate) who are encouraged above all to avoid assimilation, who make ridiculous demands on the society they are invading (again, refer to the above photo)?

    What do we do about our federal government’s refusal to enforce immigration law, while they continue to push in every way possible to throw our borders wide open and look for new ways to grant amnesty to millions of people who are here illegally?

    We’ve simply GOT to get a handle on this. We’ve got to. To not reign this in is societal suicide.

    Much of the information which inspired me to write this piece came from reading the chapter ‘On Immigration’ from Mark R. Levin’s book Liberty And Tyranny, from observing contemporary news sources, and from simply THINKING.

    Think, people. Think!!!

    Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar

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    A good while back, a good friend gave me a bit of advice after reading one of my blog posts. He said “Make it about what you love, not what you hate.” I don’t know if he was talking specifically about my blog, or just my general outlook on life. Either way, that was good advice. And with today’s post, I’m attempting to make a turn in that direction.

    My brother David sent this to me today. I haven’t bothered to try to verify if it is true or not. I don’t really care if it’s true or not. Because it could be. And whether it’s true or not, it can still inspire me. And whether it’s true or not has no bearing on the fact that I can choose to learn from this lesson and make my life better, as well as the lives of those around me every day. I want to do that. Lord help me to do that.

    There is an amazing lesson in this email. Enjoy and make up your mind to soar like eagles.
    Ducks, Quack & Eagles Soar!

    No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice.

    Harvey Mackay, tells a wonderful story about a cab driver that proved this point.

    He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey .

    He handed my friend a laminated card and said: “I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.”

    Taken aback, Harvey read the card. It said: Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.

    This blew Harvey away. Especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside. Spotlessly clean!
    As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” My friend said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.”

    Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.”

    As they were pulling away, Wally handed my friend another laminated card, “These are the stations I get and the music they play, if you’d like to listen to the radio.”

    And as if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable for him. Then he advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts.

    “Tell me, Wally,” my amazed friend asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?”

    Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard the personal growth guru, Wayne Dyer, on the radio one day.

    “He had just written a book called You’ll See It When You Believe It. Dyer said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’
    That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “Dyer was really talking about me. I was always quacking and complaining, so I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked around at the other cabs and their drivers.The cabs were dirty, the drivers were unfriendly, and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.”

    “I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said.

    “It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year I’ll probably quadruple it. You were lucky to get me today. I don’t sit at cabstands anymore. My customers call me for appointments on my cell phone or leave a message on my answering machine. If I can’t pick them up myself, I get a reliable cabbie friend to do it and I take a piece of the action.”

    Wally was phenomenal. He was running a limo service out of a Yellow Cab. I’ve probably told that story to more than fifty cab drivers over the years, and only two took the idea and ran with it. Whenever I go to their cities, I give them a call. The rest of the drivers quacked like ducks and told me all the reasons they couldn’t do any of what I was suggesting.

    Wally the Cab Driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like ducks and start soaring like eagles.

    How about us? Smile, and the whole world smiles with you. The ball is in our hands!

    A man reaps what he sows. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Let us do good to all people.

    Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar.

    Have a nice day, unless you already have other plans.

    “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

    Written by jb

    June 26, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Update – Danny Tate is FREE!

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    In reference to the previous post: After a court appearance this morning, word is that Danny Tate is now FREE.

    I don’t have all the details yet, but the same judge who has kept him under a Conservatorship for the last couple of years evidently decided today to rule that Danny “has no need of a Conservator.” Hello?? Just like that?

    I wonder if the judge’s change of heart had anything at all to do with the fact that his court room today was filled with concerned people who were there to 1). show their support for Danny, and 2). to put the court on notice that the People (people from around the world) are watching what happens in that court.

    No matter what the reason, I’m thankful and glad that Danny Tate is free! Now, if he could only get some of his own money back.. money that went to pay for his Conservator’s attorney (even though Danny was not allowed to pay his own), and whatever other expenses his ‘concerned’ Conservator felt he needed (or wanted?) to drain Danny’s assets in order to pay for.

    Written by jb

    May 24, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    The Danny Tate Ordeal

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    Years ago, when I was first starting my career in Nashville, I had the pleasure of getting to work a number of times with a talented songwriter named Danny Tate. Throughout the ’80’s Danny was a popular fixture in the Nashville club scene, and I caught his shows a few times. I haven’t seen him or heard anything about him in years. Until this week.

    This week, I learned that Danny is going through what has to be an incredibly difficult ordeal, to say the least. He has had issues with substance abuse in the past, although he’s also experienced long stints of sobriety. But in 2007, his estranged brother, with the help of an attorney who may have less than noble intentions (imagine that!), used Danny’s past against him by seeking, and being granted, a ‘temporary guardianship and conservatorship,’ ostensibly to protect Danny from himself. Consequently, Danny has lost control of all his financial assets, all his royalty payments, as well as his right to enter into contracts. Essentially, he’s been stripped of all of his rights, all without the Constitutionally guaranteed protection of Due Process, and without the opportunity to mount a defense.

    To make a long story short, I’ll just say that it appears there are many fishy elements to this saga. It doesn’t seem to be totally ‘above board’ but instead looks rather messy and dubious at best. It’s something that shouldn’t happen to anyone, but evidently it could happen to any of us at any time. And now there’s news that the brother’s attorney is in the process of doing the same thing to another person, in the same court under the same judge who ruled in Danny’s case. Fishy stuff, indeed.

    Please take the time to read up on Danny’s case. And pray for him. He needs his freedom back, and I want to help him get it if there’s anything I can do.

    Here’s where you can get information on the case. But be forewarned: what you find may disturb you. But we need to be disturbed when we see something like this.

    If you are concerned by what you find in Danny’s story, I urge you to inform your friends and contacts. Write to Tennessee’s governor. Let’s do what we can to help a brother reclaim his life and his rights.

    Written by jb

    March 28, 2010 at 12:09 am

    Universal Sign of Distress

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    March 23, 2010

    Written by jb

    March 23, 2010 at 10:49 pm

    The Green Machine

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    The Green Machine. I’ll be upfront and honest by stating that I’ve always been skeptical about the whole push to move us into Green mode. And I’m finally posting a look at just how this Green Machine works. Since Cap and Trade would be such a huge change in the way we use and pay for energy in all segments of our economy, and because it appears to be (like it or not) on our horizon, let’s take a look at just one real-world example of the way this Green Agenda plays out, shall we?

    Ok, I’m all in favor of conserving our natural resources whenever possible and not doing unnecessary harm to our planet, but tell me if this seems just a wee bit wacky to you.

    The good people who host my domain just sent notice that they’ve gone totally green! And they tell me that because of that my hosted site qualifies to display certification as an eco-friendly site. Woo-hoo!! They explain:

    We are green, so you are green. Our offices and our data centers are all powered by 100% wind energy. You can be proud that the machines hosting your website and email are eco-friendly, which makes you eligible for our Green Certificate.

    BUT… here’s where it starts to get wacky… in the ‘fine print,’ they further state:

    Since generating wind energy on site isn’t feasible, we’re offsetting all of our electricity use with wind-generated Renewable Energy Certificates, which prevent the release of 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere each year.

    Here’s my certificate. Pretty cool, eh?

    So let me get this straight: They’re claiming that they are totally green, “all powered by 100% wind energy,” and even providing certification to that fact, yet they aren’t actually USING wind energy because it would be unfeasible for them to generate it? They simply pay good money to purchase a piece of paper that SAYS they’re using wind energy, when they really aren’t? The energy they actually use in powering their offices and the servers that host my domain still comes from the same old “traditional” sources, meaning that it’s probably generated by burning coal. If it comes from a coal burning plant, then 2,660 metric tons of carbon dioxide are STILL being produced to meet their energy requirements. Yet they can now claim that they are “powered by 100% wind energy.” And they can feel really good while bragging about it. Wow. That’s messed up!

    In all fairness, there really are people generating clean wind energy. But what happens to that energy once it is created? And how does it get used (consumed)? Here’s an oversimplified look in layman’s terms. A large wind farm will SELL the energy it produces to a power company. The power company buys the energy and routes it into their power grid, which is like a pool of energy that has been produced by a number of different possible methods. This pool can be made up of energy which was produced by coal burning energy plants, by nuclear energy plants, from solar production, from wind farms, and perhaps other means as well. The power company then delivers energy from this pool to all their customers, down the power lines that come into your house or business. So customers who choose NOT to buy Renewable Energy Certificates are actually consuming just as much wind-generated energy as a customer like my webhost who HAVE thrown good money into purchasing Renewable Energy Certificates. Remember that the wind farm was paid for their product – “green power” – by the power company which purchased it from them. So who gets the money from the sale of these Renewable Energy Certificates? Someone does. But it’s not necessarily the people who produce the green energy. It’s a shell game.

    And that, my friends, gives us a glimpse into how I think this whole green thing is going to operate in our future. It’s nothing more than a feel-good with no real substance, except that the real substance of it is that someone stands to make tremendous profit while we continue business as usual. It’s smoke and mirrors. It means paying a whole lot more for something new and (supposedly) ‘better,’ while we still get the same old product. The urgent need to get us away from burning coal is somehow met if we simply purchase “certificates” which state that we’re using new renewable energy, even as the old coal burning power plant continues to produce and deliver the same juice we’ve always used.

    Once we’re all required by future legislation to be using green power (see that coming?) and we’re paying exorbitant rates for it (but hey, isn’t the wind free?), how can we know we aren’t being subjected to the same kind of bait and switch scheme my webhost has fallen prey to? With electricity, how can you tell where it came from? It would be one thing if clean wind generated power LOOKED different in some way from dirty old coal generated power. If that were the case, we could LOOK at our power and confirm that we’re actually being delivered green energy for the significantly higher rates we’ll all be paying for it. But with electricity you can’t tell that way. We’ll have to trust someone… blindly.

    SOMEone is going to make an insanely huge amount of money off of all this. And we’re supposed to feel really good about having to pay it, because we’ll be saving the planet, after all. But I’ll bet we’ll still be getting the same old product. Just like my webhost… “totally certifiably green,” while at the same time they admit oh by the way, we’re still actually using the same old completely un-green energy we always did. But we’re paying so much more for it!! Isn’t that great??!

    Cap and Trade works in much the same way, as far as I can tell. Industries and individual customers are assigned a base level of ‘allowances’ to emit a determined amount of greenhouse gasses. If, in the course of doing business, they need to generate more greenhouse gasses than they are allowed under the guidelines, they simply purchase Carbon Credits from another customer who isn’t using all of their allocation. But the bottom line is that the same amount of greenhouse gasses will be produced, either way. The only difference is that under the Green scenario, massive amounts of money have exchanged hands, and consequently we’ll ALL be paying far more not only for our own electricity use, but also for each and every item we buy which uses energy in its production or delivery (and what doesn’t fall into that category?). Does this make sense? Does this sound like the direction we need to be headed in?

    Former Vice President Al Gore has a major financial stake in foisting the Green Agenda on us. His investment firm, Generation Investment Management, owns shares in Camco International Ltd, a carbon asset developer. Camco is a company which deals in the sale of carbon credits. This obviously means that Gore stands to make substantial income from the trading of carbon credits. This may provide a look into one of the main reasons Gore is so much in favor of seeing that Congress passes Cap and Trade legislation. It’s obvious that without regulation and legislation, the Green Agenda would be totally unsustainable in a free market economy (since all customers of the power company get the same juice delivered to them, whether they’ve bought Renewable Energy Certificates or not). So just how noble is the Nobel laureate in all of this? Does the term ‘appearance of impropriety’ come to mind? If he truly were interested in protecting the environment, and he really does believe that man’s production of greenhouse gasses is the number one contributor to the evil of global warming, then why is he making certain that he’s positioned to make obscene profits from enacting the Green Agenda? Wouldn’t the noble thing for him to do be to ‘do it for free?’ For the people. For the planet. For our survival. Not for his own financial gain. It certainly should call into question the real reasons behind his ardent fervor in promoting the Green Agenda.

    This whole Green thing, if Cap and Trade becomes law, would be ripe for abuse and manipulation and fraud. It’s hard to imagine that there could ever be a bigger opportunity for bribery and massive corruption, when you consider that in order to implement this, a huge new federal bureaucracy will have to be created to police enforcement and structure guidelines, and to monitor the purchase and distribution of these goofy carbon credits. Talk about the king of all cesspools for corporate lobbying and corruption – this is it.

    Forget about the fact that the whole Green agenda is based on what is increasingly being shown to be ‘junk science’ and fraud and intimidation. It is certainly not based in ‘settled science’ as we continue to hear. Just consider the way it plays out in the example of my webhosting company. It’s completely preposterous. But there are those who stand to make huge profits from it, just to continue to do things the way they’ve always been done. Smoke and mirrors. Shell game. A government-run Bernie Madoff scam on steroids which will financially effect every single element of our economy and society. Is that what we need?

    Remember what the frog said:

    It’s not easy, being green.

    We’re all going to find out very soon just how right he was.

    Written by jb

    March 19, 2010 at 12:15 pm