Current Date

The Conservative Reader:
Iowa

Chickens and the Roost

Chickens and the Roost

Yes, the chickens are coming home to roost.  All of a sudden, the man who had all the answers three years ago has none.  He was calm, cool and collected.  He convinced the American citizenry that he could solve all of the country’s problems, and that it was critical that we abandon the “failed policies of the last eight years”.

We are 17 months away from the next presidential election and the economy is definitely slowing.  Aggregate demand for goods and services is weakening.  And unless President Obama changes course on legislation enacted in the last two years, we are likely to enter yet another recession.  He won’t, though, and it will prove to be his undoing.

Conservative pundits and Republican presidential candidates are licking their chops.  The President’s economic policies are failing.  People vote with their wallets.  They know Socialism doesn’t work.  Should the economy slow further, it would not surprise me to see other Democrats, sensing opportunity, toy with a Presidential run of their own.  Even Anthony Weiner’s troubles aren’t enough to take the spotlight off the economy.  (Perhaps the President should appoint Representative Weiner to the post of Social Media czar.)

Unfortunately, we predicted extended economic weakness two years ago.  It was easy to spot.  We had lived through the Carter Administration.  Those who don’t understand history are doomed to repeat it.  Over-regulation chokes off economic growth.  Businesses and individuals thrive on certainty.  The health-care legislation, Dodd-Frank, and impending tax increases (unless the Bush tax cuts are extended further), coupled with out-of-control government spending and astronomical deficits have created the uncertainty.  Employment is declining.  Unemployment is increasing.  The stock market, that predictor of future corporate earnings, is falling.  Oil, gas, and other commodity prices are high.  Aggregate demand is suffering.

This is Obama’s legacy.  He can no longer blame anyone else.  And we predicted it.

Chickens and the Roost

American Gladiators II: A Painful Look Back…A Bright Future Ahead

The Following piece is the 2nd installment of an ongoing series here at The Conservative Reader. “American Gladiators” is a recurring feature focusing on the defining political issue of our generation: the crucial battle over Federal spending and the debt and deficit it creates.

A favorite saying of both political parties these days is that “elections have consequences”—2010 proved that so do primaries. For Republicans no past event has had a bigger impact on the eventual major players and the shape of the fiscal debate’s battlefield than the primaries preceding the 2010 mid-term elections.

Though history now, you may recall at that time an internal debate was raging amongst Republicans. Many influential Conservative thinkers, including Charles Krauthammer, joined a large number of high ranking members of the Republican establishment in warning against selecting “unconventional”, mostly Tea Party backed, candidates to compete against Democrats in liberal leaning districts.

Though admittedly unappealing, this camp made the case that in selected states it would be wiser to support more moderate Republicans who had a greater chance of winning in traditional Democratic strong holds. They particularly took issue with Christine O’ Donnell in Delaware, Linda McMahon in Connecticut, and Sharon Angle in Nevada, all of whom went on to win their primaries but lose in the general election.

While the stand was principled, harnessing a populist movement is difficult, and there is no guarantee a more main stream Republican would have won, it is fair to at least consider this rejection of political pragmatism as an over reach by the Tea Party… and one that had painful consequences.

Working without anesthesia, Dr. Hindsight unmercifully reopens the wounds when one considers how much better Republicans would be positioned with just four more Senate seats. Having a majority in this body to go along with the one already had in the House would have provided Republicans a massive strategic advantage. Specifically, it would have allowed them to not only pass unified bills on spending cuts and the budget, but to bypass the Senate buffer the President currently enjoys and send the bills directly to his desk. Removing this Senate buffer would have enabled Republicans to repeatedly, and at will, draw him out on targeted issues. Imagine a scenario in which every week he was forced to either agree and sign a bill, or veto it and go on record resisting specific cuts.

Any Democratic strategist would tell you that either of these actions would be vastly damaging to his re-election bid. Should he sign, his base would trample themselves in disgusted exodus, while a veto would leave him constantly defending unpopular expenditures, and require him to personally counter-offer with specific proposals (not his strong suit). Such extended exposure on vulnerable ground would have in essence reworded the old political axiom “sunlight is the best disinfectant” into “sunlight is the best infectant”.

In spite of these lost opportunities, snapping out of the past and returning to the present finds Republicans still in very good shape. Though it includes a few head scratchers, the polling data on long term budget issues strongly favors the GOP position. The best news is provided by the findings on the debate’s two most fundamental questions: Are budget deficits and the National debt widely perceived as problems? And, do people feel that success from Republican plans is fundamentally possible?

As to the first, a CBS News Poll (March 18-21,2011-m.o.e=+-3) found that 68% of respondents felt that the budget deficit was a “serious problem”, while another 26% termed it “somewhat serious”. Only 5% thought it was “not too serious”.

While beyond promising, perhaps the better news comes from a Bloomberg National Poll (March 4-7, 2011-m.o.e=+-3.1) which asked “Do you think it is, or is not possible to bring down the deficit substantially without raising taxes?” The results reveal a clear path to victory. 61% felt that it is possible, while only 37% thought it was not. This is critical because not raising taxes is both the exact approach taken by all the Republican plans, as well as one of the main criticisms leveled against them by opponents.

While it is true historically that the particulars of a proposal are less popular than its concept, starting with numbers this high leaves room for weathering the inevitable loss of points forthcoming now that specifics of the plans have been revealed. If the caustic attacks on the plans as being “extreme” are able to be zeroed out by the number of converted skeptics, there likely would still be ample room to compromise with Democrats on some points, which for passage in 2012 is an absolute must.

While looking back at what could have been is painful, the opportunity to win is still very much within reach. Given that the Tea Party is solely responsible for the fact that we are even having this debate, it is hard to criticize it. That being said, it is wise to note the times that the movement’s fierce purism creates a double-edged sword.

We will never know if different Republican primary candidates would have resulted in a Senate majority, but we do know that winning on an issue this big will require both strategy and some compromise. Going forward it will be fascinating to see to what extent the Tea Party tolerates each to be in play, if at all.

Sometimes the most nuanced political analysis is worthless and the whole issue comes down to a simple question. This appears to be just such an issue and the question that victory hinges on is: “Do the American people believe that remaining on the current path will end in a financial disaster?”

For the reasons given above, if I was looking at this and was a gambling man—that faint sound you hear would be my chips…smoothly sliding across felt.

Chickens and the Roost

9.7 On The Bizarre Scale

It was a steamy 98 degrees in Atlanta. It was clearly too hot for me to be out running at the local high school track…but there I was. I was not alone, however. Occupying Lane 4 was a guy who I would guess was born somewhere immediately after WWII. But my track-mates age was not the interesting part of the story. The interesting fact was that the man was clad in a long-sleeved sweatshirt. Yes, and it even had a Nike SWOOSH on it. I thought to sweaty self, “This has to be the most bizarre thing I have seen all week!” However, upon a few moments of reflection, I concluded it wasn’t even close to the top of the Week’s-Most-Bizarre List.

My first cataloguing thought was that the Massachusetts tornado was the most bizarre thing that happened this week; but I concluded it only scored 8.0 on the 10 point scale. After all, the weather has been crazy this year. Then it occurred to me that “Weinergate” was about as weird as it gets. And it did involve the Honorable US Representative Anthony Weiner from New York…making it a natural candidate, by definition.  Many of us would have been more comforted by simply hearing him say “That is not mine.” as opposed to “It was pranksters.” But even allowing for a couple of additional Anthony Wiener style points, he only merited 9.0 on the Bizarre Scale.

I then gave passing consideration to Barack Obama’s honoring of our fallen war heroes with an “18 flag tribute” at the local golf club on Memorial Day. And that might have been a winner had the event in any way stuck out from his normal complete lack of respect for people who actually believe in what America stands for. While scoring an impressive 9.5, the President’s behavior still fell short of this week’s winner.

The winner for the most bizarre thing that happened this week, with a score of 9.7, was Clinton’s former Secretary of Labor, Professor Robert Reich, from (of all bizarre places) Cal Berkeley.

In an article in (of all bizarre places) the San Francisco Chronicle, he is quoted:

In response to slow economic growth: “Right now we need more public spending in order to get people back to work. And we need a new Works Progress Administration to get the long-term unemployed back to work.”

In response to declining home prices: “That means most Americans have to save big-time if they’re going to be able to retire or even send the kids to college. As a result, consumer spending will stay anemic and unemployment will remain high – unless Washington fills the gap.”

And he teaches our children this stuff…

So if the federal government is currently spending $1.5 trillion more than it receives (an annual deficit representing nearly ten percent of the entire economy), that is not enough government stimuli? What amount might be enough, Mr. Reich? (In the good professor’s defense, he does likely make the highly nuanced distinction between normal unproductive and wasteful federal government spending and targeted unproductive and wasteful federal government spending.)

And what gap is it that Washington needs to fill? I guess this assumes that irrespective of how poorly the economy is managed, and unrelated to how little money consumers have to spend, that the government can just step in and “create an economy.” Does he really not understand the notion of rational investment and the resultant productivity increases that singularly drive economic growth? Is his whole world just one very large social and political abstraction for Mr. Reich? Whatever it is, it is truly bizarre.

Apparently, this is the thinking of people like Mr. Reich: If something isn’t working, has never worked, and will very likely never work, and yet you believe in it very strongly…just do more of it. If you do not find yourself tortured enough by running outdoors in temperatures of nearly 100 degrees, slap on a sweatshirt! The underlying logic embedded in both of these scenarios is both beautifully and brutally consistent.

For his remarkable jeremiad, Professor Reich is credited with a score of 9.7, and is the winner of the “Most Bizarre Thing of the Week” Award. Well done, and congratulations, Bob!

Chickens and the Roost

Dear Republican Candidates: It’s Monetary Policy, Stupid

At barely five feet tall and armed only with a Ph.D in economics, Milton Friedman hardly had the look of a hero set out to save a nation. Yet, Professor Friedman predicted with near perfection the disastrous economic situation the United States is enduring today. He did this with a simple idea – the Quantity Theory of Money.

MV = PQ. This is the simple mathematical formula which explains the death of American prosperity. Where M is the supply of money, V is the velocity that it circulates, P is prices, and Q is the quantity of transactions. Simply put, if the government prints more money, prices go up unless the number of transactions also increases. Too many dollars chasing too few goods, as they say, leads to inflation.

Enter Quantitative Easing, where the Federal Reserve buys government bonds with money that it printed specifically for the purpose of buying government bonds. This is the only way our government can run $1.6 trillion deficits – which, according to President Obama we must do for the next ten years. The bond market would never absorb this many bonds at interest rates this low unless the Federal Reserve were rigging the market, and in recent months they have been purchasing roughly 70% of federal bonds being offered. The money raised is immediately spent by the federal government, sharply increasing both the supply and velocity of money. In 2000, there was approximately $4.7 trillion US Dollars in circulation, now there are nearly $10 trillion.

The quantity of transactions is going down. Don’t take my word for it, either. Look around your neighborhood for all of the houses that have been for sale for months, all the vacant office space, and all the closed restaurants. These are all a component of the decline in the quantity of transactions. Fewer houses bought, fewer goods sold, fewer meals consumed.

Which leaves us with one last variable: Prices. With double the dollars in circulation, being spent by the government as quickly as they can print them, and with fewer transactions in the overall economy, prices must simply explode.

Pull out your old check records or bank statements, and see what you used to spend on groceries and gasoline, and compare them to what you are spending now. The increase is not the cause of supply problems, speculators or gouging: It is inflation, pure and simple.

The end result has been an inflationary depression, with increasing prices and high unemployment. What the country desperately needs is a sound dollar, stable prices and, of course, a sound fiscal policy based on a balanced budget. Thus, fiscal and monetary policies are inextricably linked, with our deficits leading to inflation and inflation making the deficits possible.

Left-wing ideologues like to repeat the old trope that in America the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. Well, sad to say, it is true. But, it is not capitalism that is doing the pillaging; it is our own government. Rising prices means lowering standards of living. Despite the messianic rhetoric of Mr. Obama, it is his deficits, financed by Mr. Bernanke’s printing press, that are robbing the pensioners and the working class of their standard of living.

The Republican that can best articulate this message, without being pulled into the weeds, will take the Presidency—or at least get my respect.

RPI Update: Progress In Accountability

RPI Update: Progress In Accountability

An update on our friends in the Republican Party of Iowa State Central Committee.  You may recall that we had addressed the issue of some members of the committee actively working on campaigns.  Wednesday evening the Central Committee met and considered the issue (after deferring it due to lack of time at their last regular meeting).

There was an extensive discussion on the topic, initiated by John Ortega, that generally included comments to effect that committee members had heard from numerous constituents in their districts expressing concern about committee member involvement on campaigns.  Mr. Ortega read a rather severe message that he had received that pressed for removal or at least reprimand against the members who were being paid to work on campaigns.

A motion was made by Jeremiah Johnson and amended by David Chung, which read as follows:

Those State Central Committee members with paid staff or consultant positions on campaigns in contested primaries or caucuses are required to disclose those relationships to the State Central Committee.

The motion was passed 10-4 with one abstention.

Although it does not go as far as I and other would like, it does establish a sense of accountability within the board membership, and clarifies that contested primaries and caucuses are specific areas of concern.  I think that is an essential message for people to hear even if the overall affect of the measure more or less a non-event.

So, quick breakdown.

One of the “no” votes was cast by a committee member who has been concerned about this issue.  That member voted against the measure simply because the measure did not go far enough.

The abstention was from Wes Enos.  Wes mentioned during discussion of the topic that he saw this as a serious concern and that he plans, while serving on Michelle Bachmann’s campaign, to abstain from any votes that impact the Caucus.  I applaud Wes for taking a strong step in acknowledging the fact of the appearance of a conflict of interest, and acting in a way that helps mitigate the issue.  That demonstrates responsibility and character.

The other three “no” votes came from the other three committee members who are working on a campaign.  I find it odd that they would take a combative position on such a non-intrusive measure.  Voting for the measure would have cost them nothing and would have given them a positive appearance.  Instead, the message it sends is that they do not see themselves as accountable to the Committee, and the impression it leaves with me is sour… it increases the appearance that their participation on the committee is geared more to their own personal agenda than it is for the sake of the party as a whole.  If that’s true, it is very disappointing.

It is worth acknowledging that several members of the committee would have probably liked to see something more drastic occur.  An amendment to the  motion offered by Bill Schickel, to require that committee members abstain from operation votes, failed.  All of the members were very considerate of each other, emphasizing the issue as one of appearance and not an actual question of integrity, and in seeking a sensible solution worked to a compromise that probably accomplished as much as could be reasonably done at this juncture.

Specific constraints against the voting rights of the members would have likely been untenable.  Such a measure, or anything more substantive, would probably need to be considered at the State Convention next year as a bylaw change.  Based on follow up conversations with committee members, it is very likely that such a measure may be presented to the convention in some manner.

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

As a life-long Iowan, I can tell you the ridiculous National stereo-type that we are all corn growers or hog farmers is bad enough without adding an even worse one…that we are a bunch of babies.

With the political season heating up and the eyes of the Nation beginning to turn toward us, now should be our time to shine—not to whine. Unfortunately, too much whining is what I have heard from some of my fellow Iowa Republicans lately.

Before this week the running gripe was over the likelihood that Mitt Romney and his campaign wouldn’t be “all in” with their Iowa effort. News reports and blogs have been filled with comments and insinuations that if he doesn’t fully participate in the State he will be punished for it by voters. This was followed by the reaction to Michelle Bachmann’s unfortunate cancellation as the featured speaker at a Polk County GOP fundraiser last Thursday.

I was in attendance at this event and saw at least 30 people walk-out during her, admittedly technically challenged, appearance via Skype. She chose the video feed as a last second alternative to missing the event all together due to a delayed House vote on The Patriot Act. In addition to the walk-outs, the fallout from this was loud grumblings by event organizers that she “dissed” Iowa, and claims from others that her potential campaign for President was over even before it got started.

Though by no means an endorsement of her or how the dinner went, these sentiments were both a hyper-sensitive reaction and grossly unfair. The reality is that scheduling problems, especially for a member of Congress, happen. Though it was not a great night for her, the event, or the Polk GOP, an important vote simply, and unexpectedly, ran long. It should also be noted that she was as contrite about it as her image on the screen was blurry…and it was very blurry.

In general, the reaction to both the Romney and Bachmann situations have made Iowa Republicans look and sound more like scorned lovers than serious judges of Presidential candidates. While I fully understand the disappointment of the Bachmann cancellation and the desire to have a bona fide contender like Romney spend time here, I shudder at a mind-set that would allow either to be a factor.

Though it certainly applies to a small minority of Iowa voters, anyone who makes their decision on the “emotional” grounds of not getting enough personal attention, in my view, is guilty of a dereliction of duty. After all, how can one argue that it is not what they say, but where they say it that matters?

With our State’s great influence in the process comes great responsibility. Considering that an Obama re-election would mean he could possibly appoint two more Supreme Court judges, a full implementation of “Obama-Care” would be certain, and that there would be four more years of a liberal president politically unconstrained to spend freely, the stakes couldn’t be higher. This makes it even more unsettling that a sect of informed Republicans are concerned about completely irrelevant things such as how much time a candidate personally spends fawning over us.

The last time I checked we are supposed to be selecting our Country’s next president—not dating. Furthermore, if we were dating we likely wouldn’t have much luck acting in this manner anyways. The word on the street would spread through the singles community like wildfire─WARNING…HIGH MAINTENANCE!

In running the ironic risk of whining too much about whining, let me quickly close by saying that I hope this attention-craving neediness is not a harbinger of things to come. Not only is it un-Iowan, it is un-American (at least it used to be anyways). The sooner we stop the bed wetting and start the vetting the better. Whether or not we are getting the attention of this or that candidate, we certainly have the Country’s attention.

Besides the fact that focusing on petty, inconsequential things will likely not lead us to the best nominee, it just plain looks bad.

I tell you this, if I have to be incorrectly typecast by the rest of the Country, I’d gladly take bib overalls and a tractor over a pacifier.

style=’clear:both’>

Chickens and the Roost

Supply and Da Man

First of all, a wonderful Memorial Day to you all.  I pray that your travels, picnics, barbeques and parties would be safe and fun.  And let’s remember our fallen heroes, who without them and their ultimate sacrifice, we wouldn’t have the freedom to enjoy what we do.

The economic calendar of last week revealed what appears to be a slowing economy.  First, the analysis.

  • Durable goods orders, a highly volatile statistic, were down significantly, reflecting slower orders for cars, airplanes, refrigerators and washing machines.
  • The second estimate of  Q1 GDP growth was anemic at 1.8%.  3% would be healthy and would suggest an economy growing fast enough to grow our employment base.
  • Having said that, initial jobless claims rose to 424,000, which again suggest a slowing economy.  Employment is not likely to grow unless jobless claims fall below 400,000.
  • Consumers are more upbeat, for now.

There are two things which conservatives who have any hope of reaching the White House in 2012 must address in order to have a chance–employment, and oil prices.  The two go hand in hand.  High commodity prices are a drag on the economy and act like a tax.  $4.00 gasoline keeps people from spending on other things, like durable goods, which create jobs.  The current administration has been an abject failure in handling the economy (never mind foreign policy).  Republicans would do well to address these issues, and not each other.


Chickens and the Roost

Pondering the Passion for Paul: Ron Hits Town as Iowa Campaign Hits Stride

On a macro level the last few weeks of the Ron Paul Presidential campaign have been a little bumpy. The turbulence was provided by a much publicized exchange with WHO Radio’s Simon Conway and rough national television interviews with MSNBC’s Chris Mathews and Fox News’ Chris Wallace. The fact that the Mathew’s interview would be contentious was likely known, but having Chris Wallace, on Fox News Sunday, aggressively infer that the “general welfare” clause was valid justification for unlimited Federal government involvement had to come as a shock (I know I was shocked).

If one thought that would dampen his supporters’ enthusiasm, a few minutes spent at the Paul campaign headquarters in Ankeny on Monday would be enough to prove them mistaken. In fact the effort in Iowa seems to be humming along at an impressive pace. In less than two weeks, over a 110 County co-chairs have volunteered, 8 District co-chairs have signed on, and Mr. Paul has picked up his first Iowa legislative endorsement in Glenn Massie (R-Des Moines).

Due to this progress, for the second time in two weeks the candidate himself was on hand to personally thank these volunteers and to take a few questions from the media. During the Q and A session Paul spoke on Israel, reiterating his stance that their dependence on the U.S is effectively making them weaker and not stronger. He also happily acknowledged that more and more Republicans are coming around to his position against our involvements in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya. In his view, this shift in thinking is the result of a mixture of disenchantment with realities on the ground and the fact that it’s easier for Republicans to be less supportive now that these conflicts can be seen as “Obama’s wars.” On the domestic front the only thing worth noting was his comments regarding Mike Huckabee’s decision not to enter the race. He called this development “significant,” adding that he thinks there is a good chance that he will appeal to Huckabee’s supporters.

The more time one spends covering the Ron Paul presidential run the more one understands the reasons for his supporters’ legendary levels of enthusiasm. Chief among these is the fact that what they are involved in is far more a movement than a campaign. Unlike what happens around populist candidates, they are not drawn to Paul by his smoothness, style, empathy, or one-liners. They are gravitating toward a philosophy—a philosophy that is not only at odds with nearly every other GOP candidate, but of the Republican Party establishment in general.

Before the event I interviewed Paul’s Iowa Campaign Chairman, longtime Republican leader Drew Ivers, and this topic came up. Referencing this drift away from the Party, Ivers said, “I have carried plenty of water for the Republican Party over the years, and I have earned the right to criticize them.” When one looks at the legislative performance of the Party as a whole over the last 25 years, it’s hard to argue that this criticism is undeserved. Unless of course we are willing to pretend that the financial collapse of 2008 and the 14.3 trillion dollar debt involved only Democrats.

Aside from making it clear that Ron Paul is pro-marriage and pro-family, the topics which Ivers emphasized revealed another reason why Paul’s staff and supporters have bound together so tightly behind their candidate…no one else in the race is singing their tune. A perfect example of this is the issue of Federal debt and deficits. Along with all the Republican hopefuls the Paul camp views Federal spending as 2012’s central issue, but unlike any of the others they favor a different solution.

Mr. Ivers was speaking for the majority of the event’s attendees by showing great concern over the Federal Reserve, quantitative easing, and the value of the dollar. For Ivers, and for Paul, the Fed is the way to begin gaining control of run-away spending. Beyond just proposing spending cuts, their solution is to stop the endless spending by stopping the Federal Reserve from endlessly printing money. This type of systemic change is emblematic of many of Paul’s proposals, and is an approach that the Party, likely for political reasons, has never warmed to.

The fact that Mr. Paul is the only established Republican candidate talking about such things as eliminating the Fed, quantitative easing, and immediately ending our foreign deployments has gained him passionate support, but has also left a steep hill to climb.

What Ron Paul and his supporters are seeking is not a mere tinkering with the Republican message. They are calling for a return to a strict Constitutional approach to Federal governance, something that has not been practiced for generations. The political challenge inherent in this is vast, and is certainly one that Drew Ivers is fully aware of. He summarized it quite well by saying that the Country at large has “moved so far to the left that the message seems strange.”

There are few bonds stronger than that of a shared conviction, and perhaps this more than anything else explains the enthusiasm of Ron Paul’s supporters. For their message to connect they face the Herculean task of convincing a Country to shift its current concept of the role of government, ironically back to its original form.

After spending an afternoon with the staff and volunteers who will be responsible for spreading this message, I can report that in spite of the odds they remain motivated, passionate, and in general completely undaunted by the challenge.

Photo courtesy of TEApublican.


Chickens and the Roost

Supply and Da Man

U.S. markets closed off today, while foreign markets ended generally positive.  A bright spot in the US economy was the release of new home sales, which were estimated to be up 7.3% in April, to 323,000 new homes sold.  This represents the fourth month in a row of increasing new home sales, but we’re coming off a dismal low. In 2005, 1.4 million new homes were sold.

The housing market reflects a classic supply/demand equation.  The supply of housing far outstrips demand, and with a glut of foreclosed homes still in the market, the housing market is unlikely to return to 2005 levels for several years.

The markets seemed to be more concerned with the nation of Greece’s ability to service it’s debt.  Keep in mind that about the only difference between Greece and the United States is 270 million people.  Investors have yet to figure that out.

Chrysler today repaid $7.6 billion in government loans to the United States and Canada.  Perhaps this will tide Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner for another 20 minutes or so.

Having said that, Secretary Geither hinted today that it would be “irresponsible ” for Congress to allow the nation to default on its debts by not raising the debt ceiling.  Is he kidding?  It would seem to me that allowing the nation to run $1.2 trillion deficits, and the general handling of the economy by this Administration would be the very definition of irresponsible.  Perhaps he should be examining how we got to this point.  A little circumspection could go a long way and would be a pleasant change of pace.


    Log in