The Most Dangerous Place in the World ñ Right Here In America

To answer this great scourge of death with the bible is to begin with the premise that everyone believes that the bible has something to say about it and that it is authoritative. For those who have put the bible on the shelf with literature, simple narrative, history or fiction this premise is futile. Others who think the bible is a book of nice little morality stories that may be inspired in spots, are left to hope that that may get enough inspiration to spot the spots.

It is doubtful that a person who has disregarded the book of life will take any further cues from nature or simple humanity. In general animals donít recklessly destroy their offspring. In all but the most backward civilizations of the world most of humanity also frowns on the destruction of their own young. If a people ignore the guides, and warnings available to us all, the bible has little chance of turning on any lights for them.
Yet, that in no way can eliminate the fact that the bible has plenty to say about it.

Both the bible and other annals of history show us that it was considered a blessing to be able to have children. In fact a woman who was barren was usually thought to be nearly under a curse. Times have changed and in America, Roe V. Wade has not just changed the times but has twisted it into a warp. Now it is considered almost a rude interference to be pregnant.

Science has provided us with a ìscientific termî that makes it easy not to see a human life from the moment of conception, that handy little term is what is known as the ìfetusî. Semantic wrangling notwithstanding everyone knows fully that a human life has begun at the point of conception not a scientific anomaly. Neither science nor legislation can erase the ache of conscience; it can only divert it for a while or provide a flimsy excuse for the self indulgent to dote over until a day of reckoning.

Those who donít hide behind scientific words like ìfetusî are prone to adopting the common wisdom of the day to provide them with excuses like, I have no education or I havenít enough money to bring a child into the world. Since education has only peaked in the last one hundred years youíve got to wonder how the worldís civilizations made it up to now without perishing under the weight of pure universal ignorance. Since great warriors, emperors, presidents, statesmen, philosophers, doctors, writers and others have come from great poverty; it would seem that the poverty excuse is also moot.
Without getting all bogged down in ìthou shalt notsî what does the bible have to say about abortion? It says that God knows us before we are born; He knows youíre going to be born, the day of your birth, and the day of your death. He even knows how many hairs youíve got on your head at anytime. Matthew 10:30

The Prophet Isaiah told of a Persian King named Cyrus that would come in time and order the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Isaiah 44:28 No big deal until you discover the fact that Isaiah made this prediction over a hundred years before Cyrus was born. Does God know a human life is in the womb? Yes, and donít worry just like Cyrus he doesnít think your name is Fetus, He knows exactly what your name is and He always did, figuratively speaking even before you were only a twinkle in your fathers eye.

One of the most well known figures in the bible is King David. The historicity of the life and reign of David is without question among bible believers and most all others as well. But did you know that David said that God knew him long before his birth or his reign over Israel? In fact David said that God knew him while he was still in his motherís womb Psalm 139:13. Whew, thank God He didnít mistake David for just a ìfetusî.

Letís go one step further to make the point. That God knows us from the womb is one thing but here is another. The most precious thing God could ever endow someone with is his own presence. He does not put his Holy Spirit on anything that is not holy. He does not put His Spirit on anything that is not human either. Yet the Bible says that He put his Holy Spirit on John the Baptist while he was still in his motherís womb. Luke 1:15 God didnít put his Spirit on a ìfetusî it was a human, good thing God knew that, too bad we donít.

Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is a reward. Psalm 127:3

Politics: The Corruption Curve

“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men.” (Lord Acton)

We all like to think of ourselves as kind, honest, and benevolent. In our hearts, we are convinced that should we ever attain personal power, whether through building our own business, rising to the corporate executive office, becoming extraordinarily influential in our area of expertise, or in winning public office, we will continue to be honest and ethical, incorruptible to the end.

The action of wielding power varies greatly with the individual involved and the extent of power obtained. We are all familiar with the petty tyrant at work who rules a tiny business empire with greed and self-indulgence, bullying underlings without any sense of fairness or mercy. We have seen the research scientists who have forged a reputation over a lifetime fall into disgrace through subverting results to support their theories and their sponsors.

As the extent of power increases, we see the Enron and Lincoln Savings brand of tableaux unfold. Not only does that same greed and self-indulgence hold sway, but the concept of being above the law arises and accountability and trust are jettisoned from the boardroom. The more esoteric the lifestyle becomes, the greater the disconnect between the powerful and the rest of the world. Those who lack power are to be cheated, manipulated, and drained of their possessions ñ surely only just desserts for their failure to rise to the top.

In a world where hereditary monarchies are an anachronism, the most absolute power lies in the political sphere whether wielded by a military-backed dictator or by those who have been so repeatedly elected to office that they no longer see themselves as public representatives but as entitled oligarchs of a system they control.

The presumptuous ambition of one man, Julius Caesar, led to the destruction of a republic that had guided Rome to the heights of civilization. The empire he created held the seeds of its own destruction in its descent into the unrestrained autocracies of a string of less than illustrious rulers who wielded their absolute power with caprice and personal whim.

The framers of the Constitution had a vision of a government where no such unconstrained power could arise because of the checks and balances inherent in the system they devised. No one could be above the law because the rule of law was paramount. The advise and consent required from different branches of government ensured that a multitude of voices and philosophical ideas were involved in any major decision.

But those who drove the development of our constitutional law were giants in their own right. Washingtonís refusal to accept the title of king, advocated by several of his supporters, signaled his rejection of too much power concentrated in one individual. His peers ñ Jefferson, Adams, Franklin, Madison, and many more ñ followed the same course: divide power to ensure that the needs of the many can be met through a myriad of representative voices.

Over the centuries, the checks and balances they built have kept the ship of state afloat. Occasionally listing to port or starboard, the sheer multiplicity of participants in the political process have been repetitively able to pull it back to an upright middle course. Certainly, there have been many dark periods of corruption and incompetence. We face such a darkness now: individuals in office for too long, with too much power within their grasping fingers; too many officials who have forgotten that they are public servants, developing a mindset of entitlement and the conviction that they know, better than anyone else, what is good for the public who, after all, elected them.

Only the rule of law, so carefully crafted more than 200 years ago, can keep them in check. The lawful prosecution of a congressman accepting millions of dollars in bribes, of a congressional leader who used election money as he saw fit rather than as the law required, and administration officials who destroyed a womanís career and jeopardized the lives of covert operatives all over the world, restores balance in a world rife with corruption, greed, and overweening pride.

Ongoing investigations into the honesty of leaders in evoking the need for military intervention and the rising voice of dissent against financial favors for the rich and powerful at the cost of cutting services to the powerless poor, offer a glimmer of hope that the corruption will be curbed and the hubris of our leaders punctured and exposed.

The embattled defendants cry foul, claiming that the only transgression is the political ambition of their critics. They have moved so far beyond the pale of the common citizen that their own corruption and misdeeds seem entirely ordinary and acceptable to them.

Happily, unlike the impotent rubber-stamp Roman senators, we can face our would-be Caesars without threat of bodily harm and we can cast them out of their cozy nest with the most powerful weapon ever devised: the ballot box.

Law Firm Marketing – Increasing Your Revenue By Grading Clients

Law firm marketing is comprised of many different elements and dependent on the type of law, like bankruptcy attorneys, divorce attorneys and family law attorneys.  The analysis of your firm in law practice management can be complex, however, lets begin with a key success variable – your current client base. Managing your client base is the most important aspect of your law firm marketing efforts. I suggest you begin with grading your clients.

The ABCD Solution

In looking at your client base for law firm marketing purposes, you can use a time-tested method of analysis. This is the key concept of “ABCD clients”. Service professionals of many types use this method to accurately rate and organize their client base. And for effective marketing for law firms, this method is priceless. By the way it is not just about marketing. It is also about serving your clients better than ever.

As you certainly know in schools we use the letter grading system to rank the students in order of how well they perform on papers, tests, quizzes, etc. Similarly we will “grade” our clients. So think of your client grading system for law firm marketing as summing up all the aspects of a good client.

A client who gets an “A” would be one who has reasonable expectations, follows your instructions, is grateful for the work you do as well as courteous and professional in their demeanor with both you and in particular your staff. In fact if you are ever wondering if someone is an “A” client or a “D” client just ask your staff. The “A” client sends you referrals that turn into “A” clients as well. The “A” client is never concerned with the fees you charge since they know your services are worth the cost. They pay their bills on time all the time. And finally, their cases are interesting and substantial matters. Now isn’t this the kind of client you are aiming for in your law firm marketing in the first place? Additionally, have you ever heard the old saying “birds of a feather flock together”? This means your “A” clients know a lot of other “A” clients who they can refer to you if you play your cards right.

Of course a client with a “B” grade would have many of the same qualities of the “A” client, but not all. A client with a “C” grade would be closer to a “D” client. A client with a “D” grade is the complete opposite of all the characteristics of an “A” client. They don’t have reasonable expectations, they pay their bills late (some not at all), try to negotiate lower fees or retainers, don’t follow your instructions (may even think they know better than you do), are rude or unprofessional, they do not send referrals (or if they do they are also “C or D” clients), their matters are not substantial and interesting, and they often complain about normal fees. Not a pretty picture these “D” clients. Let your competitors have them!

In targeting your law firm marketing, “C & D” clients are not the kind of client you want to attract. Most firms find that “C & D” clients take up between sixty to eighty percent of their time and efforts, while only bringing in twenty to forty percent of the firm’s revenue. Does it make sense to cultivate this type “C & D” business? Of course not. You need to stop taking “C & D” business and “fire” (ethically of course) any “C & D” business that you can. Even if you only begin with the “Ds” it is a beginning. Quite liberating as well my clients report to fire these folks.

Effective marketing for bankruptcy attorneys includes a realistic look at what will bring the best benefit for the best clients. Ridding yourself of clients who are graded a “C or D” is one of the best things you can do for your “A & B” clients. Without spending all your time on the “C & D” problems and concerns, you can pour your attention into your “A & B” clients (moving their matters to conclusion faster thus you can do more of them). Thus the “A & B” clients will be even more satisfied, resulting in more referrals and more business from them. Clearly a “win/win” for all.

Another big, big advantage of spending less or no time on your “C & D” business is you can focus more time on developing your “A & B” referral network. Your increased marketing time and more focused law firm marketing will result in more quality “A & B” business.

What I have found working individually with over 500 attorneys is most of you will need to limit your practice areas to one, two or maybe (and I do mean maybe) three practice areas in order to drop your “C & D” cases. Too many attorneys are practicing “threshold law” that is defined as taking anything that comes across the threshold of your office. In selecting your practice areas try to incorporate cross-salable areas, such as wills and trusts, real estate, and/or estate planning for example. Select the most lucrative practice areas you have and then pour your law firm marketing efforts into those targeted practice areas while focusing on “A & B” clients and referral sources. This may be a bit frightening at first and in the long run you will be extremely glad you did.

 

Stock Research – Republican Congress In Hot Seat

If the Republican Party is able to hold onto its majority in both the House and the Senate in the coming elections, it will be because of the ineptness of the Democrats. The Democrats have become a party without ideas, with an ideology that hasn’t worked in years, and I am not hopeful that it will work in the immediate future.

At the same time we must recognize the notion of ACCOUNTABILITY. In my work managing money, I have to go back decades to understand certain companies and their institutional cultures. The same thing is true in politics. Yes, we have had scandals before. I remember vividly Lyndon Johnson and Bobby Baker, and John Kennedy and his German mistress who supposedly worked for the East German secret police, the Stasi.

There’s something about POWER. The historians tell you that “POWER CORRUPTS, and ABSOLUTE POWER CORRUPTS ABSOLUTELY”. The greatest compliment you can pay our country is to recognize that we settle things in the voting booth. When the voting booth can’t settle it as in the Presidential election in 2000 in Florida, the courts settle it. In the 2000 contested election, it was the Supreme Court of the United States that settled it. In most countries of the world, they settle things with a gun, or several guns, or better yet, the military settles things with a coup. Our way is far superior, always has been, always will be.

There is something in the air that’s different this time. I am a conservative by nature. I have been since Barry Goldwater ran for the Presidency in 1964. I believe in minimizing government intervention in people’s lives because I believe that the government contributes very little in the end to the human condition. They take, but create nothing. They do very few things well, and overpay vastly for what they do provide. An example is $225 per day, per soldier, to Halliburton to feed our troops in Iraq. You and I can eat in the finest restaurants for that amount of money. Only a government can spend money like that.

What I am mostly disturbed by is the vanity, conceit, and complete disregard for the rest of us that this government has shown. We have a President that needs to spy on its own citizens in the name of national security, but finds no requisite need for oversight. The key here is OVERSIGHT. I happen to know that there are federal judges who sit in the FBI headquarters every day, whose sole job is to sign off on the government’s need to record conversations. The same procedure could very easily be implemented by the CIA, and NSA, but nobody wanted it. They obviously thought of it, but didn’t want it. When governments work in secret, the tyranny we seek to end overseas visits us right here. Our founding fathers fought against it and so should we.

We have a war in Iraq where we are all part of the dance NOW. The President has put forth no objectives for determining when we can get out. Is it a national police force of 150,000 Iraqis before we can get out, or an army of 300,000 Iraqi troops before we can go? We are now stuck in a war without end, without even the hint of an end, and we are suffering a slow death attrition to our troops.

It’s just the kind of thing that Americans HATE, a war fought without objectives, just sucking up money, resources, and the flower of our youth. It’s all in the name of nothing really. I say this because you either have clearly defined objectives in war or you have chaos. This President has chosen chaos. Sometimes I think this is Vietnam all over again, doesn’t anybody ever learn from history? Bush has degrees from Yale and Harvard, and didn’t learn a dam thing apparently, except how to spend money. You know, I couldn’t wait for Clinton to get out of office, and now I wonder if his wife isn’t such a bad idea.

The Congress spends billions likes its play money, and doesn’t even tax the citizens to do it. Instead they borrow the money, spend it and then owe the debt to Europeans, Japan, and China by continuing to build up the national debt. I haven’t checked this number in years, but I would be willing to bet that between 80% and 90% of the total national debt has been built up by the Republicans who call themselves the party of fiscal responsibility.

Maybe I am just getting older, but I am getting far more cynical as the years go by and more liberal too, but it’s not the liberal’s definition of liberal. Barry Goldwater taught me that abortion rights are a woman’s decision, not 9 old people sitting on a Supreme Court. There should be a separation of church and state as provided by the constitution. If deeply religious people in this country want to vote, than they absolutely should vote and participate in the political process, just like everybody else. Recognize that this country was founded by good hardworking people who left their rigid religious societies for something a lot better. We call it America.

Now when I sit back and look at this Republican dominated Congress, I find it pathetic. The majority leader Tom Delay had to resign in disgrace. The House Speaker, Denny Hastert is totally asleep at the switch over information he received, didn’t received, received, and then didn’t receive over the gay Congressman’s escapades. Why is it that it’s all right to be a gay Democratic Congressman (aka Barney Frank), but you can’t be a gay Republican Congressman (aka Mark Foley). Republicans are in the closet about it, and Democrats are screaming it out loud.

The Democrats should be running on one issue and one issue only, “HAD ENOUGH”, forget about it’s time for a change. It’s time for a revolution. I could very easily see the Republicans getting wiped in this election, losing both houses in fact, and then in essence making this current President impotent. How much more damage can President Bush do if he faces a hostile Congress. He could propose whatever he wanted to propose but if the Democrats control the Congress, and won’t FUND IT, the game is over.

This scenario would not be much better than the horror show currently on stage, but you must hold the politicians in power ACCOUNTABLE, and nobody has done that in six years. Maybe I was better off when my party was on the outs, and I could at least fantasize how much better things would be when, and if we got into power. My fantasies have turned into a nightmare with these people in office who are not MY REPUBLICANS, and then there’s Donald Rumsfeld, but that’s another story.

 

Capitol Connections

This Is Not Your Dad’s Republican Party Anymore

Stock markets are strange because they reflect the sum total of all our hopes, fears and prejudices at the end of each day. Every so often something big comes along that can have very strong influence on the stock market, and the direction the market is going to take. Bear markets when they do come, come out of nowhere. Everybody is surprised by them, but once they happen, the pundits have what seem to be perfectly reasonable explanations for why they happen.

I submit to you that next week’s Congressional midterm elections will be seen retrospectively as a so-called WATERSHED election whereby dramatic change will be brought about. You will only know this in hindsight over time. If the Republicans are trounced in the House, and lose heavily in the Senate, there will be a tidal wave type change in the direction that the country is going.

During the course of the modern Presidency which is considered to be 1932 onward with FDR’s election, our leaders have always been influenced by polls. This is true for all Presidents except for our current President, George Bush. It is absolutely amazing to consider that our President won the White House by 557 votes in Florida in 2000 and 85,000 votes in Ohio in 2004, and nevertheless governs like he had a 40 state landslide.

He has adopted the notion that all he had to do is win by one vote, and the power was his to effectuate and do whatever he wanted to. For six years, he has been right. The Congress has essentially rubber-stamped everything the President has asked for, and he has not been held accountable for the false assumptions under which the war in Iraq was initially waged. Next week will be the first time to hold the President accountable for the mismanagement of the war over the last three years.

What kind of conservative is the President? He has outspent any liberal Democratic President in history, mounting up deficits at a rate that a drunken sailor would envy. He gave tax cuts to the rich, and financed the cuts through deficit spending by borrowing the money from Japan, China, and Europe, and leaving the unpaid burden to our children to worry about. Does this make sense to you? If you are going to give tax cuts, shouldn’t your budget be in surplus first.

He has chosen to cut all spending for stem cell research to protect the rights of the unborn, yet doesn’t believe in programs for the poor. A third of this country is running around without even the most basic health insurance, and he’s protecting the rights of the unborn.
He doesn’t want the government to fund abortions. Okay, but think about this. Without abortions over the last generation, there would have been 20 million unloved, uncared for additional children born in America. It would not have affected the rich; they always had access to abortions, and always will, regardless of the law. Where would we be today with such a policy? If you want to argue that these unborn children would have been adopted and cared for, I have one word for you, SURE. There are already hundreds of thousands of abused children going through our foster care system that nobody wants. The President would have added 20 million more.

Iraq is bleeding this country financially, and is in the very beginning of destroying our social fabric. You can count the children serving in Iraq of our Senators and Congressmen, and White House staff on the fingers of a mutilated left hand. Why is it that the so called folks who run the government never seem to have their children’s blood spilled on these foreign adventures? They are always willing to send somebody else to die.

By the way, just so you know, I consider myserlf a conservative Republican that is appalled at the actions of the leaders I participated in putting into office. This is not the party of Barry Goldwater who believed that abortion is a personal right, who believed that you don’t wage wars, unless you bring overwhelming force to the objective. This party has turned into a party of elitists, who were elected by average citizens just trying to do the right thing.

At the same time, these elected leaders are not responsive to us. Strange as it may seem, we elect our leaders, and after the election, the lobbyists OWN them. How can you possibly spend a hundred billion dollars on drugs for senior citizens, a program I support, and NOT write into the law that the government has the right to negotiate lower prices for these drugs? Wow, the drug companies give the Republicans over $10 million to fund the election, and the Republicans give the drug companies another $20 to $40 billion dollars in excess payments for their drugs. Frankly, the payoff wasn’t big enough.

How did it come to this point? The Republicans always stood for the rights of the individuals, and fiscal responsibility. Now we have thrown fiscal responsibility out the window. The leaders argue as long as the rate of growth, of the deficit is lower than the rate of growth of the economy, its okay to have deficits. This is the same line the Democrats used for 40 years, only now it’s coming out of the mouths of the Republicans.

Here’s the bottom line, and read it carefully. You and I as citizens of the greatest country in 10,000 years of civilization are at the crossroads. We have to choose and choose now. Our freedoms are being usurped by corporate and institutional interests. Once we elect officials, it seems they are at the mercy of lobbyists who have what seems like infinite amounts of money to influence our democratically chosen leaders. The laws and programs that you, and I as liberal, and conservative thinkers would choose are not getting done. Instead, it seems that special interests are having their needs met to the detriment of 300 million Americans.

We can not survive very long as a viable society, and meet the growing economic and military threat posed by China’s emergence, as well as other nation states unless we are all aligned in the same direction. The waste and mismanaged programs we are seeing are going to generate a drag on our system that will make us far less competitive in the next ten years to deal with the rest of the world. Farming is gone, it’s a non factor. Manufacturing is heading the same way, with globalization. We are headed towards a post-industrial society. We are almost there. We will move towards a fully service oriented society shortly. Will we have the jobs for our people to replace those jobs going overseas? Maybe, maybe not, but next week we have an election, you must choose, choose wisely.

Goodbye and Good Luck

Richard Stoyeck

PS:
The biggest joke is that if the Democrats get elected, we are going to trade one set of lobbyists for another, one set of special interests for another, one party devoid of ideas for another. Somehow, the people need to be back in control again, and voting for the default party isn’t the right answer either.