Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

For the sake of ornament and illumination.

Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:54 pm

LEAPFROG FLY: I LIKED IT SO MUCH I BOUGHT THE COMPANY, by Charles Carreon

12:55pm, December 1, 2005

The LeapFrog Pentop FLY Computer is an amazing kids learning tool, and I predict adults are going to love this format for games. Their stock may also be a good pick, based on my rules for Green Investing. Full disclosure here — I bought stock in LeapFrog (LF) about a month ago, after watching it since year 2001 or so.

Here are some thoughts about Green Investing.

Some people think capital is inherently evil, corrupts all it touches, and should be eschewed. We only hope these people are monks. The rest of us need capital, and if we have any sense, will seek it out, try to enlarge the amount ethically, and dispose of it so that it grows at a sensible rate. Somewhere along the way, we may decide we have to buy stock.

Why do we buy stock? In the hope that company managers will have a hit product that will fill their coffers, send the stock soaring, and let you sell at a nice premium. Sometimes, with the additional hope that they'll pay out a stream of income in the form of dividends.

Why do companies sell their stock? To get your money. What they do with it after that is largely their business.

Here's some things I consider when trying to buy a stock.

First, it is desirable to buy stock only in an ethical company, because if they cheat the government, their customers and competitors, then they'll definitely cheat you, their stockholder.

Second, it is good to buy stocks of companies that produce products you want to see more of in your world. My dad bought utilities. It made him feel like he was sending himself a check when he paid his light and water. It was a pretty good strategy, for what he wanted to achieve.

Third, ask yourself if they have a good product, a good sales team, a viable market, and the financial ability to stay abreast of their competitors, or ideally outmaneuver them altogether for a few years.

Fourth, consider whether the company has some of top managers in their product field. Do they have a track record of producing hits? Are the top managers driven by more than money — are they zealots for their product?

Fifth, are top managers selling their stock? I never want to go into the building when the firemen are leaving. Some selling is natural if the stock's been weak for a long time and is just building up steam for a good run, however, so consider that.

Sixth, how is their debt situation? It's comforting when stock price is steady, sales are stable, and there's cash in the bank. Big borrowing can be dangerous, and cash never killed anyone.

Seventh, consider whether the stock is about as cheap as it's going to get. A good sign is that it took a hit a while ago and has been steady for a while, and now is beginning to firm up. You're testing to see if it's hit bottom, and will only go up. There’s some intuition to be exercised here, eyeing the charts. And I agree with Fool.com, that logarhythmic charts are best.

Finally, consider why you are buying the stock. Most of my stocks are managed by professionals for a fee. The proportion of my assets I directly invest are few, more as a sort of harmless entertainment, by which I try to buy stocks I can enjoy watching the stock increase in value, enjoy watching their products prosper in the market, and then enjoy selling for a safe profit while the roses are still blooming. It's a cheerful sort of investing style, and it can’t work except with stocks that appreciate a reasonable amount in a fairly short period of time. This means I’m often looking at stocks of small companies with prices in the single or low double-digits. I’m not talking about thinly-traded pink-sheet stocks. We’re talking about stocks of companies that, if you were to sell all of their stock today, at the current price, would be worth about three hundred million dollars. That number, by the way, is the “market cap” of a stock.

Other people want to see the stock price stay steady, and get regular notices that dividend payments have been converted into more stock. Their theory is that, they don’t mind if the stock is undervalued because the company pays out so much in dividends; they’re reinvesting the dividends quite happily in cheap stock that will one day inevitably rise. So they teach, and it might be true. The point is, if you’re looking for a stock that’s going to jump in price, you have to have a theory why it might do that. Otherwise, you may buy a great stock for the long term, but sell it in the short term, not realizing that it was foolish of you to think that it was going to have a big run.

After applying all those factors above, and watching this candidate for about four years, during which it's sort of slid and slid and slid, I think it's about at bottom. There are having an on-time Christmas product launch of this wild product called the LeapFrog FLY Pentop computer. Their website is pretty good, and explains this clever little product that is intended to get kids writing with a computer pen that literally reads what they write, and opens up a surprising world of games and learning. For a hundred bucks, I'm betting these things will fly off the shelves. According to their press release, it's a pretty popular item with their young focus groups. There's a product demonstration at flypentop.com

LeapFrog Computing wrote:

LeapFrog's New Fly Pentop Computer Chosen as Fourth Most Desired Electronic Gift for This Holiday Season Tuesday November 8, 9:00 am ET Recent Survey of Shoppers Between Ages 12 - 75 Choose FLY After iPod Nano, Xbox 360 and Plasma/HDTV TVs

EMERYVILLE, Calif., Nov. 8 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — A recent Shopping In America survey conducted for The Macerich Company found that the hottest electronic gifts expected to sail off the shelves this holiday season include the recently-shipping FLY Pentop Computer from LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: LF - News), a leading vendor of technology-based learning products. LeapFrog today announced that its new FLY Pentop Computer, that launched only three weeks ago, was selected as the fourth most desired electronic gift this holiday season among 3,780 shoppers between the ages of 12 - 75 surveyed in twelve regional shopping centers across the U.S. for The Macerich Company. The results of the Shopping in America survey for top electronic gifts showed the FLY Pentop Computer followed the iPod Nano, the most popular item, the Xbox 360, and the category of plasma and HDTVs. LeapFrog's FLY Pentop Computer was more popular than items such as PDA cell phones, digital cameras with MP3 players, Video Now XP and Gameboy Micro.

FLY Pentop Computer is Making the Lists

In addition to the Shopping in America survey, the FLY Pentop Computer has been featured in many prestigious holiday lists as a "must-have" gift item, including the eBay "Hot New Toys" list, the Life Magazine list of hot toys for the holidays, and the Toys R Us "Joy" List.

"Electronic gifts are always a big hit during the holidays and we are very pleased to see our new FLY Pentop Computer take its place among some of the hottest selling electronic categories and products," said LeapFrog president Jerry Perez. "The new FLY platform is one of the first consumer electronic offerings to bring learning to the mainstream — and make it as engaging and fun as the latest TVs and video game players."

FLY Pentop Computer On the Shelves and Under the Tree

First announced in New York City last January, the highly-anticipated new platform has been hailed by industry pundits and reviewers for its unique technology, which transforms pen and paper into an interactive computer, and for its many creative and engaging learning applications that make the FLY Pentop Computer attractive to both technology-savvy tweens (age 8 - 14) and their parents.

The new FLY Pentop Computer, a variety of specialized educational applications, games, and accessories are now available in the consumer electronics aisles of Walmart, K-Mart, Target, Best Buy, Circuit City, and Toys R Us across the country, and online at www.flypentop.com. The FLY Pentop Computer has a suggested retail price of $99.99 and the new FLYware accessories and applications have suggested retail prices ranging from $4.99 to $34.99.

About LeapFrog

LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. is a leading designer, developer and marketer of innovative, technology-based learning products and related proprietary content, dedicated to making learning effective and engaging for all ages, at home and in schools, around the world. The company was founded in 1995 and is based in Emeryville, California. LeapFrog has developed a family of learning platforms that come to life with more than 100 interactive software titles, covering important subjects such as phonics, reading, writing, math, music, geography, social studies, spelling, vocabulary, and science. In addition, the company has created more than 35 stand-alone educational products for children from birth to 16 years. LeapFrog's award-winning U.S. consumer products are available in six languages at major retailers in more than 25 countries around the world. The LeapFrog SchoolHouse-curriculum programs are currently in more than 80,000 classrooms across the U.S. with over 200 interactive books and over 450 skill cards representing more than 6,000 pages of educational content. LeapFrog SchoolHouse(TM) products have won numerous awards from the education industry, including the Golden Lamp Award and Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers, the Award of Excellence from Technology & Learning magazine, and the Teacher's Choice Award from Learning magazine.

NOTE: LEAPFROG, FLY, and FLYware are trademarks or registered trademarks of LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc.

CONTACT: Jaeme Sines Shannon Eis LeapFrog Enterprises, Inc. Kaplow Communications +1-510-596-3497 +1-212-221-1713 jsines@leapfrog.com shannone@kaplowpr.com
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 8:57 pm

DAVID SAFAVIAN, "TYPHOID MIKE" ABRAMOFF'S VICTIM, by Charles Carreon

10:49pm, December 3, 2005

I don't know how I missed this one, sports fans, but allow me to remedy my oversight. David Safavian, the nation's top "procurement official" that is, the guy who was responsible for the entire government's purchasing policies, was indicted for sharing too many intimacies with "Typhoid Mike" Abramoff, the devout Jew who spent his days pulling strings with his friend Tom DeLay through the agency of Blackberry-toting born-again Christian Ralph Reed. Just mentioning all these slimy critters together in one sentence reminds me of those recipes that Jed Clampett of The Beverly Hillbillies would enthuse about extravagantly, something like "squirrel tripe with porcupine gizzards and turnip greens — mighty good eatin'!"

R. Jeffrey Smith and Susan Schmidt

Tuesday, September 20, 2005; Page A01

Bush Official Arrested in Corruption Probe

The Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday, accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government. It was the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002. It also contends that he concealed his efforts to help Abramoff acquire control of two federally managed properties in the Washington area. Abramoff is the person identified as "Lobbyist A" in a 13-page affidavit unsealed in court, according to sources knowledgeable about the probe.

Until his resignation on the day the criminal complaint against him was signed, Safavian was the top administrator at the federal procurement office in the White House Office of Management and Budget, where he set purchasing policy for the entire government.


Safavian's "good friend," Mike Abramoff, is really a special guy, bringing misfortune to all of his Republican cronies. Lovers of good government can only hope that his influence has been widespread and open, like Rock Hudson's sex life, and that the devastation to the political fortunes of the Republicans shall be like unto a political plague, striking down even unto the third generation. I propose a toast, of excellent tequila and a freshly-cut lime, to celebrate the health of Typhoid Mike — may we speak often of him and with warmth!

Now a rare concession from I, who speak very harshly of the FBI on most occasions: Since the FBI appears to have been involved in Safavian's arrest, I will concede that they have done a good thing when Safavian is convicted. I hope that it will also lead to the reinstatement of Bunnatine Greenhouse, the top whistleblower who was fired at Safavian's direction for blowing the whistle on giveaways to Halliburton for the "reconstruction" of Iraq.

The Safavian indictment is attached in PDF format below.

Click here to download SAFAVIAN.INDICTMENT.pdf.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:04 pm

ON MARX AND DARWIN -- EVOLUTION AND CAPITAL, by Charles Carreon

9:03pm, December 25, 2005

Karl Marx attempted to accomplish in the realm of political philosophy something much like what Charles Darwin achieved in biology — to explode the ruling myth of day with scientific dynamite. They were contemporaries:

Robert M. Young wrote:

Darwin (1809-82) and Marx (1818-83) were — how easily we forget this — near contemporaries and published their main works almost simultaneously. They died within a year of each other just over a hundred years ago. (Indeed 1986 was the centenary year of Darwin's Life and Letters.)


Like Darwin, Marx wanted to overturn an established belief system. Darwin was the leader of a mutiny against the political-religious cabal that had imposed dark ignorance upon humanity by outlawing inquiry into the origins of our species and all species. The oligarchs had entombed society in a fantasy concocted of Hebrew myths, Italian superstition-mongering, and in England, the dynastic aspirations of Henry VIII, who cloned the Vatican and found turn-cloak clerics willing to legitimize the new, Anglican order. Religion had to be blasted at the root, by destroying the creation myth. If humans aren't the crown of creation, but just the leading edge of a push from simple sentience to complex intelligence, then growth, goodness, and greater understanding lie ahead of us. And explaining that push toward greater complexity as the process of "natural selection" was perhaps the most brilliant minting of a sound bite in all of science history. To say that "nature selected" the winners in the evolutionary sweepstakes took the matter out of God's hands, and placed it in the hands of those of us who are at the helm of evolution. The ones who will live to reproduce, or die without offspring. The ultimate imperative, to which religion ultimately had to bend, as Henry VIII well understood.

Similarly, Marx wanted to throw off the yoke of commercialism that had been settled firmly on London's working class. Like Darwin, he posited that an evolutionary force had been guiding the manner in which humans apply their productive capacity, their labor, in social settings. He argued that the practice of enslaving neighbor nations in the early kingdoms evolved into serfdom and peasantry under feudal conditions, which gave rise to money, mercantile economies, the rise of the trading class, the decline of the economic power of the landed gentry, and the accession to power of the great "captains of industry" as the robber barons of Marx's time were fond of being described by their media lackeys. And what was the evolutionary principle? Dialectical materialism, of course.

The functioning of dialectical materialism would eliminate false consciousness among the workers, causing them to recapture their productive capacity, which in an industrial age is stolen from them by the spectre of unemployment, and sold back to them by the owners of capital. The holders of capital are depicted in Communist mythology as the stuffed shirts of Diego Rivera’s murals, backed by "ten million men with guns and bayonets," who guard the Czar in Sandburg’s poem, "The People Speak." They are blood drinkers, Saturnlike devouring humanity in greed. Would that the matter were so simple, that capitalists were at the root of the problem.

The problem with capital is not that it is in the possession of capitalists. The rule is quite the reverse. Once possessed of sufficient capital, unless you are ready to start giving it away, there is only one type of logic for the capitalist – further acquisition of capital. That is because capital is not a thing that appears here or there, or a physical force of known origins and limits, or a moral force that simply has a malignant effect. Gold does not corrupt the mind. It has been known to lie in the earth for millennia with people living right above, and never suffering the effects of greed to possess it. Gold fever is entirely a social creation, a stampede provoked by the lust for capital, which happens, for reasons of history, to be denominated in gold as well as other commodities.

Capital exists as soon as there is a wealth surplus. In the feudal economy, a grazing meadow, a cow, and beehive were all repositories of capital. Capital is refined in its accuracy and influence when currency appears, in the form of yams, cowrie shells, or discs of metal. Once it becomes currency, capital becomes a fluid language that enables what I call ICE — Instantaneous Costless Exchange. Why instantaneous? Because everyone knows the value of a dollar. Why costless? Because if you give me ten singles, I’ll give you a ten dollar bill, and neither of us expects to pay a transaction fee, unless one of us is a bank. I can buy a banana or a banana boat in a foreign land because we can agree on its value in currency. I can buy it in rupees, euros, or dollars, since the value of those related currencies is known. All currency can be flipped over into another purchase without any transaction cost. Thus, currency is the visible form of capital, and will be with us forever, as long as we keep records of acquisitions and payments.

Capital turns out to be the prime instrument of social planning. Capital will, for example, solve problems. No money today? Promise to pay back twice as much next year? Okay, I’ll give it to you. Why would you do that deal? If you can turn around and lend that money to someone else, who promises to pay you back for three times as much in a year, then it makes sense. Why does that make sense? Because capital has its own logic. It is a self-presumed good to have more of it, since it is the marker for everything else from soup to sex. Therefore, any scheme that enlarges your pile of capital is a good scheme.

The attempt to run economic systems without capital has been pretty rocky. Why? Because conquering the difficulty of coordinating the work of producing all the goods necessary for an industrial society to operate proved very difficult. Imagine you are a central planner in a communist nation. You wake one morning to consider a proposal to start a strawberry farm in a place where the little red berries have traditionally grown well. However, it will only produce enough berries to feed a very few of your comrades. In other words, strawberries would sell for a lot. That would make it a luxury product, which would remind us of the bad old days, in which only the rich had nice things. Therefore, there will be no strawberries for anyone. This may or may not be a good result, but to a person who has to hoe potatoes that sell for a tiny fraction of strawberries, the theory, however dialectical or materialistic, will be a hard sell.

How does capital help? By establishing the existence of markets and making it possible to estimate the potential benefit to the laborer of pursuing a certain productive plan. In other words, a person can just decide whether they want to grow potatoes or strawberries based on how much people are willing to pay for them. If you have a huge farm in a cold place, potatoes may be a great thing. But why not put an acre or two into berries, sell them by the roadside in the summer, and can the rest for the winter? It all pencils out, and most people will stop doing these things when it no longer pencils out.

Nevertheless, capital can be the instrument of enslavement, and for the most part, is. People, who have no capital, have only their labor to sell. Further, once industry routinizes tasks, everyone’s labor is worth the same. The goal of modern industry is to idiot proof tasks so that one TV-watcher is as good as any other to get the job done, and the really smart people get raises based on how many people they can cut from the payroll. The fact that capital works well to organize a productive economy does not assure the elimination of poverty, pollution, drug addiction, homelessness, or any other social evils. It probably does assure that, if you have the capital, you can buy whatever you need.

Unless of course you need to reclaim the productive capacity of your labor for internal, personal reasons. Like you want self-respect, an opportunity to do the things with your time that you want to. Or perhaps you want out of a psychological reality in which the days of your life are already spoken for, and you have already been conscripted as one of the workers whose value is measured in keystrokes per hour, or some similar deadening measure. Perhaps this is the real evolutionary force at work that will move us away from the primacy of capital and towards the primacy of human experience. Individuals eventually may learn that quantifying their labor and exchanging it for capital to purchase goods makes them feel like fungible members of a worker-ant-population. If enough people learned it at once, that would be evolutionary.

When people decide they want control over their time, that is a dialectical insight. When they ask themselves why they should have to dance a jig because that is what the rich man wants, and he has the capital, that is a dialectical insight. When they ask why the bankers build high-rises for “investment” when the poor live in slums, that is a dialectical insight. When the people ask why we must pay so much to spill blood in foreign lands, rather than buying needed commodities at home, that is a dialectical insight.

These dialectical insights however, will not bring an end to capital, or its primacy to our economy. They should give us pause, however, and stimulate these questions:
1. Despite capital’s efficiency in structuring productive efforts, are there other factors that should help us decide how hard to work, and on what?

2. Does the fact that some nations have little capital not deprive their citizens of a voice in determining what they shall sell, and how they shall produce it?

3. Since the largest accumulations of capital stem from past exploitation of the western hemisphere by a gang of ruthless Europeans, can it be ethical to continue to profit from such aggressively-garnered advantages?

4. Until the excessive advantages gained by excessive capital holdings are equalized, can any player in the world economy claim to be prevailing based upon merit and skill, or must they all accept that they are the product of wrongful advantages?

5. In the dialectical scheme, if capital is one polarity, then what is its counterbalancing opposite?

________________________________________

The People Speak
by Carl Sandburg

THE PEOPLE SPEAK

The people, yes, the people, Until the people are taken care of one way or another, Until the people are solved somehow for the day and hour, Until then one hears "Yes but the people what about the people?" Sometimes as though the people is a child to be pleased or fed Or again a hoodlum you have to be tough with And seldom as though the people is a caldron and a reservoir Of the human reserves that shape history. . . .

Fire, chaos, shadows, Events trickling from a thin line of flame On into cries and combustions never expected. The people have the element of surprise. . . .

"The czar has eight million men with guns and bayonets Nothing can happen to the czar. The czar is the voice of God and shall live forever. Turn and look at the forest of steel and cannon Where the czar is guarded by eight million soldiers. Nothing can happen to the czar."

They said that for years and in the summer of 1914, As a portent and an assurance they said with owl faces: "Nothing can happen to the czar," Yet the czar and his bodyguard of eight million vanished And the czar stood in a cellar before a little firing squad And the command of fire was given And the czar stepped into regions of mist and ice The czar traveled into an ethereal uncharted Siberia While two kaisers also vanished from thrones Ancient and established in blood and iron Two kaisers backed by ten million bayonets Had their crowns in a gutter, their palaces mobbed. In fire, chaos, shadows, In hurricanes beyond foretelling of probabilities In the shove and whirl of unforeseen combustions The people, yes, the people, Move eternally in the elements of surprise, Changing from hammer to bayonet and back to hammer, The hallelujah chorus forever shifting its star soloists.

The people learn, unlearn, learn, a builder, a wrecker, a builder again, a juggler of shifting puppets. In so few eyeblinks In transition lightning streaks, the people project midgets into giants, the people shrink titans into dwarfs

Faiths blow on the winds and become shibboleths and deep growths with men ready to die for a living word on the tongue, for a light alive in the bones, for dreams fluttering in the wrists . . .

Sleep is a suspension midway and a conundrum of shadows lost in meadows of the moon. The people sleep.

Ai! ai! the people sleep. Yet the sleepers toss in sleep and an end comes of sleep and the sleepers wake. Ai! ai! the sleepers wake! . . .

The storm of propaganda blows always. In every air of today the germs float and hover. The people have the say-so. Let the argument go on. Let the people listen.

Tomorrow the people say Yes or No by one question: "What else can be done?" In the drive of faiths on the wind today the people know: "We have come this far and we are going farther yet" . . .

The people will live on. The learning and blundering people will live on. They will be tricked and sold and again sold And go back to the nourishing earth for rootholds, The people so peculiar in renewal and comeback, You can't laugh off their capacity to take it. The mammoth rests between his cyclonic dramas . . .

The people is a tragic and comic two-face: hero and hoodlum: phantom and gorilla twisting to moan with a gargoyle mouth: " They buy me and sell me. ..it's a game. .. sometime I'll break loose ..."

Now the steel mill sky is alive. The fire breaks white and zigzag shot on a gun-metal gloaming. Man is a long time coming. Man will yet win. Brother the earth over may yet line up with brother:

This old anvil — the people, yes This old anvil laughs at many broken hammers. There are men who can't be bought. There are women beyond purchase. The fire born are at home in fire. The stars make no noise. You can't hinder the wind from blowing. Time is a great teacher. Who can live without hope?

In the darkness with a great bundle of grief the people march. In the night, and overhead a shovel of stars for keeps, the people march: "Where to? what next? Where to? what next?"
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:07 pm

A NEW YEAR'S GIFT -- MY PHILOSOPHY OF EVOLUTIONARY REALISM, by Charles Carreon

2:42pm, December 27, 2005

Recently, the defenders of the Right to Compel Public Proliferation of Bible Bullshit suffered not only a legal defeat, but a long-deserved tongue-lashing from a presumptively reasonable man — a Federal Judge. Of course I am referring to the public rebuking of the Stealth Creationists, the "Intelligent Design" fools of the Dover, Pennsylvania School Board. Their argument didn't pass the KISS test, as I had forecast in my post back in October. Bonuses rolled in for the good guys on this one, though, because the bastards were caught lying and the judge laid into them for it! Read the opinion at the updated post of Intelligent Design Doesn't Pass the KISS Test."

The little shitbag "public interest litigators" to whom Judge Jones administered a proper legal ass-whuppin' are whining like street mongrels now, saying the judge went too far with an advisory opinion, but I'm having none of it. These "lawyers" — enemies of reason, more like it — were the authors of their own public humiliation — like typical shitbags, they used perjured testimony. The school board hypocrites who forced the public schools to endorse Intelligent Design before their captive audiences of high school students were what Jesus called "whited sepulchers," all "white without and within filled with loathsome uncleanness." Or something like that — my King James recollection may be a little rusty this morning.

In the interests of lighting a candle after enjoying tossing curses at the darkness, I offer you as my New Year's Gift a little essay expressing some views on spirit and reason. Unlike many people, psychic gymnasts who enjoy standing on their heads in the name of blind belief, I prefer to hold beliefs that are at least consonant with reason. Thus, in my serious ethical and spiritual speculations, I try to hew strictly to well-accepted facts as the basis for further deductions and inferences. I conclude that since individual survival is "presumed good," that species survival must also be a presumed good, that all humans should be able to agree upon and work together to achieve. If all humans become extinct, that includes the ruling classes, so even they should get on board with this philosophy, which cannot be attacked on the grounds that it is "progressive," "liberal," or otherwise anathema to practical people. The upper classes can still compete to preserve outsized shares of resources, just not using murder as a tool. The absence of warfare safeguards the species and thus is pro-evolutionary. Spending immense sums to deploy murder weapons is cruel and increases the likelihood that all humans will become extinct, so it is anti-evolutionary. Therefore, applying the rule that one should abandon activities that are inimical to the achievement of the "presumed good," species survival, humans must abandon violence. Our own evolutionary destiny depends upon it.

Evolutionary Realism and The Nonviolent Imperative

Faith Versus Evidence


Either the universe came into existence due to a thought in the mind of G-d, or it evolved into its present shape based on the inherent character of space, time, energy, and atomic structures. When Charles Darwin and his contemporaries elaborated his theory of natural selection, they assumed things were still happening as they had during past geological aeons. They discovered no time unaccounted for in the geological history of the earth. They found no evidence of an era when natural laws operated differently, permitting men to part the seas with a staff, women to conceive without sex, or a young man to rise from the dead after a grueling day-long crucifixion. They weren't courageous for rejecting these miraculous notions. They were merely honest. Without evidence, they could not believe.

All the evidence indicates that life really is fleeting, that death is for keeps, and that sentimentality fabricates imagined lifetimes before birth and after death, arguing incessantly for the substance of these imaginations, never piling one grain of evidence upon another to support these fond beliefs. Moreover, while fearing to suffer losses in the realm of faith, religionists discount the benefit to their sense of rationality. Therefore they fail to appreciate the wonder of inhabiting a world built of atoms that as Lucretius noted, are so invulnerable to destruction that after aeons of use, they are not worn out.

Atoms Are No Accident

The existence of atoms is no accident. Atoms are born in the furnaces of collapsing stars, are spewed out into the cosmic void, and take shape as plasmic energy cools. Atoms form into concentric energy strata of electrons orbiting 'round nuclei composed of subatomic particles, obeying the inscrutable laws of quantum mechanics, so far only formulated in terms of probabilities. The simplest atoms are hydrogen atoms, having a nucleus and a single electron. Hydrogen atoms that have two electrons are called deuterium, and figure importantly in the creation of the hydrogen bomb.

All atoms have a specific atomic weight, which is to say, a small gravitic force that causes them to be attracted to other atoms. Atoms can amass a great pile of neutrons and protons to form their nucleus, and as their nuclei increase in weight, they can support more electrons in orbit. The biggest atoms stack electrons out five levels deep. Heavy metals have lots of mass in their nuclei and many electrons in orbit. Atoms that have unstable nuclei are called "radioactive," because they emit subatomic particles that generate among other things, radio waves. Based upon their atomic weight, which is to say, their structure, atoms are classified into elements.

Electrons are the locking mechanisms between atoms that allow atoms of different elements to link up and form chemical compounds. Thus two hydrogen atoms link their electrons with a single oxygen atom to form water. Why do the atoms of hydrogen link up with the oxygen atoms? It is in their nature. Whence arises this nature? That is, and likely will remain, the open question in this concrete universe.

Whatever the arising place of this nature of all things, it has order and structure at its core. While chaos rages at the center of the galaxy and in the heart of the sun, as soon as the cooling energy of space goes to work on the fires of creation, an orderly universe appears. Atoms organize themselves into virtually indestructible particles. Based on their inherent characteristics, they sort themselves into elements. Whether generated on one end of the galaxy or the other, or in another galaxy altogether, gold possesses a specific atomic weight, lead another, copper another, and platinum yet another. These atomic forms are absolute, written in the grain of the universal molds that create the building blocks of the universe through all the innumerable millennia.

When Archimedes solved the problem of how to determine whether a crown was made of pure or adulterated gold, he relied on his intuition that all elements possessed specific atomic weights, that the atomic weight of gold differed from the atomic weight of all possible adulterating metals, and that a crown made of pure gold would displace a specific volume of water when submerged.

Atoms Form Compounds

When atoms lock electrons to form compounds, they begin to create the world we recognize. If our world were made of pure elements, it would be as uninhabitable as the world created by Midas, whose touch turned all to gold. A world made entirely of gold would be useless, for without compounds, our very bodies could not exist. While many question how atoms could manage to form compounds as complex as Deoxyribonucelic Acid (DNA), and all of the other myriads of complex substances that record and sustain life, two facts argue in favor of the theory: first, DNA is in fact composed of atoms, and second, there is no evidence of any additional force having organized atoms into biological configurations.

Life Exists In The Cool Areas of the Universe

Life exists in the relatively cool spaces in the universe, like out here in one of the far branches of the Milky Way galaxy. Down in the core of the galaxy, thick with stars, black holes, and ravaging jets of pure energy, atoms are ripped apart routinely, and life doesn't stand a chance of emerging. But here, where space-time is just moseying along, an atom can look forward to a virtually eternal existence, and the compounds that form life are able to form in the temperate atmospheres of planets like Terra, our beloved planet. Terra orbits Sol, our governing star, at a comfortable distance. Mercury is way too close to support life, and Venus little better. Terra is, as Jimi Hendrix put it, the "third stone from the sun," which is apparently just the right place to be. And if you consider also the changeable conditions of the solar system over ten billion years of time, life's perch in this cool region of the universe seems even more tenuous. The sun has only got another five billion years to go in its current shape, after which it will start to expand and things will get very hot on this planet. Thus, at the opposite polarity from the raging energy vortices that form the galaxies and suns, during a brief season of mild solar radiation, the cooling, condensing energy of a well-placed planet provides a place where life can flourish, as the hyperactive atomic energies settle into the comfortable ruts of elemental forms and begin to create the infinite number of compounds that form the basis of life.

Compounds Form The Basis of Life

We should not feel compelled to explain the arising of life based upon the argument that nothing as well-organized as the universe could arise without the organizing influence of a pre-existing intelligence conceived in our own image. Instead of elevating the universe to the level of the divine, this line of reasoning explains everything in terms of human limitations. The contrary view is more palatable, and consistent with the evidence: The inherent characteristics of the universe, that organizes indestructible atoms out of decelerating light waves, and creates classes of elements with specific atomic weights, continues its miracle of organization when it aggregates the elements into compounds that, now ever more complex in their nature, construct the machinery of life.

Comets May Be Cosmic Sperm

Sometimes things look like what they are, and comets look like cosmic sperm, with their huge long tails and their one in a billion chances of running into something interesting. Recently, scientists smacked a passing comet with a huge brass bullet and discovered what many had suspected — comets are great big snowballs stuffed with organic chemicals. How did they determine the constituents of the comet? By observing the debris scattered by the brass bullet through an infrared spectrometer that analyzes light prismatically revealing chemical signatures that appear between the wavelengths of 5 and 38 microns.

The significance of comets bearing life, or the building blocks of life, is this — if some ingredients for life can be delivered pre-made via comet, that gives life a jump-start on a newly-created planet. Because it's certain that it takes a long time for compounds to form into basic living forms, the possibility that the process could be hastened increases the likelihood that life can emerge on any given planet during the limited time period available in the brief life of a solar system.

Persistence of the Species

Once we tally the evidence, and discard fantasies about other lives before birth or after death, it is clear that life is a self-evident good. All the evidence supports this conclusion. All creatures struggle to keep life in their bodies. Even in a dream, the belief that we are about to die invokes terror. One who escapes from danger with his life feels grateful, and though often the burden of trauma can make the continuance of life a burden, healing can come to the heart and the body, and life itself become a pleasure again. The survival of an individual is dwarfed by the persistence of the species. The continued existence of humanity in future generations is of the greatest intrinsic importance to each of us, not in spite of our individual mortality, but because of it. Since we must individually die, the continued life of the species is a deep consolation and source of meaningfulness to us during our lives.

The phrase, "survival of the fittest" brings to mind an image of a strapping fellow in gym shorts, the most fit of all for the race, the shot-put, the discus, the javelin, the hunt. So much do words deceive. The question is not who survives today, but what forms persist through history. The dinosaurs are gone. In their time, they were huge. Today, they are known only because humans have enshrined their enormous remains in museums of natural history. Yet our fate is as precarious as theirs, and all the success of the white man's competition against different-colored peoples will not alter the fact that the human species will survive as a whole or not at all. We are far more likely to disappear altogether at this stage than to persist into the twilight of the solar system, which theoretically lies within our span. Were our persistence up to the task, we might even launch interstellar flights to escape our morbid sun in the distant, certain future, so that no generation need ever call itself the last of the human species, and the genes of old Sol might yet fertilize another planet.

Evolutionary Tendencies

Evolutionary tendencies are those that secure the future existence of the species. Some time ago, our ancestors descended from their arboreal habitats and began walking on the African savannah. They kept walking, and their legs grew longer, their posture more upright, and their eyes attuned to the exigencies of hunting and gathering. Our ancestors lost their tails, stood upright and developed muscular butts, lost fur and talons, gained an opposable thumb, and began making tools from bone and stone that pierced and sliced with all the efficacy of the claws they had once possessed. Nature reduced the number of functional nipples on the female, extended the gestation period to nine months, and induced human parents to care for helpless infants and toddlers for years. Thus our ancestors — toolmaking, hairless, upright-walking mammalian bipeds – journeyed across ice fields and deserts, crossed shifting continents, and battled to maintain the existence that sustains us even today. Rather than raising our hands to G-d, we should thank our ancestors, who managed to keep life in their own bodies, and pass it to our generation.

Human cooperation has been the key to our survival, because without fur, claws and real canines, life is just too tough to handle without friends. Quite simply, since all of our fortunes as humans are bound together, it behooves us to aid each other in meeting the challenges of life. What goes around certainly will come around, and in a world as small as the one we currently inhabit, there are no bunkers to hide in, no mountain retreats so removed that the residents can exempt themselves from the general fate of all humanity.

Humans survived and built societies in many climates and habitats, using irrigation and farming to greatly increase the food supply. Peace is essential to productive labor, commerce, art, and all that is inherently good in life, above and beyond the primary good of basic survival.

The Evolutionary Tendency of Kindness

The word kindness derives from "kind," which derives from "kin," meaning those with whom we are related. To show kindness toward others is to treat them like one's own relatives. One shows kindness to others by allowing them greater latitude in their behavior, by making greater efforts to understand them and assist them. Humans evolved the care of infants and ancients, and extended assistance to the physically sick and "feeble minded," discovering along the way that infants are a delight to care for, that the aged have wisdom to share, that sick people like Steven Hawking are sometimes terribly clever, and that feeble minded people like Edison and Einstein are sometimes not as crazy as they seem.

These humanizing tendencies to care for those who may not be the best hunters, the most able childbearers, or the shrewdest manipulators, nevertheless turn out to be evolutionary tendencies, because in the aggregate, they can improve our species' chance of survival by expanding the scope of our knowledge. Advocates of a "lean and mean" society sometimes deride what they call "altruistic" behavior that reduces competitiveness. But these are usually groundless criticisms, as altruism is always practiced toward those who possess skills we want to acquire. Because the human community thrives when all of its members are well cared-for, and because the skills that sustain a society are so widely distributed among individual persons, all people benefit from an attitude of universal kindness toward all people.

The Anti-Evolutionary Tendency of Violence

Anti-evolutionary tendencies tend to the extinction of the species. Today, it can be said with certainty, the commission of violence against other humans is the greatest force tending us toward extinction. Not only does violence target the young who are the future of humanity, but it also targets the intelligent in particular for extermination. Consider this — when a fascist takes power, who does he kill? Schoolteachers or truck drivers? Newspaper editors or electricians? Should you have difficulty with this question, recall Hitler's friend Hermann Goering's statement on the issue: "When I hear the word culture, I reach for my revolver."

Consider also how weapons give power to the ignorant to destroy the great. In the film Kagemusha, a great feudal lord is slain by a rude marksman who sets up his musket with straightforward skill, and fells the nobleman with a single pellet of lead. To give the ignorant power of life and death over the intelligent is anti-evolutionary. The role of the ignorant is to receive direction from the wise, and not to deprive all humanity of the intelligence of their betters simply because the power lies in their hands. Of course it is the power of intellect, machined into the steel of ever-more efficient weapons, that has accelerated the firestorm of intra-species human murder to the level of an ongoing global holocaust.

It is a crying shame that numberless persons, mostly children, are daily suffering anguished deaths by mayhem, starvation, exposure, and disease. Not only must people today suffer because of violence, but future generations may never come into being because of it. The ongoing climate of war is wasting the time and resources that humanity needs to apply to the urgent task of planetary preservation and renewal. Warfare sows disunity within humanity and aborts the global planning needed to meet imminent problems like global warming, resource exhaustion, and the crash of the seas.

Participation in warfare and other types of intra-species violence is anti-evolutionary. As Lao Tzu said, “Lean years follow in the wake of a great war, and brambles grow where the army has passed.” The deaths of family men in battle, the orphaning of children, the subjection of mothers and daughters to cruel fates, and the siring of yet another generation of cannon fodder, these are the fruits of cooperating to murder other people. Under this anti-evolutionary regime, munitions makers deploy increasingly heinous weapons to destroy people and the earth, and humanity meekly waits to be led to the execution place. These craven "leaders" fail to measure the triviality of their own interests against the incalculable value of the survival of the human species. They do not lead; rather, they manipulate with coercion, violence and deception. As Sun-Tzu says, short-sighted strategies are of no use and lead only to failure. Only far-seeing strategies can secure long-term goals like species survival. We must disregard, circumvent, and outmaneuver the short-sighted strategies of our "leaders" for the good of the species. If we succeed in this task, future generations will call us heroes.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:21 pm

BOYCOTT ARROWHEAD & OTHER NESTLE BOTTLED H2O, by Charles Carreon

2:02pm, January 7, 2006

The Swiss, those endearing bastards, have done it again. Once we boycotted them because they sacrificed the lives of babies to corporate profits, pushing powdered milk on the unsuspecting poor nations, whose children died in droves because powdered milk's not good for infants. Now they are vacuuming water out of Northern California at the planned rate of a HALF a BILLION GALLONS of WATER per YEAR from the rural rubes up in McCloud who think that's a GREAT DEAL at $45K. Forty-five Grand! These guys need an R-WE-STUPID? bumpersticker! This article is a good summary of the problem, and has a list of Bottled Waters to boycott, but please just boycott anything made by Nestle, not just from Arrowhead Water to Swiss Miss chocolate. Here's the list of EVIL BOTTLED WATERS:

Arrowhead
Calistoga
Deer Park
Great Bear
Ice Mountain
Ozarka
Poland Spring
Zephyr Hills

www.AshlandFreePress.com wrote:

The Great McCloud Water Caper of 2003, by Charles Carreon

The Swiss Way: When Neutrality Works This Well, War Is Obsolete

Half A Billion Gallons of H2O Per Year Up For Grabs


The Nestle Waters North America website hasn’t apparently been updated since 2003. That is probably why it says nothing about the subject of this article – Nestle’s bald-faced attempt to circumvent the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by ramming through a secret contract to buy 1600 acre-feet of water per year from a tiny community resource agency in Northern California – the McCloud Community Service District (MCSD). How much is an acre-foot? That’s one acre, one foot deep, which is a lot of water – 325,851.427 gallons. Multiply that by 1,600 and you get 521,361,600. That’s over a half-billion gallons of water each year. I bet even in McCloud a bottle of Calistoga will still cost two dollars. So, aside from the costs of pumping, bottling and transportation, Nestle, a Swiss corporation, will pull out a vast amount of nature’s finest product, drawn from the watersheds and snowmelt of countless square miles, so they can sell it back to Americans. And you thought we were smart here in the USA.

The World’s Largest Food Producer Is Thirsty

Nestle’s website says it’s the world's largest bottled water company, serving H20 under seventy-seven brands in a hundred and thirty countries world-wide. They’re so proud of selling all this water, you’d think they’d invented the stuff. Or maybe it’s just the money that makes them so comfy. Quoting from the company website: “From 1998 to 2003, Nestlé Waters North America has seen its revenue increase from $1.2 billion to $2.6 billion, sustaining a volume share (all channels) of nearly 26.0 %. Nestlé Waters is, in turn, a division of Nestlé S.A., the largest food company in the world. Sales of total Nestlé S.A. increased one percent over the previous year to CHF 88 billion. Nestlé headquarters is located in Vevey, Switzerland.”

The Swiss: Masters At Working All Sides Against The Middle

In summer 2002 I was in Vevey, one of the loveliest stops along our boat-trip around Lake Geneva, with a very splendid view of Mont Blanc. The Swiss have scenery to kill for. We also stopped at a dungeon on the lake that had been designed with Swiss efficiency – the icy winds off Lake Geneva served to torment with cold, and the uneven stone floors gave prisoners nowhere to rest or seek shelter. Upstairs from the dungeon, a court fit for dancing parties was devoted to displays of arms. Starting as the first European mercenaries, the Swiss were loyal so long as they were paid and not asked to fight other Swiss. They still bodyguard the Pope. They invented bank secrecy, laundered Nazi gold and immense amounts of money stolen by oligarchs from the coffers of the poorest nations. The Swiss have the largest standing army per capita in the world, and produce as hard goods some of the priciest – chemicals and drugs. The Swiss are a libertarian nation if you will, where it is explicitly not their business whether you are evading taxes in another country as long as you are paying them in Switzerland. And they don’t make farmers bend over to please the tourists. One morning, we were wakened in our lovely little second floor hotel room with the lakefront view by an extremely aggressive bug-eyed crop-dusting helicopter buzzing the beachside vineyards hour after hour, spraying bio-cide. We repaired to Vevey for the day.

McCloud – Terra Incognita

Although I looked at Switzerland firsthand, I have never been to McCloud, and have driven past the McCloud exit on I-5 more times than I can count. My friend Rogelio, with whom I practiced Chinese martial arts in the late seventies, told me it had been nasty and brutish living as a short, Hispanic logger in McCloud. So I viewed McCloud, without ever seeing it, as a snowy sinkhole of poverty ensconced in useless mountain beauty. A place where pickup trucks rust next to unpainted buildings, and they probably still don’t sell a lot of natural food in the stores. Perfect for Nestle to swallow whole without any hint of indigestion.

A Little Lawsuit In Shasta County

I had occasion to revisit my view of McCloud recently when I saw a young lady at the Bloomsbury coffee shop reading a big stack of typewritten papers that she was underlining in red. She said it was the record of a public meeting about a lawsuit down in McCloud where the people had to sue to get their water back from Nestle. The court order she showed me had been signed by Judge Roger Kosel of Siskiyou County Superior Court, and it did indeed invalidate a contract for the sale of water from the people of tiny McCloud to Nestle, the multibillion-Swiss-franc colossus. The text that got my attention was this: “The agreement commits the McCloud Community Services District to an option contract with Nestle for the purchase of up to 1600 acre feet per year of District spring water for a period of 50 years with a guaranteed right to extend the term for an additional 50 years. This option is irrevocable for a period of 5 years on the District's part The potential environmental impacts to the water supply are foreseeable and obvious... The approval of the agreement amounts to the creation of an entitlement for Nestle and commits the District to a definite course of action.” The Superior Court concluded that because “the agreement creates an option for the purchase of … drinking water … potentially … out to 100 years … it is an abuse of discretion not to proceed with CEQA compliance prior to approval of the agreement.” What is CEQA compliance? Just a matter of public involvement. As Judge Kosel ruled, “the purpose of CEQA is to … inform governmental decision-makers and the public about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed activities.” Therefore, it would seem obvious to all but Nestle and the MCSD, that “compliance should occur prior to the approval of the agreement.” There was no environmental study, no public hearing until Nestle and the MCSD brought the matter up at a single public meeting, and of all the questions raised by the surprised public participants, none received adequate answers. Instead, the MCSD approved the contract despite having no access to legal counsel, scientific advice, or apparently anything but the pushy Nestle lawyers to advise them.

A Mighty Sweet Deal

Why was there such a hurry to rush this contract through? Well, for the same reason rape and pillage are always done in a hurry – once caught in the act, it is more difficult to complete it. According to the McCloud Watershed Council, that formed to overturn the sweetheart deal, and apparently convinced Judge Kosel of the truth of their contentions, the contract provides for:

• A 50-year term, renewable for another 50 years
• The right to take 1,250 gallons per minute of spring water
• The right to take qualified water on an interim basis from district's springs for bulk delivery to other bottling facilities located in Northern California
• The right to construct pipelines and a loading facility
• Use of an unknown quantity of well water for production purposes
• Exclusive rights to one of the Springs
• One hundred years of exclusivity, during which time no other beverage business of any type may exist in McCloud
• Use of an undisclosed, perhaps unlimited amount of ground water
• The right to take 1600 of acre feet of spring water annually
• The right, from time to time, to request purchase water in excess of the maximum take
• The right to transport bulk water from spring sources, other than the Springs, for bottling at the bottling facility (see contract details)
• The right to choose exclusive use of either Upper or Lower Elk Springs as an exclusive source for Spring Water
• The right to require the MCSD to dispose of process waste water
• The right to require the MCSD to design, construct and install one or more ground water production wells on the Bottling Facility site for Nestle’s use as a supply for non-spring water purposes.

The benefits to Nestle in this agreement are outrageously imbalanced against the detriments to the community of McCloud. But we may also properly ask why McCloud should have control over so much water that they don’t have any use for? If the MCSD can sell over half a billion gallons a year and not miss it, why not give McCloud other vast resource tracts to sell to the Swiss, or to the Saudis for that matter? Why not sell Lake Shasta to the Sultan of Brunei. He’s really thirsty. He can ship the lake to his country in oil tankers and on the return trip, make payments in oil. The way the Swiss are pricing water, it’s already twice as expensive as gas, so we should make bank!

Of course, the anti-American lawyers who get payment in Swiss francs (stronger than the dollar for three years running now) aren’t going to give up. With the natives now rejecting the pittance in beads they were offered in exchange for this vast, unused natural resource, they will have to go the appellate courts to drag things out, cause more expense, and possible even reap a victory. CEQA is no doubt an endless problem for business interests, foreign and domestic. Perhaps the appellate judges will approve of circumventing its provisions. Perhaps an initiative can be floated to repeal it. Perhaps the endless flood of billions will bear Nestle along to success, and we will be free to buy back the resources we sell the Swiss at whatever price our poor, thirsty little mouths will compel us to pay.

Or maybe you have had enough. Maybe you thought Bolivia was the only country multinationals would roll over with their contracts and their big fat wallets. Maybe you want to help out the people of McCloud, and help pay for their one lawyer, Donald Mooney of Davis, California, to keep up the good fight. Maybe you want to vote with your pocketbook, by taking these Nestle water brands off your list forever:

Arrowhead
Calistoga
Deer Park
Great Bear
Ice Mountain
Ozarka
Poland Spring
Zephyr Hills

Maybe you don’t want to keep quiet about it, and you’d like to send an email to the CEO at Nestle’ Waters North America Inc. I thought you might, so here’s his contact information.

Kim E. Jeffrey – President and CEO 777 W. Putnam Ave. Greenwich, CT 06830-5091 Phone: 203-531-4100 Fax: 203-863-0297 email: http://www.nestle-watersna.com/faq/submit.asp?id=1 Or email: http://www.nestleusa.com/customerService/contact_us.asp

(C) 2005, Ashland Free Press, LLC
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:24 pm

POROUS DATA VAULTS GO CRYING TO CONGRESS, by Charles Carreon

12:39am, January 12, 2006

When State law makes your company admit
That you lost all the data you were paid to sit
Then go to Washington all in a snit
Feed those Congressmen a line of shit
Come back home with a brand new law
No - no rights around here, not that I saw.

Maureen Kirk wrote:

Just in the last year, banks, other companies, and agencies have lost the confidential financial information of over 53 million Americans. We only know about these security breaches due to a pioneering California notice law that companies are complying with nationwide.

But the banks and credit card companies are pressuring Congress to override this and dozens of other state identity theft reforms with a weak federal law that won't protect privacy and won't allow states to do so either.

Please take a moment to tell Congress not to prevent the states from protecting their residents from identity theft. Ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this e-mail to them.

To take action, click on the following link or paste it into your web browser:

http://pirg.org/alerts/route.asp?id=337&id4=ES

Background: Identity theft strikes ten million Americans annually and costs the economy $50 billion each year, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It's easier to avoid being victimized and to clear your name when you know you are at risk and respond quickly to the threat. Since half of all victims never find out how thieves got their confidential information, California passed a law requiring any company or agency that loses consumer data to notify the potential victims of the security breach. Since that strong California law took effect in 2003, many security breaches have come to light. This year, banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup, retailers such as DSW Shoe Warehouse, the credit card processor Cardsystems, the data broker ChoicePoint and many others reported security breaches. In all, over 53 million Americans' identities were jeopardized because those controlling Americans' personal information failed to take care of it. By requiring notice to consumers, the tough California law is forcing companies to protect our information well or suffer the public relations and other harm of telling us that they've failed. That's a powerful incentive to protect our information better. Now, proposals ready for the U.S. Senate floor and moving through House committees would eliminate California's and other strong state notice laws and replace them with a weak federal notice requirement. Incredibly, companies that had already lost consumer information would get to decide whether the risk of identity theft, in their view, was great enough to warn us. States have also responded this year to another major identity theft problem: new account fraud. New account fraud is when the identity thief gets a new credit card, cell phone or other new account in the victim's name, and is particularly costly to both the victim and business.

Fortunately, unlike some types of identity theft, new account fraud can be prevented by the use of a security freeze. A freeze allows you to freeze access to your credit report, so that when a thief applies for credit in your name, his or her application is rejected. California pioneered the security freeze, and other states have continued to improve on California's work. New Jersey's security freeze law, which took effect on January 1, is currently the gold standard for security freezes because it is the cheapest and easiest to use. New Jersey lawmakers recognized that if using a security freeze is expensive or difficult, mainstream consumers won't use one. And if a freeze isn't used, it doesn't stop fraud.

New Jersey's new law and nearly all of the others granting security breach notice, freeze rights and other identity theft protections were enacted in response to a highly successful state PIRG/Consumers Union national campaign to promote our "Model State Identity Theft" law.

Regrettably, all of these state gains are at risk. The banks and credit bureaus and others are now demanding that Congress pass a difficult, expensive security freeze that voids all the state security freezes. More is at risk than our privacy. The banks are seeking not only to overturn these strong privacy laws, but also to limit the states' ability to protect us in the future. Please take a moment to tell Congress not to prevent the states from protecting their residents from identity theft. Ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this e-mail to them. To take action, click on the following link or paste it into your web browser: http://pirg.org/alerts/route.asp?id=337&id4=ES To learn more about security freezes and the New Jersey law, visit NJPIRG at http://www.njpirg.org/ To learn more about state PIRG identity theft solutions and to view the model law, visit http://www.pirg.org/consumer/credit

Sincerely,

Maureen Kirk OSPIRG Executive Director MaureenK@ospirg.org http://www.OSPIRG.org

P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.

http://uspirg.org/uspirg.asp?id=337&id3=USPIRG&id4=ES&
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:27 pm

LET'S IMPEACH! IT'S A NO-BRAINER, FERCRISSAKES!, by Charles Carreon

9:58pm, January 19, 2006

Okay, who hid the news that 53% of American voters want Congress "to consider impeachment" if (and this is a nonexistent "if") Bush spied on Americans in blatant violation of the Constitution and the courts? Well, a Zogby poll was done in November, and that was the result! I just found out about it at http://www.democrats.com/.

Okay, well now I feel a lot better about America. Even though we're kept in the dark and fed bullshit with our cornflakes, somehow people are kind of keeping up with the major outlines of the story. We've got secret prisons around the world, we're paying mercenaries to fight a war of empire, people at home are struggling, and all our President can promise is that he will keep spying on us for our own good, because by the time the case gets around to the Supreme Court, Sandra Day O'Connor will be gone, and Roberts, Alito, Scalia, Thomas and one more makes a Bush majority every day of the week.

The Supreme Court will have five Catholics on it, too, and I wonder how they'll rule when the appeal comes up in that recent case where the Pope as head of the Vatican was dismissed from a child molestation lawsuit because he's the Sovereign Head of a Foreign Nation? Does that mean that all priests are foreign agents who should register? What about Catholic judges?

But I digress, which is so easy in the thicket of corruption that has become our national political reality. Gutless Congress people don't even speak the word "impeachment." Wow, if you could put a set of Republican balls on a Democrat, then you'd have something! They might even say something stirring and indicting like "None dare call it treason!"

The news media aren't reporting the Drive to Impeach, so let's GO BLOGGERS! Here's a list of media email addresses you can bomb with invective and cajolery. Let's see if we can MOVE THE MEDIA AND WITH IT, PUBLIC DEBATE.

daniel.m.merkle@abc.com, netaudr@abc.com, newspolls@abc.com, ttompson@ap.org, wlester@ap.org, info@americanresearchgroup.com, evening@cbsnews.com, KAF@cbsnews.com, jeff.greenfield@cnn.com, wolf@cnn.com, bill.schneider@turner.com, info@edisonresearch.com, info@field.com, askfox@fox.com, comments@foxnews.com, jgorman@opiniondynamics.com, david_wilson@gallup.com, darby_miller_steiger@gallup.com, david_moore@gallup.com, media_inquiries@gallup.com, rthomas@harrisinteractive.com, Info@harrisinteractive.com, timespoll@latimes.com, maristpoll@marist.edu, Mark.Murray@nbc.com, sheldon.gawiser@nbc.com, nightly@nbc.com, nytnews@nytimes.com, rich@nytimes.com, topurd@nytimes.com, adamnag@nytimes.com, letters@newsweek.com, Marcus.Mabry@newsweek.com, livingpolitics@aol.com, pcraighill@pewresearch.org, skeeter@pewresearch.org, info@people-press.org, pollinginstitute@quinnipiac.edu, Info@rasmussenreports.com, editor@surveyusa.com, spage@usatoday.com, rbenedetto@usatoday.com, editor@usatoday.com, wsjcontact@dowjones.com, morinr@washpost.com, balzd@washpost.com, ombudsman@washpost.com, abramowitz@washpost.com, newseditors@wsj.com, john.harwood@wsj.com
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:29 pm

ASHLAND FIBER NET: THE IMBROGLIO RIPENS, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

The year was 1995. Lance Pugh was standing in my office in the Old Ashland Armory, waving his arms and explaining vociferously that I needed to understand that because the City of Ashland had been farsighted enough to back a municipal fiber network, the Armory was going to be wired to the world wide web. Once this marvelous fiber was pulled into the building, I would be able to contact clients around the world. Lance envisioned the Armory becoming an online entertainment emporium, with live video feeds streaming out live shows from the Armory stage. Lance imaged something on the order of “Ashland City Limits.” Lance was right on with his prophecies, but a little ahead of his time, and what visionary isn’t? I still think he had a cool idea.

Will Work For Net Access

In 1999, I had an office in Medford, a dot-commer client in San Francisco, and a high-stakes lawsuit to service in San Jose. Using dial-up wasn’t cutting it. My client offered to do whatever it took to speed up my Internet connection. I ended up with a hybrid system called Perkinet that required a technician to install a satellite downlink into my building, while I still did my uploads by phone modem. Kooky system, but it worked until Internet CDS discontinued the service after about three months. Then I ended up buying Qwest DSL high-speed through a third-party vendor who would have committed seppuku if he’d had an ounce of decency about him. The service cost $400 per month, and was intermittently down for extended periods. But it was still better than dial up.

AFN, My Savior

In 2000, I moved my office back to Ashland, when I realized that both AFN and Charter Internet were available, and competing prices down brutally. I started with Charter because they won the race to my cul-de-sac, and stayed with them until a three-day outage brought my clients down around my ears. I switched to AFN and never had cause to look back, although the whole bit with dealing with a third-party ISP seemed bizarre. Why, I asked myself, would the City throw away its ownership of a fiber network by letting third-party ISPs do the easy work of signing up customers to a broadband network? But I didn’t think about it long. AFN service was great, cheaper than Charter, that charged me more for extra IP addresses. I even broke down and got cable TV during 2004, but I tired of big media in a big way after watching Kerry throw the vote to his fellow-Bonesman. TV, I decided, sucks. But you can take my Internet away when you pry my keyboard from my cold, dead hands.

It’s 2005, and I pay extra for a one-gigabit monthly upload capacity, so the Ashland Free Press and other publishers can put their works out on the Internet. Hosting websites from your own place is a cozy thing to do, not quite as romantic as a crackling fire, but often more remunerative. I went to Vegas earlier this year and met with a group of Internet entrepreneurs, people who run a lot of websites, and make some pretty good money. But they also pay big bandwidth bills, and were very impressed with the low price of bandwidth in Ashland. In fact, they asked if they could buy some.

Welcome to the Bandwidth Business

So what is bandwidth? Bandwidth, my dear fellow Ashlander is the business we are in. Bandwidth is the Internet medium of information transfer. Measured in “megabits per second,” it serves the same function as the wooden letters in Scrabble, without which you can’t spell anything. Every “bit” is a unit of information – one “yes” or one “no” – one pixel on or one pixel off on a video screen. You need lots of bits to make a letter, and many more bits to record a song, picture, or movie. Without bandwidth you can’t send any letters, numbers, pictures, or gambling wagers over the Internet. If you want to send a lot of information, you need a lot of bandwidth.

Where, you might ask, is this bandwidth manufactured? As best I can ascertain, it is manufactured in computers called “servers,” that crank it out of their processors, which are called engines for a very good reason. And yes, right here in Ashland, we have a lot of servers, adding to the total bandwidth in the Internet universe. We are producing and selling this marvelous material that can be hammered into anything you can see on a screen, hear through a speaker, and print on paper or even in three-dimensional materials.

Bandwidth – great stuff. This marvelous medium of communication has deflated the record industry’s monopoly, created a new medium of self-expression, empowered young, old and everyone in-between, created innumerable jobs, and given us the means to reduce gas-guzzling hive activities like “showing up for work,” “going to the video store,” and “dropping off that paper to sign.” It probably also launched the Abu Ghraib expose, helped Michael Moore end-run the media blackout of Fahrenheit 911, and got Mike Brown fired. Using this fantastic high-speed network, we can also reduce our long-distance phone bills drastically, and talk to people around the world for pennies, using flat-fee Voice-Over Internet Protocol services like Vonage. People say information wants to be free, and I believe that, but without bandwidth, it’s going nowhere.

The bandwidth in Ashland is very good bandwidth, because it doesn’t run through nasty old copper wires left over from the bad old telephone days, like Qwest DSL and other nasty services. Ashland bandwidth races at the speed of light through 35 miles of buried optical fiber that doesn’t rust, doesn’t wear out, and allows fast, smooth transmission of data. This is an excellent product, and one that can be sold to people from all over the world, through a market that is accessible entirely over the Internet. Ashland could become a home for a goodly number of server farms, which is nice, clean industry that pays good salaries to technicians. We may not have a monopoly, but we have a very nice market in which to compete, and many of us think of AFN Internet access as a way of life. While reselling Internet access through a network of private ISPs is cumbersome and fragments our competitive strategy against Charter, it also provides a substantial number of local jobs that pump money right back into the community. We cannot forget the good jobs held by many Ashland public servants, union members, in the Ashland Information Technology, Telecommunications, and Computer Services Divisions, with a payroll totaling $1,830,000, many of whom would presumably have to find a new employer if AFN wasn’t a City enterprise anymore, and who must spend some of that money at Ashland eateries. Heck, if you fire all those people, who’ll be left to pay the meals tax?

How’d It Get So Expensive?

AFN is like a bunion – you don’t know how it got that big, and it hurts. Parkinson’s Law states: “Work expands to fill the time available for its completion.” G. Northcote Parkinson coined the aphorism when he was trying to figure out why the devil the number of Admiralty officials in Her Majesty’s Royal Navy ballooned 78% while the total number of ships under command fell by 67%. Nettlesome as this problem seemed, Parkinson got to the bottom of it. He observed that, regardless how trivial the task, “the thing done swells in importance and complexity in direct ratio with the time to be spent.” That leisure breeds self-importance is well-known, but Parkinson had the groundbreaking insight that “work swelling” results from bureaucratic infighting:

“Picture a civil servant, called A, who finds himself overworked. For this real or imagined overwork there are, broadly speaking, three possible remedies. He may resign; he may ask to halve the work with a colleague called B; he may demand the assistance of two subordinates, to be called C and D. There is probably no instance in history, however, of A choosing any but the third alternative. By resignation, he would lose his pension rights. By having B appointed, on his own level in the hierarchy, he would merely bring in a rival for promotion to W’s vacancy when W (at long last) retires. So A would rather have C and D, junior men, below him. They will add to his consequence, and by dividing the work into two categories, as between C and D, he will have the merit of being the only man who comprehends them both.“

Thus officials vie to multiply their subordinates and outmaneuver rivals, seeking to control bigger budgets, boss more employees, enjoy more prestige, and exercise more power. How does Parkinson’s Law figure into this story? No one in the City wanted another Department Head, least of all a “AFN Cable & Internet Department Head,” who would have a big budget, lots of subordinates, and according to the financial predictions, a cash cow to manage. Such a person would be an unbearable rival within City government, so it just did not occur to anyone that, however unpalatable, AFN needed someone to lead it.

Sun Tzu said that before going into battle, a general must ask:

“Which government has the right philosophy?
Which commander has the skill?
Which season and place has the advantage?
Which method of command works?
Which group of forces has the strength?
Which officers and men have the training?
Which rewards and punishments make sense?
This tells when you will win and when you will lose.
Some commanders perform this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will win.
Keep them.
Some commanders ignore this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will lose.
Get rid of them.”


So much the worse if you have no commander at all. You can’t even get rid of them. But we have only ourselves to blame. We funded AFN in a feel-good mood, and it took off like a colt that saw the barn door open. Since then, we haven’t had a chance of catching up. We started off on the wrong foot. Without a top manager, AFN was nobody’s baby, and everybody’s excuse. No one’s professional fate was personally bound up in getting AFN built within a specified time frame, so Parkinson’s Law ate up all the slack that the City allowed.

Time is the enemy of profit. Incomplete systems don’t operate, and an inoperable system cannot generate a profit. Every day a project drags on, the more likely it will not be completed or will fall short of expectations, the day when you start earning any money from operations is set farther off. The failure to complete on-time was the first operational failure of AFN, and it was no due to the fact that no strict schedule for completion was adopted or adhered to. Instead, the job was done in the usual public-contracting style, by union City employees and private contractors receiving prevailing wage.

Of course, no one was clamoring for prompt completion of AFN. By contrast, in an effective private organization, when construction fell behind, the AFN sales chief might remind the Construction Director and AFN top brass, that “delayed deployment” means “delayed sales” means “delayed revenue” means smaller bonuses for all of them. Delay in deployment is daily death for the sales chief, who lives from sales, who hopes to send his children to medical school with the proceeds of sales.

Salespeople read Sun Tzu because selling to consumers is a war, a fiercely competitive enterprise that should never be engaged in by amateurs. War is managed by successful commanders. Selling is managed by sales chiefs. Commanders are supposed to produce victories, and sales teams are supposed to produce cash. What do you do with commanders who fail to produce victories? “Get rid of them.” The same thing happens to sales chiefs who don’t produce bucks. They get into something different, and the business finds someone who can sell. This job of actually getting the money is indeed a very difficult one, that is fairly analogized to fighting a war. But from what I can tell from researching the City’s website and news resources, AFN had no Sales Director. So no high-level AFN employee ever actually faced the nitty-gritty business of getting Internet and cable users to choose AFN over Charter. Instead, City employees went about the business of providing services and charging fees for them, the only model with which they are familiar. Unfortunately, Charter had a sales director.

Nobody’s job at the City of Ashland was on the line when advertiser revenues fell markedly below projections. Worst of all, no one fought for a marketing budget, which is analogous to failing to give your soldiers any weapons. No one was worried they’d lose face if Charter stole our customers using predatory pricing (underselling your competitor even though you lose money in the short run). Even though AFN pays $460,000 per year for ”Central Services,“ usually described as ”legal and accounting,“ AFN never got a formal legal opinion about whether the City could sue or otherwise challenge Charter’s discriminatory pricing policy, under which it delivers Internet access and cable services at lower prices in Ashland than in Medford. Nope, we just sat there while Charter ate our lunch, even though their service is inferior. And most definitely no one’s job was imperiled by the City’s failure to roll out Internet telephone service, thus kissing off a half-million of forecast revenue in a single inaction.

So how has AFN been run at all? AFN has been run by remote control from Lee Tuneberg’s office, with nods from Alan DeBoer and City Administrator Gino Grimaldi, who signed off on all the debt that we’re now carrying.

So why is the project everybody’s favorite whipping boy? Everyone wants to blame the debt, but I want to talk about AFN’s unexploited value first, because frankly, the debt is not killing us, we have no way of getting rid of it but to pay it off, and all the negative talk is just driving down the price of the asset in question. If we are going to sell, we should not be broadcasting our despair about the financial imbroglio we have gotten ourselves into. A recent interpretation of Sun Tzu for salespeople says, “If you are struggling, you must seem calm.” We are struggling, and we must seem calm. We are sitting at the big stakes table, here. The vultures are circling, and we are what’s for dinner. We need to kick a little.

Nowadays everyone wants to know: should we dump AFN, or what? When you talk about selling something that is valuable, that works, that is already built, and that is buried under your house, you should have a good reason for doing it. The fact that it cost too much to build it, and it’s costing you to keep it, doesn’t necessarily mean you should haul off and get rid of it. You need to do an economic analysis, and that analysis really doesn’t have anything to do with how much money you have into the project. This economic principle is expressed as “forget sunk costs.”

What are “sunk costs?” Sunk costs are money that you’re not going to get back no matter what you do. My only economics professor, Armen Alchian, explained it by saying: “Imagine you had a million dollars, and you invested nine-hundred thousand of them in a stock that went belly-up and you lost it all. The way that you lost the nine-hundred-thousand should have nothing to do with how you apply the remaining hundred-thousand, except that perhaps you should not throw good money after bad.” In fact, people have a tendency to fixate on a loss, and it destroys their ability to evaluate how to dispose of the remaining asset.

As the owners of AFN, the citizens of Ashland find themselves in a similar situation. We have invested far more than we were told it would cost to build the fiber network. In 1999, it was estimated to cost $6 Million, and we are told it has cost $15.5 Million. To explain this Pentagon-sized overrun, City employees disclosed to the AFN Options Committee that, among other blunders, construction went way over budget because the City Attorney failed to inform the City that it would have to pay prevailing wages to contractors working on the project. The ballooning expense was not disclosed to the public. Rather, in July 2002, based on a memo from Lee Tuneberg, the City’s top bean-counter, then-Mayor Alan DeBoer authorized “internal borrowing” from the Water Fund and the Wastewater fund to keep AFN going through 2003. Tuneberg sent a copy of his memo to DeBoer to Gino Grimaldi, City Administrator, but didn’t even send a copy to Dick Wanderscheid, the City head of Electric, who has pretended to be the head of AFN since 2001, reading scripts preparedy by the accounting office. Wanderscheid has mainly been useful in hiding AFN's financial problems during his tenure, since he developed the habit of issuing AFN Quarterly Reports that describe only rosy conditions, then dropping a financial bomb (like a $2 Million deficit in AFN funding) shortly after each new budget is passed. Thanks to Dick's idea of how to fund things (secretly, after the fact, and when it's too late to say no), AFN has earned the reputation of being a boondoggle. Now it has to live that reputation down, and somehow get its neck out of the noose that John Gaffey and his band of fiscal vigilantes had slipped 'round its neck.

The ”sale of AFN" that many believe will get the City out of debt will not. The Daily Tidings ran a financial analysis in its December 3rd edition clearly showed that selling AFN for $5 Million and throwing away its operating revenues would increase yearly AFN payoff expense from $755,000 to $985,000 per year – from three-quarters of a million, to a million. The damage to local business from a sale could be substantial. We have a goodly number of businesses built on AFN Internet access, first among them the ISPs, whose fortunes, and those of their owners and employees, are based on the continuance of the existing order. We have a public resource that is still in our hands, over which we can yet exert control. Cooler heads want a fix before the vote – a sale, a lateral, a spinoff, a face-saving, time-saving fix that will prevent the issue going to a vote – what the powerful think of as a roll of the dice. But we are the voters. We paid for, and will continue to pay for this thing. We need to look at all the facts and make up our minds with a cool head.

The Options Committee has recommended that the City get rid of AFN, because it could never learn how to run it, but this sidesteps the politically untenable truth – the City has allowed Lee Tuneberg to call the tune that AFN has been required to play, and that tune is heavy on accounting expense. The “Central Services” expense of $460,000 per year keeps AFN underwater. The Options Committee report recommends spinoff because the members believe that, if a separate nonprofit were buying these same services, they would pay less than $100,000 per year. One might ask, then, if AFN has to be rescued from City government so they won’t be overcharged for accounting and legal work, what kind of a City government are we running, and where are the savings going to come from that will prevent us running up more debt? The answers to this question is simple. We are running a very expensive City government. And getting rid of AFN won’t fix that.
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:31 pm

CHARTER COMMUNICATIONS: PAUL ALLEN'S TOY, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

“Everybody knows” that Charter Communications is the “natural buyer” for “AFN,” even though nobody knows precisely what portions of AFN would be for sale, if it were for sale, which according to the City Council’s pronouncements, it isn’t. The primary proponents of selling AFN (to Charter) are Gino Grimaldi, Ashland’s outgoing Administrator, and Lee Tuneberg, the City’s top accountant. Their reasoning is – they’ve borrowed all the money the banks will lend, and then borrowed more money from their friends the municipal bond bankers, who charged the City a mere $250,000 to underwrite our $15.5 Million bond issue. They’ve played hide-the-budget-ball with three generations of City Councils, and managed all this without ever hiring a real head of AFN, and the whole game is simply played out. They can’t bear the idea of giving up control over this financial behemoth, but they don’t want to deal with it anymore. They spend all of their time explaining why they did what they did, and they can’t get any other work done.

So Charter to the rescue, at any price. Although Charter is not a financial behemoth, with the total value of all its outstanding common stock under half a billion, it has one important stockholder whose personal finances dwarf those of our tiny burg. The largest holder of Charter stock is Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, who has acquired 29,165,526 shares. Allen’s interest in Charter is as current as his rumored romance with former Countess von Bismarck Laura Harring. He is a mighty chieftain of the business world who invests seven and eight-figure sums in various companies through Vulcan Securities, a private investment house dedicated entirely to investing Allen’s money. Like all investment houses, Vulcan pays big salaries to MBAs and CPAs to produce intensive financial reports on prospective investments. Since July 2004, Allen he has bought and sold millions of shares in private transactions that value Charter stock at up to 30 times its market value. A May 2004 Business Week articled entitled “The $12 Billion Education of Paul Allen,” noted that Charter was one of a select group of technology assets Allen retained in his portfolio after deciding to cut his losses on a broad array of wired investments that had not panned out. The article indicates that Allen takes a personal interest in Charter that is unique among his investments:

Allen, who had long suffered from a sort of investor's attention deficit disorder, has made a big effort to become more focused. Never married, he says he is spending more time than ever on his investments. He holds weekly meetings with his financial advisers; before, he met with them only on an ad-hoc basis. Now he lunches with the senior members of his investment team every Monday to get updates on deals and discuss strategy. Allen holds another weekly meeting to catch up on developments at Charter, his biggest holding after Microsoft. “I've been through the fire in the last few years,” says Allen. “Now I get involved and ask questions that are a lot more pointed and specific and probing — and, I think, insightful.” … The devastation of the tech bust led Allen to some serious soul-searching. Last fall, he distilled his thinking into a 26-point memo setting out ways to improve his investment management…” Already, some outcomes are changing. One of Allen's bullet points is a reminder to “negotiate hard” but walk away from overpriced deals. … Adds Allen: “I wish we had the 26-point memo five years ago. Things would be in a different place today. Those lessons were learned at a significant cost.”

This snapshot of Paul Allen’s thinking shows that Charter’s main shareholder has been badly burned in the tech meltdown, and if we think Charter is going to buy AFN, we had better plan on giving it away – after burning through twelve of his thirty-billion dollar Microsoft haul, this billionaire has turned into a skinflint. As the article discusses, in a recent non-deal, Allen invested in Magis Technologies, an HDTV technology R&D startup, watched it slide into bankruptcy, joined other vulture investors making lowball offers, and was outbid by Sanyo for a lousy $3.5 Million. Fundamentally, companies are Paul Allen’s toys, and he is getting bored. He smashes them up, throws them away, and generally treats them like disposable entertainment.

As a result, you would never want Charter to buy anything large from you, because it’s losing money faster than the Titanic was shipping water when the rich people were stealing the lifeboats, and I bet Paul Allen has already commandeered one with oars, biscuits and fresh water. The statistics on Charter are so bad that it is clear that, but for Allen’s support, the company would be defunct. Although it has over $5 Billion in annual revenue, it has a negative profit margin of -18.7 %, negative net income of -$974 Million, and a negative book value of -$14.35 per share.

Allen’s not much a civic giver, either, if you were wondering. Turning his knack for screwing up businesses to the field of professional sports, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers. Under Allen’s mismanagement, a string of players started getting more time under the police photolamps than the gym lights, and the team earned a new name – the Jail Blazers. The Jimi Hendrix museum he paid Frank Gehry to design looks like a piece of stainless steel attempting to morph into an enormous amoeba, another abandoned toy, and his plans to renovate neighborhoods never produced any concrete fruit. Given Allen’s history for turning his back on bad investments, if Charter acquired AFN, that would cast us, the owners of AFN, from the frying pan of having to manage our own ISP into the fire of being owned by a collapsing gas giant that will strip our asset, jack up our prices, and give us service like you’ve never imagined. Marti Mandelbratt
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Re: Charles Carreon, The Arizona Kid

Postby admin » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:33 pm

WHERE HAVE ALL THE PATRIOTS GONE?, by Charles Carreon

February 7, 2006

On Monday, December 19, 2005, the President of the United States said something new and surprising: the Constitution authorizes him to tap your telephone and read your email without a search warrant. Many Americans found themselves immediately wondering if the President had been reading the same Constitution that our teachers so proudly taught us includes a “Bill of Rights,” that protects us from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” and precludes searches except pursuant to warrants issued by an impartial magistrate. Search warrants, all good lawyers know, are issued only after a judge receives sworn testimony from law officers that “probable cause exists to believe that evidence of a crime will be found” in a particular place, and specifying the evidence they expect to find.

The President was not happy to be so explaining himself and his actions. It was a most inconvenient time to step on a land mine, but there he was, knocked ass over tit by a leaked story in that damned New York Times. Somebody had been talking out of school, and it wasn't Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, or Scooter Libby, because this wasn't just some trivial leak about whose wife happens to be a CIA agent, but something important, something that if terrorists knew it, they would use it against us. And they did! Just when he was about to get his new, improved Patriot Act through both House and Senate without a whimper of resistance, kaboom! Terrorists were celebrating everywhere!

He was angry, you could tell, but that didn't make him think any more clearly. So what if he circumvented the Constitution thirty-six times by giving the National Security Agency the go-ahead to tap phones without even calling a judge for permission? Under Reagan, Oliver North's NSA repeatedly circumvented the Boland Amendment with a nod from the Old Man. The Boland Amendment had been adopted by a unanimous Senate vote, specifically forbidding the provision of weapons to Nicaraguan rebels. The NSA also broke the narcotics, arms-trading, and foreign bribery laws, that don't allow anyone, even the President, to swap cocaine for guns and corrupt influence. Reagan sailed through that. So what was all the flap about?

They say Scooter Libby broke the law, they say Tom DeLay broke the law, they say Bill Frist broke the law, they say Mike Abramoff broke the law, they say Karl Rove may still be indicted. What the hell, it’s a witch hunt! And it’s irrelevant! Who the hell did those Senators think they were, holding up the reauthorization of the Patriot Act, the bulwark of security and therefore, of freedom? The Patriot Act is the law that made the president king for the protection of the homeland – how could they think of allowing the sun to set on his beneficent omnipotence before the end of his term? What would other world leaders think? He just got their nations to enact laws granting them huge intelligence powers. They’ll have them and we won’t – it’s a nightmare. And people wonder if the president is out of touch. They’d be amazed.

We may need to realize at this point where our President has been sitting for the last five years — in the middle of a circle of sycophants (ass-kissers), neocons (secret Nazis), lobbyists (lawyers with checkbooks), generals (deranged individuals), corporate chieftains (scam artists), bankers (loan sharks), televangelists (amoral sociopaths), and other such people as have haunted the halls of power since long before the French Revolution. As the truism goes, nobody who wants to keep consuming either law or sausage should see either one being made. It is notable that since the current president took office, the hamburgers have gotten a lot dirtier, too. We have gotten about as close to a free-market economy for influence-buying in Washington as has ever been seen. When such an atmosphere reigns, there is no point in being honest — you'll never get anywhere that way.

Look at the powerful these days — a rogue's gallery of robber barons has never feasted so sumptuously in the public eye, or with greater impunity than during the current era. The nation employs costly mercenaries to fight a war of empire, mercenaries pulled from the dregs of the planet, who have killed around the world — in South Africa, in Lebanon, in Palestine, in Turkey, in Bosnia, in Sierra Leone, in Haiti. These people change sides, discard old identities, buddy up with old pals in new outfits, another day another cutout corporation, another million dollars. With eight billion gone missing in Iraq already, you can just imagine who will be shooting their way out of the Green Zone today, loaded with cash, headed for a boat in the Bahamas, or maybe a little job in Colombia. And for those young men who enlist today, fleeing uneducated poverty, we offer them the assassin's way. Assassins. That is our position in the world today. For those who respond to the killer-android creed, then a time like this might seem the Golden Age of Killing for Fun and Profit. For those who know that Rothschild was right when he said, “The time to make money is when blood is running in the streets,” Iraq was a chance they couldn't let slip away.

Even if they had to pay Achmed Chalabi and his London-based Iraqi contingent to manufacture a pack of lies, the war had to happen. For Donald Rumsfeld, it was a chance to show he could have won Vietnam if they'd given him a chance. For Condi, it was a personality coup. For the President, it was a patriotic bubble bath, a Christian love-fest, a “triumph of the will” that the little German would have envied him. Another generation had fallen under the spell of nationalism, had learned to hate the enemy, had rebelled against their parents' pleading arguments, and left home for the battlefront, drawn by the siren song of war. The president assures the nation that our heroes and their families will be well rewarded, if not in this world, in the next and in our memories, for their sacrifice.

How did we get here? The stirring pageantry, the theatre of international conflict, swept us up. The wind was at our back as we sent our legions forth from the burned ruins of our greatest city, and a mighty cheer went up to see our spears raised high. Oh what televised majesty! Oh what stirring emotions! Credit card debt, marital stress, poor grades, old age and high gas prices, the weights of mundane existence, fell away when we soared aloft on a flood of endorphins released through repeat stimulation of images of death, revenge, and unity — patriotic sentiment.

The president had been unmanned by the razing of the towers. Innocent people had been incinerated by the thousands. He had all the justification in the world to haul off and smash the shit out of somebody. And he did. And he started to like doing it. He started to enjoy seeing the Generals and the troops and the military contractors. They were all fine people, who had the best interests of the nation at heart. They were more fun than people like Colin Powell, who wanted to read stuff and discuss the issues in that horribly earnest way of his. The maps were interesting, and the intelligence briefings were so exciting, just like he had hoped they would be. This was so much better than reviewing death penalty petitions in Texas, even more fun than owning the football team, and all his friends were so helpful. Karl was incredible, and Dick, well Dick was just Dick, ya' know? One thing for sure, Dick knew what was what and that was that. And Dick was really behind the Iraq venture. And after all, Saddam did try to kill Dad. Why wouldn't he have weapons of mass destruction?

Legal stuff is always so tedious, and the president had never actually read the Constitution or the Bill of Rights. Like most Americans, he didn't know how many Amendments there were, actually. One had to do with freeing the slaves, another with giving women the right to vote — Karl had drummed that into his head — but otherwise, he pretty much drew a blank on Constitutional law. Domestic spying? Well, hell, Karl was always spying on somebody. Nixon had tapes — that wasn't illegal, but it got him in trouble. Which is why they never made tapes. Not that anyone except Karl would know about that. Alberto explained that wasn't the type of domestic spying he was talking about — not just strategic dirty tricks to blackmail judges, congressmen, staffers, that sort of thing — we're talking large-scale wiretapping of American citizens and email interception focused on uncovering terrorist plots.

At first he didn't understand what the problem was. Why hadn't they implemented the program already? Alberto explained that he would have to sign some papers, because only then would it be lawful for the NSA to tap American phones and computers. While it is true, Alberto explained, that the Constitution makes a wartime president a virtually all-powerful emperor who can hold all civil rights in abeyance in order to protect the nation from terrorism, still he had to sign some papers to invoke that power. Liberty must give way to security, but not without due process of law, Alberto explained, smiling so graciously while extending the pen. As he signed the authorization, the president knew that his position in this office was no accident. The Lord directs the paths of men, and men are but the instruments of their Maker. Of course, only a good man can be entrusted with the virtually omnipotent power of being a “War President.” It swelled his breast with pride and humility at once. It was so important to trust in God. Only God could possibly give a man the wisdom to walk through the snakepit of Washington D.C. and come out with his soul intact. Like the leaders of ancient Israel, he would pray about the invasion of Iraq, and see what the Lord said. Perhaps Arnold Schwarzenneger might have some advice for him. Tomorrow he would call him.

The people who put the president in his position had been worried, before the big operation came down, that the son wasn't a match for the father. When the Enron, WorldCom, Tyco, and other corporate scandals were exploding, the market was tanking, and unemployment was rising, it wasn't looking good. Some wondered whether he was up to the job.

Then the towers came down. After spending seven minutes staring into space, the president put down that My Pet Goat book, and went to a bunker. Somewhere along the line, he got an injection of vitamins. He went to the scene of the disaster, picked up a bullhorn in the smoking ruins, and began restoring our national pride. He promised to hunt down the perpetrators. He campaigned for endless war like a warrior astride a stallion, seized by a noble vision, and many thought him magnificent. He put on a flight suit, landed on an aircraft carrier. He toppled the man who would have killed his father, declared victory over Iraq, and told reporters that, yep, he'd flown the jet. He worked the same miracle that the little infantry veteran worked for the downcast German people in the 1930's — he restored the nation's pride. With the nectar of power flowing in his veins, like Reagan before him, the president warmed to his role, became relaxed, jovial, avuncular, and insensible to criticism. He made speeches only to supporters, preferably to military assemblies, gatherings of peace officers, and his party's fundraisers. He refused to be budged from taking long vacations where he could rule from a distance with a majestic manner. Sometimes he is struck by his ability to heal the sorrows of the bereaved. It is a great obligation to be a king, and the accomplishment of kingly duties are made easier by having an excellent security force, so you don’t have to meet people unreceptive to a king’s healing manner, like that Sheehan woman.

He likes dealing with people on his own turf, and security is easier for his people to maintain with a large free-fire zone and total aerial control of the area. At the ranch is a good time to meet with Condi and get her advice on important policy issues. She had a way of boiling it all down into a manageable package. The war on terror had so many facets. The whole intelligence mechanism, as his father the intelligence director had told him, was like a vast ear for collecting information from everywhere. He was literally astounded by the magnitude of the task of monitoring potential terrorist threats. So many people hate America. So many websites out there had money-laundering potential. So many foreign nationals were crawling through the country with terrorism on their minds. Of course, with this evidence before him, he reauthorized warrantless telephone-tapping and email seizure thirty-six times. He will continue reauthorizing until hell freezes over or the terrorist threat subsides, so help him Chief Justice Roberts.

They are lonely days in the White House, so the president is trying something different — reading a book relevant to his occupation — “On War” by Klausewitz. He reads that there are times in the battle when the entire weight of the conflict bears upon the General, and his ability to bear that weight will determine the outcome of the battle. But he does not feel this burden. Others are bearing it for him. Or perhaps it is over. Many are telling him to take a page out of Nixon’s book. He called withdrawal from Vietnam “peace with honor,” but retreat is defeat. Terrorists will hunt us down, and without a king to protect the nation with his all-seeing intelligence eye, we will be defenseless. We cannot go back to the old days when civil rights obstructed the search for the terrorists in our midst. Where are all the patriots of yesterday? Where are all the zealous people eager to advance the anti-terrorist agenda? How could the Senate turn against him? How could they hold out such an unreasonable compromise under the threat of allowing the sun to set on the glorious Patriot Act? A mere ninety day extension would be very dangerous. During those ninety days, the clamor for investigation would grow, civil rights groups would storm in through the breach, and the whole thing, the whole marvelous dream, could dissolve. There can be no compromise. They have to push it through. But how? Karl is working on that.
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