President Obama’s Promise Zones

Promise Zones? Really? The president promised Detroit that he would not let it fail. He promised us that if we liked our doctors and our insurance, we could keep them. He promised us that he would close Gitmo. He promised us that he would lead the most transparent administration in history. I look at his promises like a bad case of gas.  They stink from the moment they are made and eventually they are followed by crap that needs to be cleaned up!


A Second Open Letter to Sen. Tom Harkin

On September 24, 2012, I posted the following letter to Senator Tom Harkin’s Senate Web page.


Senator Harkin:

As a veteran and taxpayer, I appreciate your desire to have the money used to educate our veterans be used effectively and efficiently. However, the presentation that you authored has issues. I’m trained in statistics and because of that, I could make a laundry list of issues. You are a very busy man so instead of going item for item, please allow me to point out one blatantly wrong slide. You have a slide entitled “For-Profit Colleges Employ Many Recruiters But Few Placement Staff.” From a subjective perspective, to have a slide with a title that indicates an issue with For-Profit Colleges as a group but then indicts a single one is disingenuous and ineffective because your case is that many schools have this problem, yet you showcase only one. It also smacks of a lack of objectivity and personal bias. Even if your chart is accurate, it does not make the point that this is a systemic problem.

Objectively, the slide in incorrect. University of Phoenix, the largest school under the Apollo Group umbrella, has an extremely robust Career Services site that covers the gamut of services from resume writing to career research to interview preparation. The site also lists major employers that Phoenix partners with to help find jobs for its graduates.

Your data was gathered from 2007 to 2010. I started at Phoenix in 2010 and I don’t know what its career placement services were like then. It could be that in 2010, your statement was accurate. However, it is nearly 2013 and it definitely is not accurate.

If I had the 20-30 hours free to write it, I would write a report that shows slide for slide, just how bad this report is. I don’t have the time to write it and anyone as busy as you doesn’t have the time to read it. Please consider making this “update” to your report as a show of good will. I’ll be the first person to thank you for that by making a post to that effect on my blog,

Since your Senate Web site has a link to that report on its home page, it appears that this is a report you are proud of and feel the people need to read. Don’t you owe it to your constituents and all of America to be accurate and up-to-date?

This is my second letter to you. I requested a response to the first one and I have not received it. I posted to your Facebook page and got no response. Please respond to this message. This is a very non-partisan issue. In this highly contentious and partisan time, taking action on a non-partisan issue is something I think would resonate well with many Americans.

Respectfully yours,
Andrew Knaster, BA, MA, MCP
University of Phoenix Master of Information Systems student, class of 2013

Why I am no Longer a Republican

I was a committed Republican since I joined the Army in 1981.  Three years ago, I left the Republican party.  I was disenchanted with a party that was supposed to keep the rights of the people with the people, reduce government spending, increase government accountability, and refrain from the populist notion of evangelizing the world for Democracy, by force if needed.  My president suspended habeas corpus, invented the DHS, blurred the lines between law enforcement and justice, and engaged in corporatism of the worst possible kind.

In my opinion, the last real Republican this nation has had in Washington was Ronald Wilson Reagan.  Not a single candidate, apart from Ron Paul (for the most part), stands for a true Republican platform.  If I were king, this is what I would consider a true Republican platform: 

  • The civil liberties of each person, beings with a unique and identifiable DNA pattern, are protected under the Constitution be they born, pre-born, handicapped, infirmed, or elderly, must be the highest priority of the government, even when that protection inconveniences others.
  • Government should govern at the level closest to those governed; first at the township, then the county or parrish, then the state, and only when the issues involve interstate commerce, civil rights, or national defense, the federal government.
  • Allow no government spending without an accompanying appropriations bill.  If the money is not there or it will not be collected, then the nation must do without the spending.
  • All budgets must be balanced or they will not be signed.
  • All budgets must include the allocation of funds to reduce the national defecit by 5% during the budget period.
  • No person shall be allow to serve as an official advisor to the president without Congressional approval.  That includes the First Lady/Husband and any “czars.”
  • The Department of Defense must be returned to the mission of defense.  When it comes to fighting wars for and in other nations, regardless of their status as allies, we must assume a position of laissez faire.  No soldier should die on the battlefield without a formal declaration of war being in place.
  • Limit the terms of all elected officials and government appointees apart from the Supreme Court.
  • Bar the president from the floors of Congress apart from the delivery of the State of the Union Address.
  • Limit the time and money that can be invested in the campaign of any elected official. An elected official may take no more than sixty consecutive days while on the payroll of the people and under an oath of office to campaign.  Nobody of wealth should be able to fund their own campaign as that is tantamount to buying an office.
  • Apart from brief times of extreme turmoil where no other option exists, demand habeas corpus be the law of the land for all those that stand on our soil or the soil of nations we control.  In other words, no person, regardless of citizenship, shall be held for more than 24 hours without being informed of the reason for apprehension.
  • Restore the process of swift and fair trials.  It is a violation of the presumption of innocence to allow any accused person to languish in custody without due process allowing for a reasonable period of time to gather evidence and perform discovery.
  • Citizenship is a right to those born on US soil and that of our protectorates.  It is a privilege that shall be granted to anyone seeking to live here after they have given sufficient proof of their desire to live as citizens of this country and their not being a threat to the nation and its people.
  • Under no circumstances will the government be allowed to engage in corporatism. Saving a business from failure, no matter how large or vital is a choice the people make.  The government may not make it on their behalf.  That includes businesses such as banking and insurance.
  • Agencies that appear to be redundant or unnecessary will be publicly investigated by a bi-partisan commission and either consolidated or eliminated based on the recommendation of the commission, the vote of Congress, and the signature of the President.
  • Members of Congress may only dwell in Washington, D.C. for a period of time necessary to conduct the business of government, and when that is not the case, they must return to their constituents.
  • The government must afford all Americans equal protection as laid out in the Fourteenth Amendment.  This includes staying out of the business of who can and cannot marry and what marriages entitle people to the benefits of government currently reserved for heterosexual marriages.
  • The government must abide by all requirements placed on private business such as equal employment opportunities, fair labor laws, and corporate governance.
  • Tax shall be levied on all individuals above the poverty limit at a single equal rate.  There will be no tax deductions, shelters, or loopholes.
  • No chattel shall be taxed more than once unless it changes hands as a result of financial consideration.  In other words, no death tax and no capital gains tax. 
  • Unless it is classified as an issue of military secrecy, no business of the government shall be conducted behind closed doors.
  • Finally, the government must be returned to the understanding that it is 100% powerless apart from the powers specifically given to it in the Constitution.

What a Wonderful World

“That’s why I don’t give handouts to the homeless!”  The third-year Maryland law student wheeched (whined/screeched) to her snooty friends as they passed the homeless guy.  He was sitting against the City-Paper machine outside of my favorite Starbucks on North Charles with a Venti-something-or-other, a boxed lunch, and an iPhone 4 (the new white one).  If I got done early enough from working in the crap-machine otherwise known as the District of Columbia, I would get off the MARC train at Penn and walk down there to grab a bite.

Tonight I was lucky, I just squeezed onto the 6:20.  I had to stand next to, of all people, a Steelers fan bedecked in his new black and gold leather jacket with the logo of the hated team on its back.  In my olfactory lobes, the beautiful smell of new leather was denied by the rest of my Ravens-purple brain yelling how much the Steelers sucked.  I pretended not to notice the chatter going on around him by playing the “I have my headphones on with no music playing” trick.  It was my favorite way to hear office gossip when nobody thinks I can hear.  It’s like being a voyeur without the inherent risk of discovery.  It also allowed me to force my boss to repeat himself when his behavior was becoming rather onerous.  He’d have to tap me to get my attention and I’d do my award-winning “you startled me” reaction.  When somebody would say something particularly foul having to do with the Steelers and farm animals, I would turn toward the unknowing fan and smile one of those courteous, “hi, how are you fellow-commuter/comrade?” smiles.  My internal game was to see how long I could make it without laughing at the comments two fifty-something legal secretary hons were making.  They had something to do with Mike Tomlin, sheep, and hip waders.

I made it to the 1200 block on North Charles and turned into the Starbucks.  I was starving.  My daughter, the payroll director over at Deutsche Bank, had been “encouraging” me to go vegan for some time.  I saw a boxed lunch with noodles, tofu, veggies, and a postage-stamp-sized chunk of dark chocolate.  I figured it was the prize I got for grazing through the other stuff.  At 8.4 ounces, it would hold me over until I got home to Fells.  Pumpkin spice latte was in the air.  I wanted one but they have 510 calories with all the bells and whistles.  Andi, the full-time barista, assured me that she could hook me up for about half of that.  I believed her and ordered.  Stacee, one of the part-timers that went to school at MICA rang me up.  She was always nice.  Nice was nice because the world is not nice.

I queued up with the other Starbucks faithful while my almost-as-yummy-as-a-510-calorie pumpkin spice latte was being prepared.  I got it and sat down in the pit with the comfy chairs.  I took out the box’o’non-meat and began to put the components together.  The noodles with their peanut sauce, the pickled veggies, and the half-dozen sugar-cubes of braised tofu looked and smelled pretty good.  I looked away for a moment, turned back to my food, and as I reached for it, I knocked it in the air.  It fell non-daily-spread-side-down into my lap.  The two other guys in the comfy chair area reflexively went into their best “I’m not looking” looks.  Any guy that has gone to the beach with his wife knows how to do that look when too much girl in too few clothes walks by.  These guys must have seen lots of bikini-babes because neither of them flinched. I had no napkins and non-meat was everywhere.  You’d think one of them might have offered to get me a napkin, a paper towel, or some mechanism to help gather up the never-been-killed mélange.  That didn’t happen.

I had to scoop handfuls of the stuff up and put it into the box.  I used the lid like a veggie-squeegie to gather the rest of the bits together.  Still, neither Tweedledum nor Tweedledee so much as acknowledged my dilemma.  They saw me alright, just like they saw all the Girls-Gone-Wild candidates at Ocean City a few weeks prior.

I took the freshly-tossed salad and dumped it in the garbage.  My Starbucks Gold Card had plenty of cash on it so I went to get another.  Stacee looked at me coming with a fresh box.  She started to go into the standard spiel to ring me up and then she realized I had just purchased one.  She told me to wait a minute.  I could see her glance at her watch.  It was 20 minutes until close and there was a boxed lunch in the case that would probably not get eaten in the next 20 minutes.  She took out her inventory sheet and wrote mine up as spoilage. It was going to be thrown out anyway so she gave it to me which saved me seven bucks and continued to reinforce my brand loyalty.

As I sat down to make eating attempt number two, Tweedledum got up and headed to the Men’s room.  He left behind his white iPhone 4G and a freshly made Venti-mocha-frappa-chino-esque thingy.  Not worried about Tweedledee, I snatched up the white iPhone and cup.  The Starbucks Card Mobile app was open and Tweedledum was logged in.  I added $100 to the card.  iTunes was also open.  I bought a copy of Louis Armstrong’s Greatest Hits.  As I hit the door, the album finished downloading.  I started to play it and as I stepped onto North Charles, I went to the homeless guy sitting against the City-Paper machine.  I handed him the boxed-lunch, the Venti-whatever, and the white iPhone 4.  I showed him how to order lots of healthy food and drinks with the Starbucks app.

As I headed to the lot where my vintage orange VW Karmann Ghia was parked, I heard the unusual combination of wheeching and the words “I see skies of blue, and clouds of white/The bright blessed day, dark sacred night/And I think to myself/What a wonderful world.”